How Young Is Too Young For Fifty Shades of Grey? - Conversations #1

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Welcome, everyone to my first Conversations post! This is a bimonthly meme hosted by the incredible Geraldine @ Coralling Books and Joan @ Fiddler Blue! It's an amazing meme where we all discuss a certain topic presented by our lovely hosts, and I, for one, find it a fabulous idea! Ergo, this post! (And I also strongly urge to you to take part in this too. Who doesn't love discussion prompts?)

The prompt for today is: Is fifteen years too young to be reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

Now I know for sure that my mother's answer to this question would be "HECK, YEAH!" (though those are not the exact words she would use). I myself, am fifteen (or will be next month - we'll talk about that later), and honestly, I wouldn't read Fifty Shades of Grey at this point of my life. And it's not because my mother would have an apoplexy, either. I just think I might be scarred for life if I read it before I'm sure I can handle the sexual content of the book.

(Mind you, when I'm old enough to handle it, I will very well darn read Fifty Shades, if only to satisfy my burning curiosity as to why there is such a big fuss about the book. I'm stubborn like that.)

But let's put aside my personal opinion for a while. Although I, personally, think I'm not mature enough to handle the content of Fifty Shades of Grey at fifteen years of age, there are teens who might be. I've seen some bloggers discuss that they've read Fifty Shades when they were just fourteen or fifteen, and (somehow!) have not been utterly traumatised.

This shows that some teens are more mature than others, and some people are better able to handle the sort of content presented by a book like Fifty Shades. But that begs the question: do we let all fifteen year olds have access to books like that? Do we leave that decision to them?

There is a rebellious teen in me that says, "YES! PLEASE! WE ARE OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE WHAT WE CAN HANDLE!"

But are we, really?

What if we're not? What if we truly believe we're mature enough to handle it, but really, we're not? What if a fifteen yo thinks that Fifty Shades "can't be all that bad" and decides to read it? And then the really big question: would it really matter if they did?

Obviously, if a person can't handle the graphic sex scenes in the book, they would stop reading it because it would make them uncomfortable. What, really, are the long lasting effects of reading it? If you come up with anything, I'm honestly asking you to tell me, because I can think of none.

But let's really think here. Although graphically describes sex scenes are what kicks up the most fuss in the minds of parents everywhere, that's not the biggest problem with Fifty Shades of Grey. If the innumerable Goodreads reviews are anything to go by, the book is a heavily inaccurate portrayal of BDSM, and is a normalisation of domestic abuse. 

Now THIS sheds new light on the topic. It's a new angle to look at it from, and heavily impacts this discussion, because then, the answer to my previous question changes drastically. Would it matter if a fifteen yo read Fifty Shades of Grey?

Yes, yes it would. And the effects would be very negative, because, let's face it, not all teens know how to identify the difference between a good and bad relationship. If Fifty Shades does normalise domestic abuse, then that means that teens reading it would normalise it in their minds, too, which would have very dangerous and potentially fatal effects on their lives.

I'm not being patronising here. Neither an I being arrogant and saying that I'm smarter than all other teens. No, not at all. Please, please don't mistake that.

What I'm saying is that most teens don't have that awareness. I read a LOT. Not only books, but blog posts and magazine articles, too. (Also, GR reviews can be strangely educational). All these things have helped me have an awareness of what is good and bad, right and wrong. But for all the fifteen year olds that don't? Things will be different.

So in the end, this is all extremely subjective (as is most discussions about books). This was a hard post to write, because I really can't formulate a proper answer to this post. In the end, all I can say is this: if you're a fifteen year old and you want to read Fifty Shades of Grey, just ask yourself some questions first. Are you mature enough to handle the sexual content of the book? Do you have enough awareness to know what a healthy romantic relationship is, and what is not? Do your parents think you can handle it? If Fifty Shades really the first erotica you want to read?

 I think, if you have the smallest doubt about any of these things, the sensible thing to do would be putting off reading Fifty Shades for a few years, until you're mature enough. So at the end of the day, I don't want to put a number on how old you should be to read Fifty Shades. It all depends on how mature you are, not on how many years you have lived.

So, what do YOU think? Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? Do you think it's okay to read it at 15 years? Do you think that no teen should even touch that book? Or do you think like me and think it all depends on the reader's maturity, not age? Anymore thoughts on the matter? Tell all!

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