Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

i Editor's Letter: Fifty Shades of ("Holy") Crap

 

On Kindles, iPads, and plain old-fashioned books; in posh papers, the tabloids and on radio phone-ins, sun loungers and public transport, there is one cultural phenomenon that it's no exaggeration to say has gripped the nation (or at least its female half): the Fifty Shades trilogy by the previously unknown British author E L James.

The first book is the biggest-selling British novel aimed at adults, with UK sales of 2.3 million since April, and 20 million for the trilogy already in the US. Ahead of James in the UK are books aimed at children like Harry Potter and overseas authors: Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer and Stieg Larsson. Fifty Shades of Grey is now the UK's fastest-selling book ever (beating Potter), so it is a safe bet that many more records will fall. The movies, first details of which emerged yesterday, will be huge.

How depressing! Not because of any snobbish disregard for James's writing, so scorned by jealous critics. Not because of all the "better" books that eke out a tiny fraction of Fifty Shades' sales. No, the real problem lies in its message.

The casual normality of BDSM at the heart of this story would worry me even if I were not the father of two teenage daughters. Thousands of girls, many of them pre-sexualised, have read this book, most (thanks to digital devices) without their parents' knowledge.

It's different to Twilight. They all know vampires aren't real. But Christian Grey plays into modern pop culture's ideal of the desirable man: drop-dead handsome, rich as Croesus, if not Bob Diamond, and totally in control. Why, he even flies his own helicopter. So far so mainstream (however objectionable). It's the idea that submission to violence and domination is part of the attraction that is so worrying.

In James's defence, she did not know it would be read by an entire generation, and I would be the last person to advocate any attempts at censorship, or even squirting HP sauce at women reading it (see yesterday's i), doomed as they would be. And, I know, I know we get the culture we deserve, and no one forces us to buy it. BUT... the message of the book really is Fifty Shades of ("Holy") Crap.

And, yes, I have read it.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there