Last week I read 50 Shades Of Grey, the erotic, pulp fiction sensation that is sweeping several nations. I’ve heard a lot about this book and now that I’ve read it I have a LOT to say about it. In the spirit of the 50 Shades trilogy, this week I’ll be posting three entries on my experience in the Grey zone.

 

50 Shades of Grey. I’ve criticized it. I’ve mocked it. Now for my final post in the series, I will attempt to defend it.

Long before I read the novel, I’d seen countless reports highlighting 50 Shades’ mass appeal amongst married suburban women. “Mommy porn” is how the book has been characterized in the media. I have to say that label annoys significantly more than the book itself.

“Mommy”. From the day I brought my son home from the hospital I’ve been acutely aware that in society’s eyes I am first and foremost a mother. I’ve written a few times about the specific expectations and assumptions that come with being a momand how challenging it can be to define that role on my own terms. I won’t rehash here but I will say that one of my biggest peeves about motherhood is the way some people insist on relating everything I do to the fact that I’m a lady-parent.

Men consume pornography. Many of these men are married, live in the suburbs and have kids. And yet, I have never once heard anyone use the phrase “daddy porn”. When men become fathers, they’re generally regarded  as individuals rather than “daddies”. They aren’t inextricably linked to their kids. And, yes there’s a whole load of bullshit thrown at men who do prioritize parenting over, say, career – but it’s a different beast.

My partner has “a career”. I am “a working mom”. When men with children start businesses, they’re entrepeneurs. Women with kids are “Momtrepeneurs”. This morning I read an article about a “mother of 2” who will compete in boxing at the 2012 London Games. Meanwhile, another report about David Beckham’s dashed Olympic hopes made absolutely no mention of his…three?…four?…a lot of kids.

I am a woman with a child. No matter what I do, somehow someone somewhere finds a way to connect it to motherhood.

Overwhelmingly, use of the term “mommy-porn” that I’ve seen have either been condescending ( “Aw, look – all the moms are reading kinky books and getting turned on. They’re experiencing sexual feelings, just like REAL adults! Isn’t that cute?”) or incredulous (“Holy crap! Moms get HORNY?  Who knew?). Every time a journalist uses that term, my middle fingers spring to attention and the rage begins, because NEWSFLASH, YOU FUCKING MORONS!: MOTHERS ARE HUMAN BEINGS!

I love my child. He’s big, big stuff in my world. But he doesn’t consume every moment and molecule of my existence. I’m still a woman. I’m still a person complete with all the sexual desires and needs that grown-up people tend to have. The problem is that when we make it all about the motherhood, everything gets connected back to kids. And – rightly so – most of us don’t want to connect sex or smut or book porn – to a child.

A few people have asked me why I think 50 Shades of Grey has found such a huge following amongst women, particularly middle-income women with children. My guess is as good as the next persons, but I did have this thought:

In my initial critique of 50 Shades I mentioned that Ana, the protagonist, is portrayed as sexually passive. I also felt that the book portrayed her passivity as a positive quality. Ana is the quintessential “good girl”, uninterested in sex and the very strong, very powerful Christian Grey has to entice her with his irresistible allure.  I do wonder if that dynamic is appealing to some female readers because it’s familiar, even relatable.  Our image of a “good” mother is usually of a woman who is nurturing, loving and focused on the well-being of her children to the exclusion of all else. “Good” mothers are also like Ana – sexually engaged but only when her partner initiates. A good mother is never motivated by her own lust or sexual desires.

Which, of course, is hot-from-the-oven falsecakes. Having children does not negate a woman’s need to get carnal. Mom’s are sexual people who enjoy sexual things like being horny, reading porn…even getting kinky. And though the media would have us believe differently, this really isn’t news.

Regardless of my opinions about the quality of 50 Shades Of Grey, I am thrilled that so many women are enjoying erotic content and getting off on it. They’re telling their partners about it. They’re telling each other about it. Some are exploring and expanding their sexual experiences. Others are just feel inspired to read more raunchy books. Good!  Yay! Snaps up!

Some of us think 50 Shades of Grey, poorly-written with uninteresting characters and troublesome politics. Others say that it was a great read that got them hot and bothered. But when people insist on saying it’s  “mommy porn”, well…that’s when I have one mother of a problem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Bryn says:

    My interpretation is that mommy porn is porn targeted specifically at mothers. Whereas anyone (including moms) can watch regular porn.

    • Nadine says:

      So I wonder a) What is distinctive about porn targeted at mothers vs. all other porn? b) Does having children affect the type of erotic media a woman wants to consume?

      Speaking only for myself, my porn tastes didn’t change when I had a child. My turn ons are pretty much the same, the stuff I like is pretty much the same. What is different is that I have to be diligent about storing my smut so he doesn’t find it. :-)

  2. I can’t stand being referred to as “Mommy” by anyone else besides my children. And that’s because the term is inevitably used in a condescending and infantalizing manner and I think your post here is right on the money. No one says “daddy porn” or “daddy blogger” or “daddy pants.”

    In response to your question above, I don’t think that there is anything distinctive about 50 Shades that makes it targeted for “mothers,” it’s just that women in my age group are flocking to buy it and the majority happen to also be mothers.

  3. Hi Nadine;
    I loved your review of the book. I have been discussing with many that have read the trilogy the fact that I feel this book isn’t based in reality. I found that there were touches of story line that never were developed. I feel that the story line is more of a ‘I can change him’ even though he’s clearly a control freak that will continue to lose control as more stress is added to his life.
    If I was to continue this story line, they would have kids and he would be upset that he had to share her with the baby…..and so on….classic control freak and insecure :)
    May a suggest a great read for you? An Ottawa Author has written ‘Sex and Samosas’ (Her name is Jasmine Aziz). It’s available on kindle and kobo. (Or you can get a soft cover copy at Venus Envy and Aziz and Co. on bank st.). Jasmine worked with me when I did Fantasia Parties and the book is about one woman’s journey to explore her sexuality with experimentation after attending a presentation. Very funny and a very exciting read.
    As one friend said on FB, “To all my ladies engrossed in or jonesing from the fifty shades, may I suggest the perfect ‘chaser’… a friend, local author and AHMAZING lady has written and self-published the book ‘Sex and Samosas’! Her book will re-ignite your libido with YOU (not C.G.) in the driver’s seat 😉 Fabulous summer read chicas! http://jasmineaziz.com/
    You’ll love her sense of humour and she would love yours too!
    I really enjoyed reading through your blog. Great info and lots of fun!