Fifty Shades Better, but is it necessarily right?

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, but am familiar with the basic idea. Most of my knowledge of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey comes from the Histroy of BDSM blog (NSFW), who’s author has taken it upon himself to read and summarize Fifty Shades of Grey, while examining it from an insider’s view of BDSM, as well as an academic. If you’re like me and get off (no pun intended) on academic explortions on expression and communication of human desire, you’ll probably like it. It is also the reason why this is not a blog post where I simply complain about Fifty Shades of Grey. This is a blog post about how my local bookstore is choosing to market it.

While at my local bookstore, I noticed a set up for various books entitled “Fifty Shades Better.” While this is not necessarily hard, they decided to stay on books that are about sex. You think this would be easy, but for the most part I have some problems with the selections. Not major problems, but problems I feel should be addressed. So here are the books that my local bookstore says you should read aftter realizing that “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is shit.

  • The Beauty Trilogy, by Anne Rice. This one makes sense, considering that Fifty Shade of Grey is nominally a S&M novel, though according to the History of BDSM blog it’s not very good about it. From what I know about the Beauty Trilogy, it is much more hardcore, but not as hardcore as, say Story of O, or anything by the Marquis de Sade. It is also another popular kinky erotica, so one could go along with that. As such, this I have no problem with.
  • Erotic Versions of Pride and Prejudice, I saw two of them. This also makes sense, though I don’t know enough about Jane Austen to know if this is necessarily a good idea. The only Jane Austen I’ve read was an early novella called “Lady Susan,” which she never published and I had a hard time getting into because I’m not used to the prose of the 1800s. However, considering that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fanfic with sex in it, it seems only appropriate that this Fifty Shades Better should have something like that from a better source.
  • Instructional Manuals, I saw a copy of the Kama Sutra and a book on Aphrodisacs. This makes sense, I guess, if you want instructions for having good sex. It seems appropriate for the thing.
  • Steamlust, Basically Steampunk erotica. Not much to say except that my local bookstore likes the steampunk.
  • The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. And here we reach my main problem. The Scarlett Letter? Seriously? Yes, it’s a book about sex, but it is a book about sex in the context of a repressive and hypocritical Puritan society. It dosen’t even end with an affirmation of human sexuality over the stifling social construct of the Puritans. If you’re looking for erotica, the Scarlett Letter is probably the least likely book you should pick up. They also had a copy of Madame Bovary, which may be a bit more appropriate because it could warn stupid people into trying to base their lives around silly romance novels. Honestly that may be what we need next, some kind of take on this Twilight and Fifty Shade of Grey thing that removes all the romantic notions and leaves the poor idiot woman with the realization that these are abusive relationships. Territory that has already been covered, but it should be something I shoudl think of considering all the Twilight and Shades of Grey stuff.
  • Whipping Girl, A Transexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminitity, by Julia Serano. This takes the cake, though ironically it is the book I would most want to read. A Transexual re-reading of Feminism? Shit, sign me up for that. Honestly, I think the only reason this got in the display was because of the title. Taken on it’s own, you might have a rather blaze story of a woman getting her whip on, but instead you have an examination on the limits of cisgendered feminism and how it negativly affects the plight of transwomen, making them a second-class citizen among second-class citizens. This is more interesting then Fifty Shades of Grey, I don’t know if it should be marketed as such. If you’re looking for something better then Fifty Shades of Grey, you would be looking for porn, or erotica, or erotic romance or whatever you want to call the damn book. While “Whipping Girl” looks interesting, I doubt it would illicite the same emotional responce as erotica would, and as such I don’t know if it should be in the same category, as the display seems to indicate.

So in conclusion, because I need to tie this up, whoever desighned the Fifty Shades Better display at my local bookstore should probably rethink it. A few of the books work, but someone needs to get ride of “The Scarlett Letter.” It’s not really the best book you want to follow up on. It’s still a good book, and well worth reading. It’s also short, so it has that going for it, but I don’t believe it has the same category as Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t really know if Fifty Shades of Grey counts as porn, because of the History of BDSM guy has anything to say about it, it is not as kinky as it’s reputation says, but it still seems to fall under the erotic romance genre, and “The Scarlett Letter,” isn’t that.


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