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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Shade of Grey--a feminist diatribe on bondage.

If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey, you will not like what I am about to say. I am a child of the sixties when women were asserting their independence, standing alone. You may be too young to remember Gloria Steinem's famous quote 'A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.' Well, it looks like we've come full circle. And where we've come to is not at all what I expected considering all the work we did to get out from under man's oppressive control.

This is a writing blog so I will begin talking about that aspect of things. Simply put, Fifty Shades of Grey is badly written. And because I am a fantasy writer and have many goddesses wandering through my prose, I find it deeply disturbing to have them evoked in the name of sex. 'My inner goddess wanted him'--oh please, give me a break. Any goddess worth their salt would have kicked the bastard out the minute he became controlling.

Okay, so on to a few other things. Why is it that women want to be controlled by men? Because from the success of this book and now the movie, they do. Have we really come to this point? Or is this some secret desire that has never been gone in the first place? What do women want? I was talking with a friend of mine, a woman older than I am. She said that we have always been dominated. That women across the world live like this and it isn't any different here in our country. How can this be, I ask myself? Is it because of the recent rise of Islam and women wearing the veil? do we all want to wear the veil and be thought of as goddesses who no one can look upon? Does it sound good to you as a woman to hide from the world and only by seen by the one man who takes your maidenhead? And what if he's an ugly old man who treats you like shit?

Good thing Grey was good-looking, don't you think? Yes, I suppose this sort of stuff can be titillating but is that what women want from a relationship? And in a world of books where we have kick-ass heroines beating the shit out of men and going it alone it makes no logical sense. What people do behind closed doors is not anyone's business but the success of this book has made it very clear that this is indeed what women want. And as an author who works hard to write the very best I can and tries to put a message into the world that empowers women, it disturbs me.

Yes, I will admit that I am jealous of the success of this book. But my anger at what readers in this country go for far outweighs that emotion.


  1. I think it's important to keep in mind that sex is complex, and what turns people on probably has roots in very early experiences. So I suspect that much of what people fantasize about, typically, they don't actually want in their real life, whether they know it or not.
    It definitely makes no logical sense.
    We've come a long way, thanks largely to women of your generation, but we aren't there yet. We are still mired in rape culture, we are surrounded by negative models of inequality and manipulation. Some people consciously explore power relationships within sexuality, but from what I'm hearing, 50 Shades is nothing more than a story of abuse. (Haven't see/read it, don't intend to.) Maybe the biggest thing to regret is that we don't have better models than this one for exploring the intersection of power and sex.
    So I think the best course of action is to keep doing what you (and I) are already doing: writing and publishing compelling and beautiful stories about powerful women.

    1. thanks for your comment, Rachel! and I think it's right on...