Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Why women discussing 50 shades of grey make me laugh

The 50 shades of grey phenomenon is becoming more and more irritating. I have nothing against the genre of ‘mummy porn’, experimenting with new experiences, books that straddle genres or people who buy books because everyone else under the sun seems to have read it. I am mostly annoyed because this huge exposure is not happening to my books.

I haven’t read the ‘50 shades’ books so can’t make any comment on their content, style or the writing ability of the author. However, I’ve seen them summarised in blogs, overheard women discussing them in public places and I can’t go anywhere online without them being plastered everywhere as recommended reading.

They are now in my local Asda, although by the sound of it they won’t be there for long. The stock is flying out the door.

So what makes me laugh?

It’s the way that women discuss the books in public. So far I have experienced the ‘I’ve read it but it didn’t really grab me’ the ‘it’s quite fun but it’s shockingly badly written’ and the ‘it’s fun, something different - I enjoyed it’.

All facets of the book are up for discussion in public apart from the fact that it is a pornographic book. Contrast this to the male association with pornography. Men who claim to read magazines like Playboy because of the articles have been ridiculed by women for years.

Excuses for men watching porn films because they are funny or because of the music soundtrack have also been lambasted by women for decades because everyone knows men watch porn for the sex. Men are quite upfront about this, we are quite simple beings. Imagine an erotic book for men having equivalent success to the 50 shades of grey series. It would be criticised as being offensive to women and for exploiting women - but then isn’t exploitation of women as submissive creatures what 50 shades is all about?

Personally I think it’s wonderful that an erotic book is having huge success. It’s not a genre I have experience with but one of my goals as a writer is to write a book that makes people feel like getting it on.

I’m currently working on a passionate bohemian love story with a chilling edge. The aim is a real page turner that will also excite the reader to the extent that they will be reaching for their partner the moment they put down the book.

I’ve already hit one of my writing goals with Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? as it makes people laugh out loud while also introducing them to the opportunities (and avoiding the pitfalls) of working from home.

So here is the real reasons for my annoyance about the success of The 50 shades of grey. When a book that straddles genres like Working from home hits the big time they get huge sales (Harry Potter - children’s literature read by adults; Twilight - vampire horror set in US high school) but it can be difficult explaining the book to people who like to pigeonhole books into certain genres.

Will Working from home create a new genre like ‘mummy porn’? Very unlikely, but at least women (and men) can admit to reading it for the humour, the love story or the business information and not pretend that it was for anything other than the sex.

Talk about the 5,000lb elephant sitting in the corner of the room!


  1. Hey there, Russ.

    Enjoyed the blog post very much. You lured me in, someone I see regularly on Twitter making reference to the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades! I just had to see what you had to say on the matter. Does that put me on the bandwagon I wonder :-D Oh no!!!

    I have to say I haven't read the book but I have dipped into someone else's copy just to see what the big deal is. I wasn't comfortable with the submission thing, sitting in corners, signing contracts where pretty much anything goes, but I suppose that's a particular taste, not mine. I probably shouldn't say, as I haven't read it and so shouldn't really judge, but any book that has women at the mercy of their partner makes me feel a little bit sick. I prefer books where women are equal, where they can show just how strong they are, how independent they are and where they are given some opportunity to be taken seriously outside of the bedroom. I don't like bullying relationships and I think too many women are in them. I don't think they should be promoted. Beating your partner or using sex as a form of power is always wrong and for that reason Fifty Shades doesn't really grab me.

    However, I hate the fact that it's being referred to as 'Mummy porn' that completely belittles the fact that women may well like erotic material to the same extent as men. I think it's about time that was accepted and acknowledged. I hope, if nothing else, Fifty Shades does that. I think everyone would be happier if women were allowed to be sexual beings without being labelled or judged for it. Women are often encouraged to see sex as a chore, something men want and their bodies, well, they are private things that only someone they love can touch (apparently we don't love ourselves though because touching yourself, as a woman, is a hugely uncomfortable concept for SO many! They would rather you took a lamb to slaughter, just keep your hands off yourself, please! It's funny (not) because it's always been taken for granted that men do it - so what!

    I suppose the difference between 'male' targeted porn and 'female' targeted porn is that in the first instance it involves an industry that attracts young women and pays them to expose themselves for the gratification of men. It is degrading, it is pinned up, shelved openly and I don't like it, especially when it's in newspapers that many children across the country are exposed to. The difference with porn targeted at women is that it's less about visual stimulus and more about psychological/mental stimulus. The written word, what's said and how it's said allows the reader to experiment how they like, the imagination is their playground and the people aren't real.

    I'm an adult and I like sex in books as long as there is a good story and strong characters too. My books have sex in them to varying degrees but that isn't all there is to it. What I don't understand with Fifty Shades is that people are openly admitting to enjoying an older man grooming a young woman, with absolutely no experience, into being his sex slave - and we're not talking about a kinky bit of spanking and a bit of boundary pushing - were talking the whole scary S&M thing. Sex accompanied by pain and/or fear is just wrong in my eyes.

    The book has shocked the heck out of the nation and that's what's sent it rocketing into the charts and hitting the bookshelves (for no more than a few minutes before those bookshelves are empty again). Mums and daughters are sharing the trilogy and everyone wants to spend the night with Mr Grey, I'd be straight down the police station after spending a night with Mr grey! The man is nuts! It makes me want to write a book where the roles are swapped and a 21 year old university student lures Mr Grey into her clutches. She then basically uses him as a naked footstool.

    PS she has a thing for 6inch stilettos - see how you like that, Mr Grey!

    Nice on, Russ.

    Jess :-)

  2. Thanks Jess, what a fantastic comment! I agree with you about the 'mummy porn' label and it is interesting how quickly it has stuck - a belittling term for something many of us men don't truly understand.

  3. To be honest, Russ, (and I'm whispering now because I don't want to get blog lynched) it could well have been coined by either disapproving women or out of touch men. It's a genre, a very successful one, and if people don't like it they should go pick up something else instead.

    'Mummy porn' suggests mums are so desperate they'll get their hits anywhere, anyhow! I'd say someone having kids is proof enough that someone's getting it, wouldn't you! Ha ha :-D

    See, I can do short stuff too :-)

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