E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey may have become a runaway hit and made its way into millions of women's hands this summer, but not everyone's a fan. In fact, there are some who are so bent out of shape about the books that they're going to insane lengths to send the message that they believe it's "vile" and "dangerous." One woman in the U.K., Clare Phillipson, who heads up a domestic abuse charity called Wearside Women in Need, is among them.
Phillipson told the BBC that she attempted to read the first novel, but couldn't make it more than two-thirds of the way through, because she was so "disgusted" (and not just with the schlocktastic writing, I'm guessing). Her main gripe: "The idea is that you get a sophisticated but naive, young woman and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually." So her solution is to conduct a mass burning of copies of the book. Grrreat!
My main objection 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 [money] to buy a book which says: 'domestic violence is sexy.' The money would be better spent supporting victims.
Okay, so obviously the woman totally misunderstood the story, the sex scenes, the character dynamics, what women are getting out of the series, etc. Not once does Ana do anything she doesn't want to do. In fact, she "disobeys" her lover's wishes throughout the entire series. Christian never "beats her up." Anyone who read and comprehended the book(s) knows those assertions are simply ludicrous. Most importantly, as publisher Random House explained in response to her complaints, "The sex scenes are entirely consensual." That alone is enough to undermine Phillipson's argument that E.L. James is glorifying domestic violence.
Plus, it would be one thing if this woman's crusade was just asking for a book ban at her local library or among women who agree with her. But asking people to burn the book is nothing short of totally twisted. Not to mention reminiscent of how Nazi Germany handled ideas they disagreed with. Seems to me Phillipson would be better off turning her focus to more positive, productive ways to raise awareness about domestic violence than picking on a popular book series that has absolutely nothing to do with it. But hey, everyone wants a piece of the Fifty Shades pie these days -- even those who supposedly think it's shameful.
How insane is this? Do you think Phillipson is just trying to capitalize on the trilogy's popularity?
Image via James Lee/Flickr