A few weeks ago I became hip to the 50 Shades of Grey books when Saturday Night Live did a spoof commercial for it.
In case you've somehow missed the 50 Shades...erm...overexposure...it's an erotic trilogy written by a British writer who used to write Twilight Fan Fiction (had I known that before buying the book, I never would have. I spent almost all of Twilight wanting to strangle Bella. Such a terrible example for girls. Don't get me started.). A college student meets a 26 year old self-made billionaire who's working to cure world hunger and has unusual erotic tastes. She starts a relationship with him, he ties her up, there are loads of other bondage scenes, she spends a lot of time chewing her lips and blushing, and this has somehow become a bestseller.
I bought the first book because I had to see what the hype was all about, and I read it for about half an hour. I skipped ahead to some of the steamier scenes to see if they lived up to my expectations; they were terrible, and I deleted it from my kindle without giving it a second thought.
Then a week ago I saw this blog post on a friend's facebook page where a woman was outlining the reasons she wasn't going to read 50 Shades. Her reasons centered on the conservative view that porn is evil, lust is wrong, and indulging in a bit of erotica is going to destroy your neuropathways and stop you from ever enjoying sex again. The comments were all in the line of, "yes, ladies, the Evil One is destroying marriages through this book."
Even if I believed in the devil, which I don't, (yes, I'm going to Seminary, and I don't believe in the devil) I would still think that the Evil One would have cleverer ways of destroying marriages than a book written on an 8th grade reading level about a girl who does a lot of blushing and climaxes on a horse.
Ok, look, here's the quote that conservatives throw around all the time: Jesus said that if you even so much as look at another woman with lust, it's the same as sleeping with her. Weeeellll, one interpretation of that quote (mine) could be that it's a condemnation of hypocrisy: you can't just sit around all smug and holier than thou because you aren't sleeping with lots of women when you are singlehandedly keeping the strip clubs in business. Just be honest about it, and quit being a smug hypocrite. I look at other people. J looks at other people. When we got married we didn't all of a sudden lose all interest in other people. That would be weird. So how's that whole "lust is wrong" thing working out for them? Conservative Christians have the highest divorce rates.
So the sin argument doesn't win for me. The reason for not reading this book isn't because it's sinful (it's not sinful - except maybe the editing). The reason for not reading this book is because it's an awful book, and the worst thing that could happen to erotic fiction is for this to become the standard of erotica.
Look, I just have to say this, as a public service announcement. You want some good erotica? Anais Nin was married to Hugh and was totally in love with him. Then she also fell in love with Henry Miller, and Henry's wife June. And she somehow managed to have steamy affairs with all of them, all the time. And she wrote about it - lots about it - in her diaries. Yes, Anais was crazy too - she also had affairs with her therapist and her father as well as her male and female cousins - but damn, her writing is beautiful...
Seriously, if you want a literary alternative to that hot mess that's out there right now, pick up Henry and June. It's amazing. And not the rambling fantasies of a teenager.
Just please, quit giving money to this 50 Shades nonsense. I beg you. Quit encouraging it.
That's it: PSA over.