Sammy Nickalls
June 30, 2015 9:15 am

Love ’em or hate ’em, the 50 Shades books have become a total sensation—a phenomenon, really. There are plenty of people all over the world who find the books steamy, or just find the plot interesting. . . but there are just as many people who view them as ridiculous, and, most notably, endorsing degradation and sexual violence towards women. If 50 Shades author E. L. James wasn’t aware of the latter group of people, well, she certainly is now.

Yesterday, the author conducted a live chat with Twitter Books using the hashtag #AskELJames. Twitter live chats can often be a PR boost, but in this case, not so much. Sure, James got some questions from her fans that she happily answered, but mostly, the hashtag turned out to be more of an exploration into the problems readers had with the sexually violent material.

And TBH, that’s a not entirely a bad thing. It’s a conversation we need to be having: how does the media’s portrayal of women and sex really impact us, and in this context, how much responsibility should the creator of that media claim? According to Twitter, a lot. Here are some of the questions raised during the chat, with regards to sexual violence and female degradation in the book. They largely went unanswered.

While the outrage extended beyond the conversation of domestic violence—and, at times, veered into straight-up social media shaming, which women are all too often subjected to—the hashtag did serve to raise some important questions about the book’s role in sending a problematic message.

One Twitter user summed it up this way:

(Images via Twitter, IMDB)

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Meet the writer who gave Fifty Shades a feminist makeover

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