It was bad enough when, seven years ago (and then reprised during the DVD and TV releases), the film remake of Pride and Prejudice and subsequent, brief, mainstream interest in Jane Austen novels seemed to turn a sizeable proportion of the heterosexual dating scene into clones: “looking for my mr darcy” their match.com profiles would proclaim.
It's 2012 and the bestselling “mommy porn” of 50 Shades of Grey has become the source of inspiration for those “WLTM” imaginations.
Yesterday, and only for about 35 seconds, I tried one of the more “heteronormative” Internet dating sites. I gave up after such a short dalliance because I remembered the serious impedance mismatch I have with the attitude of these sites as a whole. Yes, I am tarring a lot of people with the same brush and potentially writing off many “nice people”, but I am time-poor — and I lack the energy to wade through fifty pages of grade-D personal profiles.
But what got my back up was seeing so many ladies “looking for my mr grey.”
First, a disclaimer: I have not read all three 50SoG books cover to cover. I have read enough of the first book that I can see my views on it are quite closely aligned with those of many feminist writers, bloggers, and reviewers. I am not here to critique the books — that has been done to death — but I do need to set a little context. So if you didn't already know, Christian Grey is:
- handsome (so handsome the protagonist loses the ability to anything but "flush")
- a billionaire (because a millionaire isn't good enough these days)
- mid-to-late twenty-something years old
- well endowed and talented (as judged by the most sexually naïve of virgins)
- a pilot
- fluent in a foreign language
- a philanthropist
- incredibly musically talented
Simply put, he is every fifteen-year-old “I'm a princess” girl's dream rolled into one impossible, antifeminist package. It becomes increasingly clear in the books that Ana cannot actually have the relationship that she wants to with this man. His control of her personal life — through means psychological, financial, or downright contrived — is mental abuse. His behaviour towards her is (at best) borderline physical abuse. All the while she continues with the relationship because she is convinced that if she pleases him then maybe she'll be able to change the dynamic and start to get what she wants. I'm not going to reiterate what so many others have said about the dangers this type of relationship could present. Instead I shall offer my perspective on how I read a 50SoG reference in a dating profile.
Christian Grey is — at best — a teenage girl's fantasy. The relationship they have is dangerous, where insecurities abound. The sex they have is unrealistic, and the book's writing makes it all rather repetitive and boring.
Ladies: before you start to type, try to perform this little exercise. Flip the genders around. Think of a pop-culture teenage boy fantasy. And then consider, would you date the guy whose profile began:
“looking for my jenna jameson.”