Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Shit

Before I launch into my usual rant, I need to be very clear, I have NEVER read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor will I ever. However, I know enough to make my stomach turn whenever the book is mentioned. A colleague of mine told me the basis of the plot and it by no means encouraged me to experience the series.

In a world where 80% of women under 30 have been sexually assaulted and every 2 minutes someone is raped in our country, why on Earth is a book that promotes sexual abuse such a big hit? Of course, I have been told this series is about a woman who willingly gets involved with a man who is into S&M and grows to love the spankings and abuse. However, even after he beats the shit out of her in the “Red Room of Pain” and it appears that she leaves him, she returns only after a short period of time.

This series is more dangerous than Twilight. It sends a chilling message that women need to be dominated, abused, and manipulated. I don’t buy the bull shit excuse that women are tired of being in control of their work and personal lives, and this book allows them to slip into a fantasy world devoted to pain and sexual dominance. When did our society fall into this pathetic realm of abuse and sadism? When did women become powerless minions of abusive men? When did women become the weaker sex—for real this time?

As a survivor of a sexual assault and several abusive relationships, I weep for the young women who read this abhorrent series and believe they must surrender their rights, their personalities, and their independence to keep a man. I weep for survivors of rape and abuse, because this series glorifies sexual assault as “romantic” and evidence of love. It is obvious the author has never been raped, never been hit, and never been in fear of her life from an abusive lover. Or if she has, she is too fucked up for words.   

As a Residential Life professional, I am overwhelmed with anger, grief, and despair over how this book has been received. This past year, I counseled three rape victims—there is no way I would describe their experiences as romantic. Their rapists were not misunderstood men (like Grey) who were simply confused about how to express love. Abuse is not sexy. Abuse is not erotic. Abuse is a horrific blight on our culture, and it sickens me to my core that a WOMAN is profiting off the glorification of it.

I will be pushing for this book to be featured in our RA training—not for its literary merit, but for the appalling message it sends both men and women. Maybe we can bring a silver lining to the Fifty Shades of Grey clouds hanging over our society. 


  1. I've never read 50SoG, nor do I care to either. It's scary what books are popular, when there are those that are scores better.

    It terrifies me what our world is becoming, what it glorifies, etc. As a recent college grad who wants to work in the college setting again, I wonder what ideas we're giving the future generation. I, fortunately, have never been in an abusive relationship. Glorifying anything of that nature is, in a word, sickening.

    One can hope that more people will realize this and the hype will dissipate or just, well, go away completely.

  2. I haven't read 50SoG either, but I'd like to. From everyone I've talked to in the BDSM community they're completely appalled by the book and the buzz its creating around our lifestyle. Consensual BDSM is not abuse and not only are books like this hurting our attempts at educating folks, they're making abuse seem necessary and acceptable to women across the world. As someone working in reslife, I think reading the book could be a great way to start some powerful discussions about consent, abuse, self-empowerment, and healthy relationships.

  3. I find it interesting that you have such strong opinions about a book you have never read. I haven't read it, (nor do I have any desire to do so) so I am not defending it..I'm also not jumping on the bashing bandwagon.

  4. I think that the BDSM is misunderstood enough...and people feel shame about being into BDSM. This book isn't helping that community, I don't think, because it isn't respectful of the work that goes into creating healthy BDSM relationships. There ARE healthy relationships with BDSM. Sexual assault/abuse is NOT romantic...but healthy sexuality is. This book doesn't appear to achieve that. But please do not generalize that BDSM is all about abuse and that women do not have the POWER to make decisions about what is and is not healthy sexual behavior for them...and sometimes that includes a spanking.

  5. For clarification, I am not bashing or ridiculing the BDSM community or their relationships. I do believe that two consensual individuals can have a healthy BDSM relationship as long as there is understanding and mutual respect.

    My post is directed at 50SoG. I don't believe this book accurately or appropriately demonstrates a healthy BDSM relationship or a healthy relationship period. I fear this book gives the message that being beat on by your boyfriend is erotic and sexually satisfying. Nothing I have been told about this book leads me to believe there is a mutual and respected BDSM relationship between Grey & Anastasia.

    Three readers I know have told me what a romantic love story this is, and I shudder at the thought that they believe relationships should be this "sweet". If Anastasia hadn't screamed at Grey to never touch her again and ran away after he beat the shit out of her in the Red Room of Pain, then I would say MAYBE there is a chance it could be a consensual BDSM relationship.

    If being abused is an example of a loving relationship, then my rapist is quite the charmer. If being intimidated into being a submissive sexual partner is what love is all about, I would rather be single. Even in BDSM relationships, there is a level of equality, which 50SoG replaced with intimidation and abuse.

    Keep the posts coming! This is an important conversation to have. As long as society touts this horrific story as a "normal" relationship, victims of abuse and assault are not encouraged to come forward or seek the help they need.

  6. To quote internet memes: Still a better love story than Twilight.

  7. I find it sad that someone (especially someone in res life) would write an attack on a piece of literature that they haven't read. I would hope that before you propose to address it during training you at least attempt to approach the piece itself, even if you find it uncomfortable or reproachable.

    I would suspect that you would be able to make an even stronger case against it (and make it more useful as a teaching tool) if you can directly address the types of relationship and sexual abuse present in the piece. From my time in residence life I found that while people (residents, coworkers, etc.) have a general level of awareness and understanding about sexual abuse it is not the case with relationship/emotional abuse. Additionally, literary examples of healthy BDSM relationships could be used as a valuable counterpoint. If you are on a liberal arts campus I would expect that you could find professors who could direct you towards these types of pieces.

    As a general question, do you (or anyone else for that matter) know about the views of the relationship in the film The Secretary?

  8. Fun fact: 50 Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fanfiction called The Dominant. It was largely based off of Twilight...and then, once published, marketed for adults. It's basically Twilight for adults, only with much more sadism.

    I weep for the future of this country. I think BDSM between consenting individuals is fine, but how many people are reading these books that are not able to draw the line between consensual acts and abusive relationships? Here's a hint: the 14-year-old girls that pick this up and fantasize about such a relationship are in for a world of trouble as they grow and mature. That's what I'm scared of.

  9. I had a completely different reaction to this book than you did. I have read the first one, though not the following two. For me, I think the silence around sex, sexual arousal and fetishes in this country creates a culture of shame and fosters dangerous sexual situations. The ability to bring BDSM into the light of day and out of the proverbial closet is important, and I honestly think it's important for men and women to understand their own sexual desire and needs. BDSM can be about the dominance of men and the submission of women - but it can also be the other way around. There are several wrong turns this book takes, not to mention some of the horrifying writing, but it does involve a BDSM contract, it involves safe words, it describes the submissive's position as the one with the power to sexually charge the situation. As a woman I would never, ever support anything that subjugated women or supported their abuse. I don't think this book series is one for young girls - but I do think it has the ability to make young women aware of of their own sexual nature. Whether I or you or anyone likes it or not - there are those that find sexual arousal in pain, in trust situations, in choking in relinquishing control. I think that in coloring that all in as abuse is detrimental and sex-shaming.

  10. Bad Hall director, where did you go? We miss your witty observations about res life.