I admit it. I read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I know what you’re thinking: didn’t you already tell us a story about consuming trash this week? Why, yes. Yes I did. Don’t change the subject.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, as most terrible ideas do. It was all buzzy and exciting and everyone was talking about it. Besides, I’d just bought a Kindle, which allowed for maximum anonymity while reading it on the subway. You don’t read your “be impressed by my exquisite literary taste” stuff on a Kindle. Does anyone ever buy the e-book version of Infinite Jest? Of course not. The only reason anyone ever buys Infinite Jest is to impress other people in college, and you can’t impress anyone if it’s hidden inside a tiny black tablet. No, smut is perfect for the Kindle.
So, I read it; I felt a little ashamed about reading it, more because of the terrible, terrible writing than the BDSM; and then I forgot about it.
Until this week. Apparently, they’re making a movie! Because of course they are. Even if I can’t help but think that the same demo that was willing to read this thing in secret might feel differently about hearing the words “One ticket for the mommy porn movie, please” come out of their mouths, but what do I know? I’m no film production executive.
But you know who is? Universal Pictures chairperson Donna Langley. Apparently, esteemed author (cough cough) E L James just loves her, because according to an article in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, she really “‘understood the material'”. Okay, so she’s an English speaker and literate. Got it. But what else? Surely there was a little something special that convinced James to sign with Universal over all the other studios beating down her door with movie deals?
Maybe it’s because Langley has things like this to say about the plight of the modern woman:
“‘Women now are forced to make so many decisions, all day, every day. The fantasy of not having to decide when, how, and where [to have sex] is just so delectable.'”
UGH, ladies, amirite? What’s with all these DECISIONS I’m being forced to make in the course of living my daily life? All this autonomy hurts my tiny, woman-sized brain. Please, go ahead and strip me of all free agency as an independent human being and reduce me to the sex object I’d much rather be. I mean it. THANKS.
But seriously: really, Donna Langley? Really? Is not getting to decide when and where to have sex a “delectable fantasy”, or is it assault? Because, um, I hate to state what should be obvious, but it really, definitely sounds like assault.
And I’m pretty sure we ladies have been fighting for the right to make other pesky “decisions” for ourselves for millennia, and many, many women throughout the world still don’t get to. So, I’ll go ahead and say that not being able to make decisions for myself would ALSO not meet my personal criteria for “delectable fantasy”, but maybe rather something more like…oh, I don’t know…oppression? Yeah, I’ll go with oppression.
Why does it matter? It’s not because I could care less whether and how you, random stranger, choose to spend your free time with a respectful consenting partner and a jumbo package of zip-ties. Because I couldn’t.
No, I care because we, as a society, have not yet earned the right to speak as cavalierly as Ms. Langley does here about about sexual autonomy.
Not as long as 20-25% of ALL college women will experience sexual assault by the time they graduate.
Not as long as the response to this completely mind-blowing statistic isn’t uniformly one of horror and outrage and petitions and marches on Washington, but instead articles like this one, in which the author – like so many before her – chooses to blame the victims for drinking, rather than blaming the RAPISTS FOR RAPING.
Not as long as your average teenage girl continues to stumble through adolescence in a haze of increasingly twisted cultural messaging around female sexuality before heading off for college, where there’s a one-in-four chance she’ll end up in my clinic one day, terrified and ashamed and alone, after a friend of a friend of a friend hands her a red Solo cup of blackout one night and proceeds to save her the trouble of deciding for herself “when, how, and where”.
Until this type of clinic visit is a distant memory, you, Donna Langley, need to stop talking.
Look, I even made that decision for you. Isn’t that just delectable? You can thank me later.