Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I hate 50 Shades of Grey (even though I’ve never read it).

No, not because it’s saucy (bring it on). 

And not because I’m jealous as hell that EL’s first book has sold a gazillion copies and redefined fiction for the next God-knows-how-long (although God knows I am).

Not even because I’m a feminist (which I am) and am worried about the questionable sexual politics I hear discussed at every single event I attend (which I’m not – the characters are consenting adults so knock yourselves out as far as I’m concerned).

The truth is, I can’t wait to read it.  The only reason I haven’t read it so far is that I have just had my fourth child and in between running around like an unpaid taxi, breastfeeding and doing laundry five times a freakin’ day I don’t even get time to read mail from the Tax Office marked “urgent”.  So I feel like I’m officially the only woman in the entire world who hasn’t read it.  But even that’s not why I hate it.

The reason I hate it is that I have had it up to my armpits with hearing talk about the “new” phenomenon of “Mummy porn”. 

So, actually, I guess it’s not 50 Shades of Grey I hate at all. 

It’s every simplistic, puerile, sexist gobshite of a journalist/tv anchor/social commentator who thinks (a) “mummies” are somehow are a different species from every other woman on Earth and (b) there is something new, funny or wacky about their sexuality.

Fact.  (Almost) every woman on the planet is reading the book, not just “mummies”.  Why is so interesting that, among all those women reading this book, women with children are too?

Fact.  “Mummies” do not somehow miraculously change in desire, identity or nature because a child passes through their bodies and they become responsible for it. Newsflash - “Mummies” are sexy people, that’s how they got babies in the first place.

The argument seems to go that 50 Shades legitimised “mummies” reading sexy stuff because initially, they could read it on their e-readers, discreetly, so no-one needed to know what outrageous harlots they were.  And then, after a while, they discovered everyone else was reading it as well so that made it ok too.

The hypothesis is ridiculous.

Most mothers I know are not shrinking violets nor do they require permission  from other people to make decisions.  They are, in fact, not afraid of anything, least of all their own interest in reading some racy fiction. 

They will take on their mothers-in-law, schools, and entire systems if they have to. 

They are fearless and ferocious.

The term “mummy porn” belittles not just mothers, but all women.  It reduces us and makes us the objects of (somewhat affectionate) scorn. We do not talk about “daddy porn”, because let’s face it, it would be a tautology. Most Daddies have read or viewed material way more hardcore than 50 Shades. 

But then, unlike women, men are not defined as “Daddies”, even once they are.

So.  Here’s the thing. 

Women can read what they like, be they virgins, seniors, or (God forbid) mothers. 

We always have, and I’m pretty sure we always will.


  1. Thank you! Amen to all of the above. It also drives me insane that so many people are spending so much time trashing it because of its literary shortcomings. No, it's not the best written book out there. And yes, there are things in it that drive me nuts.

    However, I read it because I wanted a fun, entertaining escape for a few hours. And that's what I got. It wasn't deep, it wasn't challenging, and I didn't want it to be. I did not expect it to be, nor did I want it to be, some literary masterpiece. I'm a bit tired of feeling guilty for that :)

    (p.s. I loved TWILIGHT too....better call the villagers with their pitchforks ;) )

    1. You won't find villagers with pitchforks in this neck of the woods Michelle! We love genre fiction around here - no judgements at SisterLit!

  2. Fabulous post!!! THIS IS what's so annoying about the whole 50 Shades Hype! Well said :)

  3. Love your take on this, Ros. Although I've never had a child 'pass through my body' (LMAO) I still feel a sisterly outrage at this kind of put down. Haven't read it, probably won't but not because it's genre. I'm pretty sure there won't be any laughs for my taste (because sex really is funny).