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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Grey Area

By the picture above you thought this post was about paint samples didn't you? Well, it is in a way. I'll get there. What its actually about is how wildly different we all react to things. In this case, the book/movie 50 Shades of Grey.

First of all, I'll tell you I haven't formulated my final opinion. I had a certain reaction when I read the book, but I had a different one when I saw the movie. Trying to reconcile the two as we speak, or more to the point as I type. Why write a blog post about it then? I want it to be fresh in my mind and I find the longer I wait to write about something the more energy the idea looses. Strike while the iron, or in this case riding crop, is hot, eh?

While I sort out my thoughts, it seems others have loads to say on the topic. I posted on Facebook that I was simply at the movie and a couple people commented with their opinion about the book and that it amounted to stalking and rape. That seems like a good place to start, because the diametrically opposed opinions I've heard are what made me want to explore this in the first place.

In no particular order those opinions have included the following.....
  • Put a romantic sheen on it if you will, but the relationship the book depicts is controlling and borders on criminal stalking.
  • God that man is sexy.....
  • If a woman was the Dominant we would be applauding this book.
  • My husband hit me for 10 years before I left. We didn't have safe words like "yellow" or "red" when I'd had enough, so excuse me if I get pissed off when people say this woman is battered. A consensual sexual relationship, no matter your opinion of it, is not the same as what I went through. 
  • It's sooooooooo poooooorly written. I haven't read it though.
  • Why does everyone think this is so dirty? I've read way dirtier stuff. 
  • I don't particularly want people to judge my sex life, so I'm not going to judge theirs.
  • I love the intensity of their feelings for each other and their willingness to explore what pleases their partner. Even if they decide not to do it in the future, they explore and decide that together.
  • Sometimes I don't want to read Shakespeare, I just want to read something fun and then let my husband benefit.
  • That kind of sex isn't normal. 
What's also interesting to me is why this book, of all books, took off like it did in America. Our little corner of the world has had a healthy romance and erotic novel business for decades. Based on the opinions I've heard from people who loved it,  I think they responded the way they did because of two things.

1. They talk about it before they do it. Women, as a whole, are verbal creatures. In the book they talk about what they're going to do, how they're going to do it and why it turns them on, sometimes, ad nauseum. I know there's a contract to work out, but let's get to it already!

2. He makes his intentions absolutely clear. This piggybacks off #1 but I gave it it's own number because..... Sometimes women find themselves with a track record of men who are never clear about how they feel, what they want and, subsequently, where you stand. He leaves her in no doubt of exactly what he wants and that what he wants is her. There is no guess-work, there is no game.

Then there's the people who hated it. Some who have read it and some who haven't. They seem to feel just as strongly as the ones who loved it. Some of their opinions seem to be based on the literary merits, some on personal experience and some on professional. This is where I should insert some stroke of genius and be able to discern why these reactions are so different, but honestly I can't. That's where the paint samples come in.

Good or bad, grey/black/or white, we are all different and we respond to people, relationships and sex like we do to paint colors. Sometimes their isn't any rhyme or reason you just see a shade of grey and if you can't paint your living room that color right now you feel like you're going to die. You know I'm not actually talking about paint colors right?:).

No matter how you feel about the book I think it has moved the needle on a couple things. I think it has encouraged a dialogue where women can be more open about what they like sexually. I also think that maybe it's helped some women identify things they did feel were controlling in past relationships. Hopefully, by also talking about that side of the coin, they don't repeat those patterns in the future.

But as I've typed I've still ended up with more questions than answers.....

Where is the line between what shade of grey you should like? Which grey is healthy and which is unhealthy? Which shade of grey turns you on? Which shade of grey helps you explore what you like sexually? Which shade of grey is abusive? Who are you to tell someone else they like the wrong shade of grey? What shade of grey are you?

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