Consider this me jumping on the bandwagon.
After Dara O’ Briain had finished pontificating on tonight’s The Apprentice, I was tempted to call it a night. And I would have, were it not for something interesting catching my eye. Apart from a lengthy interview with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Newsnight apparently deemed it necessary to interview author EL James.
You may have heard of this woman. She is the brains behind the 50 Shades Trilogy, the runaway hit in the book charts. Now, 50 Shades has caused consternation and uproar with people everywhere, for basically being “literary soft porn” aimed at women. Its display of BDSM and explicit sex is a hit with women everywhere.
And tonight, EL James was going to make her UK television debut.
Naturally, this piqued my interest. I am the author of a few erotic short stories, I write a sex blog, so why would I not watch this?
My timeline was also keen on hearing what she had to say. My timeline consists mainly of erotica authors and sex bloggers of many walks of life,including people in a D/s relationship. So, they were watching, eagle-eyed and eager-eared.
Oh, you want to know my opinion?
I am appalled. Genuinely appalled by the entire interview.
To start off, the attitude of the interviewer left a lot to be desired. I cringed, as he dredged up the cliché of porn being violent and degrading. I cringed even more as he started reading out some of the finer details of the contract between main characters Christian and Anastasia. Fisting, my good man, is not (I repeat: NOT) the sexual equivalent of burning a child. Yet, he spoke of it as if it was the most vile thing in the entire universe. Honestly, I have never heard anyone speak the words “anal sex” with so much contempt in his voice.
Then, he said that this book was speaking the language of women. What, English? Seriously, us “womenfolk” don’t exist on an entirely different plain of being. We speak the same language as you, interviewer. Except we are not biased and sexist, like you, you big dunderhead.
EL James herself was not much better. When asked to explain what the acronym BDSM stood for, she could not even give the right words. This is a woman who has successfully flogged three books about a BDSM relationship. Who sold the film rights to said books. And even she has no fucking clue what she’s on about.
She also states that she was “inspired by Twilight”. Which is a completely blatant lie, as she was not inspired by Twilight, but by a Twilight fanfic called “Master of the Universe”. I have actually read this fic. It is the exact same premise as the first book, but with Bella and Edward as the main characters. And yes, it’s one of the most awful things I’ve read in my life.
And I’ve read all 42 chapters of “My Immortal” for fuck’s sake.
I spent most of last night on Tumblr, going through the archives of the aptly named “50 Shades of Suck”. It contains choice quotes from the trilogy, and has fueled my anger even more.
A quote from book three caught my eye. In this scene, Christian flogs Ana’s stomach. Ana’s PREGNANT stomach. Now, already knowing her answer, I asked my friend Cara, who is both a Domme and currently expecting, what she thought about this. Horrified doesn’t cover it. This proves that EL has no idea what she’s talking about, because this is neither safe, nor sensible. I should point out that EL noted during her interview that these characters practice safe and sensible kink. Yes, this happened.
Not noting the abysmal grammar (what the bloody hell does “Fair point, well made” even mean?) and the overtly detailed description of everything the characters are wearing, this also offended me as a sexual human being.
Like Ana, I am a virgin. I am only one year younger than her. But unlike her, I’ve actually masturbated. More than once. Fuck, more than I can even count! I’ve also kissed boys and girls, although my first kiss did come at 20. I’ve got several vibrators, I’ve had both fingers and a plug up my arsehole, and I’ve cammed several times. Okay, granted, it’s a lot. But Ana has no experience with any of this whatsoever. Her amazement at Christian’s idea of putting a finger up her arse (“A finger? Up there?”) is enough to drive me insane. She actually states that no-one has ever held her hand. I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my childhood holding hands with my parents. I’ve held hands and linked arms with plenty of people.
Adding to the list of what EL James doesn’t seem to understand: normal social behavior.
This can not be good for the BDSM community. They are being portrayed as violent freaks. Have you talked to any kinkster? I think you’ll find that they are normal people. They consent to what they do, they negotiate limits and they choose to be in a BDSM relationship. They are not “weak willed”. Trust me. I know Molly Moore (her take on this controversy can be found here.) She is not “weak willed”. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. She chooses to be submissive because she (shock, horror) likes it. She likes to not be in charge and she likes to surrender to her Dom.
Is this so hard to believe?
BDSM is being treated as just a silly fantasy of the “independent career woman”. They are apparently, in essence, “weak and willing to be dominated by a big bad man”. People are wondering why women are reading about this. Why are we attracted to a novel about BDSM? Why do independent career women still secretly crave to be dominated?
BDSM is not “just a silly fantasy”. BDSM is a common practice. But, surprisingly, none of the people in the lifestyle are asked for their opinion. Instead, we listen to housewives and soccer moms, because they are apparently more of an expert on this subject than the people actually practicing BDSM.
I am appalled as a sexual human being, a virgin (who blogs about sex) and an erotica author. I truly wish that people would start reading erotica from people who write it for a living. Seriously, I would give an actual limb to have any book or any anthology I’m associated with to go to number one in the charts.
It’s not about the book anymore. I don’t give a toss whether people think it’s good. For me, it’s about being an author of erotica and having to watch this happen.
I am in awe of my friend Elenya Lewis, for actually managing to read this book without wanting to give up on both her craft and BDSM as a whole. Her take can be found here and here. El, if you’re reading this, you are truly one of the brave for reading this.
I’m not saying sorry for the angry nature of this post. This is how I feel, and you can take or leave it however you like.
I’m going to listen to some smooth jazz, to keep me from hyperventilating.