Is Fifty Shades of Grey really harming teenagers?

Beyond the fact that it’s the most egregious, mind-rotting, garbage, that is.

BBC News Magazine is getting its knickers in a twist, over the fact that teenagers are allowed to buy Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, if they want to read it, it serves them right in my view! And it’s legal.

Pre-teens and teenagers have always had an interest in forbidden subjects, and an intense interest in sex and/or naked women, as far as boys are concerned, anyway, goes with the territory. That doesn’t change from generation to generation, though the present one seems more focused on doing it than reading about it, hence the plague of teen pregnancies.

When I was young, Health & Efficiency mags, liberated from a father’s stash, were often passed round and, dog-eared crap though they were, and even at that age we realised it, it was pretty much all that was easily available  – hell, it’s a wonder we didn’t grow up equating female genitalia with beach balls!

Then along came a game-changer, Playboy, no longer furtive but out there for all to see – and try to buy – or, as was more traditional, liberate from a father’s stash (though shoplifting it wasn’t entirely unknown – well, it made a change from nicking Airfix kits from Woolies – yes, kiddies, we had other interests too). In my 20s I worked for the company that imported Playboy – so many were siphoned off  at the docks it was a minor miracle they made it onto the shelf at WH Smith at all. And, it’s worth mentioning, it was read by the girls in the office too, and probably not for the articles!

Incidentally, viewed from today’s perspective, the uproar over Playboy first showing pubes seems pretty much unbelievable.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and nothing has changed, except that now porn in all its forms is very much more available than it’s ever been – whether that’s good or bad is an argument for another day, but it’s far better, in my view, than the furtive, guilt-ridden, sneaking, secrecy my generation endured. That, by the way, was the fifties when, among adults, you could be forgiven for getting the idea that sex didn’t exist, and babies appeared as if by magic, generated by the mystical twanging of bedsprings!

I doubt any normal teenager would be harmed by Fifty Shades of Drivel, unless it causes them to develop a taste for appallingly bad writing (how James ever found a publisher is beyond me). Anyone who is tipped over to the dark side by it was probably most of the way there already, and doubtless well acquainted with the dingier recesses of the Internet.

The best thing to do is leave the kids alone, because – and it was ever thus – the more adults protest, the more attractive Fifty Shades of Tripe will appear.

What we should be worried about isn’t teenagers knocking each other about as a result of reading tales of  poorly-realised BDSM, but knocking each other up, which is a far bigger problem. OK, it shows a healthier interest in sex, though sadly linked to the restraint of a horny gorilla, and really, the last thing we need is more school-age mothers.

One final thought – anyone remember Lord Longford?

The peer, in a spirit of possibly hairy-palmed enquiry, devoted a large chunk of his life to the detailed, up-close and personal, study of pornography, in all it multifarious forms, before announcing to the world that it was quite definitely harmful. To everyone, apparently, except him.

Given that he went on to tell us how wonderful and much-maligned Myra Hindley was, I do wonder about that.

10 thoughts on “Is Fifty Shades of Grey really harming teenagers?

    • God no – I do have some standards! 😉

      There’s no shortage of online reviews and excerpts though, and based on what I’ve read it really is dire.

      • I didn’t think you had! 😉

        I’ve been informed that condoms and the pill are used when needed, which will send the right message to teens. Also the female is 22yrs old and a virgin when she meets Mr Grey. So for all the drivel, it does have a couple of good points for teens to read. Don’t have sex until you’re ready, and when you do, use contraception.

  1. Well I did read the 1st book and truthfully I think most young people would probably find it funny rather than deciding to try and emulate behaviour of the worlds most confused, silly and seriously boring couple of 20 somethings!

    She is naive beyond any 12 year old I’ve ever met & he is a great big mummy’s boy – so I for one am not too worried about today’s teens doing anything beyond giggling and getting bored

  2. It’s definitely an interesting point to make and a topic of conversation worth discussing. I guess that censorship on literature isn’t as tight as it is on certain forms of media so younger people are being subjected to this story a lot more than they might if it was released as a film first. I know a lot of people’s defense for it has been ‘at least young people are reading something’, but it’s still difficult to comprehend whether they should be allowed to be exposed to it and at what age. Even regardless of the sexual exploits, it sends an interesting message about the treatment of women. I dont have a particularly aggressive stance on it’s content, im sure we’ll see documentaries arising in due time about children that have acted up after being exposed to the story; difficult to tell if they will be entirely factual though.

    • I think it’s a given – re potential documentaries, or the almost inevitable Daily Mail horror stories – that teenagers lie about sex. Always have, probably always will, so I doubt anything substantive would come from an investigation.

      The big danger, as I see it, is that teenagers often have no concept of how far is far enough – lads in particular – so the scope for injury might be high. Always assuming, of course, that they are actually buying this rubbish in meaningful numbers, and are attracted by it, and neither is entirely certain (and at just under a tenner for the Kindle version of the trilogy, and £15 for the paperback, the cost might be off-putting). Although it did start its life online as Twilight fan fiction, so, presumably, Twilight fans might be up for it. Probably serves them right for having such awful taste. 😉 And I suppose, compared to what’s lurking in the murkier recesses of the Internet, Fifty shades of Tosh is pretty innocuous.

      I think Jayne Linney, above, has the right of it – the whole thing is risible – the idea that a 22-year-old virgin would walk blithely into such an extreme relationship frankly beggars belief.

      I think, too, that the “at least young people are reading something” defence works only for Harry Potter – the series’ only saving grace, derivative crap that it is (though kids obviously won’t know that), is that it got a generation reading.

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