Warning: I’m going to be talking about sex, a first on the blog. Go ahead, make the jokes. Anyway, I’m mostly putting this warning for family, and the faint of heart including my dear husband. The Hubby turns a lovely shade of crimson when you discuss anything related to sex. I’m inwardly stifling a giggle as I think of him turning said shade. Ironically, he married me, the woman who has no shame in discussing sex. I like to think we balance each other out.
Sorry darling, you can have a free pass on this post, if you wish.
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I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey this past week, partially out of curiosity and the need to find an “easy” read. I knew the premise of the series; Twilight Fan Fiction with character twists so that it wasn’t really a sheer copycat version of Twilight, and of course, there is sex. A lot of sex. So much sex you wonder how any two humans could possibly have that much sex and still remain sex. Either way, it was the sex that we all wished Stephenie Meyer had added into her own series. A fact that I ranted about when I finished reading the series. All I wanted was one good, totally juicy sex scene. In fact, I argue that a wicked sex scene with a happily ever after would have sufficed and saved Meyer the hassle of the marriage and the whole demon baby. It would have done us all a favor, honestly.
Yes, this self-proclaimed feminist read Twilight. Slap my hands, do whatever you might, but let me explain. Originally, I enjoyed them in spite of Meyer’s overuse of the word “dazzling” and the annoying character traits that Bella took on. I pushed them to my friends, (for which I have apologized and offered condolences for). Can I blame my interest in the books on the fact that I was sleep deprived due to a three month old who refused sleep, and demanded to be breastfed every 45 minutes? If that is not enough, I had just voluntarily had my gall bladder removed due to incredible amounts of pain. We all know how intense pain killers can be. If we get down to the nitty gritty of it all, combine all of the above mentioned items, and you can safely assume that sex, romance or any resemblance of such things was not taking place in my house. To say I was starved for some loving would be an understatement.
Of course, Meyer left it all to our imaginations with her perfectly (not so perfectly!) timed fade to black as she then forced us to paint our own picture of what they could be possibly be doing naked in the ocean in the middle of the night. Let’s be real here: Sometimes, I don’t want to imagine. Sometimes I want it explained, in vivid detail, so my brain doesn’t have to do any work. We could use this metaphor in the bedroom too. Sometimes, I just don’t want to do any work, and I want all of the payoff.
Which is why I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
It’s being hailed as “mommy porn”, which made me roll my eyes. Fan fiction turn porn? It’s a little bit of a stretch, I think. Essentially, it’s amateur erotica. I cannot stress amateur strongly enough; not that I read a lot of erotica to be an expert (no really, I don’t). Truthfully, the book sounds as if it was written by a 14 year old girl, with occasional surprises where I am sure the author likely googled a certain sexual act before penning it. The juvenile description of her inner dialogue as two separate entities, “inner goddess” and “sub conscious” is completely obnoxious, with these descriptions popping up on almost every other page. Of course there is the lovely likelihood that she hit the thesaurus key every time she realized she’d used the same descriptive word 20 times, figuring it might be too much. The books are painstakingly difficult to navigate through from a literary viewpoint.
Nonetheless, the premise of this series is based on the idea that the main character is signing up to be a Submissive (see below link regarding BDSM if you are unsure what some of these terms mean) to this gorgeous, rich, unattainable, and of course, messed up man, who wants to be her Dominant. He’s been doing this for years, and it’s how he has relationships. He makes women sign these contracts, and then spends three months at a time with each, occasionally more, while he bosses them around, stalks them (the second book reveals that he obtains credit scores, bank information, among many other items), controls them in the bedroom, and outside by demanding that he choose their clothes, how they do their hair, and when he can see them.
In an act of predictable “rebellion”, our heroine has issues with the contract, but is so smitten by his dazzling smile (can we petition to get the word dazzling taken out of the dictionary?) and his smoldering sexual expertise that she follows him into the land of BDSM
When it comes to sex and control, I’ll be honest, I like it when there is a strong element of dominance, depending on my mood. However, I also like it when I am in control, because that can be just as sexy and just as incredibly liberating (and fun). While I don’t subscribe to the BDSM culture, I get it. Yet, I feel like this book misunderstands it completely. The narrative conveys the idea that anyone who participates in this sort of sexual play is irrevocably messed up, which simply is not the case. I’ve been with The Hubby long enough to say that sex gets boring when you do the same routine, or don’t venture out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it’s nice to try something a little more adventurous, to push the limits. We are afterall, sexual creatures. That sort of controlling can be amazing in the bedroom, as long as we’re both on board.
Call me too modern, but the day The Hubby tells me what to wear, how to do my hair, who my friends can be, when I should be eating, and where I should work? It’s the day I walk him outside of the house and tell him to move along, while laughing at the very idea that I am his property to be possessed and owned.
This book is being heralded as remarkable, which means it’s being discussed. It’s even made the New York Bestseller List (this completely baffles me). Here is the most mind-blowing piece of this puzzle: women are actually buying it, and based on reviews online, they also like it. I’m not sure what the appeal is; are we introducing a genre of fiction to women who have never read erotica before? This vanilla version could be appealing to some who want more fantasy then actual detailed versions of sexual escapades. There is the fact, with the current rhetoric in the states regarding women’s reproductive rights, perhaps we need more of these sexually liberating books, and more woman who feel comfortable reading them, as well as sharing with their friends. For me, a woman who is quite confident in her sexuality, this book just appears to be pushing old fashioned ideas with a semi-modern spin of adding sex. Take the sex out of Fifty Shades and it’s a book about a guy who is “fifty shades of messed up” (FYI: She refers to the title of her books dozens of times in the book too, just in case you missed the reference the first time) with a naive, innocent virgin girl who is desperate to change him. We’ve seen that done before, no? We do know that this sort of scenario, in real life, never really pans out so well, right?
Surely I can’t be the only one asking the question, “Do we really need any more of this literary bullshit?” I apologize, because there really are no other words for this series. I’ll say it again, take out the racy sex scenes and the book would never stand alone.
The easy answer is, of course, we don’t. We don’t need more female characters who turn to a hollow shell when they break up with the man who gets a sick pleasure out of beating his partner who is only doing it to please him in the bedroom. We don’t need more books that continue to feed into an idea that women should be flattered when a man stalks her, or controls her every move. We absolutely do not need another book that presents the laughable idea that a woman, if she so chooses, she can change her man. Besides the poor writing, the plot is really one dimensional. The sex scenes get to be obnoxious, and predictable, and before you get to book three, you know where it’s going. He changes, they have sex, but not the BDSM they originally signed up for, and of course, they fall in love.
Women on Twitter have been caught saying it has reignited the flame in their marriage. A statement that worries me and intrigues me too. Admittedly, I was game for a go round after the first couple chapters, but by the time the end of the book came, I was exhausted from all of the petulant inner dialogue and jealous game playing, combined with the sheer unrealistic amount of sex they have. I was spent for the night, no pun intended. Can you imagine a man who has the sexual drive that this man has, combined with his need to control you life in every way possible. Always demanding, expecting more, and you having to just deal with his needs…no, thank you. It’s exhausting, even to read about it.
I honestly may have checked out when the author brought in the evil birthmother who was the cause of the man’s commitment issues because she was a crackwhore who destroyed him. Really, that’s an accurate depiction of all women who relinquish their children, and not at all a cultural/media stereotype.
So no, I didn’t like the books. The sex was overshadowed by the annoying dialogue, and the other noise that the author created in an attempt to make the series fascinating, and more then just a sex story. It’s just an awkward story about an awkward girl who submits to a man who wishes to control her entire being. Ick.
My inner goddess says: If you are looking for a book with some immature writing technique, combined with an occasional racy, but not overly racy sex scene, with no limits on the stereotypes and familiar gender roles, then this here is your book. If nothing else, it could make for some interesting role playing, if that’s your gag.