Can We Please Stop Fifty Shades of Grey from Becoming a 'Woman Thing'?

Illustration for article titled Can We Please Stop Fifty Shades of Grey from Becoming a 'Woman Thing'?

As a woman, one tires of "woman things," that canon of superficial shit that all women supposedly go Pavlovially apeshit over: chocolate, high heels, designer purses, Sex and the City, white zinfandel, the oeuvre of Matthew McConaughey. Because...I'm a woman...and I don't like all of those things (chocolate and McConaughey, though—we're cool). Does that make me part dude? Do I not count? Am I doing "woman" wrong? But, even worse than all that, there's a new "woman thing" looming on the horizon—one that seems poised for induction into the eternal pantheon of lady-stuff. Pro: It's a book! Look at us reading, like we're people! Con: The book is Fifty Shades of Fucking Greurghghghg. Really??? Her?????


Again, I am, ostensibly, a woman, and yet I do not know a single woman who has read Fifty Shades of Grey. And yet all I hear about is how "every woman in the UK now owns 3.07 copies of the full trilogy." With zero help from my circle, Fifty Shades of Grey has become such a cultural force that it is now seeping outside the boundaries of books and Kindles and into the world of stuff that you put in your butthole. The new "Fifty Shades of Grey S&M set" affords users the opportunity to "play along at home," offering grey-tinted floggers, eye masks, handcuffs, and stuff to put in your butthole. Yay, literature! Better yet, it's officially E.L. James-approved:

"This range is what I always imagined while I was writing Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm so excited that the toys I described in the books have come to life and can now be enjoyed around the world."
E L James

Now. Please do not get me wrong. While I do think that this is, fundamentally, a really shitty and ineptly written book that positions women as idiot victims under the guise of sexually empowering them; and of course I wish that we could induct an actual piece of thoughtful, meaningful writing into our chocolate-coated lady-canon; I'm also not some elitist dickbag who presumes to tell other women what they can and can't like. Did Fifty Shades of Grey entertain you or amuse you or elicit some sort of glowing sexual awakening in the stagnant twilight of your marriage or whatever? That is awesome. I think that female sexuality is shamed and stifled in our society, and any public discussion of it has some sort of public benefit. I agree, wholeheartedly, with the Telegraph on this point:

But it's a fact that while the cool kids of BDSM and a few agitated prudes will no doubt be appalled at the merchandising juggernaut set to put whips and chains next to the multi-packs of festive Pringles on the shelves of Tesco this year, is it really a bad thing for people to buy branded sex merchandise? The kids have got their JLS condoms after all, can't we just let adults have this one thing without getting all judgey about it? Even if it isn't exactly our cup of tea?

There's a part of me that is at least highly relieved to spy one product aimed at adult women that is not emblazoned with the image of a sodding pink cupcake. So what if it's an anal vibrator?

So what? I completely agree. Sure. Vibrate away, lady-anuses of the world. Go nuts. I'm JUST SAYING, women, would it be okay if Fifty Shades of Grey didn't become one of "our things" for the rest of time? Can we head this one off at the pass, and let it remain forever just "a really popular book that a lot of people liked"? Because the "woman stuff" we already have is embarrassing enough, and I think we still have time to shut this one out. I mean, it hasn't been in "Cathy" yet, right? ...RIGHT!?



Okay, I definitely agree. Not necessarily for any of the reasons in the article (although those are valid points) but because being the submissive partner is not a "woman thing" either. In fact, sometimes, it's the opposite! Sometimes, it's both! Sometimes, it's neither!

My point is that BDSM, while it is pretty well represented now, is lopsided in that representation. Just because I have a vagina doesn't mean I want to be the submissive partner. I *never* want to be the submissive partner. And I'm willing to bet money that I'm not alone.

Thing is, everyone seems to forget about this segment of the BDSM community. Packaging for kinky items almost always shows them being used *on* not *by* women. Mainstream storylines show male dominance and female submission but finding a story that is the opposite is incredibly difficult. Even when you do find one, the female character almost always ends up being a switch, not a true dominant. (Not saying there's anything wrong with that, but some representation would be nice!) Our society makes it so freaking hard to believe that a woman could want to be anything but submissive. It makes us think that, even if she says she's dominant, she probably just hasn't met the right man to turn her into the sub she's always wanted to be. It sickens me.