I don’t know that it’s my place to be concerned about what 50 Shades of Grey says about us as a society. Fantasizing about abusive scenarios, finding a physically and emotionally controlling partner the “knight in shining armor” of the piece, I don’t understand it. I find the notion of mistreatment, manipulation and total dependence on a person who takes advantage of that vulnerable position more turn-off than turn-on. I’m not interested in being controlled, and neither are my characters.
How much of an effect a novel has on its readers is hard to determine. Some, of course, will be swayed more than others. The written word can be manipulative in itself. There are experts speaking out on the book, though, such as Dr. Drew, who calls the relationship in the novel “pathological.”
Many of the arguments in support of the book have centered upon the fact that women should be able to harbor any fantasies that they desire, that people should stop making the female sex out to be morons who cannot differentiate a romance novel from reality.
Obviously, I don’t think that women are morons. I am a woman, after all. Nor do I think that the women indulging in 50 Shades of Grey cannot differentiate the relationship in the novel from a positive real-life relationship.
But the thing is, I don’t worry about the 35-year-old woman who plucks this novel from a store shelf for a little late-night reading. I worry about the 15-year-old girl who doesn’t fully understand an adult relationship and reads this book as a positive example of one.