50 Shades of Pink

No prizes for guessing what this post might be about. Not that the damned book needs any more lip service at 10 million copies (yep that’s TEN MILLION people, nearly half the population of Australia!). Rather than simply wonder what the buzz was about I bought a copy (which I paid far too much for and still resent) and read it.

Well… all I can say is I fully expect to see second hand book stores and edgy op-shops brimming with pre-‘loved’ copies of this thing in about 12 months time. These will be all the people, like moi`, who got sucked into buying the damned thing to see what the fuss was about, read it, and were left wondering what all the bloody fuss was about. Believe me these cast off’s will probably number in their millions. This is not literature written to stand the test of time. The story isn’t timeless – unless men are still trying to control women’s sexuality in 2254, which I hope won’t be the case. The fuss is nothing but a media storm.

How can I be so sure? Because I’ve read quite a lot of erotic literature, and a smattering of commercial erotic books, and some porn, and I’ve got a little secret for ya. E L James hasn’t done ANYTHING new. Zip, nadda, nothing. It’s all been said and done before. Many times. And better (anyone remember Story of O?). The only difference is different people are reading it. And I suspect the audience think they are reading something new, so the whisper got out to the media that a bunch of nearly middle aged career girls and married women were getting all hot and bothered over some sexy book and a whole lot of wind was created. 1 + 1 = 10 million copies.

There are a few frightening things about this phenomena. One of them is that it was the highest selling book in Australia for Mother’s day. I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something vaguely disturbing about giving a book about a BDSM relationship to your mother as a token of your affection for Mother’s Day. But hey, I could be wrong, so sue me.

A second is that, even though I know there are thousands of women out there reading it, I’ve not seen a single copy being read on the train. Which seems kind of odd given how much reading is done on trains and the sheer numbers of this book that are out there. What’s been said is true – women are ashamed to be seen reading it.

Not me. I boldly took my copy on the train every day. I scanned the crowd, looking in vain for a fellow 50 shades reader with whom I could give the ‘nod of understanding’ as we indulged ourselves in wild sexual fantasies on public transport. And found no one. I was alone. And all my blustering about how silly it was to be ashamed of reading this stuff in public went out the window. I persisted, but I made sure the cover was flat on my lap so no one could see it. And if I put the book down I made sure the back was facing up. I’m horrified to admit that even cocky little me gave in to social pressure and tried to hide the fact I was reading 50 shades.

BUT WHY?? It’s only sex, for God’s sake, it’s not like the rest of the peak hour passengers in my carriage hadn’t done it or thought about it or read about it at some stage of their lives. Sex isn’t uncommon and neither are fantasies about control, bondage and restraint. So why is this readership, so hungry for this trilogy, so ashamed of it? Why was I ashamed of it?

I think it’s got to do with us girls just not being particularly proud of our sexuality. Everybody else owns it. Female sexuality is a public and commercial commodity, so no wonder we are all a bit shy about it. We’ve been told a million times that nice girls don’t like to have too much sex (and men don’t marry sluts) and what a load of crap that is, but culturally it seems we’ve bought the BS wholesale – no return.

A very good friend of mine LOVES this trilogy. She regularly visits the fan site (of course there’s a fan site, silly) and informed me that a couple of larks have registered Twitter accounts in the names of @AnaRSteele and @ChristianTGrey (complete with dashing photos of handsome models). She told me some interesting things. Like a lot of women, since having kids her libido had gone AWOL. Reading this book reawakened her natural longing for good & interesting sex. Which is pretty nice for her, I think. She was also grateful for the e-format, so she didn’t need to feel ‘outed’ when reading in public. And when I mentioned I’d heard the book wasn’t well written, she said, ‘Well Kate, I wouldn’t know’.

So there it is. Married women, middle aged women, career women – conservative women who would normally read straight romance – have discovered the joys of erotic literature compliments of E L James and her 50 shades trilogy. If nothing else, you’ve got to give it that. If it means women can reclaim/rediscover/own a greater portion of their sexual selves as a result, then I’m not one to argue. I just hope no damage is done along the way. There are plenty of men out there who don’t have the faintest idea of the difference between a ‘sensual’ smack and a ‘punishment’ smack (Christian Grey’s words, I assure you) and would relish the opportunity to punish a woman while she’s aroused. The line between domination with permission and pure domination is faint, if it exists at all.

The next step is twofold. Get some good quality erotic stuff onto the commercial market because these women deserve a well-written story, then get this readership to be proud enough to read the stuff in public. And I’m leading the charge. No more pink cheeks for me! 🙂

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. acflory
    May 30, 2012 @ 10:25:31

    Oh very nice review! I’m almost 60 so I grew up in the era when the pill was new [in Australia at least] and being a prude was looked down upon with extreme prejudice. I remember reading Playboy and Penthouse magazines and seeing Emmanuelle at the movies. I think I’m a liberated woman but I really won’t be reading 50 Shades, even on my Kindle. Erotica relying on BDSM bothers me in the same way that Twilight bothers my daughter. Shouldn’t we women have come of age by now? Sex is as necessary to a healthy life as good food and clean air. Sensuality is food for the soul. Why do we have to dress either up as ‘forbidden fruit’? And why do we still have to pretend that we need to be coerced? This is like the old silent movie The Sheik :/

    Reply

    • Kate Rizzetti
      May 30, 2012 @ 12:45:19

      I agree. It’s kind of disappointing to me to hear how enamoured so many women are of the character of Christian Grey. The romance is present in the relationship but the man is an arrogant control freak and I’m shaking my head in dismay at the number of women who want a man just like him. Why? As a gender are we still so secually repressed we can’t openly and eagerly enjoy a good romp without having to have a man take responsibility for making us go there?

      Reply

      • acflory
        May 30, 2012 @ 13:44:48

        Exactly! Where on earth does that come from in an age when there are so few negative [physical] consequences to having sex? It’s almost as if we’re all born with a gene for guilt or something.

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