16 Oct 2012

“50 Shades of Grey” May Not be Romantic, But it Improves Relationships

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Our monthly columnist Kate Richlin-Zack is back with another explosive opinion piece this time tackling the 50 shades of grey hysteria. Controversial and compulsive reading… by Kate that is!


With all the recent buzz about 50 Shades of Grey, I had to get my hands on a copy. Allegedly, the intense BDSM – a term which encompasses bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism – scenes in the book have been inspiring women to initiate sex with their partners more frequently thus salvaging stale relationships. Women are loving it; their partners are loving it even more. What’s not to love?

For me personally, the only romantic fantasy that I could identify in this grammatically inaccurate and poorly written collection of words we’re calling a “story” is that E. L. James managed to get this piece of crap published and can live off the royalties… forever. At some point I’d like my $9.99 and my time back but I’m pretty sure James is laughing all the way to the bank. And good for her because she’s done what many writers only dream of doing.

An effective romance novel has to have characters that I actually like and a story line that I wish would play out in real life. 50 Shades has an unlikeable main character, a creepy love interest, and story line I hope I never experience first hand.

If I can’t identify with the main characters, I have a hard time getting through the first chapter, thus my frustration with 50 Shades. Anastasia Steele is not relatable character. In fact there’s almost nothing redeeming about her. She is simultaneously arrogant and self-loathing. When she’s not irritated by the other characters in the book, she’s hating herself. She’s also an angsty idiot co-ed who’s been completely asexual until Christian Grey comes along, yet somehow unhappily married women and stay-at-home moms across the country can relate to her. I’ll come clean: I don’t understand how that’s possible.

Then there’s Christian Grey. Aside from his dark and stormy good looks and his financial success, he isn’t anything to write home about either, unless you’re warning your family that there’s a possible serial killer on the loose. He’s downright creepy. I’ve dated guys like Grey and when they end up in jail, I’m never surprised. Grey is controlling and abusive. He treats Ana like a child rather than an adored partner – sorry but there’s nothing sexy about being scolded. If a man told me to finish my meal because he has issues with wasted food, he would probably find the leftovers in his lap. The food’s not wasted if it helps prove a point, right?

As for the story line, well I can safely say that I have absolutely no desire for any aspect of this novel to play out in my real life. I’m also not sitting around wishing that my husband were more like Christian Grey like so many women who are shouting this book’s praises.

That being said, I will give credit where credit is due. While I may not like the book, I like the impact it’s having. I think the fact that James presents BDSM in an accessible way has given women a way to explore sexual fantasies they might not otherwise be comfortable exploring. Their newly found comfort level is spilling over into their real lives and having an undeniably positive effect. When it comes to spicing up a relationship, how it happens is irrelevant as long as it happens and clearly 50 Shades is making it happen.

I personally did not respond to 50 Shades in the same way many other women have, but I can appreciate the need for women to have a means by which they can fantasize in a safe and private way. The mind is a very powerful thing and erotic fiction can be a great outlet.


Don’t miss Kate’s next post every 3rd Tuesday of the month.


Kate is a well published sassy relationship writer who is not afraid to say it like it is. To follow her writing please connect with her on www.facebook.com/katerichlinzack and twitter @k8rz.

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