Do you think that E.L. James was attacked so relentlessly and viciously from the masses on social media because she wrote a book that they perceive as something that glorifies domestic abuse, or because she’s a rich woman who made a lot of money writing books?
Those are the questions that I asked myself after the #AskELJames fiasco yesterday.
You know, I could see why advocates of domestic violence might be a bit peeved at E.L. James for the whole Christian Grey thing. I could see how the novel could very well be taken as a story about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I am not a fan of the series myself. Christian’s behavior just wasn’t romantic for me. It was alarming. But so was Ana’s response to him, and her willingness to consistently stay with him despite all the warnings.
But I didn’t write the book. If I wrote the book, it would have gone an entirely different way. And that’s okay, because E.L. James wrote the book, and regardless of where she drew her inspiration from…she wrote the book. She wrote the book and none of us really had to read it. A lot of us did and some of us didn’t like it and others did and that’s okay. You’re allowed to have an opinion on the things that you read, but I still don’t think that E.L. James deserves to be bullied by a bunch of people hiding behind keyboards.
Because that’s what yesterday was, really. It was a recipe for disaster, an invitation to the masses to attack and shame. Attack E.L. James because of how she wrote her book, shame her for how they perceived it. Over and over and over again. Most of those tweets were just copied and pasted by a bunch of bandwagon riders who couldn’t even think of their own snarky remarks.
There is a way to express your dislike of something in a respectful, dignified manner and the majority of yesterday’s tweets were not respectful or dignified.
Do I think that E.L. James shouldn’t have done a Q&A segment on Twitter? Well, maybe. Maybe that wasn’t the wisest decision her public relations team could have made, and not because E.L. James shouldn’t have to answer those uncomfortable questions asked about her book (by all means, she probably should) – but because people in general forget how to treat others with respect and dignity, and that’s a known issue. The way people fire out “mean tweets” to celebrities, authors, song writers, and hell even people they don’t know is alarming. E.L. James’s PR team should have realized that she would become the next victim to cyber bullying because even before this avenue was created, people lashed out at E.L. James every chance they got.
I still can’t help but wonder…would this have happened if E.L. James was a man? Would she get just as much hate? Do people attack her because they feel that she’s let down women with her portrayal of Ana? Do they feel angry that she’s cashing in on an abusive relationship?
I write about some pretty unsavory topics. I write about sexual assault, emotional abuse, and a variety of other uncomfortable subjects, and although I do not condone any of those acts, I make money off of my books. Does that mean that I’m no better than E.L. James? Granted, I always try my hardest to make sure my female characters somehow come out on top, but that’s my style, my tone, and it doesn’t have to be E.L. James’s style or tone. That’s the beauty of writing. You won’t get the same story from the same author (or you shouldn’t, anyway). But most writers gain off of tragedy and despair. Does that mean we need to light torches and burn down their houses too? (Figuratively…for the record).
I guess it just circles back to that post I wrote a few days ago. To summarize:
There is a new tone with respect, one I don’t particularly fancy at all, and it starts when people proclaim that their respect needs to be earned. They fail to acknowledge that there are many kinds of respect, and everyone deserves your basic respect. They believe even the most basic respect – being kind with your words and your actions to someone – is an earned privilege.
That’s not so. We can’t collectively move forward and fix what’s wrong with our broken society if we do not demand and expect everyone to uphold the same values when dealing with one another; respect and kindness. Integrity. Empathy. Those are character traits that we need to nourish, not only in the children of tomorrow but in ourselves as well.
E.L. James made a name for herself writing books that not everyone is going to like or agree with, but she is still a human being who is worthy of kindness and respect. Aren’t we all?