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.