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I have written about a lot of stuff on +BlogHer in my day and received thoughtful responses no matter how far I ventured into the bizarre or how scathing my critiques. Today, however, I am positively getting flogged. The irony is not lost on me, as the column that has upset readers is none other than my response to the bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.

"You'll take it and you'll like it, Anastasia! And you will thank me for disciplining you for this terrible article!" Slap! Thank you, Mistress! Slap! Thank you, Mistress! Slap!
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Rachel Blum (Groby)'s profile photoMelody Migas's profile photoRick Lamma's profile photoA.V. Flox's profile photo
59 comments
 
I just have to say I love your BlogHer posts. ;)
 
I guess I don't see why you are being flogged/. I thought your post was balanced and well written. I admit that I have not read the work you critique nor do I have an interest in this area. Your basic premise that it should be consensual rings true to me. As someone married for over 25 years I reel that indeed it should be a journey explored together. How you define that journey is up to the various parties but it should not cause anyone any mental or physical trauma they do not want to experience
 
I'm with +Lynette Young and my goodness, what a set of comments! Being called out for daring to critique a work of fiction? The audacity!
 
If you're not pissing anyone off, you're doing something wrong.
 
Huh? I'm with +JD Liddil -- I just don't get what people would take issue with. Well written, like everything else I've seen from you so far. Press on.
 
+JD Liddil, agreed! Also -- congratulations on being married for 25 years. That is no easy feat, though incredibly rewarding, I'd wager.
 
+Kristin Milton, it slightly worries me that they've never heard of such critiques. But then, I don't often love critiques or go by them, so I understand. My concern for the stuff presented in this book outweighed my distaste for them.
 
+Brian Titus, oh, I'm not quitting the writing any time soon. I've caused much more rage in my day. (Writing about technology, of all things!)
 
I tend to be open to all views. I may not agree or practice such things but diversity is what makes life interesting. Fantasy does not need to be reality
 
+JD Liddil, this is true. Many people fantasize about things they would never act on, and these fantasies may involve situations that are completely devoid of consent. That's fine. My worry is that this, as an introduction, even if it is not seen as a how-to guide, will make the journey more dangerous than it should be.
 
Oh dear God, +Jessica Gottlieb is hilarious: I’m trying to figure out what the hell mom porn is. Is it a whole book full of husbands who take out the trash, play with the kids and then get bonus checks? Maybe mom porn is about a woman who works out all morning, lunches with friends and then has time to nap before picking kids up in her new Bentley SUV? I want to know what Mom Porn is people!

Dying of the lol. Read the rest here: http://jessicagottlieb.com/2012/04/fifty-shades-of-grey-and-why-im-going-to-get-kicked-out-of-book-club/
 
Just because it stimulates the mind doesn't mean it's actually a good book. Good for you to sticking to your guns and keeping it real with your review.
 
I am a simple man: crooks hang out with crooks; alligators with alligators, etc. I do not need to agree with alligators to understand they will hang out together. Alligators do not like other species, much. I do not like alligators, much.
 
+Ellis Booker, I hate "for women" labels, though, when used seriously. Women are not this single entity that just wants pink and romance. There are many of us and we like a variety of things. My idea of great porn involves a lot of math. This doesn't represent women's desires any more than E.L. James' book does.
 
+Brooke Johnson, I'm not saying they must, to each their own. I'm concerned about the fact this book doesn't simply ignore these things but eroticizes their opposite despite the protagonist's evident displeasure with the state of affairs.
 
Just to second +K.O. Myers , I'd like to say "if you're not pissing someone off, you're doing it wrong" is doubly true for anything about people's behaviour. And also, quadrupedally true on the Internet where people feel the need to act like complete dicks cos they feel safe in letting their inner dick out.
 
+A.V. Flox I agree with you 100%. I introduced a bit of levity before the conversation devolved into a discussion of whether this or that washing machine instruction manual is the "true path" to happiness.
 
Shoot, I'm behind again. I'll have to catch up tonight. This whole Grey thing is nuts. I still can't believe it's so popular when there is way better writing out there.
 
+Melody Migas, I know! It's making me insane! I'm going to start posting about the books I'm reading to try to counter this trend, see if we can get people talking about something else.
 
After reading your review I'm pretty sure I'm not going to bother with buying the book itself.

I'm curious though, I'd love to see you do a review of Lolita. Have you done one already that is somewhere on the interwebs?
 
"For the creepy, middle-aged lecher, who is looking for an introduction to pedophilia, I'm concerned that Lolita is sending a disturbing message." =)
 
+Buddhini Samarasinghe, I haven't, although I had a very interesting conversation about it recently with a professor friend of mine who asked whether the story would be less disturbing if the story had unfolded between Lolita and On the Road's Dean Moriarty, which brought up a lot of very interesting topics about intent, choice and freedom.

As someone who began her sexual journey earlier in life than most, I don't support the notion that consent is impossible before an age decreed by the government. Consent is a very personal matter that no one can determine for you, even if it is for your own good. Coercion and abuse are problems always, but the more agency you have, the more the journey is yours, the less abhorrent it is to imagine one may select for a partner someone who is older than they are.

Clearly, Lolita doesn't represent this type of journey. Rubyfruit Jungle, on the other hand, does.
 
+A.V. Flox on the road is one of my favourite books, and you've just given me a whole new way of looking at it :)
 
But hang on, isn't it Sal Paradise that seduces a particularly young girl in that book?
 
Excellent article, as always! And of course it's mis-portraying BDSM. I've yet to see a mainstream book on any non-mainstream topic that isn't seriously off the mark. <shrugs>

It's still sitting on my shelf, to be read. From what I've heard so far, it might spend a bit more time there ;)
 
+Rachel Blum, I'd love to hear your views on it if you ever deign to give it the time of day.
 
+A.V. Flox since I'm an omnivore when it comes to books, I'm sure I will read it :) (and fairly soon, I'd guess. I have a whole weekend to fill with something)
 
+A.V. Flox about 10% in so far. I've read regency novels with better writing, and so far it strikes me as pure fantasy, little informed by actual knowledge.
 
+A.V. Flox about a quarter into it, and the depiction of bdsm is depressing. But expected. There's clearly a fascination with the topic behind the book, and if you're fascinated with a topic that is considered taboo, you'll need an excuse why it's not your fault that you like it.

Unlike you, I don't think there's an issue about consent, per se - Ana is more or less aware what she's agreeing to. But you could (and you do) make the argument that if she were actually informed she'd know that Christian is a horrible caricature of a Dominant. But, again, I don't think the writing comes from a position of knowledge.

All I hope is that if it tickles people's interest in BDSM they do spend some time to learn about it. To its credit, the story tries hard to get the most important point across - you negotiate your needs, and you keep communicating. That should be good enough to keep a new couple from running aground horribly.

Yes, aftercare matters - but it matters most when you push boundaries. I sincerely hope nobody plans to go for a reenactment of the book on a scene-by-scene basis. (No pun intended ;)
 
The part that gets me most about our little 'dominant' is how shockingly little self-control he has. Completely incapable of keeping himself from kissing her without consent that first time in the elevator, and obviously unable to stop himself from thinking about sex whenever she chews her lip.

I really wouldn't trust somebody as undisciplined as that to handle a whip.
 
OMG WHY do stupid books like this always leave out aftercare? For some of us that's half (or more) of the fun! (Seriously, for me a litmus test of a portrayal of BDSM is: does it involve aftercare? Of any kind? No? Then I'm not going to trust that author's portrayal.)
 
+A.V. Flox I MEAN WHY WOULD SOMEONE LEAVE THAT OUT
HAVE THESE PEOPLE NEVER HEARD OF ENDORPHINS
 
It you read the category it's called "FICTION!" Do you need to be told the definition of the word "FICTION??????" How a person leads their life is their choosing and your article sucks!

ohhhh dear

.....altho I have to say the idea of anyone telling you to look up the word 'fantasy' is fairly hilarious!
 
+A.V. Flox AWW. It's just mainly the redesign - my husband suggested I wear sunglasses when looking at the new G+! HA.
 
Your column was great. But the comments from some of those people over there were horrible. I almost replied to them but decided I'd best cool off.
 
+Melody Migas, good call! Your time is best spent in more interesting conversations over here!
 
My replies would have included too many cuss words, name calling, and growling, lol
 
A.V., stick to your guns (as I know you will). You have an incisive, nuanced mind. I read your 'Fifty Shades of Grey' piece, and liked it. I've got your back. :)
 
+Rick Lamma, look at you! I always called my readers on G+ "troops", but it was because when I was on the Suggested Users List and I felt that every time I posted, my comment sections were overwhelmed by a troop of baboons. The name stuck even after the derailers and trolls were removed but now it feels even more accurate! We're an army!
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