50 Shades of Us

The Feminist Community are not fans of Fifty Shades.

Feminists and readers with taste have been making their dislike of Fifty Shades of Gray known. Go to Google.com and type in Fifty Shades of Grey feminist criticism, and you’ll see plenty of online responses to this BDSM erotica trilogy. The book has as it roots fanfiction for the Twilight trilogy, but it has moved very much away from that.

The book is not brilliantly written, but huge bestsellers are rarely highbrow literary fiction. What seems to really annoy feminists (of which I am one) is the fact that the sexuality in the book is so asinane, so stupid and potentially so damaging. The BDSM conduct is disrespectful and with none of the built in safe guards that are normally expected. It seems wrong to many in that community, and should not be encouraged.

This book is not fostered upon us

Be that as it may, there are some things about it that need to be considered. Firstly, there is the undenialable fact that it is extremely popular. I know, I hate that fact too, but it is seemingly what a lot of women in the western world are reading at the moment. And by a lot, I mean the majority of us. The book has sold 40 million copies world wide. Think on that. That isn’t a cultural impostion, that is a cultural phenomenan. This ‘ideal’ is not being fostered on us, it is instead one that a lot of us seem to have had within us for quite some time. This is us, Ladies, looking back at ourselves and it ain’t so pretty.

And just what are the men up to?

Of course, it’s nothing compared to the porn industry created for men. Websites now exist that provide free porn, most of it uploaded by amateurs (Youporn is one example). There is so much porn out there right now that actors in the adult film industry speak of being paid less and less for their scenes. It still is an industry that generates millions each year, and is influencing mainstream entertainment more and more (see True Blood for examples). The male focused porn industry has been around for a long time, it doesn’t make any apologies for itself. The same can’t be said for porn focused on women – there may be practitioners of it, but there isn’t an industry, and there is still a strong sense of guilt amongst those forty million as to why they buy and enjoy that book.

A less idealistic world….

So we get to realise that, like our male brothers, we are grubby, small and petty. We aren’t the fairer, gentle sex, but instead can find things as darkly fascinating as men. It isn’t a soothing notion, but knowing it for a fact reveals reality to us, and so we’re able to come to a mature understanding of ourselves. Hopefully it is an understanding that is without shame or incorrectly placed idealism.  Hopefully.

One thought on “50 Shades of Us

  1. Sinead O'Hart

    I like that your post ends on a note of optimism. I’m not so sure, myself, but I feel I can’t really comment on a book (or, as in this case, a series of books) which I haven’t read, nor intend to read, so I’m a bit stymied. I really hope your prediction comes true!

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