review of the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” impact
I’d already not been able to miss E. L. James being interviewed on a tv talk show, and I’d already read where Belinda Luscome with other editors for Time Magazine had named James one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012, already in the first quarter of 2012, because of her Fifty Shades of Grey triology. And then this past weekend, when my wife and I visited a very popular and crowded diner in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, I had to compete with a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey for the cashier’s attention; she didn’t blush even one shade when she finally looked up from those riveting pages of that book finally to accept our payment for our breakfast. This sort of lapse in attention to customers, you might need to know, is very uncommon in these parts.
If you came to this post for a review of the book, let me say that nobody in my family including me has yet read it. So I don’t have a review of it here, not yet. The wikipedia entry seems pretty good, nonetheless. Reading it, I note how the author has chosen the names Christian and Anastasia for the names of her protagonists. How very literary, I think to myself, to have allusionary names for characters, and how very clever that they are “Christian.” Well, you see how I’m reading this: Christian seems at first glance to hearken to the religion, especially when the Greek name Anastasia is in relationship so closely, the latter word being Greek for what English-speaking Christians call Resurrection.
But in this post, I’m only just wanting, however briefly, to review some of the impact of this book. In particular, I’m wanting to follow some of the ripple effects it’s seemed to have caused among bloggers who self-identify publicly as Christian bloggers.
For instance, there’s this one post by a Christian at the Gospel Coalition with the following title: “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc.” It’s by one Jared C. Wilson, who quotes four paragraphs from a book by one other Christian also named Wilson, one Douglas Wilson. So to set that up, the one Wilson compares the book by the other Wilson to James’ impactful book in this way:
This passage from Douglas Wilson’s book Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man was written 13 years ago, but I found it especially relevant in the wake of the success of 50 Shades of Grey and other modern celebrations of perverted sexual authority/submission. It is found in the chapter in the book on Rape, and Wilson argues that this sort of sexual pathology is a perverted version of good, God-honoring, and body-protecting authority and submission between husbands and wives.
I suppose it’s rather unfortunate that the blogger Wilson does not quote from the book by the author James. Perhaps, nonetheless, it’s even more unfortunate that the blogger Wilson does quote from the author Wilson’s book, and even more unfortunate than that how both men, the two Wilsons, come into the many comments to defend this quotation. The later, confesses, eventually that he assumed that E. L. James must have been a man for writing the erotic novel. At any rate, some of the unfortunate and unfortunately “defended” quotation of the one Wilson’s book includes this bit (now here an excerpt of an excerpt):
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
The defense that both men, these Wilsons, make for these words is that they are misunderstood by all the commenters commenting after the blogpost while they themselves acknowledge that they have not understood E. L. James’s book or understood that she writing it was not a man like them.
At any rate, there’s the rippling effect now, the aftershock of comments, and the blog posts in response, and the calls for such. I’d recommend the reading of these:
“Oh? I couldn’t tell the different between the GC and 50 Shades” by Joel Watts
“Sex as colonization?” by Abram K-J
“The Gospel Coalition, sex, and subordination” by Rachel Held Evans
update – a few other posts:
“Is it 2011? The Gospel Coalition and Rob Bell have our attention, again.” by Brian LePort
“Sexual Conquering is Rape” by J. R. Daniel Kirk
“50 Shades of Stupid” by Phillip Winn
“The Writer’s Burden” by Dianna E. Anderson
“Let’s just call it what it is – rape” by Joel Watts
“If This is What Christian Sex Is Like, No Thank You” by Hemant Mehta (not self-identifying as a Christian)
“Take it Down” by Scot McNight
“With no small amount of trepidation…” by Chris Hubbs
“take it down, jared” by jonathan
“50 shades of BLAH” by the writer at The Blog bites better than the Bullet.
“Fidelity and Shades of Grey” by Mara Reid
“Roles Reversed” by Hank
“Just some words of encouragement and peace…” by Rachel Held Evans
And “My Review of Fifty Shades of Grey” by Joel Watts