Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Fifty Shades of Grey-The Trilogy
Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed make up the trilogy written by E L James. At this point, the reviews are numerous, merciless, angry and seductive. I had planned to write a review based on the storyline, but I think I shall divert down a different path. But I must say that without a doubt, the media hype and categorization of the trilogy as ‘mommy porn’ is what brought these books to the forefront of reader curiosity and at the time, I hadn’t thought about reading any or all of the books. But a couple of emails from a marketing director, and an agent (requesting my thoughts) brought me up short. Maybe I should read the books and see what all the fuss is about? So $30 and 3 nights later, I had completed the trilogy and now I offer my opinion-because yes-everything I have read about the series is strictly an opinion based on personal views. Descriptions from erotica, erotic romance,romance, soft to hard core porn and BDSM have been used to categorize the genre, but in my opinion, the truth may very well lie somewhere in between or in a combination of descriptive titles and subjects.
Many reviewers opposed to the storyline content have attacked the quality of the writing comparing it to fan fiction and drivel. I will not address quality, as many other books I have read and reviewed, have been of a much poorer quality than this particular series, and yet the storylines have been interesting. As well, I have read many comments from those who have NOT read the series,and I find it rather amusing and sad, that although everyone is entitled to an opinion, it is those who have not read the book, post some of the most negative comments.
Erotic Adult Fiction: Erotic adult fiction is now a female driven genre both as a reader and an author. Once the domain of men, women writer’s (usually under author pseudonyms or initials only) are pushing the envelope of erotic fiction. Once considered written porn, the genre of erotic fiction is fast becoming main-stream adult literature.
Why the rise in popularity? Several reasons.
The popularity has increased with the advent of ebooks. The anonymity for the reader, hidden behind the electronic age of virtual books, allows for anyone to purchase a book, without the fear of retribution, side-long glances from the 18 year old store clerk or 60 year old librarian, and instant gratification (so to speak) for availability. Similar to the days of Playboy and Hustler wrapped in brown paper on the upper shelves in the magazine section at the local corner store. Women and men no longer have to fear being judged by a stranger for their choices in reading material.
Society’s Moral Values
Over the years, society has eased up on what they perceive to be a ‘more’. What was once considered ‘deviant’ are quite diverse and can range from murder to rape, too fat to too thin, etiquette faux pas, and fetishes to perversions. Fetishes are usually harmless-an odd attraction -voyeurism e.g.. Many people believe as long as no one is hurt or being forced, and everyone is over 18, who are we to judge. But there is always the fine line.
But if a fetish escalates into perversions or something illegal e.g. whereby voyeurism leads to sexual assault, rape or murder, then society has laws and treatments for people with this kind of deviant behavior. Once thought as deviant behavior, especially for women…..reading erotic literature was considered immoral and in some cases, a sin (for those who follow religious dictates)….they would have hidden an erotic novel, tucked the book away in a sock drawer. But many of society’s mores have become the norm. What was once unacceptable as reading material, is now a main stream best seller.
Many erotic storylines involve explicit sexual descriptive narration. The language is graphic and there is virtually nothing off limits except children and incest (but not always). Many women are now reading novels or series of novels featuring homosexual storylines. And of course, many of today’s erotic fantasy novels involve MMF storylines-with multiple partners at one time. Again…fantasy is the operative word. Some of the Harlequin Romance novels are considered tame with their ‘suggestive or implied’ sex as compared to most of the romantic/erotic adult storylines released today.
Author JR Ward addresses some issues of BDSM with her character of Vishous. Tortured and maimed, V has a ‘playroom’ that he frequents when his life in the ‘brotherhood’ begins to swallow and bury (him). And yet, this particular storyline has not received the same attention as EL James-Fifty Shades of Grey.
Television and the film industry have long had a rating system for what is perceived as appropriate for different age groups. Now the ‘rating system’ has been applied to many of the different books and novels, due to the ‘graphic nature’ of the content. And saying that….the ebook revolution does not discriminate against the virtual shopper. Identification is not required when ordering a book online from most of the websites…..all that is required is a valid charge card or pay pal account, and an email address (for ebooks). I wonder how many minors (under 16) are reading erotica, BDSM and sexually explicit storylines-all because of the advent of the e-book?
Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy
Yes, there is some BDSM (BDSM is a term that stands for such patterns in sexual behavior as Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. –bdsmguide.org). Like everything in life, there are degrees and valuations, and varying shades of grey (pun intended). Like a sliding color wheel, the BDSM content is revealed in shades and degrees. But the author never crosses the imaginary ‘hard-line’ into true hard-core savagery. The ‘heroine’ is never forced or coerced, she is aware at all times and enters into the relationship wholly aware. The storyline Dom/Sub relationship is never carried over into a public social context and the practice is always safe and consensual. Yes, there are times when a soft-line is pushed, but it is addressed throughout the story.
Now to backtrack slightly-this series is NOT about BDSM. This story is about addressing the truth, acknowledging responsibility, the loss of power and control, and the fight to gain it all back. This story is also about acceptance, finding love, losing and taking steps towards recovery. The BDSM content is minimal, but has apparently caught the interest of the public, as does anything that goes against the ‘norm’.
In reality the practice of BDSM is wide ranging and is often misinterpreted by the lay-people not involved in the practice. BDSM has been labeled everything from a fetish to a perversion, but when the people involved are consenting adults, wholly aware of the circumstances and the situation, the behavior or role-playing is acted out according to a specific script of behaviors and actions. There are rules, agreements, safety words, consequences and varying degrees of pleasure (all safe and legal)-to which a question must be addressed-Who are we to judge a lifestyle (between consenting adults) that is different from our own? And herein lies the fine-line-consent.
Informed Consent-Psychological Definition:
Informed consent is a legal procedure to ensure that a patient or client knows all of the risks and costs involved in a treatment. The elements of informed consents include informing the client of the nature of the treatment, possible alternative treatments, and the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.
In order for informed consent to be considered valid, the client must be competent and the consent should be given voluntarily.(about.com/psychology)
The Fifty Shades series is about a man with demons buried so deep he turns to BDSM for control. But the underlying current of BDSM becomes blurred when the title character of Christian Grey, at 15years old, unknowingly becomes the submissive to a woman several years older. It is something the young teen now craves and requires to control the demons: it becomes his therapy. As a sexual predator, the woman holds power and control of the teenage boy, shaping him into the man who would one day run a billion dollar enterprise. And it is this relationship that directs and controls all of his future endeavors and needs. Even in the world of high finance and business, power and control is the ultimate aim.
The series is written from the ‘heroine’s’ point of view. We are privy to Anastasia Steele’s intimate thoughts and ideas, as well as her fears and worries about the man she has fallen in love (with). And she is NOT without some power of her own. As the story progresses, the lines of control slowly blur, until it is Ana who has the ultimate control – of a man’s heart and his soul. It is her unconditional acceptance (within the boundaries of a relationship) of Christian Grey that will begin the healing process once thought not possible.
I guess like everything in life, we must make decisions based on research, trial and error, and public opinion. And in the end, sometimes the only opinion that counts, is your own. If you are asking me “Would I recommend reading the series?”, I would have to say yes. Not because it will qualify for a Nobel Prize in Literature, but because it is, in all honesty, a love story with a HEA. And I for one, ALWAYS want a HEA (Happily Ever After) and Fifty Shades delivers.
Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? What do you think? Do you have an opinion?
In My Opinion-Sandy