Fifty Shades …
I sense undercurrents of past tortured, romantic heroes like Heathcliff, Mr Rochester and Maximilian de Winter, in the portrayal of Christian, although a very different quality of writing. Maybe because we women have, (and many still do), experienced subjugation since time immemorial, we have learned to equate sex with giving up responsibility, and handed ourselves to men.
So why the enormous success of the books? I think the huge appeal of the books is quite simply sex, but sex dressed up as romance. It’s a bit naughty, a bit titillating, and not too risqué. Just reading about a BDSM relationship allows the reader to be a voyeur without actual risk.
What bothers me is that the story of Ana and Christian is really quite immature, no different, other than in quality of writing, from countless “bodice-rippers” that have been written before. It reinforces all the old stereotypes of a woman being possessed by a (seemingly) powerful, rich and handsome man. who can only be saved by the heroine, in this case, Ana.
Women readers with low self esteem and poor self confidence, longing for love, will be getting the message that to be loved all you need to do is to succumb to any demands your man makes.
Real love is unconditional, there are no contracts, no punishments, whereas real love is all about setting free, having confidence in your love, knowing you and your lover are freely choosing to be together.
To have a truly exciting, happy and fulfilling sex life there needs to be equality between the two lovers. The best, most orgasmic sex is when both of you feel safe and secure in your relationship, when you share your, body, heart and soul, openly and freely with one another. Real love is simple, uncomplicated, Fifty Shades is complicated and far from simple.
Fifty Shades has brought to the surface sexual play rituals that have always existed in some form between men and women. The fact that the books are, let’s say, mainstream together with the present climate of sexual tolerance, means it’s acceptable to talk about and play with aspects of BDSM, without shame. And that has to be a positive, the more we are able to talk openly about sex, without fear and shame, the better chance there is of us humans having happier, more loving and sexually satisfying relationships.
Undoubtedly Fifty Shades has changed people’s attitudes to erotic fiction, mainly because it is freely available and has been given enormous publicity, it is probably the most popular and widely acceptable mildly erotic fiction of today.
As a therapist I have seen so many people, of both sexes, who are in controlling relationships. While it may seem romantic that a very rich man should shower the object of his desires with expensive and extravagant gifts, make decisions about her lifestyle and friends, it is in no way romantic, it is controlling, and nothing to do with love.
The everyday reality for those living with controlling partners is one of imprisonment, of living in fear that any action may arouse the disapproval of the controller, and result in punishment. A controlling relationship is an abusive relationship.
Of course “Fifty Shades” could perhaps be considered feminist in the sense it exposes an aspect of female sexuality and has caused considerable debate around the world.
One of the positives of this phenomenon is that so many women and men are expressing concern about the connection between controlling relationships and abuse, which has to be a step forward in the march to sexual equality.
Above all it is greatly important that we are able to talk more openly and freely about the diversity of human sexual wants and needs, enabling happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives for everyone.