As a writer of erotica, I’ve followed the whole 50 Shades debate with interest. I’ve read all three books; yes, I enjoyed them. I haven’t seen the film yet. I don’t have any fantastic insights or conclusions to add, I’m sure, but here’s my two penn’orth anyway. ;-)
Number one pet peeve: the people who are criticising the book when they haven’t read it. Or if they have, they’ve read a different book to me. I know everyone takes different stuff away from a book: that’s the beauty of one. But some of the things people have said are so inaccurate that I began to question if my memory was going wonky. So I’ve just re-read all three books. Nope, turns out they just hadn’t read it.
Yes, it’s not the most brilliantly written thing I’ve ever read. Neither is it by far the worst. So what? I thought it was a page-turner, but not everyone will. That’s fine.
Several people have said Christian ‘stalks’ Ana at the beginning of the book, until she agrees to have a relationship with him. Ahem…I should probably be locked up then, because I did the same to most of the guys I fancied when I was younger. I didn’t have access to a helicopter, a private jet, or even a fast car, but as far as my meagre finances would allow, I turned up at their workplace, their watering hole, and made sure I got noticed. Did it work? Sometimes. Did I ever get a lasting relationship out of it? Ask hubby.
Oh, and I’ve been stalked. House watched, harassing phone calls, and physically attacked. That’s a story for another time, but for me, what Christian does is not stalking.
It’s a STORY. This is the big one, isn’t it?
Should we not have these stories, because some people might take them as gospel truth, or some kind of handbook on how to have a relationship?
Some of you will say, ah, but, these stories aren’t necessary. Why do we need stories about kinky sex, fucked-up people (ooh, I swore), and odd relationships? Well, by the same standard, why do we need stories about dragons, spaceships, and Superman? Let’s get rid of all those too. Ah, but those stories don’t harm anyone. Tell that to the young me who jumped out of her bedroom window to see if she could fly. (I can’t, but I have great balance and I can land really well. Otherwise that story would have ended very differently). And yes, I knew even back then that I was being stupid. I did it anyway. There lies the story of human nature.
I got most of my sex education in my early teens from Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel. My mum had told me the mechanics of sex when I asked, aged 10. She explained very well, too, but what she couldn’t explain was passion, desire, or even love. My parents didn’t have a loving relationship. I learned about those from books. I also learned about wanting the wrong person, making the wrong decisions, why drugs and sex can be a dodgy mix, and all kinds of other stuff. Did I think that what I read was ‘reality’? No! Was it the definitive way to conduct a relationship or a sex life? No. Did I think ‘Hmm, I might like to try that?’ Yes.
What did I learn from reading trashy sexy novels? That men and women can both be monsters. That women can be empowered and take charge in and out of the bedroom. That playing around with different sex scenarios can be fun. IF YOU WANT TO.
There can be true love, great sex, and all points around and in between. There can also be crap relationships and crap sex. There can be abuse from both men and women. These things I didn’t learn only from books.
Aren’t we just catering to the lowest common denominator if we don’t write, film, paint, sculpt, whatever, this kind of stuff? Isn’t it just another example of ‘dumbing down’? Surely the answer is BETTER EDUCATION. About fiction, about fantasy, and that crossing it over to reality should only happen WHEN YOU WANT IT TO.
Ana chooses to try Christian’s way. She enjoys it, and when she asks him to go further to see what it’s like, and hates it, she dumps him and leaves. They get back together, but then he has to make changes if he wants to be with her, because she doesn’t like all the stuff he likes. So.
I like a straightforward romance as much as the next person. I also like to have my buttons pushed every so often. Damaged people are much more fascinating to read about than sweet, simpering heroes and heroines. The rogue cop who gets results is way more interesting than the policeman who does it by the book. Don’t we just love the maverick doctor who takes risks and saves the patient’s life with an unorthodox treatment? In real life, the lines will never be so neatly drawn.