Saturday, May 25, 2013
Fifty Shades of Grey Libricide
By OFW Member:
Carlos J. Cortes
Published: November 05, 2012
After reading in
that a big book burning of E.L.James’s
Fifty Shades of Grey
was planned for November 5, I decided to read it before commenting; not because I could ever agree to burning books, but to know what the fuss was all about. I called a few friends to find out if anyone had an English copy, borrowed it and settled down to pander to my masochistic bent.
I skimmed through the never-ending five hundred and twenty eight pages of it with a sour taste in my mouth which had little to do with the book, but the thought of women readers hailing it as a masterpiece. It crossed my mind that the millions “adoring” the book perhaps shared the fantasies of our virginal heroine and would love a Christian Grey—and the accoutrements of wealth he offers in exchange for being reduced to the role of an abused female. Otherwise, I couldn’t understand why a woman, any woman, could find the servitude depicted in the book attractive.
Although—reading between the lines—the story was much focused on ending up married, settled and financially secure (in other words; suburbia and Cosmopolitan with butt plugs), as a reader, I found
Fifty Shades of Grey
a text-book of domestic and emotional violence—where engaging in watered-down BDSM is just an accessory to barely sustain an otherwise unsustainable plot. The horrible book doesn’t contain a romantic story, but abuse, and only victims of this type of violence can begin to understand what a vile plot the wretched book contains.
But even though the book is poorly written and misrepresents the BDSM culture, I can’t condone book burning—otherwise known asbiblioclasm or libricide—for any reason.
Book banning or burning certain titles because of content is the worst way to suppress freedom. I love to read and the opportunity to read anything I choose is a great privilege.
So, what about book burning? I’m coming to that.
On August 23, The
published an article about a woman running a charity for abuse victims, who planned to light up a big bonfire with Fifty Shades of Grey.
A charity for abuse victims is planning to burn copies of an erotic bestseller.
Fifty Shades - a trilogy about a steamy romance between a businessman and a student - contains themes of sadism and masochism.
Clare Phillipson, of Wearside Women in Need, said the theme was "vile" and urged women to drop off copies to her Washington office for a bonfire on 5 November.
Publisher Random House said: "The sex scenes are entirely consensual."
Ms Phillipson, who said she had read two-thirds of the first book before she gave up "in disgust", said she was furious that libraries throughout the North East were ordering extra copies of the trilogy to cope with demand.
city libraries have 20 copies of the trilogy in stock; Sunderland City Council has nine copies with four more on order; libraries in Durham have 13 with 320 people on the waiting list and Northumberland County Council has eight copies with six more on order.
Ms Phillipson said: "I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is and how dangerous I think the idea is that you get a sophisticated but naive, young women and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually.
"My main objection is that at a time when local authorities are making cuts to outreach and refuge services for women experiencing domestic violence, we have libraries wasting and grossly misusing public funds to buy a book which says: 'domestic violence is sexy'
I know that books are burned everyday; publishers, printers, libraries and bookshops going out of business burn stacks of them. But they burn bound paper; not named books, and that’s a huge difference.
Burning a particular book, even one as bad as
Fifty Shades of Grey
is despicable; it makes a statement; it attempts to dictate what people should read and in doing so strive to reduce humanity to the level of sheep.
The freedom to choose what I read, and the ability to use the knowledge gained to improve myself is a basic human right. Unfortunately, even today the ability to read and to choose what to read is a luxury to many. No person, Government or ruling body has the right to determine what I or others should read. Likewise, no one can justify book burning, except to make room in the garage.
In my opinion, there are other ways to denounce bad writing, such as banishing the books from our library (by throwing them to the garbage where they belong), or giving them to the people we secretly despise. Other folks use a different ploy and “forget” bad books all over the place, hotels in particular. Just the other day, the
had this to report about “forgetting” books:
Fifty Shades of Grey is the book that Britons are most likely to leave behind in their hotel room, according to a new poll.
Travelodge, the budget hotel chain, reported that around 7,000 copies of E.L. James’s erotic bestseller have been recovered from its rooms since its release earlier this year.
Lose it, discard it, but never burn a book; not unless you happen to be alone and short of fuel on a cold winter night.
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