Red Flags in Fifty Shades of Grey

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Millions (of mostly women) have read E.L. James’ Fifty Shades erotica trilogy. I’m not one of them, but I’ve talked to some who have. Plus at least a dozen email links about it have been sent to me asking for my opinion. 

It’s never fair to review something you haven’t read, but one mom was deeply concerned about the perceptions her older teen daughter now has about men, sex, and real love.







Adults have the freedom to read, view, and enjoy the entertainment of their choice. While we may not like all the entertainment options, at least we can choose. Children sometimes make these choices without knowing the consequences.


By definition, erotica is literature (or art) that is sexually explicit. Erotica is designed to heighten the sexual response of readers (or viewers).  Pornography ranges from soft porn to hard core. 

Today, 30% of porn users are women. According to some US statistics, forty million men currently watch pornography on a regular basis. Not everyone becomes addicted, but those who are find it nearly impossible to achieve sexual satisfaction without it. Brain scans of porn addicts look nearly like those of cocaine addicts.

We can disagree on whether something is pornographic or not, but there’s no argument that porn changes lives. And porn exposure in younger kids is alarming.



So, getting back to Fifty Shades of Grey, this is a romance novel that glorifies bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). This isn’t a “normal” sexual scenario—or a normal romance novel. At. All. 

The lead character became obsessed with this particular perversion because of abuse he experienced as a teen. Abuse often begets abuse. There are no shades of grey with abuse. At. All.






Could Fifty Shades of Grey potentially normalize BDSM sexuality in some people? That’s what worried the mom about her teen daughter. She wanted her daughter to know that she should never have to submit to abuse. 

Fifty Shades of Grey’s BDSM sexual “entertainment” may be scintillating to some, but what many fear is that this kind of behavior could become normalized. Erotic entertainment has increased exponentially and with it, porn addiction. As a result, there’s been an increase in the exploitation of women and children. There are no shades of grey with exploitation. It’s just wrong. 

We can’t say the author didn’t warn us when she said her books will  “obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.”

But is that what we really want?

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