In Sort of Defense of The “Grey” Phenomenon
Hola compadres! Sorry it’s been forever. Like Karina mentioned, we’ve recently been inundated with an overwhelming amount of work. Senioritis is real, and it thrives in high-pressure environments like finals season. Thank goodness the end is near.
Anyway, during one of my frequent study breaks the other night, I read some of the Fifty Shades of Grey hype. Yeah, I know. Look, it was four in the morning and I had/still have twenty pages of writing looming over me.
Some of the reviews were pretty appalling. Why would anyone want to read (better yet, admit to enjoying) a book about an abusive relationship? Not to mention the extremely graphic sex scenes. Like, every ten pages they introduce a new toy, kind of graphic. Grey’s readers have consequentially been called names like lonely, depraved, even sick. Surprisingly, first-time author E. L. James isn’t some free loving, BDSM engaging, twenty-something chick. She’s a middle-aged woman and former TV exec with a husband and two kids. Due to her quite conventional background, Grey’s monumental success has been canonized as “mommy porn.” Yuck.
Well, being the aspiring journalist that I am…
I took it upon myself to procrastinate a little longer and read the first chapter. A friend of mine had emailed me a copy of Book 1 earlier (clearly, the series is making its rounds despite any ostracism). Grey is no Crime and Punishment, but I’ll admit that it’s a fun read. There are tons of unexpected funny moments and the writing is very easy to follow. I ended up reading through Chapter 20 and plan on finishing after finals.
James doesn’t waste any time in showing readers the chemistry between protagonists Christian Grey and
Danielle Anastasia Steele. Grey is a gorgeous, young multi-millionaire who isn’t used to hearing “no”. That’s where twenty-two year-old virgin Anastasia comes in. Look, I’d be lying if I said their relationship wasn’t fucked up; it clearly becomes abusive (in my opinion) and Anastasia knows she should run far away from him. But damn, a lot of the sex scenes are h-o-t (more so because they are completely unrealistic: Ana has THREE orgasms the night she loses her virginity?!?!? That is some sci-fi shit right there). I mean, the scenes are really hot. And I’m not lonely, depraved, or even a little sick.
Maya’s article from Feministing.com explains it best:
Maybe, as women have more equality in the real world and create partnerships with men who respect them as equals, socially, professionally, and romantically, they are more willing to explore sexual power play of all kinds… I am in no way surprised that many women, who have been socialized in a culture in which male sexuality is linked to domination and in which women are taught their sexual power comes from being wanted, have fantasies of submission.* Really, I’m not perplexed by this. And I am in no way appalled. I am fully in support of anyone doing whatever (safe, consensual) thing they want to do to get themselves off. Feminists for Orgasms!
Plus, you know, it’s just a book and a harmless way to escape the daily droll of life. No one would ever accuse me of having low self-esteem because I love Legally Blonde and the protagonist goes to extremes to get back with an awful ex. No one would confuse my enjoyment with wanting to act out Elle’s actions. It’s just a movie.
But does Grey go too far at times? In my opinion, yes. However, it is fiction and what’s wrong for me might not be so strange for others. Does it bring up a lot of controversial topics? Yes, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’d say the book’s biggest problem is just that it’s very poorly written.
I’d encourage my friends (both male and female) to have an open mind and approach Grey with the same seriousness that they would to an episode of Gossip Girl. At the very least, it should certainly incite an interesting and worthwhile dialogue. I’d also tell them to find it online for free and not spend their hard-earned monies.
With all that said, happy reading, dear followers! Let me know in the comments if you think I’m bat-shit crazy or if I’m right on the money. Ashley, out! xoxo
Oh and just for the record, I absolutely hate Twilight.
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