Like many other folks, I’ve been reading the commentary by “experts” in the field of women’s rights, psychology, etc. on the trilogy, “Fifty shades of grey.” The consensus is that even though these books hold a very strong appeal for women, they are essentially romanticizing something dark and dangerous, especially for teens and young women. Essentially, the concern is that young women will become attracted to men who are dominant and be more open to the idea of taking a submissive role that leaves them open to exploitation and abuse.
While I don’t disagree with the belief that allowing oneself to be controlled and abused is definitely a bad thing and something we do not want to encourage young women to consider- I do wonder if these experts read the books or if they are just basing their comments on what others are saying about the storyline and characters.
If there is ANYONE out there who hasn’t heard of this trilogy, it is essentially the story of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Christian is fabulously wealthy, handsome, charming and dominant. He doesn’t do the “dating thing,” he has contractual arrangements with women who sign a release and agree to a set of rules in order to have a “relationship” with him. They sleep over but in their own room, they follow strict guidelines for sexual activity that is always what and how Christian says it will be- no questions asked, they dress in clothes he purchases, eat foods he approves and work out with a trainer he chooses three times a week- among other things. If they break any rules, they agree to be punished- when and how Christian wants to do it. It’s more of a contact sport than a relationship.
However, if you actually read the novels, you find out that Ana falls in love with Christian, breaks rules, challenges him and DOESN’T sign the contract at all in the first book- Fifty shades of Grey. The book closes with an impasse and you have to go to book two to see what happens next. Christian is even quoted in “Fifty Shades” as saying; “Ms. Steele, I don’t think you have a submissive bone in your body.” She agrees that she doesn’t think so either. She has constant internal conversations with her ‘inner goddess” and “subconscious;” who tell her she should either go along with Christian in order to be with him or run like hell. She falls in love with him and loves the good things about him- of which there are many. He can be very loving, gentle, funny, kind and protective. That is the Christian she loves and secretly she tries to figure out as she gets more and more information about his past, why he is the way he is. She wants to change him, not be his submissive. Whatever she agrees to, it’s because of how much pleasure she gets from being with him.
This is not about giving and receiving pain- it is about a woman falling for a “bad boy” and hoping to change him. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it. I’m well into the second book and Ana is going past her comfort zone, but still has no desire to be a submissive. She wants the whole thing- and with her, Christian is different then he has ever been with anyone else. From what I understand, things work out for Ana by the end of book three. I intend to read on to find out.
The only danger I see here is that women may believe they can change “bad” guys by loving them enough, standing up to them, understanding and supporting their positive qualities, etc. No one changes unless they want to and make the choice based on something inside of them.
So read the books for sexy fun, cheer Ana on and maybe find some inspiration for your love life. Just don’t take the dominant-submissive stuff too seriously and don’t confuse this fantasy tale with the real thing.