I haven’t been shy about my dislike of the book 50 Shades of Grey and the message it’s sending. If you follow me on twitter you’ve heard me bitch about it even more over there when I get on one of my rants. There are many, many reasons why this book just plain pisses me off. Shitty writing, shitty fact checking, shitty editing, barely making an effort to change it from AU fanfic before publishing it… I could go on for days. But honestly, the thing that bothers me the most about this book is that it is so incredibly full of universal red flags for Domestic Violence (DV) and women all over the world are eating this book up like it’s cake.
BDSM is not domestic violence if both partners fully consent to it. That’s not by any means what I’m getting at. I think that when the DV term is thrown out there people automatically assume that you mean physical violence. That’s not at all what I’m talking about here. So let me give you my social worker rundown real quick.
Domestic Violence is not about anger management or just about physical abuse. It’s about power and control over another person. That can be physical control in the form of beating the shit out of someone, or emotional control through threats, isolation, and mind games. As someone who has lived through emotional abuse I can say that it royally sucks and it’s just as awful dealing with someone emotionally beating you up as it is getting physically beat up.
An alpha can be an alpha without being an abuser. Someone can assert themselves and be in control without having to control you. The person who beat me never touched me physically. But that person crushed my spirit, made everything bad in the world seem like it was my fault, blamed all of their problems on me, and kept me in this fucked up world where I actually believed that I was the problem. But I wasn’t. That is what domestic violence is about; having power and control over someone else and making them believe that they’re doing it for your own good.
I enjoyed the Twilight books and movies. I’m not a Twilight hater by any means. But the books were very hard for me to get through because of the little things that Meyer put in the books that screamed of DV. I mean come on, step away from your love of Edward for a moment and think about it. He would crawl through Bella’s bedroom window at night to watch her sleep and started that before he even was her friend. He was nice to her one moment and then mean the next. He got mad at her for tripping on the field trip to the greenhouse. When he saved her life and she wanted to talk about it he blew her off and said she had hit her head. He told her that he could kill her and how everything in him wanted him to. Even Bella’s mom says to her in the second book how Edward is so clingy.
Check this out and think about Bella and Edward’s relationship: Power & Control Wheel.
I can honestly point out something in nearly every spoke of that wheel that Edward does to Bella in the Twilight books. I’m not the only one either, there have been plenty of articles about DV organizations pointing out the red flags in Twilight.
Even though Twilight is full of red flags, I was able to separate it as fantasy and just enjoy it. Unlike when I rewatched Phantom of the Opera as a social worker and could not stop obsessing about how creepy the Phantom suddenly was! :) But then we come to 50 Shades. A story that is not about vampires even though it was written about Twilight characters. A story that women all over the world are eating up and saying how bad they want a man like Christian Grey in their lives, how they wish their husbands were more like Grey. That, my dear readers, is where I have a really big fucking problem with this book’s success.
Christian Grey is Edward Cullen on steroids. He’s got all of the character flaws of Edward and then a few dozen more on top of it. He is the clinical definition of a domestic abuser. He stalks Ana finding out where she lives and works. He traces her cell phone so he can “rescue” her at a bar. He forces her to eat when she doesn’t want to eat. He wants her to sign a freaking contract so she’ll be his sub and although he says she can leave at any time the contract clearly says the opposite. He gets mad at her because another guy calls her phone. He uses power and control over her to get what HE wants but makes it seem like he’s doing it for HER while she eats it all up.
But this is who women are saying they want and fawning over like he’s the best guy in the world. *insert heavy sigh*
As you probably know, my friend Jennifer Armintrout has been posting recaps of the chapters of 50 Shades on her blog. Each time she posts a recap I’d think to myself, “I really need to write something about DV in literature…” but then I’d put it off because I rock like that. Then yesterday the chapter 13 recap was posted and before I could even get through half of it, I’d dipped into my social worker bag of resources and sent a bunch of stuff on DV to Jen because it was bugging me so bad.
Today she took a break from the recaps to do a different sort of post. She used a Universal Red Flags checklist that I’ve used with victims of DV and she filled it out for Ana. I don’t care if you’re a rabid fan of E.L. James and the 50 Shades trillogy and Christian Grey, if you read her post there is NO way you can say that this book isn’t full of DV.
So take a moment and go read her post: 50 Shades and Abusive Relationships
I’m seriously, seriously disturbed by the fact that so many people are reading these books and are overlooking this stuff like it’s not a big deal. I don’t care if it’s supposed to be fantasy, it’s still not okay. If you were reading a book where some creeper was perping on little kids sexually you wouldn’t say, “Oh but it’s just fiction…” So why the hell are you able to do that about domestic violence?
Maybe what these readers are actually saying is that they want creativity in the bedroom. Maybe they want more role playing and even want to try out some BDSM. Maybe these women have never read REAL erotica before and think that this awful book (my blog, my opinion) is what erotica is all about.
Honestly, people, if you want reccomendations on erotica that doesn’t involve any sort of DV, be it physical or emotional, I can do that for you gladly! There are tons of BDSM books out there that are properly written and don’t involve DV. There are also tons of non-BDSM erotica books out there with strong characters who don’t use power & control tactics on their partners. Don’t just jump on the 50 Shades bandwagon because it’s easily accessible and “everyone” is reading it. Go into the freaking romance section of any bookstore and you’ll find just as much sex without the awful writing, awful plot, and awful glorification of DV in it!
I’ve said my piece. I’m done for now. But seriously people, think about it. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. What are you doing to prevent it?