Fifty Shades of Grey Area in a Not-So-Black-and-White Novel

I fell into the trap. I read the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Generally, when a book is getting a lot of press, I try to read it just so that I can form my own opinion and have some basis for stating my feelings when the topic comes up in conversation. That’s why I read Twilight. And Hunger Games. And The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of this novel (have you been living under a rock??), Ana is a young girl, just graduating from college. She meets Christian Grey, a billionaire in his late-20s. They have an instant connect, and despite his warnings to “stay away” and that “he’s not the man for her”, Ana is attracted to him unlike she’s ever felt attraction before. However, before he’ll sleep with her, he has to run something by her… a contract saying she agrees to be his submissive in a BDSM-relationship. The novel, then, is focused around Ana trying to decide whether or not this is the lifestyle for her, and finding herself falling more and more in love with this man.

I have to tell you that I’ve written and re-written this review several times. I’ll give you the highlights of my original review (titled Fifty Shades of Nauseating Green)…

I do not like the Twilight series because I cannot stand Bella and Edward’s relationship. The patronizing, chauvinistic man and the victimized, helpless woman in their self-destructive relationship did not speak to me. I did not find it sexy. You can read more about my feelings about vampire fiction here.

What sickens me about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it takes what I hate about the vampire craze one step further. I can somewhat understand the appeal of the supernatural in the Bella/Edward relationship. But two mortals? A dominant male and a submissive woman? What the hell is sexy about this??? Have we made no progress in women’s rights at all, or is it that we just don’t believe in what we’ve worked so hard for? I’m sorry, but a man telling me what to eat, what to wear, when to sleep, and demanding sex from me in any form, at any time is not hot. That’s freakin’ sick.

This was before I’d finished the book; I believe I was on about chapter fourteen. I thought that I’d let Erin at FYA speak for me.

Then I delved further into the novel. And I began to appreciate the insight into a lifestyle that I would know nothing about if I were not reading this book. To me, it seems apt that the title is Fifty Shades of Grey because this book, as well as my feelings about this book, are not in black and white. They’re somewhere in the middle–in that grey area.

I know that some people are into this. I personally still think it’s weird (and sick, and gross, and disgusting). And I think that those people have issues (like, major issues). But, that point is not ignored in the book. Christian does have issues. And Ana constantly questions his lifestyle. The monologue running through her head is very similar to the one I gave in my original review (above).

Ana lets Christian know when he’s crossed the line; but she’s also honest with herself about the things she likes. I don’t want to delve into that side of the novel too deeply (my mom and my grandpa read this blog), but I think it’d do us all some good to be open in a relationship, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. (Still not saying I share Christian’s fantasies.)

So, while I didn’t find the spanking, whipping, hitting, punishing scenes sexy. And I can’t necessarily say I liked the book. I did find it interesting. Interesting enough that I’ll probably finish off the series (no pun intended; sorry, Mom, that was dirty).

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!

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