Fifty Shades of Grey

by Anonymous, Australia

This month’s Women’s Weekly printed an article on the phenomenon of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The article points out it is “far and away the fastest selling book in Australian history”. It has sold 20 million copies worldwide, more than Twilight and Harry Potter. This could indicate it is a fair barometer of where Western middle class women are at. A brief synopsis of the book is that it is about a virgin college graduate and a billionaire lover who has a bondage dungeon called ‘The Red Room of Pain’. She plays a completely submissive role, where the lover does everything for her and they engage in erotic sex, including bondage, riding crops and handcuffs.

The book’s Facebook page is full of reports of renewed vigour and libido in women’s lives – and very happy, satisfied husbands as a result. But what can we draw from this phenomenon? Could it be possible that the female readers, mainly married mothers (the book has been dubbed ‘mummy porn’), have been without deep intimacy and affection in their marriages, and to admit that their lives are lacking this deeper quality is too painful to face? The engaging of the eroticism from this book then suddenly has aroused a renewed vigour in the bedroom, and love is deemed to have been rediscovered in their lives – but maybe all that has happened is that more sex has substituted for a deeper intimacy and affection of love, and the painful absence of that previously being longed for, is abated.

But is this phenomenon new? Women have been interested in erotic literature for decades. Is it just today’s more open society that allows women to be seen publicly reading this material and openly discussing it with their friends? Could it be that women have secretly been reading erotic literature for years in search of fixing the lack of deep intimacy and affection in their lives? I just this morning watched a film review of a movie called Hysteria, based on a true story about professors who helped women in the late 1800’s cure their mental health disorders by advocating masturbation. These gentlemen, in their endeavours to cure women of their wan-ness, go on to create the world’s first vibrator. Better get this movie on the ‘to watch’ list?

Reviews report that the submissive nature of the female character in Fifty Shades adds to the appeal for the readership because it reflects their exhaustion, and the idea of someone doing everything for them is pretty enticing.

Nikki Gemmel wrote a similar book a few years ago called The Bride Stripped Bare. She now writes a weekly feature article in an Australian weekend newspaper.  Her article on the Fifty Shades book makes mention that women are thrilled with themselves to be able to achieve the sexual exploits the books allude to – it almost empowers them. But what if, over time, the exploits do not fulfill the void they are experiencing – could these newly discovered bedrooms antics leave them feeling exploited, deceived, maybe even abused? What possible future fall-out could this have on their self-esteem?

So what can we draw about women in their livingness from the phenomenon of this book? The reality that many women are living ‘without deep intimacy’ and are ‘constantly exhausted’, perhaps? And is an increased sex life going to actually address this lack of deep intimacy, or will the exhaustion just be increased from all that late night frolicking? As women we all have an opportunity to truly reflect on what is going on. When I read the articles on a site like this, and perhaps when others do too, there is the sense that life doesn’t have to be the barren wasteland of lack-of-true-love so often felt by many women, but that we can instead look inside ourselves and connect to the beauty that already lies therein.

Now that is something worth reading about.

337 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey

  1. Anything – advert film, soap, or magazine that promotes promiscuity and porn is actively brining societies standards down.
    The consequences of such a film on a nation is actually huge and not in a positive way.

  2. “Could it be that women have secretly been reading erotic literature for years in search of fixing the lack of deep intimacy and affection in their lives?”

    In answer to your question, yes, I would say so. This then prompts us to ask a bigger question and that is why as a society have we been afraid of our own intimacy and affection.

  3. I have had different phases in my exploration of what it means to me in a women’s body and have learnt lots along the way. And I know without doubt that the only way to have a meaningful relationship with anyone We first must be honest with ourselves and hold ourselves as worth loving. Then the magic can be connected with….

  4. ‘Reviews report that the submissive nature of the female character in Fifty Shades adds to the appeal for the readership because it reflects their exhaustion, and the idea of someone doing everything for them is pretty enticing.’ This is a sad reflection on where so many women are at currently that being submissive in any way, but especially in such an abusive situation, could ever feel appealing. Until we are willing to take responsibility for our own self care in every aspect of our lives books like this will continue to sell abusive solutions that harm both men and women.

    1. I agree, there is something going on concerning our self worth to play the role of someone who wants abuse and also to pressure men to take that role of the abuser. We eliminate true intimacy when we make it about roles we play and not two beings meeting, open, raw, real and truly connected.

  5. Love is the opposite of abuse. The fact that this kind of films become a success shows the level of disconnection our society is living in.

  6. What I feel reading this is how we’re constantly looking for solutions and how those solutions never quite satisfy us, and never address the underlying issue, the lack of connection we have with ourselves.

  7. Its sad we have come to this, unfortuanlty these types of films show how far away from real love, as a society we really are.

  8. It is interesting how we call erotic images of people having sex as pornography, and that it is widely known that this is often turned to by mostly men in search of having a sense of intimacy. And yet, when women read what is called erotic literature, which is widely available for them, this is not so commonly placed under the same banner as it for men, that it is pornography in a different way, but a way that is just as isolating and sought to fill a gap in one’s life that is not otherwise being met. Why is it different? And why do we accept this as normal?

  9. I think you are very right Gina. Women like this book, and its content because they miss deep intimacy in their lives. I can attest that because I missed deep intimacy in my life, I also dived into more extreme forms of sex, to get more stimulation. It did not replace the lack of intimacy, and all it did is that I started craving more extreme forms of sex.

  10. More and erotic sex can never be a substitute for intimacy, it may fulfil a moment, no different to food, but we are still left feeling empty and wanting more, and we continue to feel exhausted, tired and unfulfilled.

  11. I understand that it can be difficult to talk about intimacy with your partner, to express the want for more when the way it is has been set over many years. And so it makes sense that when a book comes along it can seem like the perfect kick-start to opening up new possibilities within the relationship. But if a woman does not know to begin with the sacred depths of her love and the intimacy that this can bring to all of her relationships, then surely there will remain to be just sex and nothing more.

  12. We like to think there is a difference between the things that we do, that being angry, sad or upset are human things and ok. But what I am feeling strongly today is that these are all many shades of the same energy that is not Love. So we can colour it and label it however we like – but the fact is it’s not true and is just a different varietiy of abuse.

  13. There can never be a substitute in this world for being moved by the love we are, as when we are aligned with this vibration we are everything and with all that is Divine.

  14. ” Now that is something worth reading about.”
    Yes Gina thank you. But its sad to think that its 2018 and a story about a woman giving her power away to a man still holds sway with women folk and men folk.

  15. There is absolutely nothing in this world that can truly fulfil a woman or her relationships other than her being true self. For a woman to reconnect to her essence she then knows what is honouring or not for herself, as her relationship to her is what restores her, not fads, books or gimmicks.

  16. Yes, there are many people in the world living without deep intimacy, true love and affection in their marriage, it is sad that in fact many women ‘are living ‘without deep intimacy’ and are ‘constantly exhausted’.

  17. I fail to see how erotic frolicking can bring about a closer relationship with a partner. For one it involves the inflicting of pain to one or both parties (even if not intentional the positions and equipment are uncomfortable and sometimes causing pain themselves) allowing ourselves or another to be in pain is not the basis for deepening love in a relationship.

  18. “…. but maybe all that has happened is that more sex has substituted for a deeper intimacy and affection of love, and the painful absence of that previously being longed for, is abated.” Good call Gina. We all want intimacy and if sex is the best substitute women can get its no surprise that Fifty Shades of Grey took women’s literature by storm. A sad indictment of where we hold ourselves as women in society today.

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