Fifty Shades of Depressing
First, a confession: I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey nor do I intend to. When I choose a novel to read, I pay attention to reviews or suggestions of my friends. The thought of spending time reading second rate prose about dominant-submissive heterosexual sex just doesn't seem very appealing. Life is too short.
First, a confession: I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey nor do I intend to. When I choose a novel to read, I pay attention to reviews or suggestions of my friends. The thought of spending time reading second rate prose about dominant-submissive heterosexual sex just doesn’t seem very appealing. Life is too short.
But I am intrigued by the apparent popularity of this book and the discussions it has engendered. Sounds like a raunchy romance novel of the Twilight genre, expertly marketed and hyped to an adult female audience. Feminist? Anti-feminist? Liberating? Depressing?
Some reviewers speculate that women who “have it all” don’t want it all but really want to be sexually submissive. Whatever “having it all” means, it’s no picnic. Mostly it means having most of the responsibility for work, home and family while still earning only 70% what men earn.
Here we are in an election cycle where some politicians don’t know or care what rape is while others intend to do away with access to contraception if elected. Congress adjourned without passing the Violence Against Women Act. The War on Women continues unabated. Yet the topic of conversation is whether women really want to be sexually submissive.
It also makes me wonder what a battered woman thinks reading about how sexy it is to have someone controlling you, sexually and otherwise. Most of them report that in real life, it is just debilitating, humiliating, denigrating, terrifying and exhausting.
So as we are in the midst of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Fifty Shades of Grey continues at the top of the best seller lists, we are left to ponder this irony. But also to wonder: will we ever see the day when equality and respect are erotic experiences and when writing about them sells novels?
P.S. I will be presenting a free public lecture, “Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing: the Institutional Crisis of Clergy Sexual Abuse,” at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, October 28th at 5pm. If you are in the area please join me!