Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).
Nothing says “night of fabulous lovemaking” like a hearty breakfast.
I think this whole section of the book might have gone unnoticed if not for two things:
- The overall bad writing
- The overall bad elements we’ve seen so far
The fact that
Bella Ana gets up in the morning and decides to make breakfast in a strange kitchen to celebrate turning into a pirate becoming a woman is a little strange. I can say with 100% honesty that I have never, ever experienced this. Not once in my life has sex caused me to feel more domestic. That might be because I’m not a morning person and I don’t generally enjoy cooking, so your mileage may vary. However, I’m not nosy enough to ask my friends,
Hey, you know how you and your spouse/partner got it on last night? Well, did that give you a craving for pancakes and bacon?
What really bothers me, though, is that suddenly Ana seems to be going all “woman’s proper place” on us. The subtle message here is that
- Ana was previously a mere child
- Sex made her into an adult
- Adult women know their way around a kitchen, no matter whose house it is
None of those are good messages for girls or women. First, the idea that having sex (specifically penis-in-vagina sex) makes one a “real” adult is faulty. Unfortunately, some Christians have inadvertently reinforced that message. Among conservative Christians, sex is intended only for marriage and any form outside of that bond is sinful. Meanwhile, young people hear the message from the pages of books and magazines that having sex makes one into an adult, a poor message at a critical time of life when many adolescents, longing to be independent, play at being grown-ups. The combination is a recipe for disaster.
In some churches, people marry at much younger ages than might be best for them. I can remember tremendous pressure in college to find Mr. Right. We weren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and both marriage and sex were thought to bring us solidly into adulthood. I don’t regret being a very young bride, but I doubt that I would have made those choices if womanhood and sex/marriage hadn’t been conflated.
Now we see Ana thrust into much the same situation. Apparently, what makes her a “real” adult is not graduating from college and embarking on a path of discovery about herself and what she wants in life. It’s having sex with a virtual stranger who’s into some kinky stuff. Oh, and making him breakfast, as he obviously needs to keep up his strength. See what the author did there? She turned Ana from a soon-to-be college graduate into a potential domestic servant. Obviously, that’s what real femininity and womanhood are all about, right? They’re all about satisfying your man and cooking him some bacon.
That’s not healthy, and it’s certainly not what I want to teach my own daughter. I hope that when she’s an adult—a real adult—she understands that it isn’t sex or marriage or parenthood that makes her a woman.
That’s it for today. Stick around as I continue my focus on women, counting down to the official launch of A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Next Monday, come back for some further unfortunate connotations to the bacon theme. And don’t forget to submit your essays for the contest.