50 Shades of Grey. The Controversy. And with the film hitting cinemas yesterday (I do not understand people who think watching some morally dubious erotica with all of the erotica blurred out is a great valentine’s date, but there you go), I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and write a post about it.
Firstly, 50 Shades is not good literature. It is poorly written, and quite frankly just promotes abuse. Anyone who claims otherwise, clearly does not understand the nature of abuse.There are numerous other articles written on this, who explain the situation far more eloquently than I ever could, (my Facebook feed is literally littered with them) so I’m not going to go into the details here. If you want more information, please, please go and read them. If you think Christian Grey is a heart-throb, please, please go and read them. That said, I want to make it very clear here that I do not condone the actions in 50 Shades as they are portrayed – they are an incredibly poor representation of BDSM culture, and the entire book is really quite sinister.
That being said, I don’t think 50 Shades is entirely bad. Here are my three reasons why I think everyone (over 18) should read at least some of 50 Shades:
1. It brought erotica massively into the foreground. Suddenly its okay to read porn, as well as watch it, and an entire genre of literature has been opened up to the public. In turn this gets people talking, communicating about sex. Whilst 50 Shades of Grey is a very bad model, other erotica is not, and those better written, better researched examples can actually be incredibly educational, particularly to young people who are only just learning about sex. Many of them promote protected sex, surprisingly one of the few places where 50 Shades is not a complete train wreck. A lot of them emphasise the importance of communication in a relationship (not 50 Shades though I’m afraid.) Some focus on casual sex, others on sex in a loving relationship, and they show that both are okay. In a society where talk about sex is still fairly limited, 50 Shades has opened the way to a new avenue of discussion and communication. While it may have its issues, other books come to the foreground which present healthy attitudes to sex, and that is fantastic.
2. Similar, yet also opposite, 50 Shades has highlighted the difficulties surrounding sexual, and domestic abuse. Abuse can take a variety of forms, and is often incredibly difficult not only to identify but to deal with. Often those being abused do not themselves realise it until it is too late. Abuse goes beyond just physical violence. Emotional manipulation is abuse. Controlling someone’s life is abuse. I feel like, while certainly not her intention, EL. James has brought what has previously been a relatively shady issue, often swept under the carpet, to the foreground. 50 Shades shows us what not to do. I know that a lot of people are boycotting the book and the film altogether because of the content. I’m in favour of the opposite: promote it, because the more people who are exposed to the actions of Christian Grey in a purely fictitious setting, means hopefully the more people that are able to identify emotional and domestic abuse, and as such protect themselves and others. Just promote it in the right way.
3. It’s hilarious. Once you accept that a lot of what happens will make you incredibly uncomfortable, the awful, awful sex scenes coupled with the awful, awful writing, and the complete lack of characterisation is hysterical. It has to be said. I have read fan fiction better written than this (actually some fan fiction is amazing and I am upset that this rubbish got published instead).
It is okay to like 50 Shades of Grey. I feel like amidst all of the controversy this has been forgotten. If it turns you on that is okay. If you think its fun that is okay. If you hate everything about it: also okay. Just so long as you realise that it is fiction and don’t try to emulate it in real life. That if you can relate to it you recognise the warning signs and go do some research on abusive relationships. That if you are interested in BDSM you don’t use 50 Shades as your go to guide. It is absolutely, perfectly, 100% fine to like/love/adore 50 Shades of Grey, so long as you make sure that your own sex life is safe and consensual.
There we go; that is my very quickly typed out thoughts on the matter. I am hoping that this isn’t controversial/doesn’t upset anyone. I want to say it again, THE MAJORITY OF THE ACTIONS PORTRAYED IN FIFTY SHADES OF GREY ARE NOT OKAY. PLEASE DO NOT WISH FOR A BOYFRIEND LIKE CHRISTIAN GREY. JUST NO.
~ Becca x