not your average “beach read”

Women titillated by 50 Shades of Gray. From

Time to get slightly controversial.  An article recently in Forbes online, specifically Forbeswoman has prompted me to comment on something I had not commented on, because I simply found the topic distasteful.

It’s that Fifty Shades of Gray by EL James.  First I was merely appalled by a mindless news report on NBC 10 this past March by Dawn Timmoney.  The news report cut into this kitchen scene with purported “Main Line” women.  There they are talking about oops how naughty the book was and how naughty they were for reading it.  They looked half in the bag, and just…well…gauche. Yes, they indeed needed a spanking.  What I did not know then is that the book is supposedly  a big hit with middle-aged women. I must be a different kind of woman or more of a traditionalist that I thought.

So we now know these ladies are into soft porn, rape fantasies, and bondage.  And so do their kids, neighbors, rabbis, ministers, priests, lady at the checkout aisle in the grocery store, cleaning lady, etcetera. And apparently they need this book to feel sexy or get their proverbial rocks off? Low self esteem much?

Really, that is what you want the PTA and girl scout troop leader to know?  Or say your own mother?


I am not a prude, but the whole premise of these books is profoundly disturbing to me.  It seems to me, that for all women have advanced throughout the years, that this sets them back.  And I am also not a women’s libber.

But to me, it seems that if this is what you have to turn to, there is something definitely off in your interpersonal relationships.  I get that some people are into role play, and quite frankly, what happens behind your bedroom doors doesn’t affect me.  But don’t assume that everyone wants to hear about it.

Once you get past the porn side of the book, what I find that disturbs me is the fact that there is this darker side to the book that objectifies women, and glamorizes what amounts to domination of women in what I feel is an unhealthy way, along with basically glamorizing rape and potentially violence and emotional abuse of women.  I also think it makes a mockery out of relationships.

Have I read the book cover to cover?  No, I did not want to.  The basic idea of it was disturbing, not titillating.  I read an excerpt or two online and flipped through it in a bookstore when I saw a couple of women furtively checking it out.  This is not something I would buy, nor would I borrow it from a friend.

I truly find the whole idea of subservient female anything distasteful. There are undertones to the concept of the book that are unacceptable and possibly dangerous.  And  hearing it portrayed as something to revive ailing relationships, just wow.  EL James as Dr. Ruth of today?  Yuck.

I love to read.  A good author can send you to foreign lands, and interesting locales and paint word pictures that put you there, in the moment of the book.  But this?  What kind of message does a book like this send?  Is this what you want your daughters to read and learn from?  Really?

I am sure someone said something like this when Jaqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls  was published in 1996, but  wow, that sure seems tame by comparison.

And this book has probably made the author a millionaire and has reportedly also boosted sales of things like plain white rope in hardware stores all over the country.  Even more amusing?  Hotels are offering Fifty Shades of Gray Tourista Packages.  And oh yes, the Daily Mail in the UK is predicting a rise in babies born a veritable baby boom, with direct attribution going towards…you got it…Fifty Shades of Gray.

Does Fifty Shades of Gray have Pinterest Boards yet?

Like this Forbes writer said, I am also not a book burner.  But what is wrong with a society that views this as fabulous?  I don’t get it.  Do you?  Am I wrong?  If you have an opinion, feel free to post a comment.  Remember I reserve the right to not publish comments as I see fit.

Here is the Forbes article:

ForbesWoman       6/23/2012 @ 12:23PM  |45,152 views   

Is ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Dangerous?

Kathryn CaseyKathryn Casey, Contributor

Please accept this as gospel: I do not like censorship. I am not a book burner. I will stand up for my right and your right to read any book we choose. Also understand that I fault no one for selling or reading E.L. James’s erotic novels, the Fifty Shades series.

In fact, I’m in that latter category. I bought a copy of the first book in the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, a few months ago, eager to see what all the fuss was about…..women are saying reading the book is rekindling their interest in intimacy. One morning on The Today Show, I watched a  soccer mom insist the book had reignited her sex life with her husband.

The books are so successful, that they’ve spawned an increase in sex toy sales, and some hardware store owners are having a tough time keeping cotton rope….You see, handsome billionaire Grey, the title character, is into BDSM, an acronym for bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism. In other words, the books’ hero enjoys tying his partner up, dominating her, and inflicting pain…..The problem is that ever since I read James’s first novel, I’ve been troubled. Is anyone else out there wondering what I am: Do middle-aged women, the main audience for this book, really view the threat of violence as an aphrodisiac? And isn’t it dangerous to turn a BDSM-addict into a romantic hero? Would we want our daughters dating Christian Grey?

….What I find unsettling is that in Christian Grey I see the attributes of so many of the men I’ve written about over the years, the ones who abuse and sometimes even end up murdering their intimate partners. Experts have said for decades that rape is more about control than sex. ……a man who needs to dominate, humiliate, and physically abuse a woman isn’t a hero.

10 thoughts on “not your average “beach read”

  1. Every time a FB friend posts a request for book suggestions lately, the first book suggested in this one. I have to agree with you here- I just don’t GET IT! I really don’t get the publicity of it, or the talk about making it into a movie. Surely there are books that are more titillating than this one, and movies that are more x-rated, but the hype that has gone along with this entire series is uncalled for and truly sets women back.

  2. Romance novels have been around for ages. Some are more risque than others, but its just not my cup of tea. I am not a prude by all means, but I just don’t find a book about sex-ca-pades to be interesting or entertaining. I know people who do love those types of books, and “ate up” the Fifty Shades series. I know people who enjoy a romance novel and found it so over the top that it was a book for the trash bin. I my self never liked romance novels (love stories yes), so I am skipping Fifty Shades.

    As for fetishes, you would be very surprised the types of crazy things people enjoy between the sheets. It all falls under to each his own and who am I to judge.

  3. I haven’t read Shades so I can’t speak on quality but I do get annoyed because there are other erotica authors who have been writing books in the same vein as Fifty Shades and they don’t get near the amount of time and attention.

  4. Agree! I though I was the odd one for not wanting to read it. Everyone talks about their sex life improving because of it. No thank you. I don’t want my husband to get turned on by porn, why should I? SOmething is wrong with this picture. I think this book has gotten attention because it has reached the main stream. Women are openly discussing it instead of hiding under the covers with a flashlight. Believe me, the other books are now coming into the limelight as well and other “writers” will be scrambling to jump on the hand-cuff band wagon. And I was wondering what would be next after the vampire craze. I’m almost afraid to think what it will be.

  5. I read all three books. The gentleman is truly disturbed to begin with, and morphs over the course of all 3 books into understanding a what a “normal” relationship is. I was afraid at the beginning how much worse it was going to get, only to find out it actually got tamer.

    As an adult reader, I had no problem at all with it. But I wouldn’t want to see anyone under the age of, say, 21 read it. And I wouldn’t read them again, like I do my favorite books.

    Just last week i was teaching a gardening class to senior citizens. One lady referenced the book in passing. (She had read it.) Which prompted a 93 year old “proper lady” to remark “Oh, I read that.” I was floored. giggled, and called them a bunch of wicked old ladies! It was all quite fun.

  6. I really find this book’s popularity concerning and unsettling – I too am not a book burner. Fine, somebody wrote it. But, why in the world is it so popular?

  7. To answer everyone as to why Fifty Shades is so wildly popular… its supposed to be a fan fiction trilogy based off of Twilight. So basically its piggy backing on the Twilight popularity. A lemmings effect as you will, LOL.

  8. I never had any interest in reading this book. Thank you for saying what I was thinking, while watching the NBC 10 repost showing the Main Line Mom’s giving their views on the book.

  9. Hello! I just discovered your blog, and I have to say bravo to this post! I also posted something similar. It’s so puzzling — and disturbing — that so many women find this book good.

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