50 Shades of Bacon

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:

  1. The overall bad writing
  2. 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.

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11 thoughts on “50 Shades of Bacon

  1. Very good post! I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey myself as I feel like it would be a waste of time and I already have too much work to do, but I read articles and posts about it. You’re probably one of the very few people to point out a very important prejudice that this book is putting out there in people’s minds.

    • The only thing keeping it from being a waste for me is that I get to blog about it. 🙂 I’m only reading the books at the request of several friends who were interested in how a progressive Christian would see them. A lot of people just made blanket statements that it’s “wrong” for Christians to read them. So far, I actually see a lot of stereotypes of conservative Evangelical Christians being supported in a warped way.

  2. I recently watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (I know, I know) and there was a 17-year-old girl there to choose her wedding gown. Unsurprisingly, her family was SUPER conservative. Her father was so bad, almost nobody else made comments. It makes me wonder if those outdated and unhealthy ideas about sex/womanhood/adulthood are what push kids out of the house and into a marriage if they’re just brainwashed and perpetuate the cycle.

    • Oh, I’m sure you’re right. As I mentioned, I knew a lot of people who intentionally chose Christian colleges for the express purpose of finding a spouse. I had a professor who requested that we call her by her first name or call her Dr. [name] but refrain from calling her Mrs. [name]. She said she worked harder for the Dr. than the Mrs. More than one of my classmates was offended, saying that marriage is much more “important” and “harder work” than earning an advanced degree. Among conservatives, the combination of unhealthy ideas about sex/marriage/womanhood/adulthood and brainwashing lead to the belief that marriage and family are a woman’s highest calling.

  3. Really awesome insight into this book. I haven’t read it, but I enjoy reading what people find bad about it (and other touchy titles, like Twilight). I love your take!

    • That’s a question I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I have a young daughter, and that’s not a message I want her to buy into. I have no idea whether she will feel the same way as an adult, but at age 7, she keeps saying she doesn’t want to get married and she wants to adopt all her kids. Whether or not she changes her mind, I think her attitude that she doesn’t NEED to get married or have babies is very healthy.

  4. Wow, Amy. It amazes me how differently we see this book. We do agree on the major point…the writing is awful. Also, I have not read Twilight. So perhaps that makes a small difference. Anyway, I saw Anna’s breakfast as her own thing. The author establishes through the book that Anna likes to cook and cooks for others often through the series. Also, she made the pancakes because she liked them. Considering the author makes her borderline anorexic says a lot.

    • Yeah, you’re right, Ana does seem anorexic. Actually, if the author would have explored all Ana’s neuroses a bit more, it could have been a great story. She has really low self-esteem and poor body image. There is definitely something underlying her willingness to hop in bed with a total stranger AFTER he tells her that he’s going to completely dominate her. Having known plenty of women who have been in abusive relationships (including with men who use BDSM as an excuse to abuse them), I am constantly frustrated at the author’s failure to deal with it in this book.

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