[CAUTION: This post is not intended to be read by children.]
50 Shades of Emotion
I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with the blockbuster novel 50 Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James. It would be rather hard not to hear about 50 Shades with all the hype surrounding a novel touted as “groundbreaking” and “trailblazing” for it’s blatant, sometimes garish, uber-descriptive erotic scenes that glorify BDSM (stands for Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism).
You might have heard about 50 Shades of Grey because it’s a UK Bestseller and a New York Times Bestseller. Or maybe you’ve heard it’s becoming a major motion picture in Hollywood with stars like Angelina Jollie vying for a lead role. Or maybe you heard the news story of U.S. hardware stores who are seeing a spike in the sales of certain items, due to a newfound interst in BDSM. Or, maybe you’ve heard about the fuss James’ trilogy caused when a few U.S. libraries decided to ban her books from their shelves because they felt the content was inappropriate. You can imagine the media firestorm THAT caused.
But what makes 50 Shades of Grey really stand out? It’s not just that it’s popular and causing a buzz among critics of all types. Many books cause a national fuss – we hear about Twilight and Hunger Games and Harry Potter ad nauseum, right?
E.L. James’ books are unique for two reasons. First, the 50 Shades trilogy is a new extreme in graphic erotica literature. Secondly, her books are appealing most to young professional women and moms and women 30+. In fact, James’ trilogy has been dubbed “Mommy Porn” because of it’s surprising demographic of fans. Thus, you hear the media hashing and rehashing a new fad in female fantasies, female erotica, and female porn.
Why are these books so appealing to moms and older women? As one woman admitted to the New York Times: “It’s relighting a fire under a lot of marriages. I think it makes you feel sexy again, reading the books.”
Similarly, I’ve read at least one Catholic writer who justified reading the entire trilogy because a) she did not objectify her husband during or after reading the books, and b) it helped spice up her marriage tremendously, and her girlfriends report it spiced up theirs, too.
A desire to reignite fires and spice up their own marraiges definitely seems to be a #1 reason for the “mommy porn” popularity of these books.
An Interesting Observation
I took my boys to Costco yesterday, and as we usually do, we took a stroll down the book aisle so Mark could take a look at the Thomas the Tank Engine books. As I stood there while Mark browsed a book, I realized we were right next to a super-large display for the 50 Shades of Grey book. No joke – E.L. James was taking up half the book section of Costco.
Since we were there for several minutes, I had a chance to watch who was coming down the aisle to put a copy of 50 Shades in their cart. Every single person was female. That really wasn’t a suprise. But what DID catch me off guard was who they were. There were a few Grandma-types. You know, the lady who volunteers most of her time at church and probably leads a Bible study and goes to bridge club on Tuesdays. That type. But MOST of the women were young moms with baby carriers in the back of their carts and toddlers in the front seat. Most of them were moms in shorts and tank tops with a Crucifix hanging from a chain around their neck and sunglasses on top of their heads. Moms who wore flip flops and had large blocks of cheddar cheese and oversized boxes of Kirkland wipes and Huggies diapers in the bottom of the carts.
Just. Like. Me.
I was dying to ask WHY these young moms were choosing 50 Shades as their choice summer read. Is it because there’s nothing else out that’s worth reading this summer? Are we women fed up with something? Are we bored in our marriages? Are we looking for spice and sparks that are lacking at home? Is it just an innocent curiousity to see what all the hype is about?
My hunch is women are a bit bored and looking for a little new spice in life, in relationships, and ultimately in marriage.
Now let me be clear – I am ALL FOR spicing up marriage. I things a spicy marriage is GREAT. In fact, I’m absolutely convinced that Jesus Christ intended for marriages to be nothing less than spicy and sparky and exciting in every way.
But the question is, is there a right way and a wrong way to go about adding spice to our marriage? Do we need “mommy porn” to spike our sexual desires, interest, willingness to experiment in the bedroom? Or are there better ways to go about it?
A Lasting Way to Spice
Personally, I think there’s a much better way to fulfilling our needs and adding fuel to fire our marriages than reading 50 Shades of Grey.
St. Paul charges us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I believe that by pursuing what is good, true, and beautiful with our spouses is the way to fulfill the desires of our hearts.
We married women – especially those with children – we don’t need “mommy porn” to sit at home and fantasize and lust and masturbate over a book that glorifies domination and female submission to the whims of a dominant sex partner. It’s not flattering to the human person, to marriage, and especially to women.
Instead, we’d be much happier, healthier and holier if we read a bit of what Scripture says about glorifying the Lord with our bodies, and perhaps a little bit of what Blessed John Paul II has to say on the topic of becoming a sincere and total gift of self – fueled by love – to your covenant spouse.
We’d be happier by verbally communicating with our spouses, sharing ideas of how we can spice things up in the bedroom and beyond with some chandelier-swinging toe-curling fun. And then maybe a trip to the mall for some new lingerie, some scented candles and a bottle of prosecco. THAT’S where the magic of marriage and love and sex and pleasure and happiness collide. By living and loving GOD’s way.
The world can give us “mommy porn” out the wazoo, but guess what? It’ll never satisfy. It’ll never bring happiness, or contentment, trust or even true pleasure. Those surging cotton rope sales at American hardware stores won’t bring lasting happiness, and neither will a hundred million BDSM trilogies.
Letting our hearts and minds and bodies be transformed in Christ and offered as a total gift of love to our spouse? Now that – THAT – is something worth writing home about. Because THAT is a little bit of paradise, a glimmer, ever so faint, of all that’s in store for us in eternity. Because THAT is one of the only human experiences that gives our feeble human natures a glimpse into the Heavenly Kingdom: where we will live in sheer mind-blowing, toe-curling, total and complete ecstasy around the Throne of the Lamb.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8