Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner

Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.

Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.

I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to go here, but alas, here we are. Today, 50 Shades of Grey the MOVIE will open for…*record screech* Valentine’s Day. Nothing says I love you like predatory emotional manipulation, sociopathy, abuse and non-consensual sex acts.

Find THAT on a Hallmark card.

And yes, I know there have been other kinky books like this, but 50 Shades sold over 100 million copies and the movie (despite ZERO plot) is expected to gross in excess of $60 million which means I just threw up a little in my mouth this “story” has tipped from fringe to mainstream and that scares me more than a little bit.

No, I didn’t read the book. I don’t need to. Nor do I need to watch gang-rape prison porn to know it probably is unhealthy for the future of women (or even men). Guess what? I didn’t have to eat the chicken I forgot in my fridge to know it would probably make me sick.

Some stuff just stinks and that should be enough to warn us away.

And I’ve debated even blogging about this because I try to make it a policy to never talk badly about any story or book. I also hate EVEN MORE attention given to this crap than it’s already garnered, but my conscience won’t let me remain silent. We are playing with fire.

Redefining the POWERFUL Man

Image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of JonoMeuller

Image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of JonoMeuller

I watched the trailer and instantly felt the bad juju *Spidey senses go NUTSO*.

Grey doesn’t choose Ana because she is a confident, assured woman who can emotionally handle this sort of contract, um relationship, um abus…ok, hell I got nothing. A confident woman would have told him where to put his private jet.

What gets me is he sees a woman girl who clearly already has a low opinion of herself and he pounces. Wow, sounds like the beginning stages of a relationship that is going to end with a body bag, jail or at least a restraining order. He smells blood in the water and goes for it, wanting to dominate a woman who, frankly, is just looking for “love.”

And this is my old curmudgeon self coming out. HOW is that a powerful man?

I know they give him all the accoutrement of “powerful.” The surface stuff like custom suits, a job where he never really works, fast cars, etc. But, to me, that isn’t power. That’s actually small man-part behavior (which is actually deep insecurity manifesting in a fancy watch).

Powerful men. REALLY powerful men? They empower women. They don’t prey on and victimize them. It reminds me of my formative years and the movie Dirty Dancing. Sexy? Yes. Push social boundaries? Sure.


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In Dirty Dancing Johnny Castle pushes Baby (Jennifer Grey 😀 ) beyond her comfort zones, but it’s in a way that makes her more whole as a human being. He always makes sure she is truly on board and always makes her safety a priority. Remember the fancy lifts? Practicing the lifts in the lake so if she fell she’d be okay?

And all the older gals go, “Awwww, I LOVED that scene.”

Johnny pursues Baby because he likes her as a human being, and, instead of preying on her, he protects and nurtures her. THAT, in my book is a powerful man. Not some trust fund baby assclown with a closet full of leashes and too much free time.

Abuse is NOT Power

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There are so many things that scare me about this book and it would take more than one post to explore them. But women have faced thousands of years of not being able to defend themselves against victimization and rape and now we have a cultural phenomenon that is redefining sex and blurring the lines of consent (which are already pretty damn blurry, especially after a drunken frat party).

I kid you NOT. I am waiting for the 50 Shades Defense when some poor college girl is brutalized and the guy’s defense is, “Well, she did sign a contract.”

And not only is this a sticky wicket for women, it’s a train wreck for men. When millions of women are fanning themselves over this crap, men are left even more confused and more vulnerable. Pair this with super destructive pop hits like Blurred Lines?

I have a son and pop culture really should be handled with care. I recall being in the car with a family member who has two impressionable sons. Blurred Lines comes on and they are all humming to it. I gasp and turn it off then asked, “Have any of you paid attention to the WORDS to this song? It’s a date rape song and it is unacceptable.”

And now it is clear why Kristen wasn’t invited to the parties in high school and college.

But you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you….

Let me liberate you? How about I show you what a TRIANGLE CHOKE is?

Image via http://totaljujitsu.com

Image via http://totaljujitsu.com

Lowering the Standards of Expectations

It’s Grey’s lines like, “I don’t do romance” that kinda more than piss me off. Women used to be worthy of courtship and eventually a ring and a commitment. Then we decided to break glass ceilings and we’ve been fighting a battle of, “If a woman doesn’t want to be married she must be frigid or a lesbian versus any woman who wants a ring and a commitment is just out to trap a man.”

There is also the, “Women who want to be married are settling.” And was already seriously confusing without this tripe.

I remember living across from a young couple and the pretty blonde had been living with this jerk guy for EIGHT years. She wanted to be married and he wanted all the benefits of a marriage without any of the legal obligations (like having to part with HALF his stuff or having to pay alimony if they broke up).

And he’d been dangling a potential ring/proposal in front of her for EIGHT FREAKING years.

Well, I am just not ready yet, but I probably will be…

Later, Dude. Tempus fugit.

And trust me, back when I was dating, that crap was a nightmare to traverse. But, at least I could expect some romance. Now? A man who doesn’t DO romance is…sexy?

In my book he’s selfish and lazy and move on. Characters like Ana have opened a WHOLE ‘notha can of worms when she refuses to tell Grey NO or to stop or even that he’s crossing a line and hurting her because “then she’d lose him” *gags* and tolerates the intolerable.

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No one to HEAR you? How in 50 Shades of HELL is this remotely acceptable?

Ladies, when a man controls what you say, wear or who your friends are? That is BAD.


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Thing is, in the book maybe it can end well. In life? A guy who won’t take no and wants total control, AND has unlimited funds when the woman does not? Watch Discovery ID and we can see the end to this story. Usually it involves an unidentified body found in a cooler in the desert.

Or, feel free to re-watch the sequel to 50 Shades, made back in 2002—“Enough.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3LVthzm88g]

In fact, years ago I knew a woman who was in this sort of relationship. It began as sexy and exciting until he killed her dog (who was trying to defend her from his blows) and then he broke her jaw. She ended up working as a prostitute because every time she moved and tried to work legitimate employment? Her ex found her and hospitalized her for leaving.

The REAL Man

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My husband is a GIANT. At six foot six, he’s well over a foot taller than me. This is the man who was in Special Operations and on a military shooting team, but I’ve spent every summer helping him rescue mice, lizards and geckos out of glue traps. The man even rescues rattlesnakes who want to sun on our porch at the ranch.

And KITTENS. OMG, the KITTENS!!! Kittens are his kryptonite.

Meet, "Odin" my anniversary present and Cat Number FOUR

Meet, “Odin” my anniversary present and Cat Number FOUR

We are one cat short of Hubby being the Crazy Cat Lady. He also works extra hard so his wife can take Brazilian Ju-Jitsu and is almost always in the audience cheering me on. He isn’t afraid of a strong woman and even encourages me to be stronger.

I really hope this 50 Shades phase passes, but…

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I hope that you will spend your Valentines Day doing or watching something truly romantic. If you and your partner want to add some spice and roughness? I recommend taking a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu class together 😀 .

Additionally, I recommend checking out The Atlantic post by Emma Green, Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of 50 Shades.

So *cringes* what are your thoughts? Do you think 50 Shades grossly misrepresents BDSM? Do you see the same perils? Am I overreacting? Feel free to disagree just please be polite. Is this a dangerous trend? First with Twilight making stalking “sexy” and now this?

I know many who’ve read this book and love it are older, but should we be concerned about how this might mainstream for our youth and affect their perceptions of “relationships”? How it might even impact victims in courtrooms? Is this type of story confusing for men and women? Is this even more devolution of what we consider to be “romantic”? Or am I jumping at shadows?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


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    • lynettemirie on February 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, you’re my hero. It takes a real woman to stand up for what is right and point out just what is really wrong. Thanks for speaking up.

    • christicorbett on February 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm
    • Reply

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, especially the part about the sequel to 50 Shades is Enough. That was such a great movie! (I’ve also read some suggest seeing the movie Burning Bed)

    I said this on my own blog post this week, and I’ll say it again here…Christian needs to be called out for what he really is—instead of shrouding his behavior as simply showing a relationship under the BDSM lifestyle—Christian Grey is abusive, a stalker, and he’s a rapist.

  1. Thank you for writing this! I’m posting it to my Facebook!

  2. Totally agree with you. Great post, Kristen.

  3. We can always make a statement with our wallet$ and not attend, or rent, the film. You have made some good points here. I, too, am confused by the message that this film is sending out.

  4. the good news on this side of the pond is that 50 shades has dropped out of the top 100 books being borrowed from libraries. Maybe they’re waiting to see the film instead, or maybe the magic has already faded. We live in hope. Strange echoes in Dakota Johnson’s role versus her mum in Working Girl. BTW they don’t make barge poles long enough for me to touch either film or book.

  5. I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey nor do I want to see the movie. Catching the trailer was annoying enough. I don’t understand how this “story” can be considered sexy or appealing when it celebrates and romanticizes abuse. This bafles me.

    Given the fact that several members of the BDSM community negatively criticized it (it isn’t my cup of tea but if adults do things in a responsible, consensual and safe manner, it is their choice, not mine), this shows how damaging this “story” can be to audiences who are uninformed and/or too young to understand what it really is about.

    I am extremely shocked that in France the movie will be available without parental consent for age 12 and higher. I am not surprised but I am still shocked.

    I am glad that you showed the difference with Dirty Dancing for example, where the male lead respects the female one. While not everything is perfect, there is respect and this is a huge difference with 50 Shades of Grey. Respect and safety are crucial in relationships.

    1. In France it will be 12.. That shouldn’t be a surprise. The Marquis De Sade and The Histoire d’ O originate from there. What is surprising is in the UK it’s a 13!

      1. I am not surprised by such things in my country anymore, but this is still annoying. The whole “it is forbidden to forbid” spirit has negative sides, contrary to popular beliefs. And I thought it was a 15 in the UK. It’s crazy to think it is a 13!

  6. As a real-life practitioner of BDSM (I’m a Dominant switch who is also a collared slave, I ONLY submit to my Sir), and as an author who writes realistic BDSM, and also as someone who is the webdev and social media person for a REAL LIFE BDSM club, here is my take on “the books.”

    If someone wants to enjoy the books/movie as FICTION, knock yourselves out. I will NEVER “book shame” someone for what they enjoy. For years, the romance-book standard was bodice rippers where the “hero” was little more than a rapist.

    Fortunately, we are no longer in those times.

    The FSoG franchise is FICTION. It in NO WAY represents a consensual, healthy BDSM dynamic in the real world. So as long as they are being enjoyed as FICTION, then good on ya.

    One of my irks is that people constantly put down the romance genre (not saying you’re doing this, I’m saying this in general) because of things like “it gives women unrealistic expectations.”

    Unless someone has a seriously poor grasp on reality, I think the average adult has a pretty strong idea of what is real, and what is fantasy, and telling the difference between the two. I think it’s insulting to readers to automatically assume they’re going to read a book and then be all, “Well, it’s okay if he abuses me.”

    I really assume readers, in general, have a higher IQ than that.

    I do agree that the trend toward Alphahole heroes (as opposed to dominant, Alpha heroes who aren’t assholes) in books lately is disturbing. It’s like writers are trying to push the envelope now as far as they can.

    I’ve had readers chide me before because my Doms are “wimpy” Doms because they negotiate scenes with their subs.

    Including one of my books where the Dom is pretty much based on my own Sir, who is ANYTHING but wimpy. And some of the scenes were pretty much verbatim scenes we’d done together.


    My grudge against “the books” is that there are (fortunately a minority) readers who now judge realistically written BDSM books by myself and other authors against that unrealistic standard, and if the Doms do realistic things, like, oh, negotiating scenes ahead of time and making sure there is consent, then our Doms are labelled as wussy. Which isn’t the case at all.

    In real life, if it’s not consensual, it’s abuse. Pure and simple.

    There are only, as I like to teach, three “rules” to BDSM (aside from safety issues):

    1) Everyone must be a consenting human adult.
    2) Everyone must be having fun and/or getting what they need out of the dynamic/power exchange.
    3) No one must be HARMED (as opposed to hurt, because some people want to be hurt) by the dynamic/power exchange.

    That’s IT. Those are the “three secret rules” to BDSM. PERIOD.

    I will NEVER “book shame” someone. I just won’t. It’s not right to do that. It’s all personal preference.

    As long as that “book” doesn’t end up being their guidepost to how to act in real life. Which I’m guessing it won’t, in most cases. (I’m sure people didn’t read The Silence of the Lambs and go trying to make meat suits.)

    Here’s the GOOD side of the books: BDSM is now becoming part of the mainstream discussion. Kinksters such as myself can finally have discussions with people without worrying (as much) about the evil side-eye. When people ask me what I write, my new answer has become, “Well, you know 50 Shades? I write stuff that makes it look like See Spot Run in comparison.” And people will go either OH! or EW! and I know which direction the conversation then needs to go. Before, I always had to hem and haw and be writesplaining the fact that I write romance and erotic romance and circle the issue about twenty times out of fear of offending someone.

    No longer. I have a quick and easy barometer I can use.

    Now, will some people mistakenly think that real-life BDSM is evil because of “the books?” Probably. But if they took the time to do the research, they would educate themselves and find out no, the books are NOT a realistic depiction of a healthy, consensual BDSM lifestyle.

    TL;DR – The books are FICTION. Readers are SMART. Real-life BDSM is NOT anything remotely like the books, and if you want to learn about real-life BDSM, go to a local munch or BDSM club or take classes on it, but readers should not be put down for their reading choices.

    1. Well, like I said. It was tough to write because I don’t care for book-shaming either. BUT, there are many young people who are mistakenly thinking this as a standard of what BDSM really is. I see someone getting hurt. And readers might be smart, but now we have a movie and how many young kids were killed trying to reenact stunts from Jackass? I think my main concern is the legal issue and impressionable kids. Adults? Eh, read what you want.

      And fiction DOES shape reality. Our government is using 1984 as a blueprint. Now we have to be careful talking near our televisions because it could be recording conversations. Does it mean 1984 is bad? No. But fiction can create reality and we should respect that.

      1. I agree in some cases it can mirror reality, but I think the case against the negatives in “the books” is better made by pointing out the differences in real-life BDSM, consensual and healthy dynamics, as opposed to just pointing out the unhealthy parts of “the books.”

        Like I said, the good thing is that “the books” are leading people to other books written more realistically. And I’ve had readers contact me that my books (and others) have helped them open dialogs with their partners. They no longer feel like there’s something “wrong” with them for what they want.

        And that? That’s a win, in my opinion.

        We have to take the Jackass with the MythBusters. 🙂

        1. And I know I wouldn’t have said anything had they not packaged this in a 90 minute movie. But, eh, movies are a WHOLE other can of worms because there is no internal view.

            • Stephanie Scott on February 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm


  7. As a former police officer for nearly forty years seeing the destruction that violence causes families and relationships, I am at a loss to understand why scenes depicted in this “novel” are sensuous. I’m my own writing, I am always conscious to depict women the same way that I wish to treat my own wife and daughter: with respect. This doesn’t include subjecting them to demeaning and dangerous practices as glorified with this book.

  8. And while I loved Dirty Dancing as a kid, as an adult I’m creeped out by an older guy making love to an underaged girl. (Yes, I know I just ruined the movie for some of you. Sorry.)

    1. Been a long time since I’ve seen it but I think she was of age. I know it was set in the 60s so age of consent was actually 15. Pretty sure at least 18.

      1. I thought she was like 15 or 16, but still, looking back as an adult, and a parent, it creeps me the hell out that an “adult” took advantage of a teenager like that, even though she was chasing him.

        1. According to her dad in the film, she was “going to Mount Holyoke in the fall” so that would have meant she had just graduated high school (so, presumably, 18). Just an FYI. 🙂

          1. Yeah, I thought she was 18. And the movie DID push boundaries—older man with a younger girl. OOOH, dirty dancing. But as an abuse survivor? This 50 Shades thing scares me silly. I was a STRONG woman lured in and not seeing the abuse until I was so gaslighted I couldn’t tell my @$$ from a hole in the ground. When my ex met me I had a CHL, taught martial arts and was much like I am now (but with unresolved damage from childhood I am sure he smelled). When he finished with me, I was afraid to leave my own apartment and restraining orders were worthless.

          2. I’m also an abuse survivor. I’m lucky that I traded up for a better Hubby. LOL But also, I’ve found a lot of cathartic healing and reclaiming of my self and my sexuality through BDSM. (And other more traditional ways, but the best breakthroughs actually came via BDSM play.)

          3. Yes, but that is BDSM. 50 Shades is…eh…I got nothin’.

      • Anon on December 12, 2019 at 12:21 pm
      • Reply

      The girl in DD had an amazing bf her age whom the older guy thought was a wimp, whatever. Everytime a girl gets happily involved with a guy who is very considerate and respectful, she becomes an easier target for someone who is dominant and powerful and thinks her husband or boyfriend is weak and not masculine enough.

      There are some cases of powerful men luring happily married women away from their kind, considerate, respectful husbands since they think their husbands are not handsome and rich enough that they end up abusing these women and their children and thus framing their husbands for it when it isn’t their fault. It shows jaw dangerous female infidelity is in terms of the other man being dangerous. Look at Oscar-winning British actor Colin Firth’s wife having an affair with a much powerful man who stalked her and then a recent Fox news story about a widow whose beloved husband was murdered by a man who stalked her even though she kept on avoiding this other man and was focused more on her family. Such men like to prove that they are better and manlier than a woman’s husband, boyfriend, or fiance.

  9. I adore you. As usual, you “go there” and make it work. I just put this link into my current post about “Romance” on my blog currently.

    Ok, I have so very many thoughts I will leave it at this:
    I write books that include the “BD of the “BDSM” lifestyle but many times I show how it damages and in some cases destroys people and couples. I also show how some people use it as a way to just “get off” without it being some kind of a “wholistic lifestyle experience”–hard to have a grown up playroom when there are kids in the house. I also show how some folks’ personalities are naturally “dominating” but that they can’t just “dominate” any woman they come across.

    You know if course, that Ana “rescues” him from his “badness” with her love, right? At least that is what I understand. So let’s just keep perpetuating this sort of Extreme Misrepresentation of Romance, Lust, Love and what some folks really enjoy (I’m not averse to a little spanky-panky, there I said it) but I will be darned if I “let”any of my heroines “let” themselves get spanked over what they “say” in public.

    It’s a real “to each her own” thing this and I hope you have taken your Big Girl Panty Pills for the way some folks will come at ya for saying these things about a book that some how (Marketing) became so popular so fast (Money & connections—use ’em and good on ya but if I get told that this book and movie is how I should perceive “feminism” as a releasing of my Inner Goddess to a control freak, one more time…so help me…)

    My daughters and I have had a lot of conversations about this and so far, they are in agreement that it might have some pretty hot sex scenes, you can get those on cable with awesome, plot-laden shows like Banshee (a little cray, but you know), Mad Men or even Masters of Sex. The premise is sort of … um…ew. But that doesn’t mean it won’t continue to appeal to a lot of women.

    I’m not dissing ANYONE who loved the book (because they will adore the movie). I’m just saying, let’s have some REALISTIC AND MATURE conversations with young women who go there and think “Gotta get me one of those Doms and a contract.” The pop-culturization of this kind of unhealthy entrance into a “romantic relationship” has some potential to get some people hurt, like in a physical way.

    Look here: http://www.brobible.com/entertainment/article/the-onion-reviews-fifty-shades-of-grey/
    (explicit scenes included be warned)

    And I will admit right now, that I do plan to see it once it hits my DVR ’cause I love some well filmed sex scenes and I’m told this movie has those—but other than that as a movie, not so much. Just me. In no way to reflect on anyone who enjoys/enjoyed it.

  10. Personally, I find one of the most repulsive aspects of the 50SG phenomenon to be the corrosive effect it has on authors who dream of being the next one to ride that market’s wave. A writer’s published words will last far too long to use them in such a puerile pursuit. They are where ideas begin, and those are what steer a life for better or worse.

  11. Long ago…VERY long ago…I read 9-1/2 weeks, where a charming sexual predator takes over a woman’s life. Without her express consent, he just kind of…does it. At the end when she can’t stop crying he dumps her off at a clinic and goes away.
    I’m working from memory here since I don’t think I can read this book again especially no knowing it’s a TRUE STORY of an educated, sophisticated woman whose very being was put in peril, then she was dumped, to try to put herself back together.
    And still, books like this are devoured, placed on a pedestal, exalted as true love.
    Consensual BDSM is a lifestyle embraced by many with eyes wide open. The FSOG experience is a recipe for whole scale disaster that has been embraced for far too long.

  12. Absolutely agreed. It’s taken the already dangerous message of Twilight and made it far worse. It genuinely concerns me that generations of women are growing up taking their sexual cues from these two books.

    And, though this is a less dire point, it deeply offends me that drivel even I could improve on whilst semi-conscious, drunk and hung upside-down over a shark tank, is selling so many copies. It’s not only sexual appetites that are being crippled, it’s literary ones too. Which means the ability to think. James and Meyer have a lot to answer for, but the billions they’re raking in mean that they have become role-models instead.

    1. what you said….thanks!

    2. AMEN!!!!

      • Dianne on February 14, 2015 at 5:01 am
      • Reply

      Love your comment, ‘…even I could improve on whilst semi-conscious, drunk and hung upside-down over a shark tank,…’ – priceless! 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree with you and what I found extremely interesting is that within 6 months of the book being released and everyone being a fan there were always copies available in the local op-shop. It is very rare to find a recent book available in the op-shop (especially with at least 2-3 copies each time I went in). Curious I opened to the first page and attempted to read it, but nope, couldn’t get past the first page. The only other book I have not been able to get past the first page was The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

      1. You too? UGH. I still have Grapes of Wrath flashbacks. He takes like FOUR PAGES to describe a TREE and by the time he is finished? I forgot who the heck was sitting under the tree and WHY?

  13. You said it, Kristen.

    What I find perplexing about this whole FSOG thing is that it is meant to be women who are the readers. If it was men getting off on the power trip (yes, I know, cliche, and not all men are that way – god, at least I hope we’re not) it *might* be more understandable. And I’m afraid it’s too late to a statement with out wallets, Allan, 100 million people have already done that. Yeuch.

    Here’s hoping the film will bomb, but don’t anyone hold your breath.

    1. the domineering billionaire and the virginal heroine has been around for a long time. Unfortunately this time it hit the right audience a the right time. Then you had it hit a talk show.

    2. My husband used to joke that the guys working for him would read it, hide in their desk drawers and then look crushed because they could never “be that” for their women. It wasn’t so much of a joke as Kristen says: it puts the majority of normal men with normal, healthy sexual appetites at a disadvantage. Think of the poor guy dropping his briefcase and saying “Honey! I’m Home…um….you want me to do what??”

  14. Thank you for writing this. I agree 100%! And I hate that they’re calling books like this “mommy porn.” Sorry, but no. And when I hear BDSM, I just think of Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors. Yeah…not sexy.


    Someone gave me a copy of 50 Shades, claiming it was a great book. I tried to read it. Seriously tried, but after three failed attempts, decided its real value was as a starter for a bonfire.

    Please understand that I do NOT burn books, but that book was horrible and insulting, not only to females, but to the act of love. By speaking out in this post, you are doing better than I, as you are bringing this to the attention of many.

    Dirty Dancing is one of my all-time favorite movies. I can only hope that a movie based on that other book tanks.

  16. Exactly what you said Kristen–our youth and their perception! What bothers me most is that the advertisements can’t show the movie for what it really is–leading my 13 year old twins to think it’s a love story and ask about seeing the movie and reading the book (they are avid readers) And my response has to be… um.. absolutely NOT!. Thus forcing me to try to explain how this story is not about a normal relationship and despite my ability to talk openly with my girls, I don’t feel that I should have to explain BDSM to young girls.

  17. Your blog presents the best analysis I’ve seen of the problem with the popularity of the book and the film. I watched Dirty Dancing in the movie theater–so you can guess my generation–and you’re right, THAT was a simple but wonderful example of one human being empowering another. Not this nonsense.

  18. I have actually read the books; it was painful.

    At first, the one thing that caught me was the awful writing, the lack of plot, the bland female main character. You’ve got 2 pages of I don’t really know what that’s supposed to advance the inexistent plot and then sex, 2 pages of fluff and then some more sex.
    I wondered for the entire time; how is it even remotely possible that a young woman who’s never had sex could consider entering such a contract? Her best friend is the one that makes sense when she tells her to leave.

    To me, this is a slap in the face of every woman who has experienced abuse at the hands of a boyfriend, husband or even a rapist. Some women spend years trying to escape the trauma that these relationships or encounters forces upon them.
    To me, this is almost a justification of rape: and I can’t accept it. I’m as worried by this book as you are. In fact, I feel extremely bad that I spent money and was part of that movement.

    I think that Fifty Shades is only the most obvious there, because there are a number of books out there that validate abusive relationships, or incestuous relationships. Some have more meat to the bone because the sex is only a tool/element of the story as opposed to the centre of it in Fifty Shades. I find it’s interesting that our societies are at odds with their vision of sex: on the one hand, Janet Jackson’s nipple at the Super Bowl was a scandal and on the other hand, they make movies like this one. Go figure.

    I only hope that women, particularly young ones, realize that Fifty Shades isn’t about love. It’s about control: like rape.

  19. LOVE this post. And frankly, all week long, I kept thinking, “When’s Kristen going to post about this?” But I get it. Don’t want to inadvertently fan the flames of it’s popularity. That’s what kept me quiet for so long. I only just started speaking out about it myself this week because a friend shared this quote with me: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    What burns me the most is that this is “story” is categorized as a romance. I must have been living on Jupiter for the last couple of millennia because I just don’t get how this is remotely romantic.

    I’m gonna have to see Enough now.

    1. LOL. I TRIED to stay quiet. I hate bashing any author’s work, but this is SO, SO dangerous. I was in a relationship with a Christian Grey type. Sexy, wealthy, doting and at first it was cool…until it became terrifying. He cut me off from money, friends, family and took great delight making me cry hourly. His sole joy was to torment me relentlessly.

      By the time I realized he was a verifiable sociopath? Too late to get out easily. And abusive relationships are hard enough to break free of, but when the man has power AND unlimited money? SCARY.

      1. So deeply sorry you had to go through that. That’s what makes the books/movie that much more a slap in the face to abuse victims and survivors. The fact that this has gained so much popularity is society telling you, “Hey what you went through was romance. Don’t make such a big deal.”

        I guess too many people have chucked empathy out the window. I hope we can bring it back to them.

        • Stephanie Scott on February 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm
        • Reply

        I get your hesitation. 50 Shades sort of transcends though; it’s not just some author’s book, it’s a phenomenon that is a bit head scratching, and has had a noteworthy cultural impact. I think offering informed critique is healthy. You never once referred to the author personally to shame her, or to shame women’s sexuality, which sadly becomes much of the criticism of the series.

        1. No, not at all. Hey, E.L. James FINISHED a book. I know when she wrote it, she didn’t think, “Gee, this will be a runaway success–> cultural phenomenon.” She wrote a FANTASY and all is cool if it stayed there. I’d have never made a peep had this not gotten so big that people needed to stop and exercise CAUTION. The stakes here are bigger than the box office.

      2. I had two relationships like that in college, only the guys didn’t have money. What they did have was my social circle. When one of them raped me – which is something I have never told my family, even after 25 years, or many others, either (and yet now the whole Internet, apparently) – my best friend laughed and told me that i must have “misunderstood” the situation. The next one – also in the same group – managed to convince me that none of my friends liked me any more, so he would go off to where they were all getting together and play D&D with them, leaving me at home alone – and yet call me at work, complaining, if I was even five minutes late getting off work at night, and then leave my apartment before I got home. He was never violent with me, and so he managed to keep me in a relationship for two years, but wow. That was a miserable two years. Took me a long time to get past all of that.

        I haven’t read the books, and I won’t. Haven’t read Twilight, and I won’t. And I am trying to make sure that my male – and female – characters don’t end up falling in to bad character trait traps because those are the ones I dealt with so much when I was younger…

    • katrinavanwagenen on February 13, 2015 at 12:27 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this post! !! It’s exactly how I feel. . You’re a hero today?

    1. ((HUGS))

  20. I find 50 Shades very worrying. Hollywood has been portraying the male lead wearing down the female lead by stalking, harassing, and generally predating her until she accepts him for too long, but 50 Shades has stepped the validation of the hero’s lust up to the point that violence is deemed acceptable.

    The only value 50 Shades has is the potential that the discussion of its many flaws will energize people to stand firmer against abuse.

  21. Reblogged this on Mandisa M. Parnell – Jamaican Writer on the Rise and commented:
    Join in the debate!

  22. In the sixties and seventies we thought things were looking up for women. This backlash, which shows in books, movies and especially music, is a huge step in the wrong direction.
    Kristen, you’ve said it all, and eloquently, at that. Now if only young women would sit up and THINK!

  23. Thank you for having the guts to say what so many of us are thinking. I will repost, something I rarely do, but you hit the nail on the head so hard that it needs to be repeated.

  24. Reblogged on my site.

  25. I thought this was a terrific post, Kristen. I haven’t read FSOG and really doubt that I will or will see the movie. I’m waiting patiently for the 15 minutes of fame on this thing to disappear. And I hope it doesn’t do too much damage on young women’s psyche while it does.

  26. Reblogged this on Jinxie's World and commented:
    I don’t even need to add anything to this. It’s exactly what I’d say and then some….

  27. Aaaah – the release of hearing one’s opinion vocalized.

    That being said, my thoughts:
    Fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality. In theory there’d be no problem with Fifty Shades if people were aware of the fantasy. In a way it IS BDSM: Real life BDSM is a roleplay of sorts and there’s a huge focus on respect and aftercare. But the idea is to pretend to be in that kind of relationship – and a book can take it further.
    It’s important to remember that it’s a FANTASY and NOT something anybody wants in real life. Because men who are like that wouldn’t hesitate to hurt you. It’s not romantic and they can’t be “rescued” and made “good”.

    It’s a huge problem and I cringe every time I see people saying it’s not a problem. Sure, maybe you can devour books like they’re air and not be moved (someone said that to me, ugh) but most people don’t read that much and are very moved by the things they do read.
    It’s fine to live out fantasies in our minds. Go ahead. Just be aware that fantasy and reality are vastly different.

    I read a study on why so many women have the “rape fantasy” and the study showed that under 1% of these women were actually interested in being raped or an abusive relationship. The rape fantasy is in the HEAD and can be controlled to the exact point that the woman finds comfortable – a real rape is nothing like that.

    1. Yep, what SHE said 😀 …

    • Gail Duncan on February 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm
    • Reply


    This is spot on. I was horrified when the book made the rounds at work. I borrowed it from a coworker one evening and found it so poorly written and boring I didn’t get very far. But still my questions regarding its popularity persisted, especially when it so clearly described abuse towards women. Most replies were along the lines of, ‘I’ve never read anything like it.’ Or, ‘ I didn’t know books like this existed.

    I would explain that there is a category for this and it’s called erotica. I would also tell them I have read erotica and what I had read was much better than ’50 Shades’ of abusive drivel. I even offered to loan them a book., But alas, when I checked my bookshelves I evidently gave up the space to more recent purchases.

    Fantasy, erotica, sex, they are part of being human and silly to deny it. When we closet our sexuality, deny the richness that is there to be explored, perhaps we become vulnerable to its lure. All at once reading ‘this kind of book’ becomes okay because millions of people are doing it. Too bad it is a poor example, to say the least, and providing the worst kind of message for sure.

    I have given thought to visiting my favorite bookstore and purchasing a book or two of the genre to share. It seems so typical of or culture that the mediocre and the violent are the samples we are exposed to and choose to exalt when there exists so much finer fruits to taste.

    Thanks for your blog,
    Gail Duncan

  28. On another note: I’m so grateful for my own boyfriend, who is so open, intelligent and respectful. I couldn’t wish for more. We’re whole people apart and we’re whole together and it’s really nice to be able to share so much and still disagree respectfully. I’m also grateful that he strives to understand the strangeness of the female sexuality, such as fifty shades, twilight, yaoi etc.

  29. I’m glad you wrote this, Kristen. The problem that too many people choose to ignore is that what we allow individuals to do affects all of us as a society. And everyone in our global society is NOT an intelligent, mature adult who researches the reality of what they read in fiction and then makes a strong-willed and informed choice about their behavior and the behavior they allow in their presence. Fiction DOES affect us as a society. Even mature, strong-willed adults are affected subconsciously by the world around us. It’s the way we’re wired. Writers and publishers have a responsibility that they often happily ignore. TV and film producers, teachers, celebrities, and gizmo makers all have this responsibility. But we’ve allowed the idea that we AREN’T responsible for others to become the new moral norm. Why are there so many dystopian stories in film and fiction? Hmm, let me think about it…because we’re subconsciously scared out of our minds about what’s going to happen when it all breaks down!! And everything we create or consume WILL either build us up or break us down.

  30. I don’t have a problem with BDSM and the people that partake, but I believe most of them are grown & consenting adults making an informed decision about their likes and dislikes as part of their natural sexual development. But, as a mother of three girls (17, 18 & 20) my concern is the image it will set for young women…and the young men they will date…that this as the normal starting position (sorry for the bad pun). I’ve raised my girls to hopefully be strong, independent women. If that is what they choose to do in the bedroom, so be it, but I don’t want them (or young women in general) to think that is what society and men should expect of them.

    1. Yeah, I am not overly concerned for the 45 year old woman reading this or seeing the movie with her spouse. It’s the young and how it will impact THEM that frightens me.

  31. I saw an article on Huffington Post yesterday (no link – they’re getting no clicks from me) saying that women should take their husbands or boyfriends to see this, so the guys can learn positive lessons (Christian is attentive to her moods, Christian is monogamous and makes it clear to other women that he’s in a committed relationship, etc.).

    Words actually fail me as to how wrong this is. Not that those are bad lessons, but talk about missing the big picture.

    1. WTH? OK…words just fail me.

      1. I know. Me, too. I wrote that first paragraph and then stared at my phone for two minutes, searching for the perfect analogy, the appropriately sarcastic…

        I got nothing.

        I’m linking to this as soon as I get home, by the way.

    2. I see those kinds of articles all the time. My first reaction is, do they really expect me to swallow this crap? And the second question is, how many people actually do swallow it?

  32. I’m with you on this Kristen. I didn’t read the book—didn’t want to. I read a couple excerpts, and that was more than enough. As a soon-to-be published romance writer myself (June 20th, yay!) , I don’t consider 50 Shades to be romance no matter what kind of an ending it has. And I don’t care how it was written, there is no happy ending for a woman trapped in a relationship with a man like this.

  33. I had to reblog this, as I couldn’t have said it better. 😉

    • habisha on February 13, 2015 at 12:47 pm
    • Reply

    I am one who read the entire series. I didn’t find the sexual portrayals empowering, just scary. Fortunately, there is a story arc for Grey, and he does eventually make some much needed changes in his life. I won’t go to see the movies Once through the books was enough. I do hope this is a “shade of grey” that soon fades. Unlike the Harry Potter series, I don’t see this one becoming a classic.

    I have several friends who are into BDSM. These books don’t mirror what they experience. These women wouldn’t be in the relationships if they didn’t feel empowered by their partners and the relationship. That’s romance and they all love with their partners. While it’s not my cup of tea, I’m glad it works for them.

    Kristen, you are a brave woman. Thanks for putting this out. I’d love to watch you doing your Brazilian JuJitsu. Stay safe, my friend, and keep up this wonderful blog

    1. I am bracing for impact, but I had to say something. Thanks for the support.

  34. I refuse to even read the book or watch the movie. And one of the reasons I am now a divorced woman is because my ex wanted me to fit what in *his* mind was the Biblical version of how I should behave by misquoting and misusing Ephesians. Ummm…I’m not the submitting kind and I’ll be damned if all I will be boiled down to is a uterus to pop out kids at *his* whim (his EXACT words to me: “I can’t believe you won’t sacrifice and give me a child.”). So yeah, I’m single and loving it. Have absolutely zero interest in dating anyone (been two years now). I’m okay being on my own and would rather spend the rest of my life alone than with someone who thinks they can control me. I’m one of the lucky ones in that my ex never laid a hand on me, but sometimes the emotional damage from being in a controlling relationship can be even harder to overcome. I just know that if a guy ever does come along, I will be on my guard, wondering if I can truly trust him (my ex didn’t leave until a month before our 10th anniversary) for the long haul, or if he’s just playing nice until he has me in his grip, then try to change me.

  35. I laugh when I hear people refer to this book as romance. Hopefully, there will be some back lash when people view in the movie the actually abuse instead of only reading or hearing about it. It took the video of Ray Rice cold clocking his girlfriend in the elevator for people to take notice of the abuse and demand something be done.

    The following is a direct quote from Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, who heard Rice’s appeal earlier this month and reinstated him into the NFL, she concluded in her decision,

    “Moreover, any failure on the part of the League to understand the level of violence was not due to Rice’s description of the event but to the inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence. That the League did not realize the severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more severely.”

    So we shall see how this plays out.

  36. YES.

  37. Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for writing this piece! I read the whole dirty series and had similar reactions. I can’t speak to BDSM (apparently I am in the “vanilla sex” population), but do have an opinion on the whole submissive thing. In fact, I’ve read a couple of different erotic/romance novels (actual research for a written piece – no joke) – and they all feature some form of powerful man, confused submissive girl. Drives me bananas!

    Since I hail from comedy, I actually wrote a comedy piece on it when the books first came out. If you are interested, check it out at :

    Thanks again for you insight – I really enjoy reading your blog!

    1. I WILL and thanks for the link!

  38. Well said. Scary trend… Definitely not romance. It’s a sad celebration of an unhealthy, manipulative relationship.

    Funny post about 50 things I’d Rather Do than Watch 50 Shades:


  39. One of the best you have ever written Kristen.

    A boy learns how to treat women from his father (or other close adult role model). What is going to happen in years to come when boys think this is okay? When they see their parents emulating some of the stuff in this book?

    I have a belief that women and men should get back to the basics and understand how perfect love can be if they practice it the way it was meant to be practiced. How about this statement

    “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”

    Or this one “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”

    True love, real love, is sacrificial. A husband should put his wife first and be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her. Abusive, selfish relationships can in no way use the word love to describe anything that happens with the context of that unfortunate pairing.

    1. Well said and quoted, sir. 🙂 Thank you.

  40. I read the books, but was not impressed with the play room antics, so skipped over much of it, and have no desire to see it on film. Will be interesting to read comments from movie goers on where the line is drawn between play and abuse…

  41. I’m so glad you said this Kristen. It’s exactly how I’ve felt about it. I just don’t get the fascination. All these years we try to raise smart independent women and now we’re back pedaling. Grrr….

  42. Kristen, I’m a big fan of your blog and, today, I just couldn’t wait to comment! I could not agree more, with either your take on 50 Shades OR real men. You nailed it! I didn’t read these books, either, not because I’m a prude, but because I’d heard the writing quality was really poor. I didn’t know, at first, about how far beyond the lines of “okay” this series goes. I’m not intimidated by couples spicing up their sex lives under mutual consent, but there is nothing sexy about this book/movie. It goes beyond disappointing me as a woman and a writer that this series has gained so much publicity, when it all seems to be based on shock factor and an unbalanced sense of what is “exciting.” I find it frightening and agree that it may have serious repercussions in our society. “It’s not rape because she signed a contract” sounds a lot to me like “she deserved it because of what she was wearing.” Thanks for another great post, Kristen, and may real romance live on!

  43. I read this post with interest and concur with many of the comments here. I was at the counter of an indie bookstore the day this book spanked the shelves. The store manager had the book propped up near the register. Can we say “impulse buy”? The clerk rolled his eyes, with “It’s making money. God help us all.” He said that between EL and Suzanne James, the two sisters had cornered the reader market like two 90s stockbrokers. More power to them in a world where so many authors struggle to find readers. I’m happy that EL James found her niche, but I do take issue with the publishers who did nothing more than repackage her blog, ask her to change the names, and then rushed into print with some really laughable typos. “Canning” instead of “caning” was one risible textual offense. Others I can’t type here. I bet many women can’t say they’ve been “canned,” though. Over the next few weeks I saw brown-bagged Kindles on the morning commute. The more brazen readers proudly displayed what they were reading. I spoke to a few readers and nearly ALL of them (women) told me they skimmed-skipped the naughty parts to get some insight into the psychological dynamic between the two characters. Those who are conversant with BDSM have already spoken here, so I can’t and won’t comment there. There are webs out there that quote some of the howlers in the book – author’s intention or abysmal editing? You decide. I’ll feed my head elsewhere. Great job, Kristen. Loved your Rise of the Machines. Toss my name in with Grumpy Cat.

    • Renee on February 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm
    • Reply

    I continue to be awestruck by the comic book, contradictory nature of our entertainment. We either have the cartoonish, butt-kicking “Charlie’s Angels” remake where the women round-house kick big beefy guys and easily launch them skyward, (or), there are the comic book remakes of Superman, Batman, TV’s “Flash,” many others, (or) the special-effect explosions from computer game-looking movies, with that common plot: “Only he / she as the Chosen One can save the world.” It seems so crazily narcissistic.

    Then, here is “Fifty Shades,” where the leads are just as cartoonish (unrealistic) and wildly mismatched – she’s innocent and naïve, he’s worldly and into BDSM. Then there is the dark prince element to him, “Cinderella” in here. He’s Warren Buffet rich and accomplished – (Grey even flies a helicopter AND plays the piano, oy). Lots of “Shades” imitators tread this ground. These books seem to be desperate to fill some inner core of emptiness. And shiny things and darker sexual practices may keep us busy and entertained, but when we’re alone, or have no electronic gadget or designer shoes or sexy stranger to coo over, we’re twitchy, yearning and lonely.

    To me, films and books have sort of mirrored each other, with these comic book plots and characters. TV is where the more interesting character dynamics are at play. For example, I watch “The Walking Dead” and love it, not for its post-apocalyptic gore, but for the moral challenges the characters face, trying so hard to cling to their humanity. It’s got an intimate, bleak feel to it, that to me, resembles real life so much more than these cartoon-ish “Shades” and other films. Sure, we’re not battling zombies in real life, but we do face moral dilemmas that we wring our hands over. The bigger monsters in “Dead” are the other human beings.

    Romance novels were ridiculed as “bodice rippers,” but I re-read “Sweet Savage Love” and was struck by how the leads were more evenly matched, (than in “Shades”), and how in the end, she (the heroine) was the far more interesting, evolved and multi-dimensional character, even though she’d been brutalized and subjected to horrors.

    Power-balance is key. Look at Scarlett in “Gone with the Wind,” she gave as good as she got with Rhett. Rhett insulted her, yet he was smitten. Look at the Tracy-Hepburn films, even Doris Day in “Pillow Talk.” I love the film “Giant” and felt Elizabeth Taylor’s character was just as powerful as Rock Hudson’s male lead. How is it that happening, that OLD films and books show more of a balance between the male and female leads, as opposed to “Fifty Shades?” What gives in our culture?

    1. That’s a fascinating observation. I, myself, have pondered what NEED this stuff is filling. and you are SO correct. Who would have ever thought the heroine of the FIRST color movie would be more powerful and “equal” than a “heroine” in the 21st century?

    • Renee on February 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm
    • Reply

    I can’t figure us out, we women. I always get the sense that women can never be satisfied. If we kick-butt and we bully our men, our men are told to “man up.” When we’re sick of the corporate life and climbing the ladder, we leave to raise our families, and then somehow we feel bad about that. No one talks about how difficult female bosses can be, or how some women prefer working for a man. No, we’ve got to idealize women, even at the expense of what we actually see, and sometimes, at the expense of men. It’s like we’re never really honest with ourselves. We can’t be tender or nurturing or supportive, because that’s simpering and weak. No, we need to reject those strengths and be as tough and equals to men. We need to kick butt. Then, once we’re there and find climbing that old ladder isn’t all that wonderful, it’s got some downsides, we complain about that.

    If we succumb to the fantasy of being overpowered – overpowered, not raped – we’re shamed by it. Men can have this fantasy, too, a female vampire seducing them, for example. Surrendering to a sexual impulse.

    But I’m not exactly digging the super-empowered, snarky heroine who’s a know-it-all, either. C’mon. Who can relate to that? I’ve read a number of those novels, and those heroines are cold and smug. OR, then you read a romance where the hero instantly worships the heroine, constantly talking to himself about how lucky he is, and how beautiful and perfect she is. Puh-leeze. Makes me wish for Rhett insulting Scarlett!

    To me, there’s got to be a power balance between the sexes, and that is FLUID. Meaning, at times, the man’s in control, and at other times, the woman is. If one is ‘dominating’ all the time – ugh. Men are hen-pecked, women are bitches, or vice versa, women are wimps and men are brutes. Makes me nuts. Let’s celebrate humanity for once and admit both sexes have strengths. Neither is superior. We’re all human.

    Let’s stop the perfection stuff, too, that we’ve got to have rose petals on the bed and never make a mistake. We’re all insecure to an extent, we have our demons, for God’s sake. In “Dancing,” Baby had her insecurities, and Johnny had his.

    “Shades” isn’t the first to address this female fantasy of being dominated, and Newsweek had a cover article on it in April 2012. Link: http://www.newsweek.com/working-womens-fantasies-63915

    In October 2008, Oprah had sex expert Dr. Laura Berman. Excerpt: “(Client) Debra revealed that her fantasy, along with 60% of women, is to be dominated; while Tom shared that he fantasizes about Debra being with other men with him watching.” Link: http://oprah.about.com/od/oprahshowrecaps/p/sextherapy.htm

    1. *fist bump*

  44. I don’t like Jackson Pollack either.

  45. Reblogged this on Two Steps Forward, One Step Back and commented:
    Kristen makes excellent points in her blog post and I thought it worth sharing today. I admire her for tackling this subject, knowing that she might well receive a lot of backlash in posted comments and being confident enough to state her views anyway. Opening dialogue is good if it means that the people conversing are actually listening to each other.
    Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your thoughts on this hot topic.

  46. I wish I’d have been e bold enough, and eloquent enough to write this post. I to have not read the books and clearly have no wish to see the film. Here is England a well known DIY store sent a memo to order in more duct tape and rope….. I was horrified but I know I’m in the minority. I’m of Dirty Dancing era and just want to acknowledge this intelligent and astute piece of writing.

    • Julie on February 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm
    • Reply

    I love you for this.

  47. Reblogged this on tsholofelo wechoemang and commented:
    Enough! Finally someone speaks out, with such thought. This book/movie is not where we want our children to go.

  48. Like you, Kristen, I find this whole trend very troubling. I write romantic suspense as well as mysteries, and I always make my heroines kick-butt women In both genres, and my heroes are the men who love strong women as equal partners. I am a petite curvaceous gal, and in my youth I definitely felt like “prey” among the macho types, including a lot of older men. (I took judo and karate and became a kick-butt gal myself to help with that.)

    I hope we are not returning to the bad old days of “she asked for it / she wanted it” as a defense for rape and assault, because that seems to be the message this crap is sending. Thank you for speaking out. This is as far from romance as you can get.

  49. Absolutely spot on! Since the ‘book’ came out I’ve argued with people about what it represents. Thank you for putting it out there – now I have something to point at and yell: SEE!!!???

  50. Reblogged this on Nest Nearly Empty and commented:
    This lady was bold enough to say some things some of us were thinking. Well written and astute. I’m not a killjoy or a feminist and was beginning to think there was something wrong with me for not wishing to jump on the Grey Bashing bandwagon.

  51. Dear Kristen,

    I think you always have such great insights and I applaud you for saying how you really feel. Conceptually, I actually agree with everything you said, but (and her comes the criticism) I do disagree with you on one thing – and that is your choice not to read the book. I am a firm believer that we should not criticize something that we have not given a chance to understand or experience. When this comes to physical works, such as movies, books, photos, laws, etc, I believe we should always go to the source material. I fully understand that you understand the current “topic” at hand, as you have lived it and experienced it. But you did not read the book, and instead are getting your synopses second hand. This is a mistake, as they could (maybe not, but could) be mis-characterizing or taking out of context. Or there could be some other point or meaning that is meant in the book.

    What if someone criticized one of your books without having read it? But what if on the other hand, they did read it, and they gave you a reasoned and constructive critique on your book? Maybe they aren’t even critiquing, and fully and completely disagree, but they at least show an understanding of it, from having read it, and their prosecution of it, is at least educated? And what if someone characterized Ju-Jitso as a violent, aggressive, domineering sport without even studying it, learning about it from trained masters, and/or trying it? What if someone characterizes cats as evil/selfish creatures without having ever lived with a cat?

    I truly believe critique and constructive criticism is good for people and good for society. I believe “calling out” people when they are wrong, and standing up for “right” or “truth” is good But we can’t be quick to those points. We have to experience, we have to gather as much facts and differing views as possible, experience the source material as closely as possible, and weigh all the evidence. Understanding and thoughtfulness should always come first. Why is Congress so messed up? Why is our political system at its worst? Why is so much hate speech being spewed on FB? So much division? Why do you counsel people to stay away from politics? It’s because political discussions break down so easily. Why? Because people fail to see the other side. People often don’t want to. But we must attempt to put ourselves in the proverbial “other shoes.” And if we do, and we don’t like those shoes, and think those shoes need to be discontinued and recycled into new shoes (or burned) – then, at that point, and only at that point, do I have no problem with you letting the world know!

    1. Well, in fairness, this is not a book review. I am speaking out against a dangerous cultural trend ignited by a book. And I had plenty of people approach me and ask why 50 Shades was so popular and I tried to read the book. HONEST, I tried. I couldn’t continue. And I don’t have to watch all of “Hostel” to know where it’s going and that it is gore-porn and dangerous for young and impressionable minds.

      I really DO NOT have to endure two hours of people being chopped up and tortured in Saw 7 to know it’s something that is evil and bad for our culture.

      I don’t have to eat rotten eggs to respect salmonella. Second-hand accounts are good enough.

      1. Amen.

      2. Kristen, I respect your view on this. I do somewhat disagree with you, but that’s okay. Like I said, I conceptually agree with you, and I’d venture a guess that you are on the right side of this issue, but I’m not going to say with 100% certainty, as I haven’t read the book, nor have I studying the opposing viewpoint on this. With that said, you have a very solid point that needs to be heard.

        1. And Jason, I completely agree with you. If this was a book review. I would be out of line. I have actually stood up for E.L. James when authors complained because my take is, “At least she FINISHED writing a book.” This post is not a book review, rather it is a pop culture observation from an abuse survivor. In THAT, I do have credibility. There are few things more terrifying than being engaged to a man worth millions and you are a broke nobody in college who’s been cut off from friends, family and income. It took years for me to escape and I never was the same. And trust me when I say sociopaths like him would pounce all over this movie and the idea of a contract to get away with abuse.

          And they would have the high-paid defense attorney who’d make sure the victim was raped all over again in court.

            • Jason on February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

            Thank you for further explaining and sharing. It is genuinely appreciated. 🙂

          1. Like I said, I never mind respectful disagreement. I knew I’d likely take heat for having not read the books or seen the movie. But, if you’ve survived an abusive psycho who doesn’t listen to NO? NOT your idea of entertainment.

            • Laura on February 13, 2015 at 7:55 pm

            Amen. Ugh.

    • Meltem Kurtman on February 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,
    Thank you for writing this. Finally, somebody speaks out.
    Meltem Y.K

  52. Yes! Thank-you! I’ve been saying that book is crap for years (mostly because of the writing, I read the first 2 pages and said, nope) but also because it has nothing to do with real, consensual BDSM and it just makes both genders more confused about what is acceptable.

    And as a lawyer, I *can not wait* for some idiot to pull the she signed a contract defense. That will be hilarious when he realizes that defense doesn’t fly in a criminal court. She signed the waiver, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it’s evidence that she consented to being choked unconscious. The fact that she was grasping at his arm, trying to pull it away and gasping is irrelevant. Wait? She always has the right to say no, even when he’s in the middle of it? Oops, I forgot that one from law school. But she signed a contract. Doesn’t that trump?

    Really, I can not wait.

    1. That’s one of the things I STRONGLY emphasize in the BDSM 101 classes I teach. Slavery, in the United States, is illegal, consensual or not. Therefore, slave “contracts” are literally not even worth the piece of paper they’re written on. If someone wants to use one, knock yourselves out, but unfortunately I’ve seen vindictive and abusive partners use them as blackmail material against partners trying to leave them (or who have left them). IMHO, if a relationship “needs” a piece of paper as a contract to enforce it, there’s in inherent flaw in the slaw, so to speak, to start with. If someone wants to use them as fun and fluff as part of their relationship, whatever. But frankly, it scares me when newbie submissives think slave contracts are legally binding and sign them and think that they can’t rebel against them.

  53. I’m probably going to be in the minority here, but seriously none of the books or the movie bother me. I’m an adult; I’m just grateful beyond measure it’s not another YA story (why the heck do I want to watch/read about teenagers when I’m 50!).

    It always amazes me when I read comments/articles and people go on about the editing, awful writing, non-existent plot and weak/shallow characters – and the book sells over 100 million o.O If I’m writing a book… this is what I should be looking to emulate, instead of the brilliantly penned prose of the literati who sell very little.

    Like another poster said, vote with your wallet: don’t buy the book or see the movie. Otherwise, I would just let adults be adults.

    1. My concern is really not for the mature adult. Eh, let them fantasize as they wish. It’s why this isn’t per se a book review. If grownups want to read this? Knock yourselves out. My fear is now that it is a movie, we lose the internal dialogue and internal dialogue of the character. The visual medium will leave gaps. My concern is what this trend is going to mean for us culturally.

        • Renee on February 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm
        • Reply

        Kristen, I think there’s some validity to what you say — how this affects younger, more impressionable people. The whole “Sex & the City” frivolity has contributed to a hook-up generation. Girls growing up on SATC reruns might have thought, “Gee, I want a glamorous life like that! I want to be Carrie and date rich, good looking guys and sip cocktails with my witty friends.” Even a character in the HBO series “Girls,” said this, that they were versions of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. There’s a book about this hook-up trend, dismissing sexual encounters as trivial, young women vowing to more like guys… called “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love & Lose at Both.”

    2. Thank god it’s not a YA book. That would be some seriously illegal stuff. 😉

  54. I rarely reblog but felt this post should be shared, if only to continue the dialogue that is sure to happen because of it. Thanks, Kristen, for sharing your personal thoughts and opinions on this subject.

    I read the first book in the trilogy as I kept thinking–I must be missing something of value here–but I got to the end of the book without ever finding out what that might be, so I chalked it up to a waste of my time and $20 that I could have spent on something else. Live and learn, right? As many other people have said, if women read the books and are mature enough to realize that the series is pure fiction then that is one thing–but when I heard from several teachers I know that girls in Middle School–which would be children from about age 10 to 13 or so, were reading the books, I began to wonder what on earth they will expect or think is okay for them when they forge sexual relationships in the future. I sure hope they can discern between fantasy and reality, but without a frame of reference for them to begin with (unlike adults), is that likely?

    Thanks for your post, Kristen.

    • Madina on February 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for this topic Kristen! You have a courage to say the truth trying to “open eyes” for many. I neither read this “story” nor going to watch the movie, the smell of its stink from the discussion about this “book” is enough for me. It is very sad that perverse and humiliating actions became now a norm in a showbiz and we can see it on big screens! We couldnt even imagine that 10 -20 -30 years ago! So we must have this discussion and continue to protect the values of love and women’s rights.

  55. I can’t remember if you and I have talked “off line” about this book (and now movie), but I have the same concerns with it as you do. Here’s a great review of movie from someone thinking that the movie was going to be the cheese-filled romance Hollywood is marketing it as: http://www.mamamia.com.au/rogue/fifty-shades-of-grey-review-rosie-waterland/

    She left the movie in tears at seeing an emotional abusive relationship *glorified*. Notice I (and she) said EMOTIONALLY abusive. This isn’t about the BDSM or sex aspects–more power to anyone going after what they want and like. This is about the emotional aspects of abuse.

    Emotional abuse victims have ALWAYS had a harder time stating (and believing) what’s so wrong with the relationship. It all feels so internal, like maybe it’s just in their head. This movie (and the book) takes that difficulty and cranks it up to 11. It’s normalizing emotional abuse as romantic, and that’s the real danger. *sigh*

    1. Good review, Jami! Thanks for posting!

    2. And emotional abuse it the really DANGEROUS part and the one we have ZERO legal protection over. And marginalizing emotional abuse is just an unlit molotov.

      It took YEARS for me to see how much I’d been abused by my Sleeping with the Enemy fiancé. They gaslight and make stuff into a joke and convince others you are neurotic or oversensitive. My ex used to hide my stuff, move my purse, throw things away and then yell at me that I was stupid and incompetent when all along he knew I never misplaced my keys. He’d thrown them in the trash.

      I wasn’t allowed to pick my clothes, have money or even an opinion and if I tried? I paid dearly or my family or cats did. I if said NO to something, he just did it more.

      And if people want to explore the fantasy of BDSM, there are plenty of talented erotica authors who actually portray that world accurately. Fiction, not perfumed date rape.

  56. Cool that you used your platform for this, Kristen. Very well done. Love the photo of you with your hubby. My hubby is like that too.

    1. Just so y’all know, I am kinda scared $#!%less at the moment, but if I burn down my own platform? Hey, I did it standing up for what I believe is right.

      1. You weren’t burning down your own platform! Definitely not something to worry about.


      2. You’re going to be fine. You know why? Because you are RIGHT.

        Yeah, okay, I AM an eternal optimist. But you’re still going to be fine. 🙂

  57. I have not seen 50 Shades, nor am I planning to (ooops, preposition at the ending, but you know what I mean). Remember the movie Sleeping with the Enemy with Julia Roberts as the abused wife? That was scary. Patrick Bergin played the monster from Hell, although I usually fancy him pretty much. Did you ever see Looking for Mr. Goodbar, a book that came out in the late seventies? I saw the movie with Diane Keaton and Richard Gere. Talk about shock, especially the last (and I do mean the last) minutes. Way too many books and films glorify violence against women, even when they’re pretending they don’t. I wish women would rebel against the way they are depicted. Anyway, I liked your column and I won’t see the movie.

    1. I was ENGAGED to the guy from “Sleeping with the Enemy.” I did try to uphold journalistic integrity and READ the books. I just couldn’t. PTSD MAJOR. I know it ends well for Ana, but it nearly didn’t for me. Wealthy powerful men are intriguing. But one who is a controlling sociopath? Often will not relent until you are dead and he has the money to hunt you to the ends of the earth.

      Though I could have put that in the blog I wanted to stay on topic. Also, what I didn’t put in the blog is as a martial arts instructor, I worked with countless battered women. And the stories are all the same (even mine). “He seemed so charming and kind in the beginning…” It ALWAYS begins with the small things, like ignoring when the woman says no or trivializing her when she tries to set a boundary. That is how sociopaths operate.

  58. Reblogged this on Crime Ladies and commented:
    I’m reblogging your column for Crime Ladies

  59. Hey, Kristen! And this is why I write picture books. Less (if any) controversy. I don’t do controversy well. But my books do have conflict.

    Anyway, as far as the “need” goes, maybe it’s like you mentioned in your book about today’s society is all about the voyeurism of watching reality shows. I know 50 Shades isn’t reality, and yes I get that it’s FICTION, but the big hooplah is likely the result of all that TALK. “Hey, have you heard about this great book I just read?” You know, the SOCIAL aspect.

    So, I’ve been vaguely hearing about this book for maybe 4-5 years now. Never really even bothered to ask someone what it was actually about. Adult novel? No thanks, not interested. I read picture books and self-help books.

    But this morning, I go to get on my Pandora account to tap into my daily laptop music streaming, and what do I see? 50 Shades movie opening on Valentine’s Day. What?! I didn’t even know there was going to be a movie! (and yes, I agree with your viewpoint about the movie affecting innocent youth) So, I decide to click on the trailer and finally see what all the hype is about. Hmmm… a romance movie? All right! Valentine’s flick? Yipee! Ummm… not quite. But this strange fascination and curiosity lingers wanting to know a little more about what it is all about.

    Will I read the books? No. I don’t do erotica. Will I watch the movies? No. I don’t do “R.”

    But the movie trailers, Wikipedia, and all the spoiler sites (some with some really nice long summaries) have satisfied my need to have the curiosity of the books explained, as in knowing what happens. So, in the book’s defense, it does tell a good fictional story. The characters do face a lot of adversity. They even change. Christian works through his past. In the end, they are happily married with two kids (or one and one on the way). So, a happy romance ending. Yes, lots of mixed messages for the characters in the books of sex vs. romance, etc. But the ending is worth it. However, I reiterate above, I have not and will not read the books or watch the movies. I already know what happens in the end and I’m good with that.

    As far as our society goes? Yes, I’m definitely concerned. The book/movie phenomenon continues to blur the lines of what is acceptable. THAT concerns me. I’m old-fashioned, old-school. Don’t have sex until you’re married type. All any of us can do is to voice our opinions, set good examples, be a power for righteousness, and pray, pray, pray. Be advocates of goodness. Teach your children and your friend’s children. KNOW what they watch on TV. Talk about life and what is acceptable and not acceptable. Loved your post, Kristen. Thanks for being brave enough to share your thoughts. I think we all need to share the 50 shades of abuse sign, regardless of the movie. If that “image/poster/info” gets shared to enough people and helps ONE girl out, then we have done one good thing to make the world a better place.

    Happy Valentine’s Day! Yeah, let’s do some martial arts!!!

  60. I have no desire to read the book or see the movie. I was never able to see the appeal. I hope that people will not think that abuse is acceptable simply because it’s in a popular movie and book, and just take it is fiction, and not very good fiction at that. I’ve written on rape and sexual abuse in history–it’s an ancient problem that still exists, obviously. The movie itself looks simply awful. One review said it was actually boring. At the same time, perhaps it will spark some discussions. One can only hope.

  61. PREACH! :APPLAUDS: I agree with all of this. I look at the books and movies that are popular–romance, in particular, is supposed to be a sort of wish fulfillment in a way. And the insane popularity of the 50 shades books and Twilight scare the crap out of me from a psychological standpoint because–what wish is that fulfilling? What chord is this striking in popular consciousness to be so, incredibly DEVOURED (also, terrified for the state of public education that the public doesn’t care about craptastic prose). These books absolutely totally misrepresent the BDSM lifestyle. In REAL BDSM, the submissive has all the true control and the relationship is all about trust. There is NOTHING of that in the 50 shades books. As you said, this is the sort of thing that will continue to muddy the waters in regards to what’s acceptable and will continue to perpetuate rape culture and abuse.

  62. I completely agree with every one of your points but one. I don’t begin to understand how you see stalking in Twilight. Grant it, that is my favorite book series. But stalking?! Who is supposedly stalking whom?

    I have been concerned about the direction of relationships for quite some time now. So many books define the “right” man as one with enormous amounts of wealth and looks and ego. That is not even close to reality. And yet, the books foster the fantasy. They make me very angry and discouraged and scared. Are “real” women buying into that crap!? Are they able to see through the lies? I hope so. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking read! I hope that you and your husband have a wonderful Valentine Day.

    1. Well the fact that he crept in her room and watched her sleep all night? That might be cool with a vampire book but a boyfriend does that in real life? Time for a restraining order. Again, why Twilight might be fine for an older woman, but bad juju for a teen girl.

      1. Hi Kristen – I still think that saying Twilight contains stalking is quite the stretch. As I think including mythical creatures in with a sadist is a stretch. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

        1. Not really, since E.L. James basically repurposed Twilight with BDSM. But, fair enough. Yet, if I found out a guy had been in my room all night without my permission to watch me sleep? He’d be dumped. In real life? He’d be in jail.

  63. Reblogged this on betnew and commented:

    • Shelby on February 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm
    • Reply

    I have always loved Dirty Dancing too and thought it was one of the most romantic movies ever. I don’t think I could write a female character that suffered through that kind of abuse, and if she did, she would learn to walk away. Abuse is just one of my buttons, I get really passionate about it.

  64. All I can say is Yes, yes, YES. After seeing my SIL in an abusive relationship, I can see the deep harm this movie/book will bring because it places a lie in the middle of something many women crave, confusing the issue of love, respect, and romance into a muddle of poo.

  65. I agree with you completely! This is so true. Loved this article! It’s so sad that people are going out and reading or watching that trash. Thank you for sharing this! I would soooo love that critique. I shared it on my Facebook page. Will share it on Twitter and on my blog. 🙂

    1. Here is the post where I share your link. 🙂


  66. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. I won’t spend a lot of time reiterating what you so eloquently said because frankly, you nailed it right on the head! Strong men, confident women and a praise worthy story’s need for an actual plot have been tarnished. While FSOG is a gut blow to actual writers, it’s acclaim also points toward romance’s decline in American Society.

    I also find some silver lining here. If plotless stories containing no more than a backhanded slap to morality can sell, a well conceived story not aiming at the decimation of genders can sell too. With all of FSOG’s marketing, let’s see it stand the test of time with romance classics. Though scary, FSOG in romance is like a kid doing a cannonball in a swimming pool. Everybody looks for a second, the splash quicky settles and everyone goes back to enjoying the entirety of the water over the momentary disturbance.

  67. Thanks for the blog! Enjoyed and shared it. We need more like it.  Linda lindarodante.wordpress.com  Writing for God; Fighting Human Trafficking

    For God so loved the world, that he gave… John 3:16    

  68. This thread has been fascinating, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. While I agree that the “story” is disturbing, the glamorization of young woman/creepy rich guy more so, I do have to ask, What is the answer? Do we condone Censorship? Should books contain Trigger Warnings for those with no discernment or awareness of the content? I agree with one of the comments: vote with the wallet and not support what you don’t believe in. My original comment tried to point to the inherent cynicism that “gatekeepers,” whether it is publishers or the movie industry will push whatever sells. It seems people are buying it. My answer, for the 2 cents that it’s worth, is that women authors should write better books since there is an audience: show ‘ALT’ to educate others and create compelling, believable characters, or how to deal with sociopaths and survive. I know it has been done before.

    Kristen, I don’t think you are at risk of burning down your platform. This is one of the better blog posts and discussion threads that I’ve read in a long time.

    1. I agree that we vote with our wallets and maybe write blogs. I do NOT condone censorship at all. I don’t believe in trigger warnings or that stuff. But I do think we need to talk about this stuff and pay attention to what our young generations are reading and watching. Make sure we are there to talk and let them know that in fiction it is fun and games and in life it is a MAJOR RED FLAG AND RUN!!!!

      Maybe encourage them to make better choices. I don’t think HOSTEL should be banned, but I refuse to watch or support violent gore porn even though I love horror.

      I know a lot of people who are thrilled I wrote this post were afraid to speak up because they didn’t spend 36 hours to reinforce what they know to be true just with twenty pages.

      Even now, I have had some backlash over this post because I didn’t read all three books. As an abuse survivor, there was no way in HELL that was going to happen (though I DID give it a try and skimmed enough to feel my points were valid). And frankly I don’t feel I have to read all three books in order to make social commentary.

      This isn’t a book review or a movie review, it’s a cultural observation. What’s odd is that I have read BDSM books from friends who write BDSM. These 50 Shades books are NOT BDSM. They are glorifying emotional abuse. Couldn’t go there.

      But if I speak out, I am castigated because I didn’t read them. If I read them, I am funding fiction that glamorizes the type of man that tormented me for years (and paying to relive being with a wealthy and powerful man who had the world convinced I was nuts for leaving him…and then stalked me until I was afraid to leave home).

      ****Whereas it is OK for E.L. James to make millions of a world she never properly researched.

      I believe it’s all about being open. Unafraid to say, “No, I don’t HAVE to read this to know it’s BAD and I don’t support it.” I think if people want some spice there are better and healthier choices for this world of BDSM. But I DO think we are wise to keep vigilant. I feel we will see the 50 Shades defense and that this does not bode well for rape victims or domestic violence victims.

        • Stephanie Scott on February 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm
        • Reply

        I said this further up, but I think you’re right that you can have an informed critical opinion and not read the book. I made it through the first chapter and just couldn’t handle the bad writing. I value my time. I don’t even watch bad reality TV anymore. By presenting an informed opinion, it means you are not immediately jumping to misogynist jargon like labeling 50 Shades “mommy porn,” which is dismisses women and their sexuality rather than addressing the behaviors in the books. This is exactly the kind of discussion we can have. We are not shaming women for being sexual, or reading sexual books, we are raising issue with the behaviours in the book and what they say about our culture, which often caters to oppression and violence toward women.

        1. Thanks because I was hesitant to speak up. I don’t think I need to eat an entire dish of super HOT Indian food to go, “Um, not for me and THAT will have SERIOUS consequences.” A “taste” is enough and I did my twenty pages of due diligence and skimmed the rest. Meh.

          As a woman married six years? I get the need for fun and spice and exploration. But I DO think we should call out trends that are unhealthy. It’s our moral obligation to at least say something and be open to the debate that follows.

          I won’t attack James’s writing or begrudge her success. It’s really the culture shift arising FROM these books that I am bothered by.

          I don’t like that slasher flicks make a gazillion dollars, but it doesn’t mean my son and I won’t have a serious talk when/if he wants to go see HOSTEL 15 when he’s in high school.

      1. On a lighter note, I think people could learn more about *real* BDSM from watching the “Lady Heather” episodes of CSI than reading FSOG…

        1. Yeah, but the whole point of this post is that FSoG representing BDSM is like saying that porn represents love. Even the BDSM community has been pissed over this and with good reason.

            • Laura on February 15, 2015 at 1:06 pm

            I don’t see how what I said contradicts that in any way, unless you took what I wrote in a completely different way than I meant it. :::shrug:::

      2. “I agree that we vote with our wallets and maybe write blogs. I do NOT condone censorship at all.”

        Very important point. I agree completely. Any work of art, no matter how negative, has a finite impact, Censorship, no matter how noble the initial intention, cramps and stultifies the entire culture.

        (I was raised by librarians. 🙂 )

    • Carol Caldwell on February 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks Kristen for speaking out. You’re like the little boy that says the obvious in the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. It should be obvious to everyone that this is a tale of horror. We can only pray that it will bomb at the box office.

    • Stephanie Scott on February 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm
    • Reply

    Here’s an article on the Mary Sue written by a writer colleague; similar thoughts: http://www.themarysue.com/power-playing-advice-to-fic-writers/

    Also, as an alternative, I read a really great “New Adult” book about a billionaire called Trade Me by Courtney Milan. It’s a romance, but not erotica or erotic romance. I highly recommend this take on a power struggle which explores each of the characters and their socioeconomic backgrounds. Courtney usually writes historicals (which are fabulous, and I rarely really get into historical romance). It’s a great example of healthy conflict and power struggle and all the internal views of each character. And I swear, I get no kickbacks from the recommendation! I just like promoting good books.

  69. I completely agree with your post! It worries me that this story has become so popular.

  70. Reblogged this on Lea At Sea and commented:
    Honestly, couldn’t agree more.

    • Christy on February 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm
    • Reply

    Very well said. Bravo!!

  71. It is messages like 50 Shades that have made it so my son gets the lecture regularly. At 17 (almost 18), he knows it’s not enough for a woman to say no. He has to flat out ask her what she wants and respect her choices (and his own boundaries). It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing or what her reputation is – a girl/woman deserves respect (as do all living beings including men). We talk about one night stands vs relationships. We don’t tell him to not have sex because we know he eventually will. We teach him how to use a condom and how to communicate with a sex partner. We explain that having a real relationship with a sex partner makes for better and less awkward sex. And we bring up the subject often. Blurred Lines comes on the radio – conversation starts. Sex on tv – guess what it’s time for the talk. A girl in a mini skirt walks by – well you get the picture. We do our best to keep the communication lines open and to educate him for those moments we may not be available. That’s how you raise a son – none of this blame the girl for being too sexy or distracting (I have actually seen blogposts from moms who raise sons and say that the girls are causing problems for their holy sons). We need to keep the dialogue open – get the message out that girls are human beings (shocking, I know) and we all have sexual needs and romantic needs. Thanks for your post – it’s nice to see people start the conversation.

  72. First, your cat is gorgeous. Second, my good man allows me to be a crazy cat lady, but it’s a really good man who becomes one himself. lol

    This Fifty Shades of Bullsh*t is making me crazy. What, have we worked so hard to get the right to vote and the right to work and the right to equal pay for equal work and the right to not be objectified and abused and controlled, the right to be independent – just to turn around and embrace abuse, control, objectification? We’ve come so far only to find we were traveling forward in a circle? I’m reasonably sure that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

    I did read the books (thankfully they were loaned to me). I read them because someone accused me of being a book snob by judging them from just what I could read in excerpts. Now I’m judging them from having read every atrocious word.

    I have nothing against the BDSM lifestyle. It’s not for me personally, but what one does in his or her own bedroom is none of my business. Spice it up if you like. Whatever.

    I do, however, take issue with how this lifestyle was presented in the book, whether it was represented incorrectly or not. The relationship in that book is toxic. It is abusive. It is depraved (and I’m not necessarily talking sexually). It is manipulative. It is controlling.

    We try to teach our daughters not to let men do all those things to them. We try to teach our sons not to let women do those things to them. We try to teach them not to be the kind of people who would do those things to others. We preach against domestic violence. We sigh and cry when we hear another story of yet another woman who wouldn’t leave her from-hell abuser and ends up paying for that weakness with her life. And then we (the collective “we”) run greedily toward this badly written porn with no plot to gobble it up wholesale. Have we no pride, so sense of dignity? No sense of of the contradiction between what we as strong, independent women will put up with from our mates and what we will read and romanticize?

    I think it’s very dangerous to present this story as a romance. Very dangerous that society is accepting it as a romance. This series is about hell. The hell a woman lives because she is weak and desperate for love. The hell built for her by a man who should love and cherish her and devour her in ways that are sensual and sexy but instead beats her and rapes her and demeans her.

    1. I only needed a few scenes and lines to have flashbacks. Men like Grey are NOT heroes at all.

      1. Romance, to me, is the seduction of the whole person, not just his or her body. Pain and humiliation and control and abuse aren’t romantic to me. I don’t read erotica (I personally don’t find it romantic) and I pretty much gloss over any moderately explicit sex scenes in the books I read. I do not write sex scenes in my own. I’m a fade-to-black after seduction heads toward fulfillment kind of writer. I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to romance.

        1. I am with you on that. Give me Princess Bride ANY day!

  73. I hate it when smart debates make me rethink my conclusions. Plus the double-dip of realizing how jaded/accepting I’ve gotten toward the new brand of “sexy” in romance. Last year I started researching what sells the easiest in romance>ebook at Amazon. It was a business decision, since I’m partners in a small press and our old-school romances, whether sexy or sweet, were battling for their lives against the new crop of cheap, mostly indie books. (I’m not trying to start a flame war here, I’ve got nothing against indies or cheap books.) What gets an unknown author the most attention from readers? What breaks through the impossible sea of “other” these days without a massive marketing campaign funded by deep pockets? The answer: Bad boys being extremely bad to young women. I’m being simplistic, and yes there are other routes to success, but a lot of research went into this, so it’s not anecdotal. While the arena was mostly New Adult fiction, the same vibes are in contemporary adult romance, where my aging Loveswept-trained eyeballs fell on the floor at what’s now encompassed under the “sexy” label. Alpha males everywhere. Super alphas. And in the easy-road-to-attention NA books, the super alphas were obnoxious, sociopathic and borderline rapey. The young women were good girls looking for love and willing to put up with a laundry list of abusive behavior in the belief that only they understood Him, and He Was Such A Wounded Soul Inside. Yes, they tamed the beasts and got their HEA or HFN. But I hated those alphas. Loathed them. No way would I publish books that called those guys heroes.

    But what about the milder side? Now I’m working on some projects with alpha males who aren’t slimeballs and heroines who aren’t doormats, but using the dominance-and-taming fantasy that so many readers love. Hell, I love it too, if it’s done right. I understand why the submission fantasy works. And yet I DON’T want to feed our rape culture. I don’t want to contribute to the disempowerment of young women. OTOH, I look around and see plenty of them living bold lives with sexual roles that are much more fair than the old days and career choices that would have been nearly unthinkable when I was their age. Are things way better than then? Oh, hell, yes. Way worse, in some regards? Oh, hell, yes. I pulled up to the drive-through window at my small-town Taco Bell a few Octobers ago and stared at a poster of a trussed up girl in a tight tank top being menaced by a masked man with a chain saw.

    It was an ad for our local haunted house. Sponsored not only by good ol’ family friendly Taco Bell, but by a half-dozen pillar-of-the-community local businesses. WTF? I ranted in the newspaper’s editorial letters (the newspaper was a sponsor of the haunted house, too.) I’d like to believe I wasn’t the only one. The posters have improved since then–or maybe I’m just not noticing them anymore.

    That’s the problem. I realize it’s all starting to feel normal. Shrug. There’s another book with a tied-up woman on the cover. There’s another movie with the young actress as nothing but a sex object. There’s another pop singer in leather shorties, looking like an underage sex worker.

    When RWA dumped the women’s fiction category from the RITAs and added erotic romance, I was beyond disgusted. I love erotica — see my dog-earred copy of Anne Rice’s Exit to Eden. But when so much of what’s selling in erotic “romance” is 50-Shades wannabes, and the national romance organization opens the door to a celebration of it while no longer recognizing big, complex, often relatively tame (in terms of sex acts) romance novels, the message is not a good one. I’ll probably take some brick bats for that opinion, as I imagine there were various reasons given for the removal of the WF category. But there is a message, not matter what was intended. And like a lot of the messages in the marketing of romance these days, it’s confusing.

    • Todd on February 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm
    • Reply

    AMEN! I couldn’t agree more and thanks for being brave enough to post your thoughts. And you didn’t even touch on the bad writing and fan fiction turned for profit aspect.

    1. Well, I would need to READ the writing to comment on the quality of the writing. In that case, I would have to read more than I did to maintain professional integrity. In this post, I am only concerned with social implications and I am a bit freer to extrapolate and extend logic, 😀 .

      But thanks for the support. I am thrilled to see men are concerned as well. We gals need you on our side!

  74. I do have a strong opinion about this. Just because something is consensual does not mean it’s a good decision. As someone who had the tendency to be like Ana, I had to swear off men for a long time until I’m confident enough that the next relationship I have I won’t let myself be treated the way Christian treated Ana. Don’t get me wrong. My ex never hit me but that relationship was just toxic.

    That being said, it can leave impressions on our youth. This movie could teach our youth that love means it’s okay to hit someone–it was supposed to bring one person pleasure and that they could be the one who could reform an abuser. It didn’t work that way. Since I work with the youth, I do get teased because of my strong reaction but they knew where I stand regarding this issue.

    And I do like to have a strong man. However, he better respect me and push me to become stronger.

    • Patricia Bates on February 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm
    • Reply

    Personally, I’m in one hundred percent agreement with every point you made. This story isn’t mainstream romance its glorified abuse horribly written…
    In today’s world this is equal to giving permission for men to abuse women, for us to slide back into the dark ages when women were chattel to be used and discarded. Sad to say but this is one book I won’t ever read nor will I ever go to the movie – frankly I’d rather sit through two hours of mechanics class!

  75. The level of evil encompassed in 50 Shades is beyond my current preference to even confront right now. Truly truly disgusting. And as a man, it horrifies me. On the other hand, “What did you think of 50 Shades?” is a pretty good litmus test for potential dates…

    However, I’d like to point out an ALTERNATIVE movie coming out this weekend in select theaters (meaning not a wide release). “Old Fashioned” is about a former frat boy having to learn how to be a REAL man and how to ACTUALLY win the woman’s heart. I had a couple friends actually work on the film, but even besides that, I’ve heard nothing but good things. I think it’ll be a nice antidote to the poison.

    Finally, do the world a favor. Cut out of your life anyone who goes and sees 50 Shades. Make the cost too high. The culture is already under a heavy burden of human trafficking and prolific rape. The last thing we need is even MORE normalization of it.

  76. Reblogged this on Deborah Smith, Author, Publisher and commented:
    A terrific post from Kristen Lamb about the 50 Shades phenom and its dark side. The commentary/discussion from Lamb’s followers (including yours truly) is also a smart and worthwhile read.

  77. I detested the novel 50 Shades of Crap. It seems to be written by someone who knows nothing about a) Women b) Sex and c) Power. I refuse to watch the film. Women everywhere should be protesting against this crap. The movie will bomb.
    What you say is true. This garbage is affecting the younger generations in a negative way. I hope they are smarter than we think they are. Nobody needs role models like this.

  78. Great post in a great series. I love how you’re looking at big picture stuff.
    Okay, I’m probably going to really get myself in trouble here…not in defense of the book (I agree with you 100%), but in my ideas about why. Why has this taken off to such an extent?
    Human nature is such that whatever we are not “supposed” to do, is what we want to pretend.
    Contemporary culture has made it unacceptable for women to be weak. Ever. Even for a minute, and certainly not in public. We have to prove that nothing can slow us down, not PMS, nor babies, nor aging – we’re on trial constantly. We are supposed to do all, be all, cope with everything, be the breadwinner and “lean in” as well as put down the smartphone and be the “hands-free mom”. We are supposed (in popular culture) to be smarter, more virtuous and harder working than men, as well as being sexually available and cheeky and flirtatious with good hair….ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
    You know buckets more about marketing than I do, and even I know that people respond to emotional triggers – so what’s the trigger here? What’s the fantasy?
    I don’t think all these millions of women actually want to be hurt or even to experiment with BDSM. I think they just want to lie down and let somebody else be in charge. Be passive. Give up control. Be confused, vulnerable and afraid…but only while locked away in a dark room where nobody else can hear, because it’s not okay to admit we have those feelings in the first place.
    When vulnerability itself is the “forbidden fruit” in our culture, it turns dark. When the ups and downs of life -the normal fallibility or struggles of being human are “bad” and shameful…well, you get this.
    I agree with you, it’s a bad sign. And I think your recent posts about larger cultural issues are looking at different facets of the same problem.

    1. Actually before 50 Shades got so big it was a major culture shift that SCARED ME, I wrote a humor post talking about this SAME THING, LOLOLOLOL.

      As a modern strong woman and CEO, I just want SOMEONE ELSE to make a decision every once in a while….

      I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY and I think you nailed it. When vulnerability itself is the “forbidden fruit” in our culture, it turns dark. AMEN!

      1. Christian Grey as God-replacement? I do wonder.

  79. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I blogged about these books a couple days ago as well and have never seen more action on my blog. Most of the feedback was positive, but I did get some seething messages, some dislikes, and un-friends. Whatevs.
    I was actually wondering if you were going to post something about this because I (and probably most of your fans) were wondering about your stance. Wahoo! It just makes me feel not so alone in my thinking if you and WANA react this way. You and anyone else are welcome to read about my thoughts on my blog and tell me what you think. Seriously, I’d love to hear 🙂 Your post was an adrenaline shot!

  80. Totally agree with you, Kristen. Thanks for the post!
    I actually think all this started with “Twilight” – exactly the same theme. Just with vampires and for teens. There have probably been other books but these are the ones selling millions with young girls buying into this crap.
    I don’t know about the US and UK, but domestic violence in Australia has increased incredibly in the past few years, when it should be decreasing with increased police powers and more people speaking out. To me, books like this totally add to the damage.

  81. I remember as a young man (Yes, I was a young man once) seeing A Clockwork Orange. It scared the ever lovin’ be “jesus out of me. I had no way to process the anger and hate; at the same time the almost comic way in which the men went about their violence. I have seen many more of similar type movies since that time, read many a book where there is a most unnatural set of events put in play.
    I’ve not read Fifty shades – I assume it’s about sex, plenty of it, and from what I have gathered, it may not be what you would want your daughter involved in. It reminds me of the movie with Robert Redford and Demi More – your woman for a million; so, different than “How much for your women” by the Blues Brothers.
    I don’t believe we should take offense to any of this stuff. It is food for thought, nothing more, nothing less. It does not define men or women, nor does it set any precedent for any future behaviorism. If it did, after all the times I saw poor Roadrunner get his head whacked, I would become a vet.
    Why the book is so popular is anyone’s guess. It might just be that we are all so involved in trying to be correct that this book breaks all the rules and so we take a Wink, wink, moment.
    I hope I know the difference between what is an outlandish moment in thought and what is compassionate and loving behavior. Butch Cassidy and the Sundace Kid was a movie about a couple of crooks. I was able to put that aside and enjoy a most wonderful duo – if was with great sadness when the ending scene gave them back to the earth.
    I believe our world screams with information. I also believe that many are becoming more evolved and involved.
    It’s okay Kristen. It really is.

    1. But you and I are from a different world. When Twilight was big, teens ran around wearing fangs and wolf tails and acting out scenes on YouTube. They are highly impressionable and much more immersed in entertainment and fantasy than any previous generation. I think we must be cautious cross-comparing because we are not from a multimedia generation. We faced different issues, granted. But we live in a world where a young couple let their real-life baby die because they were too distracted caring for a virtual baby.

      And I know that messages from MY youth were very confusing as a girl with an absentee father. Madonna was all about being a boy toy and we started seeing the first open sexualization in music. Before it was all entendre, but Me So Horny? Nothing left to the imagination there.

      When I dated, it was REALLY hard because the expectation of “I bought you dinner so you should sleep with me” had become so ingrained in culture. I would have men get irate and call me a tease because they didn’t get to spend the night after a pasta dinner at Olive Garden. Eventually, I was afraid to not pay for my own meal.

    • Riahannon Andersson on February 13, 2015 at 5:34 pm
    • Reply

    Totally agree!

    1. Hehe, perhaps I am out of touch. I hope not. I play WOW with my sons, my two grand-children are absorbed by technology. I don’t see it as bad – just different. Maybe I am naive. I hope I have enough wisdom to help guide them to what is real and what is contrived.
      As always, a most wonderful post. Much to ponder.

  82. Thanks for the insights. I saw the book as a combination of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Are we ready to give up pushing those Disney stories on our daughters? Cultures around the world have beauty and beast stories and I’ve always wondered if that was due to arranged marriages. Somehow it would give those young brides some hope of a better life down the road if they could “tame” the beast. How many of the alpha heroes that show up in romance novels border on “beasts?” Are we inadvertently perpetuating that story line? Throw in the Cinderella aspects of a rich guy and unfortunately, it seems like there are a lot of cultural messages pushing young women in that direction, as well.

    1. I wonder if this were set in a trailer park and he drove a big rig if Grey would still be “sexy?” Food for thought…

  83. Well, the age difference between the couple in Dirty Dancing was, too me, potentially disturbing and not that romantic.

    But 50 Shades, so much worse in every possible way, I’ll just let that slide. My only question has been, why did it take a movie adaptation to get most people to speak out against this crud? The book version is way worse…

  84. So much WORD here, I can’t even begin. Thanks for a great take on this. I, too, and freaking out over how many people are falling all over themselves with praise for this and would say that it goes back even further than Twilight. I saw a similar phenomenon with the Buffy fandom over Buffy/Spike. That was another really bad relationship that was fawned over.

    1. Yeah, but at least one could understand Buffy getting in to that relationship. She had been through a lot and, to quote the Coda of OMWF, “I just want to feel.” And Buffy was a great deal more experienced, in many ways, for her age than Ana seems to be (haven’t read the books), or Baby from Dirty Dancing.

      1. Can’t we all just watch The Princess Bride for Valentines? LOL

        1. I’m down with that. LOL

            • Laura on February 15, 2015 at 10:47 pm

            I would have been, too, but I worked twelve hours on V-Day. Ugh.

      2. True, i understood how Buffy could fall into that but I found the portrayal (and fan reaction) a bit disturbing. Even after the iffy behavior in S6 and the attempted rape, Spike is still clearly meant to be looked at as one of the “good guys” and the one on Buffy’s side. She acknowledged that the relationship was a mess, but she also never fully walked away from Spike. If anything, they got closer. I also saw a lot of fans falling all over themselves over that pairing, even with all the obvious mess.

  85. Great post, Kristen.
    My random thoughts on all this:
    1. As a man, there are enough overly rigid portrayals of manhood om the world around us. We don’t need more. Then again, I try and not take my cues on manhood from pop culture (not always easy).
    2. This book was written by a woman, and read mostly by other women. As a man, I don’t get it, but at least it can’t be said that this is an example of men trying to keep women down, because men have had very little to do with this whole phenomena. This is all of, by, and for women.
    3. As a writer I’m very aware of the impact of culture, and I try my best to only write things that come from a place of positivity. From what I know about this book, I don’t think it fits the bill.
    4. Also as a writer, it’s hard to knock success. The writer has managed to strike a chord with many, many people. Is this a positive? Not sure (see #3). She tapped into some kind of need or desire. I do not want to emulate her in terms of content, but I’m always interested in how other writers are able to connect with readers.
    And no, I won’t be seeing the movie, or reading the book.

  86. This. Is. Awesome! To each their own and all that, but I will never understand how so many people can think things like this are so great, wonderful, beautiful, and so on. I even got the impression a couple of times that friends thought I was trying to control THEM by stating my differing opinion. Glad to see I’m not the only one thinking the world is being turned on its ear.

    • prudencemacleod on February 13, 2015 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply

    As a survivor of abuse I can say without hesitation. Abuse is unacceptable under any circumstances. I applaud your stance, Kristen, and am cheering you on.

    1. Thrilled you are in my corner, Girlie! ((HUGS)) I love you *sniffs*

  87. My husband is taking me to the ballet for Valentine’s Day. How about that? Thanks for your hard hitting remarks. I have no words for how sad it makes me that our entertainment choices for Valentine’s Day boil down to Hallmark and Hardcore.

    • PB on February 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm
    • Reply

    For a person who writes a blog, I would have expected you to know more about the subject matter you speak on. If you didn’t read the book, go to the movie, or spend the time researching it before you wrote this, I’m not sure how you think you can influence anyone by what you have written.
    There is a plot to the book and hence the movie. The underlying story of the book is what it’s about, not simply the BDSM. For you to state otherwise is unfounded. By all means you can have your own opinion on it, but don’t try to persuade others one way or the other if you don’t know the entire story. That’s just spewing words to incite others & no one should be doing that. We have enough people in the world that make a living out of it without adding one more to the mix.

    1. Actually, I did spend time researching it (there is actually a link to a HIGHLY detailed analysis at the end of the blog). I’ve read articles, psychology commentary, etc. Just because I didn’t waste time reading all three books doesn’t mean anything. This isn’t a book review or a movie review.

      Even then, I’ve walked out of a handful of movies and feel I could give an honest opinion even though I didn’t stay all 90 minutes 🙂 .

      Just because I didn’t watch all 26 minutes of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive doesn’t mean I can’t assert that ISIS is evil and still have a fairly grounded opinion. I can read commentary and listen to experts and form a rather sound extrapolation.

      I actually DO know a lot about BDSM because I have a lot of author friends who write the genre and who actually consulted experts in the business so they portrayed the world accurately. I knew enough to stop reading FSOG the second the book was clearly emotional abuse being glorified. I didn’t really need all three books to get that.

      And considering I worked for years with domestic abuse victims and was, myself an abuse survivor, I think I have enough street cred to form an educated POV. So we will have to agree to disagree.

      Oh and spewing out words to incite others to value humans and boundaries and love? To respect women and men? To spew out words to get people to think what they are really supporting and ask the hard question, “IS THIS REALLY HARMLESS?” I’ll own that.

      But fair enough. Thanks for the comment 🙂 .

        • PB on February 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm
        • Reply

        It’s FICTION which means by its very definition, not true. If anyone is sucked into this being anything close to reality needs to really get a grasp on life, Kristen. Maybe that’s what you should be focusing on here.
        Every “expert” is always going to try to justify their opinion on a subject matter. I know scientists who have shown global warming is completely unfounded, yet others say they can prove otherwise. Who is right?! We may never know.
        BDSM between two consenting adults isn’t abuse. I’m truly sorry you what you have faced in your life, but to try to extrapolate this book/movie that isn’t true & apply it to real life experiences is actually devaluing those of us, both men & women, that have the ability & knowledge to understand & recognize the difference.

        1. I am not devaluing you. Read the post. I said that if mature adults wanted to read it, not my issue. My concern is what it bodes for our culture and younger generations. To say that fiction is inert, is to say that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “The Jungle,” “Catch 22,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” didn’t impact us socially. Fantasy has a way of becoming reality. If it didn’t writers wouldn’t be so ADAMANT about literacy. We KNOW that stories shape beliefs, attitudes and culture. It defines or redefines what is acceptable.

          This can be FABULOUS. Star Trek did more for equal rights and women’s rights than any legislation. My concern here is WHAT is the IMPACT of this? I am not for censoring or burning books. I told no one to boycott or rally. I only CHALLENGE us to ask the hard questions. That’s all. And this is NOT BDSM. Even the BDSM community has been ticked over that. It is a twisted misrepresentation that is unfair to those who practice it.

  88. Having worked with victims of domestic violence for several years in the 90’s, I can tell you that the goal post keeps getting moved. What was just a little play can suddenly become life threatening. What was just a little fun is often truly another form of abuse. This movie, well, no words, not wasting my oxygen on the book or movie. Let’s just say that the two might be the worst offenders in terms of female oppression and abuse by making it “okay” to do what they did. NOT. Never will be. Great piece, I think I may do something I rarely do and reblog your post. Thank you! 🙂

  89. Reblogged this on JanniStyles1 and commented:
    Had to share, if you know anything about violence against women, oppression of women and the dynamics of same, you will appreciate this thought provoking piece.

  90. Someone in our local writers group is pushing for us as Romance writers to go because –

    “Lorelei James posted on her FB page that we as the romance community need to see this movie whether we liked the books or not because if this movie does good, it will send a message to Hollywood of what kinds of movies we as women want to see more of.”

    I don’t believe “we as woman want to see more of” this type of movie and don’t appreciate being lumped into that category.

    1. I don’t want more of these movies. Ugh.

  91. Thanks for your well-written insight, Kristen. I’m posting this on my 50 Shades of Yuck Pinterest board.

  92. Kristen,
    Very interesting post. I agree with Tymber about the fact that FSoG is definitely not a depiction of a real BDSM relationship. In those relationships it is a voluntary exchange of power with a partner who is respected and trusted. While I don’t currently participate in the lifestyle, I do my research and talk to people, and try to provide a realistic view of the dynamics of BDSM.
    I did force myself to get through the first book, but couldn’t bring myself to read the second two. Ironically, when FSoG first went viral (keep in mind, based on information on the web (which I take with a grain of salt), it was originally fan-fic for Twilight but was rumored to have been booted from the fan-fic site due to the sexual content) I actually had a discussion with someone in the publishing industry about it. I told her my opinion, which was very similar to Tymber’s and she agreed that I had a valid point. Then she explained to me why FSoG was such a successful novel despite it’s editing and content.
    In essence, the book gave readers the opportunity to peek at a lifestyle that is taboo and make themselves feel good because the book proved that the lifestyle was “bad”.
    For what it’s worth, I definitely won’t be seeing the movie — or any sequels should there be any, nor will I ever read the rest of the books.

  93. You kick ass, lady! Great article. Something I totally agree with and I love the way you voice what dances in my head.

  94. This is from one of the links posted in the “Conservative Feminist” article you linked, Kristen. I think this sums up the whole point, especially to those who want to argue “but Christian has a character arc! He changes! It’s a happy ending!”

    From http://victorygirlsblog.com/50-shades-grey-ana/

    “This lie that 50 Shades of Grey perpetuates – that love will change an abusive relationship – is dangerous. The book tells women that Ana’s love is what changed Christian, and they lived happily ever after. Women are eating it up, and believing it. That’s unrealistic, and it sets women up to stay in dangerous situations. And, what if the woman can’t change the man? Does that mean she is a failure? Is it her fault that he abuses her? Does that add more guilt to the already ashamed victim? “

  95. I cannot tell you, Kristen, how happy I was to see you address this subject in your blog. I feel exactly the same. It is also sad that there are so many good writers with worthwhile stories (and actual plots) that may never get published, while this author has sold millions of copies. Thank you for expressing what so many of us are feeling.

    • Madison Sevier on February 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm
    • Reply

    I agree.
    And you spoke of a “50 Shades Defense” being possible…it already happened in Indiana. Last year…I believe. The couple had a contract and he was flat out abusing her. She finally escaped, wearing nothing but a dog collar and a body full of bruises and injuries.

    The neighbors had “heard noises and commotion for months, but they thought the couple just liked it ‘rough’.”

    The woman was hospitalized for dehydration, being malnourished, breaks that never healed. He had used any and everything he could find…all lot of kitchen utensils were noted…to “to keep her submissive”. She had multiple ligature wounds all over her body and layers of bruising on her neck and throat.

    I’m all for everyone finding their thing and all, but there are some really crazy people in this world who will used and have used something fictional, something so outrageous to get their rocks off.

    His defense? She’d placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a man. They’d known each other for only a few weeks before this started…shortly after she’d read FSoG.

    Is it only the book’s fault? No. However, he claimed she wanted all of it to happen because of the books.

  96. Fifty Shades basically ‘concentrated’ Twilight’s “rich, handsome young man takes advantage of his girlfriend’s low self-esteem to treat her like a doormat” trope, and wiped away any traces of genuine romance.
    The cultural implications of its success are genuinely terrifying, but I am very pleased to see the real BDSM community being recognized as something very different from this horrid assemblage of words called “Fifty Shades”.
    There were lines in Fifty Shades that were so stupefyingly bad, they literally stopped me in my tracks.
    That said, a bunch of authors ended up with a great ‘comeback’ to Random House rejections.
    To wit, “I’m glad you rejected me, because I wouldn’t want to be on any publisher who prints this garbage, just for a quick cash-in!” 😈

  97. I think conversations have to be had with boys too, as well as girls about movies/books with these kinds of messages. Love, romance, sex is supposed to be a thing between consenting adults (plural not single) and whether it’s female/male, male/male, female/female, male/female/male, female/male/female or any combination, everyone involved needs to be informed, consenting and having fun.
    Books like this scare me because (and I will preface this by saying I’ve not read it, only heard enough from both sides to garner a picture) it is obvious that there is no true consent and a distinct lack of fun. I also find the fantasy that the heroine ‘fixes’ the hero by the end of it so that he no longer puts her through that kind of abusive treatment just as confusing and disturbing as the rest and most definitely doesn’t justify any of it – because if it wasn’t abusive, then what was there to fix?
    Boys need to be included in this discussion so they know their partner should always be looked after and treasured and treated with the same kind of respect and treasuring that they would wish for themselves. I would hate to think my boys would look at this movie/book franchise and think Christian Grey’s behaviour was anything other than sociopathic and is not something to look up to or feel like they are ‘less’ because they can’t be ‘powerful’ like he is.
    I hate to book shame too and have been reticent to comment on anything about this book (especially as it’s often lumped in with all erotic books as being the norm, which is just not true – I have enjoyed some erotic books while others I have not, just the same as in any other genre) but I had to comment here. I am by no means an expert on BDSM and getting sexual gratification that way is most definitely not my thing, but I do know and have spoken with people who are in those relationships and FSoG is definitely not representative of what they have shared with me as a truly consenting, respectful and gratifying relationship (relationship being the key word here.) I just hate the idea that young people might look to FSoG as being something they should aspire to. So talk to your boys as well as your girls and make sure they truly know what empowerment is for them – and that it always involves respect.

  98. Didn’t read the book and wasn’t tempted to, despite all the brouhaha. Thanks so much for being so candid about the issues this book raises.

  99. Dear Kristen you hit the bull’s eye as always.
    I never read that garbage and never will, but the excerpts in some negative reviews I’ve read told me everything I need to know.

    As a domestic abuse survivor, it makes me want to throw up to see such a glorification of domestic abuse&rape become a mainstream best seller. It makes me die a little inside to hear how millions of women flock to the movie theater and swoon over such an abusive, sociopathic jerk.

    The whole 50 shades craze reminds of of the women who send gazillions of love letters to the serial killers in the death row. It’s sickening. It’s so wrong in so many levels. It looks like the zombie apocalypse. I think I lost all hope in humanity.

    I am a domestic abuse survivor and there are no words strong enough to describe how this 50 Shades of Grey madness makes me feel.

    1. On a more positive note, people (women) like us are standing up and calling it what it is and this debate can enlighten and educate about domestic violence. Let us hope some good comes of this, that victims like us speak up and say, “NO. NOT OKAY.” Ana may be too weak to set a boundary, but we WILL.

    • Shawn M on February 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm
    • Reply

    As a man, I dont understand why women thought the books were so great. It paints us men in a VERY bad light. And I will say this loudly, “The main character is no man, nor a hero, nor someone to look forward to reading more about.” He is a villain, and a traitor to all of manhood. And if I ever heard someone that was being used in this way, he’d be black and blue and in JAIL. Where bubba can teach him what 50 shades really means..

    1. I wish there was a like button after your comment.

  100. I’m going to go to the movie just so I can see what all the fuss is about and write a post. And, because restaurants are way too crowded on Valentine’s day and popcorn makes a great dinner. No way will I waste hours reading the books. I’ll be sure to include Kristen’s link in my blog post too, so readers can look at every side of the picture. Here’s hoping I don’t get kicked out of the theater for laughing too loud or making inappropriate comments. Or tossing my cookies on the person in from of me. Ewww.

    • debikm on February 13, 2015 at 8:46 pm
    • Reply

    I have cringed at the thought of this dreck ever since I heard of it. I weep for humanity when this garbage becomes pop culture and excellent authors languish for want of a publisher.


  101. I haven’t read the books and do not plan on watching the movie. When I asked a friend who had read them what all the hoopla was about she went into great detail explaining the so-called plot to me. I’m no prude- but I found it a bit repulsive. “Wow- sounds like abuse to me,” I said. I haven’t given either another thought since.

  102. Thank you for the update! I keep hearing about this movie, but I never knew what the big deal was until reading your post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. If you can endure it a blogger actually went through every FSoG book documenting every instance of abuse in 50 Abusive Moments in 50 Shades of Grey. I applaud her tenacity. I couldn’t get that far before I was having flashbacks to Crazy EX.

      1. Oh wow! Sorry to hear about that! But thankfully you were able to find a great guy! 🙂

  103. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  104. Great post, Kristin.

    I read all three books so I feel all right about making comments and a few observations. I read through all the comments and I would like to point out something that has been referenced but not fully stated, so I’ll do it.

    Fifty Shades of Grey was, at first, fan-fiction based upon the Twilight books. It was called “Man of the Universe”. E.L. James garnered a number of fans via fan-fiction, but eventually pulled her “Man Of The Universe”, which engendered its own kind of firestorm because it goes against the fan-fiction rules to have done so. Then, the books were self-published and marketed by a small press out of Australia before getting picked up by almighty Random House, which seemed intent on making big bucks with the books further coinciding with ELJ’s own ambitions. This isn’t an original work, if you’ve read Twilight you know the basic plot lines and those really don’t change all that much between these two series, except a whole lot of sex (some of it not consensual) was added into FSoG. Older man. Innocent young girl who works at hardware store. She goes to the East Coast to visit her mom; he follows. Stalker-ish much? The similarities go on and on because that’s what it was written from.


    It appears that many of the Twilight moms seemed to have crossed over to FSoG fandom base if only to delight in its more naughty, forbidden nature. Perhaps, this has more to do with the fact that vampires aren’t real and those movies and books spun out. But, indeed, just like the vampire who couldn’t stay away from Bella; Christian can’t stay away from Ana. Nonetheless, look at the thread of sameness in both, and then, it’s not all that surprising as the controlling tendencies of both male leads over their female partners is prevalent within both series of books and now the films.

    My biggest problem lies with the phenomena being fanned about with this movie and those books (just like Twilight) and the impressions left with our youth, especially teenage girls, that is beyond realistic. I can explain away a vampire pretty easily, but when sadistic billionaire is made to seem NORMAL and his controlling tendencies are validated, my job as a mom just gets harder.

    I’m not worried about the 30-45 year-old women who are so fond of these books or even the film. (There’s enough gushing going on about this movie’s release on Facebook by women to easily state it’s become a social phenomena.) I’m worried about all the teenage girls because I have one. In fact, one of the girls my daughter knows at school was reading FSoG in time, so she could attend the movie. The girl was boasting about the fact that her mom was letting her read it. Um…I’m know her mom; I’m not all that surprised. But, her daughter is FIFTEEN just like my daughter.

    The trend is being set. I swear I’m fighting this every day in real life by making a valiant attempt on a somewhat daily basis to keep my daughter focused on school by encouraging her to continue to take math and science and be her own person. But I am up against things like this movie and kids her age being allowed to read it and having to explain why she can’t. Just know that kids her age conduct relationships on Snap Chat and Instagram. Like the whole thing plays out in a text format from start to finish. I kid you not. It’s insane. Entire conversations take place without ever actually talking to the other person on the end of that connection. Kids actually meet each other this way. It’s scary and films and books like these just add fuel to that fire further muddying waters of the social boundaries and fueling this warped sense of reality and who and what is real and what and who isn’t.

    I GET that BDSM is a lifestyle choice for some consenting adults and all I have to say to that is have at it. I don’t pretend to understand it nor do I want to.

    But when it goes mainstream, I have to protect my kid and be prepared to address it with her at some point.

    Kristin, thanks for being brave enough to write the post and for sharing your own experience at the hands of an abusive man.

    People need to speak out. WE ALL DO.

    1. We thought our parents were in scary times. Good for you for trying. And as the mother of a boy? What if this IS a success? then they will make more and push boundaries even FURTHER. Boundaries that should NEVER have been crossed in the first place. What is my SON supposed to do? And remember when the autoerotic asphyxiation became the big thing among kids. And they didn’t understand it so people DIED? I just feel this is SO, SO, SO dangerous. And we need to be talking about it. Even if just to give another POV.

    2. Looking back, Twilight does have that controlling element on it. However, when I was reading it, at the time, I didn’t realize it. I was still in my toxic relationship back then–I’m being eerily similar to Bella. So much so that once I got out of that relationship, I realized how insecure I’d been and how my ex was totally not good for me. Nevertheless, I idealized Twilight so much that it was one of the reasons why I never got back with my ex. That relationship might be toxic but it’s still a step up for me.

      Still, we need more books that promote healthy love relationships. What happened with “A Walk to Remember”, both the book and the movie? There’s also “The Last Song” though it’s not purely romantic. If the person is older, I’ll definitely recommend “Titanic” or even “The Notebook”.

    3. On thing I’d like to add because I don’t need to repeat what has been said before: It really angers me that this is now seen as the prime example of what fanfiction is!
      As someone who not only reads fanfiction but also writes some herself, I find this insulting.

      The writing is atrocious! It’s an insult to all the well written fanfiction out there.

      1. I know. A small part of me dies every time someone buys the book or sees the movie. Sigh.

  105. Sorry. “Master of the Universe”.

    Also, the New Yorker did a review… http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/pain-gain

    • J E Trif on February 13, 2015 at 10:14 pm
    • Reply

    What a great article. I do hope that we shall never hear in court “but your honor the victim signed a contract.”
    But this is what I don’t understand with our entertainment industry. Last weekend at the Grammys there was a victim of domestic violence speaking out. And the academy standing behind her and cheering her on, promoting safety and education for women. And yet the same people produce and sell song rights to a movie that promotes violence. Am I the only one that is confused by this?

    1. Well, they are the same ones who make movies where guns are always the answer and then demonize regular gun owners as savages. Hollywood is NOT the litmus for SANE.

  106. I’m much less disturbed by young women reading FSOG than I am by young men listening to “Blurred Lines,” which should be renamed “Prelude to a Date Rape.” Young women need to be educated about love, and young men about consent. No one ever talked about this stuff when I was a teenager, and I’m glad that FSOG has raised the profile of these conversations.

    1. Yeah, and I am with you. If normal mature adults WANT to read the book or see the movie? Okay. But the kids? Art has a way of defining the future.

      1. Erotic romance novels aren’t for kids, and neither are R-rated movies. As an artist, I don’t think I’m responsible for kids getting their hands on things that aren’t meant for them. I think that’s up to parents (and retailers).

  107. Thank you so much Kristen. I’ve become so frustrated of the glorification of “The Bad Boy” in romance novels. I LOVE your compare and contrast of Johnny and Christian Grey. A man can be forbidden and from the wrong side of the tracks and not be an abuser. Young woman are being sold this notion that love is being mistreated and it is our job to ‘fix them’.
    If he acts like a jerk, talks like a jerk, and treats like he’s a jerk – then guess what? That’s what he is. Listen to what he’s telling you. It is not your job to change him or save him.
    This week on my blog I wrote about why I write about romance and spoke about my husband and my love for him. He is a man with many layers, none of them mean or disrespectful.
    I cited your blog post. Thanks again.

  108. Thoughtful post, Kristen. I really like your comparison between the hero of Dirty Dancing (love!) and FSOG.

  109. One virus(Twilight) has begotten another(this garbage).

  110. Reblogged this on Blog of a College Writer and commented:
    Honestly, I didn’t like Dirty Dancing but I will take it a million times over the garbage our society accepts now.

    • Patsy on February 13, 2015 at 11:29 pm
    • Reply

    I will not read the book nor see the movie. Unbelievable to me that this is so popular. Call me a prude if you want but I have no use for 50 shades.

  111. I know quite a lot about the BDSM lifestyle, and 50 Shades ain’t it!

    1. Amen to that. I am a Texan and conservative but I value TRUTH. I don’t like stereotypes and I DO NOT like misrepresentation. If people don’t like BDSM, fine. Not your beer. BUT? That needs to be based on an ACCURATE portrayal. And FSoG is NOT IT. I dunno WTH it is, but BDSM it is NOT.

  112. I have not read 50 Shades of Grey. Nor will I watch the movie. I’ve heard enough about both to make me flinch. I agree with you, this is not a healthy move on the part of women. I do hope, since I cannot make people not watch it or read it, that they will realize this is not a healthy relationship plan. Other than that, it’s a free world, people make the decisions they make then suffer the consequences.

    1. BUT as writers and humans we can stand up and say, “NO.” Something this “movie” ignores is that people can and DO set BOUNDARIES. To quote Gandalf—YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

  113. Hi, Kristen. I admit, I have not read all 212 of your comments, though I’m sure you did. I love this blog post and have linked to it from my blogs, one of which is dedicated to divorce due to abuse, adutlery and (porn) addiction. This post is so fitting. I hope you don’t mind I used several of your quotes from this blog because it is so awesome!
    A lot of women in my writing chapters are posting blogs, writing newspaper articles–and one was even on I Heart Radio today being interviewed for a newspaper article she wrote. Yay, Jenelle Stone!–about this subject. I have joined in on my own Facebook campaign.
    I know the more we talk about it, the more we bring publicity to the book/movie, but the quote by Edmund Burke has been going through my mind and I can’t sit still:
    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. ” Edmund Burke
    My soap box is built on anti-pornography. My blog is dedicated to it. I am a conqueror (not a victim anymore) and must write about it to hopefully help other women.
    Thank you for this clever and very entertaining insight.
    ~Susan Knight

    1. Baby, I am here. I read ALL comments as Goddess of my BLOG. And you go! We could have a LONG talk about this. My ex was actually a nice man until he landed a job that put him in topless bars all the time. It was as if I could see him transform before my eyes. I went from treasure to gold-digging slut. We are unwise to dismiss our environment and how it affects us.

    • Kaye D on February 14, 2015 at 1:59 am
    • Reply

    I read the book/s. As someone who likes to view the world from a sociological perspective I also occasionally subject myself to reality television so taking one for humanity, or my understanding of it, is part of the learning. I simply can’t believe that women in huge numbers around the world bought into this rubbish. We’ll put aside the amateurish writing style and just go straight to the narrative – mousy unworthy girl catches attention of devastatingly handsome fucked up super rich guy and saves him. It’s the Disney Cinderella myth but with rope and violence. Why are we still allowing this nonsense to act as some sort of instruction manual for how to be a “woman” for our younger generations? I simply can’t grasp the fact that women are falling for this nonsense that EL James has written something powerful that’s all about the sex and romance and about how this hapless, facile young woman becomes so powerful in the relationship. The message couldn’t be any more misguided – if he treats you mean then you tough it out because you will change him and get the big house, the ring, the money and the babies in the end. It’s simply not true, it’s dangerous bordering on delusional and should be an instruction manual on what not to do in your journey to being a woman. This story could only be written because of an understanding of what it means to be a woman in a world that has been shaped by male dominance and conditioning. Seriously – is this what we want our daughters and granddaughters to think is empowering?

    1. Yep. I agree. They keep repackaging the same story of Beauty and the Beast and I am not falling for it. Might work great in a fairy tale. In life? You get the ER.

    • Kaye D on February 14, 2015 at 2:00 am
    • Reply

    I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed reading your blog Kristen. Nice to have found it through another admirer.

  114. I have no particular desire to read 50 Shades Of Grey. It isn’t my kind of book. Having said that, books don’t make people do things, people make choices and one can not blame a book or film for what individuals choose to do. A person with an unhealthy sexual interest might be drawn to reading Nabakov’s Lolita, however if the reader then goes on to abuse a child the blame for this terrible act rests, fair and square with him not Nabakov’s work. Lolita was, for me a disturbing book. Have you read it and, if so what did you think? Regards. Kevin

    1. You’re looking at it from the wrong end. The problem isn’t so much with adults thinking they should act like Humbert, because that is patently wrong. But what if a child/young person reads it and thinks she is supposed to be Lolita because that is “true love?”

      1. You raise an interesting issue. I think it is highly unlikely that a young child would read Lolita as it is, in my opinion rather heavy going. I have no particular desire to read 50 Shades, however the more it is criticised the greater the possibility that certain people who would otherwise not have read it will do so. The excitement of doing something which is frowned upon. We saw this with the fuss over Lady Chatterley’s Lover (the book took off as a result of the fuss about it).

        1. As a book it really didn’t concern me because hey, kids would have to READ to get “corrupted.” But now that it is a 90 minute movie?

  115. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner — read what Kristen Lamb has to say on a complex subject….

  116. This is amazing. Thanks a lot.

  117. Kristen – SO glad you’re using your voice to call this awful, awful book and the abusive relationship it portrays out for what it is. Your advice and your calls to arms are always thought provoking and make me want to cheer. Thanks for creating this community too.

  118. Overreacting? No! I agree 100% with your post. I have not, and will not, read or watch any type of story that demoralizes woman or hints that abusive behavior is acceptable.

  119. Much has been written this week about this subject from both sides of the fence. Yours was the best I read. Thanks!

  120. Bravo. I haven’t read it either (the title whose name shall not be spoken). I never realized that it was about nonconsensual sex and abuse until I read a couple of recent reviews. My 84 year old aunt has read it. Tons of my friends have read it. The owner of my town’s local bookstore says it flew off the shelves. That’s scarier than all the vampires in Twilight.

  121. Reblogged this on Curiosity and Challenge and commented:
    Bravo Kristen, I read it, liked it & have reblogged it, the rubbish I have heard from both genders over this tripe is concerning, delusional and very misguided.

  122. Something which interests me is this. In America and the UK people are getting very hot under the collar over this film, with as many double entendres as you like, but in France the film is classed as suitable to be watched as mere “Schmaltz ” suitable for viewing by anyone over twelve. In a world of cultural diversity these differences of approach always fascinate me.

    For my part, I haven’t read the book and won’t be seeing the film, because I don’t think either would entertain or interest me, but I suspect the more we go on about it, the more attention it will receive, which seems a shame to a man who thinks there are many other and better things to worry about.

    • Dave on February 14, 2015 at 9:44 am
    • Reply

    Even my frayed thread of BDSM, past, clients didn’t fit to what makes this movie popular. I understand the author’s intent to grab a large number of readers and watchers by their gonads and still don’t recommend it. My caution is about the small number of readers and watchers who might have a single switch flicked, either, on or off, freeing them to live the story out.

  123. You’ve articulated my grave concerns about this series, and now the movie, beautifully. There’s nothing remotely romantic about Christian Grey. The heroes I write would have punched him out for abusing Ana.

  124. I signed a contract of sorts with my husband. It was called a “Marriage Licence” and in it he promised to love and cherish me, to take care of me in sickness and in health, to love me for better or for worse. We’ve seen worse, and we’ve been through better. I’ve been in bad relationships in the past, and luckily came out stronger and more independent, though that isn’t the usual case for women. It makes me greatly appreciate the man at my side who lets me make my own decisions, wear my hair short (even though I know he likes it long), takes care of the kids for me when I have to work late hours (even though I know he has his own work to do) and shows me he loves me every morning with a kiss every morning before work, and a hug every evening after a rough day. That is the idea of romance that I want my daughters (all three of them!) to embrace, but I’m afraid of what their peers may perceive as romance. I’ll just have to trust in leading by example.

  125. I read the book to see what the buzz was all about. As a published author and avid reader I thought it was so-so, even trite, in the writing department. As for the content, I didn’t find it especially erotic but many millions of people (esp. women) did. This feeling is real for many women and not just in a ‘get on the bandwagon’ sort of response. The author has tapped into something deep and visceral in women and I’m not sure what that is. I can guess, but it might make me sound like a jerk to say it out loud.

  126. You are spot on in your critique. This continues the coarsening of society and confusion of youth as to how men and women were created to relate to each other. Thanks for sticking up for the right.

  127. Kudos for taking on a controversial topic, Kristin.

    1. It’s been a ride :). Thanks for sticking by me…

  128. I can’t even… Thanks, Kristen.

  129. Glad that Mira re-blogged this – at last a voice shouting out about the b.s. Haven’t read the book nor do I plan to see the movie. It is a sad indictment on all that is to be treasured .. thanks Kristen …

  130. Haven’t read the books and have no intention of seeing the movie. The quote you posted (and the trailer) is enough for me to know I’d absolutely hate them both!

    Hubby and I re-watched BIG FISH this morning. There’s so much more to that movie than just the love story, but it’s one of my favorites. He was going to do anything he could to find out about that girl and what SHE liked so he could give it to her…and then after he won her heart (maybe even before), she was the only girl for him for the rest of his life. Love that!

    Incidentally, in an interesting personal parallel to the movie, I was engaged to someone else when hubby and I first met. Oh, I’m so glad that guy broke up with me! I never would have been able to marry my best friend. 🙂

    • Lorna on February 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply

    I love what you wrote. You expressed all my thoughts and feelings about that book. Thank you so very much!!
    I feel like I am drowning in nonsense.
    That is until I read this. I feel so much better now that I know other women feel as I do. I also love that you are concerned about men in our culture. I am also very concerned.
    Thank you with all my heart for sharing your thoughts and inspiring views.
    I love your spirit!

  131. Absolutely FABULOUS POST! Agreed with every word. You can really write, Kristin 🙂 Kudos. It’s a true pleasure to follow your blog.
    Best to you. And thanks for telling the truth–and standing up for women…and good men!!

    • Susan Frank on February 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm
    • Reply

    I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking the same thing ever since I tried to read the book and I only tried because as a writer I like to read current books and get the flavor of other authors. The brou ha ha that the theme of this book and subsequent movie has created scares the hell out of me. As a social worker it makes me sick to my stomach that young women and obviously some older women think of this as romance or mommy porn. It has set back the gains we have made in couple communication and the fight (pun intended) against domestic abuse by years.
    So glad to read all these posts. It reassures me I am not alone in my thinking and worries!
    Susan Frank @susanfrank7486

    • artdogjan on February 14, 2015 at 3:32 pm
    • Reply

    Your comments are RIGHT ON, Kristen. I would like to see many more people step up as you have.

  132. You know, the more I think about it, the more the comparison to fairy tales bothers me. I think part of the Twilightification of our young women is that we don’t teach them fairy tales enough. Not the Disney versions – the *real* old fairy tales, which are allegories about confronting a complicated world full of evil, and navigating the stormy sea of the human condition. Beauty and the Beast isn’t about male/female relationships at all. It’s the story of Eros and Psyche – a person’s own coming of age, when their childlike self-concept must learn to deal with the mysterious nature of sexual desire. Cinderella? There’s no love story in Cinderella. It’s an underdog/hero story about the different ways women struggle for power in an unfair society. Cinderella wins, not because she finds true love, but because she remains kind, rather than predatory like her abusive stepmother. Little Mermaid? Again, read the original – Disney says “leave your family and change yourself to find true love”. The real story is – “selling your soul to the devil is always a bad bargain.”
    Christian Grey is not a Prince Charming. He’s the Big Bad Wolf. And in real life, just like in fairy tales, little girls can’t tame wolves – they need to run, fast, or get eaten.

    1. Great point! And I prefer the REAL fairy tales. They were cautionary tales, like you said. Little Mermaid ends in DEATH.

    2. I was getting a little worried with all of the fairy tale references in other posts. Many people aren’t aware of the reasons the old fairy tales existed in folk lore. Thanks for bringing the cautionary nature of these old stories to the forefront of this conversation. Fifty Shades of Gray isn’t even in the same league as the fairy tale.

  133. I agree wholeheartedly!!

  134. Im right with you. I have read 50 shades of grey. It has the potential to be an interesting story but it all goes horribly wrong. The sex scenes are repetitive and Id say that yes, it gets bdsm all wrong from what I’ve read by those who practise it. And yes Christian is an arse hat, Ana is drippier than the entire world’s water and yes it glorifies abuse in a way that is totally wrong.

    In short, well said.



  135. I have a friend who went through something very similar to the story in this book for nine long years. She was fun and self-confident at the beginning although she was persuaded that she needed this man’s help with a bad situation she had got herself into. Having persuaded her and made her believe she loved him, as he did her, she was torn down and broken in every way imaginable – emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. Everything gone… EVERYTHING.

    And all that time – so she’d tell you, she loved the man that did this to her and believed him when he said that everything that happened was her own fault, that she was lazy and stupid.
    Finally, she left the state that they lived in and got away but he wouldn’t accept it and kept making demands on her via phone and email, until finally, when she had nothing left, he dumped her and emptied the last remnants of her small bank account.

    A little later, my friend read an article on how to recognize a psychopath and her blood ran cold. She exhibits signs of PTSD and has panic attacks when she has to leave the house. It’s hard to tell if she’ll ever truly recover.

    She will never read this book and she will never watch this movie. It’s just too real to her.

    1. Sounds like me. It took YEARS for me to recover and I don’t I ever fully did. I lived the real story behind the rich controlling debonaire boyfriend and it’s SCARY. And it pisses me off that people seem to feel like I need to read the entire series to form an opinion. NO. As soon as it started feeling like the OLD DAYS? I KNEW the book was bad juju.

      Grey exhibits all signs of a sociopath by Chapter Three. Most by Chapter Two. He is not sexy. He is CRAZY. Do not walk. RUN.

  136. Fantastic post! I agree with you, and actually wrote a similar post a few days ago. I am not a book shamer, either. I will defend the right of any person to read whatever they want without shame or judgement, and that is what makes talking about this subject more difficult. You can show concern about a book’s content without shaming those who’ve read the book, and I think you’ve done that beautifully here.

    What I find most disturbing about all the hype surrounding FSoG isn’t this one series or movie, but the fact our culture has created an environment where an abusive, unstable relationship can be successfully marketed as the romantic ideal. It’s not that women (or audiences in general) can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy, it’s that in our current cultural reality, dysfunctional relationships ARE often romanticized. Abusive men ARE held up as sex symbols (Chris Brown, anyone?). Yes, there’s a line between fiction and reality, but it’s the pinnacle of ignorance to argue that the fiction we produce and consume doesn’t reflect and influence our reality. And that so many intelligent woman can accept and even idolize Christian Grey as a romantic hero? The cultural implications astound and frighten me.

    In short, I’m appalled not that a fictionalized relationship involving stalking, intimidation, manipulation, and abuse exists, but that it’s successfully marketed on Valentine’s Day as the supreme romance fantasy. I don’t like what that says about our culture, or our cultural understanding of what it means to be female (or male). I think the representations are both telling of the culture that produced them, and capable of further influence.

    Thank you for the thought provoking piece! If you’d like to read my post on the subject, it’s here: http://www.gretchenstull.com/2015/02/of-fifty-shades-and-romanticizing-abuse.html

    • Fixer65 on February 15, 2015 at 3:48 am
    • Reply

    So your fear is that some man is going to read the book and think this is the way to treat a woman? And/or that some woman is going to read the book and think this is the way she should be treated by a man?

    You don’t have a lot of faith in your fellow humans, do you?

    1. No, you underestimate the power of fiction to alter a society. Fiction has always shaped and changed cultural realities. This is not as pedantic as one person reads a book and acts on it. It’s far more insidious. And to dismiss this is to simultaneously say that “A Christmas Carol” was just a story. Oh, wait, it ended up being the springboard for the very first child advocacy groups since agencies to ensure humane treatment of animals had started TEN years perviously. Children were not even as valued as much as animals and were considered property and disposable. A silly little Christmas story changed that.

      Writers have power for great good and evil. Acting as if fiction is inert? That’s ignoring most of human history. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “A Tale of Two Cities, “The Jungle”, “Animal Farm”, “Catcher in the Rye”, and on and on.

      And I never called for banning it, burning it or censoring it. But, humans are known for doing many remarkably foolish things and making bad decisions. Not all the time? But ONE bad decision can alter a life.

    • anstapa on February 15, 2015 at 3:58 am
    • Reply

    Great post, Kristen. The success of this particular book is baffling to me, given how much erotica with empowered female characters there is out there. On a completely different note, I can’t recall ever seeing an American writer use the term ‘sticky wicket’ before – are you a secret cricket fan? (if you are, my esteem for you has just increased!).

  137. Kristin, I agree 150% with absolutely everything you said. Hated the book, hated the message, despised everything about FSoG from the moment I read parts of it on Fanfiction.net as Master of the Universe.

    But I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate for a minute here. I grew up in the 70’s, and I was always sneaking away to read my mom’s bodice-rippers. Those books almost always featured a naive young virgin kidnapped and raped repeatedly by a pirate or highwayman, etc. The young girls always ended up in love with the bastard despite his cruelty, and off they rode into the sunset for their HEA.

    For that matter, we can see the same basic premise in Shakespeare. Look at Kate in “Taming of the Shrew.” Petruchio “tames” her — he denies her food, sleep, clothing until she gives in, exhausted, and agrees to change her entire personality to suit him. No longer a “shrew,” she is now meek, mild and submissive to the man who now owns her. And this is a COMEDY.

    So, is FSoG really any different? Isn’t it just the same theme, updated for a new generation?

  138. I’m so glad you posted this. It’s good to see so many people outraged by this movie. Sad to see people argue it’s merit. I’m fortunate there is little hype for this movie where I live and I don’t know anyone who would think to go to it, but because I’m online abit I see it all over the web atm.

    I hate 50SG and what it stands for and I need to post my 2cents worth. I knew about the book when it came out, through Goodreads, and it was panned there, so I knew it was bad. Apparently ( Internet rumour has it) the author wrote the story on fanfiction.net but the characters were Harry Potter and Hermione.
    But anyway, the story line craps all over the organisations and people who are fighting against domestic violence and sexual abuse. How can we/society stand alongside those women help them if we condone emotional and physical manipulation in this way? Should we look at women who are in terrible life controlling relationships and say, they enjoy this? Do these women find it romantic?
    It’s an appalling blow for women who are in such positions or who are recovering from it.

    But on a different note, I think the movie would have been better if it was more realistic. Turn it into a thriller. The sociopath sex maniac stalker seducing the ignorant (or perhaps the permissions – to add a twist) girl and she tries to escape him. add some more characters in, like a real love interest, and have some murders, maybe (cuz Grey is nuts) – and hopefully Grey will get his in the end, by the love interest cop.
    Or Ana, crazy and confused, shoots Grey, in self defence of course, because he’s a dick, and she’s been running from him. Then it could be a complicated courtroom drama. Is she guilty or not? And maybe we could see it all in flashback and make our own decision.

    Anything would be better
    Ah the possibilities 🙂

    1. I mean, permiscious!!
      Stupid iPad text checker

      Well, if we are lucky there won’t be sequels

  139. After studying writing, reading blogs like yours, trying market my books, failing, trying again, who knew that poorly written soft-core porn was the way to get published?

  140. What drew me to this post was the reference to Johnny Castle in the title. He is the inspiration for the hero in the novella I’m writing right now. And every few pages, I stop writing and second guess myself, thinking, “Is anyone interested in this kind of hero anymore? Would this even sell? Shouldn’t I pack it in and start emulating ‘alphas’ like Christian Grey in my stories?” I never would, because I don’t believe in that sort of ‘hero.’ And I’m glad to see there are others who feel the same way. Maybe one day the trends will turn back to heroes like Johnny. 🙂

    By the way, my husband and I just had a conversation last night drawing parallels between Blurred Lines and Fifty Shades, and how they both set dangerous tones for young girls as to how one should expect to be treated by men. It’s like this whole post was in my brain before I read it.

    1. Christian is NOT an Alpha. He is a predator and a sociopath being dressed up as an Alpha and the mainstream believes if they say he’s an Alpha male enough times, we’ll buy the lie.

    2. I totally agree that Fifty Shades and Blurred Lines set dangerous tones for anyone. But please stick with Johnny Castle over Christian Grey. Johnny is the alpha here. Christian Grey only belongs as the unsub on Criminal Minds.

      My writing partner is the definition of “alpha.” He is a highly decorated 40-yr veteran field intelligence operative. Bond has NOTHING on this guy. He is also incredibly respectful of women, and he would NEVER be remotely interested in doing anything physical with a woman that she did not also enjoy to the core of her being. Alpha is about being a dominant personality by nature, but it is not about relishing the domination. Alpha commands respect and cooperation without demanding it because alpha actually IS brave and capable. The last thing a true alpha would ever feel the need to do is abuse or disrespect a woman.

  141. Sadly, even denigration in print is publicity for this rubbish. The more adverse the write-ups, the greater the effect on naive readers and would be viewers.

  142. I think it’s difficult to comment on a book when you haven’t read it, but I agree completely with everything you’ve written about how sex and relationships are portrayed in film. It feels like we are slipping backwards with gender equality and you make a good point that it does not good for either men or women.
    This kind of abusive relationship is frequently glamourized in the media, particularly in films and it looks like 50 Shades is just an extreme example of it. A friend of mine was disappointed by my response after showing me her favourite romantic film, The Notebook. From the start I thought the male lead’s behaviour was very similar to that of abusive partners. How can young people form healthy relationships when this kind of thing is held up as an ideal?

    1. I don’t know why people keep saying this. I have read books so badly written, I could have told people not to waste their time and I only got in three chapters. People review books and movies like this all the time. If a movie is so bad or offensive you have to walk out, is your opinion null? Trust me. Grey exhibits all signs of a sociopath in the first couple chapters. I didn’t have to read every word to know this was a bad message and neither do you or anyone else.

      1. That’s fair enough. I really haven’t read a word of it other than what you have quoted! I have walked out of one film before, after about 5 or 10 minutes. I think it was called Thirteen Ghosts. Based on those few minutes I do feel qualified to tell people that the film isn’t worth watching.

  143. Thanks for having the fortitude to say the 50 Shades hoopla is bunk and will devalue women.

  144. Hurray!! I was beginning to think I was crazy for finding the book/movie appalling. Just the premise of the movie, and the fact that it was originally supposed to be fan-fiction for twilight, had my hackles rising.
    It has become difficult to find romances that are actually about romance, with normal men, rather than so-called Alpha males.

  145. I haven’t read the books. A friend offered them to me, but with the caveat that they were “really bad.” Now, I’m curious enough that I’ll have to give them a try. Excellent post, Kristen!

  146. There is something terrible compelling about the collective hate many people have for this novel series. I too haven’t read it. But, it seems to convey a brutal interpretation of BDSM that isn’t what the community stands for. Consensual–yes. Ignoring the safety and interests of the partner? No. But I agree, it probably doesn’t help to give this work the attention it is getting. But how can you look away from what some knuckle-dragging jerk might take as an operator’s manual for a twisted ‘romantic’ ideal?

    1. Do you really think said knuckle dragger is going to bother to see this movie or read the books? No, the problem is the insecure women who are going to think this is an epic love story. As if they don’t already have such a poor opinion of themselves they let themselves be used as a punching bad when ‘the man’ is in a mood

      1. The sequel should have been Fifty Shades of Black and Blue.

  147. I think there is a difference between BDSM and abuse. After all, the main rule is SSC, or “Safe, Sane and Consensual”. The key word here is “sane”. I was once in a terribly abusive relationship so I don’t even have to explain how manipulation can make one feel trapped in their circumstances. I have read some BDSM stories and though most of it makes me cringe not only because of my past, but also because it doesn’t remotely turn me on, it is still consensual. The character wants what is happening and trusts their partner. It is not usually about manipulation. That’s what safe words are for, to prevent the system from being abused. I haven’t read or watched 50 Shades, and I am not sure I even want to. Having said that, it’s definitely not right to get a girl into this kind of situation without giving her a real exit strategy or like you said, giving her the strength to fight her own battles. Abuse, emotional, physical or sexual – any way you lay it out – is not cool, and should not be encouraged whatsoever. It is hard enough for women to have a voice when they are victimized into these situations. Why validate their abusers’ actions?

  148. Thank you so much for this article. I agree with everything you said, and love your references to Dirty Dancing. I am a young person in college and 50 Shades of Grey does not help the feminist thing happening right now. I see people my age like it and I just don’t understand how they can’t see the dysfunction in this story.
    Also, I agree with whoever said that it is frustrating when authors write books with crazy alpha males. I love romance with a kind, honest, good man as the hero. I hope that people will read those books, and not things like 50 Shades of Grey. I also hope that this trend will pass, and people will move on.
    Twilight is the butt of many jokes now. 50 Shades might share the same fate in a few years.

  149. Reblogged this on laurarowney.com and commented:
    Yip – i have to agree with kirsten – this fifty shades may be fine for adults but what about 16 year olds or young people in their first relationship – this movie makes the strong male /weak female phenomenon ok and frankly, that is not ok.

  150. Thank you for saying so clearly that writers DO have an ethical choice when they write. As do lovers, parents, and, really, all of us.

  151. The whole Valentines day mentality is sad and so it is in actual fact fitting that this movie came out on valentines day. Yes, there is a whole range of people out there and “different strokes for different folks”( i felt awkward using the word strokes there – you see, that shouldn’t be awkward)
    Point being, love is something everyone experiences, relationships are something most people are in and this movie gives a lungful of air to a type of relationship that should definitely be discouraged and i would prefer teenagers not to know about it at all.
    As i always say – every good movie comes from a great book! So, by applying my own wisdom – give it a miss…..

    • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2015 at 9:11 am
    • Reply

    Is romance devolving? No not really, romance it’s self, as we understand it, is a late invented definition. What is it? Romance is social attributions put onto universal human emotions. Theses emotions have been with human kind always, but our expressions of it, and rules around it, changes from generation to generation. What was romantic in 1900 is not that now, and on it goes.
    Nothing has ever changed in basic human psyche, at least not in all of recorded history. Humans are not evolving psychological which is why we will wipe our selves out– the other human species also went extinct for the same reason–failure to change fundamentally. The world changes around us but we don’t adapt outside our boxes.. The latest social expression is not paramedic change, it is fleeting. The tendency toward conservatism ensures we’ll go belly up. People hate change and when a socially hidden aspect of the human condition comes out to play the heard stomps on it. This is why profits are always killed.

    • Teres on February 16, 2015 at 10:56 am
    • Reply

    I totally agree with you. I read a little erotica now and then but I would never read any of the Grey books. I do not plan to see the movie either. I was very surprised that one of my daughter’s read it. I have five granddaughters and I worry about them enough without this book/movie coming out. They are 10 to 21 years old. My husband would be appalled about this book. He just never pays any attention to tv commercials.

  152. How in the world anyone can equate romance with degradation and brutalization is beyond my scope of understanding. Romance requires respect for the other person. There really are no shades of gray when it come to respect .


    I so hear you about pop culture and the crap it feeds our kids, Kristen. I consider myself fairly open-minded, but shame on the media for glorifying 50 Shades, “teenage dreams” and far more. Kid-oriented TV stations flumgubber me with the material they expose kids to, not to mention some of the lyrics my kids came home singing in the grammar school years. I didn’t shelter them completely–not that I could once they were out of doors–nor make it taboo. I made sure we talked about it and that they had some perspective.

    Yes, we rescue spiders here. My REAL MAN feeds the birds 4x/day and looks out for our yard’s resident mouse–now named Ben. (BTW, his girl “Kitty” is his kryptonite, lol, and our Mauer McNabb has full meow conversations with him.) Oh, and my now-teenage sons made sure a little furry friend who made it past the cats got out in one piece. So much for calling ourselves conservatives, lol.

    And who was more man than Patrick Swayze? Even in full queen attire, lol?

  154. I don’t know what I can add, only this entire film and its admirers are red flags. I have terrible stories about women I know who got sucked in until they were drowning.

  155. A good post. When 50 Shades became a “thing” I looked into it–not really in the erotica or romance genre, myself, but I’m always curious what makes projects succeed in a large commercial way. By “looked into it” I mean asked friends about it, and even had a short bit read to me, but not up to including reading the novel myself. Thus, I was confused for the longest time how a novel written at a fairly mediocre level could be such a success.

    Now, though, I kinda get it thanks to your commentary as well as similar posts I’ve read. 50 Shades does to eroticism what Twilight did to relationships–presents the darkest side in a unique way that few would dare attempt. It’s kind of a sick statement on our society that this novel made it to such commercial heights, but it’s probably a statement that needed to be made.

    • Sandra on February 16, 2015 at 12:22 pm
    • Reply

    Great blog, Kristen. I am “older” and truly feel the same way about the book and movie, 50 Shades of Grey. There is no way that I will ever read the book or see the movie. I guess, according to Mr. Grey and the author, women are no more than toys for a man’s pleasure. This type of attitude is wrong in so many ways.

  156. Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    We seem to be devolving as a society in general and how we treat each other. I teach my daughter that love (making) is a beautiful experience not something to have to survive through. What a horrible message this movie sends to young men and women. Loved your analogies to “Dirty Dancing” and “Enough”. Sounds like 50 shades of Grey is really 50 shades of Nightmares.

  157. Wow. I should have read this post first. I LOVE this!
    I’m tempted to read the book just so I know what happens in detail so that I can defend my opinion better. But I really don’t want to.
    I mean honestly? A female wrote this! Why?!?!?!? Women have had a hard enough time and now this book is going to confuse men too.
    It makes me wonder if people are really paying attention to what they feel or if they’re just going along with what society expects.
    I mean honestly, if it happened to them, I highly doubt they’d find it fun or sexy.

    1. I wonder if we set the story in a trailer park and Grey was a cross-country trucker if it would still be sexy? Or if Grey were white and Ana had been a woman of color, would there have been an outrage? It is interesting to ponder how simple changes in socioeconomics or even race could utterly alter how the story has been received. Or make Ana the “dominant” sociopath wealthy slightly older and power woman after a naive young male with no experience. What if the characters were same sex? Just move around the pieces of sex, orientation or socioeconomics and we see how the picture of abuse becomes far clearer…

  158. Because I am a high school teacher, I find all this particularly distressing. My own post that links to yours: http://janpriddyoregon.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-wrong-words.html

  159. I was very sad to hear that Leslie Gore had died. It sent me back to “You Don’t Own Me,” of course, and I remember what a radical thought that was for a pop song when it came out in 1963. It was heavy to listen to those words again after thinking about 50 Shades so much.


  160. Great post, Kristen. A true “alpha” is a gentleman. Grey is a psycho, as is Ana for buying into his abusive crap. Personally, I think there should be more emphasis in the buzz about this book/movie about HER psychological issues. You NEVER only have one crazy in a couple.

  161. Brilliant post. Well done, someone had to say it like it is. And the word is ‘filth’. What does love have to do with it anyway? I worry about young people today, if this sort of badly worded, ‘inner goddess crap’ kind of book is what they uphold as the ultimate love story, and more worryingly, if girls perceive this kind of guy as the perfect lover. YIKES! Ah, Johnny….. thanks for the trip down memory lane, if anything!
    HTML SIGNATURE: Effrosyni

  162. Reblogged this on Alice Abel Kemp's Blog and commented:
    This thoughtful blog by Kristin Lamb is well worth reading, especially since she is critical of 50 Shades. Thank God somebody is.

  163. Reblogged this on Author Mysti Parker and commented:
    I’ve not read the books or seen the movie, but I’m seeing a lot of commentary about the abuse aspects of 50 Shades. From this alone, I think I’ll steer clear…but then again, could the story be looked at not as a bad influence, but as a warning to young ladies? Thoughts?

  164. I haven’t read the books but my twenty one year old daughter has, she has a degree in sociology so could see the areas where the book crossed the line into abuse, she also said to be fair she thought half the time this was due to the poor writing rather than anything else, but the one thing she did say was it did spark conversations between her and her friends and if anything the consensus seemed to be whatever fantasies they had that a guy trying to treat them this way would be in for a short, sharp and rather painful shock. They also discussed the fact that they are pretty sure if Christian Grey had worked in a supermarket or some other low paid job the book would have been far less successful and possibly the question is not so much what would a woman put p with from a man but what would they put up with for his bank account (the readers not the character if you get the gist). As I state I have not read them nor have I any inclination to just based on what I have heard about the writing but these views are what my daughter said to me at the weekend before she and her friends were due to go see the film.

  165. Very interesting take on the movie and what it could represent, I agree with much of it.

    If anyone would like to check out other fiction (and non-fiction) about BDSM, please check this site: http://beyond-50.com/ We are authors who actually do much of what we write about though I’m still waiting for my space ship personally.

  166. I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to see the movie but I’m totally on board with empowering women instead of whatever it is Shades is doing. Real men aren’t afraid of strong women.

  167. Reblogged this on Yoanna vs the World and commented:
    This is probably the best way I’ve seen anyone put the essence of this atrocious “book” and all the ramifications everyone seems to want to ignore.
    Once again, thank you for your words, Kristen Lamb!

  168. I agree entirely, Kristen, you’ve just said it so much better! That such rot is so successful makes me so mad.

    • David Z on February 18, 2015 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen….I don’t agree at all… except that the movie does a grave disservice to BDSM and to women….I have only seen the movie trailer but from what I can see – and what people don’t seem to be focusing on – is it’s much more nefarious than that… it seems to me that it’s a modern take on the romance novel… instead of a wandering knight in shining armor he’s an emotionally detached billionaire in a shiny jet. But where I believe the cycle of abuse really becomes insidious is when our innocent, cute, shy, sweet heroine meets the man who could only have heartless sex but now she is able to bring forth his romantic feelings! So this pattern of thinking… if I just find the magic key… I can stop the abuse and make him love me….keeps women loving abusive men…. because the movie keeps them hoping that the abuse is their own fault… they just haven’t unlocked the treasure of that wonderful, sweet romantic man…. because when he’s nice he’s so nice… it’s in my power to control the abuse….but we in the real world know that’s not true…. it’s unpredictable… no matter how ‘nice’ or ‘perfect’ you try to be you will never know what will set him off… but you will keep on hoping… because how awesome is it when he’s sweet? What a terrible subconscious message to send to young girls… and it’s so easy to see… look at the casting….plain girl… enamored of a powerful hot man…. but if it was, say, any hot, strong woman… Angelina Jolie, for example… it would be laughable…. he sees the weakness in this girl.. she doesn’t laugh at him for his pristine, sterile dungeon room….or doesn’t scoff when he tries to get romantic because SHE only wants detached sex…..it’s a sad commentary on what passes for modern romance today….

      • DeeDee Aitch on February 20, 2015 at 6:50 pm
      • Reply

      OMG, David, you are SO on the money. Most of the women I’ve known that have stayed in emotionally or physically abusive relationships believe that old myth, that the love of a good woman can mend an emotionally cold, broken man. That is NOT what generally happens in real life. It’s time to stop teaching girls this sick, sick garbage. You cannot fix someone like this. He needs to seek help and fix himself; you need to stay the hell away from men who are still broken.

  169. I did read the book, and agree with everything she says! I can’t believe it (the book) was written by a woman! There is nothing sexy about it – it’s degrading, and has an ending that never happens in real life! Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale! I worry that this will influence young women to think that they can influence, even save the bad boys!

  170. Reblogged this on justinterfa.

  171. Best line EVER –> “Not some trust fund baby assclown with a closet full of leashes and too much free time.” *clutches sides laughing*

    • DeeDee Aitch on February 20, 2015 at 6:46 pm
    • Reply

    Excellent article. I worry about people who find the pathetic Christian Grey attractive – he needs a shrink and a few years in the real world with a real job. Strong men are confident enough to love strong women. If you have to weaken yourself to be with your man, you’re with the wrong man. (“But I looooove him!” Grow. The. Hell. Up.) My BSDM friends assure me that this book bears no similarity to real BSDM, wherein consent must be explicitly given THROUGHOUT for everything, safe words are used, etc. And on top of everything else, the book just really isn’t that sexy. There are Harlequin romances out there with better stories, erotic scenes and editing; on every level the worst book I’ve ever read. Really well done article, though! Good on you for taking on all the sad cases who will no doubt try to defend this tripe to you – stick to your guns. I don’t have a blog but do have a book I’d love some feedback on, so fingers crossed on the draw, but either way, thank you for an intelligent article on one of the most dangerously stupid phenomena I’ve had the misfortune to witness in my lifetime. I’ve suppressed more eye-rolls, bit back more “you’re an idiot” remarks in the last two years than I ever thought I’d need to.

    1. I know. I can’t believe we are even talking about this. Sigh.

  172. Thank you so much for this post. I agree with you 100%. During Valentine’s Day weekend the husband and I went to see The Imitation Game and the theater parking lot was so full, I swear we got the last spot. There were only about 10 people in the theater we were in; the rest were there to see 50 Shades of Gross. I realized then that it was a reflection of our society and that made me angry and sad. I hate that this book is so popular. I hate that the author is laughing all the way to the bank. I hate that the author has yanked women back fifty years and thus created one more brick wall for us to overcome. Not to mention what her piece of sh*t book has down to redefine healthy relationships. Whew! Got that off my chest! Again, thanks for this post.

    1. Amen and AMEN. Dig the Fifty Shades of Gross. LOLOLOLOLOL

    • Melissa Keaster on March 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm
    • Reply

    Hear, hear! With you, sister!

  1. […] For Valentine’s Day I’ve been tempted to discuss my take on Fifty Shade’s of Gray but Kristen Lamb has said it so much better […]

  2. […] Is romance devolving? You know, when there are a shit-ton of social justice warrior romance readers who piss on the 70s and 80s bodice rippers, but love this book, then it’s not about romance. It’s about expectations of what it means to be civil and, hopefully, sophisticated. Oh, is sophistication misogynistic? Fuck you, so is 50 Shades. […]

  3. […] want a man who is going to respect you. Check out this amazing post by a fellow writer about romance today. I totally agree with her about t…. Our worldview seems to think we can push love into a dirty box and then put it in the box offices […]

  4. […] I could go on and on about all the is wrong with the world when poorly written garbage become part of popular culture, but Kristen Lamb does it way better. Read her blog post here. […]

  5. […] Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner. […]

  6. […] Today, Kristen Lamb posted an interesting commentary on her blog, ‘Is Romance Devolving?‘. It’s an interesting post that looks at how abusive relationships are romanticized. I […]

  7. […] Kristen Lamb has written a very comprehensive piece, Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner. Highly recommended […]

  8. […] Originally posted on Kristen Lamb’s Blog: […]

  9. […] on so many levels. But as I mentioned earlier, Kristen Lamb shared her take on the issue HERE. Comments are mixed, and based on personal experiences. Not much more I can add that’s not […]

  10. […] a recent post in which she voices disquiet regarding the novel’s impact on both women and men, (https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/is-romance-devolving-50-shades-vs-no-one-puts-baby-i…). Kristen’s perspective is that the portrayal of the relationship between Anna and Grey leads to […]

  11. […] Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner. […]

  12. […] of the relationship in 50 Shades of Grey. There have been plenty of those: Kristen Lamb’s Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner or how about Mary Sue’s Review: I Sat Through Fifty Shades of Grey, And Now I Thirst for Male […]

  13. […] « Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner […]

  14. […] a million articles that point out all of the abusive situations that Christian puts Ana in. Here are a few. Read them and make up your own mind. My official opinion, right now, is that it is not […]

  15. […] Is Romance Devolving?—50 Shades vs. No One Puts Baby in a Corner | Kristen Lamb’s Blog. […]

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