Educational · Lighthearted

Three Frustrations with Fifty Shades


‘Why don’t you talk about it on your blog?’

A revelation. I could have kissed my flatmate.

The topic of discussion today, the one which my flatmate was clearly trying to avoid? Fifty Shades of Grey.

Yeah, I don’t blame her either.

Don’t get me wrong, E L James is one hell of a woman. She wrote an erotic Twilight fan fiction on her Blackberry. Her books are at the bedside of housewives everywhere. She’s living the dream.

I’m not bitter.

I can’t deny that E L can sell books – Fifty Shades of Grey is catnip for middle-aged women. She was able to get people reading, and as a Literature student I am obliged to regard that as impressive, even if they only do so under the cover of darkness to hide their shame.

So with credit given as due, I present you my grievances.

  1. Forget comfort zones, Christian’s a gorgeous Billionaire!

Can you imagine how quickly the genre of this book would change if Christian was anything but a billionaire with a nice set of abs? I can imagine it now: Ana, being the genteel heroine she is, donates her tuna and cucumber sandwich to a disheveled hobo on a street corner. She becomes the object of his sexual fantasy; she looks exactly like his addict mother and-

You see my point.

Much of this novel is enabled by Christian’s abs and wallet. It doesn’t matter that Ana really isn’t about submission and that Christian really is beyond unreasonable in trying to secure her as his sex slave – I mean honestly, he has a helicopter and an eye-watering net worth, what’s not to love?

The situation being as it is, Ana really should not be Christian’s boo. But she is a wet blanket. Where is our empowered female lead, defying categorization as a damsel  – fighting her way up the corporate ladder and breaking glass ceilings? She’s playing house with her stalker sugar-daddy because, you know, he’s pretty.

And the worst part? We’re hooked from the first page. It’s so easy to forget Christian’s assholery and questionable moral compass when he’s fessing up about his troubled past, chiselled jaw clenched with emotion, designer suit hanging just so off of his perfect shoulders…oh, Christian.

  1. Not all dominants are sociopathic

Let us muse upon the following questions. Why are we pretty much mute when it comes to sexuality and healthy relationships when everything is sexualised in the media anyway? Is it some mass blue ball conspiracy? Is there something wrong with extensive sex education? Is there anything right about calling a penis an “Anaconda”?

Props to E L for putting erotica on the map, but does she actually say anything noteworthy? Whilst she’s open about sex, which is admittedly a breath of fresh air, Ana and Christian’s relationship is far from the poster child for healthy relationships and E L really isn’t all that hot on sexuality either. Considering that Fifty Shades is an attempt at shedding light on alternatives to Vanilla sex, E L is doing a really bad job at doing anything other than reinforcing negative stereotypes.

Why? Because BDSM is Christian’s dark secret, it’s considered the blot on his otherwise freshly washed, obnoxiously white shirt of life. Though obviously, the real stain is his inflated sense of self, and that is not coming off even with a massive scoop of Vanish. The only thing to do is throw that shirt right out and buy a new one.

Why does Christian have to be psychologically damaged to be into what he’s into? Why is everybody else associated with BDSM some kind of pervert devoid of moral compass? Why does everything have to get so Freudian?

Get it together people; vanilla isn’t the only flavour of ice cream.

  1. Oh, the verbosity.

I feel guilty about this last gripe. I’m obliged to respect (and ignore the faults of?) anybody who can write a three hundred page novel plus on their Blackberry. But perhaps that’s my inner dyspraxic contesting the possibility of it, I would struggle to write anything longer than a text with such small keys. Just think of all the good she could do in the world with those deft fingers – she’d probably be able to restart Tamagotchi’s without a pin.

Anyway. As a Literature student, Fifty Shades was a difficult read. Though maybe I’m just a snob – one of my lecturers liked it so much that he dedicated an hour to it during the first week of this semester (so what if it was to pique enthusiasm, he seemed into it).


Well, Ana does not shut up. How ironic that she accuses Christian of being ‘verbose’ when she’s got talking incessantly down to a fine art. Ana, implication is often enough, things don’t always need to be vocalised. I don’t want to know about your ‘inner goddess’ or her hula skirt, for the love of God, just say how you feel with words – no more anthropomorphism!

And the vocab. Oh my god, the vocab. The thesaurus is not always your friend.  The use of ‘palatial’ and ‘taciturn’ in erotica defeats the point of erotica, I read Wuthering Heights when I’m mentally prepared for constant googling. I don’t expect to think during easy reads, let alone actively look through a dictionary. It’s an obvious attempt to reinforce Ana’s intelligence, but here’s a tip E L, if you wanted to make her more endearing, give the girl baby fat and unattractive glasses, okay?

And finally the extravagant use of –


‘oh my’

‘holy crap’

And – ‘fifty shades of fucked up’, which really takes the proverbial biscuit.

hello handsome
Jamie Dornan’s face in this photo is, incidentally, the same expression I pulled whilst reading most of the novel in question.



9 thoughts on “Three Frustrations with Fifty Shades

  1. Actually found this really funny… even though I haven’t read the books, they’re clearly no better than the film… these are definately going into my ‘no go’ book list if they weren’t already there…

    Liked by 1 person

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