Wanting to burn a book is a common feeling people share after finishing a terrible piece of writing. If you think E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is offensive, boring, poorly written, or hateful toward women, your prayers have been answered. A British charity is asking dissatisfied readers to deposit their copy of the BDSM novel to be burned in a bonfire on November 5.
Claire Phillipson of the domestic violence charity Wearside Women in Need, believes that the books are “vile” and encourage sexual violence between couples. She is concerned about the fact that public libraries in England are using public funding to buy extra copies of James’ books, when government money could be used to help victims of domestic violence instead.
Random House, the publisher of the book in the UK, maintains their stance that the relationship between main characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey is in every respect consensual.
But not everyone sees the relationship as consensual. Phillipson, among other women’s rights activists, believes that the book encourages abuse, as illustrated in the role heroine Steele finds herself in. Grey is an “abusive older man who beats up and does some dreadful things to her sexually,” she told the BBC.
Phillipson considers it a misuse of public spending when libraries are buying up multiple copies of the book that advertise the idea that "domestic violence is sexy."
Cutbacks in social welfare programs make it difficult for abused women to seek counseling, however, British officials are defending their decision to stock up on copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.
"We want to give people freedom of choice in what they read - it is not for us to dictate what material they read. We want to give them a wide variety of material," said Sunderland City Councilor John Kelly.
Chronicling the relationship between the young and inexperienced Steele, and the sexually domineering older businessman Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey took the literary world by storm when it exceeded Harry Potter sales and became the fastest-selling paperback of all time. All three installments of James’ provocative series dominate book sales with 40 million copies sold and counting.
Despite criticisms from fans that book burnings are an archaic form of oppression, the bonfire remains scheduled for the beginning of November.