50 Shades of Grey Trilogy Normalizing Child Sex Abuse
Why isn't the blockbuster trilogy 50 Shades of Grey just another bosom-busting trashy romance novel? After all, the endless sex scenes should have relegated the books to the erotica section in bookstores. Instead, they have been mainstreamed to an adulating population begging for more.
Looking farther into the pedestrian prose of author E.L. James, aka Erika Mitchell Leonard, we find more than just a titillating tome. It's hard to believe that this story ever made it out of the online venue called "fan fiction." In a normal world, the author would have been ostracized by literary critics for her lack of plot and her juvenile language. But much worse than the poor writing are the disguised themes of pedophilia and child abuse.
We don't live in normal times, and we are bombarded with the results of the old maxim "sex sells," which now reads "BDSM sex sells." The trilogy which emphasizes BDSM has sold 25 million copies worldwide and has made its publisher $145 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The books have been on the NYT bestseller list for 25 weeks.
On top of all this, James is hitting the circuit with another media blitz in advance of selling her fourth book, which will be out "just in time for Jesus' birthday," according to a rep from Vintage Press. In addition to a U.S. book tour, a movie deal with Universal, and a how-to magazine launched on August 28 titled Fifty Shades of American Women Who Love the Book and Live the Life, James will be on Katie, the new Katie Couric daytime talk show, on Monday, September 17.
From Fifty Shades magazine:
Fifty Shades of Grey is much more than a book. It's a movement. From online-only sensation to global phenomenon, it has kick-started a sexual revolution and its' the catalyst for a national conversation about lust, love, erotic fiction and the give-and-take that occurs in any successful relationship. It's also hot as hell. Fifty Shades is a dominant force in the culture, and like you, we're more than happy to submit to it.
Apart from the millions of women eating this stuff up, there are many book reviewers and commenters on other blogs who have suggested that the main male character, Christian Grey, has pedophilic tendencies. Says one who's read the trilogy: "The calling each other baby, the baby oil used during sex, the pigtails worn by the female character, the remarks about skipping and cartwheels ... [Grey] telling her she is a child, how naive she is, how innocent she is, he tells her when to sleep, how to eat, dress, act ... she doesn't even know how to work a computer properly even though the author gave her the age of 21, take away that fake ID age of 21, and the girl in 50 Shades is exactly that. She's a little girl."
After a review of the language used in the book, and having done research on pedophiles, we agree. We would be hard-pressed to claim that the trilogy is anything but a sick story of an adult 27-year-old male dominating through coercion, sex, and complete control a young lady claiming to be 21 years old but who acts and talks like a child.
The bondage/dominance going on between an adult and a child is not only immoral, but illegal. In an appearance on The View last May, Joy Behar asked James why she thinks some libraries are banning the books. The Brit replied that she didn't understand the "strange thing that is American culture." Then why in the world did she set the story in Seattle? James's anesthetized response shows her lack of empathy for victimized children.
The story goes like this: Ana Steele, a college student from Portland, Oregon, falls in love with a masterful billionaire, Christian Grey, from Seattle.
Here's a commentary from TIME Magazine:
Grey dearly wishes that Ms. Steele, as he often calls her, would sign a nondisclosure agreement as well as a contract in which she agrees to let him control everything she eats and wears and to let him "flog, spank, whip or corporally punish" her as he sees fit. And she can't ever touch him. Also, she's a virgin[.]
Ana, as her lead character is known, is a 21-year-old university student with no computer, no smartphone, and no e-mail.
Consider these two passages from the first book:
"You're lucky I'm just scolding you."
"What do you mean?"
"Well if you were mine you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday." (p.67)
"Eat," he says more sharply. "Anastasia, I have an issue with wasted food...eat."
"I can't eat all this." I gape at what's left on the table.
"Eat what's on your plate. If you'd eaten properly yesterday you wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't be declaring my hand so soon." ...
Swallowing my last piece of pancake, I peek up at him. He's eyeing me speculatively. "Good girl," he says. "I'll take you home when you've dried your hair. I don't want you getting ill." (p. 76)
Chronological age doesn't determine maturity as much as emotional age does, so the fact that Grey "enslaves" a childlike Anastasia presents us with enough evidence to show we're not dealing with just another erotic novel.
The mass marketing of the books is off the charts. In several interviews, James is portrayed as "just a mother of two" who "giggles" when asked specific questions about the words she wrote. There are lead-ins like "The Shy British Mum Behind 50 Shades of Grey" and "a Nutella-loving wife and mother of teen boys, who worked in the nonglamorous end of TV production."
However, this shrewd, ostensibly self-deprecating 20-year media veteran had fame in mind back in 2010.
"Don't tell anyone," wrote Erika Leonard to an internet friend in April 2010. "I have visions of being interviewed by TIME magazine for revolutionizing publishing."
Doing well in publishing these days takes a lot of savvy. Not only has James managed to make millions off her books, but she has manufactured another sexual revolution -- this time giving women the message that being sexually abused and treated like a child is romantic and can even "change your man" from his beasty self.
One of the most freakish lines is in the epilogue of the third book, Freed. Grey and Ana are discussing the baby in her womb, and the baby's movement makes Ana say, "... she likes sex already." How quaint: the child in utero is already sexually charged.
Dr. Mary Calderone, niece of poet Carl Sandburg and the "Grand Dame of sexual enlightenment," claimed that "we know now that the penis erects in the womb" and "a child is sexual even before birth." She was the medical director of Planned Parenthood from 1953-1964 and a co-founder of SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), which was primarily responsible for installing sex education in schools.
At a SEICUS symposium in Liverpool in the 1960s, a speaker said, "If we do not get into sex education, children will simply follow the mores of their parents." Quel tragique!
Has James read up on Calderone's theories? The British author has waged war on conservative American values, and her movement to further objectify women has been deceptively couched in yanking women's romantic chains while she recklessly portrays a pedophilic man as a flawed human being who needs the love of an innocent girl.
Read more Ann Kane and M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report.