Let me start by offering our apologies to those of you who haven’t read the Fifty Shades Of Grey book by E L James and to those of you who are probably thinking “What the ruddy hell has this got to do with weddings?!”. Regarding the latter – let’s face it, it hasn’t really, although I am told as the trilogy is currently standing firm at number 1, 2 and 3 in the best seller charts it is definitely the Honeymoon read of the summer.
And it seems everyone is talking about it. So I guess because of that fact we could ignore it or jump on the bandwagon and try and filter the filth from the froth as it were.
We chose the filthy option obviously.
I actually first heard of the fifty shades phenomenon from my Mum – she had popped into Waterstones and the lady behind the counter had recommended it to her, exclaiming what a great read it was. And my Mum being a marketers dream (I so inherited that gene pool) didn’t even really bother to find out what it was about, just handed over the plastic for a pornagraphic bashing.
And for those of you who are now staring blankly at the screen, it is essentially a story that documents student Anastasia Steele’s journey into becoming a submissive to entrepreneur and dominant Christian Grey. Think desire, obsession, sexual exploration and a generous helping of the kinky.
I think (actually I know) I am in the minority when I say that actually I didn’t think it was that good. I mean I didn’t think it was awful or anything, but I am still not 100% sure what all the hype is about.
Ok so I realise it’s quite rude – and the main man of the tale Christian is clearly HOT…. but I have read far dirtier and there was so much repetition that by chapter twenty I felt like I was on some weird she-bit-her-bottom-lip merry go round.
I promise my lack of love for the naughty pages isn’t because I am a) a prude (this would be difficult with such a liberal upbringing – My Dad spent the early 90′s as the lead singer of a band called the Bl*w jobs and my Mother used to on occasion wear a T-shirt with “Wine Me, Dine Me, 69 Me” emblazoned across the front. Luckily for my sister and I this was not the outfit of choice for the the school run….) or b) A right swinging-from-the-chandeliers-in-my-peephole-bra “seen and done it all before” Queen of erotica exotica.
I have never ever been invited to spend an evening in a red room of pain. And to be honest I’m not sure it would be my thing, I appreciate the whole pleasure/pain phenomenon but playful spanking is one thing – I’m just not sure a riding crop cracked repeatedly against my posterior would provide much of the pleasure part…
Maybe I should just give it a whirl and see for myself? I wonder what Mr O’Shea would have to say if I suggested that as an after dinner treat.
And maybe that is it – the whole fantasy aspect. Fifty Shades Of Grey essentially opens your peepers to what folks may or may not do behind closed doors without being vulgar or indecently graphic – and as I’ve heard (from many ahem… reputable sources you understand), has encouraged couples all over the globe to perhaps try something new and sexy in the bedroom/an elevator/at bathtime/a helicopter/their local chinese (delete as appropriate).
According to Allure Magazine (my favourite – I get it imported from the States), high end underwear stores Agent Provocateur and Kiki De Montparnesse have never been so profitable. They are selling far more blindfolds and leather playsuits then their (more demure) pretty panties and slinky slips and many “specialist” playtime items are actually selling out on a daily basis.
Apparently in the the city of New York everyone from the wives of politicians to high profile publicists are working their inner Dita Von Teese and ladies that lunch are just as likely to openly discuss their penchant for a whip and handcuffs over a caesar salad as they are the latest Marc Jacobs knitwear collection.
It seems that celebrating your requirement for kink is moving from what may have previously perceived as seedy to seriously stylish.
And the sexy store du jour if you want really push the proverbial seductress boat out? Coco De Mer. To become the proud owner of their various wares you will possibly need to re-mortgage but as per the words of L’Oreal – you’re worth it.
I don’t think Fifty Shades is necessarily telling us anything new, but I do think it is certainly making waves in paving the way for women in general to perhaps feel more comfortable about discussing sex and being sexy with their friends and partners which in itself must be a very good thing – I never understood why it should be so taboo in the first place.
Madame E L James has sold a million zillion copies of her novels and apparently has just bagged herself a Hollywood movie deal – so although personally I could take it or leave it…. what the hell do I know anyway?
Hmmmm. And for some reason the other day I treated myself to a bondage style dress from All Saints….as well as all sorts of new slightly risqué undergarments.
Oh and if Ryan Gosling is playing Christian Grey in the film adaptation I am so there.
Let’s face it…50 Shades of Grey is not going to win The Man Booker Prize for achievements in fiction any time soon. The books don’t have the moral core of To Kill A Mockingbird, the symbolic power of Tess of the D’Urbervilles nor the heart-wrenching drama of Birdsong.
I also agree with those that say that there’s an uncanny likeness to the popular Twilight series and oh my, there are some really cringeworthy turns of phrase – ‘Christian Grey flavoured popsicle’ anyone?
And trust me, if I never hear ‘my breathing hitched’ again, then it won’t be soon enough.
Then, folks, there’s the critical schools of thought that are currently doing the rounds. Those that think that the books go as far as advocating violence against women, that it degrades them and the heated rants about the fact that Ms James’ creations do no credit for the erotica genre.
Some even claim that women who enjoy reading BDSM (that’s bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism for those of you not familiar with the term) have rape fantasies and thus this type of literature is potentially damaging.
Personally I think that’s utter tosh.
Despite ALL this, hand firmly on heart ladies, I LOVE these books. That’s right, j’adore with a capital J.
There’s no getting away from the fact that we women are drawn to 50 Shades like bees to a honeypot. We are reading it in droves, causing sell-outs in some parts of the country.
Even my sister struggled to get hold of a copy when I lent my treasured version to a friend (I was NOT in her good books that day) causing one male shop assistant to remark to his co-worker, ‘Dave…we’ve got another one’ when she asked if they had any left.
And boy have I learnt stuff. Things like, which are the best ropes for tying a submissive to a chair – it’s natural filament in case you’re interested…something to do with the chafing effect (gulp!).
But why exactly do I love it?
50 Shades is eminently readable. Both funny and entertaining – I love how the book brings us girls conspiratorially together. “Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? No? You really must! It’s basically porn!“
In a society that does in the main cater to men’s desires, I’m fascinated by the fact that the boys (in my social circles at least) for once seem somewhat abashed when we sit around gleefully discussing it. The shoe is now on the other (Louboutin clad) foot.
Sexy Fifty also allows me to indulge my fantasies. In this day and age where a woman is expected to be everywhere all at once and achieve the impossible (certainly in my household!), I’d happily submit to the mercurial Mr Grey so that my needs can be taken care of for once.
Unlimited supplies of expensive silk underwear? We all know my penchant for that.
A personal housekeeper so that I never have to cook dinner again? That will do nicely.
Epic chases in expensive cars or helicopter visits to exotic locations? Where do I sign?
If all this sounds utterly superficial then so be it. We are talking about fantasies here…
I also admire how the book focuses almost exclusively on Ana’s sexual experience – something that we don’t see so much of within the mainstream media. It affirms the truth that women are sexual beings and it’s ok to be wanton every once in a while.
The book is filthy but in a totally good way. My innocent (no longer!) mind boggled at the delicious array of collars, whipping, caning, bondage, eggs, spanking and beads sprinkled throughout the pages. E.L. James shows that ‘kinky’ is not necessarily dark but fun.
Ultimately though for me it is her frankly amazing ability to build anticipation to each scene’s thrilling climax. In this day and age where we expect everything instantly, I love the heady descriptions and the delayed gratifications that Ana experiences. Good things really do come to those who wait.
And whilst Charlotte might have treated herself to some bondage apparel and some sexy smalls, I might have indulged in a slightly naughtier purchase of a paddle and handcuffs.
So tell us what you think, were you turned off or turned on by the delectable Fifty?
Did the novel leave you short of breath or make you blush? (Trust me, I still turn several shades of crimson when talking about it in front of male company now).
As ever we want to hear your thoughts…..
Big Dirty Love
Charlotte and Lauren xxx