I'll just put it out there.... I've read Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I've read the second one, too and I'm half way done with the third. Curiosity got the best of me after I heard about it in every corner of my life and I just had to know what it was all about. Then my book club adopted it this month, actually swapped it out with another read, and we discussed it last night.
All month long, I've worried that a.) my book club would think me a total pervert for suggesting it, b.) my children may suddenly peek over my shoulder and catch a glimpse at what I was reading and c.) the media concern and coverage of what many outlets are touting as disturbing is likely a total waste of air-time.
The fact is that Fifty Shades of Grey is mindless entertainment at its best. Promoted as steamy erotica for suburban moms, Fifty Shades is exactly that and nothing more. In my opinion, it's not disturbing or degrading in any way. It's not the great American novel either, but it's thoroughly engrossing for sure. If anything, my curiosity is satisfied and I'm more educated and less judgmental about a consenting-adult lifestyle that I previously knew nothing about.
As someone who has never read ANYTHING like this, the initial scenes, descriptions and subject matter were a little shocking; but shocking in the same way that we like to watch steamy love scenes in movies or people wiping out on American's Funniest Videos. No, this is nowhere near a PG-rating, but does everything need to be?
Fifty Shades was a true departure for me and everyone in our Book Club, but it was completely refreshing to experience and partake in the discussion that followed. It's unlikely that this book is saving marriages as I've read in the press, but I think I can say that for some, it's heating them up and reminding us all of a time in our lives when passion, not the carpool schedule, was first and foremost on our minds. What's wrong with that? And discussing it with a group of friends might just be the funniest few hours I've ever enjoyed. (Imagine quips about Fifty Shades Charades, strong pelvic floors and multi-use chip clips - it was nothing shy of hilarious!)
I've also heard concern that exposure to this book will lead women down new paths in their lives that they never intended to go. Let's give women a little more credit. It was interesting, fantastical, ridiculous, provocative, and a little inspiring, if I'm being honest. But on the flip side, I have no desire to change my lifestyle as a result of this book. I found parts of it annoying, repetitive and desensitizing, too.
Finally, Fifty Shades does not belong in the hands of youngsters, probably not even college students - they already have enough out-of-the-box ideas and activities in their lives. The thought of my daughters reading this in the years to come is appalling and I wouldn't recommend it until they know themselves very, very well.
Other than managing the ages of the eyes that fall upon it, Fifty Shades of Grey should not to be analyzed to death and taken so seriously. Instead, it should be taken on vacation and devoured. Purely for the complete departure from reality and the plain and simple fun of it.