We had just seen the trailer for the 20/20 special on strange sexual arrangements where Elizabeth Vargas was interviewing the book’s author E. L. James about her racy jaunt into the world of BDSM. Mr. Jenn and I had stiffened with excitement over such a titillating topic.
“No,” I told him, “I’ve only read excerpts, but it’s first on the summer reading list.”
He grinned. “I hope it has the same effect on you that it has on them.”
He gestured to the screen at all the gray-clad women enjoying little sex get-togethers in honor of the bestselling book. The commentators, on the other hand, looked on at all the fun with such thin-lipped distaste, that I was certain if we were quiet, we could have heard the steel doors of their vaginas slamming shut all the way out here in the woods. I love it when mainstream media and subcultural sex collide.
Elizabeth Vargas, tasked with the job of investigating Shades’ popularity, looked properly scandalized, and E.L. James confessed that she would die of embarrassment or something if her two teenaged sons ever read her book. She also said she would take the money she makes from her books, which sell at an estimated one per second, and redo her kitchen. Does the irony of that statement cause your vibrator motor to knock or is it just me?
As if the interview hadn’t sucked enough moisture out of our collective vaginas, then several sociologist types had to throw a few more buckets of sand on us viewers. They attributed the book’s popularity to overworked women’s desires to have a rich man take care of everything.
“How does that explanation sit with you?” asked Mr. Jenn.
“Too general,” I said. “Any woman who has ever watched Dr. Phil knows that if you marry for money, you’ll work your ass off for it every day.”
“Apparently, the woman in 50 Shades of Gray is working her ass quite a bit,” noted Mr. Jenn.
Another portion of the explanation for the book’s success was that women, no matter how economically powerful and liberated we become, still go for the biological strong man-weak woman sex model.
“What about that reason?” Mr. Jenn inquired.
“Too evolutionary,” I said. Just because a bunch of women buy a particular sex book, doesn’t mean they all subscribe that the fantasy it puts forth all the time.
Goldilocks’ theory on why Shades is making enough money to redo thousands of kitchens and bedrooms alike is that women are horny! That explanation resonates with me like the vibrating bed down at the local roach motel. Why should we have to apologize or have some deep-seated sociological reason to enjoy reading about wacky sex?
We girls like a new fantasy every now and then, even if it costs $9.99 to download on our e-readers. So what if it’s poorly written? So what if it’s pornographic? It’s dangerous, naughty and fun! Just because we women like to play around with duct tape and gray ties doesn’t mean we still can’t outmaneuver a man in the board room or whip his ass at darts. I know countless women have devoted their lives to shattering the glass ceiling, and my contemporaries and I are forever in their debt. That doesn’t mean we all must have a year’s supply of Ms. Magazines rolled up in our cooches either like some of these Shades critics. Elizabeth Vargas—you know you read it, and I’ll bet you loved it. I plan on loving and poking a little fun at Shades during this summer’s vacation—just hope Mr. Jenn takes me to a secluded beach when I read it!