NOTE: The next of the visitors on my list is my fellow Alice, from that wonder of wonders, Wonderland! Want to know what’s with her reading and recapping 50 Shades of Horrible?!, I mean Grey, then you picked some timing, as today, you shall find out!
Want to jump in on the visits? Then let me know, send an email or leave a comment and I’ll get you set up for here, or my blog of randomness.
Anyone who has ever taken a look at my blog can come to two conclusions right off the bat. First, the gal likes Alice in Wonderland. Second, the gal has a rather unhealthy obsession with the 50 Shades series by E.L. James. In fact, a large portion of her blog is actually (we’re not even going to count the posts) dedicated to bitching about these books. So you might be wondering – why?
Oh, what a rabbit hole you have jumped down, my friend. It all started with the recaps. Somewhere I learned that there was a new series out that ripped off Twilight really, really badly. And I found a couple of blogs criticizing the books. Speaker 7 reenacted scenes from the books with a stuffed rabbit and a creepy puppet man (who turned out to be perfect representatives of the characters). Jennifer Armintrout, noted author herself, ruthlessly deconstructed the books in great detail, including excerpts from the book as she did. It fascinated me, both for the absolutely horrible 5th-grade level writing and the equally horrible messages it put forth.
The main message (besides the publishing industry is totally insane) was that you could “fix” a psychotic, abusive man with the power of your
vagina love. This wasn’t something critics ripped out of nowhere either, like the idea that Moby Dick somehow represents God. No, this was bludgeoned into the reader at every opportunity. I was horrifed by what I read just from the blog recaps. So I made a Facebook post about it.
This is one of those reasons you should never post on Facebook. I got people who agreed with me, but I also got a lot of dissent from very intelligent women. They informed me of several things. One: I could not review a book I had not read in its entirety. It didn’t matter how many frightening excerpts I’d read. No, I had to read the entire book. I liken this to eating a bite of pig poop, saying you do not like pig poop, and being told that you had to finish the entire bucket to know for sure. How long does it take to recognize shit, people?
The second thing was that I was insulting the intelligence of women by suggesting that a book would make them immediately want to go get in an abusive relationship. I tried to point out that this was not at all what I was suggesting, but that having the hero abuse the heroine (both emotionally and physically), disguising this abuse as S & M between consenting adults (it was not), and then having the heroine attempt to “reform” the misguided man was a dangerous idea. It wasn’t that this one book alone was going to convince a woman that a man like Christian Grey was okay. It was that this very popular book added to a culture that said it was okay to rape women and then force them to have the rapist’s baby, because you know, they really wanted it. They just didn’t know it.
Of course many people could look at the book and say “Hey, this is not a good idea of a romantic relationship”. That’s true. On the other hand, I have known, personally, intelligent women with excellent educations fall for men like this. These men don’t start out showing their true colors. Everyone knows Satan appears in a pleasing form, just like Christian Grey does. Handsome, rich, powerful and oh wow, he likes you? Just plain ordinary you? And soon you’re sucked into this web with a man who one second tells you you’re the sun and the moon and the next berates you because a man looked at you too long. But it’s not his fault. He has a sob story. His mother abused him. And anyway, that dress you wore was kind of suggestive. Maybe he’s right. And that maybe is all it takes to stay.
You could dismiss these women as stupid, but it’s not true. No one goes out with someone, gets the crap beaten out of them the very first fifteen minutes, and thinks they have a dream boat. It takes time and subtle manipulations. You’ll find these manipulations in the 50 Shade series, over and over again. I know because I have read these books. I read these stupid, awful, horrific books because that was the only way I could hope to have someone take me seriously. These books didn’t just have bits and pieces that were iffy. These books, in their entirety were written like an abusive man’s handbook. In case you think I exaggerate, I will link you to a couple of places. One shows Christian sized up against your average abuser’s profile. The other, from my own blog, shows you Christian sized up against your average sociopath. It’s not pretty.
I make my recaps funny, because that’s another bizarre thing about these books. They are written so badly that it’s hard to believe anyone could like these books. Research is a joke. Characterization and continuity have no meaning. The sex scenes are either laughable (I love when he introduces his penis to her) or frightening (the scene where he spanks her as punishment and has her call out the slaps). The writing is – well, frankly, it’s insulting to say 5th grade level, because I honestly know 5th graders that do write better. So this is why I think it’s quite possible that James did not intend to have her books read like a handbook for how to abuse your partner. That doesn’t make them any less dangerous. In fact, if you read my recaps, you’ll see humor mixed with horror. There are times I break into “AliceRage” because the books make me so angry I can’t find a way to poke fun of them.
The final criticism I got from people on that Facebook post was that I wanted the book banned. Hell, no. I do not believe in banning books, ever. The written word is how we learn, for better or for worse. I do advise people to think while they read (difficult with these books but try). Christian Grey is presented as the ultimate romantic hero, not as someone to avoid. But he is, ladies, he really is. No amount of money, no pretty face, is worth doubting yourself, walking on eggshells, apologizing for imaginary insults, or accepting punishment of any kind from your partner. You are much, much better off alone.
But society doesn’t want that, does it? It wants everyone matched up. And most of us want someone in our lives. Some of us want it so badly we’ll stay with what we have, out of fear of the unknown. When the known is abuse, try the unknown. Don’t fall back on what society says. Challenge it. There are many brave women out there who have blogs detailing their fight against domestic violence. They have endured so much, yet are willing to get on their blogs and tell people about it, to warn them to watch for the signs you can so easily miss. I won’t pretend to be half as strong as these women, but I do my part. My part is showing these books for what they are – not a romance, but a farce.