Fifty Shades of what?

Note I wrote and published this piece in July 2012 as the film is now out I thought it useful to revisit it. I have added a couple of current links at the end.

This is currently a best seller bought mainly by women it is in fact the best seller on Amazon as a significant number of ladies cannot bring themselves to walk into a book store and buy it.

If you have not heard of Christian Grey then you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of months. The reason ladies are ordering the book which is part of a trilogy online is the fact that it’s rather naughty from beginning to end.  In fact a significant number of pages contain graphic descriptions of sex including explicit descriptions of domination and bondage. So is it fantasy and escapism or is it Porn?

Several commentators both male and female have asked the question what is the difference between this and male porn? When men are reading porn they are vilified as dirty and grubby yet women are not. We are told that porn for women is erotic escapism from the humdrum of life and it is not dirty or threatening to society but male porn is.

I agree male porn can be dirty and threatening to society but only because it’s been around longer and seems to be more accepted. Female porn is in its infancy by comparison which makes a comparison unbalanced.

Female porn is however becoming mainstream. Mills and Boon now have erotic books and there are a significant number of titles for women that cover virtually every fantasy a woman could have. Just as there are for men, but many women complain about top shelf magazines and the likes of Nuts magazine. But just look at the covers of many of the magazines aimed at women and count how many don’t have an explosive sexual headline. I was waiting in the till queue at the supermarket  the other day and one magazines headline had a teenager saying she was so bored she had sex with her dad.

These magazines and erotic novels are often left lying around for children to read whilst most men still hide their copy of Hustler and Playboy and delete their browsing history. Neither of these scenarios can be good for our children or society as a whole.

We are becoming a more sexualised society and what people do with other consenting adults behind closed doors is their business. Sex sells and porn is two clicks away on most electronic devices, whilst music videos are often mini virtual porn movies and many are not really suitable to be shown before the watershed.

So is Fifty Shades a little bit of escapist harmless fun or is it a seminal moment in the further sexualisation of society? And is female erotic literature starting to head into the (allegedly) grubby territory traditionally held by male porn?

The film has surpassed all expectations but the same question remains.

Other Interesting Articles

The Telegraph – Most Successful 18 Rated film ever

The Independent – How ’50 Shades’ is reshaping the world

The Huffington Post – 50 Shades of Grey: Why Women Are Reading it in Their Horny Droves

Escape into Life – 50 Shades of Grey – Book Review

The Guardian – Suzanne Moore – Fifty Shades of Grey peddles the tired old fantasy of romance that keeps women in their place

The Independent – Up close and personal: Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James reveals real-life secrets to her readers