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.