If nothing else, EL James knows how to stir up some big time controversy with her hot new novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. There are such a myriad of emotions floating around on this book and exactly what it does and does not represent. Oddly enough, the opinions that men have on it are considerably harsher than what many women have said, some even going so far as to tell men to butt out—they just don’t understand. I’ve enlisted the help of Meghan Krein, a clinical psychologist known as Fascinations’ Love Expert to help me break this down. Meghan has over 15 years of experience in behavioral health, specializing in sex and relationships (visit her at funlove.com; follow @FascinationsFun, and facebook.com/Fascinations) . Let’s dive into what has everybody is reeling about and try to understand why so many people are drawn to Fifty Shades of Grey.
The Appeal Factor
There are a few critics of the book that have called it a “rape fantasy”, including Dr. Drew Pinsky. For me, I don’t really buy into that at all; after all, the Dominator of the relationship, Christian Grey, requires a yes and a willingness to submit, which Anastasia Steele agrees to. She tries it and that’s how she finds out that she doesn’t like it. Dr. Drew’s overall harsh critique shows that he has come a long way since helping pimply faded pubescent teens on Love Line. Now, he responds like any father of triplets, both male and female, who are pretty close to Ana in age. It makes sense that he wouldn’t be overly encouraging.
According to Meghan, it is common for women to have rape fantasies; however, the appeal of the story is different than that. Women are not huge lovers of watching porn, but take a great erotica tale that can be enjoyed over a glass of wine with book club friends and you have something interesting to talk about. Another element of women is that they tend to get turned on with their minds. The thought of being with a powerful man is exciting. Look at men such as Donald Trump, Howard Stern, and Larry King. They all have beautiful young women in their lives that are definitely attracted to their power.
When you ponder how far women have come and all the things we’re capable of doing it is exciting. The thought of being able to express ourselves sexually, without shame or guilt, is a very welcome feeling. In the 80’s we had the “Calgon, take me away” moments. Today, we can add a little color to our fantasies in the form of novels like 50 Shades of Grey. Every moment in life doesn’t have to be as deep and complex as people try to make it at times. Read. Enjoy. Fantasize.
Ana versus Christian
The critics of this book have thrown out that it can’t be a good read because Christian became the way he was due to sexual abuse as a child. This stems from gaining his experience as a submissive from an older woman when he was 15 or so. Truthfully, this story could have been better if EL James just excluded that. The story doesn’t need that hint or aspect in it. Everybody who dives into this sort of sexual lifestyle doesn’t have to come from a messed up background. That simple step would have been enough to avoid comments from people such as radio host Judith Regan, who said that it was a trashy porn that showed how an abused person grows up to be abusive. Then again, it’s the controversy over the storythat has made so many people interested—including myself.
Still, despite the criticism of how Christian became what he is, women really respond to the thought of being Ana. According to Meghan, women’s innate nature is to be the softer and gentler sex. Most women play a milder mannered version of Christian in their daily lives. They take care of their families, organize the household, and often times give their all to a demanding career. What they really want at the end of the day is to feel wanted. Guess who else wants that? Christian.
Will You Try It?
There will probably be a small portion of women who try a few of the ideas that are played out in 50 Shades of Grey. The book has a few that sound pretty interesting. However, if women are open to the ideas there’s a decent chance that they have probably considered it before in their fantasies. BDSM is one of those things that will make a person clench up at first. Then, after they are relaxed they may think or fantasize about it a bit. Meghan says that the fantasy in itself is often enough. This is possibly the case because truly acting out something that you can fantasize about could end up being rather disappointing and a let-down. The book is a good stepping stone to breaking the stigma against BDSM.
There’s going to be a portion of people that know that BDSM is not their thing and they are not willing to give it a try. Good for them. Then, there are those people who think it’s interesting and may consider giving it a little go. That’s good for them too. The only thing that seems to not be good for anybody is for people to judge them for what they want to try in the privacy of their own bedrooms. I think the Guru Mommy blog said it best when they stated this in their review: “When you put the book down, you will actually want to have sex with your husband. Like, a lot.” Intimacy with your partner is definitely a good thing and something we are passionate about in the Tokii Lab.
A person’s sexual limits are specific to them and cannot be defined by anybody besides them. The controversy over the BDSM aspect of 50 Shades of Grey has opened up some great conversation that brings awareness to what it is all about. Chances are that most people had to look up BDSM on Wikipedia to even find out what the initials stand for. They probably blushed, blinked, gave an “Oh my” and then dove into the book to explore it a bit further. I know that I couldn’t put the book down even though I found parts of it to be a bit peculiar. Whether you have read the book or plan on it, one thing for certain is that you will probably read every disgusting or delicious word of it cover to cover.
Karla Stephens-Tolstoy, Tokii CEO & Founder
A business and brand maverick, skilled in building start-ups and building brand management teams in North America, Asia and Europe.