Feminism in Fifty Shades of Grey
Laak, B.C.E. Op de
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The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is an interesting phenomenon we should study, because the responses it receives are contradictory. In this thesis James’s works will be studied in light of feminism with the use of themes like women’s writers/female writers, the pseudonym, author’s identity and Goodreads reviews in order to understand the role feminism plays in popular fiction. This thesis concludes that even though authors play an important role in promoting their book, there is still a downside to this as well. E.L. James is belittled by critics when they dismiss her novels as “mommy porn”. J.K. Rowling shows that even today female authors, like Charlotte Brontë 150 years ago, are liable to be looked on with prejudice and adopt a male or gender-neutral pseudonym in order to avoid this. Furthermore, the most important reason why readers like or dislike James’s fiction can be found in the different mode of reading – feminism versus escapism – opponents and supporters perform. Positive reviewers see Fifty Shades of Grey as a means to escape their own life, whereas the negative reviewers read James’s novel as a reflection of a sexist society that glorifies domestic violence. This difference in reading mode has sparked a discussion about patriarchal society, sexism, rape culture and ultimately feminism. James reveals important problems in our society through her works and readers have revived the discussions about these issues. They do so through the channels of the social reviewing web page Goodreads. These discussions show how Fifty Shades of Grey is related to feminism, not through its content or textuality, but through its effects and the meaning the readers themselves give it.