Disturbed by the runaway success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy?
You’re not the only one.
While some have credited the book with reviving stale relationships and setting off a “Fifty Shades”-inspired baby boom, one British charity is so outraged by the sado-masochistic bestseller it has called for a “Fifty Shades” book burning.
Wearside Women in Need, a charity that focuses on domestic violence, has asked readers to drop off their copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which it calls “an instruction manual for an abusive individual to sexually torture a vulnerable young woman,” for a Nov. 5 book-burning bonfire.
"I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is," Wearside Women director Clare Phillipson told the BBC. “And how dangerous I think the idea is that you get a sophisticated but naïve, young women and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually.”
Phillipson told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that she had been waiting for “a feminist icon to savage this misogynistic crap, but nobody did,” so she decided to organize a protest herself.
EL James’s “Fifty Shades” trilogy charts the romance between Anastasia, a naïve college student who has an affair with Christian Grey, a handsome billionaire her introduces her to sado-masochistic sex. The books have become a publishing phenomenon, selling more than 20 million copies in a matter of months to become the fastest-selling paperback of all time .
Lost in the runaway success of the racy tale are “Fifty Shades” detractors.
And Erica Jong, author of the 1973 “Fear of Flying,” a novel known for “its frank treatment of female sexual desire,” writes the LA Times. “I couldn’t find anything that turned me on, other than the fact that he gives her a rare copy of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles,’” Jong said during a panel discussion of literary writers known for writing about sex earlier this summer in New York.
And physician and TV personality Dr. Drew Pinsky came out against the books on the “Today Show,” according to the Huffington Post. “It does disturb me. The ‘swept away’ fantasy is a common fantasy. But … it’s going beyond that into actual violence against women.”
Defenders, including publisher Random House and “Fifty Shades” fans, say the sex in the trilogy is not abusive but “entirely consensual.”
But Wearside Women’s Phillipson isn’t buying it. “It really is about a domestic violence perpetrator, taking someone who is less powerful, inexperienced, not entirely confident about the area of life she is being led into, and then spinning her a yarn,” Phillipson said. “Then he starts doing absolutely horrific sexual things to her.” Later she said, “That message is so dangerous…There will be a whole generation of young women hearing the women around them say, ‘What a great book’… and thinking ‘This is all right.’”
“My main objective is that at a time when local authorities are making cuts to outreach and refuge services for women experiencing domestic violence, we have libraries wasting and grossly misusing public to buy a book which says, ‘domestic violence is sexy,’” Philippson said. “The money would be better spent supporting victims.”
Phillipson is encouraging women to bring copies of the trilogy to Wearside Women in Need offices for a scheduled Nov. 5 bonfire in which both the books and an effigy of Christian Grey will be burned.
A dangerous step or a step in the right direction? Tell us what you think.