Written by E.L James and published on the 11th of June 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey is one novel that has been getting everyone talking. While the novel isn’t completely considered an erotica (of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire) its sexual component has everyone wondering if it should be X-rated.
The story centers on the relationship between a recent college graduate Anastasia Steele and manipulative billionaire Christian Grey. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her life. As she gets to know him she learns that his sexual tastes involve bondage, domination and sadism, and that childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual. In order to be his partner she agrees to experiment with BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism), but struggles to reconcile who she is (a virgin who has never previously had a boyfriend) with whom Christian wants her to be: his submissive, to-do-with-as-he-pleases partner in his “Red Room of Pleasure.”
Reactions to the novel has been mixed since its publication and while some attacked the author’s lack of literary abilities, others applauded her attempt at presenting an exciting sexual tale. As someone who has always had an interest in sex and all things sexual, the message of the novel made me stop in my tracks and rethink what I thought I knew about the female gender and their ‘needs’ (bedroom-wise).
The novel will probably make more than a few feminists cringe as we get to witness Ana relinquishing control to Christian and taking part in his very kinky bedroom ideas which involves handcuffs, being tied down and so forth. In the book, Ana is required to sign a contract that makes her his sexual slave. Christian is a man who likes to dominate, and dominate he does. But all is forgiven as the novel shows us that Ana stays true to herself and her belief that the relationship will be more than just a sexual one.
One thing to remember is that there are two kinds of fantasies. The ones we want to come true and the ones we would rather want to happen just in our heads but still turn us on all the same. Personally I think this novel explores the latter. A situation which blends rape fantasy with the idea of being treated like a sex slave might not be something you put in your to-do list, but it is something some of us have thought about a few times. The man, Christian Grey is powerful. He’s rich. He’s dominant. He’s sexy as hell and is a total pervert. Anastasia Steele is the innocent young woman who ends up loving their little sex games. They end up falling into a twisted crazy love full of kink and bondage. If you break it down, that’s what this book is about.
Women all over the world are enamored by this novel and the exciting sex scenes would probably have the ladies in book club chattering and giggling excitedly. While a few critics agree that the book will probably not win any Pulitzer Awards, it has gain huge popularity from fans and book-lovers alike. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal Pictures and Focus films have purchased the rights to all three books in James’s trilogy for USD 5 million. So why is a book which isn’t considered award-worthy getting such amazing fan base? Well, the answer is simple, sex sells? And when it involves spanking, handcuffs and masochistic tendencies, it sells even more. Let’s admit it, there is a level of sexual curiosity in all of us. Some fans even credit the book for inspiring them to reinvigorate their sex lives with their partners.
The novel also insinuated that women secretly love being controlled. They love being in a state where they can give total submission to their male partner without losing themselves in the process. It gives in to the notion that while women want power, we are also willing to relinquish it in some situation and that it really is all about choice.
Personally, I don’t get what all the hullabaloo is all about, I think it is not necessarily a bad thing that works like these make sexual topics less of a social taboo. And if the issue is all about feminism views, watch just about any porno flick and see how women really get degraded. At least Fifty Shades of Grey is porn with a plot. And apparently porn that speaks to many women. Which in itself is a breakthrough.