Where Have All the Cowboys Gone

8.01.2012

I don't like ruffling feathers. I like being a buffer. I like diffusing tension. I like being a peacemaker. 

But I just can't shake this one. I just feel too sad not to share my heart on the matter.

I've always cared to know what the bestselling books are. Thanks to the abundance of airport bookstores, and their patrons (my passengers), I have an endless list of items I need to borrow from the library.

But my heart sinks every time I see a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

And it. is. everywhere.

Girls in high school. Older women. Even men sit intently for the duration of the flight and read it. Some try to be discreet, some don't care who sees it.

Side note: I read the first Twilight book, and the first several chapters of Fifty Shades before the vomit started creeping up my throat. But before anyone jumps in with claws ready to slash my flesh in defense of Edward or Christian and how I don't actually know what it's like since I haven't read both series in their entirety - let's be real. They won't be winning the Pulitzer any time soon. And I have access to the internet. And Wikipedia. And I am just a person. No one needs to turn into a velociraptor over my opinion.

E.L. James was inspired to write the trilogy from the vampire phenomena that is rampant amongst our culture in film and television. 

It makes sense - as Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele are surprisingly similar to each other. 

Both characters are described as seeing themselves as ordinary - maybe even clumsy. They're not as beautiful as their friends. But the men (beautiful, wealthy, desired by many) are overtaken and obsessed with them. They're consumed with possessing them. It's a twisted portrayal of monogamy. No one else can have her. But they won't just willingly commit to her, either. It's more complicated than that. It's darker. It's blah, blah, blah.

Neither are good men. But they are both great examples of what you might see on To Catch a Predator.


When I've asked people what they like about it, they describe it as addicting. They claim that it's harmless. 

It is not harmless

We've gone from being offended by the damsel in distress to admiring the heroine, and now are in a strange new territory of horribly written 'literature' that's spawning endless franchises about women being sexually dominated and that it's just a cool thing. That confuses me, because after fighting so long to be viewed as equal, it's suddenly somehow 'freeing' to love a book about a man that sexually and physically dominates a woman.

Does that seem completely jacked up to anyone else?

I understand that every woman enjoys a great love story. But It's that obsession and possession have overpowered true integrity and masculinity. It's that emotional and physical bondage is being written and people are eating it up and believing that it is synonymous with love. It's that we're continually glamorizing sexual abuse and domestic violence and allowed it to masquerade as dangerous and sexy.

If one day I have daughters, it makes my stomach turn to think they would ever know about Christian Grey. 

I want them to know about Atticus Finch!

I want them to know about gentleness, and integrity! And real, actual love - the kind God just pours on us in buckets.

I want them to treasure and value what is truly good. 

I just want women to know and understand that they can all do much better than Christian Grey.


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52 comments:

  1. PREACH.

    Seriously. I am declaring this a great post. I 100% agree. I usually like to read something before I let myself criticize it, just so I know what I'm talking about (hence why I've read all the Twilight books... blargh), but I couldn't even do that with this one. I've seen excerpts here and there online and they were enough. Actually, the fact that it started out as Twilight fan fiction was enough, and the excerpts I read just solidified my decision to stay far away.

    So yeah. Sorry I'm not sorry, 50 Shades fans. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books I would rather read before I even touched that one. You are definitely not alone in this line of thinking. :)

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    1. I did not know about the fan fiction part of it. Thaaaat makes a lot more sense, now! I'm the same way - I want to be in on the fun with what everyone's talking about...I'll stick with HP and HG! Hahah

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  2. Yes. I have so many issues with both of those series. THANK YOU.

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    1. It was one of those rabbit trails when I couldn't fall asleep the other night. I'm so glad it's been well received. Thanks, girl!

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  3. Oh I will definitely be blogging about this same topic later. I read a very small excerpt from the very beginning of 50 Shades (it actually didn't contain any of the dirty stuff) and what got me was how atrocious the writing is! I read the Twilight series and was amused enough but am also aware that the series deserves no prestigious awards. It's wiling falls into my "brain candy" category in that it entertains me without requiring me to think. 50 Shades is so poorly written that I cannot comprehend how people can stand to read it.

    I also find it ironic that most women reading the trilogy would still have an issue with men looking at pornography. What do they think 50 Shades is? You can dress it up however you like; eliminate pictures, give it a hardback cover with a vague black & white photo on the front, and sell it in a bookstore rather than an adult bookstore, but at the end of the day it's still porn. You can polish a turd all you like, but it's still a turd.

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    1. Totally with you on the brain candy thing. Pretty much anything ever written by Emily Giffin falls into that category for me.

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    2. And I know I already said it, but I loved your post on this!

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  4. AMEN. This post is spot on. I could go on and on and on about why I have huge issues with those books, but you summed it up perfectly. High five.

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    1. Thanks Shell Bellll! And thanks for the RT :)

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  5. Exactly! Thanks for drawing the line in the sand. I'm so sick of people asking, "You like to read. How was 50 Shades?" Now I can just email them this post. :)

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    1. I'm glad other people were encouraged by it!
      And I just read your post about Bunheads and now I want to watch it. I caught like one episode but wasn't sold but I'm a huge Gilmore Girls fan.
      Also, ANGELINA BALLERINA.
      My favorite.

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  6. Amen, amen, amen. To all of your comments and to all of your commenters' comments (so far, when there have only been 7 before me.) This is not even close to literature. And your comment about her being like Bella... the original 50 Shades story was written as a Twilight fan fiction. It was posted on a fan-fic site and the site owners asked the writer to take it down because it was so racy. The writer then put it on a website of it's own, and then because it was gaining so mich popularity he/she was asked to change the names because he/she could not use the names Bella and Edward; other identifying things had to be changed as well or he/she was breaching copyright. What a mess.

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    1. I had no idea about all of that.
      Sarah mentioned it above and it was news to me - but hearing that makes everything come together a lot more with the parallels.
      Oy ve. Making a bad series from an already bad series.

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  7. Thanks Fran. I do have a daughter and a granddaughter and I agree with you. Let's be real. If this was real life and these women were our friends, we'd advise them to RUN from men like this. I just finished a book called Redeeming Love. It's a fictional book but mirrors the story of Gomer in the Bible, which mirrors Christ and his relationship to me. It's not written as skillfully as To Kill a Mockingbird (what is, right?) but it's such a beautiful portrayal of love between a man and a woman. The Word of God tells us to set our minds on things that are lovely...Hmmm....doesn't sound like 50 Shades to me.

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    1. I've heard such great things about Redeeming Love - a lot of my friends have loved it. I'm going to have to get that from the library soon. I love allegories like that. You've made a great point, also. "Whatever is lovely" always stands out as a favorite part to me of that verse. Very cool :)

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  8. Agreed! I don't know a whole lot about the book series, but when I heard a radio commercial of an adult store advertising that they sold the book, I am pretty sure I can fathom what kind of content is found in those books...

    Another great post about this series comes from Edie (http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2012/07/why-im-not-reading-fifty-shades-of-gray/)

    I agree, let's cultivate healthy attitudes and beliefs toward relationships! I believe doing that involves guarding one's heart against things that portray relationships in an unhealthy or unrealistic manner. I want a man like Boaz, not someone like Edward, the other guy, and the guy from 50 Shades of Gray.

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    1. She said it much better than I did - shooot, that was good. How did I not know about this woman and her blog before this time?!
      Also, I saw your blog and I was laughing to myself because you put me under the "people I don't know" column - BUT DON'T YOU REMEMBER when we were in the Bible study together at CSF and we did the book of Colossians and Grace co-led with me and we had no idea what we were doing? DO YOU REMEMBER! SFGLJKSHFDLKGJHSD

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  9. I totally appreciate you writing this! I know that it's a touchy subject and the people that love the series, LOVE it with a fiery passion. I agree though, I don't think there's anything redeeming, beautiful, or healthy about the subject or the relationships. I would rather invest my time and my heart reading something strong, something empowering, something beautiful- which neither of those series can be labelled as.

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    1. Well said, Jess. (My pop culture kindred spirit!)
      I definitely didn't want it to be offensive to the people that read them, I just felt really fired up and concerned about all of it.
      AND, more importantly - WELCOME HOME!
      :)

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  10. Thank you for this! Totally agree and it's good to know that not everyone is so entirely brainwashed by crazy books like this.

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    1. I am glad it's been received well! I was pretty scared to publish it, but it sounds like I'm not the only one :)

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  11. Preach, sista, preach! I have even touched any of those books. I've read and heard enough feedback/reviews from people who I find to be very intelligent, and I immediately know that it's not worth my time, thank you very much. :-)

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  12. This is awesome! I haven't gotten into the books (either series), and to be honest, don't plan on it. I love that you mentioned Atticus Finch. That is by far my favorite book ever. Thanks for this!

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    1. Atticus. Oh, ATTICUS. I want to read it again right now.

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  13. Ok I could not agree more! And this is so eloquently written too. You are awesome!

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  14. You could not have said it better!

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  15. Perfectly said. I have had a hypothetical crush on Atticus Finch since before it was appropriate. Of course I have.

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    1. Between Atticus and Wendell Berry...of course you have.

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  16. Exactly! I haven't read Twilight or 50 Shades, and don't intend to either. :/

    Also, "No one needs to turn into a velociraptor over my opinion." LOL! This is awesome. :D

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    1. bahahah thank you for appreciating any and every dinosaur reference!

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  17. I love it, Fran! :) Of course, I don't think I could not love anything you write.

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  18. AMEN SISTER. I admire the way you express your strong opinions...and I thoroughly enjoy reading them, as well! Ha! This post definitely suits your blog name. Love it.

    Whenever Fifty Shades of Grey is mentioned to me, I really have to restrain from rolling my eyes. Once I found out what the series was about (which was about a month ago) I was like, "What!? Why is this SO popular and all over the place??" I was even more surprised when I discovered who was reading it and extremely raving about it! So confused...ANYWAY, I wish I read more and reading your blog has inspired me to do so! I really want to check out some of your recommendations. "The Night Circus" sounds like something I want to get lost in. I know I'd probably enjoy "Sisterhood Everlasting", too. Thanks for sharing!

    Lauren

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    1. I refrain from being too candid a lot of the time because I am a coward and don't want to deal with crazy anonymous comments. DEFINITELY read The Night Circus. If you liked the other Sisterhood books, you'll love the last one. It would be a good book to end the summer with, for sure :)

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  19. If one day I have daughters, it makes my stomach turn to think they would ever know about Christian Grey.

    I want them to know about Atticus Finch!

    "I want them to know about gentleness, and integrity! And real, actual love - the kind God just pours on us in buckets.

    I want them to treasure and value what is truly good.

    I just want women to know and understand that they can all do much better than Christian Grey."

    I love this-- so true. I read the first book of Twilight and part of the second book. I couldn't bring myself to crack open 50 Shades of Grey. I love your insight and totally agree.

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    1. Thank you, Amber! I hope we can all keep sharing what the good books are, you know? I'm on The Night Circus kick already.

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  20. Without reading the other comments, I just want to say that I love you for this post. I have friends who have become obsessed with the Twilight series and a select few who have ventured to read Fifty Shades. It saddens me to think that they consider this literature. So thank you for this. I was starting to feel like the minority.

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    1. You're definitely not. I am surprised by how many people agree! It's refreshing, for sure.

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  21. <3 this. All of it.
    And I thought I was the only one.
    Women can not only do better than these ideas of men, but a lot better than these (I hesitate to use the term) "heroines" as well.
    And in a society that is hanging on to literacy by a thread, let's set our reading standards a bit higher.
    I bookmarked your blog awhile ago and check on it periodically, but I dig you enough after this post to start checking back regularly :)

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    1. I was so afraid to share my thoughts on the matter but it's been really encouraging to hear the resounding agreement about it.

      And, I'm honored :) Thank you!

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