in defense of 50 shades of grey

October 11, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

The name of the book instantly sparks conversation, people are eager to discuss whether or not they’ve read it, what they know about it, and what they think about it.  And because it’s so enormously popular, it’s inevitable that there will be those who won’t like it. But whether you adore the book or you despise it, I’ll argue that there are some positives to the story. I’m certain that some people will be mildly revolted, throwing down and crumpling their papers. But if you’re even slightly curious about what these positives might be, then read on.


Here's a brief summary for those of you who have been living under a rock for the last six months:


Grad-student Ana Steele meets billionaire Christian Grey when she goes to interview him for her school paper. Both characters are immediately attracted to one another and begin a relationship. In order for the relationship to work, Ana will have to conform to Christian's erotic tastes.


My friend and I decided to read the book, both of us curious to see if a book with so strange a plot that inspired so much hatred was any good at all. It was my friend who opened my eyes to the more positive sides to the story.


1) Ana learns to step outside of her comfort zone and become assertive.


Ana is an extremely quiet girl and spends most of her time studying and seems to have little to no interest in boys. When she meets Christian Grey, she steps way out of her comfort zone, allowing herself to relax about her studies and explore this relationship (though it’s very different from the usual “first love”). She also learns to be assertive, telling Christian that she is not comfortable with certain things he wants to do.


2) Ana learns the importance of taking risks.


The risk I'm talking about is falling in love. You may scoff and roll your eyes at this, but love is one of the greatest risks. Because even if you love someone there will always doubt: doubt that you aren't good enough or that your partner will find someone better. Allowing yourself to fall in love will always imply the risk of being hurt. For Ana, this is a huge risk as she had never been in a relationship before and doesn’t have examples of steady love in her life (her mother was married three times).


3) Ana becomes more comfortable with her physical appearance.


Every moment of every day we are told to look a certain way. We are constantly obsessing over our hair, our makeup, our weight and our skin. It's extremely difficult to be comfortable with our body image, especially with the forever-present fear of being rejected. Ana learns to be comfortable with her appearance and accept that she isn't going to change for anyone. She comes to love herself, which is something few people can say.


It’s important that readers remember is that there are positives and negatives in every novel. When we love a book we see it as perfect and flawless, we sometimes place it on an altar to be worshiped. When we hate a book we want to throw it into the fiery pits of hell and watch it burn with delight. Perhaps we all need to open up our eyes a little more and stop seeing everything as either black or white - perhaps we should focus on the grey.


Sarah O'Connor

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