I’ve been blogging a bit about Fifty Shades of Grey and how it is a negative example for “romance.” Yesterday, I gave a summary, but now I want to explain why the book is disturbing. So here I go, page by page/chapter by chapter…. All quotes come from:
James, E L (2011-05-25). Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1) Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
First of all, Anastasia Steele is inexperienced, clumsy, and a bit naive. She’s never had a relationship and she’s a virgin. She has no real standard by which to judge romance. Her mother is on her fourth marriage and changes hobbies frequently. There’s no consistency or good example for Ana to follow. While an abuser can target anyone, they often target the naive and inexperienced. (Been there, done that!) So, when Ana meets Christian and she is nervous and tripping all over herself, he immediately sees a target. The sociopath I married actually told me that when he first saw me, he liked that I was a quiet wallflower. At first I thought it was great that a man could like me if I was shy and quiet, but as soon as he started being controlling and crazy, I realized he’d only liked me because I seemed like an easy target. Ouch! The book starts out with Ana in a similar position of naivete.
During Ana’s awkward interview with Christian, he tells her “Business is all about people, Miss Steele, and I’m very good at judging people. I know how they tick, what makes them flourish, what doesn’t, what inspires them, and how to incentivize them. I employ an exceptional team, and I reward them well.” (page 10.) While this is good business strategy, it’s also predator strategy. Abusers groom their targets and fool others by reading them and seeing what makes them respond. A predator will be many different people depending on the person he or she is trying to charm. Christian outright tells Ana this is second nature for him! Throughout the interview, she thinks to herself that he’s a control freak and that he’s arrogant. (Red flags!) Again, he reveals his true colors on page 11: “‘Though there are people who’d say I don’t have a heart. Why would they say that? Because they know me well.’ His lip curls in a wry smile.”
On page 14, Ana narrates “He turns the questioning around… ‘I want to know about you. I think that’s only fair.’” This is another predatory behavior. She hasn’t actually asked him that many questions as part of their interview, but sociopaths don’t typically want to honestly answer questions about themselves. They want to hear from the target so they can figure out how to play them. In a typical interview, the interviewee doesn’t need to get to know the interviewer personally, but of course, Christian has already realized that Ana lacks sophistication. This catches his interest because she might be easily controlled. In fact, as she leaves, he warns her after noting that it has started to rain outside “‘Well, you’d better drive carefully.’ His tone is stern, authoritative. Why should he care?” (p. 15). Why should he care, exactly. People might express concern or make small talk, but he’s stern like Ana is not smart enough to drive safely. It’s a small red flag that indicates what might be coming….
If you decide to read it, it’s not a horrible book. It’s not classic literature. It’s just entertainment and it’s filled with unrealistic, steamy sex. My fear is mostly that the media and books like this one give naive women an unrealistic view of what a relationship should be like.