So this week in twitter-land I started to feel like I had fallen out of a Cranes song: “Where am I? Where am I?” –but without the awesome bass drop 😦
I think it’s pretty clear by this point what my feelings are about Fifty Shades of Grey. If you aren’t sure, see my earlier post.
Let’s begin with this:
We recently discovered that in an article, E.L. James said she is “freaked out” when people claim they see domestic violence in 50shades, and that people who claim such are “trivializing” the experiences of real domestic violence victims. Yeah…. Jenny Trout offers up a fabulous rebuttal. So we keep trying to explain to E. L. James that domestic violence victims are the ones trying to bring awareness to domestic violence in her books. We just want her to acknowledge this. Word on the street is that she won’t listen.
So on twitter it popped up in my stream that someone told a CG “role player” (because apparently that’s a thing now, God help us) that Christian Grey is a wife beater. Some kind of back and forth arguing ensued, at which point E.L. James herself jumped in and recommended that her followers not “feed the trolls.” So I replied, “Please consider the fact that those who see domestic abuse in your books aren’t trivializing it, since they actually lived it.”
I did not accuse, I did not blame, I did not name call. I asked her to consider a different opinion from her own. She could have engaged in an informative discussion with me, and considered my point. But no. We all know what happed. She blocked me. She blocks everyone who suggests there is domestic violence in her books.
So moving on…
People might be wondering, “If you hate 50shades so much, don’t you also hate Twilight?” Well, no, I don’t hate Twilight. I actually kind of like it. I like vampires, and I like sparkly things.
But let’s be clear: if someone asks, “Don’t you see coercion/abuse in the way Edward treats Bella?” my answer is going to be, “Yes, yes I do.” If someone approaches me about the domestic violence issues in Twilight, I’m not going to tell them they are wrong, because there is evidence of domestic violence there. Here’s something I understand, that apparently many people cannot fathom: it is possible to be a fan of something and still admit that it is flawed.
Did everybody get that? It’s not complicated.
It is possible to be a fan of something and still admit that it is flawed.
If people feel like they need to speak out about domestic violence in Twilight, they should go right ahead. I’m not going to tell them they are wrong, I’m not going to try to stop them, and I am certainly not going to say, “Who cares? It’s just a book!” But I’m not flipping out over the abuse in Twilight the way I am over 50shades for several reasons.
First and foremost: the young adult fiction Twilight is not being touted as the most romantic book ever, it is not supposedly revolutionizing and reinvigorating women’s sex lives, and it is not being held up as a (flawed and horribly wrong) “how-to” for kinky/taboo sex. (At least I hope to God everything I said just now is true. Because if grown women are using Twilight for their sex lives, I’m sorry but that is a book about teenagers. Gross on you.) [Addendum: if you want to fantasize about the grown, totally legal actors from the movies and not the underage characters that they portray, that’s your business.]
Second: Twilight is about vampires. There are some things in Twilight that I can see applying to a world of vampires. Example: Edward is an anal-retentive asshole control freak. I mean, he really is. He’s also over a hundred years old, and just fell in love for the first time. So while it’s still crappy of him to do some of the things he does, it makes sense in a sick kind of way that he would be paranoid, jealous and controlling of his new girlfriend.
Another example: in 50shades, Ana can’t tell anyone what’s really going on because she signed a piece of paper, and if she tells, at worst it will piss off Christian — the man that she loves/is terrified of angering. In Twilight, Bella can’t tell anyone what’s really going on because she’s involved in a secret world of vampires, and if she tells she will either be silenced by the creepy-evil vamps or end up locked in a padded room. In one of these two books, the forced silence is way more disturbing than the other (hint: it’s not the one with the creepy vamps).
Third (and this one is important): Twilight is about vampires. Wait, I already said that. But let’s talk about it just a little longer. Girls can *dream* about meeting their Edward or their Jacob all they want. But we live in the real world, and no matter how much some teenage girl hopes, she is never going to meet a seventeen year old vampire or a sixteen year old werewolf. We know that this is purely fantasy, and as much as that teenager might dream of falling in love with a vamp, deep down she knows that this is the real world, and vampires are not a part it. Therefore, the fantasy of this unhealthy relationship is already punctured (pun intended) by its very nature. Women have, however, talked about how much they want their own Christian Grey, and while most men won’t be so ridiculously rich, there are controlling, abusive men just like Grey out there who are more than pleased that so many women suddenly want them.
Now, all of that was not to argue against people who see/speak out about domestic violence in Twilight. Those are my own personal reasons for being so much more concerned about the 50shades examples of domestic violence.
Randomness on the writing of 50shades vs. Twilight:
Both have been held up as examples of bad writing. I think –if bad writing were a contest –50shades would win hands down. Here’s why: they both could use some work, but 50shades has themes geared towards adults, so it would stand to reason that it should be written at an adult level. Twilight is aimed at a young adult audience, so expecting it to be written at an adult level is silly.
If anyone still hasn’t figured out why I keep talking about 50shades in conjunction to Twilight, it’s because 50shades is a direct plagiarism of Twilight. I’ve heard the argument, “50shades isn’t about vampires and werewolves! How can it be plagiarism?” So I’m going to take some time to actually point out all of the instances of plagiarism that I can find. Therefore, coming soon on the blog: “50shades of Theft.” [Updated to add that you can check out all of those posts here!]
If you want to follow the train wreck that is 50shades to its illogical conclusion without melting your eyeballs, follow the blog of @Jenny_Trout.
If you see abuse in 50shades, or want to understand what domestic violence survivors are talking about, @EmmaTofi, @katjevanloon, and @Sageling are putting together a blogring with links to stories, articles, and other posts of interest.
If you want just a regular, real world example of BDSM (not the misrepresentation of it as seen in 50shades), check out the blog of @itsjustahobby. *Not safe for work*
Some notes on the domestic violence in 50shades:
Many have said that there is nothing wrong with a BDSM lifestyle, and that we shouldn’t call it abuse. A lot of people have clarified this already, but let me say it again: WE ARE NOT SAYING THAT THE BDSM ASPECTS OF 50SHADES ARE ABUSIVE. The BDSM aspects in 50shades are actually, by all accounts, tame. We are seeing the other aspects of the relationship between Christian and Ana as abuse. Examples: he gets her drunk to coerce her consent, he keeps her from communicating with her friends, he buys out the company that she works for so that he becomes her boss, he stalks her and has her followed, he follows her across the country when she purposefully tries to distance herself from him, he insists that her car needs to be replaced even though she likes her car, he puts unwanted marks on her body so that she will be too ashamed to show her skin in public…. It goes on and on.