Yes, I have read this series. I try not to miss anything with world wide appeal. As a professional in the mental health field I had a slightly different take on it however!
As a romance story, it is interesting enough. Not a prose powerhouse, but definitely amusing. I feel happy that the author has made the subject of BDSM a topic of discussion. I firmly believe that all things should be able to be discussed, and madness to a very large degree comes from having to keep compulsions, interests, and obsessions secret. The problem I had with this series is the misinformation in it.
The story, in my opinion, demonizes BDSM (Bondage, Discipline Sado-Masochism) the term for those who like dominance and submission in the bedroom. The protagonist, Christian Grey, is portrayed as a messed up sexual predator with a dungeon full of scary sex toys. The story implies that Mr. Grey prefers to be dominant in the bedroom because he is psychologically and mentally disturbed.
Per a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality in 2006, there is no evidence that BDSM and psychopathology are connected. But it has been established that BDSM is not proof of mental or physical illness. The desire for BDSM does NOT come from emotional damage from trauma or childhood abuse. People cannot – and should not – be treated to cure it. If you have that kink, it is your kink…so what? In a safe and consensual manner BDSM is something akin to wearing a sexy outfit or role play in the bedroom.
Interestingly, true Dominance has with it a deeper need to take care of and protect the person dominated. Submission has to do with serving and pleasing and making happy the individual the submissive cares for. In or out of the bedroom, one see’s this behavior in humans everywhere. It seems to me this is also the subject of every Regency romance – that desire for the heroine to give all control over to a man, who will take care of her.
A true submissive woman sometimes gets “meanness” of an abusive boyfriend mixed up with her desire for dominance. It is in the submissive’s nature to serve. The mean boyfriend is not a true dominant however. He is just mean! This IMHO explains to some degree domestic violence and why the woman stays with such a creep.
BTW, just as many men are submissive as women are dominant. I suspect they are much more unseen as it is culturally inappropriate to be submissive as a man in today’s society.
When homosexuality first became a topic of conversation there was also a lot of misinformation out there. This will be the same I suspect, but again, I still think it is good when people are actually talking about things. In my opinion skeletons in the closet and subjects that can’t be discussed will only cause trouble in the long term.