Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I'm Feeling a Little Bit Scared! 50 Shades - Week One

So far (and I keep my fingers crossed for the future) I have managed three whole months without offending anyone with my blog content.  How contentious can craft be?  Well, it seems not enough to make anyone give me negative feedback; at least to my face! I'm not usually one to sit on the fence, but I guess I don't really see my blog as somewhere I want to rant or vent all my problems. I write to escape them! 
{This is somewhat ironic as I quite enjoy reading other people blowing off steam.}

I'm sitting here this evening KNOWING that whatever I write about our bloggy bookclub this month is going to be controversial. How could discussing '50 Shades of Grey' and my reaction to it NOT create the same reaction it has throughout the blogosphere? 

Only yesterday I was reading a thought-provoking post which advocated people of a Christian faith did not read it.  If you are Christian, I would suggest you take a look here first and potentially avoid my book posts as I am aware that it might cause you upset or offence.  This isn't my intention. I don't want to lose you as a reader...so for the next few Tuesdays you might want to avoid popping by. There will be lots of other posts on other days though! I am taking part in this book club as I believe in the freedom of literature and the right to respond and discuss. I hope you can respect that, as I respect the views of those out there who disagree.
One thing I have decided is that my blog WILL be staying family friendly. I'm a teacher, some of my students read my blog and I for one wouldn't want to expose them to some of the issues in this text. I was horrified when one of my class said they knew girls who had read it.  I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone under 18 and certainly for those young people who are yet to have a romantic relationship with which to compare with.

{Wow! In two paragraphs it just got pretty deep}
If you don't want to read on, don't click read on. I am about to share my opinion on this week's key questions: "Ana seems to be bewildered with the thought of Christian Grey and all that he is in the beginning chapters of this novel. How do you think her reaction about his physical appearance and self awareness of himself was depicted? Did you feel as if Christian Grey was amused by her inexperience with interviews or simply intrigued with where she was going next?"

Before I start my response, it would be fair to say I do not believe this book to be particularly well written (in that case it shares a lot with 'Twilight' the novels that inspired James in the first place).  However, a number of the themes are pretty interesting.

One thing that struck me from Ana's meeting with Christian was how James had captured how I have seen lots of young women behave in front of confident men.  I work in an all girl's school right now and I am amazed by how comfortable, articulate and capable they are in each other's company.  This changes in the presence of boys. Those confident young ladies shrink back in the face of assertive boys - even when what the guys are saying is vacuous nonsense.  Not to mention the giggling wrecks they become when the popular boybands come up in conversation. (If you know One Direction, you'll know there is really nothing there to be squeaking about!)

I saw this again in the mixed schools I worked in. It was always the boys acting up, answering questions and demanding attention. It drives me potty how lots (obviously not all) are quite happy to remain in the shadows or 'shades' of men.

I guess this is what I saw when I read the interview with Ana and Christian. I saw how a young girl allowed herself to be dominated by a guy, feel intimidated by an unknown situation and walk away feeling somewhat bruised.  I read an article recently in the news which explained how women are being held up in industry through not having the ability to 'blag it' like a guy does.  Ana's ability to blag is completely lacking and she leaves having hooked the interest of a dominant predator.

Christian remains cold and allusive in the first chapter, James relying too much, I think on the 'hot mystery man' demeanor that (I never quite understand why) makes women swoon.  In essence, he is intimidating, too smooth, and somewhat frustrating and not in a 'I want to know more about you' way.

This may be because I like my men tall, hot, happy and kind...maybe that's just me, but I just don't connect with the whole 'bad boy' attraction.

I CAN somewhat understand the reaction Ana has to an exceptionally attractive man.  In the presence of beauty I turn into a gibbering idiot. A typical exchange would look like this:

Me: (Cheerfully to somewhat good-looking cinema vendor) "Hi, I'd like your nuts please?"
Cinema vendor (wearily): "Peanuts or Cashews?"
Me (bright pink): "Cashews, please...."

(Walking away)
Friend: "You didn't mean to say that did you?"
Me: "Nope"

Unlike Ana though, I think I can safely say that such idiotic behaviour is more likely to inspire a large scale avoidance of me.  I am just grateful that I managed to contain my errant brain while talking to my current boyfriend for the first time.  It took a lot of concentration - he's my kinda perfect!  He helped lots too though. He's literally the easiest person to get on with so despite my brain pausing every few seconds to marvel at his hotness, I felt calm around him.

(Me a few hours before we met for the first time!)
Maybe that's why I don't quite buy Ana's overwhelming animal attraction to him. I genuinely believe that most women find warmth rather than ice attractive. So why did I keep reading? Well, because it was for book club!  Otherwise this might have been a book, I could quite easily have put down within the first 50 pages, although this did change.

So I guess that's my thoughts on the book so far.  I would love to hear your thoughts in response to this question.  If you wish to post a view contrary to mine, I am happy to hear it. However, any anonymous commentary or 'abuse' will be deleted. (Look at me predicting the trouble!)

Join us next week for more on '50 Shades'!

Thank you for reading.

Rosie xx

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