Women are devouring Fifty Shades of Grey, an S/M romance novel by E L James. This is causing Dr. Drew to get his knickers in a twist.
Good luck finding a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey at your local bookstore before April. Independently published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, the eBook went viral on Kindle and Nook stores, making such a splash it’s been featured all over the interwebz.
Fortunately, there are men who have deigned to take the time to explain to the women reading the Fifty Shades series how they should feel about these books. Pondering the first novel, the writer of an article entitled “Overcome by porn: 50 Shades of Grey takes America by storm,” wonders if “the women’s liberation movement is making a massive u-turn.” He quotes Dr. Drew’s opinion of the novel (emphasis mine):
“It’s a rape fantasy!” television personality and board-certified specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky exclaims on his HLN TV program. Appealing to a panel of women that endorsed the book as a love story, Pinsky insists that the novel is making waves for all the wrong reasons.
“The swept away fantasy is common. But it’s going beyond that into actual violence against women,” he says, calling into question how Ana willingly signs herself away to Christian and allows her to be physically abused in the book. [sic]
My tiny little lady brain thought that willingly signing a contract was the ultimate signification of consent. Good thing Dr. Drew employed his big strong man brain to illuminate the truth: there is something wrong with women who desire to engage in submissive sex play. There is even something women with women who desire to engage in the fantasy of submissive sex play.
Seriously, ladies, there’s something wrong with you. A man said so.
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Dear Dr. Drew,
There’s this really awesome book called Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape. In this book, there is an essay called “The Fantasy of Acceptable “Non-Consent”: Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (and Why She Shouldn’t).”
In this essay, Stacey May Fowles argues that “safe, sane, and consensual BDSM exists as a polar opposite of a reality in which women constantly face the threat of sexual violence.”
The safe, sane, and consensual BDSM landscape is made up of stringent rules and safe practices designed to protect the feelings of everyone involved, and to ensure constant, enthusiastic consent. The culture could not exist if this were not the case; a submissive participates in power exchange because a safe psychological space is offered up to do so in.
Chew on that with your big strong man brain, and please stop telling women how they should or should not engage in sexual fantasies.
* * *
I’m only forty-nine pages into Fifty Shades of Grey, and it’s not without its flaws (more on these in later posts), but I’m inclined to echo the sentiments of the women over at Jezebel:
Our consensus: the book is pretty ridiculous — for every lashing there’s an “OMG!” — but if it’s making more women feel comfortable discussing their sexuality, we’re all for it.
The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t indicate that “the women’s liberation movement is making a massive u-turn.” It suggests that women are becoming more comfortable discussing and indulging in their not-so-vanilla desires.
If anyone’s trying to turn the car around, it’s Pinsky.