Fifty Shades of Grey – Romance or Abuse?

Ever since the first book was published, I have been hearing about Fifty Shades of Grey. Women went nuts over it, the media talked about it repeatedly, the Internet was abuzz with it. Yet one thing I have never understood is why it became so popular and has stayed popular.

Fifty Shades Trilogy cover art

Admittedly, I haven’t read it. I refuse to pick up or download a copy of it. I won’t be watching the movie based on it, either. Why? Well, for one thing the whole idea behind it gives me the willies. An unbelievably naïve and insecure young woman falls for a seriously disturbed and controlling man, and he tries (for much of the book, from what I understand) to coerce her into signing a contract that grants him permission to do as he jolly well pleases to/with her and essentially revokes all her human rights and freedom. All kinds of red flags started waving as soon as I learned about the contract. A situation like that invites all kinds of mistreatment and abuse, which is not okay under any circumstances.

Then there is the origin of the story, which is creepy (to me) in its own right. In case you haven’t already heard, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele aren’t original characters. Fifty Shades of Grey started out life as a Twilight fanfiction. Christian and Anastasia are essentially Edward and Bella in an X-rated and disturbing story.

Even though I will not read the book, I have seen several excerpts from it. They ranged from poorly written to abusive to just plain stomach churning. Now, it’s true that BDSM isn’t my cup of tea, but this book isn’t BDSM. It is abuse, pure and simple. Authors of BDSM romances and those within the BDSM community say the same thing.

“…a lot of what happens in the main relationship of Fifty Shades of Grey is domestic abuse, both physical and emotional…” Sophie Morgan, submissive and author of The Diary of a Submissive (Source: The Guardian)

“I hate—hate—this book because it conflates BDSM with abuse.” Katherine O’Clare (Source: Crushable)

“The novel completely ignores elements of safe play that those familiar with the BDSM community would immediately recognise. RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. SSC stands for Safe, Sane and Consensual. (Note the repeated word in both anagrams). This topic is completely ignored or glossed over in James’ novels and, considering the reaction they have amassed, this is a concern.” Anonymous poster (Source:

Some will read this post and say I’m crazy. Others may think I’m some kind of religious fanatic (I am a Christian, after all). But the ones I want to address are the ones who will look at what I’ve said so far and say, “You just don’t get it.”

Those people are absolutely right. I don’t get it.

I don’t get why anyone would write one book, let alone an entire trilogy, about a ridiculously naïve young woman who signs a contract agreeing to let a super-controlling rich guy abuse her in any way he wants.

I don’t get how anyone could look at the content of those same books and think it’s romantic to be belittled, manipulated, and degraded by your partner, not to mention the physical/sexual abuse that occurs in the story.

I don’t get why women from high school age on up would rave about how wonderful the book is when it glorifies abuse.

I don’t get why Hollywood would take poorly written, abuse-promoting literature (and I use that word loosely) and turn it into a movie.

I also don’t get why they would give a movie based on erotica a rating as low as R.

Since Fifty Shades of Grey was released, I have read numerous articles and blog posts trying to find some explanation of why something portraying such dangerous and negative behavior is so popular. Everything I have read has shared the opinions I’ve already stated. Many were much more strongly worded than what I have written, and most were written by people who have read the book.

Despite sincerely trying to find out how this atrocity could be considered romance, I haven’t found one example. I started out thinking that surely I was just coming across the writings of like-minded people, those who don’t enjoy those types of books for one reason or another. Now, however, after seeing so many articles showing why the book is bad and no articles showing why it’s a romance, I have to wonder if anyone can give an example of what makes a book about an abusive relationship romantic.

When the Fifty Shades of Grey movie comes out on Valentine’s Day, I hope you will think twice before spending your hard-earned money on something that has nothing to do with romance. Use the money to go on a romantic date with your significant other. Put in it your kid’s college fund. Better yet, donate it to a shelter or organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Don’t support the glorification of abuse. Support the effort to end it.

Boycoot Fifty Shades of Grey poster


Speak out on social media using the hashtags #FiftyShadesIsAbuse and #50dollarsnot50shades.

Donate to your local domestic violence shelter. If you need help finding a shelter, try You can also contact your local police department or social services.

Discuss warning signs of abuse with your loved ones and friends. Here are three lists to help you know what to look for:

“21 Warnings Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship”

“Red Flags for Abusive Relationships”

“Early warning signs and the beginnings of an abusive relationship”

If you suspect someone you know is a victim of abuse, there are ways you can help. “Is Someone You Know Being Abused?” contains an excellent list of what you can do.

What do you think? Is Fifty Shades of Grey abuse, or is it romance?

Please share links to any articles or blog posts that explain (preferably with excerpts) how Fifty Shades of Grey is romantic and not abusive. I would love to be able to look at it from both sides.


2 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey – Romance or Abuse?

  1. as I just posted on another blog (by an AP author) on this book/series:
    I have not read FSOG and have no plans to. I have read numerous articles about the novel (& trilogy) and its author. Nothing I read about any of it made me want to read the novels themselves. And I seriously doubt I would waste 90 mins. on the movie.
    The author struck it rich writing “fan fiction” and the public has temporarily made her the queen of a new cluster of “mainstream” porn.
    I wonder how she will explain all this to her grandchildren.
    Wonder what kinds of guys will be attracted to her, likely assuming she’s like the character she created.

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