I was out to dinner the other night with a dear friend of mine enjoying a very delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a nearly rare cut of meat when the topic of erotic fiction came up. He knew I had been reading quite a bit and wanted my overall take on the 50 Shades/mommy-porn uproar and I was more than willing to offer it. Needless to say the, conversation took a turn for the explicit which was completely inappropriate for a Disney sponsored establishment, but we were two drinks deep and therefore, didn’t really notice (or care about) the blushing patrons drawing outraged breaths at our conversation. The irony in all of it was that most of the women sitting next to us, pretending to be offended probably had the exact same discussion with their girlfriends, the only difference being they probably spoke in polite whispers, or behind closed doors so the public wouldn’t hear them, or worse (Gasp!) their husbands.

My girlfriends are borrowing these books from their mother’s for-god-sake people lighten up! This blatant contradiction in behavior got my wheels spinning and I asked myself:

Is this a call to arms by sexually frustrated women who no longer want the role of Victorian-era wife whose husband abides by sexual norms while in the family bed by treating the little wife like a precious flower? (I guess all the Tess of the d’Urbervilles references via Grey were apropos) And are men being asked (in a VERY passive aggressive way) to become dominating, sexually overt partners who love their women strong in the real world but dirty and pseudo-submissive in the bedroom?

It sounds to me like women are asking men to MAN UP and muck up expectations (only in a really quite voice).

As you may have noticed, (unless you are living on the International Space Station) 50 Shades is an epidemic, a 20 million-copy spate that is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. Websites are drawing droves of visitors to their sites by mentioning the book, while magazine articles, news reports and morning shows have devoted entire segments to this book phenomenon. As a result, I am going to take a closer look at James’ novel, only not at the book because frankly the writing is often clumsy. Instead, I want to look at what has everyone so rattled and what shift, if any, will be taking place in the bedroom.

Just as the dominant man isn’t new to literature, neither is erotic fiction (i.e. Miller, Nin, Rice & Lawrence, to name a few authors), but the idea that this book inspired women to vocalize their interest in sexually explicit material is novel (pun intended). Reading erotic tales masked by cheesy romance covers isn’t a dirty little secret anymore thanks in part to Kindle and creative marketing (the tie, mask and handcuffs sure beats Fabio). Maybe this minor tweak in product design actually encouraged women to speak up, or perhaps it was Christian?

As I mentioned before, the story itself is unspectacular. The draw is Christian Grey; the male protagonist/antagonist that draws you in then chains you up for two sequels. He is what is ruffling all those female feathers. His character crawls under your skin and just when you want to tar and feather the megalomaniac then strap him to a St. Andrews Cross and cane him repeatedly, you fall in love with him. He becomes sensitive and caring, but he retains his need for dominance in matters concerning sex and boy is it sexy. But if you read my previous post you will notice that this isn’t new to literature or movies, E.L. James just happened to add in a little BDSM  (although it’s not nearly as explicit as some competing erotic works) catering mainly to femme bibliophiles and evading crass language just enough to not offend the semi-prude.

I think we have seen enough Animal Planet to know that females choose men based on how dominating they are in the wild. Isn’t that why the good guy never gets the date? Dull plumage? It’s only after marriage that the roles shift and men are expected to respect the matrimonial bed by biting their dirty tongues and becoming delicate. I mean it’s the oldest cliché in the book…getting married equals no sex. Right? Wrong! 50 Shades showed mom’s that the fantasy doesn’t have to die and if they want to keep it alive, it requires speaking up, getting comfortable with their lady parts and giving men back the pants (and belt), but only in the bedroom.

Look, women aren’t precious glass figurines (well not all). We aren’t breakable and sometimes we even like to be man-handled. Unfortunately, conditioning has prevented a break in the female mold, muting voices by playing on their fear of being branded a whore. Conversely, men are taught to be sensitive and considerate lovers, never debasing their women. I’m not saying that by admitting they are reading this genre women are asking for full-fledged BDSM relationships, (in fact if they looked the lifestyle up on the internet their Christian Grey fantasies would probably evaporate) but it sounds like they are saying they don’t want vanilla – all the time.

I mean, men take one-night stands on wild rides, but not their wives…totally not fair!

Ladies, this shift is only possible if you stop blushing at the mention of vaginas and penises and start telling your men what you want. Silently fantasizing about a love affair with a billionaire will prove to be a dead-end and so will hushed discussions with your book club…but I bet telling your husband won’t! And if you can’t muster up the courage speak the words, slide the book to him with a coy smile and a sexy wink.

Good-Night!

Sara O'Connor
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Sara O'Connor

A dreamer, a writer, a critic, an avid reader and the endless seeker of enlightenment through education. Basically, that translates to a girl who loves to read and discusses what she is reading and writing with anyone who will listen so that she doesn’t have to think about her obscenely large student loan debt. She holds a BA in pre-law, a Masters from Northeastern University in Communication Management with a focus in Social Media Marketing and Personal Branding and is currently working on an MFA in creative writing, but believes she has learned the most from writing…lots and lots of writing. She is also the owner of the literary and lifestyle business marketing an management firm, Voir Media Group.
Sara O'Connor
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Showing 4 comments
  • Literary Tiger
    Reply

    Too true! An insightful analysis of this book. :)

  • Daydreamer
    Reply

    Yikes and Amen! I love the bluntness of your words. Unapologetic and confident! I enjoyed reading it! Not enough ‘blunt’ in the world today. Whenever I finally put my erotica in a book, I will personally send you a copy and you can tell me the truth…publishers won’t. Thanks for the smile!

    • 2 Gliterary Girls
      Reply

      LOL! Thank you so much…I really meant for the post to attack the residual feelings that surround the book. I don’t think the novel will go down in history as a literary phenom, but I did feel that the connection with the character was what inspired mass women to swoon and that is a brilliance in and of itself.
      That being…I would LOVE to read your erotic work when it is ready. I promise to be gentle but honest 😉 Although I am sure it will be great!
      And THANK YOU for the smile…now get to writing!

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