279082508128914102_2NKAngQC_fMommy’s reading dirty books and she doesn’t think anyone knows.

I’m revisiting this article, a regurgitation of sorts, because I’m curious how relevant it still is. It was penned nearly three years ago and since then nearly a trillion new erotic romance novels have hit the virtual stands and that atrocious (sorry but it’s true) lackluster and frankly unsexy movie version of Fifty Shades was released. There has also been a shift in the male culture as well. The Metro man is being sidelined for the lumber sexual (who has a bun… can we stop that please). Can it be that the shift from a man who competes for bathroom prep time with his wife, to the more traditional version, the handsome, yet rugged man who sweats whiskey and sharpens his ax with a stone he found on his bow hunting trip, be owed to a shift in female needs? Or is it simply a flavor of the month similar to that Dad Bod popularity twitch? Anyway, read away and let me know if this still applies.

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 (don’t ask), 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 same discussion with their girlfriends, the only difference being they probably spoke in polite whispers, or behind closed doors so the public, or their husbands, wouldn’t hear them.

My girlfriends are borrowing these dirty 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?A woman 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 pull up their big boy pants 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 story isn’t really that erotic and the writing is 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. MillerNinRice & 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 sans Fabio). Maybe this minor tweak in product design actually encouraged women to speak up, or perhaps it was, Christian Grey the misogynistic, angry, sex driven, twitchy palmed protagonist.

As I mentioned before, the story itself is unspectacular. The draw is Christian Grey; the juxtaposed 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 it’s admittedly 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. 50 Shades showed moms 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 assumed control, but only in the bedroom guys… so calm down and stop gorilla thumping your chests.  

bigstock-Sexy-woman-drawing-attention-t-29437346Look, [most] women aren’t precious glass figurines. We aren’t breakable and sometimes we even like to be man-handled (in the boudoir). 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? I call foul.

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 to speak the words, slide the book to him with a coy smile and a sexy wink.

Happy reading!

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 5 comments
  • carriefort29


  • wendy

    Strong voice for a strong opinion

  • pjsparkles822

    just wanted to leave a note- first off so glad you mentioned its not new to literature but specifically with 50 Shades of Grey just have to say that EL James stole the entire story from Twilight and the original version of her story was a fanfiction featuring the same BDSM but it was Edward and Bella from Twilight as her main characters, and once it became popular she pulled it from the internet and 50 shades of grey was born. I’ve just read 50 shades and too right the writing is lame and the story isn’t all that great…but i kinda like mr. grey once he like you know gets a little mushy… 😛

    • Sara O'Connor

      Yes, Morgan you are absolutely correct, it began as fan fiction and E.L. James readily admits it. She didn’t try to cover it up, but pulled it because she got an angry response, so she changed the names, it got picked up by publishers, re-edited and the current book was born. I wrote a paper on the similarities between the two books, both overt and subliminal, but I didn’t want to include those traits because this was more about the mommy porn craze than the book itself.

      I would love your opinion on the matter. It would make a great article. 😉

  • Ned

    I think in some ways what you wrote three years ago has become even more relevant in an age of constant distractions (social media, tablets, gaming systems) from physical presence. Both men and women want to be “shaken” loose from the grip of these distraction that invade so much of our time and lives — at work and at home — and pulled back into something real and tangible and physical. We are evolving into a society of media-based communicators and are slowly (albiet ironically) getting further apart in terms of intimate contact verbally and physically. The draw to the more aggresive, rugged “hands-on” man (and sexually aggresive woman) is a manifestation from our primal need to touch, feel and be touched and felt instead of “liked” and “shared.”

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