'50 Shades of Grey' Book Burning Is a Ridiculous Way to Stand Up to Domestic Violence

Say What!? 28

book burningE.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!

She elaborated:

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

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wamom223 wamom223

If she wanted to burn them out of rage for spending money on the worst book ever written I would support it,  but not for the reasons she has.  It did not condone wife beating or anything.  It was just a crappy book that makes me sad people like.  If she did this for publicity I guess she got her wish.

nonmember avatar Tiffany

This reminds me of when people were burning harry potter books because of witchcraft, its just a book

nonmember avatar Ron

My wife asked me to read 50 shades of grey. We already had a good sex life but after the book we do have it more often.



Regarding the book burning. This is always funny to me because your basically burning books people bought. Meaning their still making money off her dumb a$$. Wouldnt forcing a refund for all the books or making them univalible be more hurtfull.



Anyway I thought all three books were very good and people need to see the actual story for what it is. A girl that the help change a mans outlook on relationships and helping him overcome his childhood demons.

nonmember avatar Terrance

Fantastic post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Cheers!

navygf07 navygf07

I could not finish reading that...all I know is it's a book..I liked them and I am not into that stuff..Hell I really did not know about half of the stuff that was in the book lol...People like books, I am happy for the writer..I think going to great leingths to burn the books is a bit much..I mean I was abused  and you did not see me going out and buring anything...It's an erotica love romance book..IDK just seems over the top if you ask me..plus the adults in the book were concenting and he never pushed that stuff on her! So hmm next...

navygf07 navygf07


PLUS THIS!!! BELOW...
Nonmember comment from Ron 
on Aug 26, 2012 at 7:14 PM

My wife asked me to read 50 shades of grey. We already had a good sex life but after the book we do have it more often. 

Regarding the book burning. This is always funny to me because your basically burning books people bought. Meaning their still making money off her dumb a$$. Wouldnt forcing a refund for all the books or making them univalible be more hurtfull. 

Anyway I thought all three books were very good and people need to see the actual story for what it is. A girl that the help change a mans outlook on relationships and helping him overcome his childhood demons.

nonmember avatar Jane

While I'd say book burning is a little too far, I am frankly sickened by how many people are defending this. Reading the book makes it clear that it's not a consensual bdsm relationship. As someone who's in one myself, I'm not shocked by any of the sex scenes: rather, how Ana says 'no' on multiple occasions, and Christian ignores her wishes completely. Even if the woman has an orgasm, it can still be rape.
She is clearly afraid of the punishment, she obviously dislikes the belt, etc: she has many limits. Christian can later be found to utterly ignore them.

Ana is afraid of Christian. Reading the book makes that much chillingly clear: if anyone seriously thinks this could be anything other than an abusive relationship, then something is wrong.

Pat Powers

It was just a cheap attempt to garner publicity and attention for a worthy cause, but SO wrongheaded! I really doubt that women who are in nonconsensual abusive relationships would find this book fun to read. You have to have some sense of freedom and choice to enjoy such fantasies.

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