Thursday, October 25, 2012

Context. Context is important.

For anyone who's read my reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels, you know that I, at one point, took a rather hard lined stance against certain victims of domestic violence, and that my few statements regarding their intellect and strength were quite controversial for some people. I've been called a misogynist for furthering the misconception that abused women are stupid. I've had women and men lash out at me because of a few off-the-cuff comments that they chose to take out-of-context and spin into something they were never meant to be.

You would think this would all be over. That my reviews would have faded into relative obscurity by now and that no one would be paying attention. After all, I actually went on hiatus from Goodreads (and this blog...and reading!) in order to get away from some of the misunderstandings. I was flat-out tired of arguing my points with people who simply did not want to listen. I was tired of defending my position in regards to a DUMB-AS-SHIT book that glorifies abuse and shines a spotlight of veneration on a very stupid woman. Most of all, I was tired of being bashed for a rant that I, in all honesty, never expected more than a few people to read.

I'm back to using Goodreads again, after having finally caught up with all the neglected messages and comments of the last few months, and I thought that after all this time, I would be able to relax and move on from the controversy that is Fifty Shades of Get Over It.

Alas, it was not to be.

About 20 minutes ago, I received this in my Goodreads inbox.


I was Googl-ing for this amazing review of Twilight that satirizes the whole book (haven't read it though) into a hilarious not-even-a-full-page summary. Weirdly, your review of Fifty Shades of Shit (Grey? Whatever) (which I've also not read BTW) was one of the search results. While I didn't make it quite to the end of the review --because I have less (external) context to work with for this book(I've only seen a poster for the book in the subway once and have since avoided everything associated with it)-- I thought the review was very quirky and funny!

I'm sending a message about the review instead of 'liking' it or posting a comment because I found a thread running throughout the review troublesome: victim-bashing. So I contemplated just moving on but thought better of it and thought it's better to be thought obnoxious than apathetic. Also, lot of us say/do things (like "don't be such a girl" as an insult, grow some balls (implying women cannot be naturally courageous, etc) that have become so commonplace because our society has been trans-historically sexist and because we've heard our role models/friends/family use and don't realize how insidiously dangerous it is to perpetuate such sexist, sometimes misogynistic, stereotypes. Sometimes, just sometimes, when I point it out to people, they wonder --like I did when I was learned it-- how subconscious the whole thing is and are happy to be aware of it. So here goes: unless you actually believe it's a rape victim/survivor's fault for getting raped (which seems highly unlikely based on your review of the male abusive lead), bashing victims of domestic violence and holding them responsible, even if partly, for what their partners do is.. at the very least, counterproductive. Let's please hold the perpetrators responsible, not the victims.

And with irresponsible books and other media giving us messages all the time that a man being bad/rude/controlling/violent is sexy, romantic and something to fantasize about, it's a small wonder that some of us realize/learn-by-experience how convoluted these messages are, not the other way around. Things we learn culturally, cumulative in nature, are the hardest things to not internalize. Hardest to un-learn too. So, IMHO, the victims should be cut some slack and helped with empathy as opposed to excluded as idiotic or weak.

Thanks for reading!"

The most I can say for this message is at least the sender was respectful. But like I said, I am tired. Of this. Shit.

My response:

Oh, the traps of misunderstanding.

A lot of people have misconstrued my comments regarding weak and idiotic women, seizing onto the misguided assumption that I presume all victims of domestic violence are weak and stupid. This is hardly the case, and I really wanted to leave the wording and put a disclaimer, but my word count went over, so I had to settle for changing my wording from "idiotic and weak" to "misguided" because, honestly, I'm sick to death of arguing this.

Never, not once did I say abused women are idiots. My statement, in its context, was meant to convey my contempt for women who are dumb enough to remain in an abusive relationship because they wholeheartedly believe in stories like Fifty Shades. They believe they can change someone. Does that encompass ALL victims of abuse? Hardly. But since the world is seen in the very limiting shades of black and white, I've been called a misogynist for claiming abuse victims are idiots (which is hilarious considering my own sister, a victim of domestic violence herself, never once thought I was calling her an idiot).

As far as holding the perpetrators, not the victims, responsible, I agree with you. To a point. When a woman has ample chance to leave her abuser, but doesn't, she then takes on at least SOME responsibility for her situation.

So there you have it. I do not believe all abused women are idiots, I do not blame women for being the victims of domestic violence. I just simply have no tolerance (and very little sympathy) for women who can leave, but don't.

If I continually walked out into traffic, I would have only myself to blame for continually being hurt.



  1. People should learn to understad what they are reading before they start leaving little-miss-smarty-pants comments... Also, people are too touchy feely about the whole abuse issue... If you have a chance to leave an abusive relationship, you're an idiot if you don't do it. Saying that out loud does not translate to "all abused women are idiots." (English is not my native language so excuse any inconvenience in my articulation. What I'm trying to say is: I agree with you. Your reviews are awesome, some people just are stupid and want to misunderstand/twist everything you say. It's like reasoning with a brick wall.)

  2. You are misogynistic?? Hello!! What about all the people that read the stupid book and are in love with the story? They had no problem reading about a woman being abused. Give me a break.

    1. Tonya gets a cookie. Even if this person's criticism had been at all valid, which it is not, boy did she choose the least sensible of all possible targets.

  3. Your reviews are funny, well written and smart. That's why they got so much readers! They're the best on the net, as long as I know.
    Well, a lot of readers means a lot of idiots too. It's the law of probability, I guess. You will always find a bunch of monkeys who will misunderstand your words (sometimes not even read them) and say you're victim-bashing, hating, inspiring racism (hell, I'm surprised none yet accused you for this summer drought! I know some guy keeps ME responsible for the palestinian situation!).
    It's no use discussing with this kind of retards. People have eyes, they can read, and it is CLEAR that you're talking about women who willigly stay in an abusive situation because of some idiotic "red-cross" spirit.
    So, don't worry about them. Worry about us: a lot of people who like your reviews and your humor!

    P.S. About women who willigly ecc.... They are weak idiots. I'm sorry, but this is a fact. No amount of argument can change that. Yes, they suffer. Guess what: I don't care. From my point of view, when you willingly stand something, you deserve it.

  4. I just read your three reviews and found them amusing and very well written, as for the haters that aparently aren't able to understand what are you aiming for, I think that if they feel offended it's because somehow identify themselves with Anastasia's stupidity and just want to apologize and/or justify this kind of behaviour of staying in an abusive relationship when no one is really coercing you to stay there, with that person.
    In the end we all have the power to stop people from hurting us, but not everyone has the strenght and courage to do it, it takes some self respect and self love to see that you're better off alone.
    But, hey, if they are defending the books... I mean, what should be expected but retrograde thinking towards the whole thing.
    Harsh? Maybe, but truth never is sugar coated and not everyone can't handle it, specially when it touches some delicate strings.
    Kudos and keep the good writing!
    P.S. English is not my native language, so, sorry if I have some grammatic or ortographic mistakes.

  5. I have a sudden, sharp pain behind my left eye. That anyone would accuse you, Katrina, of misogyny for bashing something that has to be on the short list of most misogynistic books written by a modern woman boggles my mind.

    I could not agree with you more. For one thing, calling a fictional character stupid is not the same as calling a real person stupid. For another, it seems to me it's not portrayed as a legitimately abusive relationship, more like it's somehow misunderstood. Calling out its author for writing a (gag) heroine who's so bloody ignorant that she thinks she can fix a man (who literally wants to hurt her) if only she loves him enough is more than called-for.

    In my opinion, people normally can and must control their own destinies. Control can be wrested from a person, yes, but some people use the pretense of not being responsible as a crutch. There are many situations where a person is made a victim. There are some, let us please face the truth without acting like children about it, where people allow themselves to be or remain victims for a variety of reasons. It's true that in many of these situations, the victim is understandably afraid to try to escape. The portrayal in this book is not of a woman who wants out - it's of a woman who wants in, despite being beaten over her empty skull with red flags. Unless we're talking about a remarkably fast and easy case of (again, fictional) Stockholm syndrome, calling a spade a spade is not victim blaming.

    There is no modern Western woman of normal intelligence who grew up in mainstream society who doesn't know better than to try to fix a man who stalks, punishes, coerces, threatens, and terrorizes her. Virtually all of us know better than this, and yet this book portrays it as romantic and doable, and the girl who does it as laudable, because apparently rich and good looking trumps psychotic in the mind of the author, her Mary Sue, and her fans.

    If this book had been about a naive girl meeting a man like Christian Grey, dating him, and then trying to escape him once she finds out he's dangerous, I would agree that it wouldn't be right to call her stupid. This series is about how awesome that guy really was all along, and how the heroine wins because saw it in him.

    Yeah, Anastasia Steele is stupid. So's her creator. (Yes, I just called a real person stupid. I don't care.) I want an I.Q. test and a reading comprehension test for anybody who thinks otherwise.

  6. Hi. It has been a long time and I hope you're well. I still pass here time to time hoping to find a new post. Where're your reviews? I kinda miss them ;)

  7. I just wanted to say that I adored your reviews as well as your response to the above complainer.

    It's unfortunate that someone like that cannot see the difference between the typical victim of domestic abuse (who may not be able to leave for various reasons) versus the character/situations in Fifty Shades that you were specifically commenting on. It boggles my mind when people take all accountability away from Ana and think that they are advocating for women or victims by doing so. The first step to ending domestic abuse is to teach people to know the signs of a potentially abusive relationship and how to walk away before it's too late. Making excuses for Ana, as many seem to enjoy doing, is exactly the thing we shouldn't be doing. So, I APPLAUD you for standing up for potential victims by pointing out why Christian's behavior and Ana's acceptance of the behavior is not ok. Eff people who don't get the difference. Seriously. Just ignore them and keep posting. Your reviews are AMAZING and I really want to read your take on other books. YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!!

  8. I'm a little baffled as to why holding women to any sort of intellectual standard is misogyny. I'm guessing the enemies you inadvertently made with your epic rant were women who would usurp "feminism" because they want empowerment without all that pesky responsibility?

    The reason why some women are trapped in abusive relationships include a physical or mental inability to care for themselves, a fear for their personal safety with no one/place to go to, out of concern for abandoning a loved one (such as one's children), or a traumatic upbringing in which they don't know any better. Anaretard Steele is none of those things. When I mean INCAPABLE I mean someone who is very sick; Ana is just too immature and lazy to learn how to take care of herself. When I say "a fear for personal safety" it's because their abusers actually beat the shit out of them or hold weapons to their heads, not make vague threats like some Internet Tough Guy. Ana isn't a victim; she's a walking victim complex.

  9. I loved the book Fifty Shades Of Grey. I am so glad i enjoyed Christian and Anastasia's story. I like Anastasia Steele

  10. I loved the books. I should agree these are the best written books.
    Anastasia Steele