Last night I got lured away from the Olympics and onto Channel 4 to watch a documentary on the rise and rise of ‘50 shades of grey’. Now I have steadfastly refused to read this literary masterpiece because, having read the first page and a half on the Amazon preview when I was in the stage of maybe I ought to find out what this is all about, I realised that I couldn’t read even more than another word of it. I openly admit here that I do not ever intend reading it – why would I want to waste any more moments of my time on it? The documentary confirmed everything I always thought but with a little more detail.
Its genre seemed to be encapsulated by the wonderful description by an interviewee of it as ‘Wuthering Heights with whips’ or ‘Mills and Boon with bondage’. The very thought turns me off, not on. Another comment – ‘I don’t know any women who want to be anally fisted before bedtime’. Actually neither do I! I listened with interest to the reviews of the language used to portray these dramatically charged sexual scenes and laughed: ‘he touched me down there’ and ‘my private bits’. Is this an embarrassed five year old straying into the world of pornography or an adult? What sexually mature woman do you know who refers to her vagina as ‘down there’? My Auntie Mable did when she told us about having to see the doctor on a personal matter, but my friend Mandy would call a spade a spade, or a fanny a fanny. I can think of a whole dictionary of suitable words, although I won’t as I’m not a porn writer. Couldn’t you have researched your vocabulary better, as well as the sexual proclivities of the submissive society, EL?
And so she came, and came and came … ad infinitum, it seems. Is this what relationships are all about? I’ve been labouring under a misapprehension all these years … Indeed Pamela Stephenson – who now describes herself as a ‘Sexologist’ – wow, when did YOU come (pardon the pun) by that trade Pam? The last I heard you were a comedienne, but I’m digressing; Pammy commented that plainly Anastasia (more on the names later) was faking as no woman comes that often. Now that would be interesting to open up for discussion, but I imagine Cosmo has already been there.
Interestingly the real BDSM devotees that were interviewed on the documentary dissed EL’s version of it all, saying that no true BDSM relationship would countenance the submissive partner being spanked until they actually needed pain killers – as Anastasia does on one occasion. Apparently, the role allocation is also unrepresentative of the BDSM community – generally it is the woman who is the dominatrix and the man who wants to submit. The theory that was being expounded by several of the interviewees was that women respond to the content of 50 shades because, in a society where women have to work hard to be independent, organised and competitive in the boardroom, they relish the idea of being able to relinquish control in the bedroom. Maybe – but relinquishing control only occurs happily in a relationship where trust, equality and tenderness are paramount, not submission and control. Any general or BDSM relationship exponent would tell you that.
So what genre would I describe this 50 shades of something as? Well, if agents and publishers go on so little as the first page and a half and a brief synopsis, so will I: first the names. Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey – apart from suggestions in the documentary that the male protagonist’s (I can’t believe I’ve called him that) name was derived from a film already made, aren’t they pure Mills and Boon nonsense? Then there’s the coy, twee language; ‘the ‘down there’ and descriptions like one of Anastasia’s orgasms (who knows which one …) ‘shattering her into a million pieces’. Christian’s cock is Anastasia’s ‘very own Christian Grey popsicle’. I can only use teenage speak to respond to that – OMG – really? Pathetic (the language, not the cock – that is said to be HUGE). And intelligent women and men all over the world in their millions are reading this? I can’t actually decide on the right genre now I have to, maybe we should create another one – although I don’t want to be insulting.
So, some of you reading this will say ‘she is just jealous of EL’s success’. Not at all. As an entrepreneur myself – as well as a writer, I applaud anyone who makes it big with an idea. Well done for the achievement EL – and I wish you many more millions of success – although what you are going to do with it beats me. The dumpy little housewife/mum who was being interviewed on American TV in the documentary claimed to only want a new kitchen and to have bought a new Volkswagon car with it so far. She steadfastly refused to admit whether she had actually tried out the many forms of spanking, bondage, whipping, nipple clamps – BDSM in its entirety, in fact – simpering that the internet was a very good research tool…
No, what I object to is this: women suffered and fought, were killed and maimed to give other women equality. We now claim to be working hard to achieve and maintain that in our society. We deplore any kind of oppression or abuse and yet this trilogy of books is glamorising – even glorifying the submission of a vulnerable woman – still a virgin at 21 so naive and unwordly in the extreme, and the media and the publishing world are promoting it – all for the sake of the big bucks; cynicism and betrayal in the extreme. Betrayal? Well, not only is it a betrayal of the great women in our history who have fought for us to have the right to say no and be believed – the suffragettes and the women who have forged a path for us to follow at their own personal expense, it also thrusts a pile of badly written sloppy porn on the reading public at large, when there are hundreds of thousands of unknown TALENTED authors out there, struggling to even be read by an agent or a publisher. They are the people who have talent pouring out of them, but they do not write what purports to be sexual fantasy, they do not write sensationalism, they write eloquent, well thought out, meaningful pieces that have something to say to the soul.
If you want something really useful to do with your millions EL, since you don’t seem to have the vision to think of anything better than a new kitchen or car, do something to help the struggling debut authors to be acknowledged and give the reading world a chance to read good fiction not mediocre porn.
Back to the real world next time and the rest of the E-publishing review …
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