|Here you go: Shades of Gray|
1. Other marriage bloggers have already covered the topic well. For example, see the following:
Intimacy in Marriage - Fifty Shades of Great Sex with Your Husband
Sheila Wray Gregoire - 50 Shades of Grey is Bad for Your Marriage
Generous Husband - Disturbing Trend in Female Sexual Preferences
Generous Wife - Escape into Grey
The Romantic Vineyard - Stop Grey from Becoming the New Black and White
Mystery 32 - Porn for Women
And there are plenty more who did a wonderful job tackling the issue.
2. I hardly think the issue is limited to Fifty Shades or even erotic romance. Has anyone seen an episode of True Blood or pretty much anything on MTV? Sheila Gregoire also recently wrote about the crazy hype of the male-stripper movie, Magic Mike. (I like my magic ala Doug Henning, thank you.) It's not just this one book; it's a whole cultural problem of being intrigued or even consumed with kinky sex.
3. I am bothered that we're talking about this particular book because it's apparently poorly written. I mentioned in my Q&A post that my "day job" is writing fiction. The writer side of me is irked a bit not to have this conversation about a well-written trilogy. At least then, we could discuss the inappropriate content with people and not have to field all the comments about poor story structure and grammar as well.
4. I wondered how much difference my statement of "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson" would make. It's not as if Christian women don't know at some level this isn't okay. They have simply rationalized it to themselves. But I suppose I come here twice a week and hope to make a difference, so why not in this area too?
5. I didn't want to make anyone aware of the book and thus influence them to purchase it simply to see what's going on. I was reluctant to even mention the book's title in this post, lest you head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to see what I'm talking about and find yourself clicking BUY. But it's all the rage, and if you haven't heard about it thus far, you're living a hermit's life. (And by the way, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care individual mandate. FYI.)
But I have decided how to help. Here's where I am going to provide a service.
Some people are tempted to read novels that become conversation pieces. We want to know what all of the hubbub is about. You DO NOT have to read the novels to know what's going on because the following is a synopsis. I am going to help you remain informed about the subject matter, yet never have to read about a poor young virgin being introduced to rough sex because her boyfriend is a control freak and thinks this is a fabulous way for him to get turned on (jerk). If you don't want to know anymore, STOP READING HERE and click somewhere else or SCROLL DOWN to where the black text appears again.
Anastasia Steele is an intelligent yet naive college student who does a favor for a friend by interviewing a young business tycoon named Christian Grey. Anastasia (aka Ana) and Christian have romantic chemistry. After the interview, the two keep coming into contact with each other, often by accident (or there would be no story), as follows:
- Christian enters the hardware store where she works to purchase plastic ties, duct tape, and rope. (Um, hello! My red flags would go off here.)
- She realizes she needs a picture of Grey for the article and arranges a photo shoot. (I'd comb the Internet myself.)
- Ana goes to a bar, gets inebriated for the first time in her life, and drunk dials Christian, who comes to pick her up. (Getting drunk and drunk calling are obviously bad ideas.)
Ana wakes up the next morning in Christian's bed, but he says that he didn't touch her and wouldn't without a written agreement. (Written? Okay, now those red flags are the size of Pittsburgh in my brain.) They do share a kiss, and at some point Ana asks if they will "make love." Christian says he doesn't do that but instead demonstrates that he's comfortable with four-letter words. (Classy.) Then Mr. Profane introduces her to his "Red Room of Pain," where he invites her to be a submissive. You see, Christian Grey is into BDSM sex (bondage, discipline/dominance, sadism/submission, masochism). Ana admits she's a virgin, which Christian decides to "remedy" right away (Can I smack him yet?). Now Christian wants Ana to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that she can't reveal his twisted version of sexuality. (Run away, run away, young lady!)
Another meeting: Ana's college graduation where Christian Grey is a speaker (on world hunger no less).
Ana wants more from this insane guy (why, I don't know), so she agrees to become his submissive. Christian tells her what to do in numerous other areas of her life, presumably to protect her, and they negotiate what they will and won't do in their BDSM relationship. You can bet that Christian bends the contract toward his own liking. (Why are the feminists not storming the publisher's workplace about this book?)
Christian is controlling in other ways--getting angry about the car Ana drives and then buying her a new one, being angry about how much she does or doesn't eat, being angry with her spending time with friends or family, being angry with her rolling her eyes, etc. (Kind of makes those Angry Birds seem mild by comparison.) They also meet each others' parents somewhere in this (which I guess is supposed to indicate that their lives are becoming more interwoven).
Once Christian introduces Ana to his version of sex, they have a whole lot of it. It is described in detail. There are sex toys. They go into the "Red Room of Pain." (Is it just me, or is anyone else hearing "redrum" from The Shining in their heads when you read that?) Despite all signs that this guy is dangerous, crazy, and downright abusive, Ana concludes that she loves Christian and is willing to be his sexual submissive. (Will you now all join me in smacking him...and her? What is wrong with these people?)
There are two more novels in which any self-respecting woman should want to smack the "hero," yet the "heroine" is the one getting smacked.
The original novel was conceived as fan fiction, written in the wake of the popular Twilight vampire series. Ana is characteristically like Bella, and Christian is supposed to mirror Edward. There is no longer much connection between the Twilight and Fifty Shades novels, as James has clearly taken a different route with her books.
Those who advocate that BDSM is an okay sexual practice often point out that a "submissive" willingly gives up power in the bedroom to a "dominant" and that a "safe word" is always designated. A safe word is a code word used by a submissive if he/she feels that the action has gone too far; the dominant is required to then stop (as in after she's already experienced more than she wanted).
Excuse me while I recover from the stars circling after now smacking my own head against the wall. It is NOT okay to create such an imbalance in your sexual relationship, even if you agree to it. Just as it is NOT okay for your spouse to beat you, even if you were to say, "Go right ahead."
And please, for heaven's sake, do not give me the you-didn't-read-the-book or you-haven't-tried-S&M arguments.
No one has to experience something terrible to take it from others that it's terrible. I come on this blog twice a week hoping that people will NOT make the mistakes I made and never feel the need to try premarital promiscuity or come within two yards of a divorce to see if it's something they want to do. Hey, Will Robinson, trust me: You don't want to try it.
It's simple really: Just say no to drugs, don't drive impaired, don't go without flossing for a year, and don't do porn. Even a secular book reviewer for The New York Daily News noted that it is porn: "Firstly, and I can’t believe anyone would argue otherwise, '50 Shades of Grey' is pornography, plain and simple. There could be no other use for it."
Whatever I say is rubbish, however, compared to what God said on the subject. So ignore me, fine. But check this out:
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them." Ephesians 5:3-7
Now make your own decisions about what you should read and watch.
Note: I researched online to put together a synopsis (without reading the book or details from the book that I didn't want or need). In particular, College At Thirty blog provided helpful information, although I disagree with some of her comments. Yet I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so my thanks to her. I am glad I did not read the book, and plenty of the reviewers I found wish they hadn't.