Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy Is Abuse



Some time ago, I published this post on my YA blog, A Night's Dream of Books. I eventually withdrew it because it seemed to me that it was much too 'heavy' a topic for that blog. Since MindSpirit Book Journeys is a blog dedicated to 'heavy' topics to some extent, I have decided to re-publish the post here. 

Another reason I have decided to do this is that I feel very strongly about this issue. These books simply send out the wrong message to women -- that abuse is somehow "romantic", and thus, to be tolerated, and even ENJOYED. I feel that, if I see something evil going on in the world, whether it be racism, injustice, the raping of the planet, or the mistreatment of women, I should speak out about it. This is definitely an issue I feel VERY strongly about. Abuse of ANY TYPE toward women is just WRONG. And this trilogy not only presents sexual abuse as OKAY, it even GLAMORIZES it.

Although my other blog is mostly dedicated to YA Fiction, I do tend to be a rather eclectic reader. I enjoy reading romance novels of various types, including paranormal, historical, contemporary, Young Adult, and inspirational. In recent years, I have begun to shy away from adult romance novels, and started reading more YA  romance novels, because of the overly graphic sex scenes, as well as foul language, in the adult novels. Needless to say, I refuse to read erotica, and the reason for that is what is known as "kinky sex".  I don't like reading all the minute details of an act that is, in reality, sacred, if performed by people who are in love and truly committed to each other. The erotica genre, however, is all too frequently full of perverted sex, which is sex that, for the most part, does not contain the two ingredients I have just mentioned. Therefore, such things as "threesomes" will be found in this genre. This is totally disgusting! And then, of course, there's BDSM.

These four letters stand for some totally sick acts, supposedly engaged in through mutual consent. I fail to see how such could be the case with psychologically healthy individuals. After all, the "S" in this acronym stands for "sadism", and the "M" for "masochism".

After some Google research, I came across some articles on the subject of BDSM and the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The first of these is posted on the Psychology Today website. While it does state that people who mutually consent to these practices seem to be happy and well-adjusted, I'm sorry, but I find this VERY hard to believe. The article also states that BDSM practices still carry social stigma. There are also two graphs included that show the percentages of male vs. female dominants, as well as male vs. female submissives. How interesting......48% of men take the dominant role, while only 8% of women do so. I was, however, appalled to find that 76% of women take the submissive role! I really wonder if they do this out of their own free will.....Now this doesn't mean I think there should be more female dominants. I think that ANYONE who indulges in these activities needs psychological treatment, whatever the Psychology Today article may state. While this might seem to be a very extreme statement, I do believe that feeling pleasure either in the inflicting of pain, or having it inflicted, is simply perverted, deviant sex. Most people do their utmost to avoid pain, instead of deriving sexual pleasure from it. You can find the Psychology Today article HERE.  

It's certainly very clear that, in the case of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, the female protagonist (Anastasia Steele, who has a VERY ironic name) is seduced and coerced into participating in these activities. Christian Grey, the narcissistic, self-indulgent, cynical player with tons of money, has lots of sexual experience, particularly in the area of BDSM, having been "initiated" by an older woman when he was a teenager.  Later on in the books, his controlling, abusive behavior is "excused" due to the fact that he himself was abused by this older woman.  Oh, the poor little abuser......

A very recent study published in the Journal of Women's Health supports the views of all of us who strongly object to these books, as well as the movie. Here's a quote from the article, found in the section titled "Emotional/psychological abuse": "Christian controls all aspects of the couple's relationship using the emotional abuse tactics of stalking, isolation, intimidation/threats, and humiliation." Under another section, titled "Sexual violence", there is this frightening quote: "Sexual violence is pervasive across the couple's 13 sexual encounters -- including Christian's use of alcohol to compromise Anastasia's consent and his use of intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when angry, and dismisses Anastasia's boundaries)." You can access the entire article HERE.

Although I have not read any of the books, I HAVE read one excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey, which was posted online. It was crass. It was sickening. And it showed that Grey is definitely an abusive, controlling man who manipulates and wears down the defenses of this young woman who is so inexplicably drawn to him....(Why, oh, why, is she SO drawn to him? It can't be because of the sexy way he fastens her wrists to the wall....)

I have also read the complete plot summary of each book, on Wikipedia. I have given more details below.

Here are some quotes from the first novel, taken from the article published in the Journal of Women's Health: "I want you....and you want me....you wouldn't be sitting here calmly discussing punishment and hard limits if you didn't." (pg. 111); "Anastasia: 'You scare me when you're angry.' Christian: 'Turn around. I want to get you out of that dress." (pp. 262-263); "Anastasia: 'Please don't hit me....I don't want you to spank me, not here, not now.' (pg. 347) Surrounding the ensuing sex, Christian intimidates through clenched teeth: 'This will be quick, and it's for me, not for you. Do you understand? Don't come or I will spank you.' (pg. 349)"

From the quotes above, it should be abundantly clear that this is, indeed, an abusive relationship, and that Christian Grey (another very ironic name...) is very obviously the abuser.

The group Morality In Media has voiced strong objections to the rating received by the Fifty Shades movie. Here's a quote from an article in Entertainment Weekly: "The group argued: 'We'd like to change the MPAA rating for "Fifty Shades of Grey" to read: 'Promotes torture as sexually gratifying, graphic nudity, encourages stalking and abuse of power, promotes female inequality, glamorizes and legitimizes violence against women.'" {italics mine} The entire article can be found HERE.

I have also read the Wikipedia articles for all three books in this trilogy. Each article includes a complete plot summary of each book, so I'm aware of what takes place in each. Incredibly, toward the end of the third book, Anastasia and Christian have gotten married, had a son, and are expecting a second child.  Everything in their lives is just hunky dory..... So this means that gullible, inexperienced, virginal Anastasia has succeeded in making a reality THE favorite female fantasy -- "redeeming" a bad boy with the power of her love..... But this is too tame of a label to put on Christian Grey. He is AN ABUSER. And ABUSERS are not, CANNOT be, redeemed "by the power of the right woman's love". This is just fine for romance novels, to a point. However, in the erotica genre, the implausibility of such an event is even MORE obvious. In reality, ABUSERS do NOT change unless THEY somehow realize that their behavior is hurting the woman they're either dating, or married to. Then, upon this realization, if they follow through with therapy, and STICK WITH IT, there's a real possibility that they can change. But their women's love will have had nothing to do with that.

In REAL life, women who are either married to, or in relationships with, abusive, controlling men, end up either dead, or in a women's shelter, constantly afraid that the men will find them. They DO NOT end up happily married to a COMPLETELY CHANGED man. This hard reality was mentioned, over and over, during the 2015 Twitter campaign against the movie. The campaign, which was started by feminists -- please note, FEMINISTS -- has encouraged people to donate $50.00 to a women's shelter, instead of spending it on this sick movie. The response has been overwhelming, as you can see by clicking on the link for the Google search page below. 

This is the most terrible thing about this trilogy, as well as the new movie version of the first book -- the LIE that abusive men can be transformed by the power of their women's love. This blatant lie, first promulgated through print, is now reaching an even wider audience through this film, which gives visual power to all of the sickening activities! Abuse has been glamorized on the silver screen, and the filmmakers even had the unmitigated GALL  to release the film just in time for Valentine's Day!!! What a slap in the face to women all over the world! It was as if the filmmakers were saying that the PERFECT Valentine's Day gift for a woman is being tied up, degraded, humiliated, hurt, manipulated, and controlled by the man in her life!!!!

As a FEMINIST, as a woman who has experienced verbal and emotional abuse, and was nearly abused physically as well, I am totally APPALLED, as well as disturbed and ANGRY, that so many women and girls have made these books so popular. I don't understand why all of these females have just taken in all this GARBAGE with such enthusiasm. Would African-Americans openly embrace books and movies in which they saw members of their ethnic group  degraded and abused, and cheer in the process? What's wrong with these women? Haven't they EVER heard of the feminist movement? The empowerment of women?

Throughout the first book, Christian Grey keeps insisting that Anastasia sign a contract in which she will "AGREE" (but of course she's been COERCED to do this) to give him FULL CONTROL of their relationship!!  HE calls ALL the shots! She might protest, but he will ALWAYS override her objections!  Is this ROMANTIC? Is this something to be blissfully sighed over?

To think that these books were inspired by The Twilight Saga, which is indeed a beautiful love story! 

Dr. Miriam Grossman, MD, published a letter to young people about Fifty Shades, on her website. Here are some interesting quotes from that letter:

"1.) Girls want guys like Christian who order them around and get rough.

No! A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain. She wants to feel safe, respected, and cared for by a man she can trust. She dreams about...wedding gowns, not handcuffs.

2.) Guys want a girl like Anastasia who is meek and insecure.

Wrong. A psychologically healthy man wants a woman who can stand up for herself. If he is out of line, he wants her to set him straight.

3.) Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.

Flawed logic. Sure, Anastasia had free choice -- and she chose poorly. A self-destructive decision is a bad decision. {Blogger's Note: I disagree with this point. Christian coerced, intimidated, and manipulated Anastasia, so she did NOT have free choice.}

4. Anastasia makes choices about Christian in a thoughtful and detached manner.

I doubt that. Christian constantly supplies Anastasia with alcohol, impairing her judgment....Christian manipulates Anastasia into signing a legal agreement prohibiting her from telling anyone that he is a long-time abuser. {Blogger's Note: Here, Dr. Grossman is actually supporting my point about Anastasia's inability to choose freely. She is thereby contradicting herself.}

5.) Christian's emotional problems are cured by Anastasia's love.

Only in a movie. In the real world, Christian wouldn't change to any significant degree. If Anastasia was fulfilled by helping emotionally-disturbed people, she should have become a psychiatrist or social worker."

The complete letter can be accessed HERE.

I REFUSE to read any of the books in this trilogy, and encourage others, especially women, to do the same. And by the way, critics have even blasted the books as being poorly written. In other words, they're PURE GARBAGE. So what's the appeal?

I firmly encourage any SANE woman coming across these books to refrain from reading them. The same goes for the movie. The way to defeat the patriarchy is precisely by NOT appreciating the blatant abuse of women -- ANY women, of whatever age group, ethnic identity, or religious affiliation.



Online Links for the Campaign 
Against 50 Shades




 Please note that this is a very
controversial topic,
and this post contains my
opinions on the subject,
which I have supported  with
several Internet articles.
If your own opinion
differs from mine, at least do
consider the fact that the
patriarchy has negatively influenced
all aspects of human culture,
including sexual activities.





Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 6: Book Beauty Wins Over Budgeting



Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @


For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.


This Week's Question

Have you ever bought a more 
expensive edition of a book, when
a cheaper edition was
available, just because you 
preferred the cover of the
more expensive one?

(Submitted  by Maria  @ 



My Answer

Since I consider myself a bibliophile just as much as a bookworm, the answer is definitely "YES!!" After all, a book's cover is nearly as important as the content within the book. The cover is a portal into the wonders of the book itself, whether fiction or nonfiction. It's also what entices a potential reader to open an unfamiliar book in the first place. 

Whenever I've gone to "Paradise", which is what I love to call my local Barnes & Noble bookstore, I have seen books with beautiful and ugly covers. I will only glance at those ugly covers once, and then quickly move on. A beautiful cover, on the other hand, will pull me toward the book, just as surely as a magnet is pulled to metal. Such a cover will make me want to take a closer look, to investigate the book's content. Sometimes, I'm disappointed by the fact that a beautiful cover will belong to a book whose content, on closer inspection, I am not at all interested in. Usually, however, the content will be well matched by the gorgeous cover.

When a book has been a bestseller for several years, it will have been published in several editions. This happens frequently with classics. Although of course the content is usually the same in each edition (unless the book has been abridged, and or a foreword or introduction has been added), I will be more willing to buy an edition with a beautiful cover, even if I have to pay more for it. Absolutely! I just don't want to own a book with an ugly cover, if I can help it. Lol.

The fact that I prefer books with beautiful covers does not mean that I will splurge on a VERY expensive edition. I certainly cannot afford to buy books from The Folio Society on a regular basis, or even AT ALL. Nor can I afford books that cost more than $25.00, for example. However, books with beautiful covers need not be THAT expensive. I have found gorgeous ones for less than $20.00. The new B&N hardcover collector's editions are very reasonably priced, and believe me, they are GORGEOUS!

Here's a very obvious example of two different editions of a classic -- one with a gorgeous cover, and the other with an ugly one.


 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/168016.Jane_Eyre

Since I totally ADORE this novel, I actually own several editions of it, each with a beautiful cover. The one above is probably my favorite. I think this cover is just EXQUISITE, and it captures Jane's personality so very well, too. The composition, the colors, the model's pose -- everything about this cover is beautiful and harmonious. This edition is currently available new directly from Amazon for $14.32, although third-party sellers have it for less. You can check it out HERE.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11020.Jane_Eyre

I consider this cover to be a MONSTROSITY. I can't believe that B&N actually was responsible for this edition! There are just SO MANY things wrong with this cover! For instance, the hand is much smaller than the face, and is very awkwardly placed. Even non-artists are aware that either of one's hands is almost as long as one's face! It even looks as if a child's hand is grabbing Jane's chin. This hand certainly does NOT look like it belongs to the person pictured here. Another very wrong thing about this cover is that it looks like she has a black eye! What's up with that? And there are more things.... In the novel, Jane is 18 years old when the events between her and Rochester take place. The woman pictured here seems to be in her fifties! Furthermore, she has such a dejected, defeated, depressed expression on her face! Jane, in contrast, is a fiery, passionate woman, although she does present a quiet exterior.

In short, I would NEVER want this edition of this wonderful novel, not even if someone GAVE it to me! It's currently available directly from Amazon for..... only $.99! Hahahaha!! And it's a hardcover, too. Third-party sellers have it for higher prices. But the fact that Amazon itself has it for such a low price indicates that I'm not alone in considering this cover to be HIDEOUS. You can check out this edition HERE.

I wouldn't think twice if a bookstore had both of these editions in stock. Without hesitation, I would reach for the first edition pictured above, and totally ignore the second. In fact, I have done so, because I never bought the second edition when it was for sale at B&N, nor have I taken advantage of the VERY low price on Amazon! Lol. Instead, I bought the Everyman Library edition (the first one pictured above).

I could give many more examples of gorgeous and ugly covers for the same book, but then this post would be much too long. The examples above will, I'm sure, get my point across. 

In my honest opinion, owning a copy of a book that has a beautiful cover gives me such aesthetic pleasure, that I consider it well worth the money spent. What good is it to save some money, and have to stare at an ugly cover every time one picks up a certain book? 


What are your thoughts on
this topic?
If you're participating in this hop,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!  
 






Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 5: Why I Love Reading, in One Sentence


Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @


For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.


This Week's Question

In one sentence, describe your
passion for reading.

(Submitted  by Billy @ 



My Answer

In times fondly remembered, in the long afternoons of an idyllic childhood, I first beheld The Book, that beautiful, spellbinding creation of the human mind and spirit that has been bringing me endless hours of delight ever since, and thereby giving meaning to my otherwise humdrum existence, which, I must confess, I have been forced to dwell in because of the necessity of MAKING A LIVING; wherefore, with the greatest interest and single-minded focus, I have long endeavored to consume as many of these wonderful things called "books" as humanly possible, since, after all, I cannot consider myself as properly living unless I am consuming, and being consumed by, a great book, which of course, will not only NOT fail to entertain me, but also bring me hours of diving into other realities that I wish were my own, so, if not for this wonderfully fascinating, exhilarating, relaxing, and intellectually stimulating activity, I would definitely not consider myself to be alive at all, and this, naturally, would not please me one iota, because living life to the fullest, for us bookworms, is simply to engage our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls in the utter perusal and immersion in a book that will not only give us glimpses of other worlds, but also provide us with that joie de vivre that makes life worthwhile for a genuine bookworm, of which, I might add, I fervently consider myself to be one, inasmuch as it is undoubtedly true that books and I have had a long, fruitful relationship together for many years, and we are not currently contemplating, nor will we ever contemplate, separation or divorce, inasmuch as we all love each other madly, gloriously, and intensely, in one great burst of joyous dancing and intense, bibliophilic ecstasy.

I rest my case. : )
  
 
What are your thoughts on
this topic?
Please leave a comment!
If you're participating in this meme,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!! 








Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 4: A Book that Changed My Life


Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @


For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.


This Week's Question

Name a book that changed your life.

(Submitted  by Kristin @ 







My Answer

There are many books I have read and loved throughout the years, but I can't really say that any of them have actually changed my life. They have, however, exerted an influence on me in certain ways. 

The very first book that comes to mind is one I read around the age of 9. I read it in Spanish, which was my first language as a child. It was a book of fantasy tales, whose author was the 19th-century German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. The book's title, in Spanish, was (and is, because I still have this book) Cuentos Fantásticos (Fantastic Tales). 

For some reason, the name of the author on the book's cover is "F. Hoffmann". This is incorrect, as the author's name is indeed E.T.A. Hoffmann. I noticed this a few years ago, when I went looking for a newer copy, in English. Why this happened, I really have no idea. As far as I know, this book has been long out of print. A copy of it, if I were able to track it down today, would probably be very rare and very expensive.

This much-loved book (it's barely held together) made the trip with me and my family to the U.S. from Cuba, where I had received it as a present from my parents. Obviously, I love it not only for some of the stories inside, but also for sentimental reasons.

Although I was already familiar with several fairy tales, such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Cinderella", and the like, Hoffmann's collection of stories struck me as very different. Even as a child, I could sense that there was something deeper about them. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what that might have been. This "something deeper" simultaneously eluded and disturbed me. These stories fascinated me more than the fairy tales I had already read, precisely because of this "something deeper". 

I have not read this book since that first time, and would definitely like to do so again. I could re-read this copy, my childhood treasure, if very carefully. I would also like to read these stories in English. Actually, I did buy a collection of Hoffmann's best tales from Amazon -- in English -- a few years ago, but alas, I have never read it. I would have to buy another one now, though, as I believe this copy is in storage.

My beloved childhood copy was published in 1958, by Editorial Bruguera (Bruguera Publishers) a Spanish publishing company based in Barcelona, Spain. The founder's name was  Juan Bruguera Teixidó. According to Wikipedia, the company "...was devoted mainly to the production of popular literature and comics. It was created in 1910 as El Gato Negro (The Black Cat)...." The name was changed in 1940. It was eventually succeeded by Bruguera Mexicana S.A., which currently publishes and edits books.

The book I own is part of a collection for children, which I find highly ironic, as Hoffmann's stories are definitely not the type of thing most children would or should read.They are really more appropriate for adults, with the exception of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", which is the basis for Tchaikovsky's ballet, "The Nutcracker". I LOVED this story as a child! It was definitely more along the lines of the typical fairy tales I was already familiar with, although, it, too, had some deeper themes running through it. 



The book has very detailed illustrations, 
like the ones shown here, 
every two pages. According to
the book's cover, there are 250 of them.


One very unusual story in the book, titled "El Caballero Gluck" ("The Gentleman Mr. Gluck", I guess would be the correct translation; I need to find out if this is in fact correct), is about a man who meets a very mysterious stranger in a Berlin park. The two strike up a friendship, based on their mutual love of music. This mysterious stranger later turns out to be the composer Gluck himself.

Another story, a rather haunting one, is titled, in Spanish, "El Consejero Krespel" ("Councillor Krespel"). It's about a man whose daughter, named Antonieta, has a lovely operatic voice. However, she has a very serious illness which threatens to kill her if she sings. Her father thus created a violin that, when played, sounds just like his daughter singing. So the young woman asks her father to play it whenever she wants to "sing". Hoffmann himself appears in this story, as Antonieta's suitor. But her father forbids the relationship because Hoffmann encourages Antonieta to sing for him, as well as pursue a career as an opera singer. This story obviously has a symbolic meaning. The ending is a tragic one. 

There are other fascinating, haunting stories in this book, such as the one about a man who went to Florence, Italy, on business, and lost his reflection in the mirror. Another man had lost his shadow. Later on, the two become friends, so the man without a reflection in the mirror provides a shadow for the man with no shadow, while that man provides a reflection for the man who lacks one. It was implied in this story that the man who had lost his reflection had done something bad, for which he was being punished with this strange curse.

The stories in this book have a rather surreal tone to them. The reading of this book, which, as I have stated above, disturbed me to an extent, also influenced my later love of fantasy, and the unusual. Now I realize that there was an undercurrent of horror to some of these stories, if in a subtle way. Some of them also have a dreamlike quality, and blur fantasy with reality.

This book shaped my lifelong love of fantasy to such an extent, that, to this day, although I do read contemporary fiction from time to time, it's the fantastical that I naturally gravitate towards. Furthermore, I am totally unable to read several realistic fiction books in a row. I always need to get "my fantasy fix"! Lol. At the time, I even wanted to believe, and DID believe, that these stories were true.

Through this book, I was also introduced -- although of course I was unaware of it then -- to the literary aspects of the 19th-century Romantic movement, of which Hoffmann was a part.

This love of the fantastic and unusual has also influenced my taste in book covers. I will always prefer those with fantasy themes. 

Summing up, this book actually laid the groundwork for my later reading tastes and habits. It didn't change my life in the sense that it didn't cause me to make drastic changes in my life. (Heck, I was only 9 years old. There wasn't much I could do about my life at the time, except escape into books! Lol.)

Reading these stories also laid the groundwork for my later love of SF. (I first encountered this genre around the age of 12.) Again, anything related to fantasy (and some elements of SF can be labeled as fantasy) was sure to get my attention!

Now what I need to do is not only to re-read this book in Spanish, but to get another copy of the English version, too. I think it would be fun to compare the two versions. That's how MUCH I love this book, in spite of its disturbing aspects!

 
Online Links


 
What are your thoughts on
this topic?
Please leave a comment!
If you're participating in this meme,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!