Chick lit style writing, prolific S&M scenes and pink frosting romance run rampant across the pages of E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey.
Christian Grey is a man of extreme wealth, extravagance and power -- one with an insatiable appetite for dominating women.
With a name plucked out of a sugarplum dream world gone raunch, Anastasia Steele is a 21-year old said to have never experienced sexual desire -- that is, until she meets Grey.
Steele gets swept up by Grey into a world of bondage, whips and chains and the overarching theme, which happens to be the undercurrent of any abusive relationship, is power and control.
She is portrayed as an innocent, submissive young woman who has not had any sexual experiences or, apparently, sexual thoughts. This lack of depth into the basic human condition is a telling aspect of the book. What human being has not experienced sexual desire? Or, if they haven't, it's likely a pervasive aspect of their personality and sexuality, not something that could be miraculously quelled by meeting a man like Grey.
The many dysfunctional myths that this book reinforces are another appalling feature. The "I can change him" myth appears again and again. Worse than that, the "If I do whatever he wants, he'll surely love me," myth makes an appearance in nearly every chapter.
This is not at all a tirade against S&M. Had Anastasia been remotely interested in exploring her masochistic side, I would not take such issue with the book. The fact that she had zero interest in it and yet goes along with it in a (literally) painful quest to win Grey's heart, is what is concerning.
Hoards of readers are loving these books. Obviously, out-of-the-box erotica is speaking to people. What would be really great is a book with just as many hot scenes minus the glamourization of the cycle of abuse. Any takers?