Fifty Shades of Grey

No, I have not read it but I have heard the buzz about everywhere from overhearing random gossip between the chicks on the other aisle to LinkedIn. All this makes me want to read it. My sister was telling how a friend had the book, couldn’t stop talking about it and would be willing to let her borrow and read it. Because I’m a faster and more obsessive reader than her, I’ll be reading first. I heard ABOUT the book long before I heard the BUZZ. I have recently got the buzz on LinkedIn and (like the adventurer I am) followed it to wherever it took me#wildwomendo.

So this book has a little upset over it. Whether it’s success heralds a hallmark in literary canon or mommy porn, and its place in the Feminist lense: a subverting setback or progressive step forward? Without actually reading the book, just going on the synopsis I found at Wikipedia, I want to speak a little on those two topics. But before we get there, let’s get into what I (tentatively) know about the novel:

1. It emerged from a fan fiction piece about….Twilight?#really?

2. It involves S&M or BDSM.

3. Beat out Harry Potter in bestselling UK novel.


1. It emerged from a fan fiction piece about Twilight?#really,really?#WeAreNoLongerInForks.

LOL, okay. I got a few more details but nothing to significantly spoil the reading for my self or anyone else. So we can move on#buzz.

Literary Masterpiece or Commercial Success?

It’s content, readership and beginnings leaves room for question about “Shades” (short) literary standing. Some have called nothing but porn: mommy or poorly written porn on top of that. When I read the synopsis of the story, the first thing I honestly thought of was the film “Secretary” with James Spader and Jake Gyllenhall’s sister. Having half watched that film (which was uncomfortable) and after multiple viewings I got the message and developed an appreciation for it. It brought new perspective on what was previously taboo and it is praised as a wonderful and genuine piece of modern film. So why can’t this novel do the same? Sex, the forbidden, relationship dynamics, self-discovery sound like tags for this novel so I don’t see why this couldn’t be literary masterpiece(I haven’t read it). I am inclined to say don’t let the driving motifs(this case, S&M) of a story blind one from the story itself#truthisstrangerthanfiction.          BUT since it did emerge from a Twilight fan fiction(#really, really?) I’m going to side with commercial success. Sorry, I can’t see anything to do with Twilight being a literary hallmark. A way to make good money? Yes. Afterall, if you can sell tweens and grown women their tweenish fantasies, who says you can’t raise the content rating and sell soccer mom’s theirs too?#makingmoney#nothingwrongwiththat.

Feminist Subversion or Feminist Desideratum?

There has also been debate amongst the critics of the socio-political persuasion. I am referencing the Feminists and the Anti-Feminists that would like use “Shades” as an illustrative point in their arguments. It will be used, regardless of what I have to say, but I feel that it would be ineffective tool since it’s so pliable to either agenda. But before I go on a couple of disclaimers need to be issued:

The author supports Feminism and identifies as a Feminist.

The author has yet to engage in any intimate relationship or sexual activity. Thank you. 

Now, being an avid lover of Feminism (there’s nothing I love more than woman going for hers#bitchskillingit#the Queen Bee), I don’t see how this novel subverts the principles of Feminism. It’s been called “trite”, “typical”, “cliche” for its ingenue-corrupted-by-vampire like premise. But if a woman is pursuing her fantasies in her sexuality, is she not enjoying her liberty? Even if that fantasy is one of powerlessness and domination it’s hers to have right? The goal was to fight for a woman’s right to choose what she wants in life. If she chooses a life of submissiveness then shouldn’t her choice be upheld as well? Now the counterargument is that novel reflects some deep psychological trait in women. While women may want power, but the truth maybe that we actually aren’t comfortable with all the responsibilities and nuances of power or we fumble with it trying to have best of both worlds. That’s only half true, a woman can handle all the responsibility just as well if that’s what she wants. I also don’t believe that a woman taking on a submissive role in sex or a relationship is an unveiling that woman are and were always meant to be so. It’s her choice. Choosing to submit to someone is different from being expected or forced to submit to someone. Even the very act of buying and reading pornographic material (like this book for example)  is considered a progressive step in feminism, so why judge a woman on the particulars of her sexuality? I personally think that this book (or more like what I know of it so far) may be the embodiment of what feminism fight for: a young educated woman uses her liberty to pursue her happiness. It shouldn’t matter how that happiness takes shape#whathappinessis.

BUT given that it was spawned out of Twilight this novel is likely just as agnsty and self-indulgent, like a Twilight for Adults; Twilight rated R. I just can’t take it that seriously#really, really?.


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