My wife couldn’t put the 50 Shades trilogy down. Not because it was so mesmerising, but because she wanted to find out what the hype was all about. And when she had finished, she still hadn’t found it.
Did it change our sex life? Well, we still don’t go for butt-plugs, we don’t tie, whip or abuse each other and she doesn’t orgasm 20 times a day, sometimes at the mere sound of my voice.
Are all women like Ana: young, beautiful and powerfully orgasmic? I haven’t read the books, but I have read through some of the scenes (purely for educational purposes) and they appear very one-dimensional.
It’s Mills & Boon on Viagra. He ties her up, spanks her, inserts a butt-plug, shamelessly ruts her from behind and she comes over and over again from penetration to his powerful climax a minute or three later.
No foreplay necessary. Wow, the perfect woman.
She has hang-ups, he has hang-ups. He’s 26, a billionaire (not even a millionaire) who buys her stuff in exchange for sex. Or is it love? He’s damaged emotionally, and the reader is prompted to decide whether she is his slave or tormenter.
From a Sleeping Beauty story, we get smut wrapped up in a fairy tale. And then the repetition. Over and over again.
One Amazon Reviewer asked: ‘Did a teenager write this??? … The characters are out of a 16 year old’s fantasy. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like two teenage girls got together and decided to create their “dream man” and came up with Christian Grey.'
‘Then come the sex scenes. The first one is tolerable but as she goes on, they become so unbelievable that it becomes more laughable than erotic. She orgasms at the drop of a hat. He simply touches her and she orgasms. It seems that she’s climaxing on every page.’
One reviewer (male) said: ‘Women read shit. They watch shit on TV. And that’s why the overwhelming majority of women are clueless, uninformed, misinformed and hopelessly inner-directed. They are full of shit.’
[This guy probably needs therapy himself]
Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian’s lips “quirk up” 16 times or he “cocks his head to one side” 17 times. There are 58 references to Ana’s “inner goddess,” and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of “oh crap” / “holy crap” / “double crap” / “triple crap”.
By its phenomenal success, is the perception to be justified that women are so one dimensional as to find liberation in this?
Now, before you burn an effigy of me for even suggesting that 50 Shades is rubbish, my point is not about that. But that its phenomenal success suggests that women are screaming out for some form of acceptable pornography.
Because that’s what it has become. ‘Mommy porn’ is not new, and Amazon and other ebook retailers have sections for it. But it’s become ok to bring 50 Shades to work and chat about it to your female work-mates. And maybe even the liberated males who find it rather acceptable that women are finding a form of porn suitable reading.
That they don’t feel like filthy old men clutching a wank-mag and looking around furtively for fear of being caught with the offending literature.
So what conclusions do I come to?
Essentially, I think it is great that women have now embraced alternative literature that helps them explore (and more importantly, accept) their sexuality.
If it comes at the cost of derision around the fact that it is not quite Shakespearesque, then so be it.
I and other males might find it slightly comical, but if millions of women who have read it are now able act on their sexuality, who am I to question – although I do question the characterisation of the heroes.
But then again, it is lady porn thinly disguised as a fairy tale. And I’m all for that (lady porn, not fairy tales).
Do you agree? Is it good reading? Or literary rubbish? Is it liberating?
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