Why Women Love S & M Erotica
The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is a trio of erotic books by E.L. James which has swept into suburbia and cities across the globe, and adored by many...not just suburban moms.
The Today Show had me on to talk about the BDSM love story. What should have been a segment on women's fantasies and why they are an essential part of our lives, segued into a larger (and more inappropriate) discussion on violence against women.
This is not to suggest it is inappropriate to talk about violence against women; however, Fifty Shades of Grey and other types of non-vanilla erotica have nothing to do with violence against women. If you look at Fifty Shades fan pages or online book clubs, people are mad. And they have the right to be. (Read some great erotica here.)
It's okay to feel 'hot and bothered'
In our culture, it is politically incorrect for women to become aroused by something that makes us appear/seem/act submissive. However, we don't control how and if we turn on to something or someone. We may not desire to have fantasies about losing control, but many of us do.
It doesn't make us bad women or bad people. It doesn't even say anything about our psyche or whether or not we want to "lose control" in our own lives. We may not have even known that we could turn on to a particular scene or experience until reading about it.
And in the case of Fifty Shades, if it got you hot and bothered, it got you hot and bothered. That's about it; there's no underlying psychological issue here. This is not about feminism or the demise of the women's movement.
BDSM is usually misunderstood
You cannot read three books and attempt to understand the BDSM and kink communities at large. This is one author's perspective, and it's fiction.
BDSM is not as simple as "pleasure from pain," which is how it is often described.
BDSM is about exploring different power dynamics, sensations, restraint and control. If you are part of that scene, it is highly negotiated and orchestrated; submissives have a great deal of power. And by the way, submissives are not always women. Fifty Shades is one story but not representative of an entire community. Would the television segment have changed if we talked about the many women dominants or the many men who submit willingly and lovingly?
The way BDSM is portrayed in mass media--think "CSI" and "Law & Order"--is inaccurate and dangerous, and in turn, keeps the real community fairly closeted because of all of the incorrect preconceived notions.
What erotica is really about
What's intereting about the hoopla surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey is the story here isn't really about women getting turned on. It's not even about women desiring more sex with their partners. It's about women sharing information with each other. It's about storytelling and friendships. Women have found something that enhances their emotional and sexual lives and want to pass that knowledge onto their friends, family members, and even the world at large.
We can go back and forth about whether Fifty Shades of Grey is "Twilight"-esque fanfiction or whether it is really about BDSM or love or a man's ability to overcome his own troubled childhood or whether or not it could ever happen in real life. It is about women--single, partnered, married, divorced, moms, caregivers, etc.--finding something fulfilling and wanting others in their lives to find it, too.
Here is E.L. James author of Fifty Shades of Grey talking about the success of her book (via ABC News)