Fifty shades of blush

(Warning, if you are used to my school-focused, knitting blogs, this might not be the entry for you.)

A couple of weeks ago I was with a friend at Barnes and Noble. She needed to pick up a book she had ordered. She was so embarrassed about it, that she freaked when we recognized someone. "I hope she didn't see what I bought..." she worried.

Fast forward a few days and I'm at a school event at the same bookstore. My son's school was having a fundraiser and "everyone" was there. An employee asked if we were looking for something in particular. I jokingly said something about how with so many people here, we couldn't get porn (I was kidding) - and she  misheard and said, "oh, I have just the book."

And there it was: "Fifty Shades of Grey". Socially acceptable smut. The gateway book to hard-core porn. In a strange way I felt like I was in a bar, everyone was taking a shot, so I took a turn, put the salt on my thumb, lime ready....

...I bought the book (no shots involved). Yes, I paid money for this garbage... and I wasn't alone! Moms were buying it by the armful! SMUT SELLS! (Even at a school fundraiser).

Does every bored Mom in America wants a taste of the action?

... Review (if you are planning to read it, and you don't want me to give anything away, stop here)...

Fifty Shades of Grey echoed the Twilight Series. Both books take place in greater Seattle. Both are sexually inexperienced girls (one graduating high school, the other graduating college), with a Mom who is far away in the South with "yet another husband" and a good, but distant relationship with their Dads. Both protagonists fall in love with cold, dangerous, wealthy, powerful, older men. In fact, both women fall for men who put them in physical danger and the drama focuses on this danger. Both girls have plenty of other boys who are interested, but but both girls choose the "bad guy". While abstinence is the key word in Twilight's books (at least the earlier ones) - their heat is emotional - the opposite is true in Fifty Shades of Grey. This time sharing emotions is risky, but sex is not taboo. I'm sorry, but when was the last time you heard of people who spend 500 pages having hot sex, but the man refuses the woman to touch his skin? Makes no sense to me. And in Twilight if the couple gets too intimate he (a vampire, of course) will be too tempted to resist the urge to suck her blood (which is permissible once they marry???).

As annoying as I found the main characters in Fifty Shades - and predictable - I'm most peeved at myself. Like a good drink, the more I read, the more addicted I became. I couldn't put the stupid book down! And like the same drink, I had a headache in the end. Like a weekend lost to drink - I lost a beautiful weekend reading this garbage. And like the protagonist, Anastasia (even the name reminds me of Bella) who couldn't get enough of the awful guy she was dating - like Edward, Christian Grey is full of secrets - I felt addicted to this trashy book!

I read it in 4 sittings.

Everything about this book bothered me. As I mentioned, I found it to be a sex-driven copy of Twilight. The working class-studious girl lands the rich and powerful man who is completely out of her league, but only has eyes for her. While the men that would suit her better (and who are also all madly in love with her - and there is a Jacob/Jose best friend character) don't make the grade. In the real world these girls would have had a clue. Or am I wrong: Girls don't want nice, decent men? What does that say about these supposedly smart, supposedly independently minded women?

The biggest difference about this book and the Twilight series (well at least the first 3 books in Twilight - although the honeymoon scene also does this) is that it idealizes violence against women. The book basically sells physical violence as sexual pleasure. Idealizing S&M. For others "vanilla sex" (read the book or search the net if you need a definition) is the only way to go. Mr. Grey - the older man, and Anastasia's obsession - spends the entire book convincing her (who until page 10-ish is a virgin) that he should be "smacking" (beating?) her as part of the foreplay. He starts with restraining her with his tie and it all goes downhill from there. I spent the rest of the time wishing she would get away.

So why did this capture my attention so completely when it made me so uncomfortable me at the same time? I feel guilty that I actually read it. It's a piece of fiction... Good Moms aren't supposed to read smut like this! And feminists certainly can't get absorbed in it... so where does that leave me?

I hope that I can take the advice that Anastasia's mom gives her. "Don't over-think it."  Enough said. Time to get back to my regular life.

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