I seriously debated whether or not I was going to take time to comment on this thread because I don't like to get into personal arguments with other posters, but I decided that the posts in this thread are so inflammatory that I can't in good conscience walk away without putting in my two cents.
Thank you, Hillsy, for attempting to insert some facts into this "discussion." Yes, the 50 Shades series is by a British author, did in its original state begin as as Twilight fan fictions (but even then only loosely based on the actual Twilight characters), had a tremendous following as fan fiction, evolved into a completely separate book (which has almost no residual resemblance to the original Twilight characters or storyline) and has since gone on to become very popular in its own right, first as an extraordinarily well-selling e-book and now as a trilogy that has been picked up not only by a publisher for print but also by a production company for future filming.
Yes, this book has struck a chord with women. Lots of women. And they're buying it and reading it and telling their friends to read it.
I am published in both erotic romance and women's fiction and I try to stay up on current trends in all genres. I read the trilogy. It deserves a lot of the criticism it has gotten---it could have used some editing (not only are there some errors but the entire story could easily have been told in one very long book or two moderate length ones, a third was really stretching limits) and I will admit, it's far from my favorite book series (and I won't get into why because there are a million books out there that aren't my favorites and I don't believe in bashing other writers for their stories/ideas or execution since it's largely subjective). However, even though it wasn't quite my cup of tea, I CAN see why it's so popular. Plain and simple: it's a quick easy read, it's got a voice that allows you to forgive a lot of the flaws in the writing, it's got characters that you immediately get to know and, believe it or not, it's a pretty classic love story----young woman meets slightly older man who is jaded by horrific childhood and heals him/wins him over/fixes him with love.
Yes, the characters engage in BDSM. So what? I do not personally practice a BDSM lifestyle nor do I normally choose to read books that contain that lifestyle, but I read this series because of all the press it was getting. Although I write erotic romance I do not write BDSM romance. I have, however, read some books that are true BDSM erotica or BDSM erotic romance (not the same thing, romances will always have a happily ever after, erotica does not require a happily ever after ending), and I can assure you the 50 Shades series is quite tame regarding its BDSM content and its overall sexual descriptiveness in comparison to anything that is actually considered true erotic romance or erotica.
Yes, there is a high level of sexual content in the 50 Shades trilogy. It's written for adults. It's a sexually descriptive love story. If anything, however, it explains how BDSM is truly a lifestyle choice, and it IS something that occurs between consenting adults, and in the case of this story, between two very loving characters. Anyone who calls BDSM "abuse", particularly in terms of this book series, clearly hasn't read this book series. Or they don't understand what the word abuse means.
Yes, Dr. Drew made a big thing about saying this glorifies abuse of women/abusive relationships. A) He only read the first book, which is not a stand alone story by any means (and did not contain any abuse, nor did the other 2 books), B) he made a fool out of himself in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about BDSM, abusive relationships, romance novels, or women in general and C) his own wife came on CNN and told him, on a panel, to his face, that he was being ridiculous, that she'd read and enjoyed the series and that the books were harmless fantasies.
Of course they're not meant for children. Plenty of books and magazines and movies that ARE NOT PORN are still not intended for children. Saying that this book could fall into the hands of children and cause a problem is kind of ridiculous when one stops to consider the amount of actual porn, or the fact that every supermarket not only has tabloids covered with stories about sex, and magazines like COSMO with articles like "Ten New Ways To Please Your Lover", not to mention mainstream romance novels with shirtless men on the covers----50 Shades, I might add, has an extremely tasteful cover, of a man's elegant grey tie---hardly something salacious and certainly not something that a child will mistake for a Dora book. And any child who did get their hands on this trilogy would likely not understand what they were reading---it's not a picture book, they'd have to comprehend the words. As for teens, plenty of teen novels describe sex quite explicitly and if teens these days are anything like they were when I was a teen then they're reading all sorts of adult fiction. It's up to parents to talk to their kids about what is and isn't appropriate or acceptable and what their family rules are. I have children. They don't read my books because my books contain adult content, just like they don't watch R-rated movies because those have adult content. There are rules. And there's not much, if anything, in 50 Shades that can't be found in countless other books and films, none of which are considered pornography, but none of which are intended for child/young adult audiences.
Comparing these FICTIONAL BOOKS to abusers, molesters, child pornographers, perverts, or any of the other things listed in the above posts is truly obscene. A love story about two consenting adults who happen to enjoy sexual acts that go beyond the missionary position is not criminal, it's not perverted, it's not damaging to anyone.
I feel a bit ridiculous having to explain this considering that this discussion was started by someone who hasn't even read the books. It is beyond me how anyone can rip apart a book and its readers without having so much as read any of the work itself. It's particularly aggravating to me because, as I said, these weren't even books I especially enjoyed, yet in the context of this thread I feel compelled to defend them (and their readers). I know A LOT of women who have enjoyed these books, very much. And regardless of how technically well-written they are or are not, isn't that the point of writing stories? Isn't that why most of us who come to these forums are writers in the first place? Because we want to tell stories that people will enjoy and read and recommend to their friends? That's why I write. That's why all my writer friends write. And the author who wrote this trilogy has accomplished that on a very grand scale. For that I say good for her! People are reading and talking about what they're reading and I think that's awesome. And it's laughable that the fact that the books contain sex is such a big deal. It's 2012. I read Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and Judy Blume's Wifey when I was barely a teenager (decades ago)---and believe me 50 Shades is far romantic and contains a lot more love between its characters than either of those books.
In many ways the above rants on this thread really jump the shark---no one is advocating public masturbation in libraries, not every book needs to have a moral lesson or a historically significant story, calling a book you haven't read "sick, disgusting and twisted" is misguided at best. I don't know who was being referred to as a "desperate housewife" or a nympho, but neither term is appropriate regarding the author of the 50 Shades series. Comparing anything about this book series to Mark Chapman or priests who molest children is more offensive that I can even begin to describe. And, for the record, placing an emoticon after an inflammatory remark doesn't make it less offensive or funny.
As a woman, as a writer, as a reader, as a housewife, as a mother, as a social work therapist and as a human being I was horrified by many of the outrageous points and comparisons made in this thread. I'm all for expressing viewpoints, respecting differing opinions and engaging in intelligent discussions, but I'm dismayed by the overall malicious, judgmental tone of this entire diatribe.
*climbs off soap box* I'm done now.
Passionate Plume 1st Place Winner 2012 - ALWAYS YOU
Published with Ellora's Cave, Turquoise Morning Press & Samhain Publishing