I had a go at reading 50 Shades of Grey. I got as far as the halfway point before skim reading to the end to try and work out what all the fuss was about.
Luckily I spent just £4 on it, so not too much anger at that, I’d expected more given the hype, but what I found in that stylishly covered tome was some of the most offensive writing I’d read in a long time.
I know some writers and I’m an avid reader and there are a ton of great books out at the moment, Nina De La Mer’s 4am, an incredible novel is a brilliant piece of literature, http://www.amazon.co.uk/m-Nina-De-La-Mer/dp/0956559956, as is The Life Of Pi (my two most recent reads), and any number of new best sellers could outclass this “novel” with little effort. And yet, it’s not only topped the best seller list…for a REALLY long time, but it’s just won the National Book Award http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20599930. And I’m absolutely stunned as to why…
You see, I tried to read this piece of shit, not only was it trite, tedious, repetitive and desperately trying to be sensationalistic, but it was absolutely point blank saying that domestic abuse is OK. I am (almost) speechless that during the 16 days of activism against gender violence http://www.amnesty.org/en/womens-rights/16-days that this book would be heralded as piece of entertainment worthy of such an award.
Now let me be clear, I’m absolutely for freedom of speech, hell, without it I wouldn’t be able to spout the stuff I do on here and without it so many voices would not be heard, would never find a podium from which to air their views to the world and effect change. But that doesn’t mean that we have to agree with what gets put out there. It also doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t call out normalising of Domestic Abuse when we see/read it. I am fortunate to not have been a victim of this type of domestic violence myself, but I do see echoes of a terribly desructive, controlling and abusive relationship I was once in. It doesn’t take a genius to see that packaging a controlling, sadistic character as some kind of lost soul who needs saving, and by having your female protagonist complying with his demands because “she’s just so hot for him” you cloud the fact that it’s glamourising violence against women.
The media has been thrilled to coin this “mummy porn”, I find the term highly offensive, apart from the fact that Pornography is by and large understood to be a seedy, shady, dirty thing, lumping it with the term mummy is suggesting we “bored housewives” who have nothing to do when our babies/kids are sleeping sit around reading 50 shades having a furtive wank or two. It’s so nudge-nudge wink wink that it enrages me. Suddenly, it’s OK for guys to be ogling page 3, “what are you on about with your complaining woman, you’ve got your 50 shades now, we’re all equal, fare’s fare”. But it’s not fare, far from it.
Not only does 50 Shades glamourise violence, it perpetuates the myth that women enjoy it, it perpetuates the myth that the only kind of sexual fantasy women REALLY enjoy is a violent one. And to top it all off, it’s the worst standard of writing I’ve read in a long time and doesn’t really tell any story at all.
I think the fact that it’s won such an award is shameful, after all, if it were just about reading numbers – like viewing numbers, Big Brother at its height should have won countless awards for high drama. Volumes of numbers reading a book do not determine its worth. I just wish more people had been discussing its hideous content and the connotation therein rather than whether or not women will now be looking to invest in a pair of killer heels and leather underwear this Christmas.