I was once told by a group of middle-aged women that my problem with 50 Shades of Grey was that I was too young to understand it.
They kept going on about how much they needed a Christian Grey in their lives, while I was left speechless, for I could not believe that these people that were supposed to set an example for me had just actually said that.
There are many problems with the 50 Shades saga. For starters, it is very badly written. The narrative is so lame that it is even awkward to read. There is also the fact that it is just a Twilight fanfiction with the characters’ names changed. Worse than that, the stucture of every Twilight fanfiction ever can be followed throughout the books. If you’ve read a few of these fanfics, you can so easily tell who’s who and even what’s going to happen next. The series lacks quality and imagination: it is just a money-making product. But 50 Shades’ biggest problem is none of those, but the sexism that is implied all throughout the books.
Whenever I say this, there is always someone that fights back with the classic “BDSM is not sexist, don’t be so puritanical.” See, I completely agree with this. Whatever you do in bed, and however you want to approach your sexual relationships, that is your problem. As long as it is consensual, and everybody is on board, then nobody should have a problem with it. This is honoured in the books, for, first and foremost, Ana agrees to what Christian is offering, and when she says stop, he stops. The erotic part of the book is not the problem. At all.
What is wrong with E.L. James’ saga is that Christian is a stalker. He attempts to control every detail of Ana’s life, and she is fine with it. James wants to pass this for true love, which is sadly a widespread conception among women. The books perpetuate an idea that is one of the biggest problems of our society: that men have a right to control women and make them do as they please, because they own them.
Of course this happens in many books, movies, shows and even songs. But in 50 Shades it is so blatantly obvious that the fact that it has been sold as a love story is just outrageous. I always give the same example: at some point in Fifty Shades Darker
, Ana wants to go on a work trip with her colleagues, and Christian doesn’t want her to go because he knows that her boss fancies her. So he buys the company and, as her new boss, forbids her to go. She is mad at first, but eventually fine with it because, well, he loves her right? It’s for her own good. Similar to how Edward wouldn’t let Bella go to see Jacob because he loved her and to protect her. What a pair of heroes. Who wouldn’t want a boyfriend like them?
Well, I wouldn’t. Not only because they are probably two of the weirdest characters in the history of literature, with the most issues camouflaged as mystery and attractiveness. I wouldn’t want a boyfriend like them because I’m no one’s posession to manipulate. Women are not to obey men, as these books imply should be. Women don’t need protectors. We need lovers, partners that treat us as equals, that trust us and that respect our decisions and desires, that don’t even think of trying to manipulate and control us. Years later I’ve grown up, and I still don’t see how these group of women would want a Christian Grey (or an Edward Cullen, for that matter) in their lives. Maybe they are the ones that don’t understand.