Shades of Annoyance

Consider this me jumping on the bandwagon.

After Dara O’ Briain had finished pontificating on tonight’s The Apprentice, I was tempted to call it a night. And I would have, were it not for something interesting catching my eye. Apart from a lengthy interview with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Newsnight apparently deemed it necessary to interview author EL James. 

You may have heard of this woman. She is the brains behind the 50 Shades Trilogy, the runaway hit in the book charts. Now, 50 Shades has caused consternation and uproar with people everywhere, for basically being “literary soft porn” aimed at women. Its display of BDSM and explicit sex is a hit with women everywhere.

And tonight, EL James was going to make her UK television debut.

Naturally, this piqued my interest. I am the author of a few erotic short stories, I write a sex blog, so why would I not watch this?

My timeline was also keen on hearing what she had to say. My timeline consists mainly of erotica authors and sex bloggers of many walks of life,including people in a D/s relationship. So, they were watching, eagle-eyed and eager-eared.

Oh, you want to know my opinion?

I am appalled. Genuinely appalled by the entire interview.

To start off, the attitude of the interviewer left a lot to be desired. I cringed, as he dredged up the cliché of porn being violent and degrading. I cringed even more as he started reading out some of the finer details of the contract between main characters Christian and Anastasia. Fisting, my good man, is not (I repeat: NOT) the sexual equivalent of burning a child. Yet, he spoke of it as if it was the most vile thing in the entire universe. Honestly, I have never heard anyone speak the words “anal sex” with so much contempt in his voice.

Then, he said that this book was speaking the language of women. What, English? Seriously, us “womenfolk” don’t exist on an entirely different plain of being. We speak the same language as you, interviewer. Except we are not biased and sexist, like you, you big dunderhead. 

EL James herself was not much better. When asked to explain what the acronym BDSM stood for, she could not even give the right words. This is a woman who has successfully flogged three books about a BDSM relationship. Who sold the film rights to said books. And even she has no fucking clue what she’s on about.

She also states that she was “inspired by Twilight”. Which is a completely blatant lie, as she was not inspired by Twilight, but by a Twilight fanfic called “Master of the Universe”. I have actually read this fic. It is the exact same premise as the first book, but with Bella and Edward as the main characters. And yes, it’s one of the most awful things I’ve read in my life.

And I’ve read all 42 chapters of “My Immortal” for fuck’s sake.

I spent most of last night on Tumblr, going through the archives of the aptly named “50 Shades of Suck”. It contains choice quotes from the trilogy, and has fueled my anger even more.

(Possible spoilers)

A quote from book three caught my eye. In this scene, Christian flogs Ana’s stomach. Ana’s PREGNANT stomach. Now, already knowing her answer, I asked my friend Cara, who is both a Domme and currently expecting, what she thought about this. Horrified doesn’t cover it. This proves that EL has no idea what she’s talking about, because this is neither safe, nor sensible. I should point out that EL noted during her interview that these characters practice safe and sensible kink. Yes, this happened.

Not noting the abysmal grammar (what the bloody hell does “Fair point, well made” even mean?) and the overtly detailed description of everything the characters are wearing, this also offended me as a sexual human being.

Like Ana, I am a virgin. I am only one year younger than her. But unlike her, I’ve actually masturbated. More than once. Fuck, more than I can even count! I’ve also kissed boys and girls, although my first kiss did come at 20. I’ve got several vibrators, I’ve had both fingers and a plug up my arsehole, and I’ve cammed several times. Okay, granted, it’s a lot. But Ana has no experience with any of this whatsoever. Her amazement at Christian’s idea of putting a finger up her arse (“A finger? Up there?”) is enough to drive me insane. She actually states that no-one has ever held her hand. I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my childhood holding hands with my parents. I’ve held hands and linked arms with plenty of people.

Adding to the list of what EL James doesn’t seem to understand: normal social behavior.

This can not be good for the BDSM community. They are being portrayed as violent freaks. Have you talked to any kinkster? I think you’ll find that they are normal people. They consent to what they do, they negotiate limits and they choose to be in a BDSM relationship. They are not “weak willed”. Trust me. I know Molly Moore (her take on this controversy can be found here.) She is not “weak willed”. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. She chooses to be submissive because she (shock, horror) likes it. She likes to not be in charge and she likes to surrender to her Dom.

Is this so hard to believe?

BDSM is being treated as just a silly fantasy of the “independent career woman”. They are apparently, in essence, “weak and willing to be dominated by a big bad man”. People are wondering why women are reading about this. Why are we attracted to a novel about BDSM? Why do independent career women still secretly crave to be dominated?

BDSM is not “just a silly fantasy”. BDSM is a common practice. But, surprisingly, none of the people in the lifestyle are asked for their opinion. Instead, we listen to housewives and soccer moms, because they are apparently more of an expert on this subject than the people actually practicing BDSM.

I am appalled as a sexual human being, a virgin (who blogs about sex) and an erotica author. I truly wish that people would start reading erotica from people who write it for a living. Seriously, I would give an actual limb to have any book or any anthology I’m associated with to go to number one in the charts.

It’s not about the book anymore. I don’t give a toss whether people think it’s good. For me, it’s about being an author of erotica and having to watch this happen.

I am in awe of my friend Elenya Lewis, for actually managing to read this book without wanting to give up on both her craft and BDSM as a whole. Her take can be found here and here. El, if you’re reading this, you are truly one of the brave for reading this.

I’m not saying sorry for the angry nature of this post. This is how I feel, and you can take or leave it however you like.

I’m going to listen to some smooth jazz, to keep me from hyperventilating.

Boyd, out.







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  1. Ugh. I understand your annoyance. Always bugs me when clearly a writer has no real understanding of BDSM, even though they are writing about it. I can’t say much about 50 shades, as I only read the first 8 pages or so, but that was enough for me to know I didn’t want to waste my precious reading time on it–not for me.

  2. Huzzah!
    Great post Jilly! Totally agree with you and Molly. For hype to be generated about a work of fiction is one thing. Hype about fiction written by somebody with blatantly no idea and with potentially dangerous scenes is just totally appauling. Maybe EL needs to go and read Sub Text by Kate Marley or spend a day actually researching the actual internet, Molly’s Daily Kiss, SlipperyWhnWhets blog- A Slut’s Memoir and Mia’s Little Girl Lost, Down the Rabbit Hole might be a few good places to start.
    I hope the jazz calmed your soul, I wouldn’t like for you to spontaeneously combust!.
    Lily xxx

    1. Sub Text is an excellent book! I’m just sad that Kate Marley got outed and isn’t on Twitter anymore. Things like Molly and Slippery and Mia’s blogs are a much better resource, since they are actually talking from experience.

      I eventually opted for wanking :p


  3. Reblogged this on AnonyMissLily and commented:
    I am submissive. I am proud to be submissive. It does not make me weak because of it. It is a part of who I am. Plagarising this bit slightly from Molly, hope she forgives me. I am a submissive, a professional, a mummy, a girlfriend, a daughter, a gardener, a friend, a writer – being a submissive impacts upon my life daily. However it does not make me weak. It does not mean I crave a strong man to ‘abuse’ me.
    Thank you to Molly and Jilly for putting it so much more eloquently than me.
    You can find Molly’s rant at “50 Shades of Me”.
    Lily xxx

  4. I completely understand your need to rant and your anger at the Newsnight piece. That pompas ass needs a good fisting quite frankly. He treated her with contempt. I wish it had been me, I would have wiped the floor with the little worm.


    1. I was talking to Justine Elyot and Rebecca Bond last night, and all three of us came to the conclusion that she should be glad it wasn’t Paxman who was interviewing her.

      Oh, I would pay actual money to see you wipe the floor with him. I just know you would. xxx

  5. People are free to write bad fiction and people are free to buy bad fiction, I don’t really see what the problem is. It happens all the time. Is it just because I’m not an amateur erotica writer so haven’t got this “boo hoo hoo, it should’ve been me” thing?

    1. First of all, I think I should point out that, to me, erotica writing is actually my livelihood. Not some thingy I do for fun. Like a lot of authors, I actually bother to research my stories before I write them. So the first problem lies in my annoyance at EL James not even bothering to research BDSM.

      Second of all, it has nothing to do with “not being an amateur erotica writer”. I have merely written this article from the perspective of someone who writes erotica.

      Third of all, I don’t go around moping, and being insanely jealous at EL James’s “mad skillz”. I go around wondering what the hell I’m doing wrong.

      Fourth of all, I think Molly clarifies it in her article that this is offensive for someone who is actually in the BDSM lifestyle.

      Fifth of all, ask Elenya how it’s possible that she’s managed to make it so far into the book without wanting to spoon her eyes out.

      Sixth of all, is it so impossible to be both a virgin and sexual at the same time, I wonder?

      I could go further, but then I would be writing a post all by itself. This isn’t a “boo hoo hoo, it should have been me” thing. And I’m sorry that you feel that way.

      1. I’ve seen quite a lot of bloggers write about this book and quite often, that’s how it comes across. It can be pretty cringeworthy.

        It’s fiction, it doesn’t have to be realistic. And writing about fantasies tends not to be. If it had to be totally based on the real world then most erotica set in an office would go “My boss asked me to work overtime and because he’s a sweaty man in a cheap suit and not some busty MILF I had no sexual thoughts whatsoever the whole time and then I went home. The end.”

        This book appears to be like a Mills and Boon book but with mild kink, and Mills and Boon books are hardly realistic. And are also very fond of virgins. Erotica fucking loves virgins. Every other Mills and Boon seems to be a young, shy, virginal waitress marrying some rich handsome Sheikh or something, but somehow the catering world survives this kind of inaccurate portrayal.

        Most people’s problems seem to be with the way the book is analysed in newspapers, etc, but that’s hardly the author’s fault. Journalists tend to like ranting on about things they know nothing about though so I guess it’s not a surprise. The media also tend to be very prudish about sex, but love talking about it, in a way that doesn’t really say anything. Just an “omgz, sex!!!!” way, like some sad teenagers.

        I think it’s fair to criticise some clueless gobby columnist for trying to claim that women aren’t allowed to have certain fantasies or that it’s unfeminist or whatever. But it’s then hypocritical to claim that EL James and the people who buy her books aren’t allowed to have their fantasy. Some people’s fantasies are a bit shit. Maybe most are. I suspect most of my fantasies would be considered boring or weird or something. But they’re mine and if I ever want to write about them I will.

        I find it really depressing that even the sex blog world is telling people what kind of fantasies we are and aren’t allowed to have.

  6. Cath says:

    “People are free to write bad fiction and people are free to buy bad fiction, I don’t really see what the problem is. It happens all the time. Is it just because I’m not an amateur erotica writer so haven’t got this “boo hoo hoo, it should’ve been me” thing?”

    Really? The point is that neither the author nor the interviewer have any understanding and precious little knowledge of BDSM. I am fairly new at this and still kind of vanilla, little less each day, but even I know more than these two seem to.

    If you are going to write about, and to try and make money from BDSM then at least have the common decency to learn about the lifestyle. Kinksters are not weird or freaks, there is a huge difference between consenting to a Master?Mistress and being weak.


    1. But she’s not writing a biography of a sex blogger; she’s writing fiction based upon a fantasy, so it can be as unrealistic as she wants it to be. This fake world she’s created turns her and other women on; good for them I guess.

      The media coverage is a different thing because it’s often criticising actual real-life people who have these fantasies rather than just a fictional world. I kind of suspect it won’t get taken seriously though; a lot of it has the word “feminism” in it and that doesn’t tend to go down well.

  7. Replying to Cath.

    As fiction, no, it doesn’t have to be realistic. However, unlike the vampire fiction 50SoG it was based on, BDSM happens in the real world, and people who are curious about it are going to try these things themselves. Many erotica authors go to great lengths to research and properly present accurate details about how to do certain activities (whether they have done them themselves or not) not only because it makes the scenes hotter, but also because they are aware that often readers will use them as primers.

    No one here is saying that EL James and the people reading her books aren’t allowed to have their fantasies. (And calling Jilly a hypocrite is purely mean!) What is being said, instead, is that this is not the ideal author to be showcasing BDSM and BDSM literature to the media at large, given her lack of knowledge about the world we inhabit.


    1. The ‘hypocrite’ thing wasn’t aimed at any person in particular, but many of the pieces I’ve read about this book have focussed on the argument that “this fantasy is WRONG”, and I think that is a pretty horrendous argument for a writer to be making.

      I don’t think the author can be blamed for the media attention, and she doesn’t appear to have courted it. The media like talking crap about sex and saw this book as an excuse to do so. It seems the author wrote the book for women like her, so probably assumed they’d interpret the book the same way she did. When we write for an audience made up of people like us, we tend not to assume they’re complete morons because we all tend to think of ourselves as super-duper. Now maybe other people think her audience are morons, but maybe that’s their problem?

      Things with a mostly female audience often attract critics telling women that they can’t possibly be trusted with it.

  8. Well, I just spent £2.77 buying the book from Amazon. For the small investment, I shall read it regardless. If I get naffed off , it will pass to the queue of friends eagerly waiting to make their own judgement. No doubt in a month or two when it’s done the rounds, we’ll have a girly night doing a book review with several bottles of wine. I daresay once we’re all squiffy the book will take on a whole new meaning 🙂

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