Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why Fifty Shades of Grey Is Truly Frightening

As I said on Friday, I think it's pretty cool that something like Fifty Shades of Grey, that started life on a  fan fic website, has found an audience. Things truly have changed in the publishing universe in a way that's very freeing for writers.

And then I read portions of the book itself.

Before I go farther, I'd like to point out the following:

1) I do not object to edgy content. I write BDSM stories under a pseudonym.
2) I've spent far too many sleepless nights dealing with friends and family members in abusive relationships.

Unfortunately, the story in 50 Shades of Grey crosses the line from S&M edge play into outright torture with Stockholm Syndrome overtones.

My squick factor (as my editor refers to it) hit pretty early in the story. The heroine Ana is scared of Christian, like really terrified. She refers to their scenes as beatings and/or assaults. I think sexologist Dr. Charley Ferrer said it best: "You play with your toys. You don't break them."

Christian says he wants Ana to sign a contract in regards to their BDSM relationship, then he tells her he'll fuck her anyway if she refuses to sign, regardless of what she wants. Sorry, folks, but that's still considered rape in most states.

From the pages I've read, Ana seems obsessed with pleasing Christian so he doesn't lose his temper and hurt her. Excuse me? That's abuse. A decent dom/domme doesn't play out of anger.

Then there's other stuff that strikes me as off the weird-o-meter. Like being twenty-one and never having been to a gynecologist? Or letting the guy pick out your doctor? I can respect still being a virgin at twenty-one, but losing your cherry in a kink-o-fest?

My biggest problem with the actual story is that millions of folks believe Fifty Shades of Grey reflects a BDSM relationship. It doesn't. I'm worried that some of these fans may die because they chose the wrong partner.


  1. Thanks for the information! I wasn't going to read it anyway, but your assessment confirms I'm making the right choice!

  2. Normally, I can understand what the public sees in a bestseller even if it's not my taste. This one seriously has me stumped, Tess.

  3. That's what so many people are saying!! Plus, I have writer friends up in arms for a couple of reasons. 1. The public seems to think the book is something new when erotica has been around a while. 2. They think Shades is good erotica, when they know there is much better erotica out there to read.

  4. Haven't read the book, but what you've said about it makes me want to get out my baseball bat. :/ I'm with you -- the BDSM community has to deal with enough crap based on the ignorance of the mainstream. Someone spreading yet more ignorance in a major bestseller is just compounding the problem. I've done rants about this topic before (one on Goodreads a few months back) and whether it's a book or something on the internet or whatever, it always pisses me off.


  5. Ladies, if you want a bestselling series that smacks this kind of gender/sexual ignorance in the face (and if you haven't read them yet), I recommend Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I was pleasantly surprised by his pro-feminist stance. You usually don't get that with a thriller writer.