Wolves, and my take on 50 Shades

When my lovely teen daughter (hereafter known as DD) got into the car this morning she automatically flipped my car radio from radio 4 (don’t judge me – I’m 49) to radio 1. Because the film of the 50 Shades book series was premiered yesterday they were talking about it and even had Jamie Dornan in the studio. After 30 seconds, totally unprompted DD turned and said ‘why do they keep saying it’s a romance when it’s about abuse?’ (we have read some of the book together, I expect, being a teen she has read more with her school friends too)  And it's a good question.

Abuse of power in life and in relationships has obviously gone on for a long time, long before a mediocre set of novels and a film, portrayed damaged people in a damaging relationship, so why are we all (OK not all, but a fair few of us judging by twitter and the blogosphere) up in arms about this one? Maybe because it’s suddenly mainstream, discussed on Radio one at breakfast time, used by every marketing agency going (stop it, it’s lazy at best and vulgar at worst – have some pride). Maybe because young women like my daughter are talking about it in the playground and lots of them are not like DD, lots of them are seeing it as ‘real love’.

Look how much he loves her! He follows her! He wants her all to himself! He loves her so much she is his and his alone, she’s not allowed friends! It’s so romantic!

Last time Dd and I discussed a relationship in the media with this much hype it was the Twilight saga. Both DD and I loved the books (again, stop with the judgy looks) and we quite liked the movies (despite Kristen’s constant miserable expression). I was very Team Edward (I love vampires) and DD was Team Jacob (I believe her reasoning was ‘I like my men hot and hairy’ can’t argue with that!) so we talked about the dynamic of each relationship. We concluded that Jacob loves Bella more than Edward does. Edward is selfish, hungry and obsessed. It looks like love but it’s obsession and desire. Jacob lets Bella go because he wants her to be happy. Yes the old “If you love something let it go” is a cliché but it’s also true.

Christian Grey gets away with his obsession and desire and selfishness because he is rich, handsome and powerful. Just as Edward is.

I don’t want stories like Anastasia and Christian’s to be banned. I want them watched, but what I do want is people to stop romanticising an unbalanced relationship. To stop saying that control, stalking and violence are romantic or the fault of the victim (I can’t help it – I love you so I get angry)

Fantasy is fine, S&M is fine, it’s all fine if you know what it is. But Fifty Shades is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

And if my daughter ever dates a wolf I’d like it to be a Jacob Black style wolf, not a Christian Grey one.

What do you think? Have you read the book or seen the movie? Did you love or loathe them?


  1. Despite the hype, I've managed to avoid the book and I will be avoiding the film. You don't need to see it to KNOW it's about control and it amounts to abuse. Calling it 'romantic' is insulting to any woman (or bloke) who has been in an abusive relationship.

    Excellent post, TM.

  2. Lauren13/2/15

    I haven't read the book and won't watch the film but I love how you and DD talk these things through together. You are an inspiration and I hope I'm the same with my daughter x

  3. I 'speed' read the 1st book as my daughter who's 25 raved about how wonderfully sexy it was. I found it turgid and unrealistic not even good fantasy material. An abusive obv damaged man and a young supposedly smart but naive woman. I was like come on this isn't a good read in any sense. He is abusing her for his own warped sense of gratification and dressing it up as love? It's not well written. It's actually quite boring and in no way resembles a loving or sexy relationship. Im from Belfast. So is Jamie Dornan. There's an awful lot of hype locally about the film a lot of misogynistic jokes doing the rounds but there's also a sense that many young women are accepting of this scenario and that's what scares me. Im not a prude by any means but like you I would not want any of my daughters to feel that this was in any way normal or acceptable. Its abuse dressed up but abuse nonetheless

  4. kathhan14/2/15

    I've read all the books and I genuinely don't see where all the hype about abuse and rape comes from ?! It's portraying a BDSM relationship and I can understand that people may not understand the world of contracts, safewords and causing pain but that world does exist and I'm very much a each to their own kind of person. For me the most interesting part of the books was finding out why he acted the way he did and his need for control at all times. At the end of the day it is fiction, there have been films of its type before (9 and a half weeks) and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. The books are terribly written (I was bored by all the sex by the 2nd book....how many different ways can you describe an orgasm ?!) but they were readable, I took nothing away from them either positive or negative and they have had no impact on my life but I have to say that all the controversy 4 years after the books were released does confuse me slightly. #TeamEdward 😉

  5. Karen Butcher14/2/15

    I hated Fifty Shades of Grey with a vengeance - so badly written that I'm didnt take a word it said seriously. Not the sex stuff, not the abuse stuff or anything. I'm sick to death of hearing about this bloody film and if it were the last film in the world, I wouldn't watch it.

    I, however, loved Twilight, books and films - Team Bella all the way!


  6. Tattooed Mummy1/5/15

    yes it's the way it's portrayed (especially by the media) that I find problematic.

  7. Tattooed Mummy1/5/15

    but most people from the BDSM world say it doesn't portray it well at all, he consistently goes past boundaries etc. Relationships, including BDSM ones, are just that relationships, not one person ignoring the other for their own ends.

  8. Tattooed Mummy1/5/15

    we read some of the book purely to giggle at the terrible writing. I think it reads like one woman's fantasy, she should have kept it in her own head imo :-)

  9. Tattooed Mummy1/5/15

    i just hope the communication continues, it does make things easier!