Why 50 Shades is good for you.

I caved. BIG TIME.

I had heard about it a few months ago, but didn't really buy into the hype.

I mean, it's not like I was a stranger to erotic fiction. I was reading The Story of O and Ann Rice's (writing as Ann Rampling) Sleeping Beauty Trilogy way before women all over North America started googling BDSM and realizing that a full bladder equals a bloody amazing orgasm!

So, YES. I have now read all three of the Shades of Grey books and I am not ashamed to say that I thoroughly devoured and enjoyed all of them.

Today I read a post on the Yummy Mummy Club site by Kat Armstrong, their new Celebritease writer in which she ponders this "mommy porn" phenomenon...

"But there's something about this book.... that keeps drawing women in, but I completely don't get it. I don't understand how poorly written erotic fiction is turning so many of you on in a major way. I don't understand how you're not embarrassed by seeing every other mum wandering around with a copy of this or the other two books in the series. I don't understand why you don't just watch porn.

I just do not understand the appeal."

So I thought I would enlighten her and a few others out there on why I think Ms. James and her irresistible characters have enthralled a whole section of the population.

My first point is a direct answer to her "Why don't you just watch porn?" statement. 

Because we are women. Plain and simple really. For most of us, sex, fantasy, romanticism, erotica, and all of that... it happens in our minds. I realize that this is a generalization, but one that I am fairly confident about. I guarantee you that if my mind is aroused, anticipating what is going to happen, seeing the whole scene in the safe and private screening room that is my imagination, then I am pretty much a sure thing. Whereas watching a perfectly shaved, busty blonde, doing her faked version of a mind-blowing orgasm on the screen of my laptop via YouPorn, meh... it seems to me that this takes all the fun out of it! {Not that I have ever done this of course}. I am no expert on this, but I am pretty sure that for most women our biggest erogenous zone is our mind!

We are not guys. Most women are not hard-wired for sex at any minute the way guys are. Need to test this? Try a little experiment for me...

If you are sitting beside your significant other and reading this right now, stop reading. Tell him you want to have sex RIGHT NOW. It's OK. I will wait till you get back.











See, they can't really say no and can be ready in an instant. Whereas women need more of a warm up. We need to stretch before we work out! And if reading a few chapters of Christian and Anastasia's latest antics in the playroom serve as a good stretch for your imagination and this is going to make you more ready and willing for a good romp, then I say go for it. You wouldn't want to pull a muscle or something now would  you?

What exactly is the appeal of the Christian/Anasatasia relationship and why do we care?

Okay. Now most of this is just my theory, so don't shoot me if you don't agree. Let's just think of this as Book Club and we are having a discussion about the themes in the book. So here goes...

We all want to be Ana. Smart, sassy, young, pretty, perky boobs (oh, to have perky boobs again!!) and her whole life ahead of her. I don't have these statistics, but I would take a guess that the majority of women reading 50 Shades are not 22-year-old college graduates. They are 35-50 year old women who have kids and careers and husbands and mortgages and car pools and PTA meetings and probably can't remember if they actually had a shower today or not. We escape into Ana for a time and get to pretend that we are all that she is and none of the other stuff. This is not a bad thing and being able to feel what the protagonist is feeling is in my opinion, one of the hallmarks of a good read.

And we all want Christian. I don't care who you are, you can be the hard-core feminist or the devoted housewife (or both really), but no woman among us can resist the tortured soul. It is that ever-present romantic notion that love will conquer all. In 50 Shades, that love just happens to be peppered with a rather decadent dose of what Ana so aptly called "kinky fuckery". And really, who couldn't use a little bit more of that in their love lives?

That is really it on the surface, we all want to be her, we all want to be taken care of by him (in ALL ways) and we all want to FIX him. To be perfectly honest, I am still mulling over the Christian/Ana dynamic and have a few more thoughts on it. I think it could be further delved into and discussed as it applies to a lot of relationship issues, especially those of control, insecurity and trust... food for thought for a future post maybe.

It really is just a love story. And who doesn't root for the girl to get the boy in the end and for everyone to live happily ever after?

The third point I want to make is about the writing itself. 

Now I haven't made a point to read a lot of different reviews about the books themselves, but suffice it to say that the general consensus is that Ms. James' writing is not that great.

Hmmm.... maybe my tastes are not that sophisticated, because I didn't think it was that bad for a first time author. Was it a particularly intricate read? No, it was not. Did I start to roll my eyes a bit at the constant references to Ana's 'Inner Goddess' and 'Subconscious' as if they were characters in the story? Yes, that got a bit tired. But all in all, I didn't put down the book at any time and say to myself, "Oh my god, this writing is atrocious, I can't read anymore of this!"

I would like to say this though. 50 Shades was originally written as fan fiction based on the Twilight series. Twilight, the series written about a high school student and a bunch of vampires that has been read by moms the world over. The Hunger Games trilogy is another young adult series written for teenagers about teenagers forced to fight for the pleasure of others. All of these books are written for a young adult audience, and yet here we are all reading them and we are FAR from the young adult phase of our lives.

Why is this?

Well, I have one theory. I don't know about you, but for the last five and a half years, I have read A LOT of books. Books that rhyme, books that make no sense, books that have farting dogs, and bats that live with birds, and birds wanting to drive buses and dinosaurs paying hockey and silly cats who think they are dogs. I have read books over and over and over again, to the point that I can recite them now without even looking at the pages. Because that is what you do when you have kids, you read to them, you let them use their imaginations and see the words and pictures from their books come alive right in front of them and through you.

And if your first years of parenthood have been anything like mine, you rarely have time to delve into a really good book that is just for you, let alone finish one! So, in comes some YA (young adult) fiction. Are these books easy to read? Yes, they are. Do they take you away and give you an escape from the hum-drum of diapers and midnight feedings and potty training? They sure do. This is not a bad thing Mamas. If reading a book, any book that has more words than pictures in it, and one that can give you a half an hour or if you are really lucky, an hour to yourself, I say go for it. Who cares if it was written for a 17-year-old. If you really think about it, some of the greatest books in history are considered young adult fiction. Consider The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird and Great Expectations, just to name a few.

{Disclaimer - the '50 Shades' books are NOT for anyone under the age of 25 in my opinion!}

Now back to 50 Shades of Grey for my final point to explain the appeal.

I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago and the conversation turned to the books. My friend's husband was arguing the 'why don't you just watch porn' angle and also saying that the books where stupid because it is not like all these housewives and moms where going to go out and try all the BDSM stuff that is in the book, so what is the point.

I bit my tongue that night and did not say much in mixed company, but here is the point. Having kids and careers and busy lives sometimes makes for nights when it's an effort just to get to bed at the same time, let alone be awake enough for some sexy time. Add in co-sleeping, night-time parenting and the fear of scarring your children forever if they walk in on you getting busy, well, the time for spontaneity in your sex life often goes out the window and finding and turning on your libido can end up last on your very long to-do list. If reading some erotic fiction gets your blood boiling and lights a fire in the otherwise dry twigs that constitute your loins these days, then READ ON MAMAS!! I am not saying you have to go and get yourself all trussed up on a wheel and whipped with a riding crop, but a blindfold and a few silk scarves could do wonders for any bedroom experience... It is your imagination ladies, spurred on by a few words on paper! Use this and get it on again with those hot men you made babies with and once upon a time couldn't keep your hands off of!!

All I have to say is this...

Don't knock it till you try it {or in this case read it} folks!

You and very likely your partner too will be glad that you did!

Laters baby,