With all the kerfluffle over the 50 Shades books – especially on twitter yesterday – I’m going to weigh in a teeny tiny bit. My opinion of the books themselves doesn’t count because I haven’t read them. I know enough about them to know I would not enjoy them. Not just because I don’t find it to be well written (by the snippets I have read), but because I have a very hard line drawn where abuse is concerned.
BSDM is not abuse when it is done correctly. When respect, trust, and comfort are paramount, my understanding is that it can be quite fulfilling for people who tend toward that particular kink. My argument is not against that lifestyle. These books don’t portray that sort of relationship. If you changed the characters a bit, if the male lead wasn’t pretty, the police would have gotten involved. My favorite meme on the subject says it best – change that aspect and you’re watching Criminal Minds.
The problem is, as much as people like me might want to have a real discussion about all the ways that the story blurs the line of abuse, too many want to hop on the bandwagon and bash the woman who wrote them and it ends up stinking of jealousy (seriously, who wouldn’t want those sales figures?). The problem is not the writer people. If it was just the writer, she wouldn’t be selling like she does. We live in a world where those lines are blurred already – we should be worrying less about one author’s work and more about explaining to impressionable women and men what abuse is and isn’t.
Fighting back against this one author, this one series, doesn’t do anything. If anything, it makes the impressionable people who bow to the altar of Grey dig their heels in even further and they’ll buy more books just like that one to prove that the people who are so worried about all this are the ones who are oh so wrong. Stop brow beating the author who is not the cause but a symptom. If you’re so worried about abuse and the ramifications of it – post things that are helpful for the people living in that situation, not the people who want to pretend to be. I bet most of 50 Shades most devout readers are in (relatively) healthy relationships and have zero clue what it is to be abused or to watch someone they love be abused. I doubt they’d feel the same way about their fantasy leading man if they did. Unfortunately, for those in a less than healthy relationship, the popularity of these books also means they are less likely to see the red flags, warning signs, or recognize them for what they are.
Like words, animals, society, and everything else, symbols evolve. Some lose the meaning they once had, others are co-opted by groups of people who think that symbol represents them. I don’t exactly know how the rainbow became an LGBT symbol but it is and it is a fabulous one and it is, unfortunately, the only example of this I can think of off the top of my head that isn’t a hate group. The swastika was a symbol of good fortune, once upon a time and look what happened to that one. We can sit here and swap history lessons but, in the end, once a symbol has been co-opted by a hate group, all the good things that symbol might once have represented gets lost in the static of ugliness. If you want to get mad about that, get mad at the people who stole the symbol and made it ugly, not at the people for whom that symbol has become a calling card of violence.
I have two wonderful children. I really do. Even when they go out of their way to irritate me. This week, it’s the words… We were talking about words – specifically the fact that my youngest likes to repeat specific words ostensibly because he likes the way they feel to say. Honestly, I imagine it’s a part of his autism that me and my older son also share. We discussed words we enjoy saying – we all agree on discombobulated. I love Irksome. Youngest loves words with more than five syllables. Oldest loves ten dollar words, regardless of their syllabic count (he’s old enough to enjoy showing off his vocabulary and young enough to still think it doesn’t make him look arrogant and obnoxious – I can’t say much, I was of that type myself once upon a time).
Of course, that conversation ends up on the other side, with all the words we don’t like to hear. I made the mistake of weighing in on this and now, my youngest child is singing the Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song saying my most squicky word where the word Bill should be. If I hear the word Moist one more time this summer, I might cry.
What are your favorite words to say and most squicky words to hear? For the record, I imagine squicky words to be the verbal equivalent to a nail on a chalkboard, shivers down the spine, hackles raised, and a slick heat in the brain that just says ewwww.
Summer is always a mixed bag for me. I’m not big on the weather but it’s also growing season and swimming season and kids are home to play with season. (when they aren’t bickering at each other, my kids are so much fun). It never feels like there are enough hours in the day and too many of them are hot and bright.
This school year is not quite over yet thanks to all the snow days this past winter but tomorrow afternoon begins summer vacation officially. This may be the shortest summer ever. Before we know it, school will be back in session and I’ll be the mother of a high school student. How on earth that is possible, I haven’t figured out. In the mean time, we’re going to enjoy the summer we’ve got.
I never seem to get as much writing done in the summer as I’d like. I’m determined to do better this year though. My youngest kid is an early riser – we had to institute a rule where he is not allowed out of bed before 6 AM. I’m generally up with him. I can’t sleep past 7 any more, no matter how late I’m up. That means that, if I work at it, I should have at least two hours every day to get words in. All it takes is some dedication and determination. I’m going to get the draft of Hunter’s Hell (the working title of Hunter’s Crossing’s sequel) done this summer. Hopefully anyway. With everything going on right now, I’m hopeful but not promising.