Fifty Shades of Feminist Anger


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Being tantalizingly close to completing my revisions of Unveiled, I had planned to write a quick review of the Fifty
Shades of Grey
trilogy and call it a week.
I had considered blogging on a related topic, how our society likes to tear down
anything that becomes too popular, but decided that was a blog that could wait
another week. Then I checked my Twitter feed. Now, I feel the need to write a response to a blog tweeted by the Huffington Post, also about
Fifty
Shades of Grey
.

As readers can gauge from my review, I don’t disagree with
the criticisms that these books are poorly written in parts.  I also understand that for some people
they are too graphic. My inclination is to tell those people they
ought not to complain, since no one is forcing them or anyone else to read these
books (they won’t likely appear on your child’s summer reading list any time
soon), however I can accept these complaints being voiced in public forums. What I have
a harder time accepting is critics who make judgments about the women reading
and enjoying these books.

In a blog written by Pastor Douglas Wilson, entitled “Fifty Shades of Prey,” the novels are condemned for giving women the wrong idea about
love and relationships. He voices concerns over Ana Steele’s confidence and
self-worth issues, worrying that women who read these books will be more likely
to put themselves into relationships with men who view them as prey.

First, let me thank the good Pastor for being such an
advocate for women. What would we all do without a man to tell us of the
dangers of our fun and erotic reading choices? Next, let me remind him that these
books, unlike the Twilight books he also
condemns, are not being sold in the YA section of bookstores. Though they may
have started as fan fiction for Meyer’s books, they are written by an adult
woman for adult women–literate women who are intelligent enough to know the
difference between fiction and reality, women who on occasion might like to
fanaticize about a dangerous and exciting sex life. Gasp and get over it.

Pastor Wilson also writes about the dangers of the
role-playing and sexual experimentation in the books. He worries that, “It is
dangerous to play rape in a world with real rape. In short, don’t start what
you can’t finish.” Are. You. Kidding. Me? Totally disregarding the factual
error that there is rape or play rape in these books, this statement is utterly
appalling.  The Pastor seems to be
implying that a woman like Ana, who opens herself up to untraditional sex, is
asking to be raped. So much for his concerns about oppressing women.

He continues to argue that clearly no woman would enter this
type of relationship without having had previous abusive relationships. Yes,
only a battered woman would want excitement in her sex life. Finally, the
Pastor ends with his take on readers of these books, stating that these books
could only be enjoyable for “women with daddy issues, for women already trained
or currently training, to view themselves as prey.” There are a few possible (piss-poor) excuses for these statements. The first is that Pastor Wilson never read beyond
book one to see that Christian was the one who had been abused (yes, men can be
victims, too) and that Ana develops into a woman capable and willing to make
decisions for herself. Or perhaps Pastor Wilson did read all three books, and
his real issue is with how she accomplished that, by taking the reigns of her
sexuality, freeing herself of the societal bonds that told her enjoying herself
sexually in certain ways was wrong.

Regardless of his reasoning, I’d like to correct this
misinformed reader. I read and enjoyed these books. Like most readers of these books, I am a well-educated,
well-read woman. I am not now, nor ever have been in an abusive relationship. Nor will I ever be. I have a black belt in karate and, like Ana
when she was inappropriately touched by her boss, I would not hesitate to
defend myself physically against a male attacker. I have no ‘daddy issues’, and the only thing I’ve been trained to view myself as, by both my parents and by the strong women whom I admire, is someone strong enough to say no when I mean it and to say yes when I want it.

If you want to elevate
women’s status in our society, stop deciding for us what is good, safe, and
right. We are capable and willing to make those decisions for ourselves.

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