When I first saw that picture, it resonated with me on a level that surprised me. It highlighted the difference between girls then and girls now. This post is kind of prompted by a discussion on a forum about 50 Shades of Grey (or as I like to refer to it as 50 Shades of Rubbish). Twilight and 50 Shades share some commonalities, given that Shades was originally Twilight fan fiction, the theme of the desperate, insecure, doubting, co-dependent twit and the controlling, emotionally manipulative twat runs through both. I’ll put my hand up and say I don’t mind the Twilight movies, I’ve seen them but I’m not a fan of the books (I’ve read one), I certainly don’t have any memorabilia and to be honest, I don’t watch the Twilight movies until they are on dvd, I don’t get impatient for the next one, it doesn’t impact my life in any way (Harry Potter on the other hand…..hehe). When it comes to 50 Shades, I tried to read it, honestly I did, I gave it my best effort but I got half way through the first book and I couldn’t take anymore. I read a lot, in fact I would go so far as to say I have a lot of reading experience as it were, and this book just did my head in. It was awful, badly written, shallow, linguistically repetitive and one dimensional. And that was just the first half of book one I read. If I start reading a book and I can’t get into it, I will read the last chapter to see how it all ends – with 50 Shades I didn’t care enough to even do that. If you want to have a laugh, read some of the negative reviews on Amazon..hilarious!
So why has this perked up my rant-o-meter? Because of the message it has. Now some say that we shouldn’t see it as a message because its fiction and I would normally agree, as some one who reads fantasy and most of it with erotic scenes in it, I understand the value of escapism and eroticism in literary works. I don’t have anything against BDSM, as most of you probably know, who read my blog, I’m pretty open minded about everything, I don’t particularly have any prejudices (except against Japanese Whalers but that’s a whole other thing) so if two consenting adults with healthy sexual appetites want to enjoy a BDSM relationship then more power to them and have fun. BUT 50 Shades is far from that, Ana (the vapid, idiot heroine) is pushed, bullied and coerced into a BDSM relationship by Christian (the controlling, psychotic hero) in a not particularly nice or gentle way. Considering she spends most of her time over anxious and despairing of upsetting Christian, it’s not particularly healthy. There are some bloggers and commentators who have compared it to the abuse grooming process. My concern is that it has been shown that teenage girls are secretly reading this and seeing it as the norm. It’s disturbing on so many levels, especially if the girl ends up with a boyfriend who has a predilection for violence. I was reading an article by a therapist who treated a couple because the husband was a little brutal in the bedroom and bought his wife this book to prove that what he wanted was normal. Can you imagine the impact this would have on a teenage girl who is in no way emotionally or mentally (letalone physically) ready or mature enough for this?
The problem is this process was started with Twilight. The whole Bella/Edward relationship (taking out the vampire aspect of course) showed an unnatural codependency and control with emotional anxiety and not to mention the whole ‘suicidal because my boyfriend left me’ mentality we see predominantly throughout the second movie. Bella has such a strange dependency on the presence of Edward, so much so that she literally lets him get away with things that are so wrong. He stalks her, acts like she hasn’t a brain in her head and manipulates her. She, in turn, accepts this as normal and has an epic meltdown every time she thinks he’s not happy. This is what the younger generations are growing up on and it is terrifying. There is not a horror movie on earth that could compete with the thought that there are whole generations of Bellas and Anas.
I grew up on Buffy and Charmed, women who were strong and powerful, who loved their men but did not see the men as integral to their continuing existence. The Buffy/Angel dynamic in the picture shows it perfectly. Buffy went out and saved the world, Angel could help and it was great if he did, but she wasn’t dependent on him to do so. She could go out and handle it herself. As did the Charmed Ones, saving the world on a weekly basis without a man to handle business for them. Buffy taught girls one lesson: to be who they are. During season 4 she did have a little conundrum about holding herself back on account of her normal boyfriend Riley, but she ultimately decided that she was who she was and there was no way in hell she was going to be less than for a guy or to make a guy feel better about himself. Buffy, Willow (yes I didn’t forget her) and the Charmed Ones showed that women could own their power and not give it away, that being strong, confident and independent was a great thing to be and should never be compromised in any way. Even Hermione in Harry Potter was a great role model for girls. She was smart and capable and refused to be anything other than what she was. These are the role models for girls not Bella, not Ana. These are the role models that should be pushed yet on television and in books, so many role models are vapid, insecure or trite (and tripe).
I mean let’s be honest, if Buffy met Bella or Ana, she’d smack the shit out of them. Like so many of us want to do.
You know why I think 50 Shades is popular with women? I know so many people will probably disagree with me but I think it is popular with people are not particularly well read. Bear with me, I know a lot of people who read a lot like myself and have had chats with them about this series and all share my opinion, it’s crap, not particularly well written and like me, they struggled to care enough to keep reading and others (like me) gave up and couldn’t read anymore. I think for people who don’t read very much, this would seem titillating and erotic. I find it degrading, but again, reading as I do, most paranormal fiction has erotic scenes in it and they are beautifully written. If you like a little kink, read Forbidden Magic by Cheyenne McCray, the antagonists have some rather graphic three (and four) ways (and the protagonists also have some really hot sex) but it is well written by an author who knows how to handle writing erotic scenes. The antagonist woman (who is a demon wearing a human suit….it’s complicated) is in complete control and is having the absolute time of her life. Put it next to the scenes in 50 Shades and Shades comes off disgusting, cheap and with a disturbing level of deviance that makes you want to shower. Like I said, in an open, honest, consensual, equal relationship I imagine BDSM is pleasurable and fun but how it is portrayed in Shades is abusive, manipulative and controlling.
There are so many authors out there who write great erotic fiction with BDSM undertones but handle it in a refreshing, mature, sexy way. If teenage girls are so determined to involve themselves in this kind of behaviour then they shouldn’t be looking to 50 Shades, they should look elsewhere or better yet, wait until they are adults and understand the maturity needed to be in a relationship like this. And men if you read 50 Shades and think this is what a woman wants….then shame on you and if you get excited about the prospect of doing what is in this rubbish book…you need help or a swift hard smack upside the head with a heavy object.
Seriously, if I had a boyfriend who bought me home 50 Shades and tried to convince me this was normal for a relationship, I’d hand him Misery and say the same.
‘Honey you get your spanker, I’ll get my Sledgehammer’.