Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Critical Mom's Fifty Shades of Gray

Well, mine is actually on my very crammed bookshelf and I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't actually read it yet but it is on my list . . .  oh, is it ever.  I've been around long enough to see an amusing video of David Sedaris reading aloud from it in front of a packed crowd and stumbling over the word, "clitoris."  And to see a very charming young woman who ran several videos of herself singing (What a voice!  And so pretty, too!) a song whose lyrics belied the tune, which she had borrowed from one of my favorite singers:  "GIRLS JUST WANNA BE NUNS!"  I thought she was really hip until one day she related an anecdote about a friend saying she was thinking of reading Fifty Shades of Gray.  The singer advised us that she'd said "yeah, go for it!" but then dipped into the volume herself.  Her face changed.  She seemed outraged.  But she didn't say it was bad or evil or disgusting: she said it was "addictive!"  Well, so is life.  Food.  Sex.  I wonder about that word, "addictive" and what she really meant.  I can't ask her because she's in a Carmelite nunnery somewhere not, in my view, living her life with the fullness that nature intends.  I might diagnose her as being addicted to asceticism or to guilt or to her mother's ideas about the nunhood being a good place for a young girl.  There's really no accounting for taste, and that's the truth exposed by audience reactions to Fifty Shades of Gray.  I came across a rather brilliant feminist argument in the Atlantic saying that what's worrisome about the book is the portrayal of women agreeing to sex that they're not happy with or comfortable about.  Is anyone really suggesting that the book advocates that they have this sort of sex?  I think that instead, Fifty Shades of Gray is geared to those who find exactly this portrayal its main selling point, and exactly because it's all in a book, not in real life.  Today I was in Kaiser Foods gathering carrots and parsnips and creamed mushroom soup in to make a crock pot meal, and what should appear, like the big bad wolf waltzing up to Little Red Riding Hood, but a massive display case of the book strategically placed near wine and sweets.  My ten-year-old daughter wandered up the aisle in search of chapstick, so I didn't pick up a copy and flip through it to see if the German translation is just as dirty, but I did think wow, porn's mainstream!  And what, the nun might ask, if my child had asked about the book?  I would have said, as I have now said to her about a number of books, "you might like it, but probably when you're over twenty-five."


  1. Hi critical mom,

    my sister borrowed a copy from her friend and I started reading it, when I was at my parents house and I didn't get very far because I found it incredibly bad and boring. It was a german copy, so maybe the original is better, but the language was really really simple and I felt no need to keep on reading after the first 50 pages. I didn't get to any frisky sex part, but I couldn't be bothered to keep on reading. So start the book and tell me what you think ;-)
    I hope you are all well. We start our sweets and chocolate and cake free 47 days from tomorrow until easter, so the children and I are looking forward to tomorrow very much ;-)
    Love, three- brats - mom

  2. Hi, Three-Brats-Mom. Well, you're in good company: allegedly, Madonna doesn't find the book very sexy. But I'll reserve judgement til I've imbibed more of it than the snippets read by David Sedaris. Hey, did you see the posts on going sugar-free on the Little Earthling blog? I found them interesting .

  3. Yes, I did see them. We are doing it every year when lent starts. It is really good for me to break habits. I get used to that piece of cake or that bit of chocolate over the year and the first week of not eating them always shows me how addicted I really am. By easter I don't mind eating no sweets at all. I also won't smoke even one cigarette in this time ;-) This is definitly something I will be able to pull off since I don't smoke. So if I fail with the chocolate at least I will be smoke-free ;-)