Yes, you guessed it. I have succumbed and have read 50 Shades of Grey.
I had to – it was in the interest of research and in order to be able to assess for myself whether my previous post (based on someone else’s review) was correct or not. You see, there were women who did not agree with my analysis that the Ana/Grey relationship was an abusive one. This seriously made me question whether my idea of “abuse” was the same as other people’s, and hence the need to read the blessed book for myself.
After the first six chapters, and after plowing bravely through the clunky, truly awful, gushing schoolgirl style of writing, I learnt the following:
- Christian Grey is a very powerful, wealthy man
- He is also a control freak
- Like most control freaks he abuses of his power in every aspect of his relationships
Now everyone knows that power + money tend to be very seductive, especially to impressionable young girls (and a virgin to boot!) who daydream about being seduced by someone like Grey. Talk about clichés and stereotypes. Grey is literally the embodiment of the phrase “God’s gift to women”.
But wait. The guy has, erm, just a couple of flaws. First there’s his obsession with food – to put it simply, he’s not the right guy if a girl wants to watch her weight as he is constantly demanding that Ana, “eat, eat!” as if he were some hovering Italian Mama. Then there’s his insistence (in the form of a contract no less) that Ana should be ‘his’, to do his biding and obey him no matter what.
Let’s leave out all the bondage, S & M, kinky sex slave stuff because – being two consenting adults – Ana and Grey can do whatever they wish. Although the perverse contract he presents her with does set alarm bells ringing, she goes along with it because the idea of being a submissive is intriguing to her (me, I would have told him where he could put his contract, but hey, whatever rocks your world).
But it’s outside of the bedroom that Grey’s real nature is revealed, and this is why for the life of me I cannot understand women who think his behaviour is even remotely appealing.
When she asks him why spanking her gives him pleasure he replies “it’s the fact that you are mine to do with as I see fit – ultimate control over someone else. And it turns me on.”
As I pointed out in my first post about this book – is this what some women secretly yearn for? To be bossed around and bullied, and physically punished by a guy who treats them like a possession? To be treated like a child who is disciplined when she defies him?
Well, the fact that the book is flying off the shelves seems to indicate that there is something about the character of Grey which is tapping into a certain “need” among some women. Granted there’s the obvious curiosity about the erotic parts of the book, and because women do not usually openly admit to enjoying porn, this in itself is a phenomenon. But one cannot separate the type of sex which Grey prefers, with the type of relationship he wants to have with Ana as if they were two distinct parts of his personality.
Feminists are worried that the hype surrounding this book will encourage young women who are Ana’s age or younger to look at this bizarre story as something to be emulated in real life. Oh great, as if we do not have enough damaging, dysfunctional relationships between domineering men and submissive women already.
A part of me likes to think that most women are more sensible then that, and will treat this book simply as an erotic fantasy. But, you never know. I keep coming across comments by women who tell me not to rush to judgment, because at the end of the trilogy, (yes God help us, there are two more books: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed), the dynamics of the relationship changes.
In fact, at the end of the first book, Ana finally leaves him, collapsing into a pile of grief-stricken tears, but like a good soap opera the cliffhanger ending only leads you to want to read more. Oh, let me guess, our heroine is going to be the one who “fixes” the screwed up Grey.
Indeed, the blurb for Fifty Shades Freed proclaims that “Ana must learn to share Grey’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own integrity or independence. Grey must overcome his compulsion to control and lay to rest the horrors that still haunt him. Now, finally together, they have love, passion, intimacy, wealth and a world of infinite possibilities.”
I’m sorry ladies – forget about clinging to the promised happy ending – because as many women have learnt to their detriment in REAL LIFE this kind of man never really changes and in the meantime Ana seems to have spent her entire life ricocheting from one emotional upheaval to another. Maybe the thrill of the chase (will they or won’t they end up together?) is fulfilling a deep craving for excitement and passion – compared to that, of course real life, especially when two people have been together for a while, seems indescribably dull by comparison.
So I will reiterate my initial conclusion that, yes the whole story has nothing to do with romance but is based on a woman acting coy and breathlessly quivering like a helpless damsel in distress at the feet of a weird, controlling man who has to inflict pain to be sexually gratified, and who has been warped by being a victim of sexual abuse himself. As someone pointed out, what Grey needs is a good therapist. Oh wait, he already has one.
Frankly, while reading the book, all I wanted to do was to take Ana’s inner goddess and give her a good slap and tell her to “snap out of it”.
Only I’m afraid she would have enjoyed it too much.