Women’s refuge boss calls for 50 Shades of Grey copies to be burned on a bonfire, saying: “Some of what happens in the book, Fred West did to victims in his cellar.” The director of a women’s refuge has urged people to burn copies of 50 Shades of Grey, likening its sado-masochistic scenes to the sexual crimes of Fred West.
The erotic novel “normalises abuse, degrades women and encourages sexual violence”, according to Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women In Need.
EL James’s book charts the sexual relationship between Ana Steele, a virginal college student, and Christian Grey, a handsome billionaire with a penchant for bondage.
The trilogy has proved to be one of the publishing success stories of the decade, with the first book overtaking Harry Potter to become the fastest-selling book of all time.
Criticism has centred mostly on the quality of the prose, but Ms Phillipson said the books are highly damaging.
“Our concern is not the graphic depiction of sex. This is an abusive relationship presented as a love story. There is lots of abuse in the book, not just sexual abuse,” she said.
“There is emotional and sexual abuse of a 20-year-old with no sexual experience who is persuaded that being hit is good fun.
“Do millions and million of women suffer from secret self-loathing? Do they all want to be treated this badly?
“Some of what happens in the book, Fred West did to his victims in his cellar. I fail to see what is erotic about that.”
West was one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. He and his wife, Rose, tortured, raped and murdered young women at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester. Many were bound and gagged in the cellar during their ordeal and the bodies of several victims were found beneath the cellar floor.
Ms Phillipson, who runs the refuge in Washington, Tyne and Wear, said Christian Grey’s habit of showering Ana with expensive gifts and thoughtful emails was typical of a domestic abuser.
She said that one domestic violence victim had asked her: “If this is a love story, how come it didn’t feel like this when it was happening to me?”
Ms Phillipson hopes to organise a bonfire of 50 Shades copies on November 5.
“There’s an assumption that Nazis are the only people who burn books. What we are saying is: this book is rubbish and we would like to reduce it to ashes.
“We are not burning the Bible or a political philosophy, we are burning the depiction of an abusive man as a romantic hero.”