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Postby Rachel Ventura » 26 Mar 2012, 13:24

[Deleted by the author. Very many heartfelt apologies.]
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Hillsy » 26 Mar 2012, 15:01

What I know about it:

The author is a british woman, but the book started life in an AUstralian or NZ press.
It's rumoured to have begun life as twilight fan-fic that migrated into a self-contained novel.
It has a BDSM theme and is apparently pretty close to being plain erotica.
It's pretty poorly written, but that hasn't stopped it filling a spot for woman that they were obviously missing out on.
The sales of grey ties have apparently gone ballistic.

There you go, that can probably fit on a beermat....

.....however the questions is raises, both in terms of what and how age liscencing works for e-books, what the industry will and will not do with something that sails pretty close to wind, and even the simple definition behind objective and subjective "worth", are pretty innumerable.

In terms of age verification, I think you have to look at what, if anything, is already in place for erotica and build from there - No one has complained about the erotica laws enough to hit the news (as far as I know, which granted is only from a vague POV), so if its just a case of the fact that it's "risk" factor is only because it's considered mainstream enough not to be taboo: well that triggers a lot of sociological questions. In the main though, if the only real risk is a bunch of 16-17 year old girls learning the true details about something they probably already know existed, I consider that something less of an issue. Might even lead to a better education of those types of relationship, and knowledge is rarely a bad thing.
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Postby Rachel Ventura » 26 Mar 2012, 19:25

[Deleted by the author. More sincere, tearful apologies.] :cry: :cry: :cry:

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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Hillsy » 27 Mar 2012, 02:31

...aaaaaaaaand we're done.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby cheekychook » 31 Mar 2012, 19:00

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.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Margo » 01 Apr 2012, 16:07

cheekychook wrote: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.


A LOT of us debated getting involved in responding to the vitriolic nature of the original poster but decided not to. Will PM you.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Mira » 02 Apr 2012, 20:04

Okay, I'm going to be a dissenting voice here.

First, Margo, I know you were trying to support Cheeky, but I would have felt pretty hurt if I had been Rachel and read your post making it sound like a bunch of people had agreed to ostrasize her. That came off as pretty harsh - I don't know if you intended that.

Cheeky - first you convinced me to check out the books, they sound fun. Second, I think you spoke very eloquently about your advocacy. But I think it's important to remember that not all 20 year old young women have exposure to many aspects of sexuality, or that exposure may be coming through a certain slant, and that as a fellow Social Worker (I'm a Social Worker, too! Yay, Social Workers!), this may be a case where education and a differing viewpoint could be helpful.

Rachel - I am not trying to convert you to "depravity". But to chalk all BSDM up to the abuse of women and depraved sexuality - well, many would disagree with you. There is a strong feminist faction in some erotica. It might be worth reading about it more.

And I totally applaud your advocacy of women. And I also agree with you about a more rigorous protection of children and the books they can buy. Cheeky, you may not agree, but I personally like the rating system for movies. It's not perfect, but it gives information. I wish there was a similar rating system for books, and that buying an R or X rated book required I.D. I know that's controversial, but not all children have involved parents.

Okay, hope we're all still friends, even if we disagree about stuff.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Margo » 03 Apr 2012, 07:22

Mira wrote:First, Margo, I know you were trying to support Cheeky, but I would have felt pretty hurt if I had been Rachel and read your post making it sound like a bunch of people had agreed to ostrasize her. That came off as pretty harsh - I don't know if you intended that.



Absolutely. I don't enable the kind of bad behavior she has habitually displayed on the forum. She had offended many many people on many many occasions, and her ranting in this case crossed the line for several of us, to the point we've been discussing it offline and HAVE agreed to stop engaging her when she rants. Point blank telling her she has offended people has made no difference in the past. Engaging her with reasoned debate has made no difference. Eventually, even you have to set boundaries with her (a term that you know holds broader psychological meaning than most people realize). You think she'd be hurt by my comment? You don't want to see the comments people have NOT posted because I encouraged them to leave it alone.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Mira » 03 Apr 2012, 10:06

Margo - I wanted you to know I'm going to respond - I think you said some important things - but won't have time until tonight (hopefully) or early tomorrow.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Margo » 03 Apr 2012, 10:41

Mira wrote:Margo - I wanted you to know I'm going to respond - I think you said some important things - but won't have time until tonight (hopefully) or early tomorrow.



Fair enough, but I will say upfront that I probably won't see the message (though that shouldn't stop you from responding, as others probably will see it and benefit from your response). I have already invested too much time and energy in this matter and need to get back to writing, which I am about to be doing for a living, fulltime.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Mira » 03 Apr 2012, 19:26

First, I'm just going to ignore your last message, I have no idea what to say to that.

Second, I like you, Margo. It's not easy for me to risk damaging our relationship by coming up against you like this, but I'm worried about the impact this will have on Rachel, so I just can't keep quiet. I know that you feel as though you are being protective of the forums, but I'm afraid I don't agree with what you are doing.

I have read many posts by this woman, and I find her to be an intelligent and passionate person, who, like many 20 year olds, is both advocating to change the world and trying to be provocative, or even outrageous. She can say things that are sarcastic or hurtful, sometimes. But so can I. And, if you'll forgive me, so can you.

I have found her to be responsive to feedback and open to other people's opinions, although she tends to be a bit stubborn and think she is right. But then, me too. And.......maybe you too.

But regardless, whether we are talking about Rachel or other people here, there is nothing wrong with people having opinions here that other people don't agree with, and even ranting about them. Frankly, it can make for some pretty interesting discussions. Are we so fragile here that we need people to see things the way we see them? Don't you want to take advantage of the opportunity to dialogue with others who see things differently?

As for people banding together off-line, I understand how that can happen, because folks can become friends, but the idea of people getting together and agreeing to ostrasize someone makes me nervous. Who's next? Am I next for speaking up? That's pretty scary.

So, like I said, I'm sure your intentions were protective, Margo, but still. Even if someone is crossing the line, there are ways to talk with them about it that don't potentially wound them, perhaps deeply wound them. I would hate to see that happen to a young woman on this forum. Especially one who is bright and talented, and just trying to find her way. Like Rachel. And like me. And........you too.

p.s. Rachel if you read this, I'm sorry to talk about you in the third person so much, but I didn't know how else to respond to Margo. If you want to discuss this with me futher in public or private, please do.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 03 Apr 2012, 21:05

I'm going to be completely honest and say that I am not entirely comfortable where this topic is going. We are no longer talking about the books and we're not even talking about the opinions put forth about the book.

For the record, I know what Margo is talking about and there was no offline banding together or ostracizing going on, I promise. Several of the opinions have already been expressed here. I have a problem with the comment because there are quite a few writers on these boards who write in erotica and in the romantic erotica genres and I respect them and their writing and I want them to feel welcome here. I do not want anyone to feel like they are personally attacked for writing or reading stories with strong sexual content and alternative sexual lifestyles. When several people expressed this on Twitter that day, Margo encouraged people not to comment and make it a big all-attack. Instead of being a thread about the books it would turn into a thread about the rant - which unfortunately has happened anyway.

I love and protect these boards and all the people in them. We very rarely disagree and I think it's cool to work those thoughts and feelings out because at the end of the day we're all still friends supporting our passions for writing. That includes all people, young and old, published and not published, of all genres and reading tastes.

So personally I would encourage this conversation (that is not about the books) to move to PMs if it needs to continue and to redirect everyone back to responding about the book itself. Not that we can't disagree and discuss, but this seems more personal than public.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Mira » 03 Apr 2012, 22:50

Thanks, Sommer.

I completely agree about the personal nature of the comments. I'm uncomfortable with that, too. I couldn't think of any other way to defend someone without naming them.

I'll pm Margo. Perhaps we can both agree to take our comments down.

In terms of helping those who write erotica feel comfortable here, of course. But this is a very public forum, and everyone is welcome here (including those who don't like erotica) and I really think an educational approach is the most effective.

I've been targeted quite abit in my life. I've gotten used to the fact that when that happens, I have to put on my "time to educate someone" hat. It gets tiring, but it's really the only thing that works. And there can be a great feeling of reward when I see someone look past their current viewpoint and see more clearly.

People who write erotica can actually do a great service by helping people look past their biases - especially since those biases can often be quite innocently held.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby Hillsy » 04 Apr 2012, 02:43

As much as adding to this thread when someone's already expressly stated their discomfort at it's existence makes my very essence cringe (sorry Sommer), I do have something to add that, hopefully, will kinda clarify exactly what's happening here

Mira wrote:In terms of helping those who write erotica feel comfortable here, of course. But this is a very public forum, and everyone is welcome here (including those who don't like erotica) and I really think an educational approach is the most effective.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
People who write erotica can actually do a great service by helping people look past their biases - especially since those biases can often be quite innocently held.


Right, the above quote is completely correct, unfortunately it applies to only the first two (two and a half if I'm really, really, kind) posts in this thread. Since then, literature to a beating down a back alley and has long since bled out. The first post was about books, and I engaged with that. The second.....well, I disengaged, threw my mind-car into reverse and wheelspan outta Dodge leaving a three word skidmark across the forum tarmac. Contained in that 3rd post are comments that are...well, I wont say it, largely because Cheekychook said it perfectly well in the three smallest of her last 4 paragraphs. It seems to me the issue between yourself and Margo is quite how close to a very, very, ill wind those comments are sailing. Reading through your last two posts again pretty much crystalises that for me.

I myself tend to be a peacemaker (largely out of an appalling meekness as opposed to an overflowing cup of compassion, but that's neither here nor there), so I can understand the impulse to take try and put a foot in both camps. The problem? You can end up standing in something quite unpleasent. Margo's anger here won't be because you've taken a position of neutrality. It's because by using terms such as "innocent bias", "passionate", "provocative", "outrageous", "seeing things differently", you appear to be belittling the depth of her own offence in order to justify taking that neutral position. To quote a deeply unpleasent woman, Margaret Thatcher, "Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides". I know; the fence is unfortuantely my default position.

So I'd advise revisiting everything said here before moving forward. Specifically, make sure you've got a very good measure of the offence everyone feels before taking a contrary/mediatory position. A tip? A number of people will think that, although it maybe hasn't reached it yet, the opinions expressed are only a couple of streets away from where Kirk Cameron and Rick Santorum live, and John Scalzi deals with what happens when they espouse in a public domain:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/03/07/speech-and-kirk-cameron/
(disclaimer: I'm not directly equating Rachel's comments to Kirk Cameron's (just), simply highlighting what happens when you openly express an opinion that could well upset and offend)

I also found this wonderful quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Rachel has a wonderful opportunity here to prove she isn't a bigot by realising the level of offence caused, why it was caused, and promising to become wiser for it. After all, that's all most people want.
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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Postby cheekychook » 04 Apr 2012, 09:09

I agree with Sommer that this thread should return to being a discussion of the book, however I feel the need to point out that part of the reason I stepped in with a comment in the first place was that the book was being "discussed" (trashed/ripped apart/falsely represented) by people who had not actually even read it.

I have an issue with anyone, on message boards or in real life, who advocates hatred of something they have no direct experience with---whether it's a book, a lifestyle, a group of people---it doesn't matter. Threats of flooding a book's Amazon page "with pseudonymous zero-star reviews", comparing a popular fictional work with sexual content to a how-to manual on abusing children and hoping that Amazon pulls that same best-selling fictional work to "send the warped perverts among us crawling back into their self-imposed prison cells where they deserve to be handcuffed to the wall" are all words of hatred. As a long time member of this message forum I know that hatred is not what these boards are about. Open discussion---yes. Differing opinions---yes. Respect for one another---yes. Threats and hatred? Bashing of genres? Judgment of lifestyles? No. That's not Bransforum style. Nor should it be.

Mira---I appreciate your attempts at peace keeping and I was not trying to make anyone "feel bad" however I believe you underestimate the amount that I was offended by the posts on this thread. And I have no idea why you'd think I don't like the rating system on movies, I stated that I agree with that rating system and explain that what I write is adult material the same way that I explain that R-rated movies are not for children. By bringing facts about the book 50Shades into the discussion I was doing exactly what you were advocating---trying to educate. I do not, however, feel that any poster should be allowed or encouraged to spew malicious words directed at anyone and that is most certainly what the above posts read like to me. Youth, inexperience, ignorance, etc may explain why a person has certain viewpoints but they are never excuses for rudeness and are certainly not excuses for incendiary comments or advocacy of violence or maliciousness. There's a difference between being tolerant and understanding and allowing bashing to occur.

And I repeat---the people discussing this book when I joined this thread had NOT READ THE BOOK. How can anyone feel justified in destroying something they don't know anything about? To me, that's unthinkable. Sorry if I'm too sensitive. I'd like to clarify, though---yes, I write erotic romance, but my primary genre is actually women's fiction and I also write non-erotic romance. This went far beyond being upset as a writer---I was shocked and appalled on a much broader scale, as a person. Not to mention that ANY writer should be threatened by any person anywhere who even thinks about leaving anonymous negative reviews to destroy the success of any book. I find that horrific. Particularly if it's a book the person hasn't read!

Those who know me know that I, too, very much tend to be a peace keeper. Often at the expense of my own comfort level. This discussion went well beyond that in its offensiveness. I very much appreciate those who have contacted me privately to thank me for speaking up. I don't believe anyone wants to see the forums dissolve into a sea of anger and bitterness, but if someone posts an inflammatory series of comments it's to be expected that there will be heated responses. If people are allowed to say whatever they're thinking then others have a right to respond with their own thoughts, otherwise it's just a forum for the bully.

This forum is supposed to be a place where writers come to support one another. That's what it has been for me for the past two years. That's what it is for almost everyone I've had the pleasure of getting to know here. And I know that was Nathan's intended purpose in starting the forums. That's not what this thread felt like to me. It felt like an open attack against several things with little more than hatred fueling it. That's why I felt compelled to comment.

Once again, I'm done now.
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