The question was asked as part of an online daily blog: “How do you respond to the book Fifty Shades of Grey?” I’m uncertain where to begin with a response. My first response, of course, is as a writer. I can remember in our workshops reading and making fun of paragraphs pulled out of 50 Shades of Grey because the writing is just so incredibly clichéd and awful.
Beyond that, I have had great relationships in my life and I don’t need to read erotica. Because of that, I have not read the novel and really had no desire to do so. I try to read things that will help to upgrade my own narratives and the lyrical quality of my writing. But I did read romantic novels when I was younger, and most of them were filled of adventure and sexy heroes. So the sensationalism and erotica of this novel were nothing I hadn’t experienced and didn’t seem terrifically new as far as romantic novels go. I never read BDSM or novels where pain or torture or bondage were involved nor was I interested. The disrespect and miss-treatment of women is far too real in this world and I find even the idea that a book written with those themes at the core could be so popular, is actually offensive to my sense of what is right, and contrary to my constant fight for equality for women. Yet somehow this particular novel hit the best seller list instead of hiding on the rack or the online site every woman knows how to go and find.
All that said, the disrespect and subjugation of women is also nothing new. In every paternal society since the Greeks, the rights of women, and the sexuality of women, and the voices of women have been systematically suppressed socially and academically and politically. I see this is just one more very visible proof that this worst of all prejudices and violation of personal rights has not really changed. Why women are such a threat, why the power of women has been stripped from them socially for so many millenniums is still really a mystery to me.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that women are the source of life, and the object of the male desire. Perhaps because they can’t control this drive in themselves, men make the effort to control it in the external object. Perhaps the secretness, the untouchable power of the yin is a mystery and power so threatening to the external male power they cannot find a way to be comfortable with the weakness it exposes in them.
Whatever the cause, it’s a schema that both men and women have bought into. So it’s not just a philosophy/psychology found in men, it’s perpetuated also by the acceptance of the condition in the female psyche and sociality. The subjugation of women and the violation of women’s rights and the social acceptance of the rape of the female is far worse then racism. It is the most grievous wrong that humans commit.