5 Reasons to See 50

We are still two weeks away from the premier of 50 Shades of Grey and the controversy is already heating up. Twitter was abuzz this morning with giggling-behind-my-hand, junior-high level salacious comments about guys getting some action if they take their date to see it. The purveyors of outrage porn have started the ground-swell of indigent (and mostly completely misinformed) anger. (But hey, if it gets you retweets, why bother researching before you speak.)

I didn’t feel the need to tell the world that I will be going to see it, with a date, and plan on enjoying the hell out of an interesting love story featuring two beautiful people, a great soundtrack and some beautiful scenery. But the level of crazy already surrounding this movie has me wanting to at least throw my perspective as a romance writer into the mix. 

What is it about elevators?

Before I explain why you might want to see it, let me add a few disclaimers. This film is based on the books that are not great literature. Public success and great writing usually have an inverse relationship especially when it comes to writing about sex. It also isn’t a how-to primer on BDSM. If you read one of those you would see that E.L. James did some research, but she barely touches on this complex, widely-varied sexual community. It also isn’t supporting the abuse of women. The main female character is a willing, albeit naive, participant. It’s really a pretty simple story with no political or instructional agenda. 

So, why dedicate another blog post to it? Why am I going to see it?

1. It’s a love story–a sexy love story, something we are so sadly lacking in America. I love to go to the movies and I can’t tell you how many times I have had the time and desire only to find that my choices are either Hot Tub Time Machine 2 or more death and gore in two hours than I want to see in a lifetime. Reading a book or seeing a movie is all about how it makes you feel. Personally, I want to feel sexy rather than moronic or grossed out.

2. I like that these books and this film are at least opening up a dialogue about different types of sexuality. The BIG news that emerged from these books is that not everyone likes their sex the same way. Reading about it and learning doesn’t equate with signing up and joining in. Half the stuff on social media is misinformed or childish, but at least we are talking. And it has couples talking and possibly admitting that they might want more than decades of rote sex with each other.

3. The movie might lead to more couples having more sex and I can’t see that as a bad thing. I am all for women and couples finding the books or movies that turn them both on. It can’t be repeated enough that the way to turn a woman on is through her brain. We need to think sexy thoughts, a lot of them, in order to push the massive, running to-do list that we all carry out of the front-and-center position in our brains. Two hours of beautiful people talking and acting sexy just might do the trick.

4. If this movie does well in theaters then we might get more sexy love stories in the future. I like the idea of us being a more sexy and less violent nation. I would love to see a steady stream of different types of love stories pouring out of Hollywood. (And a steady stream of writers getting big, fat checks for their romance novels being made into movies. Self-serving, but true.)

5. This is sexy done for women by women on a big budget movie. I teach a film class so I can say with authority that Hollywood has not often been open to the idea that women are sexual beings and not just the reluctant or exploited objects of male lust. The female lead character in this film may seem to be an innocent led astray, but the outcome of this romantic tug-of-war for power says otherwise.

So there it is, my two cents worth. And as I do with all my blog posts I will now tweet, post and pin it; hoping to add a slightly authoritative (or at least well thought out) voice into all that crazy. 

Join me and add your two cents and comment. Will you see the movie? In theaters or at home? Did you read the books? Are you ready for more sexy and fewer violent films?


Mommy Porn

When the 50 Shades of Grey trailer was released last week the controversy started again. Is it porn? Is it porn specifically for women? Is it (lets go for the worst thing possible here) mommy porn? (cue the doomsday, horror movie sound track)

50 Shades 50 years ago

Personally, I would say it is not porn. I would call it a romance novel with an erotic element, and compared to other erotic romance novels, its kind of tame. If you took out all the sex scenes you would still have a story, specifically a romance about a girl and a guy who change in order to become a couple. (Pretty standard romance stuff).

So why the mommy porn moniker? Media hype. The phrase manages to combine two elements that our society believes should be diametrically opposed. Based in the antiquated madonna/whore idea is the belief that any woman who has given birth simultaneously erased all hints of her sexuality. Unfortunately women have believed this myth, bought into it, then shut down the sexual part of themselves. (Which was equally unfortunate for the men they were married to.) Fear of bucking the social norm still keeps so many women from admitting that they have any interest in anything sexual.

Would it really be such a bad thing if a married woman with a few kids managed to turn off the incessant stream of grocery lists and school agendas running through her head and instead remembered that sex can be exciting and fun? I argue that sexy novels do more good for marriage than harm. 

I saw an old man attempting to thumb through a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey at Costco once. He was so nervous and immediately stopped and walked away when he saw his wife approaching. I wanted to tell him to buy the book plus a nice bottle of wine and something that didn’t need to be cooked for dinner. Then go home climb into bed and read it to his wife. Something tells me that, love the story or hate it, they would have had some fun, exciting and interesting conversations (and probably much more) that night. Opportunity missed. 

One of the arguments against erotic romance books (especially this one) is that it has women fantasizing about someone either than their husband. I can see where that could be a problem … if Christian Grey was real and living in your neighborhood. But he’s not. He is pure make-believe and guaranteed to never show up and lead someone astray. Even the real-life movie version, Irish actor and underwear model Jamie Dornan, is highly unlikely to be out trolling your neck of the woods looking for a middle-age woman driving a minivan full of kids.

Actually, romance novels can bring discord to a marriage. Women who read about men who work at staying in shape, know how to dress and have a working knowledge of female sexual anatomy and desires, often do start wanting some of that in their own lives. But being the eternal optimists we are (and really loving souls) we more often than not

try to get more of what we want from within our marriages. 

I’m not sure how many couples will go see the movie on Valentines day (the release date). Through the books and movie and others like it, women are just starting to acknowledge that they are still whole people, still sexual beings and we quite often like to take those baby steps in the safety of a group of our peers. Like the man at Costco, there is a risk (oddly enough) in admitting our desires to our spouse. But the benefits … 

I’m not specifically recommending these books, but I am recommending more romance reading (which works out well since I am a romance writer.) There are so many sub-genres within romance: historical, western, vampire, etc. I guarantee there will be one that will curl your toes and make you go “squeee”; that will wake up (or possibly start) all those wonderful dirty thoughts that will have you packing the kids off to bond with grandma so you can “review the finer plot points” with your spouse.