The main reason I decided to finally watch 50SOG, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be for me, is that the constant mockery of it has started to bother me. To be clear, I won’t deny that it’s highly problematic and condones an abusive relationship and misrepresents bdsm and is badly written.


Go to (Assuming you’re of legal age, not at work, etc.) Tacky, isn’t it? Gross? Full of implications that, if acted upon, would lead to highly unhealthy relationships?

I guess that explains why our culture invests so much time in criticizing that site. We get famous actors, including George Takei and Iago the Parrot, to read the text from it aloud and then laugh about it. We devote blogs entirely to scrutinizing every single page on that site and pointing out everything wrong with each. We write books pondering what is so wrong with the poor benighted men who visit that site and how we can help them and whether we should all avoid them since they’re clearly mentally ill and maybe dangerous. Saturday Night Live does skits ridiculing men for masturbating to the site, depicting their families’ comical horror when they catch them at it. Satires of the site are produced by the truckload. The models who appear on the site are put onto talk shows and internet comments about their charms made by the men who frequent the site are read aloud so that the audience can laugh both at the crude remarks and at the models’ reactions.

Oh, wait, I got that backwards.

Just like guys are allowed to have truckloads of mostly-crappy SFF fantasies about Marty Stu finding out he’s the long lost son of a hero/king/god and is the Chosen One born with special powers with which he will save us all but the world was outraged that women got just one Jupiter Ascending, we expect men to indulge constantly in gross unrealistic problematic pron—and I’m sure you realize there’s several million sites more or less identical to except that some of them are more specialized, and we just accept that that’s how things are—but if women do it, over one damn series, it’s cause for alarm. Everyone start criticizing them, shaming them, policing their fantasies. Wag your fingers at those women who are—gasp!—getting wet.

When women write reams of fiction about characters we didn’t create ourselves and draw homoerotic art of them, they call it “copyright infringement” and “simple-minded sex fantasies…  like someone selling your children into white slavery” and “let’s force Benedict Cumberbatch to look at it or read it on live tv and laugh at his appalled expression”. 

When men do exactly the same thing, it’s called “the Renaissance”.

I wonder if 50 Shades of Grey would have got as much attention if you switched the leads’ genders.

Well, there’s a whole genre of movies, novels, operas, etc about the devilishly attractive femme fatale who the hero knows is bad for him and probably killed her late husband for the insurance money etc but he just. can’t. help. himself.

But you notice we don’t shame men for perusing, or writing, these stories, or conclude that their attraction to these scarlet women is a sign of some fundamental flaw in men as a group.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a femme fatale act like Christian Grey, though. If I’m wrong feel free to correct me. And if I’m right, that may be problematic in and of itself.

Disclaimer here: this is coming from a shut-in with Aspergers. It’s very possible I’ve missed something important in this conversation or I’m not making sense. I’m not deliberately ignorant, I promise.

Well, Eve got literally everybody kicked out of Paradise. Carmen (in the opera plus numerous movies based on the story) got her soldier bf to spend a month in jail, commit desertion, and then left him. Lana Turner’s character in The Postman Always Rings Twice got her lover to murder her husband for him, same for the Nicole Kidman character in To Die For. I guess it can be debated which is worse. Or if it’s truly parallel. 

I’m going by the criteria of “very attractive person treats their partner badly and manipulates them into doing things that make them miserable by various means” here.

As for what it might look like with a female abuser and male victim, well, here. Thankfully, in this case it isn’t depicted as a good thing:

*winces* It makes you think, though. How many people would defend the woman and/or judge the guy in this situation? That’s probably better suited to a different discussion though. *shrugs*

Yeah, you saw the flaw in my argument immediately. But yeah, different discussion.

This… is a very good point. I still won’t watch or read 50SOG (mostly because I have much better fanfiction books to read) but I’m going to rethink my arguments on it for sure…

This is a good argument that points out why a popular argument against 50 shades doesn’t work. BUT I need to point out here that a lot of the criticism is against the fact that the unhealthy relationship is portrayed as inherently romantic and desirable, something not given in the examples with femme fetales.

There is a central point of her being able to change him etc. which in the case of Carmen or similar storied is not present. The message of Carmen is “oh no this woman is so attractive and morally corrupt but this poor man fell for it.” while fifty shades says “this poor man is an asshole but with love you can help him” which is crucially different.

Of course we need to examine the publics response to fifty shades under your argument too and you are completely correct in saying that most of the reactions are hypocritical and due to a policing of female Sexuality (just look at how fanfic is treated).

If fifty shades were just badly written with a weak plot I would maybe not read it but also not put up with people making fun of it as a concept. However the way it is now I do not accept it as a medium of female sexual liberation.

Also a good point @gaymelie ! I’m not very good at wording today so I’m just gonna sit here and go YES! at everyone…

Still, a lot of the stuff marketed to men has a different set of toxic implications. Like the way porn films imply that, for example, if you can just get your hands on a woman’s bits, she’ll turn into a ranging nymphomaniac, or if you have a huge dick all the women will want you. This is, quite obviously, bad for both the men who to some extent come to believe it and the women they try to approach. And just as 50SOG (and pulp romances in general) have been accused of giving women unrealistic expectations – most of us are not going to have a billionaire become so besotted with us that he’ll change his life and shower us with expensive gifts as well as endless attention – porn leads men to expect women to have body types that require a full-time regimen plus surgery to maintain and a sex drive and degree of kinkiness which are pretty unusual.

We could maybe argue that 50SOG’s messages are more damaging to women than porn’s are to men, but I think that would be kind of missing the point. Only a handful of people, mainly radical feminists and religious conservatives, criticize the effect porn has on men, whereas ridiculing women for jilling off to 50SOG is seriously mainstream. How about we make fun of men for their tacky stupid porn now and then? Oh, because boys will be boys, right.

Again, I’m not so much defending 50SOG as defending the right of women to enjoy what we enjoy just like men do, and pointing out that men’s tastes are just as messed up in a different way.

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