“Please don’t hit me,” I whisper, pleading.
I think the absolute funniest–and subsequently most depressing–thing about fans of Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James is that so many of them make the baseless and uneducated claim that it doesn’t promote abuse. And I think that says a lot more about society and it’s woeful lack of education regarding women, consent, and sex in general than it really does about the people reading this book. But at the end of the day, its popularity was enough to result in one of the very few books that is widely known to romanticize deeply problematic and abusive behavior from men toward women. It started a conversation, it’s been called out, and I do hope that there are some people out there who are better for the increased discussion of abusive behavior as a result of how many people came to read this novel. I, myself, picked it up once upon a time to see what all the fuss was about. Safe to say, I DNFed this book about half-way through, throwing it as far as I possibly could away from me the very moment he started sucking her toes. I still cringe to this day just thinking about that disgusting scene.
But I digress.
You see, when I read Fifty Shades of Grey, I had already been introduced to several of the criticisms surrounding the novel. Ultimately, I decided to pick it up so that I could criticize it with an actual understanding of what happened in the book. And the truth of the matter is that a part of me did understand why this book had quickly gained massive levels of popularity. It was an easy read, though this was largely due to its poor writing quality and absolute lack of literary merit–grammar mistakes everywhere, dismal characterization, substantially pathetic plotlines, and the writing style of a 12-year-old–and it was new.
At first, a part of me wanted to give James some credit and hope that she was going to write a story about a girl who stumbled into an extremely abusive relationship, grew to see the relationship and the despicable excuse for a human for what he is, and eventually get herself out. Now that would have been a story I could have respected. Unfortunately, James doesn’t have the intelligence or education for that and it should have been readily apparent to me simply from the fact that she couldn’t write to save her life. So, instead, the world was saddled with a poorly written, utterly damaging account of a woman falling into an abusive relationship and never getting herself out.
You really don’t have to look far to see this fact proven, though the novels really should be enough to prove the claim alone–again, I despair at the complete lack of education women are given on the matter of abuse in this world, but I suppose that serves the men who want to abuse them so I doubt they’re in any hurry to see it change–but, in case you don’t see the abuse in the books, here are a few quick links that shed a bit of light on the truth:
Actual quotes from the book that show signs of abuse.
I cringe, I cry, I vomit.
Fifty examples of abuse pulled directly from the first book and half of book two.
Honestly, if you read any of these I would suggest reading this one because it’s incredibly detailed and the most revealing that I’ve read thus far–I’m sure there are others I haven’t found–but I always somehow seem to keep coming back to this one when I need to explain to someone why I fucking hate this book and the degradation it represents.
10 reasons Fifty Shades of Grey is abusive.
A list of signs that show you’re in an abusive relationship and how they relate to Christian Grey…shocker.
Five lies about abuse that fans often perpetuate.
This one kind of breaks my heart a bit.
Also, just FYI…a broken person acting abusively because they were “broken” does not make their behavior less abusive or okay. If I got hit as a child that doesn’t give me the right to hit other people. And it doesn’t mean anyone should forgive or love me for it.
With videos this time!
A brilliant review from someone I deeply respect and admire that really breaks down a lot of issues within the book.
Seriously, I love this girl and her reviews.
And I mean, adding more would just be ridiculous but I went through about fifty links (ha, see what I did there?) and there were tons more where these come from. And a large part of me wishes that this had been a book about a woman getting into an abusive relationship and finding her way out–that would have been a book well worth reading. Unfortunately, Fifty Shades of Grey is garbage that supports the idea that abuse is romantic and that if you stick around with your abuser, eventually you’ll end up happy. Not only is this 100% false, but it’s disgusting and insulting and depressing. And I’ve spoken out about this numerous times in the past and probably should have sat down to write this review a long time ago. It always infuriates me to see how abuse is romanticized in novels.
It is fortunate, in my opinion, that so many people are able to see this book for what it is. And it’s been reviewed and talked about so many times that I don’t even know how much of an impact my voice is going to have. But in light of my desire and sort of project to really delve into the problem of Romanticized Abuse in Novels–I reread Twilight last year in order to discuss it more thoroughly, though I still have to write official reviews–and spread awareness I decided it was high time I wrote this. And if you’re looking forward to learning about the other problematic books to hate for this reason, stick around because I’m about to reread the abhorrent, disturbing, and problematic Shatter Me series to provide precisely the sort of in-depth review that spreads awareness of just how bad the abuse romanticism is in that series.
3 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey [E. L. James]”
I’ve never read these books, or watched the films. I’m suddenly exceedingly glad I didn’t. Fantastic review!
Seriously brilliant review stem to stern. Bravo for telling it like it is!
I’ve never actually written about my thoughts on this book or the series (and I have read them), but there were SO many reasons to not like this one. I have no problems at all with books about BDSM. I’ve read quiet a few that are actually amazingly written and show the lifestyle in an authentic way, including with characters with horrible histories. They worked, because the subject was handled well and accurately and made clear the line between consent and abuse. Fifty Shades kind of made a mockery of everything it touched on. Healthy dynamics in relationships. Healthy ways of dealing with abuse. Healthy lifestyle choices, even if they aren’t mainstream. Fifty Shades took those concepts, turned them into this shocking thing and attempted to tie a pretty bow around it and ended up making a joke out of what are serious issues. It felt very much like a book that someone threw together with some hot button issues just because they could, but they actually didn’t know squat about those issues.
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