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


6 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of what?

  1. I’ve just jumped on to the bandwagon myself and started to read 50 shades. For me, so far, I’ve taken a dislike to the main character Mr Grey. He is a control freak in & out of the bedroom. His attitude to women leaves a lot to be desired. What I’ve read so far hasn’t really shocked me or made me not want to put the book down. I’ve read the same in Jilly Cooper & Jackie Collins novels! And they’ve been around for years. Hype has contributed to this 50 shades phenomenon. I wouldn’t class it as porn, its erotic fantasy fiction. That’s been around for eons too. Porn, for me personally, conjures up images of dirty magazines/dvds that mainly are to do with visuals rather than the written word. All in all, I think I will finish the book, I’m half way through it so what the heck. And in any case, my OCD won’t let me leave it half read ;o) xx

    • Some of the reviews I have included have quite a bit to say about Mr Grey’s attitude to women but that hasn’t stopped the book becoming the fastest seller ever on Amazon; Or for Anne Summers selling out of Whips, Handcuffs and other bondage gear. Many women bought the books online as they were embarrassed to go into a book store and ask for it. I suppose when the movie arrives it will be safety in numbers as hordes of women get together to go down the cinema.

      • I ordered it online purely coz it was cheaper! I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to buy it in a store tho. It’s just another genre being made more acceptable by hyping it up.

  2. Mummyfit where have you been? you can’t turn on the TV or radio or look at a magazine stand without there being something about 50 shades. I think on this one you probably should read it and then you can make your own informed decision as to whether its mummy porn as some have described it, Just sexy fantasy fun. I’m sure there must be someone you could borrow it off and read it you could then revisit your comments here and see if what you think now is the same as when you have read it. You can call it our very own online experiment, although you don’t really have to read it if you don’t want to.

  3. This is interesting. I have only just become aware of this Fifty Shades of Grey, I read a feminist article in the independent. So I thought I would do women a favour and not bother to read it, as probably I too would be tempted to throw it in the bin. But now I am intruiged and I wonder if I should go to the library and borrow it. Most likely there will be a long waiting list so I may have to buy it. But if it really is simply a bit of porn for women, I don’t think it is worth all the atttention. I suppose if you do write about sex, you are likely to make plenty of money.

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