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This page contains a single entry by Laurie Frankel published on August 28, 2012 7:09 AM.

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August 28, 2012

Fifty Shades of Gone Girl

As you know (where you=a person on earth), the two big books of the summer are actually four: the three Fifty Shades of Gray books and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Having just finished the latter, what I'm wondering is this: 

Why the nationwide summer taste for abusive relationships? Not abusive relationships in a Lifetime movie kind of way. Much stranger than that. Consensual abusive relationships. Fantastical abusive relationships. Wildly complicated and begged for abusive relationships. Love so hopelessly confused as abuse, violent abuse, possibly murderous abuse, that you can't tell the difference.

In re: porn, S&M, sex games, and make believe, I say sure, whatever floats your boat. That's not my question. My questions are these:

Why do we say S&M? There's no "and" in sadomasochism. Sadomasochism isn't even two words. This is like if I said the republican party is incom & prehensible. Or rep & rehensible. Or I said something was discon & tinuous. (See what I did there?)

Is the choice of these two texts coincidence or just coincident or something else? And really, (why) are we in this mood as a nation? When Todd Akin made asinine comments two weeks ago about "legitimate rape," the whole country went nuts. And hey, I get it. I didn't find that comment much more offensive or nonsensical than the rest of his party's current statements, but I get it. That said, his (badly stated) point wasn't really about the ambiguities of rape (his point was about making abortion illegal and unavailable, a position which should also offend us but does not). His argument wasn't really about gray shades of rape. But these four books are about exactly that. Maybe not fifty, but at least three or four. That strikes me as strange. Does that strike anyone else as strange?

2 Comments

Laurie - I think the abreviation S&M came from the terms sadism and masochism, before it was ever shortened to sadomasochism. Regardless, I chose not to read the Gray books, not because I'm a prude, but because I just didn't find the storyline appealing. Although I enjoy a good thriller as much as the next person (I zipped through Gone Girl in a couple of days), I really prefer a story with characters that I will miss spending time with when the book is done. And why is everyone doing trilogies and series these days? Guess I'm just opposed to committing to more than one book at a time!!! - - - Candice

It strikes me as strange, but also as not strange at all. Almost all romance novels aimed at women are rapists-with-a-heart-of-gold fantasies. There seems to be things women like in that formula. Not being in control. Being so desirable that an otherwise reasonable (although ever so arrogant) man cannot stop himself from tearing off your clothes and then spending the next five years making it up to you. Etc.

In other words, it's not rape if you really wanted it or some other such convolution that has no place outside of fiction, but that allows women to navigate the maze of inhibitions and guilt and not-supposed-tos and enjoy the fantasy.

I don't know if 50 Shades is like that. What I've seen of it is so staggeringly badly written that, even if I was into pain-porn, I'd skip 50 Shades and choose a book whose writer can form a complete sentence and who has ever had sex. But that's just me.

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