Skip to content

E.L. James needs to shut her ignorant mouth about abuse.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dear Readers:

Since I’ve started on the long (the very, very, very long) journey of blogging about 50 Shades and why the relationship at its core is a predatory, abusive one between an aggressive stalker and his victim, a lot of women have come to me and said, “this is just like the abusive relationship I was in,” or “this reminds me of the ex who tried to stab me in the throat with a screwdriver.” I’m beyond horrified at the number of emails and comments I’ve received from women who have had their own “Christian Grey” and managed to escape him. This shouldn’t be happening as often as it does, and the only reason it does is because our culture tells us that as women, we need to be first and foremost available for male attention – and to not make ourselves so is to be rude and not a very nice woman.
So, when Emma sent me a link with E.L. running her ignorant mouth about allegations of abuse in her books, I lost my fucking mind:

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

One would think that since she has at minimum a third-grade understanding of the English language, E.L. James would be able to understand a few core concepts.
  1. No one is talking about BDSM being abusive, you fucking lunatic. The elements of the relationship that are abusive have nothing to do with the incredibly mild BDSM in the book. Even though the BDSM is shitty and unsafe and portrayed as a mental disease, the BDSM sequences aren’t really where the abuse happens. The abuse happens in all the places where Christian asserts his dominance over Ana outside of the bedroom, by stalking her (showing up at her work, following her across the country when she’s asked him for space, putting money into her bank account – the number for which he got through a private investigator), refusing her any agency (she must be followed by his “security team” – read: spies – anywhere she goes, her clothes are purchased for her by a shopper who knows Christian’s tastes, he even tells her when and what to eat and bought her job), and getting her drunk (read: drugging her) to get her to consent to shit she doesn’t want to do. All that stuff is abusive. Tying her up and making her listen to Medieval chant while he fucks her? No one thinks that’s abusive.
  2. Bringing up the abuse in your book doesn’t trivialize the issue, you fucking lunatic. You know what does trivialize the issue? Ignoring very real concerns about the abuse in the book because you don’t want to admit you’re just a shitty writer or a shitty person and you don’t care about abused women at all because you’re making tons of money and omg, everyone is being so mean about the shitty book you wrote about a shitty guy who abuses a woman. Talking about an issue in a serious way doesn’t “trivialize” it. It brings awareness to people who might have been wrong in their thinking. The only problem is, the people – like E.L. James – who most need to listen and learn about why they’re propagating dangerous cultural stereotypes about what women need or want, refuse to listen. So, by dismissing the issue, E.L., you’re really the one doing the trivializing. 
  3. Protecting women from abuse doesn’t endanger the sexual preferences of women who like BDSM. Look, I’m going to say it. I love to be submissive during sex. I love to get spanked, bitten, slapped, choked, I like to have my hair pulled, to get fucked hard, you name something perverted and I am into it, so long as the person doing it to me is calling me a cheap slut while he’s doing it (and also as long as it’s Safe, Sane, and Consensual). Do I realize that some people feel that’s dirty, bad, and wrong? Yeah, but fuck them. Because it doesn’t matter if other people think that I’m gross or depraved or fucked in the head, because I know that’s not the case. There’s no reason for anyone to try to protect me from what I want to do in the bedroom. And I don’t need E.L. James to defend my lifestyle choices, either, so she doesn’t need to be the champion for all the poor, repressed women out there who like BDSM. There is, however, lots of reasons that we need to protect women who are being abused from abuse, namely because our culture won’t. It’s not setting back the sexual revolution to call out Christian Grey as an abuser pretending to be a Dom. It’s not taking away the sexual agency of women who like to masturbate to 50 Shades. It’s not “either, or” here. We can say, “Yes, freedom of sexual exploration is amazing, and what you do in your bedroom is not anyone else’s business,” while acknowledging that if the “Dom” attitude turns into an excuse to victimize and control a woman who doesn’t want to be a 24/7 sub, it has crossed the line from sex play into abuse. People in the BDSM community WANT to talk about this type of thing, and they were talking about it at length BEFORE 50 Shades came along. Now, E.L. wants to shut down that whole conversation as a matter of feminism, or something? Why? Because women are too stupid to handle nuanced issues? Or just because we can’t care about more than one thing at a time, and naturally jilling off to this piece of shit book is the highest priority, and we’ll get to the abuse later?
  4. Women going through, or who have gone through, domestic abuse are not fucking thrilled with 50 Shades. Before E.L. tries to stand up and say that she’s angry because highlighting the abuse in her books trivializes all those poor, battered women she supposedly cares so fucking much about, maybe she needs to talk to some of the women I’ve heard from. Maybe she needs to hear abuse victims saying, “You’re wrong,” so she could get it through her head. Oh, my bad. A lot of these same women HAVE tried to contact E.L. James, only to be blocked on twitter. That’s right. If you try to contact E.L. James with your heartfelt plea for understanding, based on your own personal experience at the hands of an abuser like Christian Grey, you’re going to find your twitter account blocked. Because she doesn’t want to hear it. The inability to listen to even the mildest criticism of her perfect, perfect hottie, Christian Grey, proves that E.L. James doesn’t get angry over those allegations on behalf of abused women. She doesn’t give enough of a shit about them to read 140 fucking characters, unless those characters are all glowing praise for her master work. Yeah, she really fucking cares about abused women, so much so that she sees their real-life experiences as an attack against her glorious creation (that’s making her so much money).
So, there you go. E.L. James cares so much about you, abuse survivors, that she’s willing to prioritize a woman’s right to be spanked over your right to not be stalked, intimidated, beaten, and controlled. She cares so much, that she won’t even listen to you when you try to tell her what’s wrong. And she’s so, so terribly concerned about you that she doesn’t want anyone to even talk about the abuse in her books or the potential for abuse in a BDSM relationship… because she doesn’t want to upset you, and she knows best. Or something. I don’t know, I’m honestly considering the possibility that this woman is gluing up before her public appearances.
Is E.L. James the real-life inspiration for Cheryl Tunt?

The bottom line is, this is a problem E.L. James could fix, easily. First of all, she has to drop this whole, “I want to protect abused women” bullshit line that is clearly not true at all. And she has to stop touting her books as some kind of sexual saving grace that women are learning and growing from. Then, when someone says, “Hey, Christian Grey is an abuser,” she can say, “You’re right. The relationship portrayed in my books is not a healthy one. However, as a fiction writer I am telling a story, not writing a how-to manual. If my books are encouraging women to be more open in their sexuality, I think that’s great, but I would advise them to seek out other, nonfiction resources for instruction in the BDSM lifestyle. And I would ask them not to hold up the relationship between Christian Grey and Ana Steele as one to aspire to.”
That’s all she has to do. But she won’t. Because at the end of the day, women, E.L. James doesn’t give a shit about you, or your experiences. And she was only writing this for school, anyway, so OMG SHE DOESN’T CARE IF YOU LIKE IT!
(The link to the original story I took E.L.’s quote from is here, but be warned there are two auto-play videos of the same commercial badly out of sync at the top and bottom of the pages)

27 Comments

  1. I can't believe the woman would be like that! Arrrgh! I was pulling my hair out and swearing like a sailor (my apologies to sailors) as I read this. Someone has a severe case of delusional. Arrrgh!

    February 3, 2013
    |Reply
  2. Wow. I knew she was a bad writer but I didn't realise she was a terrible person too. That's unfortunate. It makes me feel a lot better about taking the piss out of her godawful book though.

    February 3, 2013
    |Reply
  3. Excellent, Jenny. Good for you, and good for all the women speaking up about abuse (physical and emotional).

    February 25, 2013
    |Reply
  4. […] post earlier, which led to her “calm and rational” approach.  You can read that here: http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/e-l-james-needs-to-shut-her-ignorant-mouth-about-abuse/  Be sure to give it a read.  It’s therapeutic for me to know there are women out there […]

    October 6, 2013
    |Reply
  5. Carolina West
    Carolina West

    This woman and these “books” make me sick, and nothing is ever going to change that.

    April 27, 2014
    |Reply
  6. I want to thank you for separating out the issue so eloquently into its component points. As someone who fervently enjoys both reading and writing BDSM erotica, I have been frustrated by the portrayal of 50 Shades as a BDSM story since I read it as a fanfiction. What I like about your article is you give us the answers, and what you suggested as a script for E.L. James is almost word for word what I’ve been saying all along to anyone who will listen. It is ignorant and dangerous to avoid the abuse issue, and she does no favors to the BDSM community by selling the story as such. [And I learned a new phrase- “jilling off”!] Thank you.

    August 3, 2014
    |Reply
  7. Vestre
    Vestre

    Jenny Trout, I love you. I’d marry you in the minute, except for the fact that I’m a complete stranger who only came across your blog a week ago, and ya know… contrary to fiction’s worst dumbass, I feel we ougtha gave it some time.

    More seriously, you’re a great person. I’ve been reading this recap and your other stuff, and enjoying the heck out of all that, but that post… It almost had me crying, because what you’re talking about is moving, and is true, and sould be fucking common sense, damn it. You can believe I am going to be sharing it in the future, especially when FSOG the movie will come out and we’ll have to wade through heaps of bullshit and romanticization of abuse all over again.
    Please keep writing and being awesome, and all the best to you and your family.
    Thank you.

    November 10, 2014
    |Reply
  8. Vestre
    Vestre

    Jenny Trout, I love you. I’d marry you in the minute, except for the fact that I’m a complete stranger who only came across your blog a week ago, and ya know… contrary to fiction’s worst dumbass, I feel we ougtha gave it some time.

    More seriously, you’re a great person. I’ve been reading this recap and your other stuff, and enjoying the heck out of all that, but that post… It almost had me crying, because what you’re talking about is moving, and is true, and sould be fucking common sense, damn it. You can believe I am going to be sharing it in the future, especially when FSOG the movie will come out and we’ll have to wade through heaps of bullshit and romanticization of abuse all over again.
    Please keep writing and being awesome, and all the best to you and your family.
    Thank you.

    November 10, 2014
    |Reply
  9. lee
    lee

    on the bright side, 100,000,000 women are not as dumb as you jenny. they KNOW the books are fiction. maybe crap fiction, but hey who cares?

    January 15, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Well, this comment of yours got approved back in January, and is the only other comment listed under your IP address and email address when I do a search. So is the problem that your comments aren’t getting approved, or you just don’t feel you’re getting enough attention for calling me dumb?

      May 1, 2015
      |Reply
    • Yvonne
      Yvonne

      So… you’re calling Jenny dumb, and you think that’s a compliment?

      EVERYBODY on Earth knows 50 Shades is fiction, but that does NOT excuse the author for being such a heartless twat toward REAL battered women.

      July 30, 2015
      |Reply
  10. Mark T
    Mark T

    Well Said!

    The character of Christian in these books is the worst kind of pretender in the BDSM community, an abusive dominate is unhealthy not just for himself and his submissive but for anyone in the community they come into contact with. Additionally, in the books at least, there is at least one scene where she uses her safeword and is ignored! This constitutes rape. R-A-P-E, in a book that the author defends as a treatise on how BDSM works. So personally I find the books and film offensive to the BDSM community as well as to women. It paints the whole of the BDSM scene as obssessive stalkers willing to rape unwilling partners, and that is so not what BDSM is.

    BDSM is exploring the limits of what you and your partner are capable of inside a safe controlled environment. It is the incredible hieghts of pleasure brought by pain, given by a trusted lover, but also it is the hour of cuddling at the end of a scene to emotionally recover from what you both endured.

    Predators, and sick minded individuals have no place in the BDSM community. We don’t need your illness here, we are plenty deviant enough for ourselves.

    February 12, 2015
    |Reply
  11. YES!!! Thank you!

    February 19, 2015
    |Reply
  12. Adeline Raina
    Adeline Raina

    I’ve been in a few abuse situations from childhood to my late 20s, with different perps. I also worked for six years in a crisis centre for those who had been through abuse. Christian Grey mirrors so much of my abusive relationships, and so much of the relationships my clients went through.

    He’s the type of perp who would wind up killing prostituted women.

    From recent media, it sounds as if ELJames is herself abusive to people. Which would account for her unbelievable lack of awareness concerning the characters in these books and their relationship.

    March 22, 2015
    |Reply
    • clare
      clare

      OMG thank you – if i see one more comment on my FB about this being a love story I will throw up. Abuse plain and simple x

      June 4, 2015
      |Reply
      • Leah
        Leah

        You should reply to all those comments with quotes from the books showing just how wrong they are.

        July 13, 2015
        |Reply
        • Yvonne
          Yvonne

          Yeah, but because E.L. Fudge wrote them, she will only see them as bold and brilliant and the gospel truth. I feel like she KNOWS she’s wrong but simply refuses to ever admit it because she’s just too damn stupid to know how to save face. Jenny laid it all out perfectly. If E.L. had followed Jenny’s advice from the get-go, she’d have a lot more respect from her detractors. Hell, she’d even have LESS detractors if she knew how to be a decent human being!

          July 30, 2015
          |Reply
  13. Slavka13748
    Slavka13748

    This, a million fucking times, this. EL James makes me ashamed for my country. Not for writing a godsawful piece of erotica (I’m 99% sure even the terrible porn I wrote as a horned up teenager was hotter and less repetitive than this shit), but for being such a cunt about it when challenged.

    There was an easy way out of this – shit, you said it yourself. If she just said that yes, there’s a lot of problematic themes in there, but it was meant to be a fantasy, nothing more, and no one should take it as having any bearing on reality (y’know, like all the other porn and erotica that totally wouldn’t fly in real life but is still hot to read / watch), we’d be cool, ELJ and I. I mean, the books are still horrible and worth making fun of, but I’d have a modicum of respect for her. Now, between this and the Twitter debacle, I’m torn between hating her for being a twat to abuse victims and everyone else with valid criticisms or just pitying her for not having grown up past her Suethor phase.

    July 8, 2015
    |Reply
  14. amber
    amber

    I honestly don’t care for you after past controversy’s regarding some nasty blah blah blah with other authors, that beings said I do however FUCKING LOVE THIS ARTICLE and you have earned some definite brownie points for saying what everyone is thinking about E.L Cuntface James. In the spirit of the enemy to my enemy is a friend, My hat’s off to you.

    July 21, 2015
    |Reply
  15. Crystal
    Crystal

    While I have never personally faced an abusive relationship with a man (I am like Ana in a lot of ways – naive virgin, etc) I respect the women who have been brave enough to come forward and share their testimonies of abuse and pain. I also want to issue them a personal “thank you” from the bottom of my heart for writing their stories, because they have helped people like me to know what kind of man to avoid. I hope someday to write a book like FSOG/Twilight that exposes Edward/Christian for the heartless scumbag he is, plus a bunch of my own blog posts on this matter which makes me very passionate to speak out. God bless all the brave domestic violence survivors and other men and women who have the guts to stand up for what’s right even when it’s not popular. I could say more but I’ll leave it at that for now.

    October 23, 2016
    |Reply
  16. […] Again, his family attacked me, saying how dare I call the cops and “made” them arrest him, that I was lying about the whole thing, even when I showed them the bruises, torn shirts, doorless entryways, holes in the walls and piles of shattered glass. I even found out I was pregnant shortly thereafter, suffered through hyperemesis gravidarum (I lost 25 lbs in the first 3 weeks of my pregnancy, had to be hospitalized and had a feeding tube and PICC line for weeks), and miscarried at 11 weeks. His family told me I was LYING, faking my pregnancy, faking my illness, even when presented with the lab work, and ultrasound photos (I was being closely monitored because of the HG).” (x) […]

    March 22, 2017
    |Reply
  17. Meggy
    Meggy

    My husband had bought me the first book only having heard good things and not reading it.

    He didn’t know that by the third chapter Chedward acts exactly like my ex husband who was verbally, emotionally and mentally abusive towards me. I threw the book across my room when I got to that part about him being mad that Ana was talking to another guy and had to find my anxiety meds.

    These books are toxic.

    April 16, 2018
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *