Whether you read it or not, by now you have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele captured the minds and thoughts of many women (and men) throughout last year. Whether it was contemplating if what Grey and Anastasia did was actually possible, wondering what rock one may have been under while not knowing that these types of practices go on fairly frequently, discussing the misogynist theme of the trilogy, or my personal favorite – the British woman who could not be bothered with the series because it was too trashy for her taste (was she that scared of it?), Grey not only dominated Anastasia (sexually) in the book but numerous conversations of women (and men).
Besides the fact that I have a daily chuckle over how many people are googling ‘what does topping from the bottom mean?.’ I continue to be fascinated with 50 and its author, EL James for reasons other than what it may or may not be creating behind closed doors in bedrooms.
True story: I was called by the producers of the Katie Couric show to appear on the episode on 50 Shades and what it was creating in bedrooms in America. The only catch was this: I had to bring Henry. Need I say more? I was not on Katie.
In reality, I was ultimately curious about how James (and others) were doing what others so desperately ached to gain – success.
When I first wrote about the series last year, I pointed towards James and the fact that no author at the moment was dominating her. She was living the entrepreneurial dream whether you liked her books her not. With immediate notoriety, books sales through the roof, a big fat, new publishing deal, and of course – a movie deal – James was tying it all up.
I became fixated on female romance writers as whole. Yes, I was a Twi-Hard a long time ago and felt some of the Twilight Phenomenon was based on the fact that Stephenie Meyer was a mom just like most of us who took a dream and made a career doing something she loved while still taking her kids to swim practice. Meyer and James were the tip of the iceberg for me as I dove in and looked at the category as a whole.
It seemed as though the whole country was consumed with the notion of mommy porn and whether moms were reading it on their e-readers to conceal its existence. Not one to consider myself a prude, I just started picking out authors and titles to check out. I was not easily excited by the material, yet drawn into the Happily Ever After Theme that prevailed. The sometimes willful heroines, the anti-heroes, the sex with strings and without, impromptu proposals and declarations of love, unplanned pregnancies met with excitement, kids and stepkids who always ‘get’ what their parents are saying without fail, the beauty of the characters never getting sick with the stomach flu or strep throat, no diarrhea, hangovers that turn into happy occasions, and of course – amazing foreplay and sex in every which position and location possible throughout all of this.
I quickly learned that the romance category – erotic or not – was not only for dreamers but ordinary people like you and me. Like a few fingers of good scotch or a cosmo at the end of the day, a romance novel takes the edge off of a rough day.
I asked around, and when women felt comfortable enough with me, they discussed their love for trashy, smutty novels. Some limited the reading to vacations, others (including executives) read it to relax at night and when travelling for work. I looked at the authors and I understood that my original theory was dead-on balls right. Many of them women living the dream. Writing (in what I imagine – yoga pants), fulfilling a work at home dream, doing what they love (I presume), making money, creating their own rules. It really is about so much more than the sex.
I am sure this post will get a few staunch feminists’ panties in a bunch, but just don’t let it. Just like when you were little and your mom told you not to do something if you did not want to….I am simply taking a deeper look into a phenomenon that you do not have to join. As for me, I continue to be intrigued with the entire culture and the women behind it, women reading it and admitting it, and most definitely, all the comments like ‘I couldn’t put that shit down even though it was so offensive.’
Oh, and I am an anti-hero gal. There will be more on this much later.
Dare you leave a comment with your favorite romance author….