Fifty Shades of Grey
The book that has captured the attention i.e, libido of over 10 million readers, raised as many eyebrows as it has skirts and transformed pornography from disgraceful, to delectable. Think.
I have been hesitant to share my thoughts about this because I have not, and will not read Fifty Shades of Grey. Therefore, this is not a critique of the book (although I have been told that the writing is dismal) but an analysis of the overwhelming response to the genre deemed "mommy porn." I consistently hear or read comments suggesting that Shades offers relief from dull sexual relationships resulting from the monotony of marriage/long term relationships. I can understand the reasoning behind this but why "mommy porn"? How is it possible that there are women not only embracing, but celebrating the coupling of "mommy" and pornography? I'm as intrigued as I am disturbed by this notion. We stand on the shoulders of generations of courageous, intelligent, and determined women who fought and won both legal and social battles to ensure gender equality in all areas of our lives; championed the Woman's Rights Movement, proclaimed liberation from objectification and now allow motherhood to be linked to pornography?
Have You Read THE Book Yet?!
I have lost count of the many times I have been asked "Have you read 50 Shades?!" and continue to be intrigued by how my answer of "no" creates a brief moment of awkwardness for the excited advocate. When confronted with the "why not?" it is difficult to be honest without sounding self righteous or insulting so I stick with the simple "I don't want to" and move the conversation elsewhere. The problem with this tactic is that I have become outnumbered. Get a group of women together and the topic will invariably turn to Grey. Diverting the conversation is impossible so now I just listen for something compelling, anything at all that might support "You HAVE to read this book!" but nothing is ever said that has left me with an urgency to do so. I have heard "did you get to a good part?", "wait until you get to chapter 3 (or 4,5,6...)", it's a love story (?) but what does this mean to those of us who have not read the trilogy? And, if you can't describe it without blushing or defending the "plot" then perhaps that is the conversation we should be having - sounds like a much more interesting a conversation anyway.
I totally understand why so many women can't put the book down, why the accessibility of raw sexual fantasy has left millions of husbands grinning and winking when their wives are either reading or gushing about the book. 50 Shades fills voids - or so you think. The narrative generates sexual desires and resulting pleasure that many marriages or long term relationships have lacked. On the surface this is awesome for those reaping the benefits but here's the problem: these are fleeting moments created by fiction. The excitement this book has stirred will not only fade but could in fact create a larger rift in relationships when Grey fans tire of the fallacy. No matter where your imagination takes you, when you wake to your spouse you will be reminded that you are in a real relationship with someone you needed to put a mask on the night before. I find this to be more depressing than stimulating - but that's just me.
What if the character roles were reversed and the protagonist was a woman? How great would it be if your guy's sudden increased interest in having sex with you was not about love and desire for YOU but about physical release of sexual tension brought on by reading pornography? The "At least I'm getting some" response may be true but it also reveals the deeper and much more significant issue of dysfunctional relationships. It would be great if couples used their new found or rekindled lust for each other as a gateway for closely examining why a book offers excitement and stimulation not present in their relationship and then made a commitment to remedy what is lacking, but I have yet to hear this come up in conversations about 50 Shades of Grey.
Call me crazy but haven't men always argued that porn is necessary due to lack of attention and sex in a marriage? I can't recall any woman I know winking and nodding if/when their man headed off to a strip bar, watched a pornographic movie, or sat down to read Hustler... Most women I know would not be OK with it if the roles were reversed. So, why the double standard? Why is "mommy porn" acceptable when pornography for men is abhorred?
One of the more offensive assumptions about why millions of women are devouring the trilogy came from Molly Snyder a working mother of 2 boys and Associate Editor for Milwaukee's Daily Magazine. Snyder suggests that "'these books could represent the backlash of educated moms who are privileged enough to make the decision to stay at home and care for their children, but once there, long for the excitement of youth, freedom, work and the sex they had many years ago or never experienced when they had the chance." Really? There are plenty of insulting assumptions made about stay at home moms but this one is particularly infuriating considering why I chose to resign from a job that I love in order to be home with my boys.
First: The idea that staying home with your children makes one "privileged" is ludicrous as it discounts the majority of families who sacrifice a second salary and undergo major lifestyle changes to make this happen.
Second: To insinuate that the decision to stay at home and care for their children ultimately results in regret for having made the choice is a burden kids should not have to carry.
Third: What the hell does any of that nonsense have to do with making mommy porn socially acceptable?!
Fourth: While regurgitating the working vs. stay at home mom debate Ms. Snyder insinuates
that working "educated moms" don't need or read 50 Shades of Grey. Ha! I bet she has all three hidden in her desk and tickets to Magic Mike (Hmmm...sound familiar?) in her purse.
So, I leave you with this: When a society openly celebrates mother's embracing pornography (even if you argue that the book is NOT pornography this IS how it is presented) what are we teaching or modeling for our children? This loss of respect for the sanctity of motherhood and the lack awareness of why women (and men) might need or want to read "mommy porn" is the issue at hand. Think.
My head still hurts.