It’s all there in black and white

The 411 on Fifty Shades of Grey, as explained by Katrina Lumsden:

Women who defend this book are, however unwittingly, participating in some of the most blatant misogyny I’ve ever witnessed, giving the impression that some women enjoy being debased, abused, and controlled (outside of a consensual Dom/sub relationship). This is not a book about BDSM, this is a book about one sick, abusive man and his obsession with a young, naive invertebrate. It’s a book about a girl who has absolutely no sense of self, who sacrifices any pretense of individuality in order to hold onto a man who doesn’t even show her the faintest glimmer of respect. It’s about two attention-starved individuals with the emotional maturity of toilet paper convincing themselves that their relationship is “like, the best thing ever, OMG”. It’s trite, insulting, and dangerous.

I mention in passing that despite Ms Lumsden’s enthusiastic rejection of the book — you should probably read the entire review to get a feel for that level of enthusiasm — nearly a quarter-million readers have rated it highly enough to average 3.62 stars out of a possible 5. Then again, every one of us knows someone who’s slightly less stable than a four-pack of Charmin. Over the years, alas, I’ve even voted for a few.

(Via this Cara Ellison tweet.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    21 September 2012 · 10:02 am

    It says something a little sad about our society, I think, if this is considered The Love Story (or Whatever Substitutes for Love) of The Age.

    Of course, not having read the book, I am probably unqualified to comment, but from what I’ve seen of excerpts, I don’t think it’s something I want stored in my brain’s attic.

  2. Francis W. Porretto »

    21 September 2012 · 1:04 pm

    This is hardly news:

    Every woman adores a Fascist,

    The boot in the face, the brute

    Brute heart of a brute like you.

    — Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” —

  3. Teresa »

    21 September 2012 · 6:41 pm

    Some of the critical commentary has almost induced me to try reading at least the first book to see just how awful it might be. Then I remember how much I generally loathe fiction that is the most popular and I take a pass.

    Fillyjonk mentions Love Story. This, more than anything, is why I have no interest. I was fairly young when Love Story came out maybe 12 or 13… Don’t quite remember. My mother (who was never a reader and has no concept of how much is conveyed through the written word) forbade the movie version. She deemed it “too racy with too many bad morals” but said it would be fine if I read the book. Had she known the book was far more explicit than the movie I’m sure she would have sunk with embarrassment. She never heard it from me though. ;)

    OTOH I found the “logic” of the main characters to be completely lacking. So while I was all for a love story I ended up wasting my time with a ridiculous book full of some god-awful teenage type angst. Since Fifty Shades appears to have the same type of draw, I have no interest in wasting my time.

  4. CGHill »

    21 September 2012 · 7:42 pm

    Love Story, as far as I’m concerned, has made two valuable contributions to the culture: the easily-parodied first line — see, for instance, this — and the very last scene of What’s Up, Doc? Beyond that, meh.

  5. Nicole »

    21 September 2012 · 9:44 pm

    All I needed to know to know that I didn’t need to read 50 Shades was that it is written atrociously. Subject matter isn’t even an issue for me. It can be the best story in the world but if it is written sloppily and in dire need of editing, I can’t do it. I concentrate too much on that and not at all on the story. Plus, knowing that it started life as Twilight fanfic didn’t do much to up the appeal. :)

  6. McGehee »

    22 September 2012 · 8:19 am

    Life is too short to read bad fiction even when it’s original. When it’s derivative of other bad fiction, life is even shorter.

  7. fillyjonk »

    22 September 2012 · 9:56 am

    Yeah, I hated Love Story too. Also hated Wuthering Heights. (There’s another weird, abusive relationship for you).

    (I was actually referring to a “love story” in general. Guess I shouldn’t have capitalized)

    I’m guessing, “Couple falls in love, stays in love, and stays together despite the typical difficulties of life” has been deemed as not making compelling reading, though.

  8. CGHill »

    22 September 2012 · 10:12 am

    Not unless the specific couple is one of the anointed favorites of our pop-culture arbiters. For instance: a pairing of two pre-op transfolk, each moving in the opposite direction, would be guaranteed a feature in The New York Times Book Review.

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