So, there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of fuss about the new trilogy 50 Shades of Grey by EL James. I’m going to go into a bunch of my own opinions on this book and some of the issues surrounding it. Take all that I write with a grain of salt. Also, if you are not over 18 years of age or just frankly find sex an uncomfortable topic, you should leave. Any terms that are unfamiliar to you can be found here.
My warning is my first point as well. This book is about a relationship between ADULTS. They are entitled to make their own decisions as long as those decisions don’t hurt others just like you’re entitled to do. Both adults have to be in a place where they can consent. That means no alcohol or drugs. In this book the guy, Christian, and dominate gives the girl, Ana, and submissive plenty of time to think over her decision in committing to this relationship. There is a lot of alcohol in the book, but conversations happen during sobriety, too, thus the issue of alcohol isn’t relevant. Both participants don’t do any type of drugs. You could argue that consent can’t be given because Christian has some serious issues about the abuse of his childhood. I’d agree that abuse can put people into positions where they can’t give consent. However, he is currently in therapy where he can openly discuss how his abuse and BDSM play into this new relationship. He communicates his issues with Ana, reluctantly yes (who wouldn’t be!) but still they are communicated. I think that elevates concerns about consent in regards to abuse.
It’s a book and it has graphic sex scenes. The genre most people call it is romance but having spent 11 years working in libraries, I’d call it erotica. Many in the media and on other blogs are dubbing these novels as “mommy porn.” Frankly, I’m pretty sure that mom’s of all ages have been watching porn long before this book. Talk about sexist. As if porn is only for men! Erotica or “Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.” has been around for years, try ancient Greece and Rome (Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter). Even the Judeo-Christian tradition includes the Song of Songs. Racey stuff! This isn’t new people. It’s not a revolution. The BDSM romance novels alone have been increasing dramatically the last decade. (oh the freedom of ebooks!)
Having recognized the long tradition of erotica in the written form, let’s not get carried away with our expectations. I don’t think most authors of erotica are planning to sweep readers away with their moving plot lines, deep riveting emotional changes, and sophisticated literary techniques. They will surely include bits and pieces of good writing. Occasionally, a piece of erotica will surprise you with it’s fanciful descriptions and depth. That exception doesn’t take away from the goal of arousing the reader. No one wants to read ten pages of landscape description when they pick this book up; they want sex. It’s not high literature. . . it’s erotica.
If BDSM isn’t your kink, don’t read it. (Please, I pray I don’t need to explain this)
Ooo, now my pet peeve of this current obsession with the book. A Florida library has banned
the series of books. They had copies on order, flying off the shelf, and then suddenly it has to go because of its “pornographic nature.” The same library has the Kama Sutra on its shelves. A decision to keep anyone under the age of 18 from checking it out, fine. Otherwise, they are going against the ethical code for libraries
. This code is all about equitable access and keeping personal bias out of providing needed services. Who cares if the book makes you squeemy Flordia librarians?! Your patrons want to read it, and it brings in new
people to your awesome fortress of information. Feed the damn dragons!!
Other people have issues with the BDSM elements in general. It is a step backward for women. It reinforces abusive relationships. It creates an unhealthy environment to raise a family in. Ect. People have, believe it or not, been involved in BDSM for many centuries. Today our world has given it new flashy terms and it’s getting a lot of media hype and attention (so is sex of any type, really). Good for it and the kinky people who love it. Why should people be ashamed to enjoy whatever consensual sex they want to have? It’s not about putting women in their place. Men can and are submissive, too. It’s about exploring how power is involved in sex and trusting your partner soooo much that you allow them to do unspeakable things to you. It’s about communicating intimately enough that you know when and what your partner needs and wants. Vanilla relationships could learn a thing or two from the kinkersters out there.
BDSM is great for those who are interested in it. Two caveats, though. One – This is NOT a how-to book. There are plenty of resources, especially books, that deal with the details of what to do and not to do. Books that walk you step-by-step on how to tie your lover up. Books that explain what each side will feel and get out of the experience. A good one to start with is SM 101
. Or head to google and find a local educational BDSM group. No, the people won’t kill you or be creepy. They will be nice and very understanding about your curiosity as long as you are polite and respectful (trust me, I know a few of these nice people!). Two – Don’t try this stuff without getting the information and knowledge beforehand. Sure many couples do things like fuzzy handcuffs or light spanking without knowing anything about BDSM. Great, but if you want to tie your partner from the ceiling (suspension) or use an implement like a cane or whip, please, please go educate yourself. You’ll learn helpful things like how to talk about limits and safewords and sub/topspace along the way.
50 Shades of Grey is an interesting trilogy and does a decent job for it’s genre. Don’t get all bent out of shape, World, because you’re just now figuring out that these things exist in our beautiful world.