Twitter Wars: #AskELJames

I understand that I tend to go against popular opinion, but I was so tired of seeing all of the “poor EL James” blog posts. This is all I am going to say about it.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the explosion of anti-50 Shades tweets following a failed public AMA for EL James on Twitter under the hastag #AskELJames. While most people felt sorry for EL, I have to say that I honestly don’t. While a few questions were a bit outlandish, hundreds of those questions were completely legitimate. Questions about her feelings on condoning abuse; what she really feels about domestic violence; does she even view what she “wrote” as domestic violence? The list goes on and on. I understand that we as authors need to stand together, but don’t those that are victims of abuse, harassment, stalking, (etc), and those against it deserve to speak their mind as much as those who love the 50 Shades “saga”?

I was discussing the fiasco with a co-worker a couple of days ago and her reply was that she was still going to watch the movie (maybe not read the “books”, but that’s because she doesn’t have a lot of time). When I spoke to her about the abuse disguised as romance as well as the poor writing, her only response was that there had to be something to it, the books have sold millions of copies. That honestly stopped me. She had a point. EL James is laughing all the way to the bank because people are buying her “work”. But are people wrong for speaking out against her simply because she is making that kind of money and getting that kind of attention for a Twilight fan-fiction?

Here is what I will concede to: Yes, EL James put herself and her “work” out there and she got published. She did something that most people only dream of. No matter what the real quality of the “work”, or the desperation level of the reader, she truly did gain fame for her “writing”. It takes a lot to even attempt to present something to a publisher, so that is a big deal. And yes, she got a movie deal and was able to get even more people on board the 50 Shades wagon.

I am honestly tired of reading people calling the nay-sayers “jealous” or whatever because they have spoke their mind. And quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing the same people who were bashing her just a week ago, going around telling everyone to have sympathy and be kind to her. EL James has misrepresented the BDSM culture; she has skewed what a relationship really is; she has furthered the idea that you can change a man if you do everything that he says because he will eventually come around. Because that’s healthy and rational thinking. Teaching women that they should submit themselves to torture, stalking, harassment, and other forms of abuse all in the name of love it the right thing to teach them… Seriously?

Again, I understand that we are authors should stick together, and harassment (no matter what form) is not fair to anyone. We should never bully or troll because it’s wrong to treat people that way. Honestly, I didn’t see that many authors participated in the #AskELJames thing to begin with. If I were to meet EL James I would commend her on her success, as we all should because she did “work hard”, but I would be very honest about the fact that I think what she has “written” is the absolute wrong thing to be teaching anyone. I think that I would be willing to take her seriously if she were to write something of substance. Something with analogies that made sense, descriptions that weren’t completely outlandish and ridiculous, and physically possible expressions. Something with strong characters that didn’t have to cowtow to oversexualized, misrepresented classes and speak out against rape, and violence towards women. Why can’t someone just speak up and say “If you really think you can change a man with your love, then you need to reevaluate how you feel about yourself.”

I don’t think I’m a feminist ((because I haven’t thought about it one way or another. I am not informed enough about feminism to legitimately claim that I am. This is not a comment on feminism itself)), but women deserve happiness and relationships that aren’t like Christian and Anastasia’s. If you truly think you want a Christian Grey in your life, then you really need to take a good long look in the mirror. You are not defined by your relationship with a man, you are defined by your character. If you find the idea of being a doormat romantic, then you need some serious counselling. Nothing makes me walk away from a book faster than the Mary-Sue, do-it-for-your-man attitude more and more female characters that are developing because of the pseudo-protagonists 50 Shades is breeding.

So, in close, I do think that some of the crap people asked her was stupid and pointless, but the majority of it was valid. If a man had written a book like that, he would have been pushed out of the market before anyone knew his name. 50 Shades is not romantic, it is not ideal, it is sick and twisted. How about, instead of condemning the people that asked legitimate questions, and defending a woman from things she probably could do to answer for, we admit to what that “series” is, admit that we all thought about asking the same questions that many people did ask, and go on about our day. Those that are calling for pity on EL James need to get off of their high horses because we have all had those same comments, we just never said anything about it. I am not saying we take to the streets and beat the woman senseless. Nor am I saying that we should harass or bully her. I am simply saying we all need to move on. It is what it is. Part of being an author is living with criticism, accepting it, and trying to better ourselves. I know that if this has happened to a self-pub author, we would be telling them “stiff upper lip, it’s all part of the business.”


About Maegan Provan

I am an indie author and proud of it. I try to update as much as humanly possible, but I'm a busy bee.

Posted on July 3, 2015, in Journal, Random Stuff and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I was agreeing with you, Maegan, and admiring your articulate opinions and ideas, until your sentence that began: “I don’t think I’m a feminist, but women deserve …”


    Why, after everything you declared in the above post, would you back out of being thought of as (or, horrors of horrors, being) a feminist?

    May I remind you that anyone who starts a thought with “Women deserve…” and the rest includes something along the lines of “…better than whatever we’re getting,” IS a feminist.

    Newflash: Feminists believe women deserve to be treated with respect, to be paid equally for equal work, and to experience equality in every situation that involve both men and women.

    Do you still say you’re NOT a feminist?


    I despair.


    • Sally, my statement was in no way meant to speak down on feminism. I genuinely haven’t thought about whether I was or wasn’t. It isn’t a statement on social views of feminism. I don’t speak about what I don’t know or understand, and I have not educated myself enough on feminism to claim whether I am or not on a legitimate level. I think that it is better to be honest about how I feel/ think than to hide behind a lie. If I were to claim that I was a feminist, I would be lying to you because, as I said, I am not informed enough one way or the other to call myself such. Isn’t that better than putting on a false front?

  2. Thanks, Maegan, for your honest response. I am calling you out, now, though, with respect. As a lifelong feminist, activist, educator and political organizer, I am telling you that I just explained EVERYTHING anyone needs to know about what a feminist is in my comment, above. It’s not complicated. Making it more complicated is dishonest and untrue, both.

    So, are you or aren’t you in favor of these statements: “women deserve to be treated with respect, to be paid equally for equal work, and to experience equality in every situation that involve both men and women”?

    If you are in favor of the above, you are a feminist. Period.

    Claim it.



    • Well, then there ya go. I have no problem being called out. I guess you are right. I just don’t like to speak about having a stance one way or the other without being better informed. Thank you, Sally.

    • I know Maegan and she is definitely a feminist!!! Shout it loud and proud, Maegan. Being a feminist and an advocate for equality is something to be proud of. I hate that some conservatives have tried to turn “feminism” into a dirty word. (Sorry, now I’m totally off topic.)

      • It’s not even that I think of it in a negative context. I honestly have not thought about whether I was or wasn’t. I promise it wasn’t a comment on society, lol.

  3. I’m going to stay out of the feminist debate because there are a lot of connotations to that word.

    On to the blog post – you are 100% right. If that was a self published author people would say “deal with it. Criticism is what happens when you put your work out there. You have no right to complain, or to want to silence negative opinions. If you don’t like what they’re saying, then write a better book.”

    That’s advice someone needs to give to EL James.

  4. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    I am NOT a fan of 50 Shades. I think E.L. James and her publicists went into the Twitter “fiasco” knowing good and well what would happen. The author would receive a public thrashing and her fans would rise to defend her, resulting in massive sales. While I agree with the “poor EL” bloggers who say no one deserves to be publicly humiliated and insulted, I think her publicists set her up for this. The trolls helped her gain free publicity resulting in the sale of more books. It would have been far more insulting had her detractors stayed off the hashtag and turned her PR stunt into a non-event. As it stands now, EL is in a position where she’s been featured in multiple blogs and articles. This mess have paved the way for her become the poster child of anti-bullying. That’s the part that sickens me. She’s going to profit from something she (or her PR folks) set up, while those who are truly being cyberbullied are shoved into the shadows, making them bigger victims than ever before.

  5. Wonderfully said! I agree that anyone who works hard to put themselves out there has done something so many others have not. At the same time, I also have issues with what she did… the origins of this story, when is an idea someone else’s all that jazz. And I wont even get started on the misrepresentation of the BDSM community! I do really agree with you that no one deserves to be harassed, but yes… I think they knew full well what they were doing. How many more people are seeing this now and because of the hype, will read even one of those books…

  6. I enjoyed your post but when I got to the part that you don’t think you’re a feminist – well, that stopped me. To me, feminism simply means believing women are equal to men. I’m presuming the vast majority of women here believe that, and so that makes us all feminists.
    With regard to the E.L. James twitter fiasco, I can’t believe some publicist thought it would be a good idea. Seriously, what was her PR team thinking?

    • Emma, I appreciate you comment but again, as I’ve said, it is not a commentary on what feminism is regarded as. It is simply the fact that I haven’t honestly thought about whether I was or wasn’t. Thank you for your comment.

      • Hi Maegan. I recently finished reading Caitlin Moran’s book, How To Be A Woman and it helped me figure out my own thoughts on the subject. Thanks for this post and comment.

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