Wearside Women In Need, a women's safehouse in the northeast part of the U.K., has announced that they will be organizing an en masse burning of E.L. James' titillating Ben-Wah ode 50 Shades of Grey. Also, it's Third Reich-era Germany, have you heard? However misguided it may be, Clare Phillipson, the plan's organizing force from Wearside, clearly cares deeply about the effects that 50 Shades may have on the domestic abuse rate. Here, Phillipson spoke to the Daily Mail:
I do not think I can put into words how vile I think this book is and how dangerous I think the idea is that you get a sophisticated but naïve young woman and a much richer, abusive older man who beats her up and does some dreadful things to her sexually.
It's hard to demonize anyone who's made a career out of protecting and giving resources to abused women, and her background in the work may make it more difficult for Phillipson to acknowledge and understand that BDSM is a choice that both parties in a couple can make and both enjoy, and there is a definite line between this consenting sexual violence or roleplay and domestic violence. In the book, at least, it seems pretty clear that Ana is willing and eager to indulge in BDSM: to strip the character of this autonomy simply because she's a young woman isn't helping anyone.
My main objection is that at a time when local authorities are making cuts to outreach and refuge services for women experiencing domestic violence, we have libraries wasting and grossly misusing public money to buy a book which says "domestic violence is sexy." The money would be better spent supporting victims.
The book has already been banned from libraries in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida back in May (due not to the sexual content but on the grounds of a lack of literary value—can't argue there!), and last week a real-life version emerged after a 27-year-old live-in female sub was arrested for shattering the car windshield of her 53-year-old dom and sending him multiple death threats.