Home Pop Culture Fifty shades of Grey- how women are giving up sexual autonomy and...

Fifty shades of Grey- how women are giving up sexual autonomy and loving it.

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Fifty shades of grey: How a best seller about male empowerment may really end up being about female empowerment....

50 Shades of Grey now banned in three state libraries.

Deriving strength and owning one’s femininity and sexuality sometimes requires one to give it up in the first place….

My hair colorist was shocked when I did not know about the novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. With great enthusiasm she explained that readers were afraid to don the paperback in public, ashamed that onlookers may judge them for their provocative and erotic reading choice. This immediately piqued my interest, so right then and there I ordered the book via my iPhone, and had it wirelessly transferred to my kindle.

As I began the novel, I found that Fifty Shades of Grey follows a BDSM affair between the dark and twisted billionaire Christian Grey, and the pure and innocent Anastasia Steele.

Christian is a dominant, and before their affair even begins, he presents Anastasia with a contract that outlines the parameters of their relationship. Christian tells Anastasia he is not looking for love, but for full control. She must be his submissive if she wishes to proceed with him.

The contract states that Christian has full mastery over Anastasia’s entire life, dictating the minutest details, from what she eats and wears, to the amount of hours she must sleep.  Anastasia must not only comply with Christian’s commands, but do so without thought or hesitation. She is not even allowed to look him in the eye without his permission, and cannot touch him without being told to do so.

If any rules are broken Christian has full right to “punish” his sub in whatever way he sees fit, inflicting pain by using his various weapons (canes, whips and belts). Christian even makes it a point to severely punish Anastasia for eye rolling, an action he does not tolerate.

Christian takes pleasure in her pain, and to keep him by her side, Anastasia accepts this lifestyle.

I assume that most women would consider this a ludicrous and abusive way to enter a relationship, yet multitudes are flocking to bookstores and e-readers to pursue the novel.

The million-dollar question is, why has a novel about male supremacy gone viral?

Wisely, E.L James uses the straight-laced Anastasia Steele, to introduce us into a dominant/submissive liaison. The novel is comprised of more erotic scenarios and passages than I can count, and the encounters are detailed to the core, putting women straight into the mind and body of the protagonist.  I imagine many readers enter the world of Christian Grey hesitantly, and Anastasia is just as inexperienced as the rest of us, so this softens the blow.

The most telling factor of the popularity lies in the contract between the two lovers. On the surface this arrangement seems anything but ideal, however, we come to find our leading lady exploring her sexual limits, without having to over think any situation. She is not allowed to think, she is only allowed to do, and therefore her insecurities immediately melt away. Christian truly wants to make Anastasia feel good, and his dominance allows her to enjoy each and every experience as it comes, not having to worry about making a wrong move or embarrassing herself. By opening herself up to the engagement, she lets go completely, and comes to find that she loves every moment of it.

The ironic fact is that as our main character is willing to explore and expand her sexual horizons, women are still ashamed to read the book in public.

Why is this? Why are women whispering about it in nail salons, clothing boutiques, and offices? Why is sexuality and desire synonymous with shame?

I myself even questioned whether or not I should tell my friends about it. What would they think of me? Am I sick for not being able to put the book down?

Now, as the popularity of Fifty Shades skyrockets, I find myself sharing the novel with others.  Women throughout the country, and the world, have opened up the dialogue, making it easy for the rest of us to take hold and run with it. The novel has become a huge success for a reason, so where is the embarrassment in that?

Christian Grey teaches us that there is no shame in testing one’s limits and exploring unchartered territory. Even men are jumping on board, and smart at that, to get into the mind and actions of a character that has millions of women spellbound and smitten.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. if this book was that important it would have replaced the bible as the book every dictator talks about. it’s not, so just relax. if you don’t like the subject matter don’t read the book. just remember, like the bible it is FICTION

  2. Out of all the books that I have read, this is definitly number one on my list. This book kept you on edge wanting more from the begining. I am hoping that E L James writes a second trilogy with the Characters of Christian Grey and Ana Steel. I was very disappointed when I finished the last book as it kept me wanting more. Besides the kinky fuc*ery, there is a story line that keeps the readers wanting more. I am hoping to find another read that will grasp my attention and keep me wanting more as I found in the Fifty Shades triology.

  3. Why dont you get yourself a life to live?……….life is too short to care as much as you have to make the analysis you have about people who enjoy watching porn or reading erotica…………for you to be able to justify the comments you have made you must have initially had the inclination to watch porn or read it erotica yourself – so ok it was not for you but you have no right to judge other people for what they enjoy fantasy and fiction in their personal life…….

  4. It’s astounding how many times you used the phrase “anti-male”, albeit in reference to anti-male violence. I can’t help but get the feeling that you are not a big fan of men in general. Well guess what? Us horrible men are the majority of those that keep you safe and allow you to write such anti-male vitriol. Both in the military and the police/firefighters. There will ALWAYS be both physical and emotional differences between men and women. Acting like if we just try harder, we would all be androgynous, happy, non-violent people is just that: acting. It’s not real life, no matter how many academic studies you’d like to quote. There have been warriors and a warrior culture in every society that has lasted . . . because of the warriors, that culture remains. Having an aggressive, dominant personality doesn’t mean you are then going to attack or rape women if you look at porn. The love of a good woman is all some men need, especially in a fulfilled sex life. But when you’re seperated from that love for months at a time, I don’t see the harm in porn. And neither does my wife (who bought our subscription to penthouse). I think someone hurt you very badly in the past, but get over it and stop bashing men because the of the dirt bags you have encountered in the past.

  5. I wish she’d just abstain of mentioning the inner goddess every page! Gee, it’s too childish and it certainly isn’t a children book. The writing has flaws, how come they don’t mention this in the critics? Why do people always jump to the comparisons and not give an independent critic or comment?

  6. That is not clear in most comments people are making about the book. People are portraying this as a girl entering a sex contract when it is about a man learning to be in a loving relationship without one. I wonder if the people that are angry about the contract have even read the book, it would appear they have not.

  7. Wow. What a diatribe. You don’t like porn, it is harmful etc. So is alcohol for some people, though I don’t need to have alcoholic studies thrown at me to show me how bad drinking is and that it is better to abstain. I am a woman. I like porn, granted it comes and goes depending on differing relationships and moods. I have been at the porn shop every few days stocking up on new material to watch with my man, been single and got a little frisky with myself and my computer, and have periods as long as a few years where I didn’t even think about it. Again I am a woman, I enjoy sex a lot, my tastes probably fall out of the mainstream , and to you I probably suffer some serious issues, but women also watch and enjoy porn. An inconvenient fact but true.

  8. I was diss appointed with this fanfiction adaptation. It made lots of promises of exploring the world of BDSM between consensual partners but instead delivered mostly repetitive vanilla sex and enough drama and mood swings to compete with daytime soap operas. I found myself longing for Christian/Edward to finally deliver on his dominant persona. Any woman who ever watched sex in the city would barely raise an eyebrow at spankings or vibrators.

  9. Psychiatrist Park Elliott Dietz On Porn Harms

    In 1994 I wrote to psychiatrist Dr.Linnea Smith about my experience and the harms of pornography. She wrote me back a very nice note and thanked me for my important efforts to educate people on the harms of porn. She said it’s especially difficult because the public is desensitzed and the media is reluctant to crititicize other media especially sexually explicit media. She sent me two huge folders full of important information on the harms including Playboy cartoons of women being sexually harassed in the workplace by their male bosses!

    One of the many things she sent me was a transcribed lecture by psychiatrist and law professor Dr.Park Elliott Dietz, and this lecture was given before the National Conference of State Legislators on August 5 1986 and was videotaped by C-Span. Dr. Dietz served as a commissioner on the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. He was professor of law,professor of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry,and Medical Director of The Institute of Law,Psychiatry and Medical Director of The Institute of Law,Psychiatry and Public Policy at The University of Virginia School of Law and School of Medicine.

    He gave many examples of women and children’s testimonies who were sexually abused by men who used pornography,and also women who were sexually harassed on the job with pornographic pictures hung up on the walls and shown to them. He said he only used a small sample of the 1000’s of women and children who testified. He says many times that pornography is a health problem and human rights issue and he said one of the reasons is because so much of it teaches false,misleading,and even dangerous information about human sexuality.

    This is what he said a person would learn about sexuality from pornography, “A person who learned about human sexuality in the “adults only” pornography outlets of America would be a person,who had never conceived of a man and woman marrying or even falling in love before having intercourse,who had never conceived of two people making love in privacy without guilt or fear of discovery,who had never conceived of tender foreplay,who had never conceived of vaginal intercourse with ejaculation during intromission,and who had never conceived of procreation as a purpose of sexual union.,

    Instead,such a person would be one who had learned that sex at home meant sex with one’s children,stepchildren,parents,stepparents,siblings,cousins,nephews,nieces,aunts,uncles,and pets,and with neighbors,milkmen,plumbers,salesmen,burglars,and peepers,who had learned that people take off their clothes and have sex within the first 5 minutes of meeting one another,who had learned to misjudge the percentage of women who prepare for sex by shaving their pubic hair,having their breasts,buttocks or legs tattooed,having their nipples or labia pierced,or donning leather,latex,rubber,or childlike costumes,who had learned to misjudge the proportion of men who prepare for sex by having their genitals or nipples pierced,wearing women’s clothing,or growing breasts.

    Who had learned that about 1 out of 5 sexual encounters involves spankning,whipping,fighting,wrestling,tying,chaining,gagging,or torture,who had learned that more than 1 in 10 sexaul acts involves a party of more than 2,who had learned that the purpose of ejaculation is that of soiling the mouths,faces,breasts,abdomens,backs,and food at which it’s always aimed,who had learned that body cavities were designed for the insertion of foreign objects,who had learned that the anus was a genital to be licked and penetrated,who had learned that urine and excrement are erotic materials,who had learned that the instruments of sex chemicals,handcuffs,gags,hoods,restraints,harnesses,police badges,knives,guns,whips,paddles,toilets,diapers,enema bags,inflatable rubber women,and disembodied vaginas,breasts,and penises,who had learned that except with the children,where secrecy was required,photographers and cameras were supposed to be present to capture the action so that it could be spread abroad.

    If these were the only adverse consequences of pornography,the most straightforward remedy would be to provide factually accurate information on human sexuality to people before they are exposed to pornography,if only we could agree on what that information is,on who should provide it to the many children whose parents are incapable of doing so,and on effective and acceptable means by which to ensure that exposure not precede education. In the absense of such a remedy,the probable consequences in this area alone are sufficient to support recommendations that would reduce the dissemination of that pornography which teaches false,misleading or dangerous information about human sexuality. And these are not the only adverse consequences of pornography.

    He then says before he gives more examples and research,that pornography is a health problem and human rights issue because it increases the probability that members of the exposed population will acquire attitudes that are detrimental to the physical and mental health of both those exposed and those around them,pornography is a health problem and human rights issue because it is used as an instrument of sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

    And look where we are now!

  10. Studies by Dr.John Court found that in Australia Queensland did not allow easy distribution of pornography but South Australia allowed easy and accessible pornography.He compared the rape rate of 100,000 at risk for more than a 13 year period and found Queensland had no increase in their rape rate,but South Australia’s rape rate increased 6 times! In 1974 Hawai allowed easy distribution of pornography and their rape rate increased,then they restricted it and the rape rate went down,and then they allowed wide distribution again,and the rape rate went up again and then when they restricted again,the rapes decreased!

    Sociologists Larry Baron and Murray Straus also did a state-state circulation rate of pornographic magazine sales and the connection to states with the highest sales of these magazines including playboy and the rape rate in those states.And in Alaska and Nevada is where the pornographic magazines sold the highest,and those 2 states also had the highest rape rates compared to any other states.They repeated this study the next year and the findings were exactly the same,even when they controlled for other causes,and it was only sexual assault that increased not other crimes.

    And,

    Linnea Smith By Patricia Barrera

    Linnea Smith is your average woman of the 90s. She has a satisfying family life, rewarding career in mental health and interests that include traveling with her husband, spending time with her daughters, babying her dogs and reading pornography. Yes…reading pornography–and using her professional skills and expanding international network to fight it. Like most of us, she never really thought about pornography as a critical social issue until a 1985 media conference where she learned about past and present research on pornographic materials. And what she learned shocked and angered her.

    As a psychiatrist, feminist, and woman, she was well aware of the personal and societal consequences of battery, rape, and child sexual abuse. The results of the studies delivered at that fateful conference were an indictment to the connection of pornographic materials, both directly and indirectly, with these violent sex crimes. For Smith, pornography became an issue of public health and human rights that needed to be addressed.

    As every critical thinker should, Smith went straight to the source to see for herself what was going on. She turned to Playboy, the nation’s first pornography magazine to earn mainstream acceptance and support. By 1984 Playboy had 4.2 million subscribers, and was selling 1.9 million magazines at newsstands (Miller, 1984).

    The results of her extensive investigation of the magazine (from the 1960s on) are presented in three brochures. “It’s Not Child’s Play” is a disturbing brochure that outlines the specific ways in which Playboy sexualizes small children and presents them as sexual targets for adult males in their magazine. The collection of cartoons and pictorials is damning, and made even more so when juxtaposed against pathetic statements made by Playboy representatives denying they ever used children in their publication. Smith very well could have called the brochure “Playboy Exposed”.

    Right alongside their claims that “Playboy never has, never will” publish such offensive imagery (Playboy, December, 1985), Smith placed pictures the magazine did indeed publish- of children in sexual encounters with adults and references to girl children as ‘Playmate’ material. In December of 1978, for example, Playboy published a picture of a five year old girl with the caption “my first topless picture,” and in March of that same year published a cartoon in which Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is pointing out the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man to a police officer as having just raped her on the yellow brick road.

    Smith did not limit her investigation to the use of children in Playboy. She found jokes about sexual harassment, abuse, manipulation, dehumanization and avoidance of intimacy by men toward their partners and callousness toward women in general, and the promotion of sexual conquest over women instead of sexual intimacy with a woman.

    In another powerful and well documented brochure, “As Sex Education, Men’s Magazines are Foul PLAY, BOYS!,” Smith once again had Playboy do the talking for her. The brochure featured Playboy cartoons that dehumanized women like the one in which a man was shown holding a pornography magazine over his girlfriend’s face and body as they are having sex (Playboy, August, 1974), and another featuring a taxidermist calling a man to come and pick up his wife, who had been stuffed (Playboy, April, 1995). Was she hunted down and killed, too?

    Smith’s brochures include extensive documentation and commentary by recognized scholars and researchers addressing the impact of pornography on our society. There are chilling statistics, like the finding that 100% of all high school aged males in one survey reported having read or looked at pornography, with the average age of viewing the first issue being 11 years old (Bryant, testimony to the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography Hearings, 1985).

    In another study she lists, three per cent of the women in a random sample and 8.5 per cent in a survey of college undergraduate women reported being physically coerced into sex by someone inspired by pornography. Ten per cent of the nonstudent and 24 per cent of the student respondents answered yes to the question of whether they had ever been upset by someone trying to get them to do something out of a pornographic book, movie, or magazine (cited by Anderson in Lederer and Delgado, eds., 1995).

    Also included is a study conducted by Mary Koss on 6,000 college students in which she found that men reporting behavior meeting legal definitions of rape were significantly more likely to be frequent readers of pornography magazines than those men who did not report engaging in such behavior (Koss and Dinero, 1989).

    Smith is one of few people to expand her analysis of pornographic magazines to include the presence of drugs and alcohol, especially important today considering the almost epidemic level of drug and alcohol use by adults and teenagers in this country, Smith agrees that drugs and alcohol are contributing factors to high risk and coercive sex, and that the relationship between them within pornographic materials is an overlooked, and greatly needed, area of research.

    As Smith explains ” . . . No [other] reputable publication brought positive drug information within easy reach of juvenile (or adult) consumers. Since 1970, Playboy has been glamorizing intoxication as a mind-expanding, sexually-enhancing experience. It is difficult to conclude these magazines have not played a major role in popularizing ‘recreational’ drug consumption and the myth of its being fun, risk-free, and even sexy. What greater reinforcement for drug taking behavior than to eroticize it?”

    In “Drug Coverage in Playboy Magazine,” a brochure she developed for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), Smith compiled a plethora of cartoons that favorably paired sex with drugs and alcohol. Cartoons, articles and columns advise readers on how to use drugs for sexual enhancement. References to negative effects were usually humorously presented and so, easily dismissed.

    Playboy’s depiction of underage users of drugs and alcohol even included their own version of the Official Boy Scout Handbook in (Playboy, August, 1984). Their suggestions for Scout Merit Badges included “Water Safety” for the scout who ordered his Johnnie Walker whiskey straight up, and “Free-Basing” for the scout who smoked cocaine. A similar feature in 1979 stated that “Today, ‘boyhood fun’ means cruising and scoring; overnight adventures’ involve Ripple and car stripping; and ‘survival skills include cocaine testing, bust evasion and cutting into gas lines” (Playboy, December, 1979).

    Once Smith contacted the NCAA about her serious concerns, media attention and public scrutiny increased. Playboy denied any wrongdoing, claiming they were only reflecting a “major cultural phenomena”, but they did scale back the more obvious pro-drug and alcohol features in the magazine. damage control campaign resulted in a politically correct editorial statement on the magazine’s position on drug abuse in the May 1987 issue as well as a few anti-drug articles. To counter Smith’s NCAA attempts, the magazine also courted collegiate sports information offices with a mass mailing of a hastily compiled slick, glossy booklet “The Dangers of Drugs”, explaining their “real” position against substance abuse. However the magazine still includes covert messages glamorizing substance abuse and pairing sexualized alcohol consumption with easier prey. According to Smith, “we succeeded in exposing yet another dimension of the destructive nature of pornography, and, at the very least, cost Playboy some time and money.”

    It may also cost Playboy the niche they are trying to carve out for themselves in organized sports. Playboy’s strategy for commercial success has been to include respected and well- known public figures in their magazine, an old tactic for aspiring to legitimacy. That way the magazine may be looked at as more of a credible news journal than just a porno rag. Readers too, can feel better about their consumption of pornographic pictures of women when they are “wrapped” in articles about current social issues. It made business sense to Playboy to seek out an alliance with athletes who, in some countries, are accorded hero status.

    So they came up with an annual pre-season award for college level athletes and coaches, the Playboy All-America Award. The nominated players and coaches receive an all-expenses paid trip to a luxury resort for a weekend party, photo session and public relations blitz.

    The team selection process is unorthodox at best. It is not a panel of sports officials but rather Photography Director Gary Cole, doubling as sports editor when needed, (Playboy, March, 1996, p.117) who chooses players and coaches for the award. The prerequisite is not athletic ability but rather who agrees to be photographed for the magazine. Again, a common tactic for legitimacy. Playboy rejects players unwilling to have their pictures associated with the magazine- -its content and underlying messages–and keeps making “awards” until the sufficient number of players and coaches agree to the photo sessions. The event hit some legal snafus as well. Complaints were officially lodged with the NCAA which included the presence of professional agents at the photo sessions. This charge, like the others, was also denied by the magazine in a letter to the NCAA.

    Go to Part II

  11. This is all very *disturbing* and just proves what radical feminists (the only true feminists!) both male and female have been trying to explain for decades,that pornography in a very sexist male dominated woman-hating society,sexualizes gender inequality which male dominance and female submission and violence are the epiome of,and sadly many women have been socilaized and influenced by this. And this is the sad unfortunate effects of the unjust mainstreaming of pornography that has been going on for years and that the internet helped to legitimize and make acceptable!

    Please check out acclaimed important books Refusing To Be A Man:Essays On Sex And Justice and The End Of Manhood A Book For Men Of Conscience by anti-sexist anti- male violence,anti-pornography educator pro-feminist John Stoltenberg who founded Men Against Pornography.

    Rhea at the sadly former Women’s Alliance Against Pornography,who sent me a lot of great important information on the unjust harms of pornography back in the early 1990’s and who I spoke to off and on and I learned a lot of important information,always said we live in a very sick society that hates women. She also said most men hate women and then they marry them,and she said most men don’t see women as being anything like themselves they see them as the “other”.

    And books like these and others and pornography in general sexualize and legitimize male sexual violence against women and re-enforce the sexist male dominated woman-hating society’s myth that women are masochists by nature and like being hurt and abused by men and then it turns them on. Of course the whole sick patriarchy socializes women from the time they are girls to be sex objects and victims for men and mascochistic it’s all so deep-rooted in the whole patriarchy.

    That description of him slamming into her and f*cking her hard was horrorifying and disturbing and it would be even if she wasn’t a virgin but that made it even more violent! And how sad and disturbing that so many women are loving this book and define it as their sexuality!

  12. Google this “Master of the Universe pdf” You may have to look for part 1 and part 2. This was 50 Shades before she decided to publish. This started out as a Twilight Fan Fiction story.

  13. Ana doesn’t accept the contract and Christian offers her a vanilla relationship. I don’t think this becomes clear from your comments.

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