50 Shades Appalled

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So I broke down and bought “50 Shades of Grey” for my e-Reader to see what all the fuss was about. I wish I hadn’t; my brain and eyeballs need a Lysol dip.

Allow me to be frank, we’re all friends here: I enjoy erotica. Not a steady diet of it you understand, but occasionally as you might enjoy Iranian caviar and Stoli. Nin, Friday, Saki, the poetry of Nizar Qabbani have graced my bedside table and Penthouse Forum is always a reliable source for a crazy new idea or a good laugh. I’ve even employed bondage in an erotic story of my own, so I’m not exactly squeamish about taking a literary walk on the wild side. I felt really scheevy after putting down “50 Shades”.

I almost quit reading after Chapter 1. The main character, “Anastasia” (good grief! That’s a porn name if ever I heard one), is a tedious girl-woman with difficult hair who is about to earn her undergraduate degree in either English or journalism. After chapter 1 her college major is irrelevant and I was bored with her already.

Anastasia gets involved by the kind of happenstance that only occurs in Penthouse Forum, with Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey is 27 years old, a gazillionaire, looks like a Greek god and has a package that will blow your mind, ring your bell and fly you to the moon. He’s a conscientious boy though, he always carries a condom. His sexual predeliction is Dominant.

Did I mention that Anastasia is a virgin? I’m guessing she’s +/- 22 years old. Given that the average age one “lose’s” their virginity is 17.3 years, according to Wiki-ickypedia, my “willing suspension of disbelief” as a reader quit at this point. I have teenagers at home. I hear things.

Still no further as to what the fuss is all about, I skimmed to the highlights of the story and the “sexy” bits.

Anastasia is asked among other things to sign an non-disclosure agreement about whatever she and Grey get up to as well as a contract outlining specific sexual roles, behaviours, boundaries and obligations. It set my teeth on edge, but then BDSM isn’t my thing, so I figured I was being prejudiced, set that aside and read further. This contract is negotiated throughout the story via email (which stinks as a literary device in this case) and in between a lot of sex happens.

Its not what they get up to that bothers me. Two consenting “adults”, whatever floats your boat, who am I to say…yaddayadda. What bothers me, what I found really filthy and disturbing is the businesslike approach to “contracting” this relationship and the incredibly naieve, stupid and embarassing way Anastasia believes that by accepting this “contract” she can make Grey love her. I mean she’s read Hardy and probably D.H. Lawrence and (one would hope) Judy Blume. I felt as though I’d been watching a train wreck for entertainment and that felt immoral somehow.

Excuse me. I need to go rinse my mind in “The Tropic of Cancer”. 

(crossposted from my blog at Open Salon)

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