Why I Hate Fifty Shades Of Grey (It’s Not For The Reasons You Think)


I want to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey. Not about the writing—plenty has already been said of that already. I admit that I hold bad writing in contempt, and E.L. James is a bad writer. The plot, characters, and dialogue could very well have been ripped from a low-budget porno. Or from Twilight (which, funnily enough, seems to be the case—the novel purportedly originated as a fanfiction based on Stephanie Meyers’ series).

But bad writing is not why I find Fifty Shades of Grey to be repulsive. I hate—hate—this book because it conflates BDSM with abuse. Because it features an emotionally abusive man preying upon an insecure young woman and calls it a relationship. Christian Grey is an abuser. He is emotionally unavailable, emotionally abusive, and sexually exploitative. His complete disregard for his partner’s comfort, experience, and emotional well being are contemptible: he gets his pleasure at the expense of his partner.

But somehow, emotional unavailability translates into an ineffable sexiness; lack of care turns Christian Grey into some sort of sexual demigod. He throws a sexually inexperienced woman headfirst into the depths of what takes a great deal of trust and intimacy to safely establish, and gives her neither. This is not the basis of BDSM. While power certainly comes into play, as it does in all relationships, BDSM is not about using and abusing power over someone in order to get off. It is not about abusing someone’s trust or someone’s body.

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