I was driving home from a couple errands just a short while ago, and was thinking first about a conversation I was having yesterday with a long-time friend, which led to the realization of why Fifty Shades-fans refusing to read this book actually…bothers me.
The conversation went something like this (very heavily paraphrased and condensed):
Shouldn’t you be focusing on better things?
Me: I have plenty of time for other stuff.
Wouldn’t it be better if Fifty Shades was just forgotten? Why did it more publicity?
Me: We can ignore it all we like, but the fans will continue to praise it, and it’s better for impressionably young women and teens to see people speaking against it than to have the think that the lack of opposition means Christian Grey is a hero that we should all want. I’m a mom, and I’m terrified of the thought of my daughter growing up in a world that tells her Christian is the sort of man she should want, and me ignoring it may as well be me approving of the praise.
This led to me wondering why I was bothered by fans saying in Amazon comments and other comment areas online that, after reading other reviews, they won’t read this book so it won’t taint their image of Christian. Shouldn’t fans no longer buying the books be seen as a win? In a way, it is. But something about it…
It clicked together so hard and so suddenly that I can tell you exactly where I was.
What bothers me so much is how this is parallel to abusive situations in real life.
Non-fans have said for a few years that Christian is abusive, while fans have declared him to be a tender soul who just needs love, despite all of Ana’s fears (and, again, saying Yes out of fear or knowing you’ll pay some other way is not legal consent). And now that fans know there’s more to him, and that that “more” is real canon now rather than just non-fans screaming about it, many fans are choosing to ignore finding out more because they’d rather live in denial. They’d rather ignore information that could make them not like him.
Very often victims of abuse have an idea there’s more. Everyone around them can tell them that their abusers are doing this or that, and yet the victim will deny it and put their hands over their ears and sing LA LA LA to themselves because they know that the full truth would be too much, and that they’d turn against their abusers. And so, whether out of fear or just plain thinking there’s no way out, a lot of victims intentionally ignore the book on their abusers that others have read.
It’s exactly the same. Readers who’ve fallen for Christian based on what he let Ana see are now ignoring the reality of who he is because they don’t want to turn against a character they say they love. Those readers, like those aforementioned theoretical victims, will continue to say that he’s really very nice, see? He’s buying her jewelry! The bruises are no big deal because he says he loves her, see? And when other people try telling those fans (or the victims) what he’s really like, according to canon and his own words, they know there’s more, but they don’t want to believe anything bad, even if it’s dangerous to ignore it. Even if it means staying with an abuser. Even if it means telling their own kids that men like that really are good and desirable.
This is a sobering parallel. Do you fans who are ignoring this book even realize you’re doing exactly what many real-live victims do, for the sake of what you think is love? Can you really love someone when you refuse to get to know the inner person? You can’t love someone, truly, when you keep the wool pulled over your eyes and plugged in your ears, because you know the whole person would be someone you won’t like.