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“Get Over It!” How not to respond to critics of 50 Shades of Grey

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You liked 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels. You enjoyed the movie. You log onto Facebook to tell people how much you liked it, and BAM! You’re slapped in the face with shared articles about how it promotes abuse, about how Christian Grey is a stalker, about why the books aren’t a good example of a healthy D/s relationship. It almost feels like you, personally, are being called into question. You get defensive. You type, “It’s just a movie! Get over it!”

I’d need both my hands, my feet, and someone else’s hands and feet (preferably not severed) to count the number of times “Get over it!” has appeared on my Facebook timeline this week. The same for “It’s just fiction!” I understand where the impulse is coming from; 50 Shades of Grey has caused some women to have a “sexual awakening,” or began their interest in reading altogether. Maybe you read the books and thought they were the most gripping, well-written pieces of fiction ever. Maybe you were shocked at how closely they resembled your own fantasies. For whatever reason, these books captured your imagination and brought you a large amount of enjoyment. They became special to you–possibly the most important books you’ve read in your entire life–and now it seems that the world is against them.

I never thought 50 Shades of Grey would receive the kind of whiplash reactions in movie form as it did when the books were first published. I clearly underestimated the mass appeal of the film medium and the ticking time bomb that was set to explode the moment anyone showed any small amount of excitement or derision over the franchise. There’s so much frustration on both sides, but I can really only speak from one viewpoint. So that’s what I’m doing today. I want to give you, the 50 Shades of Grey fan, a primer on how not to argue with a 50 Shades of Grey critic.

 Don’t assume that critics haven’t read the books or seen the movie. I’m consistently amazed when people tell me that because I don’t share their opinion, I must not have read the books. “You probably just read the first book! You didn’t read the others, or you’d see that he changes!” But I did read the book, so now your argument is… well, it’s over. If you assume ignorance of or unfamiliarity with the material is the sole cause of criticism, I have bad news for you. A lot of critics have read all three books, specifically so that we’re armed with knowledge to back up our opinions. And we still think the relationship is abusive, warped, and chock full o’ rape.

Don’t tell us that the books created new readers. Whenever any book sells the way 50 Shades of Grey sold, obviously it’s not selling only to “career readers.” It’s absolutely selling to people who weren’t readers before, and we all know this already. But having readers come to the genre because they like one specific book doesn’t improve anything for readers or authors. These readers don’t want romance novels. They want one specific romance novel. They are going to read and buy any copycat of 50 Shades of Grey they can get their hands on, but that’s all they’re going to buy. Which is good news for those authors who were already writing D/s romance with über-possessive Dom heroes, but bad news for anyone writing in any other genre. Ditto for the readers; when the demand is for books that are exactly like 50 Shades of Grey, publishers are going to be all too happy to supply them, until the market is saturated and it’s hard to find anything that isn’t about a sexually inexperienced college student and her abusive billionaire boyfriend. How does that benefit readers or authors? It just doesn’t.

If you’re engaging with an author who is critical of 50 Shades of Grey, don’t tell them to be thankful for the money they’re going to make. I’ve never made it a secret that my current financial success wouldn’t have been possible without 50 Shades of Grey. But you know what? I’m sure the funeral director who has an unusually successful quarter isn’t thankful for that train derailment. 50 Shades of Grey existing isn’t something authors can magically undo. We weren’t asked, “Would you like to make more money? Here’s the catch: a horrible, copyright infringing, abuse and rape glorifying train wreck of a novel is going to become a runaway bestseller and everyone is going to fight about it endlessly on all forms of social media. Still game?” We didn’t have that choice. I’m sure there are some people who would have said, “Yes, I’m comfortable with that. But as it stands, if authors are making money hand over fist because of 50 Shades of Grey, they never asked to. They don’t have to give thanks if they morally object to the content of the book or the plagiarism controversy surrounding it. We don’t owe E.L. James anything, and it’s insulting to tell someone that they should be thankful for a favor they never asked for. “Thank you” is not an obligation.

 Don’t assume that the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand what BDSM is. I know that 50 Shades of Grey makes it seem like BDSM is this dark, secret thing that not many people are aware of, but it’s been out there for centuries and it’s more common than you’d think. Make sure that the person you’re discussing the books/film with is actually confusing BDSM with abuse before you try to educate them on the fact that BDSM isn’t abuse. Also, don’t assume that because you have experience with BDSM and you enjoyed the books that your experiences are being called into question. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy the book, but from a factual standpoint the BDSM practices are poorly represented. You may have twenty-five years of experience paddling asses, but that doesn’t make the kink in 50 Shades of Grey any more accurate.

It doesn’t matter that it’s “just fiction.” Before Jaws hit theaters in 1975, great white sharks weren’t the villains we now believe them to be. But when the movie–which was purely fiction–became a blockbuster, it directly caused humans to seek out and kill sharks, causing widespread population drops in shark species across the board. The influence of that piece of fiction (coincidentally also based on a novel) even coined its own name: The Jaws Effect. When Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was published, it was perceived by the public to be an erotic novel, despite the fact that it told the story of child sexual abuse through the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator. The result? To this day, we refer to sexually precocious teen girls as “Lolitas,” despite the author’s intent. Yes, 50 Shades of Grey is fiction, but fiction isn’t created or consumed in a vacuum. It is influenced by our culture, and influences our culture, and 50 Shades of Grey isn’t an exception. Even though something is “just fiction,” it can still have detrimental effects on society or expose problems that already exist in our perceptions. So when someone says “50 Shades of Grey promotes abuse as romance,” they’re not saying, “50 Shades of Grey is a totally real thing that happened and is a cautionary tale.” They’re saying that this work of fiction is having, or has the potential to create, real world effects.

Don’t assume that people can only care about one thing. “Why are you worried about 50 Shades of Grey? There are homeless people dying in the streets! There are people in Africa who are starving! There are child molesters and drug dealers and terrorism and you’re complaining about a harmless fantasy!” You know what’s interesting about all of that? Me liking 50 Shades of Grey, or even just me not talking about 50 Shades of Grey, would not solve any of those problems. I could go for an entire day not talking about 50 Shades of Grey and there would still be starving people and abused children in the world. You know what’s another interesting fact? I care about all of those issues, as well. I’m sure you’re capable of caring about all of those issues while simultaneously enjoying and defending 50 Shades of Grey, right? Are we operating under the assumption that people who don’t like 50 Shades of Grey are incapable of being informed about and sympathetic to more than one cause at a time? If your demand is that I change all the ills of the world before I express an opinion about 50 Shades of Grey, then I’m going to have to ask you, respectfully, to fulfill the same quota before you express yours.

 Don’t say, “If you don’t like it, don’t read/see it!” It’s not like there’s some commune somewhere that we can escape to in order to not be aware of 50 Shades of Grey. It’s in the news, magazines, on the internet, everyone is talking about it. There is no escape. Some people (like me) read the books out of curiosity because everyone was talking about them. And we didn’t know we wouldn’t like them until we read them. Like Harry Potter or Twilight, everyone is forced to know about them.

Don’t call into question the feminism of someone who dislikes 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, E.L. James is a woman. Yes, she is a successful woman. But so is Sarah Palin, and, like Sarah Palin, E.L. James has said and written some things that are pretty damaging to women. It’s not anti-feminist to criticize the actions of a woman if those actions are harmful to other women. If someone says they believe that 50 Shades of Grey is harmful to women, the answer is not to tell them they’re not being a good feminist. They’re being great feminists; they’re questioning our cultural perceptions of relationships, gender roles, and heteronormativity, and how they affect all women.

Comrade Twerk brings up a good point. You may feel patronized by women wanting to protect other women from the messages in 50 Shades of Grey, because you already know that the behaviors depicted in the books are unhealthy. But that doesn’t mean all women know that the behaviors in the books are unhealthy, and their ignorance could be exploited. In the same vein, you might know not to mix chlorine bleach and ammonia, but someone else might not know that. Do you find the warnings “DO NOT MIX WITH BLEACH” on your household cleaning products patronizing? To the point that you would be willing to risk someone killing themselves with mustard gas by accident, just so you never had to see those warnings in the future?

 When someone is pointing out the problematic content, don’t tell them to “get over it.” So many people who have taken issue with the themes of abuse and rape in 50 Shades of Grey are speaking from personal experiences of abuse and/or rape. When you tell them to “get over” their problems with the books, you’re telling them to “get over” the abuse they experienced. Is this true of every critic? No. But even if the person you’re talking to didn’t experience intimate partner abuse, you’re still telling them to “get over” caring about the prevention of rape and intimate partner abuse. Yes, even if you didn’t see that element present in the novels. You’re still trying to silence discussion of some very serious issues.

We know you’re tired of seeing people complain about 50 Shades of Grey. We’re tired of seeing you sing its praises. You know how you just posted a wall of text status update about how great 50 Shades of Grey is and how haters need to get a life? People who don’t care for 50 Shades of Grey, or who don’t want to see anything about it because they’re plain disinterested, had to see it. If you don’t want to hear people complain about 50 Shades of Grey, then you need to stop talking about it, and we wouldn’t have to hear your side, either. Or, you could simply accept that when millions of people discuss a world-wide phenomenon, they’re not all going to agree with you. The people who don’t agree aren’t attacking you by not enjoying something that you enjoy. They’re not calling into question whether or not you’re a good person. They’re exercising their right to voice concerns that, like it or not, are shared by millions of people.

If you truly believe that fiction cannot shape or be shaped by our culture, find a piece of fiction that is wholly devoid of culture context, commentary, or influence and use it to back up your point. If you find a tender love story at the core of 50 Shades of Grey, try to present it to us without accusing us of misunderstanding BDSM or not reading the material. If you can’t defend the books without dancing around the criticism by invoking larger issues, guilting critics, or silencing the conversation all together, then you can’t effectively defend the books or movie at all.

And if you don’t like that… “get over it.”

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134 Comments

  1. Holy crap (sorry!). I was totally channeling you this weekend because I said almost all these exact things to someone on Facebook.

    A guy friend posted that he went to see it with his wife and he was ashamed of himself for seeing it. Someone else commented, “But you have to admit it was good!” and it went from there. She kept telling me it was “just a book,” “just and movie” and to get over it, after first stating how “Christian has his reasons for being how he is. I really hope you’ll see the next two movies to find out about it.”

    This does seem to be a good example of the literacy skills of a 50 Shades defender, I suppose — where “I’m ashamed of myself for seeing it” means, “It was awesome!”

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • Amber
      Amber

      I love the whole “Christian has reasons!” thing. Abusive people aren’t born they’re made. That doesn’t make the rape and abuse they doll out better or okay or justified. It’s still horrible and still unacceptable. We as a society need to stop protecting these people and start protecting their victims.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
  2. As usual, your have voiced my thoughts on this particular topic in a far more articulate way than I could have.

    “Get over it”/”It’s just a book!”/”It’s getting people to read!” has always struck me as the fallback for people who don’t have any actual counter-arguments and are trying to derail with abstract concepts that are difficult if not impossible to prove. “It’s getting people to read!” is a particularly baffling argument, since it’s pretty much impossible to prove (and personal anecdotes about some great-aunt who never read anything but the back of a cereal box before discovering these books is not proof). Well, unless said person could cough up some kind of peer-reviewed study showing that literacy rates in the world spiked after the publication of these books (and even then, correlation =/= causation, unless it were possible to interview every single participant in said study and confirm that they did, in fact, become avid readers after discovering Fifty Shades).

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • I haven’t come across anyone who has continued reading or read anything of actual quality due to this book. I suppose it’s possible it’s happened. I couldn’t get my daughter interested in reading to save my life. Then she read Harry Potter and she never stopped. She reads tons of stuff now. So Harry Potter did get at least one person to become a true reader. 🙂

      I also hate the idea that as long as someone is reading, it doesn’t matter what the person is reading. I would probably be OK with these books if people just acknowledged they’re porn (and not even very good porn) instead of holding them up as literature.

      What comforts me is that A Song of Ice and Fire is still popular. That bodes well for we who have always been readers and like to read good books, right?

      February 16, 2015
      |Reply
      • Tracy
        Tracy

        I wish everyone would acknowledge them instead as dull, long winded fanfic.

        February 16, 2015
        |Reply
  3. Amber Rose
    Amber Rose

    Once you again, you reinforce the platonic author-crush I have on you. 😀

    I’ll be bookmarking this for reference.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  4. That deserves a slow clap.

    *clap*

    *clap*

    *clap*

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • xebi
      xebi

      Ha. Your friend is awesome.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • Jess
      Jess

      Sadly, I didn’t even think these were satire until I got to the one that said “Do I afraid you?” Well done.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
  5. Raine
    Raine

    Preach! I’m so damn tired of the Grey Crew telling me that I have to “get over it” since “it’s just a book” and that the movie is so good (which I highly doubt).

    I thankfully quit Facebook long before this mess, although Twilight was out then and it had the same style of defenders. Shitty franchise fans stick together maybe?

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • well, 50 shades was Twilight fan fiction, so I’m not surprised

      February 16, 2015
      |Reply
  6. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    I came here today for this.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  7. An Author
    An Author

    Excellent post. You nailed pretty much everything that’s absurd about the backlash-against-the-backlash.

    I’d like to offer a counterpoint on the “career readers” bit from an author’s POV.

    There are definitely some readers who “discover” reading through FSoG and then go on to read better books. They’ve written me letters about it. They’ve thanked me (too kindly, IMO, but hey!) for writing romance novels with graphic sex that aren’t dumbed down and deeply misogynistic like Fifty. They’ve explained their process of reading evolution and marveled at how they used to think FSoG was good. And there are some who still love FSoG, but also love romances that aren’t sexist, abusive, poorly-written, or otherwise shitty.

    I think this is a (groan) grayer area than those of us who are critical of FSoG are comfortable admitting. My question is: what’s the conversion rate of readers who start with FSoG and go on to better books?

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that when readers shelve FSoG in their favorite books on Goodreads et al, their other favorites/highly-rated titles tend to be very similar: sexist, abusive bullshit masquerading as “romance.” They seem to stick to that milieu and read books that reinforce everything that’s shitty about Fifty Shades: the abysmal writing, the vapid characterization, the utter lack of depth and nuance, the mistreatment of women, the male power fantasy, etc. So, not everyone who starts reading because of FSoG is able to grow beyond it.

    But I’m loath to judge anyone too harshly for their “gateway drug” into books. I read some garbage when I was a kid (not FSoG-caliber garbage, but formulaic, cliché trash) and eventually graduated to classics and literary fiction and all sorts of awesomely progressive lit.

    So I’m desperately curious to learn what it is that drives some readers to seek out better books, and what keeps others content in their happy bubble of sexist bullshit. At the very least, frank criticism of FSoG (like yours) is key to popping that bubble and helping curious readers discover the wide world of finer literature out there.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • I read a lot of garbage, too, when I was younger. It’s the full-grown adult women (over 30 and even middle-aged) who I shake my head at over these books. They should know better.

      There is so much better quality out there. Even if you just want to read trash, there is better-written trash out there.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lieke
        Lieke

        I don’t think it’s a matter of age as much it is a matter of experience.

        Many people don’t really read a lot when they’re young (except stuff they’re required to read for school/study) and subsequently they don’t recognise bad writing, cliched plots, disturbing themes, flat characters and so on. They don’t have reading material to compare FSoF to and they haven’t yet gotten to the part where they’re able to separate good fiction from bad fiction.

        Most readers do their questionable reading when they are young and over time they develop their critical reading skills. If you start reading at a later age you have to go through the same thing. Yes, you’re older and (hopefully) wiser, but you’re still a beginner.

        I think that’s the case with a lot of popular books. Many people (who do not usually read recreationally) will try out these books because everyone’s talking about them. Those people will enjoy them, while voracious readers (that’s us) have read much better books and can pinpoint easily what’s lacking.

        February 17, 2015
        |Reply
  8. Ange
    Ange

    What I’ve been seeing most of is ‘but Ana was in control the entire time! She consented so it’s not abuse! She could walk away the entire time!’ Ummm, when exactly did any of that happen? I even saw one person say she cried so much because she was falling in love. When I was dating my husband I laughed and smiled a lot, guess I assumed that would be the norm…

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  9. Annie
    Annie

    I was discussing this with my mother and she countered with, “Well, it’s a movie and nobody believes that the stunts in James Bond are real.” I really didn’t know how to respond.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
    • Greg
      Greg

      You did not know how to respond because your mom is 100% correct.

      February 16, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lita
        Lita

        You know, there was a woman who died looking for the Fargo treasure?

        February 17, 2015
        |Reply
    • You didn’t know to respond because it’s a stupid argument that makes no sense (which I assume is what you are getting at, but judging by the comment above someone clearly needs to spell shit out). If we’re talking James Bond stunts, then the most direct parallel in the FSoG movie would be the sex scenes, and very few critics are saying anything negative about the sex scenes. The vast majority of the criticism is of the relationship between the main characters and the characters’ portrayals. If we’re still talking Bond movies, then the most direct parallel to *that* would be Bond himself and his relationships. Sure, nobody thinks a person like Bond could ever actually exist, and he’s essentially popular fantasy of hypermasculinity (which includes sex with many women whose characterizations generally fit into male fantasy stereotypes–the femme fatale, the damsel in distress, etc). So *then* you’d get into the nitty gritty of what the Bond character conveys about masculinity and media perceptions of women and that’s definitely a topic that’s had its fair share criticism.

      February 16, 2015
      |Reply
      • Annie
        Annie

        Thank you! That was extremely helpful.

        February 17, 2015
        |Reply
    • Neurite
      Neurite

      Over on The Pervocracy (where Cliff has been doing another lovely takedown of FSoG), there was a discussion in the comments about just that sort of argument, even going into the fact that some of us kinkier folks like some of our kinky erotica with elements that would definitely 100% be rapey and abusive in real life. The difference being that those stories are always presented clearly as fantasies and absolutely not okay in reality (often with explicit disclaimers!), while EL James has repeatedly said that she considers FSoG a deeply romantic love story, and thinks it can give couples pointers to improve their real-life relationships.

      So similarly, nobody believes that the James Bond stunts are real, but James Bond is not marketed as a guide for how to conduct proper intelligence gathering / organized crime fighting. It’s explicitly marketed as an unrealistic fantasy. Whereas there are FSoG fans that unironically ask “where is my Christian Grey?”

      I bring up the discussion on The Pervocracy because poster Nom de Plumage there brilliantly summarized this distinction in the following way:

      “It’s okay for superheroes to jump off bridges; it’s not okay for characters in Sesame Street Visits the Golden Gate Bridge.”

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
      • noneyo
        noneyo

        Just the thoughts of an anonymous kinkster member of what is (for my local BDSM scene) a group of well-adjusted, intelligent, varied and downright classy people. All I can say is that I personally prefer events that take place in private homes with hidden “batcave style” basement/garage dungeons where everyone who has the address has been vetted to some extent.

        I recommend the documentary “The real fifty shades of grey” as the most realistic mass media portrayal I have personally seen of BDSM (emphasis is on community).

        I would just like to point out that the author of “Fifty Shades” is a self-confessed BDSM outsider. Just saying…

        April 3, 2015
        |Reply
  10. Annie
    Annie

    Thank you, that was an excellent article.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  11. Petra Newman
    Petra Newman

    This is one of these post you want to email shot everywhere with I AGREE signed me written at the bottom. One of the things that has always annoyed me with the ‘it’s just a book’ brigade is the way that it’s a ‘have your cake and eat it’ kind of argument. One the one hand we are constantly being told that this book opened up many women to discuss and look at their sexual desire in a positive way, something I would argue is an example of the active impact of a novel, on the other, ‘don’t critique this silly, it’s just a book’; which is an argument that self reflexively denies any active influence. I was confronted with this argument recently and to make my point I put a pin in the whole 50 Shades thing and asked the person to describe her reaction to her favourite book and then movie. As most people do when you get them started on the topic of something they love, she waxed rhapsodic about the ways said book and film had stayed with her, lived in her imagination and shaped a small part of her personality that had been profoundly affected by it. As with a lot of people, one of the examples she gave she had discovered during her late teen years and the impact of it had stayed with. Of course by this point it was easy to ask “so if that stuff affected you in that way, on such a deep level, why is 50 Shades any different? What gives readers of this book a magic pass from being affected and altered in the ways you described being moved by other books and films? Now imagine a teenager reading this and taking it to heart in the same way you did your favourite book.” The hollowness of the whole ‘get over it’ argument stands and falls at the point at which anyone admits to have been moved or affected by a work of art, literature, movie, etc. Your post makes this wonderfully clear and once again Jen you do us all a great service with your writing – which kind of proves my earlier point!

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  12. Kurrie Hoyt
    Kurrie Hoyt

    Point of interest for future arguments: Since you used Jaws up there, it’s worth noting that Peter Benchley stated many times since writing the book and the movie script that he wished he had never written either. He was horrified by the aftermath of Jaws and the wholesale slaughter carried out on Great Whites because of the fear his writing instilled through the written word and cinema. He intended to simply tell a scary story and had an unintended impact on the world.

    We can only hope that someday E.L. will look back on 50 Shades of Abuse and realize the impact her errors in romantic judgment have had on the world.

    And on a personal note, I cuddle your blog. 😛 Ok, not literally but if I could find a way to literally curl around it and hold it and whisper sweet-nothings to it, I would. Your blog has been the bright point in the last two months since losing my mom and has actually helped me start writing more than a few paragraphs a day. Thank you for being dipped in awesome-sauce.

    February 16, 2015
    |Reply
  13. Mitzy247
    Mitzy247

    Telling people to worry about more important things is a giant pet peeve of mine. You see this used against feminist a ton: “Why are you worried about how female game characters dress when women are forced to wear burqas in the Middle East?!” “Who cares if women make less money in the workforce? There are girls getting their genitals mutilated in Africa!!” “Children are starving all over the world, and you’re protesting against ’50 Shades of Grey.'”

    Because no one can have their own personal cause or care about more than one thing at a time…

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • lee
      lee

      priorities. fgm, rape gender, pay gap. important things. 50 shades of grey. not important

      July 7, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lieke
        Lieke

        Oh, let’s go down the rabbit hole, shall we?

        Since you think that the FSoG debate is not important (FYI ‘not important’ is not the same as ‘less important’) why did you read a blog post about FSoG and enter a discussion about FSoG?

        Presumably, you could be doing WAY more important stuff, like reading blog posts and joining in debates about stuff you actually find important. So, why are you wasting your time here, which is what you’re accusing all of us of doing? Irony!

        July 8, 2015
        |Reply
  14. All of the people who got a “sexual awakening” from these books – I really, really want them to read “Outlander.” But they won’t – because the books are huge, because there’s a lot of non-sexual content, because there’s – ugh – historical facts and figures and other boring stuff in between the ermagerd scenes. And yet those scenes are miles above and beyond anything James has ever imagined.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • Nita
      Nita

      Love Outlander! But then again, I love historical fiction and strong women.

      I was one of those people Lieke described above. I never read anything, even required reading in school simply because I didn’t like to. About 6 years ago my friend badgered me non stop to read Twilight (I know, I know) but, and big but, I never went on a defending spree to people who recognize that they’re not that great. I liked the fantasy element enough, though, to get into other books and I read constantly now. Some things I’ve found I love, like Outlander, some I really hate. I read 50 when it was fanfic and I hated it then and hate it now, and not just because she stole from at least 3 people’s works to write that trash. I still can’t figure out how this even got as far as it did, because even as a novice reader I knew the quality was just as awful as the content. Also, now I no longer let my friend give me book recommendations because all she gives me is crap.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • Mocha
      Mocha

      Outlander has it’s fair share of criticism, too. Especially for the scene where Jamie beats Claire.

      June 16, 2015
      |Reply
  15. Greg
    Greg

    It is a movie based on a book for crying out loud. Why do some people like to make so much adieu about nothing at a time when we have major problems in the world such as the Middle East burning, armed conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, etc. Could it be that the controversy over this movie is exactly what the military-industrial complex wants because it gets the distracted masses to be distracted even more?

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • You are either a master of sarcasm or a complete idiot. Based on a previous comment of yours, I suspect which one it is.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I covered this point in my post.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • Melicious
      Melicious

      the phrase you’re looking for is “much ado about nothing”–“adieu” is french for “goodbye”, and it makes no sense to use it where you have. it’s a common error.

      February 20, 2015
      |Reply
    • lee
      lee

      yes!!!!!!

      July 7, 2015
      |Reply
  16. Greg
    Greg

    When people who do not know anything about me throw labels around – that says more about those people throwing those labels and nothing about me. I exercise my 1st Amendment right and speak my mind.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • You’re more than welcome to speak your mind. But either you read the post and are a master Poe or you didn’t read the post and commented, anyway.

      I’m actually kind of laughing at you right now.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Which makes you look like an idiot. Life’s funny that way.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      This isn’t the government, and the internet isn’t the United States, Greg. Your first amendment right isn’t being threatened in any way.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
  17. Lieke
    Lieke

    Yeah, come on, people! The movie is BASED ON A BOOK. It’s about an abusive relationship is marketed as a love story. And the ‘military-Industrial complex’ is totally behind it. They know that we can only care about one thing at a time. If we all stop being distracted by FSoG the conflicts in the Middle East and the Ukraine (and the whole fucking world) would be solved in no time! #sarcasm.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
  18. Badass Digest posted a piece this week about how it’s sexist that the whole country is criticizing this movie because they make plenty of bad movies for men—I told them they kind of missed the point of the majority of the criticism. We don’t care about the quality of the film or book, but about the content.

    I think this whole assumption that criticism of media is criticism of the people who still enjoy it is the center of the #Gamergate thing. A bunch of gamers too immature to separate themselves from the media they consume took Anita Sarkeesian’s calls for better media as a personal attack and lashed out. Liking problematic media doesn’t make you a bad person, but losing your mind and flipping out on critics kind of does.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • zvi
      zvi

      I think you are conflating two different things.

      If I read the piece on Badass Digest that you are thinking of, they weren’t talking about criticism of the book or the movie that actually addresses the movie with any seriousness, as if it is worth thinking about the themes or mores the book promotes or what cultural stories it reinforces.

      BD was saying that people dismiss the book as unimportant and uninfluential because they are dismissive of the people to whom it is important—middle-aged women—and don’t believe those people have any cultural influence.

      So, I would suggest that BD is talking about mockery and you are talking about critique, both of which fall under the category of criticism, but which it is possible to have different feelings about whether or how they are problematic or appropriate.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
  19. A. Yount
    A. Yount

    Oh my god marry me. Seriously, this is the most beautiful blog post in the world and I love you for it. I’m so tired of hearing all these arguments thrown at my head. Thank you once again for telling it exactly as it is.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
  20. Greg
    Greg

    Trout – no you did not address the point I raised in my comment. Everyone has a right to like or not like the movie and the book. However the people that are trying to stir up controversy, calling for boycotts etc. are stirring the pot and whether they intend to or not are distracting from other, more pressing concerns. Second, the more negative publicity that the movie receives the more people will see it and the more money the movie makers will make. Perhaps that is the intent of those calling for boycotts, or perhaps they are just rabble-rousers who have not thought this through. Human nature is very complex and so is human sexuality. Some people are attracted to things that others of us simply can not understand and this includes women who are attracted to bdsm and to being the sub in a bdsm relationship, just as there are men who get off on being whipped by dominatrixes, even on getting kicked numerous times in the male privates. “We” do not need to understand “them”, their lives are theirs including the sexual side. Finally, I know that my 1st Amendment is not being threatened, I was responding to those who are quick to throw labels.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • Greg, just admit you didn’t read the post. We all know it already.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      My objections to the book are absolutely not rooted in a misunderstanding of BDSM, which I practice in my own sex life and write about in my professional life. Critics calling for boycotts have pointed to the abusive dynamics in the relationship while making it clear that they understand what BDSM is and that it can be a healthy expression of sexuality.

      I have covered every single one of your arguments in this post, which you either did not read thoroughly or just didn’t understand. As for “more pressing concerns,” if you’re really that worried about larger issues, you need to be out fighting for those causes rather than criticizing people on my blog.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • Artemis
      Artemis

      “getting kicked numerous times in their male privates” in the most hilarious phrase I’ve read in a while.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
      • AnnieB
        AnnieB

        Not just their privates. Their male privates. Because they’re men, as the sentence already informed us. Male men.

        February 19, 2015
        |Reply
        • Artemis
          Artemis

          Actually…upon further reflection, the phrase makes me sad. Because really anyone, regardless of their gender or genitals, can enjoy a nice round of being kicked in the privates. If they’re into that.

          February 19, 2015
          |Reply
    • bevy
      bevy

      Greg – get a blog – that’s where your free speech will begin and end … and re-read this article as it may answer your question.

      February 25, 2015
      |Reply
  21. Greg
    Greg

    I do what I can elsewhere to bring attention to the military-industrial complex. The negative publicity, calls for boycotts, etc. make me want to see this movie even more than before and there are millions like me, as evident from the fact that 50 Shades was a box office hit during its first 3 days of running in the cinemas. Perhaps this is what the negative publicity is really all about – reverse psychology to get the film-makers, production company, etc. of Fifty Shades more money.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • Nothing says, “I’m sane as can be,” like the words, “military industrial complex.”

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
      • I disagree with everything else Greg said, but the military industrial complex is real, in the same way the prison industrial complex is real. There are ways that US society functions that uphold these systems, harming and killing millions, often for profit.

        Believing in the existence of that complex (whether Greg is characterising it correctly or not) is not proof of insanity.

        February 18, 2015
        |Reply
        • Lieke
          Lieke

          Has FSoG been designed by ‘them’ (who are no doubt shady) to lull as all into a fall sense of security, though? I mean, yes, the US and the world at large have plenty of questionable institutions but to think that FSoG is part of some big conspiracy is a tad of the crazy side. Not saying that you are paranoid, but I definitely think that Greg is.

          February 18, 2015
          |Reply
        • That’s funny, actually, because over here Australia, the ‘military industrial complex’ is what our Prime Minister has and uses it to distract us from everything else.

          Trying to take away our free (but also not free as it is funded through taxes) medical care? *sends size military experts to the Middle East*

          Wants to fire qualified counsellors from schools and replace them with religious people with no actual degrees? *mumbles about terrorist plots and calls on Islamic leaders to condemn Isis (they already do)*

          Sorry, rant. I love this blog! It and other you’ve linked, Jenny Trout, are helping me understand the problems in FSOG without having to trawl the ghastly mess.

          March 5, 2015
          |Reply
    • Tammy
      Tammy

      You’d better hurry up then and get to your matinee showing of 50SoG before the Illuminati gives up your seat to Big Foot or a pixie or whatever.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
    • The negative backlash about the film is, for the most part, to raise awareness. The book is a bodice ripper/rape fantasy. Which contains abuse. Clearly too many people aren’t aware of the signs of abuse, which is disturbing and dangerous. Discussions help those in-or heading into-an abusive relationship.

      And yes, I know speaking to you is likely pointless because Jenny said all this in the post better than I possibly could. The critics have no secret agenda, but I’m curious to know what yours is.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
  22. Greg
    Greg

    My agenda is simple – live and let live. If you don’t want to watch the movie don’t, but no one has the right to tell another adult not to watch it nor how to react. And there is no need to get your panties all twisted in nots over a movie or a fantasy book.

    February 17, 2015
    |Reply
    • Luna
      Luna

      Yep, Mr. Greg here clearly did not read the post. He told us, what those rabid fans told us, and missed the beautiful counter argument from Jenny. Hey, mister, why don’t you read the post first before you comment? And don’t tell us you did, because you just say the same argument Jenny’s made the counter argument for.

      February 17, 2015
      |Reply
      • It’s really obvious, eh? *smh* (Which now, to me, means ‘sex might help’ )

        My panties aren’t in a twist. Not sure I want to wear any today. See, I’m sexually liberated, I’ve actively worked towards helping several charities, and I can still be concerned about the inability for many to have a logical conversation about a book.

        It’s just a book, but people get so defensive about it even to the most gentle approach. Half the time they come on the attack if you’re, say on a blog with other non-fans discussing why you didn’t enjoy it and recognizing some clearly problematic issues in it and society.

        With all that’s wrong in the world, someone preaching ‘Live and let live’ while going to a blog where people are excercicing their ‘right’ to discuss anything they damn well please? Because….logic? :/

        February 18, 2015
        |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Your agenda is clearly not live and let live since you’ve spent a dozen posts essentially telling us to stop criticising FSoG.

      By the way, I love how unaware you are of what you’re saying.
      Quote: ‘No one has the right to tell another adult … how to react.’
      Quote (next sentence): ‘… there is no need to get your panties all twisted in Knots over a movie or a fantasy book.’
      Is that not you telling us how to react to FSoG?
      You are an idiot.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Excuse me Mr. “FIRST AMENDMENT” but you might want to check your hypocrisy with your “no one has the right to tell another adult not to watch it or how to react.” According to you, we can all say whatever we please.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
  23. Thanks for writing this! It’s a really great piece; hopefully, it can help some folks to have real conversations about this, or think about the criticisms of the book which are valid.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
  24. Anne
    Anne

    Interestingly you might find that the same responses from Fifty Shades fans happened with its big sister Twilight, which is of course where James got the ‘inspiration’ to write Master of the Universe (FSOG)

    When I was a newly published author, I git involved with a Facebook fanfiction group who told me that they were a group who wanted to discuss ALL fandoms. I in fact was a fan of Tolkien’s works. I soon found out that they were primarily a Twilight fandom group and although I did try to point out many things about Twilight and Meyer’s nit so fabulous writing, I was attacked with the very, selfsame arguments that Fifty fans are countering critics with now. It’s like deja vu. Modern day fans have the outlet for discussion and attack that the fans of yesteryear did not have. Fans (a word derived from fanatic) haven’t changed, the medium through which they act has changed and advanced.

    I read MOTU, god help me because there’s weeks of my life that I won’t get back noe. I knew James when she was Snow Queens Ice Dragon aka Icy for short. The people who read that fanfic are the same people who flocked to Amazon and left the reviews that pushed James and her book to the top if the bestseller list. They are the same people who now tell you earnestly and very loudly now that Fifty Shades is a deep romance and ‘for God’s sake ‘get over it, it’s just a movie’or in my case ‘you’re just jealous’ that said the same thing about Twilight.

    For me I think that this statement made abive on this blog says it all.

    “They’re saying that this work of fiction is having, or has the potential to create, real world effects.”

    And I thank you for saying it because I don’t care that James has made herself a wad of cash out of utter rubbish, or that the mental abuse aspect of it mirrors my own failed marriage, it’s a
    a done deed now, what concerns me is that a lot of people could well end up being negatively affected by it. It sets female equality, something women have died to give us, back more than a few decades. It should never have been published let alone a movie made from it.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
    • I just don’t get this rabid fan thing, where no one is allowed to be critical of a book or song or whatever and the fans take it personally when people don’t like what they like and express it.

      My love of Harry Potter and the A Song of Ice and Fire series is probably as strong as 50 fans’ love for that drivel. But there are plenty of people who do not like HP or ASOIAF. They have 1-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, some full of vitriol. Sometimes I read them just out of curiosity and I will correct something if someone has a fact wrong. But I have never gotten angry over those negative reviews. Who cares?

      Even Shakespeare gets 1-star reviews. Somehow, apparently, Stephanie Meyer and EL James are above that, though.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
      • Lieke
        Lieke

        Apparently, if people say negative things about the things these hardcore fans love, that diminishes their enjoyment of the book/film?
        I don’t know. That doesn’t make sense to me either. It strikes me as a recipe for unhappiness. There’s never going to be one magical thing beloved by all.

        February 18, 2015
        |Reply
  25. Pera
    Pera

    You know one of the most common sexual fantasies women have is rape fantasy, right? And that being a fantasy it generally involves someone they’re attracted to in the first place. Women who do have rape/domination fantasies (something entirely separate from BDSM/kink fantasies) are probably getting defensive because of the way people are calling their fantasies “problematic” as if they probably weren’t already ashamed of them.

    And besides that, in the real world that hot rich guy you’re attracted to is just going to be all “oh I’m not ready for a relationship” or whatever similar thing guys say to just keep everything on a casual sex level so it’s no wonder the fantasy includes a guy you want going out of his way to be with you.

    50 Shades isn’t my sort of thing (I’m not into kink) but I don’t like the way people act like having domination or rape fantasies means there’s something wrong with you and that you genuinely want to be in an abusive relationship. It bothers me, especially because those types of fantasies are so common for women to have, and the last thing we should do is just tell them they should shut down or change their sexual fantasies to be more socially appropriate.

    It’s great to donate to places working to help genuine abused women but you don’t have to go thought police on the fact that some people probably did like 50 Shades *because* it’s “rapey” and if they want to masturbate to the thought of a gorgeous guy stalking them and raping them then confessing his love…fuck dude let a girl wank in peace.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
    • Tess
      Tess

      I totally agree with you about the rape fantasy thing.
      However the problem is that EL James and her fans aren’t saying “this is a rape fantasy for our imaginations” they’re saying “this is a love story!” and “I want my own real life Christian Grey!”. To package something so full of rape and abuse as romantic is incredibly misleading and dangerous. If EL owned the fact that this is rape but that it was her intention and it should be read in this light (NOT as a love story to be aspired to) that would be a completely different matter. Unfortunately she does not and insists it’s just “a naughty love story”.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
      • Exactly, Tess. I have seen very few people who criticize this franchise because of the sex or who say women shouldn’t have these fantasies. I’ve seen a few (mostly from the Christian Right), but the people commenting here and Jenny are not saying that.

        Most negative reviews are about the writing first and then also the stalking and other classic abuse issues. I don’t think anyone here (and most negative reviewers in general) care about the rape fantasy aspect. If that’s a turn-on, that’s fine. I have no problem with it. But pretending that it’s something else is the problem.\

        I totally get the hot billionaire who couldn’t be tied down chasing after you aspect of it. It’s a simple, tired trope, but it works and I’m not going to say I would turn down such an opportunity in my own life. And that he’s a beast in bed doesn’t hurt, either. But there’s a lot more to this and I’m wondering, Pera, if you’ve really paid attention to what’s being said on this blog by Jenny or the commenters.

        February 18, 2015
        |Reply
        • Pera
          Pera

          The only things I’ve read about it on this blog aside from this post was the chapter by chapter recap of book 1. But what’s wrong with a stalker fantasy anyway? The book doesn’t pretend he isn’t stalking her, it has Ana clearly saying “he’s stalking me” and then gets into the fantasy aspect of whether or not she actually wants him to stop.

          I think that’s where people saying it’s just fiction are coming from…the whole scenario is hot to them, being stalked, dominated, raped, by the man of their dreams…I get where people say “if this was real life it would be abusive” but that opens up the question, is it wrong to have fantasies about controlling possessive guys the same way you could have a rape fantasy?

          There’s a lot of focus on stuff like this and Twilight being “problematic” but the fact that a lot of people responded to both means that male archetype is a strong fantasy for a significant portion of women.

          Not opening that dialogue leads to a bunch of bitter guys saying stuff like “see, women like abuse” when actually the reason the fantasy works is because you know it’s safe and has a happy ending.

          February 18, 2015
          |Reply
          • Mandi Rei Serra
            Mandi Rei Serra

            But the book has been marketed as a How To, complete with lube and sex toys. Once it crossed that line, it stopped being in the Fantasy-Do Not Emulate category and into the “Here’s a paddle called Twitchy Palm *snicker* to use on your girlfriend” sector which can get hazy when the couple exploring their new-found path to passion without adequate research (since the author failed to do so).

            People have gone to court over scenes they got into, inspired by FSoG. That means it stopped being a fantasy and someone got hurt.

            February 19, 2015
      • Pera
        Pera

        I think it’s considered a love story because the way it’s written is to create the sexy male lead then have him end up being exactly what the female lead wanted. And I don’t think the women who say they want something like that are lying. People are different…the genuinely interesting thing about it is there are women who probably want a guy controlling their sexuality (as long as they’re getting their multiple orgasms) and for whatever reason that is what genuinely makes them happy.

        It’s not just split between BDSM/abuse with no middle ground. Sexuality and personality is all over the place and one person’s genuine happiness could be considered “problematic” by another.

        February 18, 2015
        |Reply
        • Leslie
          Leslie

          The sex aspects aren’t the only aspects of abuse though. There are a ton of examples of Christian emotionally abusing Anna, gaslighting her, manipulating her, taking advantage of her incredibly low self-worth, threatening her, denying affection, getting her drunk to get her to consent to things, purposely keeping her uninformed about certain acts he wants her to do, at one point they’re talking about her hard limits and for one of them he just outright tells her that they’re going to do it because he likes it, whether she wants to do it or not. Maybe if Anna wasn’t the one narrating the story, then the “it’s a fantasy” argument would make sense to me, but since we have innumerable instances of her saying that she doesn’t like what Christian is doing, doesn’t want it, tries to fight him, that he’s hurt her feelings, that she’s sad, that she feels unworthy of him… that’s not healthy, fantasy or not.

          February 20, 2015
          |Reply
          • Anne
            Anne

            Exactly. Thank you Leslie!

            Pera, how would you react if you had a 21 year old daughter and found out she was in a “relationship” like the one in the book? Would you be okay with it?

            I would be horrified.

            February 22, 2015
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Excuse me, but I think I missed the part where I said that women shouldn’t fantasize about whatever they please.

      Wanting to jack off to something doesn’t automatically make it not harmful.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
  26. Lieke
    Lieke

    First of all, Greg, we’re not criticising FSoG to prevent people from seeing the movie. I don’t care how many people go see it. I would like, however, if people went into it informed.

    Secondly, do stop trying to think of new reasons of why we should not criticise FSoG. We’re not threatening peace in the Middle East nor are we belittling/demonising anyone’s sexuality.

    Thirdly, if you insist on hanging out on the internet you should really get used to people ‘throwing labels’ based on what you say. Your words are all we have to judge you by, after all. I don’t know you. I do know that you come across as whiny and ignorant (you have definitely not read Jenny’s post).

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
  27. Greg
    Greg

    I have read Trout’s post several times. The fact is that negative publicity, calls for boycotts, etc., while they may be ostensibly “to raise awareness”, actually result in more people going to the cinema and paying to see Fifty Shades. As for “whiny”, look at who is whining? Did the people who protest against FOS protest against Rihanna’s “S & M” song and video? Did you protest against the Hunger Games? How about the movie “9 and 1/2 Weeks”? “The Secretary?” People may think what they want. I and my girlfriend are going to go see FoS in the cinema this weekend.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
    • Please point to one comment or part of the blog post calling for a boycott of the film.

      Good for you that you’re going. Enjoy torturing yourself. I wasted two hours I’ll never get back watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I’d rather do something productive with the time it would take to watch this brain cell-killing movie.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Also, on what basis would someone protest The Hunger Games? Do you understand what that is about?

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Why should I protest those other things? I’m not even protesting FSoG!
      I have zero interest of conforming to your standards, Greg.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      FSoG disturbs me that’s why I’m speaking out against it. I don’t care about the other things you’ve pointed out and I have zero interest in conforming to your standards, Greg.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Artemis
      Artemis

      I have had numerous conversations with people about how 9 1/2 Weeks showcases a deeply fucked up relationship, and while parts of it are kind of hot it also contains a really blatant rape scene and has a pretty messed up ending. And about how Secretary, while I think it’s both hot and adorable, lacks meaningful discussion about consent and shows D/s as a way to “get better” from self-harm, which it never, ever should be.

      So…um…yes? I haven’t “protested” those other films, but I have had discussions with people about why they shouldn’t be used as a relationship model. Just like conversations I’ve had about Fifty Shades of Grey.

      Like…this is something people who are interested in meaningful conversations about consent and ethically practicing BDSM do, is talk about what’s wrong with the way it’s portrayed in popular culture.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Right Jenny boycotted that film so hard she WENT TO SEE IT. Not that you probably read that post, either.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
  28. Greg
    Greg

    That is fine Lieke, speak out all you want, that is your right. What you do not have the right to do is to stop someone else from seeing the movie, the “your freedom ends at the bridge of my nose” principle. Who know, maybe Renee is right and the movie will turn out to be a waste of time and money. I and my girlfriend would like to find out for ourselves. Chris Hedges, a writer I highly regard because he has brought much attention to the military-industrial complex, gave FOS a scathing review. I will wait until I see the film before agreeing or disagreeing with Hedges. If the issue is an apparent glorification or, at the last, acceptance of sadism that is all around us in the Hollywood media. Watch an episode of “Law and Order: SVU” or “Criminal Minds” and you will see sadism.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
    • Not one person here has tried to stop anyone from seeing the movie. Do you just make this stuff up or do you actually think you read that here? Are you delusional or stupid? I can’t figure it out. Also, no one has criticized sadism here. Not one person. Comparing 50 to Law & Order and Criminal Minds? Really? Do you REALLY think those are the same thing? You just can’t be serious. You can’t be. I refuse to believe you actually believe or mean anything you have posted here. You’re playing a joke on us, right?

      Also, “my girlfriend and I.” Thank you.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      I definitely have the right to stop someone from going to see this film. Depends on how I go about it. See, if I tell someone that I think the film will be equal parts aggravating and dull and that someone then decides not to go see the film: that’s fine, right? I mean, you’re all for freedom of speech and people making up their own minds, right?

      Well, that’s what I’m doing. I’m saying that I find the book incredibly problematic. If, on the basis of that information, people give the film a pass then I’m doing the same thing Chris Hedges is doing. I’m giving my opinion about the material and then it’s up to whoever to do whatever with that.

      You keep lecturing me on rights, Greg, when nothing I’ve said gives any indication that I’m about violate/infringe anybody’s rights. E.g., I’m not about to go lock people in my basement every time FSoG is shown. Because I know THAT would be an illegal way of stopping people from seeing this film.

      See, I know what I can and can’t do. Maybe you’re less clear on that, since you appear to think that people posting their opinion about a film online warrants all sorts of warnings about where my freedom ends and yours begins.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
  29. Lieke
    Lieke

    I just want to point out that E.L. James’s defence of the BDSM aspect makes no sense. (Especially since she seems to know so little about BDSM that she regularly confuses it with abuse and most of the time when she’s all ‘don’t you dare judge my readers or their fantasies!’ no one’s actually trying to criticise her readers or their fantasies)
    Look at what she wrote:

    1) The BDSM in the book is extremely tame, yet it is portrayed as super dark, dangerous and taboo
    2) Leila (sp?) was either already unstable (which is probably why Christian picked her) or the BDSM destroyed her fragile psyche
    3) Christian likes BDSM because of his traumatic childhood and the sexual/physical abuse he suffered at the hands of Mrs. Robinson
    4) Throughout the book, Ana tries to ‘cure’ Christian of his ‘unhealthy’ BDSM needs, so that he can be ‘normal’

    How the fuck does the woman who wrote that get to be indignant about people judging the BDSM fantasies of her readers? You judge the hell out of your readers with your stupid book, lady.

    ps. BDSM done right can be awesome.

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
    • Luna
      Luna

      I…don’t know what to say. I really don’t.

      February 18, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      You seem to think you’re settling, but you’re not.

      Settling is when someone you love treats you with respect, but occasionally forgets to pick up his dirty socks. It’s annoying, but minor. No one’s perfect.

      Settling is not staying in a relationship with a guy who’s controlling, who stalks you and who won’t take no for an answer. You admit that he scares you. Why would you stay with someone who scares you?

      It makes me very sad that FSoG has made you think that your relationship is normal.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
    • Anne
      Anne

      I sincerely hope you’re not using this linked article as a defence for the content of the book. This is just wrong.

      February 22, 2015
      |Reply
  30. Flávia
    Flávia

    Thank you for putting into words what many of us think and feel about this weird cultural phenomenon!!

    February 18, 2015
    |Reply
  31. JennyTrout
    JennyTrout

    Holly, it’s rare that I delete comments on my blog, but I’ll be deleting yours. Your language toward fellow survivors is disgusting and abusive. Choosing to call yourself a a survivor rather than a victim does not give you a free pass to accuse other people who have lived through abuse of “playing the victim” or the “blame game.”

    Honestly, I don’t think a comment on this blog has ever made me so disgusted. And that’s saying something.

    February 19, 2015
    |Reply
  32. Adam
    Adam

    A thousand times hurrah!

    I’ve found myself battling this argument several times, often in vain for a few reasons, for a person to withdraw their defence of the story they love – would be an acknowledgement they were drawn into and ultimately enjoyed a story about abuse and rape, and it excited them – to acknowledge this would be to call their very integrity into question, something that most people will not (and on some levels are intellectually incapable) of entertaining. Nobody likes the thought of being conned by something they cannot accept, so rather, just like an illusionists magic show, they allow themselves to become complicit in it, and by allowing “the magic to happen” and defending it vehemently we thus reach a 21st century version of Plato’s Allegory of the cave (wiki it – it truly pins human nature in a simple story). With this in mind, we must finally conceed that any argument is doomed to failiure, since the FSoG argument isn’t a logical one.

    So what can critics of FSoG do? Its simple, we educate – rather than battling with them we flow the conversation into more productive channels – I was talking to somebody who read the book and was curious, and rather than battling him (He and his other half were curious), I asked what he liked and wanted to take away from it, and suggested a few pointers to make it safer (if your going to tie someone up, have a way of untying them…fast…in case they panic (ie. scissors/shears) or use a knot that falls apart and doesnt tighten under strain etc), communicate…enjoy the shared experience…research and listen a little more and talk a little less. We both came away from the conversation a little better for it!

    The reason I feel this approach is best is as follows – here in the UK a major DIY supplier has advised its staff to read the book so it can advise curious customers on building materials for making their own “red room of pain” – and alarm bells have to start ringing, ignorant thoughts are often harmless, but ignorance practiced leads to injury and potential death. Those of us who see the potential dangers and (dare I say lawsuits) ought to do our best to prevent these coming true, and to achieve this, perhaps be softer in our condemnation of what is clearly a condemnable book.

    February 19, 2015
    |Reply
  33. ophidic
    ophidic

    How about don’t tell me what to say or do?

    February 19, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      How about don’t come to my blog and get mad when I talk about stuff that doesn’t cater directly to you?

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
  34. Sheer Taft
    Sheer Taft

    Re: It doesn’t matter that it’s “just fiction.”

    Isn’t the problem with this logic that we can basically apply it to the majority of fiction? There are so many examples here to list that I can’t help but wonder what the end goal is with this mentality. The complete eradication of anything that could negatively influence people? Yes, FSoG is complete trash, but so are many cult movies when we really boil down to it. Why is there no uproar for these?

    Rambo, Die Hard, Kill Bill, The Terminator, we might love some of these but they absolutely glamorize violence and killing. Fight Club and Pulp Fiction spring to mind as critically acclaimed yet we can’t deny the fact that they romanticize and even encourage violence and killing. We could even go as far to say that police action movies or mob movies encourage police to be more trigger happy or glorify corruption.

    And then of course you have to take this logic to other forms of media: Music, Video Games, Books. Do we ban heavy metal for their gory, violent lyrics? How about Rap music, or even punk? If drugs are on the same moral compass then surely Reggae, Dub and a huge amount of electronic music genres have to go too. In fact, who does dictate the good and the bad here? It may sound slightly philosophical but the Jaws example is interesting because many cultures hunt sharks for fun and wouldn’t even understand what is wrong with the point you tried to make. So who really is right and who is wrong?

    As for video games, well we had all that back in 2004 with the Jack Thompson fiasco when Grand Theft Auto hit the mainstream (again), it was thrown out with a slew of studies that proved violent video games didn’t influence gamers any more than any other form of media.

    While I would agree that FSoG certainly glamorizes abuse, I can’t help but feel there is a layer of practicality in this uproar that has been forgotten. What exactly is the tangible goal here? Ban FSoG? Remove any advertising of it? Raise the rating and only show it after dark? I feel that these would just raise bigger, more inconvenient questions about our morality and freedom of expression and would certainly make many wonder ‘Why now?’ Why will a trashy erotic novel with a glib perspective of BDSM culture send our moral compasses in a spin but not the violent mindless action movies that glorify murder for years previous?

    I can’t help but think all this commotion and attention only makes this franchise more popular and adds to its ‘daring’ and ‘controversial’ appeal, which it happily feeds off in order to make the thinly veiled abuse and degradation more appealing to women and acceptable to men.

    February 19, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I really don’t have a problem looking at each and every piece of fiction out there and going, “What does this say to/about society.” You brought up video games as an example. I’ve gotten heat in the past for suggesting that game fans can’t insist games are art while also demanding that the violence in games be exempt from artistic criticism. I want art and entertainment to exist. But I want transparency about what it is that we’re selling ourselves.

      There is no endgame in discussing these things, apart from understanding what is building our culture, what is feeding it, and if there are problems that we’re not seeing. The idea isn’t to ban one particular piece of media–I’m not into censorship–but to be aware of the issues present in what we’re consuming. As we become aware of it, maybe we start to turn away from the problematic content we consumed before.

      This isn’t a radical idea, it’s been going on since artistic expression began.

      February 19, 2015
      |Reply
      • Sheer Taft
        Sheer Taft

        Well I can’t say I disagree there, and I wouldn’t want to encroach on anyone’s right to have a moan no matter how much I might disagree with them, but I certainly see the other side of coin; which is to say that we shouldn’t scrutinize the media we let shape our culture, but instead scrutinize ourselves for letting this kind of media shape our culture in the first place.

        I find that otherwise this kind of thinking quickly leads to a very misled idea that every minority (or even majority) has some sort of given right to be represented in media. Aside from the glaring obvious flaw that neither artistic or mainstream media exists as a service to the public in the first place, the more worrying thought is why we’re willingly throwing ourselves at the feet of this system in the first place. Do we really want our race, gender, sexuality, culture, creed, religion or nationality to be represented by Hollywood who will only represent them in a way that will line their pockets? Are we really moving towards making ourselves represented, or just simply marketed?

        I think perhaps the bigger picture here is that this is all just an unfortunate byproduct of a society who has given itself no culture but pop culture.

        February 20, 2015
        |Reply
      • Sheer Taft
        Sheer Taft

        I think I should add to this as well:

        “As we become aware of it, maybe we start to turn away from the problematic content we consumed before.”

        I’m not sure about you, but…I don’t think I really want to. There’s lots of so called ‘problematic’ media I consume that I have no qualms in doing so. I enjoy a number of violent video games, I like certain movies with lots of senseless violence. But in saying that, I’ve never been violent myself. I’ve never been involved in any scenes from Scarface, I’m not repressing any violent urges and I’ve never been tempted to carjack anyone either.

        I’m not alone in this mentality, others who feel the same are certainly not the minority of violent media consumers. Therefore, I’m not sure I’m prepared to label something I enjoy as being ‘problematic’ when it clearly is not.

        Perhaps you could make the case for a knock-on effect or an exception to the rule (Say for example, Grand Theft Auto glorifying the abuse of sex workers) but to do this, you’d then have to accept the whole nature of other (arguably more) problematic things we do in life without even thinking. If the image on your blog is anything to go on, you’ve written this post with a piece of computer hardware made in a Chinese sweatshop by dangerously overworked individuals way below the poverty bread line where the conditions are so bad that workers are literally throwing themselves out of the windows.

        I can’t help but come to the conclusion that I am defending FSoG on the principle alone that I would be a hypocrite to call it ‘problematic’ simply for the actions of others who are impressionable enough to cause damage with it. I wouldn’t be factually correct in calling the people who enjoy FSoG ‘problematic’, I feel it would be far too presumptuous of me to assume that all fans of the book or movie are incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy or for me to even pretend I understand what they really enjoy about the franchise in the first place.

        Maybe I’m just something of an extremist when it comes to freedom of expression, but I can’t sit down and call a piece of media ‘problematic’ no matter how bad it might be. I can’t satisfy the notion that a book or a play or a movie is ‘inherently problematic’ as opposed to the actions of people influenced instead. Were this not the case, I think I would be massively intolerant of any religious practitioner, regardless of how peaceful they may be, on the principle alone that they worship a problematic scripture. But hey, some people enjoy stories about whips, lashings, torture, sex slaves and misogynistic power trips that glorify abuse and the systematic oppression of women – others enjoy FSoG. We can only hope that they don’t do anything to encroach on the rights of others and move humanity forward through leading by example.

        February 20, 2015
        |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I think you’re looking at this on a small scale that involves your choice making, when what I’m talking about is a social evolution over generations. There are many themes in art that have gone out of fashion as society has changed. How would it infringe on your right to enjoy violent video games if in 100 years, games moved away from their current model as part of a cultural evolution? If women four generations from now look back on 50SoG and go, “Wow, how backwards they were! Good thing nothing like that is popular now!” that’s not someone squashing expression, it’s the march of time that we’re shaping right now by objecting to the content we’re being served presently.

          Like, I don’t think it’s infringing on the rights of an ancient Roman to watch Christians being fed to lions because we no longer support that type of entertainment now, and I don’t think the people who objected to that entertainment harmed their contemporaries or stifled their enjoyment or consumption by objecting.

          February 21, 2015
          |Reply
          • Sheer Taft
            Sheer Taft

            Well first of all, the Christians and Lions example isn’t really applicable here at all. It may have been enjoyed as entertainment in the form of a sport, but it was never an art form, it was just capital punishment – something that wholly exists today (with a religious backdrop to boot). Feeding Christians to Lions was an act of law that was eradicated very quickly when the law changed (The Edict of Milan), it wasn’t slowly phased out over the years as morals changed.

            Secondly, I don’t think that’s correct at all, to be honest. I’d say pretty much every art form that existed years ago still exists today, there’s no ‘Wow I can’t believe we don’t make stories about ____ anymore’.

            Violent, sexual, racist, violently sexual and racist mediums of storytelling exist today just as they did hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. The reason being is that it’s art, it exists to tell a story or express an idea – not conform to societal norms. It doesn’t really matter if certain art is in fashion or not, it still exists.

            The violent video game ‘model’ (if you want to call it that) will still exist years into the future, not because we haven’t progressed as a society but because artistic expression dictates that nothing can truly go out of ‘artistic fashion’. Violent video games are not an indication of our culture; they don’t represent issues with our society, they exist as a hybrid of both an art form and entertainment, just as a book or a movie does. Japan for example produces some of the most violent, gory and disturbing games of all time yet enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

            Similarly, 100 years into the future books like FSoG will still exist because they fulfill a niche that individuals enjoy just as they did 100 years ago. Erotic literature ranging from the romantic to the risque will always exist because they tap in to society’s sexual psyche. Regardless of what some may suggest, there are many women who enjoy ‘rough’ sex, who get a kick out of being dominated in a particularly violent way and even moreso when the power play flirts with abuse. Equally there are men who enjoy the same treatment from a woman – the more extreme the better, this will not change and neither will artistic representation of it.

            If you think this is strange or simply not true, consider that there is also a sub-genre of pornography that encompasses ‘racial domination’; a large market of PoC customers (Mainly black women and men) who enjoy videos of BDSM scenes in which other PoC are whipped, beaten, flogged, punched and punished in just about every other way possible while being verbally abused with racist hate speech, and in case there was any confusion as to who the audience really is for this market, the ‘Racial Domination POV’ market is thriving too, whereby the entire video is one white female or male actress racially abusing the watcher. Custom request clips are also often requested for a premium price, where you can choose the slurs of your choice and even have the actress refer to you by name.

            The point I’m trying to make here is that FSoG and its predecessors and successors are diluted, fictionalized forms of something that inherently exists in all humans and has done for centuries. I don’t think it can be considered controversial or a reflection of society at large because in of itself it is an individual fantasy of certain people.

            I’m not saying that we can’t criticize FSoG, I do not believe that ANYTHING is exempt from criticism or scrutiny and I would absolutely defend your right to do so, but I think that the majority of criticism for FSoG is misguided, overblown and even damaging when we start to see accusations of those who enjoy it thrown around. Some of this criticism is damaging (and dangerous) to the readers by shaming their kinks and driving their fantasies deeper underground (Which only serves to further blur the lines between masochistic fantasy and legitimate abuse) and damaging to artistic freedom as a whole when we call for action against it and suggest that certain things should not be written about.

            I can’t help but think here that the best action would be educational and passive rather than hostile/aggressive. My personal recommendation would be distributing pamphlets on safe BDSM practices along with information on how to spot the differences between domestic or sexual abuse and power play fantasies for those uninitiated, of course with information on abuse hotlines and women’s shelters included.

            I would think the best way to execute this would be to make the pamphlet supplement the FSoG experience rather than work against it, something that will entice people to pick it up and read as a ‘BDSM tips for couples’ publication rather than something that condemns people for paying money for the movie they are about to watch. I think this kind of literature has the potential to directly collaborate with the author (perhaps even to be distributed with future copies) and reach a greater audience than something that precludes the reader with “Here is why this thing you bought is trash”. Great PR for the author and an opportunity to normalize potentially dangerous forms of BDSM practice whilst keeping safety at the forefront of the experience. Everyone wins.

            February 22, 2015
          • Sheer, I have seen some criticisms of this book/genre/the people who like it that make my stomach turn and almost make me want to defend the books. But I haven’t seen that here — not from Jenny and not from her readers.

            So I’m confused as to why you are fighting this fight in this forum and not confronting the people who are actually shaming people for their fantasies.

            February 23, 2015
    • I actually had a bit of a conversation recently with someone about it being “just a book/movie.” What I said — and stand by — is that the art our society loves and responds to is a measure of where our society is intellectually, spiritually and morally.

      That so many women have responded so favorably to this book is disturbing.

      It disturbs me that so many people consider Lolita a love story and (even in 2015!) blame Lolita for her own repeated rapes. The book itself isn’t problematic, since Nabakov does NOT portray that relationship as a love story at all. But society’s reaction to it is a problem.

      I think that’s really the bigger issue with 50. That someone wrote it isn’t the problem. That so many people have reacted so favorably to it is.

      February 20, 2015
      |Reply
  35. […] In many cases, this would not be a huge problem. But in the case of 50SOG it is. When a film such as this has the mainstream appeal that it reaches millions of people across the world, its message is one that will be considered by many. It’s something that has previously happened in films that have managed to shape our public attitudes and a phenemenon discussed by Jenny Trout in her wonderful analysis on the film’s defenders. […]

    February 20, 2015
    |Reply
  36. Samantha
    Samantha

    All of this is brilliant and absolutely on point.

    My favorite thing people say in defense of 50 Shades is the whole, “Its just a book!” defense. Because at the end of the day the Bible is also “just” a book in the same way that Jaws was “just” a movie. A movie that to this day has made me utterly terrified of sharks. And then they go into the whole, “people understand its fictional” but women have already been killed because of these books, because they decided to try and practice these fictional scenes.

    Any work of art, and as much as I may dislike it and disagree with it 50 Shades falls under that category (one can only argue its worth), is never “just”. Its always more than that because they are created to impact people. I simply wish this piece of art had impacted less.

    February 20, 2015
    |Reply
  37. […] Trout, “Get Over It!” How not to respond to critics of 50 Shades of Grey (via […]

    February 20, 2015
    |Reply
  38. […] It doesn’t matter that it’s “just fiction.” Before Jaws hit theaters in 1975, great white sharks weren’t the villains we now believe them to be. But when the movie–which was purely fiction–became a blockbuster, it directly caused humans to seek out and kill sharks, causing widespread population drops in shark species across the board. The influence of that piece of fiction (coincidentally also based on a novel) even coined its own name: The Jaws Effect. When Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was published, it was perceived by the public to be an erotic novel, despite the fact that it told the story of child sexual abuse through the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator. The result? To this day, we refer to sexually precocious teen girls as “Lolitas,” despite the author’s intent. Yes, 50 Shades of Grey is fiction, but fiction isn’t created or consumed in a vacuum. It is influenced by our culture, and influences our culture, and 50 Shades of Grey isn’t an exception. Even though something is “just fiction,” it can still have detrimental effects on society or expose problems that already exist in our perceptions. So when someone says “50 Shades of Grey promotes abuse as romance,” they’re not saying, “50 Shades of Grey is a totally real thing that happened and is a cautionary tale.” They’re saying that this work of fiction is having, or has the potential to create, real world effects. Quelle: http://jennytrout.com/?p=8740 […]

    February 24, 2015
    |Reply
  39. bevy
    bevy

    Excellent article. I loved your non-condemning approach. Very well written also. 😉

    February 25, 2015
    |Reply
  40. Leslie
    Leslie

    Also, I can’t remember if anyone has mentioned this yet but I’m going to because it’s super important: I’m pretty sure most women with rape fantasies know that rape is wrong. They may fantasize about it, but if it were to actually happen they would not like it. On the other hand, many 50sog fans don’t see anything wrong with the series. They seem to genuinely believe that Ana and Christian’s relationship is perfect, and they WANT their Christian Grey, not just in a fantasy way. They express a real desire to actually find a man like that and have a relationship like that. That’s dangerous because if they did end up in a relationship with someone like Christian, they would probably be slower to realize that something was wrong, and they might not realize it until it’s too late. It could even be dangerous to women who aren’t huge fans or didn’t read the series but have heard some things about it and seen the hype. If their partner is behaving like Christian, they may think to themselves that they should feel lucky because they have the man that every woman wants, right? And abusers can use the hype to convince them of that as well. I’ve even seen 50sog related baby clothes! It’s bad enough when onesies have phrases like “Ladies’ Man” on them (stop sexualizing infants???) but the 50sog ones really turn my stomach.

    All around, it’s a mess and as many people have said, a bestselling series that glorifies an abusive relationship and calls it a romantic love story is completely different from an individual woman’s fantasy.

    February 25, 2015
    |Reply
    • “Most women with rape fantasies know that rape is wrong. They may fantasize about it, but if it were to actually happen they would not like it.”

      I thought this and meant to post it, but I think I forgot. I’m not going to get into details, but I have some pretty dark fantasies. But I DO NOT want those things to actually happen IRL. I have no issue with women fantasizing about anything that turns them on. But, like you said, when they don’t recognize that fantasy and reality often are not the same, it’s dangerous.

      February 25, 2015
      |Reply
  41. […] “Get Over It!” How not to respond to critics of 50 Shades of Grey. “It doesn’t matter that it’s “just fiction.” Before Jaws hit theaters in 1975, great white sharks weren’t the villains we now believe them to be. But when the movie–which was purely fiction–became a blockbuster, it directly caused humans to seek out and kill sharks, causing widespread population drops in shark species across the board. The influence of that piece of fiction (coincidentally also based on a novel) even coined its own name: The Jaws Effect.” […]

    February 27, 2015
    |Reply
  42. […] A primer on how not to respond to criticism of Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she wrote, but this was on point (via rageprufrock): […]

    March 2, 2015
    |Reply
  43. Zhaul
    Zhaul

    The other day I was trying to comment about 50 Shades of Grey with my brother who is very intellectual if you compare him to me; he studied and worked in the film business some years ago, so the makes him a person who knows more than me, I am just a dreamer who dreams of becoming a published writer someday. Any ways, I tried to tell him that I thought I understood why these books were so popular, especially to women. I said. “Because saving a twisted man into a loving one is very appealing”. And he said, “You are projecting yourself, all it is, is a love story”.
    And then we went on talking about my present book project, “What makes a story or novel good and popular”, was my question and he replied that all great stories have one thing in common, people like the characters. Take “The Godfather” novel for example, and now Raymond “Red” Reddington in the TV show “The Blacklist”, criminals who appeal to the readers or TV audience.
    E.L. James managed to create two very appealing characters. Poorly written? Who can say, I know I can’t. In my opinion it was “good enough” written in simple words and fluently enough to kept me reading. So it was entertaining enough. Of course these are not Novel Price material, but who cares. I enjoyed it as well as I have enjoyed true master pieces of literature.
    What came out for me after reading these books? Many questions like: Why are these pieces of literature crap so popular? (Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed them, but that doesn’t mean I think they are great, or even good literature, for me is just light reading.) This question take me to places in my mind were psychology, and my knowledge of emotional disorders, roam. I am sure that each person would have a different opinion on why they are such a success.
    But before I say about my point of view, I want to share my opinion on some of the critics and comments I have read about the book.
    “It portrays abuse”, it has always been very easy to lay an idea or opinion when crosses your mind, however these opinions could be inaccurate if one doesn’t have enough knowledge or experience to say so. People do not understand abuse and the person being abused. Aside from children, who are not in a position to defend themselves, any adult person that endures abuse for some time, has inner issues that do not allow him or her to get out so easily. And there is no doubt that a person who enters a relationship to be abused does so because in his/her subconscious there is a need to reenact; this has been proved again and again in the field of psychology. In the case of Anastasia, the profile is clear, shy, virgin, low self-steam, plus other issues, come into play. She wants to be dominated to a certain point, what she doesn’t want is physical pain. What happens at the end of the first novel or the first movie is, in my opinion, the product of “love tension”, in her mind she needs to settle the issue once and for all; she needed to know, “Can I be in this relationship under his terms or not”, maybe this happens in a very subconscious level, but happens. And this is where the term abuse is confused. First she asked for it, why? We are not sure, but she did. Secondly, she discovered she was not cut for that; and finally decides to leave him for good. Also, Grey respects her wishes throughout the story. So I fail to see the abuse; even though, painful and unwanted, was consensual. Anyway, I was saying, she leaves him, but love was already in play. This takes me to the next question: Why does she feel so attracted to him and him to her?
    My experience has led me to a conclusion about attraction. People do not attract each other by chance only; geneticists or evolutionists would say that it is the pursue of better genes, to enhance the race; however, I believe that is not all the story, at least nowadays story. I believe behavioral cues, or for the matter, clues, play a major role in feeling attracted to the opposite sex (I have insufficient knowledge about gay people, but probably this plays a role as well). If not, then interracial relationships wouldn’t happen, even though someone or many would say this is a way genes look to become better. Who knows? So, as sure as I am, that we will never see a lion mating with a mare, I am sure that people who have emotional issues are attracted to people who complement the other side of those issues, abuser-abused, sadist-masochist, etc. Of course you can disagree with this, but before you do, I urge you to read about codependency and other dysfunctional behaviors, research these matters. And remember, this is only my opinion.
    “It is going to be a bad social influence”, when I read this, my mind wandered rapidly to heavy erotica books, like those written by Marquis de Sade, or Caligula (William Howard 1979), Memoirs of a flee (published for the first time in 1881 in Great Britain), etc. “These people haven’t read enough erotica to give an opinion.” This was my thought, and if those books didn’t change a thing, these ones won’t either. Sexuality is the most unexplored, understudied and misunderstood behavioral trait of humankind. Perversion and deviant sexual behavior has existed and will keep existing till the end of time. Why does it happen? Nobody knows, and we will keep being in the dark until finally all sexual “misbehaviors” stop being stigmatized and persecuted. When finally behavioral and sexual scientists get the chance to study openly and deeply why people become deviant, then, maybe then, we will be able to understand and cure these behaviors. But let me be clear, it is my belief that no one becomes deviant because he/she willed it; these behaviors are against the will, at a very deep subconscious level.
    Other opinions, I fail to see the importance of them, what I do see is that this phenomenon has created a lot of controversy. And I know my opinions will change or influence no one. So I want to go back to my main question, why these books became so popular? Well, the following is what I conclude.
    1. It is written in a simple and fluently colloquial manner.
    2. The characters are charming.
    3. The plot(s) are interesting
    And from the psychological point of view, they give the reader some things that people yearn for:

    For the women: She becomes a man’s obsession, not any man, a super wealthy, young and handsome man. However I wonder, how can a man be a billionaire at age 26, not being a computer wiz? But ok, it could happen. Not only she becomes really important to him, but she “saves” him from the darkness where he has been all his life. She is a hero.

    For the men: Who wouldn’t like to be rich, young, and powerful to have such a wonderful girl by one’s side.

    But above all these, the portray of unconditional love, which I believe is something that is becoming a rare thing, in this world, where our minds and souls have become polluted with a twisted desire for money, power, prestige and sex, making us forget that spirituality (the relationship we have with ourselves and others including whatever metaphysical believes one can have) is probably the most important thing of being human.

    (Please forgive my writing mistakes, I am not a native speaker of English)

    March 8, 2015
    |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      I really resent the implication that the people who have issues with FsoG are ‘projecting’ when they think that this fucking book is depicting an abusive relationship.

      First of all, you’ve picked the one moment in the book where Christian happens to not be abusing Ana. Him beating her is still disturbing as fuck, but it’s at least something Ana agreed to. It’s the other stuff he does where he blantantly ignores her wishes and ignores her lack of consent that’s the problem. The clearest example I can think of right now is when she sends him the ‘it was nice knowing you’ email. Yeah, we (the readers) know that Ana was just joking and that she almost always wants to have sex with him, but he doesn’t. He can’t read her mind. He has to go by what she says and what she said was basically that she was not interested in him anymore. His reaction to that was breaking into her apartment and having sex with her.

      Secondly, I wish people would stop idolising unconditional love. That’s all good and well for romantic films and novels, but that’s not how love works in the real world. Unconditional love means you love someone no matter what they do. There are NO conditions. That means that someone can rape or abuse you (or other people) and you will still love them, ‘cause if you don’t your love was not unconditional. Apparently, you have silly conditions, like: don’t rape, abuse me or other people. Maybe (and that’s a serious maybe) this is the kind of love some parents feel for their children, but even then it seems to me like a very unhealthy basis for a relationship.

      March 9, 2015
      |Reply
  44. Katia
    Katia

    Thank you Jenny for this post. I really appreciate your thoughtful and well reasoned arguments and your effort to promote an educated and respectful dialogue between people on both sides of the controversy. You have put into words everything I have been trying to say for months, especially when attempting to explain to acquaintances why I object to the book without the conversation devolving into all of the points you outlined above. Since many of my friends know that I am a survivor of a decade long mentally and emotionally abusive relationship remarkably similar to that depicted in the FSoG (surprise surprise since it really is textbook) it has been particularly painful to try to find a way to express my thoughts without devaluing their own experiences of the book. I wish I had discovered your blog sooner as I feel like you just gave me this amazing set of tools.
    Your “It’s just fiction” argument alone could be an entire article. I applaud you!

    March 21, 2015
    |Reply
  45. Hi,

    I’m currently studying for a degree in English literature with a view to use it for a therapy session I wish to start once I graduate. For the exact reasons you state above. I wish to use literature as a form of therapy and gaining understanding of our own and others influences either directly or indirectly from literature as well as a way of viewing relationships as they can be portrayed by others.

    Would you be interested in helping me set up such a thing and would you be willing to be in contact about it?

    If I am successful, I plan to approach social services as a way of aiding the work they do with mothers and families to help keep children where they are meant to be and to help restore the balance that is required for this result.

    Your article is exactly what I wish to say and promote and the fact that you include fiction such as Lolita helps push the point home. I commend the way in which you have constructed your argument and am proud to say that I will be guiding people to this as often as I can.

    Please feel free to contact me anytime should you be interested, and I will gladly answer any queries you have. I am keen to get my plans into action and would love to get as many people on board.

    Best

    Corina Harrington

    April 12, 2015
    |Reply
  46. Anon123
    Anon123

    Great post! It suddenly occurred to me that you’re criticizing the criticizers of the criticizers. This is so freaking meta that my head might explode now.

    June 10, 2015
    |Reply
  47. Anon
    Anon

    For people who are genuinely interested in BDSM Romances portraying healthy relationships , I would recommend books by MQ barber , and Joey W hill .

    October 3, 2015
    |Reply
  48. Just like 50 shades of grey, every book has its controversy. Sometimes ago, a friend told me about a book she read and how this book has inspired her positively. So one day, I was walking pass a Christian book store and I decided to get this book. I couldn’t finish reading this book. I didn’t see most of the inspiring things my friend talked about. I think the difference in our views on certain things is because of the way we see them.

    June 12, 2019
    |Reply

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