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Fifty Shades of Now What Now?

Don’t worry this is not a proper Just Read It review of Fifty Shades of Grey, the most talked about and fastest selling book in the UK. I just thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and add my tuppence worth, despite not having read it. I mean the novel is everywhere, in bookshop display windows, posters on the sides of buses, even my Kobo reader keeps recommending I read it, for reasons I’m not entirely sure, seeing as I don’t have a tendency to read erotica. Maybe I should start, who would know? But as one who works in marketing, I have to admire EL James’ promotional team, who have clearly gone for a ‘in yer face’ marketing strategy in much the same way that the book has gone all out for ‘in yer face’ sex amidst a loose storyline. It feels almost like the publishers are attempting to seduce you, or more realistically badly chat you up into spending time with Christian Grey and his submissive Anastasia. Yes I know the names! But the stats don’t lie, people are lapping up the clichéd chat-up lines and as I type there is a documentary on C4.  What in the world…..?

I’ve got to say, when I started to see numerous women reading Fifty Shades, first thing in the morning on the way to work, my thoughts were surely it’s to early for that sort of caper. But judging by the wide-eyed concentration of the readers, apparently not – clearly it’s never too early for a bit of erotica/S&M. But despite all the seemingly endless talk, this post notwithstanding, I’m still not curious to read it. I think I am more fascinated by the people who are reading and why. From my very casual observation, there isn’t a ‘type’ of reader, except that they are mostly female, and some are reading out of sheer curiosity. Whether or not there should be a type I don’t know, but I’ve seen women of all ages, and all races, and presumably all kinds of backgrounds, so this is a book that is crossing demographics. Which isn’t that much of a surprise when you think about it, after all most everyone has sex at some point in their lives. I guess it’s the kind of sex that differentiates.

Which brings me to my main point about why perhaps I’m not keen to read this novel. It’s just simply that the idea of reading a sort of love story about a woman being subjugated sexually by a quite frankly very troubled man, irks me. And the idea which suggests that deep down all women wish to be overpowered or made submissive to men, is disturbing. Call me old-fashioned by isn’t sex about mutual enjoyment and taking pleasure in one another, rather than power and submission? This is why I can’t buy into the hype about Fifty Shades. To me, from what I know of the book, gleaned from numerous newspaper articles, it sets women’s sexuality, and for that matter, rights and equality, back into a very dark place, where men say jump and the women attempt to, weighted by a ball and chain, some handcuffs, and whipped for added measure and male pleasure. And though some might argue that the novel is liberating women and for that matter men to admit to or give in to their sexual fantasies, to experience a whole new level of sexual fulfilment. I’m not convinced, at least not to the level that EL James is suggesting. Sex based on an imbalance of power surely cannot be a good thing in the long-term, whether it’s the man or the woman in the power seat. But, who am I to judge or comment, I’ve not read the book.

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