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)