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Fifty Shades of Sexism....

Updated on April 13, 2015


Adult Content throughout! Please don't be offended with the content and bad language in this hub, if you are then you obviously haven't read the book...its full of it!

Fifty Shades and the Regression of Feminism.

To Begin, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't give in to the hype surrounding this erotic 'twilight' fan fiction. However, the more I tried to ignore it, the more it niggled away in my brain, what's the big deal? surely it isn't that bad? Maybe its got some good features..why else would so many women be reading it, right? I did find it weird that a women over 30 read 'twilight' and thought to herself 'I wonder what Edward would be like if he was older, sadistic and into humiliating women with his depraved sexual fantasies?' Apparently, this Grey Edward is what EVERY woman wants according to the sales records of the Fifty shades trilogy.

Not me though...having read numerous reviews of the book, listened to friends who just 'looovvved' it and researched the main story of the book I have 2 things:

First: Its written terribly. I mean, F*ck literary techniques, what the hell do Faulkner and Joyce know about writing books that sell anyway?! Well for one, their books are amazing, written with attention to detail and story lines that have been recycled to the point of craziness, proving that they are truly genius writers. E.L James on the other hand, said "No, i don't need great literary devices to write a good book for women, all i need is an aggressive version of Prince Charming, a virginal princess that just hasn't found the man she is looking for, mixed with inundated sexual encounters that, quite frankly, have less excitement than a caprese salad". Right on sister!

In fact, its so badly written that there have been blogs dedicated to peoples responses when reading the books. One I found particularly entertaining:

And because I thought it was so funny I'll add this little quote from said blog: "Page 450 "DON'T DESCRIBE THE BANK, WE KNOW WHAT BANKS LOOK LIKE!" and another: "Good idea Christian, tell the nurse how to do her job,and to rush while she's at it! I f**king hate you".

Second: Who the hell does this Mr Grey think he is?! And why is he such a dildo? No, not all women want ridiculously rich, powerful and tall men who can buy them expensive underwear and bring them around the world in his stupid helicopter. What a pompous piece of crap he is, men-do not try to live up to this representation of a man! As an example of what I'm talking about: 'Pouring Anastasia a glass of pink champagne, Christian Grey says: "Bollinger Grande Année Rosé 1999, an excellent vintage."'

Really?! Is it just me or is this guy a giant douche?! What's worse, he runs her a bath after their first sexual 'experience'. This may just be me, but isn't that the same as a man saying "clean yerself up love, you bloody stink". Not quite the romantic experience as suggested by E. James.

So what does this bestseller say about modern women? Have attitudes towards female sexuality changed so much so that women are reading erotic fiction on the bus to work? If the roles were reversed, and a man was found reading porn on public transport would he not be chastised? And what happened to hiding erotic books in your underwear drawer because, god forbid, somebody found out you have sexual desires?!

What Every girl wants: Handcuffs and humiliation...

When will it end?

Mommy Porn!

Yes that's right, the new name given to erotic novels for women is mommy porn. The term comes from the idea that industrious and college educated women secretly want to be dominated and humiliated by men.

"When you are a young mom, and everyone depends on you for everything, the idea of having someone take care of you and telling you what to do, even in a twisted sense, it rocks their boats" (Susan James, '50 Shades of Grey: Why Mommy Porn is Hot', ABC News, 3/05/12)

What is the big deal with this book though, there have been erotic books published for women before this, but they weren't the type of book you would read on the way to work, or in a library, they were read in the comfort of your own home where you weren't afraid of people judging your choice of 'novel' (I say with a hint of disdain). I'm all for sexually open women, why should we hide the fact that we too are sexual beings with desires and fantasies of our own? But, what we don't need is to shout it at the top of our lungs (which is basically what you're doing reading '50 shades' on the train) to feel sexually empowered. Nor do we have to be submissive and allow someone to hurt and torture us to feel like we are being sexually adventurous.

I have read many reviews of this book from numerous perspectives: the anti-feminist perspective, the 'its empowering for women to read sexually explicit content' perspective to the perspective of just riding the bandwagon cause 'hey I heard it was a good read'. However, I do think that this book, since it was originally published as Twilight fan-fiction, is being targeted to younger women who have read 'Twilight' and want the story to grow with them as they grow. And what is it teaching this younger generation of women? That its not only ok to be in a submissive/dominant relationship, but that hey, its great fun too! By buying into this literary/pornographic/sexist fad the problem of sexism is being perpetuated and maintained because we are condoning this behaviour and what's worse? We are then starting to desire it from our men! If you have read the book and don't see the sexist implications, here are a few:

  • Ana is called an 'Asset' by Christian on more than one occasion.
  • She is also told that she 'belongs' to Grey and must remember that.
  • he threatens to 'punish her' if she does something he doesn't like.
  • He controls what she eats and how she grooms herself. (because Grey doesn't want an overweight, shabby submissive now does he?!)
  • He buys her a new phone and computer so he can always get in touch with her. (bit of a stalker then eh? How romantic)

All of this behaviour would scream domestic abuse if applied to real life. An example: "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit don for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday". Hmm, not quite the romance I was expecting from this 'Love-story'.

So, why Mommy Porn? Why that name to describe this total classic of a book! Well, many people have been asking the question of why powerful women with educations, careers and family would read it, and they came up with this answer:

"I think a lot of modern women (especially those who happen to be moms) live in a state of perpetual guilt. For instance, my toddler knows his colors, his numbers and can even read…but potty training? I might as well be trying to teach him Advanced Particle Physics.

Inside I know I’m a failure, but maybe it would just be cathartic and allow me to move forward if I could be handcuffed and told, “You’ve been bad. I saw inside your fridge and know you didn’t finish the laundry. Tell me you’re a bad wife!”" (

Basically, women need a break from being women, they want to feel helpless and out of control, when their lives are based around being helpful and in control. They need to let loose....but there's a massive step between curling up with a good book (I'm not referring to 50 Shades) and buying yourself the 50 shades merchandise that seems to be everywhere I look. The bloody boxsets or 'pleasure collections' as they're being called (which seem to have nothing to do with pleasure) include products most loved from the book, ie Butt-plugs (oh my, how romance has changed), Silver Pleasure Balls, Twitchy Palm Spanking Paddle and the Hard Limits Restraint Kit, no joke, that's what they're called. And Mommies everywhere are snatching this stuff off the shelves quicker than they are being put on the shelves.

Is it just that we are opening up to newer things in this post modern age where very little is taboo anymore, are we more accepting of these once taboo acts to the point where now its not just in the open and being talked about with your girlfriends over cups of coffee, its being advertised?! Am I just now, at 24 years of age, the new old fashioned for not jumping on this 50 Shades S&M bandwagon?

I do find it concerning that this book positions women as victims but under the facade of sexually empowering them....Ana is not in control of her own life, she in under the control of a man, who by all appearances controls everything and needs to be the dominant in every aspect of life.

Capitalist Nonsense

If I do manage to get over the fact its terribly written, calling it an 'easy read' or 'unputdownable' just reinforces that, its unputdownable because it'll only take a few hours to read. There's no need to put it down, it will be over in no time. So forget the bad literature, forget the S&M lifestyle that it romanticizes, forget the little sexist quips from an extremely misogynistic controlling man, and the stupid quotes from a woman who refers to her own genitals as her 'sex', forget the that fact that its somehow considered a 'love story for a new generation', get over the idea that finding a man is the only way to get what you want in life, forget the principles of equal relationships that this book gives the middle finger to, forget all that rubbish. What really, really grinds my gears is the Capitalist lifestyle this hideous book seems to portray as being the all, the dream of eternal ownership, without money, you can't be happy, without housemaids your life will be difficult, without helicopters and top of line cars your life will be slow....its all Bullsh*t.

"The endless manual jimmying and ripped foil packets and escalating rhythms and release-findings are just foreplay for the real climax, in which Anastasia recognizes that she’s destined to abandon her ordinary, middle-class life in favor of the rarefied veal pen of the modern power elite." (

Anastasia is brought on helicopter and glider rides, spins in luxury cars, and windswept excursions on catamarans. She gasps at Christian’s fancy office, his sandstone desk, white leather chairs, his spacious, immaculate penthouse apartment, with its endless rooms filled with antique furniture and art. She doesn't eat ordinary food either, oh no, she gets the luxury treatment with champagne and sea bass, all served to her by maids and hired help. What I find even more annoying, the readers are made to feel that she isn't falling for this sh*t because she still wants to cook her own food. By Book three she definitely feels superior to the servants :

"Sawyer reenters, bearing a paper cup of hot water and a separate tea bag. He knows how I take my tea!" Well lets bloody hope he does, that's what he's paid to know after all. It's a cup of tea not anything of actual fucking importance woman!

And what about the way Ana climbs the corporate ladder? Sure she went to college to become successful, to find a job at a great magazine company and what does she do? Well her amazing and controlling Christian buys the company so that she can run it by herself. Oh what a message to give to young women, no we don't need to educate ourselves, or work for a living at something we're enthusiastic about, we just need to find a man who will get our dream job for us. That way we wont need to be educated, we wont need to fight for our place in the world, we want it handed to us, and as a wedding gift of all things, what an imperious and grandiose jackass this Christian is.

Worst lines in the book:

Hey, I love a bit of cheddar with any story, who doesn't? What I don't like is cheddar topped lazily with feta infused blue cheese all melted over the biggest cheesecake I do not like that at all. So here are the worst quotes I can find:

  • My inner Goddess sighs with relief (Who said what now?!)
  • Pushing me higher, higher to the castle in the air (Are you on some sort of Drug love? Theres nothing up there)
  • "Feel it Baby" (She's not your baby Christian, shes your sex slave! And I wouldn't call her that either if you want to keep your genitals in tact)
  • He's my very own Christian Grey popsicle. (Id get your money back, it tastes a bit off)
  • Holy cow, I cannot move my arms. (YOUR STRAPPED TO THE BED! That's kind of the point)
  • “Ah,” I groan. (You don't need to clarify that 'ah' is a groan, if that's how you speak im a little worried, aren't you supposed to be educated?!)
  • “You’re very beautiful, Anastasia Steele. I can’t wait to be inside you.” (Total. f*cking. Charmer!!)
  • ... I don’t think I’ve ever touched his torso. (That's some really unusual stuff going on if you haven't felt his body the whole time you've been ...
  • "Making love" (Not exactly how I would describe an S&M session, but whatever, he obviously finds it totes romantic!)

Redeeming value:

NONE! There is no redeeming feature to this story. The fact that there's a film coming has nothing to do with the book being in any way good, its all for the money (oh Capitalism strikes again). The book sold millions, the film will make millions, simple.

Kelly Marcel, the British screenwriter turning the bestselling book onto the big screen, has insisted the success of the novel is not just down to sex.

I don’t care what anybody says, there is something about Christian that is old-fashioned and romantic.” Romantic? Absolutely not! Old-fashioned? Yeah, if by that you mean totally unaware that women are equal to men, completely incapable of treating Ana as a human being, and acting like your the sh*t because you got loads of money and know your vintages, yeah....that's about right.

Women who are reading a book like this are doing it for one of three reasons:

One-they like how easy it is to read (Yeah, except things called summer reads have been invented for ages, and most don't have the same sexist, demeaning attitude towards women and the female sexual experience that this one does).

Two-They finally found a book that can revive their sex life/they like to read about kinky stuff. (That's fine, no problem there, kinky reading is all well and good- when its done in the privacy of your home, not in a coffee shop when I'm ordering a latte, or on the bus, or sitting next to your daughter-nobody needs to know a relatives enjoying this book)

Three- To pull it apart and prove that it is wholly ridiculous, sexist, debasing, arrogant, obscene and full of messages that we do not want to pass on to the next generation, it will surely bring (if it hasn't already) feminism back about 20 years.

Christian Grey

Whats your opinion of Christian Grey?

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HER NAMES NOT BABY! This isn't dirty dancing, its dirty spanking!
HER NAMES NOT BABY! This isn't dirty dancing, its dirty spanking!

What are your thoughts?

Did you find 50 Shades of Grey a good read?

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And there you have it

Maybe I'm taking this stuff way too seriously, its supposed to be entertaining, not the next big thing in literary genius. Maybe some women are feeling sexually empowered (in a totally backwards way since they'll be identifying with the enslaved character) from reading this raunchy and mildly enjoyable story. However, i do find issue with the merchandise that is everywhere, from baby bibs that say "I was born after mommy read 50 shades of grey" (Creepy, so so creepy, imagine finding that in the attic 20 years down the line), the fact that its sold to anyone, regardless of age, the fact that there's going to be a movie, it all bugs me.

This is not the type of thing women should be trying to feel empowered. Just because it was written by a woman, doesn't mean its not sexist. Women are guilty of sexism too, even towards their own gender. You don't need to be gagged and bound to feel like your worth something to any man, regardless of whether you 'Signed the contract'! If you want to feel sexually adventurous, I don't know, try it outside or something! This book isn't a friggin manual! Stop using it like one.

Authors Notes


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    • belleart profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Ireland

      Your exactly right, a good story needs good writing no matter what the content. Honestly, there are so many reasons not to read it that's its comical. thanks for your comment :)

    • WiccLit profile image


      4 years ago

      I enjoyed your review very much. Honestly I haven't read it-- I haven't even read Twilight. But I've been curious because of all the hype. You make me think twice actually. I don't mind the adult themes so much, but even if I'm going to read porn/erotic stuff I still want it to be good writing. I think I'll pass. Thanks!


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