Hint: It’s not the sex.
I’m a bad trendsetter and an even worse trend-follower. I’m not proud but my clothes, my music, even my food preferences are so five years ago.
I see a bandwagon and calmly turn on my heels and saunter the other direction.
Christmas 2003. I was flying back to college after the holidays and as I looked up the aisle all the book jackets were the same: dozens of copies of The Da Vinci Code stared back at me. Stocking stuffer of the year and as such, totally unappealing to me.
I eventually give in. I saw the movie, I joined Facebook, I got a cell phone then-gasp-an iPhone (which I’d now give my pinky tip for), I started a blog (;) ), coconut oil is a staple in my kitchen, I even been known to swing a kettlebell around. I’m still anti Spotify, crossfit, and Paleo but once they are not-so-hot I may just dip my toes in, afterall I eventually like to know what all the fuss is about.
Speaking of fuss, I listened to 50 Shades of Grey. That’s right, listened. I tried to read it, checked it out of the library and everything. After about 20 pages I literally threw it, frustrated and feeling dirty that I had given into the hype.
Now I realize I am late to the party on this one but at least the movie is not out yet (I just watched The Hunger Games and must say, this one deserves the hype. I may even read the books. Maybe…).
So really, it’s not the descriptive scenes of dominant/submissive sex or the bondage or even the flogging that makes me feel dirty. It’s the lame writing. I’m not trying to be mean here, even the author admits she’s “not a great writer”.
But, as we all know, sex sells. And sex has sold this book over 40 million times. Does that number count audio books? I got mine on Audible and was slightly comforted (felt less dirty) that I could multi-task while listening. I did the dishes, painted walls, walked to work, drove to Baltimore, ate lunch, all while listening to hours upon hours of Anastasia struggle to reconcile her desire for Christen to do all types of BDSM with her fear of, well, getting whipped and f*@&ed into submission.
I think the writing overall is bad but I do understand the appeal. 50 Shades makes sex a little less taboo by sharing all types of it through the eyes of the very vanilla Anastasia. This is a good thing from my perspective. As a culture we have a whole lotta baggage around sex, especially women’s sexuality, and anything that explores sex as what it is, a great source of pleasure, is A-okay in my book. Unfortunately, this book plays into the major issue of sex as power and the roles assumed by the main characters is stereo-typical; an older experienced man asserting his dominance over a young and inexperienced woman. Boo.
In case you were wondering, the answer is yes. I’ve already started listening to 50 Shades Darker. Damn you trilogies. I can only hope that E.L. James is indeed a creative soul and a feminist and will give Anastasia the upper hand against those “steely grey eyes” at least once. Christen seems like he could use a good flogging. Blindfolded, of course.