I haven't read the books. I made it through maybe five pages and I just couldn't make myself continue. When I first read it, I thought Ana (the virginal main character) was going on a job interview for her sick friend - which is stupid. But as it turns out, it's an interview for the school paper, or some such thing...which is just as stupid. That just isn't the way things work at all - no journalist is going to pass up an interview of a lifetime (which this is supposed to be) and if they HAD to; then they'd pass it back to their editor, who would reassign it. So...no go.
But the truth is, I was LOOKING for a reason to not like the book(s). Partly it is because I absolutely loathe pop culture. My favorite things (music, books, etc) are generally things no one else has heard of. So the worst way to get me to try something is to make a HUGE popular fuss over it. Incidentally, that's also why I absolutely can't stand sports fans...just get over your self already.
So why was I ready to hate the book at first glance?
I can't give a short answer (big surprise, I know). Partly, I think, the answer is jealousy - not of someone having written a book, but that all the fuss was/is being made over a book that features BDSM and it has a - wait for it...wait for it...wait for it - a female submissive. What could possibly be more predictable? Sigh.
Look, I KNOW that a more adventurous set of characters would never have taken off like this did. THAT is the problem. Just the fact that this Dominant Man and submissive woman romance has taken off like this allows the incredibly STUPID idea that M/f is NORMAL and what EVERYONE really wants to not just continue, but rise bubbling up through the subconsciousness of a whole new generation of people. God, it makes me just want to puke.
I'm not saying that M/f is wrong. I know a whole lot of people who are happy with that dynamic. I'm very happy for everyone who finds fulfillment in that arrangement. But all that 50 Shades does for me is cast me as an outsider.
Okay, maybe that isn't such a long explanation after all.
Mistress Delila is right, though - this book potentially could go a long way towards destigmatizing BDSM. Except that, from Mistress's review, it looks like everyone in the story is damaged goods and using BDSM to work through rage and power issues. Not exactly a welcoming idea for those who haven't heard of BDSM before.
Plus, why is it that pain is nothing other than a punishment? In a BDSM book, where an admitted sexual sadist takes center stage, wouldn't it be natural for SOMEONE to actually ENJOY what they are doing? There is so much more to BDSM than just the grim determination to see it through to an orgasm.
I don't identify as a masochist, personally. But after more than a year and a half with Mistress Delila, I have to admit that I have a masochistic streak. There are some kinds of pain that I enjoy at some times. It isn't easy to explain, and I guess that's why an author would resort to such rote stereotypical characterizations. When you can't actually understand what it is you are writing about; then you kind of have to fall back on stereotypes, don't you?
I can't speak for others, but I do not seek any sort of sensation based on my childhood abuse and neglect. Quite the opposite, I sought for many years to feel nothing at all about it. I tried to minimize it and ignore it and pretend it never reared its ugly head. Nor do I need pain to get an erection or have an orgasm (although the combination is intense).
When I submit to Mistress Delila, I am displaying my love for Her. By putting Her needs and desires above my own, I grant Her status above me and authority over me. I have to harness and control my base instincts and sublimate them to Her will. When I kneel and pleasure Her with my mouth, without any thought of reciprocation, I am doing this. But when I feel the sting of the crop across my shoulders during this; it changes things.
She is not simply passively accepting the pleasure I give Her. She is an active participant who is directing my actions. Since She never starts out rough, but rather warms me to Her crop, I know that She is holding me and my well-being first and foremost in Her mind. She is accepting that it is a privilege for me to worship Her in this way, and by granting me pain, She is raising the stakes and demanding that I pay an even higher price for this privilege. It is a price I pay willingly, and if it did not mean interrupting Her pleasure, I would beg Her for more.
This is what has been missing from every discussion of 50 Shades that I have heard...there is not pleasure, no loving, no adoration. It is the power and control and kinky fuckery that I crave, but it is bereft of any redeeming emotional investment. In the absence of such love and affection, it is simply cruelty with a facade of eroticism.
I've had enough cruelty in my life, no matter what it's wearing. So, thanks, but no thanks. I don't need 50 Shades.