It’s Not the BDSM

[content warning: description of: domestic violence, abuse, using BDSM as an excuse for abuse, rape]

Some of you may be aware that I have a deep and abiding loathing for the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.

At first, I was just pissed off that it existed — it was plagiarized from another book series (that is badly written and glorifies abusive relationships, with a fanbase that largely seems, well, pretty offbase most of the time) and yet this seemed ample reason to reward IceQueenSnowDragonFairyFartPrincess — sorry, EL James — with a publishing contract. Oh, and scores and scores of cash.

Then I was pissed off at how badly written it was. I mean, dear gods, if people are going to make an author rich for a plagiarized piece of work could it at least be well-written? Apparently that’s too much to ask. The series is terrible. It is worse than the source material, Twilight, and that really is saying something.

Then, I got pissed off at the combo-deal of crap: not only is the BDSM in the books completely wrong and downright dangerous, the relationship is actually incredibly abusive. And often, Christian uses his “domness” or whatever as an excuse to abuse Ana.

For a while, folks have been calling out the series for its blatant glorification of abuse. And for a long while, there was no response from EL James. Perhaps she was clueless, we thought. Perhaps she just doesn’t know, and once she hears about it, she’ll think about it. Apologize. Say that the books are just a fantasy, and that they shouldn’t be taken as a manual on How to Do Relationships.

Then she said this:

“Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse. […] Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they’ve found the books sexually empowering.”

Quote source. (Be warned, the page plays two mis-timed video ads that are incredibly annoying.)

There went that theory.

Jenny Trout has already done an amazing takedown on her blog, but I feel I must add my voice to the conversation.

Especially as, since we took to Twitter and started asking EL James about her statement, she blocked anyone who said anything about 50 Shades being abuse, and called us all trolls and witches.

Mature.

So, here’s my response to you, EL James. Please note how civil I’m being, even though I hate you with every fibre of my being and hope that Artemis turns you into a stag.

(After the cut, I go into detail about abuse and rape. I put in a read more tag so that you can skip this if you want.)

Continue reading “It’s Not the BDSM”

EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey shortlisted for UK’s National Book Award; world cries tears of blood

Trigger warning: Fifty Shades of Grey is the romanticization of an abusive, rapey fucknozzle named Christian Grey, and I’m ranting about this shit.

I try to be fair. I try to leave room for people whose kink is not my kink, and that’s okay. I’m, overall, not a huge fan of erotic romance, and even within erotic romance I’m not a huge fan of BDSM. This isn’t squeamishness on my part — I’m kinky myself — it’s just that most of the offerings I’ve read within BDSM erotica have not been to my tastes.  (As Katje outs zirself publicly, on zir blog. Only good can come from this.)

Regardless, I think people should have the right to get off to what they want, no matter how fucked up it is.

My stance does have some hard limits, however. (I’m not sold on being all YKINMK for, say, Gor.)

It is not okay to glorify rape and abuse. That is exactly what the 50 Shades trilogy has done — aside from it not even really being BDSM erotica. I’ve had vanilla sex that’s kinkier than some of the shit Christian and Ana get up to.

Do you not believe me? Do I have to point out the recaps, once again? Go. Go read Jennifer Armintrout’s absolute brilliance, and then come back once you’re finished.

If you didn’t read the recaps (shame), here’s the gist of what I’m getting at:

  • Fifty Shades is terribly fucking written.
  • Christian Grey is an abusive rapey fucknozzle who basically just mentally tortures Ana and emotionally manipulates her into doing what he wants.
  • They are both horrible people and I want them to die. I realize they’re fictional. Don’t ruin my dream.
  • Christian threatens to rape Ana in the first book. Then in the second book, he actually does.
  • EL James is not a good enough writer to be subtly making the point that this is bad, mmm’kay. She’s just not. She’s a terrible, clumsy writer. She is worse than Meyer. It’s very obvious that, in James’ POV, 50 Shades and Christian Grey are a hot fantasy — and that is what these books are popular as. This makes me weep for humanity.
  • If you don’t research America before setting your “novel” there, you’re going to have a bad time.

This video is pretty much a wholly accurate depiction of Christian Grey’s true nature.

And so the Specsavers National Book Awards see fit to reward that kind of bullshit by shortlisting the Fifty Shades trilogy?

If I needed absolute proof that the world was not going to hell in a handbasket but that we were already there, and the basket full of demonic bunny eggs didn’t tip me off, this is it.

Full disclosure time. I don’t talk much about the times I’ve been raped. Not publicly, at least. But I think it’s time to talk about the second time. Because it’s relevant to this discussion.

There is a sex scene in Fifty Shades Darker that is almost exactly like what I went through the second time I was raped. Almost verbatim. Change some names, and some circumstances, and you’ve got what my ex did to me in June, 2010 while he was visiting me during my mother’s cancer surgery. 

I’m not going to describe it; it’s in one of the recaps posts, and Jennifer Armintrout does call it out as rape, so if you want to go find it you know where to look now. The day I read that post I had to do some serious self-care to get through the day. (This is not Jennifer Armintrout’s fault; there’s no way she can know what is specifically triggering to folks in a book series that is just scene after scene of rapey abuse, and I know what I signed up for when I started reading the recaps.)

Glorifying rapist characters as a way to create romance is totally deserving of an award! That’s why True Blood has won so many Emmys for “Best Rapey Vamps”. I mean, I sure want to see more of that sort of thing. Maybe next time there can be a bunch of not-subtle-at-all anxieties regarding BDSM and seeing the practice of it as sick and wrong and therefore the characters who practice it as sick and wrong, so it can be EVEN MORE like my relationship with my ex-boyfriend.

Oh wait.

Even if the series didn’t glorify a rapey abusive douchefuck, it’s terribly written. It’s honestly probably the worst writing I’ve ever read. And it’s plagiarism. There is an 89% similarity rating between Fifty Shades and the  Twilight fanfic it was “extensively reworked” from, Master of the Universe. Eighty. Nine. Per cent.

That would be enough to get you kicked out of college, but out here in the real world we give you a goddamn publishing contract and slap your name on the shortlist for a fucking medal.

In conclusion, if Fifty Shades wins the National Book Awards, I think the only reasonable reaction would be to nuke the UK from orbit. Even if it meant no more Doctor Who.

“I’m willing to die for my cause. What are you willing to give up for yours?”

So much more.