A British charity has called for a burning of the book “50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. Wearside Women in Need, which focuses on domestic violence, has asked readers to drop off books for a planned bonfire on Nov. 5.
“I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is,” Wearside Women’s Clare Phillipson told the BBC, “and how dangerous I think the idea is that you get a sophisticated but naive, young women and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually.”
A mega-bestseller, “50 Shades of Grey” features Anastasia, a naive college student who has an affair with a handsome billionaire who introduces her to sado-masochistic sex. Random House, which published the book in Britain, insists the sex in the book is not abusive but “entirely consensual.”
That story has been a hit in the U.S., where the 50 Shades trilogy -- “50 Shades of Grey,” “50 Shades Darker” and “50 Shades Freed” -- has sold more than 20 million copies. That was in a matter of months; it took three years for Steig Larsons’ “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series to sell as many books.
“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.’ ”
Not everyone things the books are particularly sexy. In New York this summer, a panel of literary writers known for writing about sex were, for the most part, unimpressed. During the discussion, Erica Jong, whose 1973 novel “Fear of Flying” became a sensation for its frank treatment of female sexual desire, said, “I couldn’t find anything that turned me on, other than the fact that he gives her a rare copy of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles.’ ”