Why I (probably) won’t read Fifty Shades of Grey
Other than the fact that everyone I know right now has told me about this story and what happens in it so that I feel like I already have read it? Oh wait, let me amend that sentence; every woman I know. I have not met a single man yet who has read it. Anyone else?
If you read my Confessions of a Book Snob you will note Confession #5 – I typically ignore any book that for some unknown reason turns masses of women into screaming, uncontrollable and obsessive bullies.
Fifty Shades of Grey is becoming one of those books/series. I haven’t experienced the bullying side of women yet regarding this book but the obsessive is certainly rampant. It is rare to find a woman who hasn’t read it and when they find out I haven’t read it yet they look at me like I have tears of blood flowing from my eyes and then proceed to work every angle they can to convince me (short of bribing me) that it is a must read. Even my church going mother-in-law has read it and wants to talk about it. In fact, every woman I’ve met who’s read it wants to talk about it yet what surprises me the most is they don’t want to talk about the most obvious thing in the book – the sex. This is what I find extremely interesting. Why are women who have read it scratching their heads and saying “it isn’t a very good story but there is something about it”? Why are they all saying – “you know, it isn’t about the sex…I just don’t know what it is” followed by a lengthy discussion on the male character himself, Christan Grey? Then it occurred to me. I think I got a sense of what is making women turn into puddles of goo over it and no, it wasn’t the sex. Once I had my suspicion I started talking to other women, the women who secretly wished they never read the book in the first place.
I’ve read my share of erotica. I once read Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series in my early impressionable years thinking it was a cool retelling of Sleeping Beauty and nothing more. Yowzer! I don’t think I’ve ever blushed so much as I did reading that series. And while it felt wonderfully forbidden to read these tantalizing stories, something started to bother me. So I tried a couple of other erotica and found most of them to be similar and was able to put my finger on what was bothering me – women being dominated by men in humiliating situations. I even turned to romance for a few books to see if this theme was presenting itself in them and found that so far, yes, they were. Romance novelists just make it more subtle. So my thoughts led me to believe that this obsession with Fifty Shades of Grey had to do with women secretly wanting to be dominated by men. Yet, even that didn’t sit right with me because there are women I know who had read it that didn’t care for the sex scenes in the book. The obsession seemed to be with Christian Grey himself. So I started to read reviews and other people’s thought on this book and what was bugging me became a clear question in my head. Do we women, still to this day, secretly believe that we can change a man? No, not change him, but save him? Is this belief still prevalent in our secret thoughts? That we women will save a tortured man from himself? I gotta tell you, I don’t like this line of thought and had hoped we, as women, were far past it. This line of thought can prevent a woman from leaving an abusive relationship. This line of thought can lead a woman to an abusive relationship.
I don’t know about you but the emotionally neutered and ‘tortured’ men I’ve met in my life I couldn’t be bothered with. I have my own issues to deal with. Girls – we can’t change men. Ever. Never. It won’t ever happen. A man’s evolution and growth, just like our own, is dependent only upon himself and his desire to change.
I was in the book store yesterday and saw that it has begun. All the other Fifty Shades of Grey type books are coming out and I don’t know if I should be running for the hills. I read the summaries and they all have the same storyline – a plain-jane woman dealing with insecurities meets a man that she shouldn’t be attracted to but she is because she can’t help herself as there is just something so powerful and commanding about him so she does everything she can to resist him because he is cold, cruel and tortured but man, there is just something about him – and he just needs to be helped, right? In the end he falls in love with her because out of all the women that he has sexually humiliated and controlled and bullied, she, she is the one who saves him from himself. All that crap he has done to her in the meantime? Forgiven. Because she gets to be the one who saves him. (Okay, maybe I’ve elaborated a bit.)
One of my favourite bloggers suggested reading this book if ONLY for a debating point on whether or not women are regressing. This alone has me considering the read which is where the ‘probably’ in the title is coming from. I realize if I am going to have such a strong stance against the harmful concept that women can change men that I should arm myself with first hand knowledge, not the information whispered to me in passing by women who hated what this book represents. I’d love to hear other people’s arguments for or against reading it.
But jeez girl, it’s just a frickin’ book! Lighten up will ya?
I’m a book snob. I take this shit seriously. Besides, it wouldn’t make me question it if it wasn’t so damned popular – like everything that grabs the attention of the collective consciousness, I have to question it. It is my nature.
Hey, did you know Fifty Shades of Grey originated as Twilight fan fiction? Yeah…
UPDATE – NOVEMBER 11, 2012
Since posting this I have since tried to read the book. Tried being the operative word here. I got to page 75 and decided I loved myself too much to continue on. The story is dull – it barely has enough mass to hold my attention. Anastasia is a caricature (does the writer want me to like her or hate her?) and Christian Grey is the same type of mysterious, brooding self -loathing description of a man I’ve read in countless other books.
This is my rating: