In defense of E.L. James… from an unlikely source.

So, if you follow my blog, you know it’s no secret that I, like many bloggers, enjoy a good Fifty Shades roast… and by that I mean:

roast

/rōst/
Verb

Cook (food, esp. meat) by prolonged exposure to heat in an oven or over a fire.

burning books

If you follow my blog religiously, you are awesome. You are also aware that I was abused for a good portion of my life; so, I fully recognize the abusive relationship chronicled in this swill. I recognize that it triggers  survivors and it’s painful for them, because the “murcurial” moments of Christian Grey stressed me the fuck out and that whole belt scene was just damned hard to read for personal reasons. I seriously almost stopped reading the first book, despite my curiosity, because it was making me physically sick and giving me nightmares. So I get it.

I’ve also read reports of E.L. James’s response to the claims that this book romanticizes abuse, which pretty much amount to “Nuh huh!” before she blocks them. This and… oh, I don’t know… her writing… are proof that she’s an insensitve moronic twat. I am intensely enjoying this hilariously spot on, chapter by chapter analysis over the entire series. So… maybe I just made a really good case for the execution of E.L. James. All that being said, however:

All she did was write a book…
I’m certain I’m not the first to say that E.L. James did not create domestic violence. Sure, it’s super disturbing that she thinks it’s sexy, but apparently, so do a lot of women. I did read the trilogy, from the library’s e-media collection, because I didn’t want to touch the paperback. I didn’t purchase the book or any of its paraphenalia (I saw that display in the sex store), because I didn’t want to further support E.L. James in her degradation of women, but I was curious. I pretty much came to the conclusion that Fifty is just sexy to people who’ve never been abused or manipulated ever, because I didn’t get the appeal… at all.

Where’s the personal responsibility in the Fifty Shades of Domestic Violence discussion, though? I am absolutely not referring to the idea that women need to be more vigilant about not-getting-hit. I’m referring to the fact that we’re grown ass women. We schedule our yearly gynecological visits, report the broken faucet to maintenance, pay our bills, make sure there’s food in the kitchen and the oil gets changed, do something-with-children if we’re moms, and oh, I don’t know… hold full-time fucking jobs, but we’re not capable of putting poorly written erotica into perspective and realizing that it’s only good in a fantasy? It’s like when you fantasize about something that would make your grandma cry while you masturbate, but in actuality, you know you’d feel disgusting and degraded if you did that in real life. Fifty Shades of Grey is exactly that… unless you’re stupid and irresponsible.

How is it the fault of a woman who couldn’t come up with another word for “crap” with a gun to her head that our teenagers are secretly reading what has always been dubbed “erotica” cough:: porn:: cough on their Kindles? How is it the fault of a shitty fan-fic writer if we fail to further research the whole dom/sub thing before giving it a go with that guy off Craigslist? If the concern is that this is “normalizing” domestic abuse, then we need to be talking more about what constitutes abuse in society, so people can differentiate fantasy from reality and realize that this book is not a fucking how-to guide. It’s been advertised as one, but again, we’re at fault if we don’t understand how advertising works.  We need to monitor our children’s media better and sit down with them and ask what they’re getting out of Twilight and explain what’s wrong about it. However, we also need to let adults take responsibility for what they’re reading and the ideas they’re getting from it, because they’re fucking adults.

“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”

I don’t even kind of fucking get what’s so hot about that, even in a fantasy, but in an actual restaurant, it’s a reason to blow that rape whistle. I think the majority of women who read Fifty do get that.

… that’s been written a hundred times…
This is my biggest defense of E.L James. Sure, it’s been a few years since we heard the whole dom/sub thing, but the Alpha Male shit is prevalent across most romance novels and every other media. It’s not new. From Darrin Stevens to Edward Cullen, this shit is hold fucking hat. Samantha Stevens literally gave up the power to provide for herself so Darrin could feel needed. That’s from an actual damned episode where she conjures herself a fur coat and he’s livid. Edward Cullen regularly told Bella what she was and was not allowed to do and she swooned. E.L. James adding some handcuffs to the mix, doesn’t create a new genre. Men have been abusing women to cheering crowds since caveman days. Does that make it right? Fuck no. It also doesn’t make E.L. James any worse than all of those other authors of books, spanning all genres, where men overpower women who secretly want it. Such as in:

Twilight – young adult
Club Dead – mystery: Bill fucking rapes Sookie in this book and it slips her gee dee mind.
A Hunger Like No Other – paranormal romance
Dark Lover – paranormal romance
Bared to You – erotica (to be fair, this one came after Fifty)

Those are just off the top of my head, but let’s see… how about every single book on this Good Reads list titled “Alpha Male“?

The fact that this book is BDSM related isn’t what makes it abusive. It’s the way he talks to her and treats her and threatens and belittles her. Sadly, though, E.L. James is still no trailblazer in this.

… and that no one was forced to read.
Fuck yeah, it gave me nightmares and made me want to vomit… because I chose to read it. I saw the movie The Collection with the guys not too long ago. It was absolutely disgusting, but I sat through the whole thing, because they were watching it and I wanted to know what totally anatomically implausible thing would happen next and couldn’t stop wondering what the popularity of this gore said about society. That right there is exactly why I read Fifty Shades of Grey. It was offensive and upsetting and I’ll admit, it was a trigger for me in a lot of ways. I could’ve put it down. I didn’t. That is not the fault of E.L. James. That’s the fault of the moron who started it in the first place, knowing what it was after Googling it and loudly asking a coworker “What does BDSM mean?” even though she’s twenty-fucking-five. I swear, I may as well be a virgin.

Ultimately…

Fifty Shades is one of my favorite things to hate, as you can tell, since I said so here, here, here, and here. This post, however, was brought on by reading some blogs trashing E.L. James. Don’t get me wrong. I read what she said about domestic violence and her book…

James says she “freaks out when she hears people say that her book encourages domestic violence. “Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse,” she says. “Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they’ve found the books sexually empowering.”

… and I’ve read reports of her just refusing to discuss this issue with the people who’ve basically said “Um… I don’t feel trivialized by those people. I feel like you’re high-fiving me in the black eye.” I find her horribly inconsiderate. I’ve also been convinced for a while now that she sold her fucking soul to make these books popular, because they’re not even good porn. There is no plot, which is standard for erotica, but even the sex is redundant and awkward. As someone who’s been there, I can admit that yes, it’s upsetting when people call abuse sexy. However, E.L. James is not responsible for domestic abuse and has never actually compared the battered wives shelter to a brothel. Sure, it might be nice for her to come out and say “This book is not a how-to guide. It is meant for your enjoyment, not your replication,” but credit should be given where credit is due.

It’s not the porn industry’s fault that your marriage collapsed. It’s your ex-husband and his chafing dick that resulted from all of those downloads.

It’s not Alpha Male erotica that punched you in the kidneys. It’s a husband with anger problems who needs professional help.

Teenagers are not misinformed about sex because of an inaccurate erotic novel. They’re misinformed because their parents let them read it at 13.

It’s not the fault of a poorly written and irresponsibly advertised novel that someone ended up in the E.R. after misusing a spreader bar. It’s their fault for not taking advantage of the wealth of instantaneous information to research possibly unsafe bedroom activities.

Crap I’d Like to Share: An Almost Post

Ward: “What’s a blog?”
Me: “Well, you just write… about anything you want. People write about traveling, cooking, dating…”
Ward: “So, it’s writing essays for fun?”

Gramma: “In all my life, I have never seen so many fat young people.”

The day I taught her to text, I left her house and got the following a few hours later:
gramma

The time I tried to sell a friend on 50 Shades of Grey:

50

Summer of ’11, Gail and I took the worst vacation of all time. The air conditioner in the car broke as we rolled into New Mexico days before the 4th of July, Gail got strep throat, and my mother was… well, my mother. However, we did leave a basket for the aliens (translate: littered in the desert).

alien gift basket

agb 1

agb 2

agb 3

agb 4

Why are we reading this crap? (What Twenty-Somethings [I] See in Christian Grey)

Working in a library, it is impossible not to recognize the title Fifty Shades of Grey or the name Christian Grey. Frankly, living on planet Earth in 2012, it is impossible not to recognize either. Never in history, has any book been more overdone. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be a librarian. I do not care if you read smut. In fact, personally, I encourage it as a healthy expression of your own sexuality, in which no actual person is degraded in any way, unlike in pornographic films and magazines. In short:

Me: “I don’t care if Christian Grey wants to string Anastasia Steele up from the ceiling and gut her because it’s sexy. It’s still pretend.”
Gail: choking on soda “I DO!”

They’re make-believe. No real daddy issues are present. More power to you. End disclaimer.

The sex in 50 Shades of Grey is redundant and dry (pun fully intended), the writing atrocious, and the entire premise of a well-hung over-protective billionaire is just, for lack of a more fitting word, silly. Reading reviews for this title is a far more entertaining venture than actually reading said book. There are also much better ones out there than I could bother giving that much thought to, so I’ll avoid competing and address another issue all together.

What exactly is Christian Grey’s true appeal for women in their twenties?

I know that the primary audience for 50 Shades is women in their forties, but I also know a number of women my age who are reading it and swooning. So what’s the draw?

Women who’ve never been abused seem to consider Christian’s psychotic obsession with Ana appealing. He wants to protect her… by controlling every move she makes. He puts tracking devices on her phone pretty much from the moment he learns her name. Guards follow her everywhere once they begin dating. That’s insane, but whatever. Women who’ve never had someone manipulate and control them probably just don’t see this as manipulating and controlling, so they can continue reading with one hand under the covers. Protective is clearly not the only motivator here, however, or pretty much any romance novel would do. I, myself, read plenty of paranormal romance, in which the lead male character is usually some powerful alpha male, so this is hardly specific to Christian Grey.

50 Shades of Grey is erotica on a good day, plain Lady Porn on a bad one. I don’t care if there’s a picture of a tie on the cover; erotica is the nicest and most accurate description for this book. So, clearly, the sex would be a consideration of what makes Mr. Grey so perfect. However, not only is the sex redundant, unrealistic, and awkward, but the actual mechanics of it seem to be so… specific… that it’s unclear why this would appeal to such a wide demographic. I, myself, do not want someone to stick his thumb in my bloody vagina and then into my mouth. Nor do I want to be strung up like a deer and denied orgasm as punishment for disobedience. Soooo, for women in their twenties, who were probably subjected to better sex scenes than this as tweens secretly watching Sex and the City, Christian Grey’s stamina and technique probably just seems unrealistic, weird, and even inconvenient.

Even outside of the bedroom, Christian Grey is talented at everything. He’s a concert pianist, he flies gliders (didn’t know those were a thing until this book) and actual planes, has a taste for art, is multilingual, knows every martial art ever, is extraordinarily well-read and well-dressed, dances, and I think even sings. If there were a way to make it sexy, I’m pretty sure we’d have seen Christian Grey knit himself a sweater from the fur of the angora rabbits he raised from birth. However, I’m not so sure this level of skill is attractive to women in their likely competitive twenties so much as it would be daunting. If he’s better than me at everything, then what do I bring to the table? Why am I even here? That’s not sexy. That’s threatening and makes me feel insecure.

He’s protective, he’s well-hung, has the stamina of a Mack Truck, is a connoisseur of everything, but most of all, Christian Grey is unrealistically wealthy. I’m pretty sure he sells Black Market unicorn blood, because at 26-years-old, he owns Seattle and apparently most of the geographically scrambled Northwest. He has a plane, 43 cars, eleventeen houses, all the clothes ever, several salons, and oh yeah… a publishing company. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I cannot speak for every twenty-something out there, but I can speak for myself. The only thing I see in Christian Grey lies in his ability to give Anastasia everything… particularly her dream job. Anastasia graduates college with a generic degree and no basic knowledge any 21-year-old should possess. She wants to do Something With English, but she doesn’t have her own computer or E-mail address. She’s spent the last few years working in a completely unrelated position at a hardware store and has a few hundred dollars in the bank. She has no future, when along comes Christian Grey with the gift of a new car that is apparently pretty needed and tons of fancy gadgets. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really care that much about the car and the technology. I’m an easy gal to please when it comes to physical possessions. Christian, however, doesn’t just buy her every new toy she wants (and some creepy ones she doesn’t), he buys the entire publishing company that hired her… then promotes her… and gives it to her. That is FUCKING AWESOME. I’d let a man string me up and stick anything in my ass he wanted if it meant he’d give me a library to run. I totally get it now. She graduated college with a pretend degree and no concrete plans and now she gets an entire publishing company? Keep your damned car and that British Library on iPad. I just want the dream job.

Security. That’s what I see in Christian Grey. It’s not the protectiveness, the sex, the talents, or even the luxury for me. It’s a girl with the murky future that always accompanies the end of college (particularly with no skills or specific goals) and a man who is going to give her total control in the career she most desires, with no experience at all. Later she gets a husband and kids and that’s all fine and well, but my greatest envy is a permanent position in her field. Considering my entire generation grew up swooning when an abusive Beast gives Belle a library, I am seriously doubting I’m alone here.

I had this jacket specially tailored to cover the handcuff bruises.