Fifty Shades of Hay

Each month, Literary Review publishes a cartoon called ‘Illustrations to Unwritten Books’ (I think these hilarious spoofs are the work of cover illustrator Chris Riddell). Literary Review has inspired me to create my own send-up of E.L. James’s best-seller, Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t have the artistic skill of Chris Riddell, but I hope this novel for horses makes you chuckle:

Fifty Shades of Hay - a parody by JD Ellevsen
Fifty Shades of Hay – a parody by JD Ellevsen

On a serious note, I’m alarmed to hear that the main character in Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t just involved in consensual S & M; she’s in an abusive relationship and is beaten. Is this true? If it is, I’m saddened to think that such degradation is considered ‘erotica’. This can only perpetuate the myth that women ‘want’ to be humiliated, subjugated, frightened and hurt. If young women are reading the book and associating arousal with suffering, it’s setting a bad example for their future physical safety and psychological well-being.

In an article on 8 September 2012,The Sydney Morning Herald talks about publishers repackaging their erotic novels to resemble Fifty Shades of Grey in the hope of capturing E.L. James’s readers. Titles such as Haven of Obedience and Diary of a Submissive in the photos accompanying the article make me suspect that what I’ve heard about abusive relationships in some so-called ‘erotica’ is true. It doesn’t sound like equality or liberation to me, but since Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop wants brides to make a vow to ‘submit’ to their husbands, I guess the Anglican Church will be pleased by this literary trend. [My tongue is firmly in my cheek, by the way.]

I have no objection to erotica and think women should have the freedom to read what they want, but I’d like to hope it’s something that makes them feel good about themselves, not bad. If abuse really goes on in E.L. James’s bestselling novel and it’s being touted as ‘sexy’, then I’d like to respond with “Fifty Shades of Nay: Say No to Violence Against Women.”

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