There was a lot of playground chuckling at the elementary school yesterday. As the children poured out the side door, there was a twitter of girly chatter in hushed tones, punctuated by knee slaps and honest belly laughs. Youthful exuberance swirled around whispers of bonding among the population. Oh yeah, the kids were there, too.
My wife was lent a copy of E.L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey". The best-selling novel had already made its round of many of the moms at the school who delight in sharing its hidden erotic secrets.
The book is described on Amazon.com in the following terms:
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.
The book is advertised as the first of a trilogy. It will entertain women, and elementary school moms, for semesters to come.
From the age of about ten (grade 4), I remember peeking at black market copies of Penthouse and Playboy discovered in crannies under the beds of my friends' older brothers or in shadowy corners of their dads' closets under a pile of old cardigans. We hid and gawked at naked breasts and pubic hair as spies would at Cold War documents. It was a delightful sin.
As we grew older it became incumbent upon us to cease breaking into closets and trespassing under siblings' beds, and to begin moving the contraband ourselves. Paper/rock/scissors, double-dares, cash bonuses; one did what was necessary to not be elected to stand in front of the cashier dodging responsibility by insisting this copy of Playboy was 'for a friend'.
Print in junior high eventually led to film later on. Earning minimum wage working the late shift at our local video store on Saturday and opening hours on Sunday made it possible to sneak adult movies home at midnight. We all just sat and stared. Nothing more. The dialogue was not worthy of analysis:
"Hello, ma'am. I've got your pizza."
"I didn't order a pizza."
"Maybe your husband did?"
"My husband's not home."
"Well, what to we do with this hot, steamy pie, then?"
Insert soft disco backbeat here.
The concerns about pornography have become more serious with the advent of the internet. In many cases attraction has lead to addiction; real human affection has been replaced by solitude and virtual realities. Relationships which were unsteady at best are pushed off the plank by waves of easy-access adult entertainment. These circumstances, however, are the exception, not the rule.
Sex therapists and marriage counsellors agree there is a place for adult entertainment and playthings in any healthy relationship. When two adults consent, the emotional risk is low and the benefits can be great.
Many men in healthy relationships - loving fathers, doting husbands, responsible contributors to society, guys who hold seniors' hands as they cross the street and guide lost children to their parents in the park - also enjoy pornography.
Due to stigmata and prejudice, however, a husband caught with an adult magazine stored behind his fishing pole in the basement is shunned; a father who admits to enjoying adult films is vilified. Yet, several hundred pages of female-centric erotic fiction (the first of a trilogy!) is an instant best seller, and is making the rounds of housewives across America.
If your husband is responsible, loving, and a positive contributor to your relationship and family, and one day you discover February's Playboy next to a stack of drill bits, relax. He's still the guy you brought home to your parents. Why didn't he tell you about it? Because human conditioning has been teaching him since the first grade to keep such things under mattresses. Why did he buy it in the first place? It's entertainment, a distraction; it provides a little bit of escapism and release - much like Anastasia Steele's fantasy man in Fifty Shades of Grey.
As for me, last night in bed as my wife fingered past the opening flap of this erotic work, I simply let her know if one day she needs to pretend I'm somebody else for half an hour, I'm right here.
Then I rolled over and went to sleep. I'll bet Christian Grey would never have done that.