This year has brought a strange juxtaposition of trends and headlines. In politics, there has been an attack on women's rights, in which women who take birth control are accused of being sluts and advised to simply keep their knees shut. Meanwhile, for the past couple of months Fifty Shades of Grey has topped bestseller lists across the country.
If you've been oblivious to social trends, Fifty Shades of Grey is erotic fiction to wet the pallet (yes, that IS how I want to phrase that). It's kind of like the Merlot of erotica: there are plenty of better ones out there, but this is easy to swallow (yeah, I said that too). Apparently housewives from coast to coast have been indulging in a little guilty pleasure, even bringing this to book clubs (I admit I would like to hear how that discussion goes. I imagine there is a lot of "my friend told me...").
All the while, publishers are gaping in astonishment that this book broke through to the New York Times Bestseller lists for 8 weeks running. Not because it's erotica, but because there is much better written erotica out there, if you're going to start reading it. Authors like Lora Leigh, Maya Banks, and Sylvia Day who have been writing these kind of books for years are right there with the rest of going, are you kidding me, I could have written that!
Somehow it has come to pass that women all over this country are entertaining an interest in descriptions of some pretty kinky sex, complete with whips and handcuffs, at the same time that a woman's right to recreational sex is being questioned on the floor of congress. I know that we as a nation are prone to very polar points of view on a variety of issues, but seriously, who are these men discouraging women from exploring their sexuality and trying a few new tips and tricks they pick up in a juicy novel?
There has been some ridiculous speculation that female readers like the S&M in the book because they want to be punished for their success, they want to be made submissive again. To which I say, it sounds like someone is projecting, get your bruised ass away from my steamy sex scenes. And try picking up one of the many less submissive erotic choices available. (and this article gives another side to the debate)