As soon as I heard about E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, I knew I’d probably end up reading it. I tend to go to the those “bandwagon books” (The Hunger Games, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and so on) kicking and screaming, but I’m somehow always convinced to read them.
I bought Fifty Shades of Grey when I went into the town bookstore to get a book for one of my students. I’d heard about it, of course, and figured it was as good a time as any to read it. I read that book with a mixture of fascination and disgust, and I’m pretty sure my family was disgusted with me. I kept commenting on how skeeved out I was by it, and my mother would say, “Then why the hell are you still reading it?”
And then I lost all credibility when I got the subsequent books (Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed) on my Nook. Why, you might ask, if I was not exactly enjoying the experience? Well, I wanted to know what happened.
Which is really stupid if you think about it; after all, I’ve read the Twilight books, and Fifty Shades began life as Twilight fanfiction. What that means, just so you know, is that you can do this:
Twilight/Fifty Shades of Grey is the story of an innocent young woman named Bella Swann/Anastasia Steele who somehow attracts the attention of a gorgeous, rich young man named Edward Cullen/Christian Grey who lives with his adoptive family. Edward/Christian is not as perfect as he appears, though; there is something about him that could be potentially fatal to Bella/Ana: he is a vampire/obsessed with S&M. There are several twists and turns, of course (notably Bella’s/Ana’s longtime friend, Jacob/Jose, who develops romantic feelings for her that lead to awkwardness with Edward/Christian), but they ultimately end up together after Bella/Ana changes herself to become a true part of Edward’s/Christian’s dark world, and they all live happily every after.
But that isn’t really my problem … I mean, to some degree, you can do that with many stories. As one of my wise English professors once said, “There are only five original stories in the world. The rest is in the details.” And, to be fair, this book was never billed as fine literature.
Nope, my beef with Fifty Shades is the misogyny present therein. A small sampling …
1. A woman should not have to change herself to fit into the idea of a man’s perfection.
I’m not talking about the S&M so much, either.
Ana is chastised repeatedly for going out with her friends without Christian’s …