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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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Same here. I'm afraid, unless 50 Shades boasts a hitherto unmentioned subplot where the dashing hero is caught being enthusiastically buggered over the flogging block by his valet, I'm unlikley to be a subscriber. Even if it sold it's 10 million copies in the US and UK alone, that still leaves 157,740, 286 adult women getting their jollies some other way (Figures from US 2011 census beureau population estimate and UK 2011 national statistics estimate.) So it's foolish to claim it holds the key to all women's fantasies.

Of course there is a whole different arguement about what does get targeted for agressive marketing, and why the money folks do generally pick such slop when aiming at women. I think I could manage a decent froth about that. Then again, the most erotic milage I've probably got out of a book was the Silmarillion and it would be a brave adman indeed who tried to pitch that at a marketing meeting.

But as for 50 Shades, if it floats your boat who am I to care? Policing sexual fantasies for political-correctness is a hiding to nothing.

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