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Shira Hirschman Weiss Headshot

This Is What Everyone Is Talking About?! Befuddled by '50 Shades'

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As my nine-year-old catches a glimpse of just the title (fear not readers, he sees no more than that), he mutters, "What a dumb name for a book!" The title, however, turns out to be the best part. As I read the first 50 pages of 50 Shades of Grey, I feel like Jerry Seinfeld speaking to Andy Cohen on an episode of Watch What Happens Live:

Cue the whiny voice. "Why am I reading this book?"

50 reads like the trashy romance novels or chick lit paperbacks I might glance at but never remove from library shelves. For some reason, I decided to BUY this book?! Well, not just for any reason. The book has been in the news and at the top of Yahoo!'s "trending" list, talk show hosts plug it (Wendy Williams and Dr. Oz, for example) and that title -- the same one my son thinks is "dumb" -- well, it intrigued me.

Based on the title alone, I had imagined that this was going to be a well-written book reflecting the complexity of a complex relationship, but no, it is merely about two people who barely know each other and decide to have sex -- on the dominant, high profile businessman's own terms.

But flashback to when I bought it: I went into Barnes and Nobles liking that title, having read no reviews (my bad, but seriously, time as a mother of four is crunched to skimming the real news.)

In desperate need of a literary pick-me-up, I purchased it. It was only afterwards that fellow readers came out of the closet to tell me the $15.95 would have been better spent at my salon.

The writing is atrocious. Christian Grey, the domineering lust interest of literature student Anastasia (Ana) Steele, is a stalking control freak who makes her sign a written legal contract before sealing the sadistic deal. He actually calls her "Ms. Steele." I thought this was only during the first 50 pages I struggled to get through, but skipping ahead, he is still calling her Ms. Steele in the hundreds.

Conveniently, Grey has gray eyes. Those gray eyes are mentioned over and over and over (and over) again... Wow, Gray and grey -- Oh, and the word "wow" is overused as are expressions like "holy fuck," "holy cow," "holy crap" and "oh my..."

The lustful Ana debases herself -- and if you are a feminist you already know not to read this book -- as she idealizes the wealthy and powerful Mr. Grey. She continually deems herself unworthy of the power she has over him through the power he has over her. Following? That, according to sexual experts, is what has desperate housewives writhing under the covers with this book. That power shift. He holds the power over her sexually and then she twists it by seeing him completely and utterly under her spell -- BUT, he never loses the upper hand, that crazy CONTROL.

Every woman has known a control freak. I'm referring to platonic and non-sexual relationships as well. I will never forget David, a man who I dated and was briefly broken up with when he spotted me in his favorite bar (I was there with my own friends). Angrily he stormed over and commanded, "You can't be here, this is my domain. Either you leave or I will...NOW." Sadly, I recall feeling intimidated, not standing my ground and being the one to pack up my friends and leave. Even more pathetically, David and I got back together sometime afterwards before his next awful fit of controlling behavior (a fight about my lack of preciseness when I -- "oh my!" -- referred to Forrest Hills as Flushing). I came to my senses and ended that relationship.

So as I am reading this, I think: Who would want to relive this? I would never leave the bar now. There are no Davids in my life. I am the one in control.

At page 56, I call it quits.