For the past several weeks, the number one book in America has been the incredibly popular ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, by E.L. James. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the story of an inexperienced young college student who’s introduced to sex and the dark world of BDSM by a sexy and charismatic CEO. Many women say it’s revitalized their sex lives. The book is even being referred to as ‘Mommy Porn’ in some circles.
Fifty Shades of Grey is the worst book I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s a poorly-written, misogynic, chauvinistic piece of work. Not only does it constantly put women down in just about every way possible, it also glorifies an abusive relationship to the point of making it seem ideal. There are so many things wrong with this book that it’s hard to pick out just a few to focus on. But I’ll try, just so I can paint a portrait of how horrible this book is.
Just for starters, let’s take the two main characters: Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. These are not people you want to be friends with. Christian is an overbearing, oppressive, control-freak with a thing for bondage and pain. And while he’s described, repeatedly, as a God in body and mind – and pretty much a magical orgasm king – he also harbors some pretty twisted secrets. He’s controlling and domineering and he pretty much has to have everything go his way. He puts his own needs before others, even of those people he pretends to care about. And the kicker? During sex, he likes to hit women so hard that they cry out in pain. And I’m not talking, ‘ooh, that felt so good’ pain. I’m talking crying, sniveling, bruising pain. That’s not sexy, people. That’s abuse. If you’re afraid of your significant other, if he threatens you, that’s not fun and games. That’s scary. And sad little Ana Steele sits and takes it all, because she’s so ‘innocent’, and has no idea about any sort of emotional relationship.
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a character in a book that I’ve ever hated as much as I hate Ana Steele. I know we’re not supposed to hate the main character of a novel. But every time she opened her mouth, I wanted to throw the book across the room. And since the novel was written in first person, that meant every single line on every single page. She’s a horrible friend, she constantly slut-shames other women around her, and she has a classic case of ‘Too Stupid to Live’ syndrome. She also is a classic case of ‘Mary-Sue’ syndrome. She’s good at everything she tries, especially sex. For a girl who has never even masturbated before, she has orgasms so much that she actually is afraid of having more. It’s laughable. Or maybe just sad. And alongside that, I’m pretty sure she’s got split-personality disorder. She’s constantly referring to her Inner Goddess and her subconscious, who both appear so many times you could practically call them supporting characters. It doesn’t matter, because they’re stereotypes of a nympho and a prude, respectively. I swear to God, if I have to hear the phrase ‘my inner Goddess’ one more time, I may actually hit something.
And then there’s the silliest part of this whole scenario. Fifty Shades of Grey, in fact the entire Fifty Shades trilogy, was originally a fanfiction called ‘Master of the Universe’. This fanfiction was based off of Twilight. Twilight. And so, following the basis of Twilight, this book has no plot. It’s just a bunch of awkward, stilted conversations between a childish college student and an anal-retentive control freak, punctuated by sex scenes that don’t even have the decency to come up with creative names for genital. It’s just a lot of ‘down there’, and my ‘behind’. And no one strives to correct these characters on their terrible behavior. But let’s be real people: Even Edward Cullen isn’t as bad as Christian Grey.
It’s sad how popular this book is. I wish people would see this for what it really is; an abusive relationship that should strike fear into the hearts of women everywhere, young and old. Instead, people are idolizing it, and putting Christian Grey up on a pedestal for being sexy and commanding. I fear for the safety and health of women if this is what we’re supposed to be considering sexy. I’m afraid that people will go into an abusive relationship because they’re determined to change their partner, no matter how much they get hurt in the process. It’s terrifying.
And on one last note. This book is written by a middle-aged British author. You’d think she would set it in a British town, maybe London. Instead, it’s set in Washington State, mostly in Seattle. Yet another Twilight hallmark, I’m aware. Coming from Washington State, and being a college-aged American living there, I’m offended that E.L. James thinks we speak and act like this. It’s ridiculous.
If you’re really curious to see what the book is about, don’t waste your money on it. Get it from the library if you must. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I suggest checking out author Jennifer Armintrout’s blog and chapter-by-chapter recaps. They’re both hilarious and enlightening.