Oh Joy Sex Toy is a weekly comics series that graphically explores sex and sexuality. This week, artist Erika Moen reads 50 Shades of Grey.
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Here is a text transcription of the comic to make it more accessible for people using screen readers. Transcription by Morgan Kelly.
Erika introduces this comic, “Years ago, killing time before a cross-country flight.” Erika facepalms, “Dangit, I forgot to bring a book!” Another person suggests, “Just buy one here.” Erika examines a bookshelf and ponders, “Hmm… GASP!” Erika holds up a copy of 50 Shades of Grey as she grins and chuckles “hee hee hee.”
Throughout the flight, Erika is reading the book out loud to the other person. “He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! A gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez.” The other person seems exasperated, they are covering their ears and groaning, “AUUUGHH.” Erika continues, “He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. I suck harder and harder… Hmm… My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.” The other person yells out in a louder groan, “AUGGHHHHHHHHH.”
Erika says, “We all know the story by now. The 50 Shades trilogy by EL James is about incompetent, naïve Anastasia Steel who becomes the contracted sexual submissive of the self-made millionaire and sadist Christian Grey.” Erika provides an illustration Christian Grey whining, “I h8 my mom.” There is an arrow pointing at him that reads, “So tortured.” He pulls at Anastasia who is handcuffed, she eagerly says, “I can fix him!” She stumbles and an arrow points at her, “So clumsy.”
“Originally written as Twilight fan fiction, this series is widely criticized by people who have even a passing interest in healthy relationships, BDSM, sex-positivity, feminism, and consent.” Erika sticks her tongue out and adds, “Not to mention competent storytelling.”
Erika tosses the book into a trash bin as she continues, “And for good reason! It fails spectacularly to employ any of those basic concepts and practices. These are garbage books, full of garbage. #garbage.” Anastasia seems disgruntled, “Wow, Erika. Don’t hold back.” Erika then shrugs her shoulders as she continues, “And yet… I really enjoyed reading it.”
She elaborates, “50 Shades unexpectedly tapped into my decade-old buried memories of reading terrible erotic Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction as an adolescent in the ‘90s. There’s this certain unsophisticated style that’s ever-present amongst juvenile fandom writers. It’s so earnest, so unvarnished, so devoid of real life experience and nuance. It holds a soft spot in my heart.”
“As a sex-positive feminist, I know I’m supposed to condemn this series for contradicting my agenda… but I just can’t. This story is making a lot of readers happy and turning them on. That’s cool with me.”
A person shouts and pokes Erika in the chest, “…Erika, how could you? 50 Shades is the antithesis of healthy sexual relationships and proper BDSM practices!!!” Erika replies, “Well… I’m just not into policing what people are allowed to find arousing in their fantasy porn.” The person asks, “But what if easily impressionable people read this and use it in real life?”
Meanwhile, another person is reading 50 Shades in their bed and enjoying it, “Ooo baby… Mmm, Christian Grey.” Then the earlier person pulls the book from their hands, “HEY!” The person says, “THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.”
Erika continues, “I have faith in people to understand that the fictional book they are reading is just a trashy two-dimensional fantasy to get their juice flowing and not the blueprints by which to construct their actual relationships. But that’s just me. “
“Listen, if the chaos and constant conflict of Ana and Christian’s ‘romance’ feels familiar, please read up on abusive relationships at thehotline.org.” Surrounding this statement is a cycle: Honeymoon to Tension to Explosion to Honeymoon, and so on.
Erika points her finger at the reader, “If this was your introduction to BDSM then this is out loud: 50 Shades of Grey is NOT my BDSM guide. If you’d like to explore BDSM, I strongly encourage you to research more so you can do it safely and sanely. Unlike this work of fiction, you’re a real person who can be hurt physically and emotionally, so make sure you don’t unintentionally damage yourself of your partner.”
Erika continues, “You deserve to have the best, most fulfilling BDSM experience, so do it right! I’ve heard seasoned kinksters recommend Tristan Taormino’s 50 Shades of Kink, give that a try. The 50 Shades series is junk food. It’s fun to eat every now and then, but don’t believe for a second that it’s got any nutritional value.”
Erika high-fives the person reading 50 Shades of Grey, “If you can consume fiction without basing your life on it, then there’s no harm in giving it a read to see what all the fuss is about. It’s bad in a fun way, and I certainly don’t regret reading it… just like I don’t regret consuming the occasional Big Mac.”