I'm not into BDSM, or D/s, or stuff like that. I'm completely vanilla, and I'm proud of it. What kind of fanfics I read is another matter, but I don't enjoy BDSM and dom/sub stories.
When I learned that 50 Shades was a published fanfic about a BDSM relationship, my first thought was it couldn't be a 'good' book.
As far as I know BDSM, if acted out earnestly, is about trust and not necesserily about sex. I still think a book about this kind of subject that is so successful can't delve too deep into it because BDSM is not mainstream so it just has to concentrate on the sex aspect (and this one was fanfiction, so porn :P ). And besides, fanfiction authors usually are no professional writers so they just write about a subject they don't know a lot about. I'm talking about me here, but I think a lot of other authors don't know about the stuff they write until they start researching. I think if E.L. James is involved in the BDSM lifestyle, knowing profoundly about it, she couldn't write for a mainstream audience - because it's not a mainstream subject.
That's why I was sceptical towards the books, and I don't want to watch the movie, especially after I found these sites: Fifty Abusive Moments in Fifty Shades of Grey, 50 Shades of Abuse, endsexualexploitation.
In a nutshell, they say "that E.L. James has romanticized domestic violence and promoted an abuser as some kind of romantic ideal. She’s essentially telling the world that Christian’s behavior is a normal part of romance and that things like stalking are a sign of affection." source
Now, when the story still was fanfiction, the readers were able to comment on it and discuss it with the author and other readers. Now that it's published, the reader (usually females) sit on their bed or couch alone, reading about an exciting, maybe shocking relationship. They start dreaming about a real life Mr. Grey, assuming that the novel is about a woman living out her sexuality, when in reality it's about a man coaxing a woman into living out his sexuality. This is because BDSM is a subculture, and the average reader is, more or less, vanilla. I'm sure every person fully embracing BDSM, when referring to 50 Shades, will call bullshit.
When the novels still were fanfction, there was a bunch of warnings, I suppose. Maybe something like asshole!Mr. Grey or low self-esteem!Anastasia, so you could decide whether to read it or not. Now that you've heard about the BDSM part, read the reviews telling about a woman living out her sexuality through hot BDSM scenes, and listened to your BF gushing about the hot porn, and you decide to buy the book. There are no trigger warnings on the cover, so you read about Mr. Grey stalking Ana and practically raping her. And you just kicked your boyfriend/husband/lover to the curb for doing these things to you. Great.
Now I'm happy for E.L. James that her former fanfic is so successful; I'm just sad that she doesn't want to discuss abuse and violence in her work.
There are better examples for fanfics turned novels approaching the slave/master subject. Elizabeth Noble (feather_touch) wrote five books in her Sentries series that started out as a J2 fanfic. It's about the problem how to love each other when the world only sees a slave and their master. And Faith Ashlin (arabia764)'s wonderful novels (also former J2 fanfics) explore how being a slave owner/ being a slave changes people.
(Of course there are more wonderful published fanfics, but these are the only ones I know that fit in with the subject.)
Again: I don't want to insult any writers. These are just the thoughts of a woman without opinions. I just felt the need to share my concern about these books' success.
I think no woman should be ashamed to demand in bed what she likes, but that's 40+ me, don't ask 20yo me. And now that it's okay for women reading the book to live out their sexuality (preferably without Mr. Grey), maybe I should christen the handcuffs sitting in my dresser for three years. But that's another story.