The Fifty Shades of Grey backlash has officially started. “Women in Need,” a British charity that combats domestic violence has called for the public burning of E.L. James’ S&M novel -- and upcoming film – this November 5.
"I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is," Clare Phillipson, a representative from the charity told BBC. She complains that the idea of a “sophisticated but naïve” young woman who lets an older and richer men abuse her sexually is “dreadful.”
The popular novel, which has surpassed the Harry Potter book series as the best selling book of all time in Britain, tells the story of Christian Grey a handsome and millionaire business tycoon who engages in a sado-masochistic sexual relationship with student Anastasia Steel.
Critics claim the book denigrates women by glamorizing sexual abuse and further objectifying them as sexual slaves who must be submissive to their masters. However, Random House, the publishing company insists the sex in the book is “entirely consensual."
In the U.S., the trilogy of books – Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed – has also been a hit, selling a reported 20 million copies and saving book retailer Barnes & Noble from potential bankruptcy. The book has also been credited with saving the economy of a Maine timber town; as well as creating a major online buzz over the potential cast of the upcoming film adaptation by The Social Network's producers Brunetti & De Luca.
But not everyone is thrilled. "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 to buy a book which says: 'domestic violence is sexy,'" said Phillipson.
And while the glamorization of BDSM is a fair point to be made by domestic violence advocates, calling for a public burning of E.L. James’ book is a rather dramatic and theatrical move that would do little to prevent the evil of domestic violence and much to give Fifty Shades of Grey even more publicity than what it is already getting. That is why those advocating for a public burning of the book need to chill.