Fifty Shades of Misogyny

Fifty Shades of Grey is the summer bestseller.  Endlessly and earnestly debated in the broadsheet press as to its appeal and what the phenomenon means to modern sexual relations and attitudes, almost no-one can not have heard of it by now.   Fifty Shades of Glasgow is a facebook spinoff.  Started, as far as I can tell, by a couple of wee wiseguys with an ear to the patter, it sought to set eroticism right in the heart of the Dear Green Place.

Contemporary Scottish writing is something that I’ve loved ever since my days in England, when I discovered that Alasdair Grey was an antidote to my homesickness while Kelman, Welsh, Owens and Galloway all reminded me that the place I came from was still there, still waiting for me.  And since returning, oftentimes the best writing I’ve found is in compendium from writers groups, picked up from the bargain bins of charity shops, with card covers and badly printed text.  With a somewhat phallic buckfast bottle nestling on tweed, Fifty Shades of Glasgow was raw, fresh Scots writing from those who never even make it to the bargain bin.

I saw the first few post turn up on my newsfeed and loved them.

Who can fail to be impressed by the latent homoeroticism of

He strutted past topless like a Gay, Bulimic Viking his blonde peroxide hair and Buckfast dripping on his frostbit body in the -3 heat.

or the tenderness of

His boaby like a deep fried Mars-bar entered her sweet haddock smelling pickle. He looked deeply in her eyes “There’s yer dinner”

or the tale of love being taken for granted in

This was their first time having Saturday morning sex she was reminded mid-gobble that “The fitbas oan at 11:00”

But even as I admired the writing, I knew it was going to descend, and idly wondered when the rape jokes would start, when sexual assault would become acceptable, when the sluts would be shamed and sexual violence normalised.

By the following day, the kindness of the early vignettes had become coarser and more harsh.  The focus had noticeably shifted towards women, and a judgementalism which had not been previously seen started to creep in, with slut shaming and hints of rape apologism.

she was the towns slag an her nickname was bowling ball cos she liked nothing better than being picked up fingered and fucked doon an alley

She was a filthy tart! She had been rogered more times than a walkie talkie and banged more times than Barlinnie’s gates!!

By the third day, the page had got into its stride.  The posts had got noticeably longer and contained blatantly offensive imagery and allusions.

 …she had a fanny like a stab wound on a gorillas back..

…Chantelle was taught a new definition of chocking on a facial…

…she turned round and screamed “am no on the pill” Davies hard on turned floppy in seconds to which he informed her “sawrite, ave a cutla coathangers in eh hoose”…

But it was the posts made by others that were most telling, which  had gone way beyond the pale, with accounts of gang rape, vaginal penetration with feces and child abuse.

Day 4 came and the tone was set – the slut shaming and the cruelty began in earnest.  The focus of the posts by now were firmly on women, and their undesirability.

She had been passed about more than a scud-book in the jail

lying on the pavement counting her 1p’s while offering a taxi driver sexual favours.

Her fanny was like a Glasgow scheme close. pish stained and mouldy

Sandra’s cunt was so deep that if you flung 50p inside it would take a week before it dropped.

An arse like a bag of washing and fud like a burst couch

Like Limmy before, what started out as something uniquely Glasgow, despite fairly equal numbers of male and female commentators, become the embodiment of the West-Coast male – the objectification and denigration of women, together with the association of sex and shame.

While Fifty Shades of Grey is neither a literary masterpiece or a progressive work of fiction, the narrator is female, and the perspective is her own as she describes the acts and the others around her.   Fifty Shades of Glasgow is Glasgow’s take on actions and the others around them  – and the sneery, superior tone it traversed into, as its fans let loose their latent, yet rampant, misogyny is not something we should be proud of.


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