With all the hype around Fifty Shades of Grey, I’ve avoided reading it. I heard from several friends who are avid readers that the writing is atrocious, and there’s nothing that will kill a book for me more than terrible writing. I was, however, intrigued to learn that the BlogHer Book Club was planning to read the newly released Diary of a Submissive: A Modern True Tale of Sexual Awakening, which bills itself as the real-life Fifty Shades of Grey.
Diary of a Submissive was written by a thirtysomething British woman who calls herself “Sophie Morgan.” Because she has a promising journalism career, and because she reveals some rather kinky stuff in her memoir, she can’t disclose her true identity. As she is a journalist, the book was well-written, aside from the overuse of the adjectives “vanilla” and “wet,” which became annoying as I continued reading. However, as she couldn’t reveal her true identity, there was a lack of narrative beyond her BDSM-oriented sexual experiences, and character development is what I really crave in a good memoir (for example, I really enjoyed Some Girls: My Life in a Harem).
In the end, was I glad I read Diary of a Submissive? Yes, actually. I think its content will make for some interesting conversation, albeit probably not at the dinner table. Did I enjoy the read? No, not really.
The book shares details on Sophie’s relationships with three different partners — a short-term affair while at university, a friends with benefits type of arrangement, and lastly, with a man to whom she actually feels an emotional connection. The biggest turn-off for me was Sophie’s vivid descriptions of both the physical and emotional pain she endured, how it routinely brought tears to her eyes, and how she frequently felt humiliated. Allow me to share a passage from the book (page 246-247):
In that moment I hated him. This wasn’t about submitting to feel challenged or be aroused or even to arouse him. He wasn’t pushing me out of my comfort zone or humiliating me for our mutual pleasure. But he was humiliating me, demeaning me, in a way he never had before. I properly hated him, but the loathing was tinged with prickly embarrassment and a genuine feeling of guilt…I knew what he wanted. Knew the choice was mine. Knew that I didn’t want to do it, that my every instinct was shouting for me not to, that I should hang up. But I wanted to make amends. I wanted to please him. I wanted to be able to reach the bar he had raised rather than fail him, fail myself.
I found nothing arousing in her narrative, and I rather felt like I was reading the memoir of a woman in an abusive relationship. Reading Diary of a Submissive left me wondering why this type of this relationship is now glorified in literature and what are the consequences of it? As the next BlogHer Book Club selection is billed as erotic romance, I am curious to find out if there’s a pattern.
To join in the discussion of Diary of a Submissive on BlogHer, visit the campaign’s main page.
Disclosure Statement: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
Interesting. I haven’t read Fifty Shades or Diary of a Submissive. Your description of it does sound like she’s in an abusive relationship, and I suppose it’s good if she isn’t glorifying the demeaning parts of it. I am rather concerned by how much the current trends in literature reflect and reinforce myths about women and relationships. It teaches us that humiliating, abusive behaviors are normal and appropriate, beliefs we carry into our relationships, the jury box, and the judge’s chamber.
I have read Diary of a Submissive and it’s previous incarnation as Subtext – written as Kate Marley and I too agree that alot of what Sophie describes is abuse. And not of the consensual sexually liberating variety. It’s scary that she seems to think ‘choosing’ this makes her a feminist. It just makes it even sadder.