• Mon, Sep 17 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey Made Fifty Shades Creepier By Child Sexual Abuse Interpretation

Adore it or scorn it, the Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy is a blockbuster success that pretty much everyone on the planet has either read or heard of at this point, and readers are debating whether or not the books are a thinly veiled collection of child sex abuse stories.

I read the trilogy because it’s my job. I get paid to write about pop culture which is why I know far too much about Honey Boo Boo and what Snooki is up to. I thought the books were pretty silly, but a super fast read and I think my overall opinion of them has already been brilliantly summed up by Katrina Lumsden at Good Reads. If you haven’t read Katrina’s reviews yet, be prepared to be terribly amused. I thought  the character of Anastasia Steele was just sort of stupid and naive and Christian Grey was just sort of a bossy blowhard, but an article by M. Catharine Evans and Ann Kane suggests something a hell of a lost creepier:

Apart from the millions of women eating this stuff up, there are many book reviewers and commenters on other blogs who have suggested that the main male character, Christian Grey, has pedophilic tendencies.  Says one who’s read the trilogy: “The calling each other baby, the baby oil used during sex, the pigtails worn by the female character, the remarks about skipping and cartwheels … [Grey] telling her she is a child, how naive she is, how innocent she is, he tells her when to sleep, how to eat, dress, act … she doesn’t even know how to work a computer properly even though the author gave her the age of 21, take away that fake ID age of 21, and the girl in 50 Shades is exactly that. She’s a little girl.”

After a review of the language used in the book, and having done research on pedophiles, we agree.  We would be hard-pressed to claim that the trilogy is anything but a sick story of an adult 27-year-old male dominating through coercion, sex, and complete control a young lady claiming to be 21 years old but who acts and talks like a child.

M. Catharine Evans and Ann Kane analyze other aspects of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Christian Grey is always treating Ana Steele like a child, how Ana doesn’t even own a computer or a cell phone, and one point they make that always struck me as being really gross and weird about the third book :

One of the most freakish lines is in the epilogue of the third book, Freed.  Grey and Ana are discussing the baby in her womb, and the baby’s movement makes Ana say, “… she likes sex already.”  How quaint: the child in utero is already sexually charged.

Word. I agree that part is freakish. I’m not entirely sold on the idea that Fifty Shades Of Grey is just a creepy collection of child sex abuse books disguised as a bodice-ripper. I do think some interesting arguments can be made as to why the character of Ana Steele is portrayed as such a childish juvenile when most real-life women, by age twenty-one, are a bit more worldly and capable than she is. Is part of the appeal of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy the idea that in order to enter into a sexually dangerous relationship a woman has to be naive in order for it to work? Are the millions of women who have read and enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey able to do so because they feel the fantasy is more complete if the female lead character is not a strong, smart woman who owns a cell phone and knows how to order her own food?

Fifty Shades Of Grey isn’t just a pop-culture phenomenon about dirty dirty sex and how a British mother of two has taken the publishing world by storm. It’s also an example of how women’s sexuality and romantic desires and ideals are wrapped up in pretty bondage ribbons and a strong desire to have the men in their lives be more sexually and emotionally assertive. When you remove the stated age of the lead character of Anastasia Steele it’s easy to question whether the books portray something a lot more awful than just cheesy bondage scenarios and bad writing.

(Photo: El James.com)

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • http://www.facebook.com/paigestannard Paige Stannard

    I think this view invalidates consensual BDSM relationships. There is nothing wrong with the control that they speak of if it is safe and consensual (and my husband likes when I put pigtails in does that make him a pedophile?). Also, don’t forget that Christian was himself the victim of child sexual abuse and the developing relationship with Ana is one of the things that heals him.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      I hear ya, but I think it’s an interesting conversation to have. How much is “consensual” with Ana Steele can be argued, because are we sure she has the intellect to consent to anything when she can barely function as an adult in the world? haha

    • Lo

      It’s consensual in that they’re both legal adults, but beyond that it’s breathtakingly manipulative. Bad writing is not illegal, but there are so many creepy ideas in these books that are presented as romantic and ‘edgy’. Ana behaves like a toddler, Christian treats her like a toddler (and isn’t any better himself). Of course, in the end he’s ‘healed’ by her love and not, say, by a swift crowbar to the face. The creepiest idea in this book is that you can change a powerfully abusive partner just by loving him/her enough and putting up with whatever crap s/he throws at you.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      This is the best comment EVER!

    • Another Steph

      I think 50 Shades of Grey invalidates consentual BDSM relationships.

  • Vagilantes

    The grooming was clear, but until I read your post, I hadn’t understood what it was about the story that made me so uncomfortable. Some have said FSoG are the Cinderella retold. That didn’t seem quite right. The CSA slant makes all the pieces fit…too tightly.

  • Pingback: Revisiting The 50 Shades Of Grey Backlash – “Pedophilia Hiding In Plain Sight” - The Ulsterman Report

  • xarmy

    Oh my gosh. Really people. I am about to fall over out of my chair at this opinion by these two people. First as a person (male) that was raped by a man when I was 13 and he was 32 it offends me that you compare two consentual adults of role playing or into bdsm to pedophilia. As for those that agree you the same. Let me say that many men in america like that school girl dress up. Please let me hear you say that isn’t true. How many women at halloween parties dress like school girls or slutty french maids and the rest. It isn’t a man making them dress that way. Because someone plays the role of a sub to a dom doesn’t make it pedophilia. The sub likes that aspect of giving up control and enjoys pleasing their dom. I and my wife don’t practice this as we would laugh to hard to take it serious. But let me ask this as it is along those same lines in daily life. Is my wife as she stated, wrong for daily praying that she can make herself a better wife for me. That she is willing to do what she can ( she has plenty boundaries) to make me happy. That as a wife that is her objective? So happens I am like that as well. But best I can figure, I am spoiled. In regards to this trilogy she read them all. I have not spanked her but oddly she is kinda liking being tied up. Never would have thought to prior to reading. But that is the trust she has in me. I added a bit of spice by putting a blindfold on her and hearing protection so she was a little sensory deprived. Then I used feathers and ice and dripped wax. The most fun we have had in a while. And guess what . That made me think that its my turn next! Why do some want to always look for the worst and then take any means needed to get there.
    People say things while in the throws of passion with dirty language. Doesn’t mean that is used 10 minutes later! Missionary is so 50′s !