Oh Joy Sex Toy: 50 Shades of Grey

Erika Moen
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I’ve been producing webcomics since I was 15 and doing it full-time as a professional since the age of 25 at Periscope Studio in Portland, OR. My work has been published by Dark Horse Comics, BOOM! Studios, Image Comics, Fantagraphics, Last Gasp and Villard, among my many self-published projects as well.

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.

a comic detailing a response to 50 shades of grey

Read a bunch more Oh Joy Sex Toy comics, including one about consent

Want more from Erika Moen? Oh Joy, Sex Toy: Volume One is 268 pages of sex tips, interviews, sex toy reviews, and more! Get your copy at BitchMart.

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.”


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18 Comments Have Been Posted


I'm so done with Bitch now. As a feminist and domestic abuse survivor, I feel like this entire article is a huge slap in the face to those who have experienced this sort of abuse that 50 Shades of Grey depicts: stalking, domestic, verbal, sexual abuse, neglect, rape (he gets her drunk and there are many lines where she pleads for him to stop and he doesn't, so don't you dare defend it) As well as the fact that the BDSM community is against this sort of literature, showing wrongful depictions of their lifestyle. She is not truly consenting by having to choose an ultimatum whether to sign a contract to loose her virginity and be a sex slave to this man, or to leave and never go near him again.

With 50 Shades of Grey being made in a film, the situation is becoming worse. Glamorizing abuse in many forms, what else could we expect from Hollywood? And this comic is basically just saying, "Hey sure its naughty and harmful, probably unhealthy, but its just a kinky book, its ok ladies."

This book with indeed teach young girls that its ok to have their boyfriend or lover stalk them. Its ok for him to track your cell phone. Its ok that he will beat you and claim your his because of a contract. Its ok because you can so change a man (A foolish thought many people make)

By seeing Bitch post this sort of comic/article, I feel shocked, upset and have lost some of my hope for our gender's future. And it saddens me to say its because of women like you.

As someone who has gone

As someone who has gone through domestic abuse too, I'd like to thank you for your comment. I really needed to read something like that after reading this comic.

I really appreciate your

I really appreciate your comment, too

I disagree somewhat. When

I disagree somewhat. When people masturbate to a fantasy they don't always include things like consent or protections that they would absolutely include in real life. This book too is a fantasy. It isn't a memoir or how-to book.

I do agree that it is somewhat irresponsible to present these fantasies to an under-educated public who might take this as a how-to book or make people think that this kind of abuse is ok or normal but there is plenty of information available on proper BDSM play and abuse for anyone who looks for it. There are plenty of responsible readers who understand that the contents of this book aren't meant to be played out in real life.

Best Practice Manual?

Totally in alignment.

This book is in the same category as an imagined rape fantasy. It is not a manual for appropriate/functional/hot BDSM relationships, and doesn't purport to be. Due to the (unexpected?) popularity of this book, many readers HAVE taken it as a how-to guide, and done shitty things. So I think there is now a heightened cultural responsibility to educate people on responsible BDSM practices.

50 shades of special sauce

ok...i get your point..its like a big mac...and like a big mac it is unhealthy, supports inequity, and promotes denial and ignorance. And that is ok i guess..,,but when it is wildly popular and promoted extensively I don't really think a shrug your shoulders response is fitting. Justifying our actions isn't necessary...sometimes we just do dumb shit because we are also weak, but if we promote healthier books and food..we will be less likely to consume garbage and then feel like we need to justify it...better to just say i read it / ate it...it sucked but i was weak in the moment. Its ok, you are not perfect.

better to just say i read it

<blockquote>better to just say i read it / ate it...it sucked but i was weak in the moment. Its ok, you are not perfect."</blockquote>

Wait, why admit you were weak in the moment though if you earnestly enjoyed it?

The relationship portrayed within 50 Shades is definitely unhealthy, but if you find it hot I don't see why one should apologize for it as long as one's isn't <i>perpetrating such a relationship in real life.</i> There's stuff in the book that genuinely can be a turn on, even if there's bits that are toxic, as well.

If there's one thing I do feel should be done, it would be having some sort of unintrusive disclaimer in the book's opening pages or opening credits of the film that it's not an accurate or healthy portrayal of BDSM, but I dunno.

That critique is not feminist

That critique is not feminist at all. It operates under the guise of enlightened sexism, that women are SO empowered so they can take abusive, manipulative, and dangerous aspects of this book with a grain of salt because it satisfies them sexually. The reality is that Fifty Shades glorifies abuse and paints BDSM in a completely wrong light. If you're getting off to this...you need to see a therapist.


The world needs to see a therapist. I thought the point of that article was that no one has any idea about women's true feelings/experience of sexuality, that our true feelings and experiences are so feared and suppressed that they get forced on us violently (hence all the Fifty Shades bullshit and what men think it means when women seem to "like" it so much) in a patriarchal society.

I thought it was a striking article, especially for mainstream media like EW.

"For some women, being forced

"For some women, being forced to have sex alleviates guilt, a major reason for the existence of rape fantasies."

Lulz. Lifted right out of that enlightened article.

50 Shades

I don't understand how anyone can read this and not see it as straight up abuse. It's not just a badly written book that misrepresents the BDSM community, it's a book that passes rape and abuse off as romance and apparently a lot of people (not even the person this comic was written about) haven't noticed that. Or, if they have, they don't see what's so bad about it. There are multiple times in the book where Ana says that she doesn't like what is happening and what's-his-face ignores her. The first time she uses her safeword, he shames her for it. When they find out she is pregnant in a later book, he "convinces" her to not get an abortion and then because of the baby (which it is implied that she doesn't know if she wants to keep) they get married. He controls her every move in the later books and feeds off of her insecurity. It's gross. And it's not harmless.


It's a fucking novel. Fiction. Not real. If you don't want to read it, don't read it. End of story.


Just FYI----the part where you link to thehotline.org is surrounded by an antiquated model of abuse that uses the "cycle of violence" to describe abusive relationships.
This model is widely criticized now and found to not be an accurate depiction of it. Check out the continuum of violence for a more current model.

"Kink-shaming" is not a thing

This is myopic sex positivity at it's finest. I'm glad the artist stressed that, yes, 50 shades is certainly eons away from anything healthy, consensual and what bdsm should be like, but this "well... i'm just not into policing what people are allowed to find arousing in their fantasy porn". I'm sorry? An entire generation of boys is growing up on violent porn and fantasize about and get off on rape. Literal, violent rape. I have literally seen people use this same argument to justify pedophilia, or dismiss any and all criticisms about the problematic nature of BDSM (say, race play or daddy kink) as "kink-shaming". Since when are kinks sacred and above criticism??? Sorry. This is too shallow for me, I feel like it doesn't take into account just how much harm men AND women eroticizing abuse can actually lead to.

"50 Shades of Grey is NOT my

"50 Shades of Grey is NOT my BDSM guide."

I thought the BDSM community's reaction to these books to be wildly overblown and kinda paternalistic until I read that line. And then I realized that there's precedent. Remember the GOR books?

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