I recently finished reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I really don’t know how I feel about them. I enjoyed reading them and got through them pretty quickly; the storyline was predictable but readable and despite not liking either of the main characters very much, I found myself rooting for their relationship. I feel kind of frustrated though with how sex is presented in the book.
On one hand, it is completely ridiculous. The sex itself is over the top and unrealistic. Christian makes Ana come by biting her nipple for God’s sake. They have sex a million times a day and she doesn’t get cystitis or a bit tired?! My concern is that these books will leave both sexes feeling inadequate about their sexual experiences; men will think it is as easy as providing a quick fumble and nipple bite to please a women, whereas girls might worry that there is something wrong with them if it takes them longer than thirty seconds to be in the mood and in a position where they can orgasm. The book also scares me to death in the sense that Christian comes across as a paranoid stalker. Add or change a few words and you have a crime report on domestic violence in your hands; he tracks her phone, travels across the country in a rage when she goes out a drink with her friend, nearly kills a guy for dancing with her, hates her talking to any men but him, carries out background searches on anyone Ana comes into contact with pretty much – it’s insane and implies that Ana is someone who needs controlling, protecting and completely conforms to the stereotypical notion of the weak, helpless female and the strong, hero male. I also worry about the way the relationship becomes all encompassing for both of them – it feels too dramatic and tense and seems more harmful than loving at points.
On the other hand though, I think that anything that celebrates women’s sexuality and encourages us to challenge and push for what makes us happy in the bedroom is a good thing. The books focus on Ana’s pleasure and Grey’s desire to please her which is a triumph in some ways. It is also refreshing to a man portrayed as vulnerable to some extent as ‘erotica’ usually has pretty one dimensional men – rippling biceps, smoldering, monosyllabic etc.
Sure, it probably wont win any literary awards – it is poorly written and a thesaurus wouldn’t go amiss – but it is one of the best selling books in Britain ever and it kept me entertained for a while.