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The Female Perspective: #AskELJames Is Internet Bullying and Here’s Why

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

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*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


Author E.L. James
Author E.L. James

Awhile back I talked a bit about the Fifty Shades of Grey controversy that says that the book and the movie promote domestic violence, rape and abuse. If you haven’t read that blog, feel free to check it out here. If you have read it then you know that I disagree with this point of view. The fact is BDSM is not about abuse (for most), it is about exploring pain, pleasure and your own power. It is a lifestyle CHOICE and I do not believe that Fifty Shades of Grey glorifies it in any way.

That being said, I will say that both the book and the movie are boring, mindless and poorly written. All of this is my personal opinion and I don’t dislike author E.L. James for giving us this mindless drivel, she got extremely lucky and made a great career for herself, one that I am totally jealous of. She has the success every writer dreams of having and it’s made an even more amazing story by the fact that she really isn’t a very good writer.

#AskELJames = Failure
#AskELJames = Failure

Recently, to help promote her new book, Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s perspective (that’s not the title I know but it really should be) her publicity team decided to host a live Twitter chat with the hashtag, #AskELJames.

This backfired horribly.

Below is a sample of some of the tweets sent over to #AskELJames, they start out funny enough:

What’s your favourite shade out of the 50? Is there a chance that more shades will be added?

How on earth did Ana manage to graduate from university in the 21st century without an email address or a laptop?

Then things started to go a bit wrong…

Do you ever feel guilty that you made so much money from romanticizing sexual abuse and selling it as “erotica romance”?

Is it only ok for Christian to stalk, coerce, threaten & manipulate Ana because he’s hot, or is it also ok because he’s rich?

after the success of “Grey,” have you considered re-telling the story from the perspective of someone who can write?

And things just kept going wrong after that…

Will you be rewriting the book from Stephenie Meyer’s point of view next time?

Are you going to answer any of these questions, or do you need Stephenie Meyer to do a Twitter chat first?

Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it’s romantic enough to be turned into a novel!

Are you getting tendinitis from having to hit “block” so often? 🙁

What gets me is the way in which people are choosing to take something as innocuous as a Twitter forum, meant to engage James’ readers with their fave author, and turn it into a giant bullying fest.

This is wrong. This is so much wrong. No matter how much I dislike the books and bemoan the fact that someone like E.L. James is famous when she can barely even write, I would never say that to her face in such an unkind manner, maybe that makes my a hypocrite but the things that people were saying to her were cruel and unnecessary.

Personally, I wouldn’t take to a Twitter group and decide it was the perfect time to bash and abuse her. Yeah, she’s not one of my favorite. Yes, I have said that time and time again during any discussions of her books. Yes, I feel guilty about it because she is a fellow writer and I should support her 100% because of that fact alone. But I am not a perfect person and I admit that. There’s something about this “attack” that really made me feel icky inside. It’s one more example of the internet world being a cruel place and I am really tired of it.

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What these folks did, and what they continue to do on various open mic forums on Twitter (why celebrities keep doing these, I just don’t know. Robin Thicke experienced a similar situation when he did the same as James) is take time meant to connect a fan with a favorite artist and turn it into something ugly. They take that time meant for others and choose to insult celebrities that they think are less than worth their time. This is a perfect example of why the internet can be a horrible place. Bullies thrive in the online space of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. They can say what they want, whenever they want with virtually no repercussions. I’ve been the victim of bullying on this blog and it takes some serious getting used to! The fact is, if you, as an artist, manage to stir up the masses to such passion (whether it’s good or bad) than you are clearly doing something right.

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The fact is, being a celebrity of any kind requires a thick skin. E.L. James and her team learned this lesson with great clarity last night and no matter what kind of person James is (I have heard some various stories that she’s not the nicest woman but I don’t know if that’s truth or not so we’ll just assume she’s a nice person) she doesn’t deserve to be bullied online. Yes, her writing is a mess. Yes, it is a well known fact that Fifty Shades began it’s book life as Twilight fan fiction and yes, it often toes the line between abuse and erotica (sort of, it’s not all that erotic if you ask me), but no matter what you think of James’ writing, there is no need to go online just to bash her when she was honestly trying to connect with her fans, not her detractors. I have better things to do with my time than to be an online troll.

What do you think? Do you think #AskELJames is bullying? Trolling? Did she deserve it or not? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: 50 Shades of Domestic Abuse?

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


Fifty Shades of Grey aka Fifty Shades of Blah

I recently did a blog post that reviewed the book of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and if you read it, you know I am not big fan of the book and that I in fact only read the first book because I couldn’t subject myself to any more of E.L. James’ drivel. I have not yet seen the movie version of the book but I came across this Australian review of the film. Spoiler Alert! The woman hated it, but what bugged me most was that she equated it with domestic abuse,

It’s domestic violence dressed up as erotica. And if there’s one thing this movie is not, it’s erotic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2p00R8r5zQ

Domestic abuse dressed up as erotica? Hmmmm…I have heard of this recent debate in the world about how people should be boycotting Fifty Shades because it promotes domestic abuse. I disagree with this wholeheartedly. Here’s why;

  1. The story is one of a man (the emotionless, boring, emotional train wreck that is the self-centered Mr. Grey) who has a penchant for BDSM (in case you don’t know, BDSM stands for An overlapping abbreviation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM)). BDSM is NOT abuse, it is a sexual practice between two consenting adults. End of story. Thank you and Good Day.
  2. To be fair…the boycott is not about BDSM but they claim that since the BDSM community disliked how they were portrayed in the novel, this movie simply portrays an abuser and his victim. I’m still not sure that makes for a very convincing argument.
  3. Don’t go around telling people to boycott something, that will only make them want to see it! Let the movie stand for itself. Either it will be terrible or it’ll be good. I, personally, have low expectations of the film but I am going to see it out of morbid curiosity and because I think it might actually make for an OK movie.

A lot of the criticism of our campaign is that there’s nothing wrong with BDSM – we’re not saying there is. But people within the BDSM community are outraged by how the book portrays their lifestyle. This book romanticizes a perpetrator of abuse.

In researching this post, I found a great blog post by a woman who engages in BDSM and has been accused of allowing abuse upon herself and others by having such a penchant for it. She states perfectly what BDSM means to her.

Obviously, I don’t think BDSM is inherently abusive! Exploring my personal BDSM desires has given me some extraordinary, consensual, transcendent experiences and connections. I also genuinely believe that BDSM has the potential to control, subvert, and manage power.  BDSM can be a place where people learn to understand bad power dynamics in past relationships; it can be a place where people learn to manage or destroy bad power dynamics in their current relationships; it can be a place where people find glory, self-knowledge and freedom by manipulating their own reactions and responses to power.

~From Thinking More Clearly about BDSM vs. Abuse

She goes onto say that of course the BDSM community has their own issues and problems, people sometimes go too far and then berate the victim of their assault but that is a human problem, not one created because of BDSM proclivities. The idea that people engage willing in practice that cause pain and bruising is strange to those of us who do not engage in such practices but it needs to be made crystal clear that BDSM is not abuse. Nor does it promote abuse. If done without proper knowledge, yes, it can cause pain and suffering. If done by someone with a vile temperament who is doing it only to cause pain and suffering, yes, that’s a problem. But again, that is a human problem. Abuse happens every, single day in the world and we cannot go around blaming a book or movie for the problem. Nor can we blame the same book and movie for promoting violence against women when violence against women has existed since … forever.

By telling people to boycott the movie, it simply makes people more curious to see what all the furor is about.
By telling people to boycott the movie, it simply makes people more curious to see what all the furor is about.

Let’s all move on people, let’s focus on things that truly matter, victim shaming, rape culture and the like. These women are truly suffering.

I’ll let you know if I’ve changed my mind after I see the movie this weekend. For now, let me know YOUR thoughts. Have you read Fifty Shades? Do you think it promotes domestic abuse?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.