Fify Shades: An Abusive “Love” Story

14 May


Entertainment Weekly’s review is spot on: In a class by itself. I always appreciate writers who know exactly what to leave in and what to leave out.

Criticizing The Fifty Shades Trilogy is an easy task. There are many, many things “wrong” with it but all books are not meant to be pieces of literature are they? No, they’re not. That is a lesson I’ve finally learned to appreciate. I expected it to be bad writing and to be a silly story. It does stem from Twilight fan fiction. The whole vampire love story really isn’t my thing. It doesn’t get me going and I suspected this wouldn’t either. But a lot of people like it and I had to find out why.

There are some decent things about it: It’s a fast read because the characters, the story and the expressions are not complicated. Hell, if you’re confused as to why kind of mood Christian is in, she’ll fill it in for you:

“You’re upset because of what happened last time. I behaved stupidly, and you.. So did you. Why didn’t you safe-word, Anastasia?” His tone changes, becomes accusatory.
What? Whoa-change of direction.
“Answer me.”

Oh well there you go. She told you twice. It’s also a “love” story. A hugely successful man who never lacks control is finding it difficult to maintain for this young woman. That is the story line for the quintessential Harlequin romance book (either the man or the woman in the story has to be wooed. As far as I know, it’s always the same). There is something pleasing about two people being pulled out of their comfort zones and learning to love. That’s a nice thing and one many people can relate to. That is partly what makes for a story that sells. Throw in sex and you’ve probably got something someone will want to read somewhere.

When I think about it, “BDSM” is what separates this book from Harlequin. I placed BDSM in quotations because you should know reader, this is NOT BDSM.

And this is what is incredibly upsetting about the book. E.L. James has not sold a BDSM love story; She has sold an abusive “love” story. I’m currently reading the second one, Fifty Shades Darker. It isn’t making me quite as mad as the first one (yet) because my bar of expectation has been set. I’m only on page 80 and by now I have asked myself the question, “Did she know how popular this book would be? Or at the very least, did she write it with the intention of it being popular?” Did she mean to send out this message that people who are into BDSM go there because they were abused and that they later can’t “love” like other people? That is incredibly disturbing. I hope that is not what she thinks of BDSM people and I hope that is not what she intended to say.. but she has in this book.

So why am I saying it is abusive? Christian doesn’t “not know how to love,” he is controlling, manipulative and a stalker! Within a few days of knowing her, he “growls” at her when she calls him drunk and demands she tell him where she is. When she doesn’t tell him, he tracks her down via her cell phone and shows up. Never asking if that was okay and arrogantly putting her in his car to “take care of her.” Even though she refused to give him her location. Now it could be argued that she wanted him to find her, except that, despite her curiosity, she is clearly afraid of Christian. You could also say here, “Oooooh but he just doesn’t know how to love and he doesn’t mean to be so mean and scary! She can change him!” Except:

“This is not a man I want to cross.. ever.” Pg. 139 in Fifty Shades of Grey

There are many examples of this throughout the book. This is just a small one and I didn’t take note of everything but I do remember reading a lot of lines like this.

Abusive people are constantly written up as “people who need love!” Well, yes, they do but in the mean time, they are abusive people and you will be hurt. I’m afraid this trilogy does nothing but sell abuse to people and to use BDSM as a tool to do it with.

BDSM does often center around “control:” Control the Submissive and the Dom have agreed upon. Absolutely NO ONE should be forced, intimidated, bullied or coerced into it, which is exactly what Christian does to Anastasia. He does make sure to ask her if something is okay but he usually does this after he has thrown a temper tantrum, pouted, been angry or stern with her. He uses intimidation which is always chalked up to him “not knowing how to love because he’s 50 Shades of fucked up.”

Fuck you E.L. James.

He’s constantly telling her how to eat, what to eat, what to wear, he shows up on her doorstep when she has childishly told him goodbye through email. She didn’t invite him. He shows up. That is not romantic, it is creepy. Creepy ass shit. In theory it sounds really nice. “OOooh he loves me soooooooo much he just can’t stay away.” Yeah. He has issues respecting boundaries.

E.L. James.. have you experienced a man not staying away when you’ve made it very clear you do not want to have anything to do with them? It’s fucking scary. At first it’s simply alarming. Then when it repeats itself (as it does in this book) it becomes terrifying.

But Christian is good at getting what he wants. Often people who are “in control” publicly are very good at putting people to ease, even if behind the scenes, they show frightening characteristics. So it’s easy to see why Anastasia would be hoodwinked into think he’s “just so in loooove with me!! Wheeee!” And I’m sure he is but it is a scary love and a very unhealthy one.

A BDSM Dom/Domme would have never allowed any of this to be set up this way. He wouldn’t have fucked her hard her first time as a virgin. That shows a lack of care and consideration (to say the least). I’m not even sure he’d be willing to engage with her but I suppose in special cases that could happen. The problem is not that Anastasia is a virgin (though that is a bit of an issue for a mature Dom, I imagine) but that she has no sexual agency. Why would any Dom/Domme want to engage with someone so incredibly inexperienced and not in touch with themselves. It’s plain irresponsible. This woman hasn’t a lick of an idea of what BDSM is about.

And one last thing: Dios mio! Really? Every time (so far) Jose is introduced, he says this within the first few lines. Also there was no reason to mention he is the first of his family members to go to college. It had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. Way to stereotype.

I’m sick of selling damaged psyches as romantic. There is a lot more to say about these characters but I’m still learning them. I’m sure I’ll have more to say.

I think Kate is the only one who had any freaking sense in this book. Way to go Kate.


4 Responses to “Fify Shades: An Abusive “Love” Story”

  1. Mandy May 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    A-fucking-MEN! This is SPOT-ON. I agree with everything you said. These books are total crap. :-

    • April Lee May 14, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

      There is a LOT more to say about them. I’ve just gotten started.

      • Mandy May 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

        Please do. People can NOT be educated enough about just how AWFUL those books are and how crazy they are to be so popular. :-p


  1. Fify Shades: An Abusive “Love” Story | Sex and the Holy City - May 14, 2013

    […] Fify Shades: An Abusive “Love” Story. […]

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