Fifty Shades of Grey and Why Women Are So Gaga About It
So apparently this new book, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has tapped into the mommy porn market in a big way. Just for the record, I hate the phrase mommy porn, but I digress. For those of you living under a rock- aka you haven't yet read this tantalizing, lustful tale that has women across the country spontaneously combusting from the sheer mention of it, in a nutshell, the book depicts the erotic tale of an innocent college girl and her billionaire boyfriend.
But just what is it about this couple that has moms squirming in their seats and blushing uncontrollably? Apparently its power lies in the fantasy it creates and strikes a chord in women readers who secretly relish the opportunity to embody the role of the book's protagonist, Ana, and her ability to surrender her will to her dominant lover Christian Grey, an elusive and enigmatic bachelor. I think women also appreciate the fact that in the novel, in submitting to her lover, Ana actually finds both love and happiness.
On the surface this would appear to be just another Harlequin romance paperback- and yet it has taken a hold of the collective feminine psyche in the same way "Twilight" has its pulse on the teen psyche.
So my real question is; why is it causing such a stir? And do most women feel like this stir is a good or bad thing for the feminist movement? Or does hyping this sadomasochistic relationship, between this man and woman further the stereotype that most women ultimately just want to be dominated by a man-- and it is fine to let all the other accouterments of our hard fought feminism fall away? So in that sense; is this book revolutionary? Do women really want rich, domineering men? Do women have this secret longing to be submissive, because after putting in long hours at the office, getting food on the table-- women ultimately just want to have someone take charge, and if that is indeed the case, is this book more 50 shades of RETRO Grey, does it set women back?
I asked a bunch of highly cerebral, independent women for their take on this fascination with "Fifty Shades of Grey". I asked; is our collective fascination with the book based on the fact that deep down inside we all really want to be dominated by men in the bedroom? And if so, what does that say about us?
Mara Rubinoff Shapiro: I have no desire to be dominated by my husband. I think the attraction to Fifty Shades of Grey is the character of Christian. Even though he's completely screwed up, his adoration and total and complete love for Ana is what we all want. I mean, we all secretly (or not so secretly) also want a man who can give us everything we desire in the world, who is gorgeous, and keeps his body fit, but we also truly want this unabashed romantic love, and a determination to please us (in and out of the bedroom). I personally would hate the way he bossed her around, told her when and what to eat, and got so angry with her all the time. The 'domination' wasn't really what did it for me in the books.
Rachel Haalman Blaufeld: It's about the rescue fantasy - he rescues her from virginity and not feeling sensual/seductive and she rescues him from being unable to love. It is the perfect storm. He is needy and she is giving and vice versa. I mean - the scene where she gets topless and he goes berserk --it made you crazy, right? Crazy in a good mysterious way. Of course as women we want to be strong, feminized women but wouldn't we all love a day of being pampered cared for and coddled?
Melanie Notkin CEO, Savvy Auntie: I'm not a mom and don't have a husband but I was turned on. A man I am dating said to me, as we were discussing the phenomenon a few weeks ago, "Look, if the guy you're dating (or married to) can't pick the damn restaurant, you imagine he's not great in bed." Women want a man who takes charge. And while Christian Grey's lifestyle may be an extreme - the fantasy of feeling safe while strongly taken care of is what many women desire.
Jenny Baitch Isenman: I think many women enjoyed it IN SPITE of the domination. Don't get me wrong the bedroom scenes were hot, but that's not the pull IMHO. I think the pull is having a gorgeous and yes, wealthy man not only sweep you off your feet and show you the world, but be so concerned and head over heels in love with you. In the real world this man would deserve a restraining order, but in the book, it works... oh, how it works!
Randi Chapnik Myers: Oh, for me, the domination scenes were the only part worth reading. I think too many women are scared to admit they want a guy to take the lead in the bedroom (under a misguided sense of feminism) and the book gave them the freedom/forum to talk about the kinkiness they secretly think about. Once the domination dropped off in book two, the regular sex scenes (which happened every three pages) put me to sleep. Couldn't get past book two, page 200. But the first book was hot. Not as hot as Pauline Reage's Story of O, mind you. Or Mickey and Kim in 9 1/2 Weeks. But hot nonetheless.
Elissa Freeman: If you take out the erotica (but then why would you? lol) you're left with a story about a man who would do anything for the woman he loves. He takes charge, he buys her clothes, flies her in first class...no questions asked. On some level, as busy women who have to make one thousand choices a day...we'd all love a Christian Grey in our lives to 'take charge'..
Andrea Peskind Katz : I read book one. I think women are fascinated with the unknown. For most of us (certainly for me), the dominant/sub dynamic is completely foreign. Given the steamy sex, the book hooks you, despite the poor quality of writing. Yet I was also horrified that a seemingly strong young woman could be so easily led down the sub path. I kept reading to see what happened to her.
Vera Sweeney: I just don't get it - the book, the fascination with the book - it's just very sad to me. I'm reading book number two right now and I'm dragging. I wish he wasn't so broken - then I would find it sexy as all hell. But the whole - please don't touch me because I am so fragile and I can't handle it - kills my sex drive.
Shannon Henry Ott : I just finished book one, and yes,the sex is intriguing and hooks you as Andrea said. But I am with Vera on this one... a lot of the time I spent thinking about how tragic the story was and how I felt bad for the male character and how I'd HUNT HIM DOWN if someone like that introduced one of my dear daughters to sex that way.
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