Wednesday, August 29, 2012

451 Shades of Grey: Fire Doesn't Heal

I need to stop promising content. I’ll get to the rant I said I’d write today at some point. Like last Wednesday, something else came up that took all of my attention. Unlike last Wednesday, however, it’s not something fun.

The new erotic romance trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” has taken the book market by storm—selling more paperbacks than you can shake a whole bunch of sticks at. The books chronicle the life of Anastasia Steele (a young twenty-something virgin) who meets the “seductive” Christian Grey (a wealthy older businessman) and proceeds to do all sorts of sexual stuff with him. I am not a fan of these books. Why? I don’t think they are well written, and I don’t dig the plot. Romance isn’t my favorite genre to read, but, if it’s good romance, I’ll make an exception. I’ll never make that exception for Fifty Shades.

My personal feelings about the books aside, the Wearside Women in Need Anti-domestic Abuse Charity is taking their dislike (and I use that term loosely) of the books too far. According to an article from the Huffington Post passed to me through the Seton Hill WPF community, the charity group is planning a bonfire burning of the books this November because they believe its content excuses domestic abuse.

Hello, “Fahrenheit 451.” For those who don’t know, aside from the temperature at which book paper will burn, this is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The book tells the story of Guy Montag, a fireman in a future where firefighters start fires—not stop them. In Bradbury’s world, books are a thing of the past—tossed aside in favor of faster forms of entertainment. In addition, authors in this dystopia are locked away for the heinous crime of writing and, thus, making the common man feel inferior or confusing him with controversial content.

Society degrades, people become apathetic, Montag’s personal life is destroyed. The book ends with Montag joining a band of exiled book-lovers and watching his city get bombed.

The moral of the story is…


Do I believe that burning copies of Fifty Shades will lead to an apocalypse? No, but I do believe that is a path that should not be strayed down.

This aside, what is burning a FICTION erotic romance trilogy really going to accomplish? It’s not going to stop domestic abuse. It’s not going to keep people from getting hurt.

One last point about Fifty Shades and its supposed condoning of domestic abuse—Anastasia Steele “willingly” enters into the contract with Christian Grey, and she could have broken said contract at any time. If she’s really being “abused” then, she asked for the abuse. That’s a far cry from women who are beaten by their significant others. I hate to tell people this, but bondage and sadomasochism turn some people on. Not me, but, hey, live and let live. It happens in the real world, and people like it.

So, I restate my earlier question.

What will burning a FICTION erotic romance trilogy about a young virgin and a wealthy older businessman in which the sexual acts (many of which involve bondage and sadomasochism) are consensual really going to do?

Answer—spark more interest for the book. Translation—nothing to stop domestic violence. If you want to stop abuse, then educate people. Don’t burn a book that has no fault in causing the abuse.


  1. This is a really great post Mary. I agree with you, book burning is not a good thing for anyone, and I also agree with you that it will likely drive sales for the books without having any impact on actual abuse.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention; I hadn't heard about it.
    Debbie D