What the hell is a Greybie, you might ask. Well, I was wondering the same thing before Entertainment Tonight ran a segment on Greybies. Apparently, Greybies are babies who were conceived after the mothers read EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Supposedly, these mothers were burnt out in the bedroom or tired of making conception a chore, and reading James’ novel/s was like CPR to their love lives.
To be honest, I haven’t read Fifty Shades–I seldom read popular fiction because I often find the hype is better than the book. Although I have several friends who’ve read and raved about the book (although none have miraculously conceived) I just don’t find the premise appealing to my personal tastes and the hero sounds like a controlling asshole. At least, that’s my take-away when I read the blurb:
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.
The fact that I don’t generally read erotic romance isn’t even a factor in why I haven’t rushed out to buy my copy of James’ book. It’s the blurb. The first half of it sounds a bit like the description of a Lifetime Movie about domestic violence and abuse. The heroine is described as unworldly and innocent but it’s not a historical romance and when I read the word innocent, I think virgin. Is Anastasia Steele a virgin–in this day and age? Really? Unless she’s a young adult, I find that somewhat unlikely. And if she is a virgin, I don’t think a real “hero” would go out of his way to deflower her or introduce her to a world of “erotic pleasures.” Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds kind of skanky on his part.
Friends who’ve read the book claim it’s a wonderful romance about a woman finding herself and fulfilling her own romantic fantasies and a man who experiences character growth and learns to love. It sounds like a good thing on the surface, but if I think about it, I wonder what kind of message this sends to young women. Are they really supposed to believe they can change a controlling, emotionally abusive man if they only love him enough.
Yikes! I’m seeing Lifetime Movies in my head again and it sets my teeth on edge. Women who think they can change a man if they only love him more are destined for heartache and possibly some broken bones.
Fifty Shades may not be a story about abuse, but it takes three whole books for the controlling hero who wants her “on his own terms” to realize love isn’t about erotic role playing or control. That alone, should be a red flag to women who think they can change a man through love alone. No matter how much we love someone, we cannot change them or make them love us in return. That sounds desperate and pathetic. That’s another thing that bothers me. The author describes the heroine as “desperate to get close to Grey.” And once she embarks on this purely physical relationship, she begins to explore her own dark desires.
Really? Are those desires her own? Or is she just trying to grasp any straw that will bring her closer to Grey? Is this yet another attempt to “love him enough” so he’ll love her in return? Does she think this will change him and make him love her? A man’s failure to change isn’t the result of “his” woman not loving him enough. It’s because he’s usually an asshole or a really screwed up individual who could use some counselling.
I’m not saying people are incapable of change. I just happen to believe that change has to come from within. As for these Greybies, I have to wonder how the husbands/boyfriends feel knowing their wives and girlfriends needed to read a book to get into the mood. Do they see this as a blow to their egos? Or is this a case of not caring where the appetite comes from as long as the women “eat’ at home?
I’m all for spicing up the love life and if reading “mommy porn” worked for these women, then more power to them. But they should remember the old goose and gander analogy and not to get offended if their spouses are surfing the net for porn or looking at girly magazines for inspiration. After all, men are more visual than women.
Frankly, I find spending time together as a couple and concentrating on one another to be the most powerful aphrodisiac of all. Batteries need not be included and no toys required if the couple sets aside time for romance. Spontaneity is a fine concept, but in today’s busy world, most couples don’t have time to be spontaneous and sex sometimes takes backstage to jobs, kids, the house, the yard, church, or other responsibilities. Planning a date night is the best way to breathe life back into a neglected sex life, and whatever the night entails should be fun and enjoyable for both partners.
As for recommending Fifty Shades to couples having difficulty conceiving, I wouldn’t recommend it. Those trying to conceive probably have enough well-meaning friends giving them pointers without one of them suggesting that reading an erotic romance might help. If that’s all it took to conceive those “Greybies,” then I suspect the problem wasn’t physical. Without the use of birth control and with more frequent “exposure,” I’m sure those women would have become pregnant with or without reading Fifty Shades.
Am I missing out by not reading James’ book?
Whether Fifty Shades is the best romance ever, mommy porn, or just another book hardly matters. Fifty Shades of Grey is practically a household word and I’m sure Ms. James is very pleased with her success. Kudos to her!
Vonnie Davis said:
I am in Bob Evans, clapping. What an awesome post, LIlly. Your thoughts so mirror mine. If love were all it took to change a man, there would be no domestic violence. You are so right…change comes from within spurred by a strong desire to change. A woman’s love might be a catalyst, but don’t bet on it.
Lilly Gayle said:
Thanks Vonnie. I was a bit hesitant to post this blog for fear of stepping on erotic toes. lol!
Joanne Stewart said:
I’m going to put myself on the chopping block here. I enjoyed the books. Not the last one. She completely ruined all the character growth she’d worked for in the previous two. The last book was crap. And I’ll start out by saying that there are indeed a TON of problems with this book. For all the reasons you mentioned and then some. It badly needed an edit, there’s tone of pages that could and should have been cut, because they added nothing to the plot. It was obviously a marketing ploy to divide the first two books the way they did. I’m also frankly sick of this book only being noticed for all the sex. That I enjoyed what’s being called “Mommy porn” makes me sound like I’m a shallow person out to get my rocks off and that offends me.
For me, the book was all about Christian’s story. I’m a character reader and a character writer. His growth as a person was tangible for me. I understood him on a level I’m not sure I can or want to share. I’ve read the opposite, but I’d be willing to bet money there was something personal in his story, because it touched me on a level few books can. Christian is a wounded soul and I enjoyed watching him grow and get his happily ever after.
Why? because I am him. And I connected to him, on a very personal level, and that means James did a few things well, namely emotion and characterization. He doesn’t even get a POV, we are never in his head, and yet he came alive for me. She made me root for him, despite the fact that he WAS an asshole a lot of the time. Why? because she showed me his inner person. Those ugly walls eventually come down. I usually don’t like this type of hero or story, but I needed him to find his HEA. Doing so, for me, was like giving hope to the world. There are a lot of Christian Grey’s in this world, people who have wounds where nobody can see, and if you pay attention to the book, you can clearly see WHY Christian does the things he does. Every one of them is a defense mechanism, right or wrong, good or bad, I personally connected to that and it doesn’t make me a bad person because I did. Because if he’s a horrible person, then so am I, and I’m willing to bet there are a lot of readers out there who connected to him on the same level but are afraid to say so. People who like this book are getting called names.
That doesn’t mean I agree entirely with how James chose to portray Ana all the time. I think she did her heroine a grave disservice at times, bending her to her own whim, which at times, often made no sense except that that was the way she., as the author, wanted Ana to behave. Author intrusion big time. But I saw Ana as the counter balance for Christian and I think James did it well.
My ten cents. But honestly, if my books are too hot, I’m not sure you’d like these. lol
As I said, I haven’t read the books; I’ve only seen the hype and I think it’s crazy the way the media portrays this book as some sex guide that can help women get pregnant. I also don’t like the blurb. It tells the reader nothing of what you’ve described so I can only draw the conclusions I have. It reads like a prelude to a story about domestic violence.I guess that’s why it’s so important to write a good blurb–so readers will know what your book is really about.
As far as a book being too hot or not, heat has nothing to do with it. And while I don’t object to the term “mommy porn” I don’t see reading this book or any other sexually explicit book as being any more immoral than watching an NC 17 movie. So, why the name calling? Most people watch a movie with explicit sex scenes for the story and the sex is just icing on the cake. It should be the same with a good book, whether the author writes hot, scorching, or erotica.
For me, a sex scene needs a purpose. It should advance the plot, reveal something either internal or external about one or both of the characters, illicit some sort of change or show character growth. Otherwise, it’s just inserting tab A into slot B and I don’t connect with either character.
Barbara Edwards said:
Thanks for the well-thought out blog. I only read half of the first book and disliked it intensely, admittedly because my first husband was verbally and emotionally abusive. I agree with all your points about failing to change a man through loving him. It took me years to understand and recover from that failure.
Ouch. Thanks for sharing something so personal, Barbara. I feel as if I’m a strong woman, but maybe I’m just lucky. My parents had a good marriage and although my mom didn’t have a job and couldn’t even drive when I was younger, my dad supported her when she decided she needed a job and a license. As the times changed, so did the dynamics of their relationship. So, I learned from an early age that it was okay for me to grow, change, and express my opinions without fear of reprisals. Then I married a man a lot like my dad in some ways. He’s never taken himself too seriously and he’s always been secure enough in his masculinity to not feel threatened by an opinionated woman like me. lol! I wish more young women had the confidence needed to walk away from abusive jerks who’re not worth the salt in their tears.
Toni V. Sweeney said:
I haven’t read the books, either. I must have some character flaw because if I hear of something that gets a lot of hype and everyone is reading it and lauding it, I run the other way. Also seeing an interview with the author of TV didn’t help. She was so verbally awkward and coy, it was a turn-off. I have a friend who has read the books, however, and she praises them as fantastically wonderful romances so I go, ‘yeah, right, okay.” I’m still wondering how many women bought the books for the story and how many bought them just to see what all the fuss was about. From an artistic standpoint, I like the covers, however.
The covers are nice and she’s making a fortune on the books, but I too wonder if some women didn’t buy them just to see what the fuss was about. Sometimes it seems as if there’s a media created mob mentality driving public opinion on everything from books, movies and toilet paper to political candidates. Aggressive marketing- good or bad- can make or break anything I guess.
I haven’t read the Shades books because they’re just not my thing, but one of my daughters loves the series. I’m just tickled people are reading. If the Shades readers are just now discovering the fun of reading, maybe they’ll continue. 😀
Lilly Gayle said:
I like the way you think Penny! Maybe after reading Fifty Shades some of those readers will cruise on over to http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/ and buy some romance novels.
Wouldn’t that be awesome! We have tons of great authors at TWRP. 😀
Margaret Tanner said:
Great blog. I am with you, I haven’t read the book, all the hype turned me off. I think the mob mentality took over with this book, and women bought the book just because everyone else had bought it.
Lilly Gayle said:
Wish that mob would read some of my books and start a fad. lol!
Sandra Dailey said:
I forced myself to read the first book. That was enough. I found the characters boring. The story bland. The sex scenes vanilla. There’s no goal in mind and no resolution to implied issues. Yes, only implied.
I’m surprised everyone went so crazy over this series. Erotica has been written for centuries, and a whole lot better than that.
To each his own, I guess…
Lilly Gayle said:
Thanks for chiming in, Sandra. After reading this, I don’t feel as if I’m missing the great read of the century. lol!
Angi Clingan said:
I read the first book because a friend of mine, whose opinion I trust on books, although our tastes in genre tend to differ … let me borrow her kindle copy of it. I MADE myself read the whole thing. And REFUSE to waste my time with the other two.
I personally found the characters shallow, vapid, unbelievable and useless human beings. While I was a virgin until I was a month shy of 21 … I certainly wasn’t as stupidly naive (we’re talking too stupid to live stupid, in my opinion) as Ana is portrayed. There is NO WAY a 22 year old who is graduating from a MAJOR university is that naive. Christian is no better … he’s not naive but he’s written in a way that is completely and utterly unbelievable.
The author’s research into the “lifestyle” was non-existent and portraying those who live it as “damaged” does a great disservice to those who live it with honesty about who they are and what their needs are.
As for it being erotic … it’s not. The sex scenes were VERY vanilla and NO erotic novel I’ve ever read has EVER referred to the female genitalia as “down there”. Heck I don’t think I’ve read ANY romance ever that referred to it as “down there”. The only thing that might make it minimally erotic … very slight and mild bondage and one little spanking scene.
Next was the technical aspect of the writing. The sex scenes were just a repeat of each other, there was a MASSIVE amount of repetitive phrasing (I swear she used “50 shades of” in the first book at least 50 times … ok I didn’t actually count but it was WAY WAY WAY too much), and I wanted to beat Ms. James repeatedly with her thesaurus for using ridiculous words when there were other great words to portray the same meaning (she used incentivise instead of motivate … for example).
And finally … the nail in the coffin of this book for me … it began as Twilight fan fiction (which I couldn’t get past about the first 5 chapters of the first book because I disliked bella so much).
I don’t call others who loved the book names. I don’t judge others who use whatever they want to spice up their sex lives. I say to each their own … what works for me (in and out of the bedroom) may or may not work for someone else to get all they can out of life. I feel that calling romance, erotic romance and erotica anything BUT those terms is not only degrading and insulting to the authors but to me, as a reader. It insults my intelligence on a level that I find highly degrading. It’s also highly judgmental in my opinion.
Love can’t “fix” anything. It DOES NOT conquer all and relationships take a hell of a lot of work, compromise and communication to keep them going.
Just my 10 cents worth (might be a dollars worth LOL)
Thanks for making your dollar deposit, Angi! I couldn’t agree more about relationships. They take a lot of work and both partners have to be willing to make it a priority.
As for taking offense to the term “mommy porn,” I guess I need to clarify my previous statement. I don’t take offense to the term used the way I’ve heard it used because I don’t think it was meant to be derogatory. Any name can be degrading when used in a derogatory manner.
My husband laughingly calls the books I read and write “girl porn,” but I don’t take offense. He’s joking and I take it as such. He sometimes calls his car books “guy porn” because he says some men get almost as excited for a hot car as a hot woman. lol! But if he said something like, “My wife doesn’t read anything but that damn girl porn,” then I would most definitely be offended.
As for bondage and spanking in the bedroom–whether in books or in someone’s personal sex life, I agree. To each his own.
Angi Clingan said:
The reason I have such a problem with those terms is because … aside from actual porn … NO OTHER genre gets nicknames. You don’t hear anyone calling Stephen King’s work “Sociopath instruction manuals” or any other nickname (just as an example. I can’t read King because he’s way too good a wordsmith and I have an EXTREMELY vivid imagination and I LIKE to sleep LOL). Only romance and it’s sub-genre’s get the nicknames … smut, bodice rippers, “mommy porn”, etc. They make the work, the authors AND the readers “less than” in my opinion. They certainly aren’t complimentary nicknames.
Anyway that’s how I feel about the terms 🙂 I get so tired of hearing them I get a little defensive sometimes 🙂 Shoulda heard me take a classmate to task over it last semester LOL
Ok, still laughing over the Sociopath Instruction comment. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you were defensive in the least. I understand being offended by the term “mommy porn.” It’s just not one of my hot buttons–that whole sticks and stones thing must have been beaten pretty firmly in my head as a child. lol! But putting down the genre or actually coming out and saying it’s less than other genres burns my biscuits.