I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Fifty Shades of Grey lately. Not because I’m going to read and review it – I haven’t, at least not completely – and I won’t do a review even if I finish it, because that’s all been done, ad nauseum. But, in preparation for my interview with TBK on Friday, she and I are both trying to get through it, as it is part of what we’ll be talking about: the “reality” of a Fifty Shades of Grey relationship. Or, as she put it, she’s interviewing a woman (me) that lives the lifestyle so many women are fantasizing about when they read Fifty Shades.
Actually from the little I have been able to get through in the book, my life, and what we do, looks as much like the heroine’s in the story as Princess Diana’s looked like Cinderella’s: exactly nothing. But that’s okay. I happen to like what my particular fifty shades look like so much more.
Though all right, I admit, if W and Ad were multi-billionaire’s, that’d be nice too! ;-)
Something that Kendra asked me, though, and that many people have been asking, is “Why are so many women buying this book? What is it about this story that has touched (and turned on) so many women?”
In thinking about an answer to that, and in talking with W and Ad about it, I realized that my own sexual history could provide at least one pretty clear answer.
We live in a society that has placed monogamy as the “norm;” a society that has dictated that people must be monogamous, or be ostracized. That means that, unless you practice serial monogamy (the only acceptable way to have more than one partner in your life) you could (should) be facing fifty years (or more!) of sex with one person. Sex with the same person for the rest of your life.
No wonder women (and men) are looking for something to spice up their sex lives.
The reasons of course go much deeper than that…and there are an infinite number of them, I am sure. But really, if I look at my own sex life with the Ex, it certainly rings true to me.
I was married for 15 years. We had been together for about a year and a half before we married, and after we split up we didn’t get divorced for another two years. Two years that, even though he had a new lover, we continued to have sexual relations – of the sort he had only ever had with me, and could only ever have with me.
But we didn’t start out kinky. For 10 years we had a very ordinary marriage and sex life. By that I mean that after the initial rush of sex every day, we had settled into a Saturday night or Sunday morning routine – and boy was it routine. I knew there had to be more…I’d felt more with other partners…but I had made the choice to be with him for reasons other than sexual compatibility or even attraction. I knew sex with him wasn’t really great for me, but he liked it, and I wanted to be all the things he liked…so we did what we did.
(Now before I go on, I know that BDSM sex isn’t the only hot sex. That vanilla sex and all its permutations can be just as hot – for some people. Not for me, though. I really am wired this way…I just didn’t know it. If I’d known, maybe I would have made different choices. But that’s what I am talking about – for me, learning about BDSM was finding a missing part of myself. For my Ex, it wasn’t so much a part of him, as it was kinky fun – a way to spice things up. To this day he says that it wasn’t really him, it was just something he was doing with me and for me. And that’s okay too. It did exactly what it was supposed to do: gave us our sex lives back. Spiced things up.)
So how’d that happen? It was simple, really: one day I read something online that changed my life forever. It was about BDSM, and it turned me on. Wildly. I knew that here was something I wanted, something I needed. I recognized something in myself in the descriptions of other submissives, of what they felt, what turned them on, and I wanted to experience that for myself.
I also wanted to be happy in my marriage, and to like sex again, because even by that time I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t stay long – or stay faithful – in a marriage in which I wasn’t sexually fulfilled. So I wrote a D/s story for my Ex, and he read it, and we talked about sex – good sex, and what that meant to each of us – for maybe the first time in our marriage.
And we started having good sex.
BDSM gave us a whole new sex life. It was incredible. For five years we had the hottest sex of anyone I knew, and that I had ever had. If I hadn’t been introduced to it via an internet site, I probably would have figured it out eventually – or maybe not. I don’t know and can’t say. All I know is that that site opened up my mind and my world.
I don’t know if every single woman that reads Fifty Shades will see themselves in Ana (or in Christian Grey.) (And I now it’s not only women that are reading it.) And I don’t know that every woman will experience something life altering by reading it. But that’s not the point, nor is it necessary. All that’s necessary is that it brings something to her relationship(s): a way to open up about needs, wants, desires. A path to communicating with her significant other about things that – like me, in my marriage – she may not have been able to before. And maybe, yes, there will be that one, or two, or hundred, women that do want to experience those things in real life, or that realize something about themselves, maybe even a deep need in themselves, whose lives will be altered, like mine was.
I couldn’t care less about the reality or not of the book. Hell, it’s a novel. It’s fiction, for chrissakes. I think we’re all smart enough to know the difference between reality and fiction. (And if not, well, reality will take a nice healthy bite of your ass eventually.) This isn’t rocket science, and people have been doing this stuff since long before the internet codified “BDSM” and made up a bunch of rules about it and started insisting that we had to go to seminars taught by “experts” to learn about it. Hell, it’s been around since way before folks got turned on by “Story of O” and I imagine people will be doing it long after the Shades phenomena is forgotten. But the more I think about it, the happier I am – for all those women who are just discovering something about themselves by reading it.
Everyone deserves a good sex life. I hope that Fifty Shades is a conduit to that.
For more on my interview with Kendra of The Beautiful Kind, and info about how you can listen in or join the conversation, click here.