Fifty Shades of Grey – the latest in mummy porn – has spawned an underground female movement that would make suffragettes blush.
Its erotic subject matter has resulted in secretive whisperings, conspiratorial winks and guarded discussions in elevators and female toilets worldwide. I practically inhaled its shocking BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) content. Short of offering my husband a contract with a non-disclosure clause, I was addicted and read the entire trilogy, despite its apparent lack of literary style.
The novel has captured the attention of the female populous with Oprah, no doubt, bringing out a TV special soon enough. It has encouraged a host of parodies such as 50 Shades of Mt Druitt (a take on “bogan” sexapades), 50 Sheds of Grey on Twitter (with the tag line “erotica for the not so modern male”) and notably the Saturday Night Live spoof advertised by Amazon, celebrating mother’s day. “Why not surprise your mother with a gift from Amazon? Get her what she really wants – 50 Shades of Grey on kindle!!” Implied is the notion that nobody knows what mum is reading if its on kindle. It begs the question then whether 50 Shades has now become synonymous with “mummy porn”?
The truth is mummy porn or as I like to call it, romance literature, has existed long before E.L. James, author of 50 Shades, introduced us to the Red Room of Pain. Mills & Boon, the founders of romance literature, recently celebrated their centenary, confirming their position at the top of fiction publishing with 200 million sales each year. Statistically, a M&B novel is purchased in the UK every 7 seconds. The success of romance literature seems to be defined by formulaic storylines with stereotypical characters. The novels themselves cost little or nothing to purchase and are readily accessible, notably in supermarkets or newsagents. 50 Shades definitely follows that tried and tested formula but computer technology has allowed it to be download to ipad, iphones and kindle resulting in a phenomenal rise of e-sales. Not to mention the author herself designed the very discreet book covers. Combined, it provides anonymity for the average reader in train carriages, shopping aisles and medical waiting rooms worldwide. But what does this say about the average romance reader?
The theory that men watch porn, while women read romance novels is supported by Ogi Ogas article The online world of female desires. She points out that woman and men differ in their preferred forms of erotica. Men find a two minute porn video sufficient whereas women seek their erotica in lengthy romance novels, complex narratives that ultimately, besides the sex, takes hours to dissect and resolve. Interestingly Ogas states that statistically the number of woman romance readers almost equals the number of male online porn viewers. But why does 50 Shades separate the mummies from the girls?
50 shades is romantic fiction and erotic literature. Maybe it’s the latter, that sleep deprived, vomited on, time-impoverished mothers have been secretly craving. Maybe all my childfree girlfriends are living the life of Anastasia Steele and therefore have no need to fantasise about it? Readers via online forums, have credited the book for improving both their sex lives and broadening their sexual education. And no doubt, in the process pushed up the sales of ropes, whips and computer cable cords!
Social media is abuzz about the novel and most definitely in love with Mr Grey. He’s the new Mr Darcy, but darker and richer. He’s the new Edward, but older and let’s face it…alive! There is talk of movie deals, Tv series, sequels. Hmm…but what is an accurate representation of the 50 Shades demographic?
A Sydney radio talk show recently invited women in their mid to late 30’s, with fewer than five sexual partners to contact the program. Surprisingly their phone lines were inundated with women who had even less than 3 sexual partners, most agreeing they did not regret being more promiscuous. Suffice to say, the hosts were very surprised. My theory is that the shy, 30 something woman defines the niche market in e-romances. Ogas notes that the Web has allowed women to not only access e-romances, but provides a forum in which to interact, discuss and post their own amateur writings. The online romance market is booming!
But why is it that mothers, of all age brackets, were the target audience of Amazon advertising? Mothers… who are now blushing 50 shades while exploring the confronting lifestyle of BDSM!! Why mothers specifically?
I need answers. Have sent husband to hardware store for some natural fibre rope…
Have you read 50 shades? Do you know why it’s popular?