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And the OMG women read porn shockfest continues
I think I've been on the internet too long but I can't get remotely worked up over the whole 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. True, I'm unlikely to shell out £5.99 for a bit of dirty posh boy porn when as the old cliche goes, why by the cow when the Archive's free. But those dear folk over at the pinko heaven The Guardian are fapping themselves into a good old fury with no less than ten articles on the book in the last three weeks, most implicitly or explicitly posing the dreaded question Why does fifty shades of Grey turn women on?.

Because its got fifty odd of juicily written up sex scenes? That might be it. Generally speaking depictions of others engaged in coitus in written or pictorial from usually has the effect of stimulating sexy feelings? Is this really news?

For me the whole sexism thing isn't so much in the content: - the woman is submissive, the man rich, the ending fairytale, but in the howls of outrage that are coming from women buying a book that's specific aim is to sexually titillate. Why not? How many millions of porn rags are bought by men (and women) every day without an eyebrow being raised?

There's also the lumpen lumping of "women" in en bloc, which again smacks of sexism. As if women's sexuality is something that can be reduced to formula. What of the women 50 Shades leaves cold? Lesbian women, Dom women, women who are neither but can't find anything very much sexy in millionaire playboys, women with their own happy stash of dirty muses they can call on to perform for their own pleasure. One of the truly good things that has come out of there being no mainstream porn industry for women is that there is less tyranny of the One Way to be Sexy found in the mainstream of porn for men out there. If we want to get turned on by greasy wizards with personality disorders or the short, hairy footed and traumatised, we can. (True the fact that EL James' novel centres on the most acceptable form of female fantasy, heterosexual with heavy romance elements probably helped her find a publisher for her ex-Twilight fic more easily than -say- tyellas' rough spanking elves given a name change might. But in light of the book sales clearly at stake, who now knows. 50 Shades of Mae anyone?) I digress. Lumping women in as a herd with one universal sexuality is as ridiculous now as it was when poor old Freud spluttered out "What do women want?". The answer, somewhat obviously, is it depends on the woman.

I'm equally non-plussed by the well meaning 'but women should be protected from themselves' arguments that some feminists seem to be resorting to. In the Guardian piece linked a forensic psychotherapist Estela Welldon is quoted at length. Despite somewhat destroying her argument by admitting "Clinically speaking, ... there was a big gap between those patients who fantasised about violence and those who had a dangerous masochistic habit." i.e. most women can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, thank you very much, "One can lead to the other, if someone cannot get it out of their system. They have so little self-regard and then they find a man who is unconsciously designed to perpetrate things they wanted to do to themselves." She does not say how often this occurs, or follow on to the logical conclusion that we should decry all art in which some damaged people can find fuel for their self destructive fantasises. Does she think Catcher in the Rye equally dangerous because it was cited in the shooting of John Lennon? But I've been through this before when JKR tried to warn fans of the Danger of Draco.

And look, I'm a Brit. Now if we are going for lumpen cliches, let us remember what the stock one for the Brits is: our dirty posh boys have for centuries been paying out hard cash to young women and men willing to give them a once over with a whip and a cheese grater. While our tabloids froth in mock outrage at the juicy details of another CEO or MP tied to the bedpost or chained to the dungeon wall, they never once suggest that it means they secretly want to give up their power. The kink is usually seen as a trapping of power, so in control are they they can even pay to be out of control for a few hours, knowing when the bedroom door closes they will emerge safe and unscathed if a little pleasantly sore. Perhaps some of the outrage is women have now dared to this privileged position of treating sex and power as a game.

I find support in this argument in the fact that that good old sexual terrorist Brett Easton Ellis seems to be making semi-serious suggestions to write the screenplay. American Psycho showed the true and appropriate place for women who play power games in the bedroom - in fear, cowering, watching their lives ripped from them in pools of gore. It was one witty and slick 350 word act of censorship. Don't let your guard down ladies or Bateman will get you. My guess is Brett wants that dynamic back. It must feel much safer.
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The answer, somewhat obviously, is it depends on the woman.

Whoa—see, this may be actually obvious, but I’ve never read it put so concisely.

I’ve read a bit of 50 Shades but found the writing to be not very good and the end result to be not very sexy. So why bother when I can read exactly what I would like to on AO3? But, as you said, that’s just me, and I’ll not begrudge my friends the pleasure of reading something fun.

Pretty scary about the American Psycho director, though. I hadn’t thought about that movie in that way before; I just thought I found it ridiculously disturbing and unsettling—but now that you mention it, that makes sense.

I'm not sure if I'm being unduly harsh on BEE. I suppose his get out (that I've been told a hundred times) is that he was only depicting reality. I'm not so sure you can claim 'satire' on one hand and 'depicting reality' on the other. Don't those arguements kind of cancel each other out?

Back when I started trying to write, as a late teen in the early ninties, American Psycho was the book to immitate among college boys on creative writing courses. On the one hand, it probably saved me from getting chlamydia, on the other nothing really dampens the late teen libido than having to curb my classmates enthusiasm by pointing out you cannot strangle someone with their own vagina on a weekly basis,

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