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  • Writer's pictureEdie Montreux

Fifty Shades of Abuse

On Sunday, I mentioned I would be blogging about Happiness. This is not the happiness blog. Sorry if you expected it.

Trigger/Spoiler Alert: We’re going to talk about the Fifty Shades Trilogy and normalizing abuse. I’ve already lost one Facebook friend over this, so why not cull my friend’s list some more.

See the full list of quotes here.

I recently saw a friend’s post about authors criticizing readers for what they want to read. The poster didn’t mention any names or any books, but I assume it’s about this.

First, I don’t even know if I get to call myself an author. That being said, I’m not criticizing readers for wanting to read something all of their friends read. I’m also not criticizing readers for not throwing this book at the wall the first mention of Ana’s “internal goddess” (puke). 

I, too, am a reader. I read the first book cover-to-cover. I had to know why my cubemate thought it was the best book ever, God love her. This book made me throw up a little in my mouth, yes, but it also gave me flashbacks to the guy who tried to kill me. For a month afterward, every time I looked over my shoulder, I expected him to be there. That’s my experience, and I’m not criticizing readers for my PTSD.

I’m not criticizing other readers misled into thinking these books are romance. I’m criticizing the author’s depiction of abuse under the guise of BDSM and romance. As a reader and a critical thinker, I am allowed that. You, dear reader, are also allowed to criticize me. This is my stand on this hill of popular opinion, and it’s a hill I’m prepared to die on.

Christian Grey is an abuser. He stalks Ana, he wins her over, he introduces her to kink without her consent at first, and they go into their “agreement” before Ana has a strong understanding of what the contract means. Then he changes their arrangement so that she never knows when they’re in a scene and when she can relax. If the scene never ends, and instead of playing a part you’re just expecting to get beaten around every corner, that’s abuse. 

I did not read all three books. I left the series on a high note: Ana leaves Christian at the end of the first book. In my head, she never goes back, moves to a new country, changes her name, and starts therapy. 

If you enjoyed the full series, please take a moment to think critically about your reasons. Yes, it’s packed with sex. (Pick up any erotica novel, and you’ll find more of the same.) There’s a not-so-subtle parallel with Twilight. My main reason for reading was to learn more about published fanfiction, so I get that. (We could go rounds about how Twilight also has some of the same signs of abuse.) It’s set in Oregon, nobody sparkles, the people are beautiful, and Christian Grey is rich. Those are all wonderful escapist reasons to read a book. 

However, it also had the following: Jealousy and possessiveness; Sexual violence; Verbal abuse and disrespectful behavior in front of others; Not listening or responding when you talk; Unpredictable temper; Damaging or destroying your possessions; Controlling where you go and who you see.

If you can’t acknowledge the above, or think it all harmless fun, then you are continuing the rape and abuse culture so rampant in our society. You are part of the problem, not part of the solution. I’m not criticizing you for what you like to read. Yes, these books were written for entertainment. That’s great. Be entertained. But also: Be horrified. Stand up. Admit this behavior is wrong and should not be tolerated in real life. 

Lori Gallagher Witt is much better at expressing this than I.

You are perfectly entitled to drop me as a friend and block me forever if you feel this literary masterpiece of manly behavior and true romance should be held in higher regard than I give it. 

Who am I kidding? I’m just ranting to myself.

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