My Two Cents Worth on the Shades of Grey Phenomena


I wasn’t planning to blog about this—my thought being that since the Shades of Grey Phenomena began a few years ago, and particularly since the movie version came out this past Valentine’s Day—everyone and her sister has already weighed in on the issue, so perhaps I should pass.  But then I learned that in spite of all the murder, mayhem, and general madness going on in the world today on a minute by minute basis, there is a good reason for humankind to carry on—the next Shades of Grey film to be adapted from the second book of the E.L. James series, will go into production early next year. So it appears all is not lost after all. 

Now I speak as one who has not yet seen the film and was thinking of catching it when it goes to DVD, but have read several reviews and articles with conflicting opinions about it. Certainly, one positive thing generated by both books and film is a spirited, out-in-the-light-of-day discussion about what BDSM is and isn’t.  

I particularly liked Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Salon piece this past Feb titled “Christian sex activists warn against ‘dangers of mommy porn’ and ’50 Shades of Grey.’” The article mentions Julie Slattery, a Christian author and psychologist, who pans the film because she sees BDSM as degrading to women, in that it involves behaviors “normal”, mentally stable women with intact self-esteem wouldn’t consider doing—a pretty Andrea Dworkin take on it in my view, but there you are.  I think Steven Elliot agrees from a different perspective by claiming he sees Christian Grey as a stalker, in the Rumpus, 2/23/15, and expressed that anyone with kinky desires should boycott the film. 

I also enjoyed “50 Shades Confession” by Ti Chang and Michael Topolovac, co-founders of Cravings, at, 2/13/15, who see the sexual conversation about both the books and the film as a good thing, but not the best possible image of BDSM. Also offered in the short piece is a link to praise from Vogue reviewer, John Powers, 2/11/15, who found the film surprisingly good — and looked favorably on what he saw as Ana’s erotic redemption of psychologically twisted Christian Grey, into some semblance of a normal lover by stories end. The piece also offered ridicule, by New Yorker reviewer, Anthony Lane, in a somewhat self-explanatory piece titled, No Pain, No Gain.  

Personally, I think the key to Shades of Grey mainstream acceptability as “mommy porn,” is that Christian Grey is presented as a damaged individual who was seduced by an older woman at age fifteen, and left with a permanent neurotic need to act out his rage — sort of a modern day Heathcliff from Emily bronte’s romance classic, Wuthering Heights. But what, in my opinion, the average female reader may not realize, is that by the end of the third book—which I actually did get myself to read—Christian Grey has not been converted to near vanilla behavior, by the love of a good woman. Rather, he was topped from the bottom by a very determined and righteous young woman who wanted her erotic encounters, her way or no way—and more power to her for accomplishing her goal. 

 In the meantime, not only has Shades of Grey outsold J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter, but sales of soft cotton rope have shot up out of sight, handcuff sales are on the rise, and the popularity of Ben Wa Balls continues to grow —and erotica, particularly romantic erotica is in, bigtime, and I’m quite pleased about that.  DorothyFreed1

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