Most of us are aware of a new literature blockbuster titled Fifty Shades of Grey, the first of a trilogy by E. L. James. Book number two is Fifty Shades Darker and book number three is Fifty Shades Freed. The books are a runaway best selling phenomenon.
The books are about the unlikely relationship between a recent university graduate who happens to be a virgin (see, I told you ‘unlikely’) and a young, wildly wealthy entrepreneur who she interviews at the end of her last year in college.
They have instant chemistry, even though she’s a virgin and he’s hugely experienced. In fact he’s so experienced that his sexual preference is roles of Dominate and Submissive, with him, of course, being the Dominant. The sex scenes are explicit and frequent. Ms. James leaves little to our imagination. But somehow Ms. James has left a huge population of women of all ages squirming in their chairs, voraciously inhaling all the details.
Because these books are so very sexual, so “niche” sexual if you will, so sexual about a topic that’s not mainstream, so sexual about a role that’s incredulous to so many women today, I’m surprised at the trilogy’s popularity. Everyone is reading these books. On Facebook, my own barometer for success, Fifty Shades of Grey has over 82,000 ‘likes’ (including mine), the trilogy has 146,000 ‘likes’!! (OK, including mine too).
“Women are not known for boasting about their love of porn but we are reading Fifty Shades in our horny droves – 100,000 of us in the first week to be precise, beating John Grisham, James Patterson and Suzanne Collins to the top of the charts,” according to Martel Maxwell, Columnist, Novelist and Presenter, in Huffington Post.
“Women are flooding hardware stores to buy soft rope but the ladies’ shopping lists don’t end with rope — they are also buying riding crops and handcuffs and, of course, the book’s signature silver-grey tie”, according to Carrie Sim of the New York Post. An upcoming workshop in Brooklyn has 300 people signed up!! Three hundred!! To learn about bondage, spanking, teasing and touching.
You know, we’re all, mostly all, women who have transitioned through the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, and have come out the other side embracing sexual equality as a part of our finally accepted status as equal people. And here we all are, drooling over a book about BDSM (bondage and dominance and submission and masochism).
I wish I could explain it to you, give you some reasons for its wild popularity, decipher why we’re all reading and loving this trilogy. I’m a pretty dedicated feminist and honestly, I can’t explain it.
Could it be something that we carry hidden deep inside of us? Is it a need for punishment that we find so attractive – surely not? Maybe it’s a need for breathtaking sex, so often missing after 40+ years of marriage? Or maybe, and I hope this is closer to the truth, maybe this is about trust, trust of our sexual partners, knowing that no matter how kinky, our partners are still offering us a place of safety while we explore what many of us are learning as the delights of non-standard sex.
I have no answers for this. I have just questions and a craving lust to either experience it or explain it. Now where did I leave my whip?
I’m a woman of a certain age, and I’m certain this may be the new benchmark of erotica.
©Marcia Barhydt, 2012