The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out in a week and a bit. I’m so torn about this because there is a (small) part of me that really wants to go see it. The hopeless romantic, I don’t mind how poorly written the book is so long as it has a romance in it, part of me.
(The rest of me hates that portion of myself, fyi.)
I’m sorry but Fifty Shades of Grey is bad. It is poorly written. It requires vast amounts of skimming. Every time I picked it up I debated why I was continuing to read it. But I couldn’t stop.
I mean, it has an obvious appeal (wink, wink)… but there’s no real substance there.
So why the hell is it so popular?
I remember, back when it was first out, talking about the book with a friend who was reading it (I hadn’t read it at this point) and an older woman reaming us out as anti-feminist for wanting to read a book that dealt with this type of female submission. Her basic thought was that her generation had fought so hard to give women equal footing and we were willing to just give that away to men?
Bad, bad little feminists.
I’ve been doing some reading about the FSG phenomenon trying to determine what exactly is so appealing about the novel. Submissive sex has also been making its way into TV shows, particularly Lena Dunham’s Girls. (Have I mentioned my love of Girls latey?!) We can’t deny that it (female submission) is a phenomenon. I look around in public and see women reading erotica novels all the time lately. They are here to stay.
In a Newsweek article “Working Women’s Fantasies”* Katie Roiphe states the following regarding a scene from Lena Dunham’s Girls:
…is there something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman’s life, about the pressure of economic participation, about all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world? It may be that, for some, the more theatrical fantasies of sexual surrender offer a release, a vacation, an escape from the dreariness and hard work of equality. (read more here)
Shit. Are women allowed to say that equality is exhausting?
Bad, bad little feminists.
Most women I know work full time. They have houses, husbands, children. They are financially strapped. They are worried that processed foods are poisonous so they cook everything from scratch. Gluten is evil so they don’t allow it. They can’t afford a housekeeper or tutor so they take over that role too.
The pressure is to be a career woman, super Mom, healthy cook.
Oh, and we should have hot bodies with defined abs.
And, men please don’t be offended when I say this, but their husbands don’t appear to be doing much more than they were in 1970. I had this discussion with a girlfriend a few months ago. She was talking about how badly she wanted to take a yoga class once a week and she was describing how relaxed her husband was after his daily workout and how she envied that. Turns out that he went to the gym after work each day… during the time that she went home to make dinner. They met up at the dinner table.
I suggested that she get him to make dinner half of the time so that she could take her class. She replied that he would simply order in pizza or something similar because he would not give up his gym time, it was too important to him.
Healthy dinner for the family was more important to her. Even though it was another piece of work each day that did not relax her it had to get done.
Their priorities were different and she could not shift his to match hers. She wasn’t willing to give up healthy dinners… so she had to make it.
Most of the women that I know love their lives. And they’re exhausted.
So are these novels a way of rebelling against that? A way of picturing a life that isn’t quite so dependent upon them holding up everything on their shoulders?
I can’t talk. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I find being alone exhausting at times but I know that my life is free of responsibility in a way that most of my peers are not.
So why does FSG appeal to so many women? This quote from the Washington Post seems to sum it up best for me…
It requires acknowledging gender differences that we’ve been conditioned to deny. (read more here)
Men and women are different. This isn’t a bad thing. We are allowed to say it.
(Bad, bad little feminists.)
FSG, though terribly written, is wildly popular with women. We all admit to having read it. Admit that it is terrible. And can’t quite pinpoint it’s appeal.
But we read it.
Maybe the answer is simple. Maybe women simply like erotica in the way that men seem to like porn?
I don’t think that’s it though. I think that it comes from some deeper discord in the way that we are running our lives.
I’m tired and this is badly written. I’m probably wrong.
I’ll leave you with one final wondering…
True? Or not?
*My understanding is that this article was completely denied by most who read it… but it made sense to me, hence the quote.