Misconceptions

We’ve spoken about this, and we’ve certainly all felt it, but the misconceptions regarding our favourite book is still rife and there seems to be no end in sight for people taking the plot scenes of FSOG out of context.  I recently came across this British made FSOG documentary. Forty or so minutes of asking questions and getting answers (albeit heavily skewed ones for some parts) on the influences of FSOG. One of the things I find most amusing was that even the people who criticise the book seem to forget that it’s a work of FICTION – even they refer to the characters as though we are speaking about actual people which, at least in my mind, negates everything they seem to think they know about it. I enjoyed watching the clip, laughed at certain things and wanted to spank the screen in other instances. Tell me what you think if you can spare the time…

fsog snip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61x5MvMoyn8

Firstly virtually the WHOLE documentary was about the sex in FSOG. When will everyone get over this? People in love have sex – it’s not new, it’s not unusual and it’s not the first book that deals with it!

Apparently this is why we love FSOG:

  • Women are attracted to it because we all harbour secret fantasies of non-consensual sex
  • As women we have so many responsibilities that we want to be dominated in the bedroom
  • We all want to be looked after by a rich man
  • Because it’s taboo
  • The book acts as a boyfriend substitute for single women and/or bored housewives

Picture me rolling my eyes…

eye roll

Opinions from the “real” BDSM world says that it was a portrayal of the tools rather than the actions of the scene and that it was a very tame portrayal. I agree on this point, the true world of BDSM includes many facets that the book never touched on, especially the humiliation aspect, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s neither here nor there. Why does it matter if the book paints it in a slightly lighter shade?

The public view, on the other hand, was very critical of the BDSM aspect, branding it as perverted and completely disregarding the fact that it was consensual. What’s wrong with you, they ask, if you’re attracted to a man who wants to spank you? They completely missed Christian’s issue with touch – if he wanted to have sex (and we all know how insatiable he is 😉 ) he needed to be sure that his partner couldn’t touch him – the bondage presented a perfect, CONSENSUAL solution. He admits, later in the book, that it was only a means to an end. Insofar as the spanking goes he has issues with his past and his mother, working through his feelings of neglect and abuse but ultimately he was led into that lifestyle (which seemed perfect to him at the time) by Elena. From there it was all he knew and subsequently chose. It was virtually conditioned into him rather than an actual choice. Once he met Ana, not only was he prepared to change and compromise, but he found that her love healed him and, lucky her, she was left with all the fun kink and none of the heavy stuff.

The opinions on the contract and the rules were largely very negative. I can certainly understand that it’s not for everyone, but in the context of the book it goes to explaining what it means to be a submissive as well as to  portray Christian’s underlying need for control. If you are gonna’ spank someone I think it’s a damn fine idea to get a picture of how far you could take it, not to mention the fact that it would make the submissive feel safe.

Another point that was made was that FSOG had undone years and years of feminist rights campaigns. This is something I’ve touched on, and in spite of personally believing that women should be treated as equals in the workplace as well as enjoy the same liberties and freedoms within society as men do, feminism is not all rosy. Please tell me what is wrong with a woman wanting a man who can take care of her and love her? It doesn’t make her useless, weak or stupid. Why is wanting that and feminism always mutually exclusive? One of the things I find most attractive about CG is his respect for Ana, the pride he takes in her intellectual success, the way he worships her body as though she is a gift, immeasurably precious to him. As a woman you’d have to be mad to think that’s repressive!

Lastly, comment was made on FSOG selling a lifestyle. The fact that they don’t drink champagne but Bollinger, they wear Calvin’s, he’s rich and gorgeous and she’s a virginal beauty etc. So what? What does Hollywood do with every movie and series? Women who wake up with a full face of make-up, not a hair out of place, not a smidgen of cellulite. Men who are fit and healthy and rich.   It may not be reality but we (unfortunately) still have a long way to go before we’ll be able to embrace ourselves, warts and all. Nothing wrong with wanting to escape our lives (even if they are happy ones) and lose ourselves in a bit of fiction as long as you can separate what’s real from what’s not. If you enjoy it and it doesn’t make you feel like less of a person why not indulge in a little harmless fantasy where your bubbles cost $150.00 per bottle and your husband gives you an R8 for your birthday?

For me, the thing that irritated me most, was that no mention was made of the story – a strong, broken man that found redemption and healing, freedom even, in the love of a virtuous woman. A man that can admit to his mistakes, apologise for them, compromise, grow and adapt in spite of his fifty shades.

My question to the haters.. Are you blind??

39 thoughts on “Misconceptions

  1. Katherine says:

    Well said I agree with all your comments I watched the programme that you are referring to a while ago with my hubby and we had quite an argument about it!
    As a married woman with 2 sons I am always trying to teach them about treating girls right and I work in a very male dominated environment so women’s rights in the workplace are always high on my agenda
    My hubby was believing all the crap that was being said on the programme and accused me of double standards!! I tried to explain what the book was really about but it was a lost cause but as long as I know the truth then I don’t care
    I actually recorded an American made documentry about FSOG that I haven’t got round to watching yet probably more of same from people who haven’t actually read the books but I will watch it sometime this week to see their take on it is

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    • Monique Lain says:

      Please let us know Katherine, once you do but I guess it’s much more sensational to talk about the sex than the underlying story so the journos always focus on that. So much for impartial… 😉

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      • Katherine says:

        Hi Monique made a point of watching the programme while I had peace and quiet. It was very different from the programme that I watched before. It was more focused on the impact of how FSOG made BDSM more acceptable in “normal society” in the USA. There was no doctors or feminists speaking about it, it was more couples who have dom sub marriages who find it is more acceptable now that people have read the books
        Truth be told dom/sub marriages to me are a bit dusturbing, bedroom play fine but I was cringeing when one guy took his wife out to dinner with a collar and lead on her and actually lead her through the streets like that! Each to their own but for me public humilitation is a hard limit! The programme is called The Real FSOG

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        • Monique Lain says:

          Thank you, I’d be very interested in watching it and I’m with you on that hard limit, but like you say, to each his own – as long as you’re not hurting anyone, what’s the fuss? 😉

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  2. Zina says:

    I couldn’t agree more with all you have said. I loved your post. I hope you don’t mind but I will tweet the link of your blog on twitter because I totally agree with you.

    I’m getting tired of people who critize the books WITHOUT HAVING READ THEM. The journalists, specially ! It’s not professional honestly.

    The books are not about the sex! As far as I’m concerned, I loved the sex scense, but what I loved the most is the love story. The sex was just a bonus.
    Moreover, it was not empty sex without feelings. I don’t read porn, I watch it lol. That’s why, I love the sex scenes in the trilogy because christian and ana share a great and strong bond and even though he admitted only in book 2 that he loves her, since the beginning I always knew that he was deeply in love with her.
    My main focus was the characters. Christian Grey is a strong and dark characters. It was interesting to read about him.

    And honestly, I don’t get why people who are into BDSM complain. I think the books help people to be more open-minded. To be honest, before reading the books, I was pretty scared about this life style. It seemed so wrong to me. Now, I more open minded and less judgemental.
    And now, I know that being tied up can be so good 🙂

    I’m totaly a feminist but I don’t know why feminist are again the books. It’s pretty ridiculous to be honest. There isn’t something wrong to let a man dominate you in bed. It’s consensual. As a independant woman, i don’t think there is something wrong here. Ana never did something she didn’t want to do. It was totally consensual and she enjoyed it.
    And yeah, she was virgin, what’s wrong with it? It was her choise.

    Sorry Monique, there must be a lot of mistakes in my comment. I’m french and my english is far away from perfect.

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  3. Franne says:

    I’ve had this conversation with many people and agree wholeheartedly. It’s so much easier for some people to be critical than for them to look for the deeper truths. FSOG is a wonderful study in redemption, forgiveness, healing, and most of all LOVE. Thanks for all you give to us.

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  4. Erica says:

    Fair points well made, as ever M!
    Let them sing, we know better 😉

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  5. Sharon says:

    ‘For me, the thing that irritated me most, was that no mention was made of the story – a strong, broken man that found redemption and healing, freedom even, in the love of a virtuous woman. A man that can admit to his mistakes, apologise for them, compromise, grow and adapt in spite of his fifty shades.’
    You could not have said it better. The romance is what brings us back again and again to these books. The sex is just a lovely side dish, and the romance is what makes the sex sooooo scrumptious!
    Great article, Monique!

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  6. Sheila Hall says:

    I agree with everything you have said Monique, FSOG was always a love story to me (with a bit of sex thrown in). I cannot view the clip you have given, it seems it is banned in the UK because it was shown on one of our tv channels. When it came to the parts about Dom/Sub I thought it was very mild and if two people agree to do it in the privacy of their own homes then who are we to complain.
    I read the 80 Days books and that does show how deep Dom/Sub can be at times. I also read a book Dairy of a Submissive (I think that was the title) and it was supposed to be a true story written by a submissive. She was into pain and humilation and loved every minute of it, while I was reading it I tended to cross my legs and put my arms across my chest and thinking ‘oh no that has to hurt’. It was not for me, but she loved it and intended to carry on with that kind of lifestyle, again it is her choice it does not take anything away from being a feminist. If I remember the book she was a journalist by profession.
    I will defend FSOG as a love story and a brilliant read, it was so good that I have re-read it quite a few times.

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    • Monique Lain says:

      I’ve read Dairy of a Submissive and a big HELL YES! for the legs crossing… OUCH! Not my thing but if I didn’t read FSOG I would never have touched it and if information is power, then I’m better off with some new insights at very least. Thank you for the comment Sheila 😀

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  7. Janien Meissner says:

    O Monique, you are so spot on with this! I couldn’t agree more. It makes me sigh…..people are so blind in a way. I have met people loving and ‘getting’ the books and there were the ones going on and on about the bdsm-thing. The press has a large thing to do with that. I think they just focused on the sex because it sells. They don’t bother about the lovestory ( to me that is the great draw, makes me read the story over and over again) and people read about the books and have an opinion. So sad! But millions of women love FSOG! And they are not stupid!
    I saw this docu some time ago, funny in a way, but it is too much about the sex and not about the story……..I sigh ……again! I am so glad i am one of the i- totally- get- it women! Xx Janien

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  8. prdkm92@comcast.net says:

    Christian and Ana are not real!!!!!!

    WTH!!!!

    xoxoxo

    deb, your bestie!!!!!!

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  9. hisboo13 says:

    YESSS! I totally agree with you. Like seriously that lady with the blue scarf seriously got on my nerves. Seems like that dumb ass didn’t get all her facts right. First of all Ana HATED when Christian would buy all those expensive gifts for her, so idk where she got that idea from. And the book is not about the sex it’s a great love story with a bonus of good sex. I seriously didn’t read it for the sex because if you think about it as it goes from grey to darker than freed the sex scenes decrease and it’s focused on Ana and Christians relationship and all the other drama that goes with it. So if your gonna talk about this PLEASE get all the facts straight. And i hated when someone said that she wishes that their was another book that portrayed what a woman wants. Like SERIOUSLY?!?!?! Just because that was how it turned Ana on doesn’t means it’s how every female works. I bet all those women that we’re talking about how the toys and stuff they use turns Ana on was crazy are the ones that are prudes. Like I know she must be one of those people who just sits their and does nothing during sex. They must be one of those tree logs that just sits there. lol I can see why they have frown lines cause they probably not getting any! And also I never thought this book was selling anything. Shit I just wish they let us read the damn book and quit the criticism. The book is not selling anything it just got people curious, well it got me curious. And I hope nobody buys that lady with the blue scarf sells not one book. Ugh she irritated the mess out of me. I totally agree with you cause i rolled my eyes to it’s one of my pet peeves when someone tries to criticize something when they don’t know all the facts.

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  10. bgheron says:

    This was also aired in America where I first saw it, but its been some some so I took a moment (or forty five) to review it. I’m saddened by its uni vision as well as its choice of commentators. It portrayed readers as either needy escapists or unintelligent morons. Any woman who appreciates this book does so for a myriad of reasons: passion, overwhelming love, sex, frailty, intelligence. How ironic that the main female character is an intellectual bookworm with no sense nor desire for commercialism. Perhaps that alone would feel refreshing to a man who clearly lives in a commercial world. As far as feminism goes, maybe that needs to be redefined with the times as well. We’ve taught our son that women are equal to men but that should never preclude his showing his respect, as a man, by opening or closing a door for a woman. Perhaps the tidal wave from Fifty Shades was needed not just for entertainment but to allow, even feminists, to come to terms with letting themselves to be whomever they chose. The most profound removal of boundaries hasn’t really been contemplated by most women who are too busy just living and getting by. And for any who don’t see the books as ultimately a love story…I’m terribly sorry but I can’t help you.

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    • Monique Lain says:

      I love the point of irony you highlighted, not only a bookworm but the classics! Highbrow stuff indeed! LOL! Just goes to show, you can conveniently criticise around blaring facts! Love it. Thank you for a beautifully written, relevant comment! 😉

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  11. SusanW says:

    Monique, you have hit upon my biggest pet peeve about the whole FS phenomenon — the media preoccupation with the BDSM label. I know they play it up because teasing that word in a headline is going to attract attention to the story and improve ratings, but it does such a disservice to the book. You’re right — it shows that they haven’t bothered to actually read the book, and it shows disrespect to the author and the readers. And honestly, most men don’t get it at all. I think they’re just not wired to get it. I saw a panel of three men on TV who had read FS (I think it was on the Katie Couric show with EL James) and they were sure that the reason women loved Christian was because he had a helicopter and great cars. “Boys and their toys” as Ana would say — they couldn’t get past the gadgets and the money. And the mistaken impression about the story also makes me think of your post yesterday, with the links to the fanmade trailers. I have been looking at those for months, and I do admire people who can take clips of shows/movies that are completely unrelated and use them to tell the FS story — it’s a degree of creativity that I don’t have. But one thing I’ve noticed is how “dark” most of the trailers are. Many of them have almost a sinister overtone of evil. Even with my first reading of FS, I didn’t think of Christian as a dark person. He had been introduced to an unconventional lifestyle and used it to cope with the emotional damage that had been done to him by a traumatic early childhood. But I think his actual personal nature is generous, nurturing, and loving. He was just afraid to show his true nature to the world because it would have made him vulnerable to being hurt, and he had already been hurt so much. I’ve always had mixed feelings about a film version being made — yes, I’m excited because I love the story so much and I’m curious to see it brought to life. But…I have fears that the more sensational aspects of the story are going to be emphasized and that the emotional underpinnings will be downplayed. From what I’ve read, EL is apparently very involved in the movie process, and I’m hoping that she will keep things focused in the right direction.

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    • hisboo13 says:

      I agree. and i hope they don’t change things because you know when some books turn into movies they change things around to make it more dramatic so i’m just curious to see how that goes.

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    • Monique Lain says:

      Interesting point about the darkness of the images. In one way I see it the same because of Christian’s past. If fact Ana often refers to him coming out of the dark and following her into the light. Furthermore, I like the idea of the duality, the darkness remains in the sense that it will always be a shadow in his past, but also the darkness evolving, becoming something else altogether (a bit like super powers being used for good instead of evil) as he sheds the bonds that held him back. I also agree with you on Christian’s nature – a truly good man. I hope right along with you that the movie won’t make a mockery of the book and end up being some sordid half porn flick! Lovely comment Susan, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  12. moire says:

    so agree with your comments and review of the programme – and Justin Bieber ewwww!!!

    Comment made by son who reads GQ and there was one with James Franco on the front – (we have open discussion about the book in the family) that he would be a sitter for CG role – mmh now there is a thought do not know how to upload James Franco’s pix tho’ –

    and it would be soooo nice to have a little domination in ones life as one does get sick of being the one who holds the family together and makes all the decisions – oh thats right I have been told I am a control freak and a dominating personality . Maybe I am in the worng profession!!!! :p) LOL

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    • Monique Lain says:

      Whahaha! I can empathise. I think control freak is something that’s been thrown my way more times than I can count, I’ve accepted it – happily – but the responsibility of taking on EVERYTHING is tiresome and yes, trusting someone enough to pass on the reins every so often wouldn’t be a half bad thing… Thank you for the comment Moire, good to hear from you. x

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  13. DianeG says:

    I just love strong, articulate, opinionated, big mouthed women. You ladies ROCK. I’ve read the comments and agree with all of you. Those of us who have actually read the books know the true essence of the story, the depth, the passion, the growth of both main characters; those who have not and speak about FSOG on a purely superficial level have clearly missed the boat. What a shame for them.

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    • Audrey says:

      Amen to that! Lol..

      And thanks o FSOG… We have meander and we get to know Monique’s taent and get this great ‘talk’ with everyone around the globe. People we would never encounter if its not for our love for FSOG. 🙂

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      • Monique Lain says:

        Thank you for brining that up Audrey, I still marvel at the fact that, at last count, it was over 90 countries across the world. How cool is that?? People you would never have met brought together by a book… Amazing if you think about it.

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    • Monique Lain says:

      Hear, hear! 😉

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  14. nancy says:

    So as an American watching this I have several thoughts. I think Monique you might be getting your knickers in a twist over nothing, let’s be real they start off by stating Seattle is a sophisticated city? When I think sophisticated city, Seattle doesn’t even show up on the radar! Miami, NY, London, Paris, San Fran, LA, Milan, those are sophisticated cities, people! So with that statement let’s take this with a HUGE grain of salt. They did touch on Christian being an updated version of the dark brooding characters of Withering Heights & Jayne Eyre, and Ana being the virginal good girl being drawn to him & him “corrupting” her. So “they” realize this part is fiction but that is about where it stops. Who has the big O’s practically on command? What guys can go on for hours multiple times? Fantasy here people! It does appear that the “American journalists” are certainly more interested in trying to find out how much of “50” actually took place behind EL’s closed bedroom doors with her husband. It was actually embarrassing, even though I had seen one of the clips previously. Well here we puritanical Americans go again, that brings me to my 2nd point! We have such issues with sex, talking about it, reading it, watching it. Thus my 3rd point; as you have said, people in love & lust have sex, (and been “role playing” for a long time, this isn’t new). Case in point, 20 years ago, I was a lot like Ana, a year out of college, in a consenting relationship with an older wealthy man. He was not a stalker & was an average to geeky looking guy, was pretty similar to our favorite leading man. He had planes, exotic cars, uttered “because I can” many times, and did not do the hearts & flowers or girlfriend thing. He also had some singular tastes, most of which I was completely naive too. But once again back to the consenting adults behind closed doors. I surprisingly enjoyed most of it. Which brings me to my final thought. Enjoying sex that is not the standard missionary, let’s have sex to procreate thing is so hard for some to wrap their minds around. Isn’t that part of what the sexual revolution & feminist movement was about? And just so you know our relationship ended because I did want the happily ever after, he did not. But being young and in love & enjoying his world while it lasted was REALLY REALLY FUN!

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    • Monique Lain says:

      Of course! I hope that in spite of falling so hard for FSOG we all know that it’s not real life no matter how much the fantasy appeals. My knickers get very twisted about tolerance preached but not practised. I say Carpe diem – especially behind closed, consenting doors – live and love to your heart’s content – it’s nobody’s business but your own. Thank you for your insightful comment. 😉

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  15. Dawn says:

    Some books I recently read I would like to share:

    Beauty From Pain
    Collide
    Surrender Your Love

    Enjoyed all 3!!!

    Thanks for all the great writing!!!!

    Your fan,

    Dawn

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