Month: February 2015

In defense of EL James

If you haven’t heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ve either been living under a rock or have been frozen in a cryogenic capsule for the last two decades. Because other than those two scenarios, it would be hard to miss the erotica sensation that is Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. But just in case, watch this:

The movie adaption of the book trilogy launched over Valentine’s Day weekend to a hubbub of hype and consternation depending on what side of the sheets you’ve tumbled so to speak, and in the last couple of days, I’ve seen a lot of self-confessed feminists and a whole slew of mommies blast the blogging sphere with heaps of vitriol against the movie and Fifty Shades creator, EL James. Like this one.

So, unable to stay out of the middle of it as usual, I’ve decided to respond and it goes something like this.

Calm down, ladies. Your daughters aren’t in danger. No one is going to treat your daughter like a tramp if you teach her to be a strong, independent female who is self-assured and sexually confident. It’s not real, it’s just fiction. A raunchy fantasy where one woman wants to be dominated, tied up, and bonked silly by a rich, powerful, and thankfully, hot man. That’s all. There are no hidden messages, we aren’t sliding back to the dark ages, we’re just indulging in some light and inaccurate BDSM for a couple of hours. No biggie. No need to pull the chastity belt out of the closet and dust it off. We’re going to be okay.

And in fact, not only are we going to be fine, we should be personally thanking EL James for making it okay for women to have fantasies like men do. Not June-Cleever-in-an-apron-baking-brownies type of fantasies, not bodice-ripper-something-your-Gran-might-read romance either. No. Raunchy, dirty, sub/dom, willys in your face type of fantasy where it’s okay for women to have a sexual appetite like a man. The fifty shades phenomenon has brought erotica out of the back rooms of Adult XXX stores and into America’s living room. And even into Target. (You know you’ve gone mainstream when Target is selling vibrating c*@k rings.)

Because this is the thing – adventurous sex between two consenting adults isn’t just okay, it should be encouraged. Sexual repression is a ticking time bomb.

In America, we have an unhealthy attitude about sex (Yeah, it’s your fault, Pilgrims). We are more comfortable with watching a man blow up another man with an AK47 than seeing a man’s penis. We are more comfortable watching a hooker being beaten up on a cop show than watching two men kiss in public. Somewhere along the way, we have gotten our signals crossed.

Thanks to Fifty Shades, women are experimenting in the bedroom. They are taking charge of their sexual needs. The public outing of erotica has made talking about and engaging in fun rumpy pumpy normal and that is something we should all be applauding.

Now if you want something to complain about, let’s complain about the writing. No, really. It’s appalling. The fact that you have to slog through pages upon pages of horrible and cliched verbage in order to get to the good stuff (aka the sex) is criminal. In fact, it got to the point where I swiped through the majority of the book until I got to the decent sex scenes. Truly awful stuff. I’ve read some Penthouse forums letters that had better plot. And the later books? Don’t even get me started.

But that’s not the point of this piece and I’m not going to spend reams of time slagging off Ms. James because even if you think the writing is atrocious (Twilight, anyone?) the woman still made bank. And became successful. I have respect for that. I have respect for the fact that she sat down and wrote a book to begin with – most people don’t.

So instead of spending our time worrying about whether or not a white, college girl should be with a made-up rich, white guy, we should more concerned about the issues that affect women in real life: inequality in pay, forced female castration, domestic violence, breast and uterine cancers, just to name a few. Let us put our energies where it matters.