I appreciate that most of us are sick to death of Fifty Shades of Grey, but it seems to keep popping up on my radar. Despite it being a poorly written teenage fantasy based on no actual fact about the kink community that we can discern, I am seeing really interesting analyses all over the place. I always thought that E.L. James was saying an awful lot about sexuality, feminism and romance...though certainly none of it intentionally. I think that the story line, the characters development (or lack thereof) and the attitudes displayed towards sex inadvertently tell us a great deal about the cultural norms that under which many women labor. As it turns out, I was not alone in this perception.
First I read Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey edited by Lori Perkins. It is just what the cover says, fifty essays written by writers, therapists, editors and film executives- all about the book. Not heavy analysis for sure, but an interesting collection of insights into the topic. Some love it and some hate it, but all have something to say about its role. There is discussion of feminist themes, abusive relationships, archetypes, role of fantasy, the kink community and even eating disorders. As it turns out, James accidentally had a lot to tell us all about all these topics.
Next I have been following Cliff Pervocracy's "read-along" of the book*. I first found Cliffs blog because he has written extensively on issues of sexuality and quite specifically feminism and women's issues within that realm. The posts where he does "Cosmocking" are not to be missed. As he is reading through the book and sharing insights and evaluation (based on actual knowledge of the kink community) it is fascinating to see not only that analysis, but the discussion that arises in the comments. Highly recommend as a companion piece to the books, or as an great alternative to actually reading them, trust me, this is a way better way to absorp the storyline.
So, if you have not reached FSoG saturation, or want to join a discussion more meaningful than lusting after someone with rock hard abs and a personal Laboutin shopper, check them out. As it turns out, even "bad**" literature can teach us many good lessons.
*This blog talks in detail about issues pertaining to sexuality and the BDSM community. We are all grown-ups here, but if this is not your cup of tea, now you know.
**There is no such thing as bad reading, as long as you are reading, you are working your brain and learning...all the rest is bonus.