With the final instalment of the Twilight franchise hitting cinemas soon, I am reminded that the fabled bad boy may make for good fiction, but seldom does he make a great catch in real life. Don't believe me? Just ask Rihanna. What duty, if any, do authors have to create strong female leads (and males who respect them)?
I don't believe any single person can say what women want, but I can say with certainty that women do want. And the sooner society, media and business realize that this is the case, that men aren't the only sexual beings, the sooner we'll have greater variety to choose from and representations that reflect us.
Recently my partner and I were enjoying a sunny afternoon on a patio. The waitress leaned in and asked if I had read 50 Shades of Grey. I replied that no, I hadn't. She assumed "hadn't" meant "hadn't yet," because she went on to describe in great detail how much I would love it. If I had specifically asked "How long can I expect to wait for the chocolate soufflé and/or a mind-blowing orgasm?" then perhaps her words may have been appropriate.
This widespread resentment toward Christian Grey -- kink version of the Alpha male -- has sparked a furor among men. But men are missing the point. It isn't Mr. Grey's bank account or bondage gear that makes him Mr. Right. The real reason women lust after him is because he makes them feel lusted after.
As a fellow creator in the world of sex and erotica, I'm glad when other women in the industry garner great success for their work. But imagine how dismayed I was then after finding out that Fifty Shades of Grey, this wildly popular series not only represented a relationship devoid of the components integral to healthy BDSM, but also some of the most male-driven fantasies and sexual stereotypes!
The most compelling subject line from a press release I have received -- ever (keep in mind that I am a parenting editor so the stuff doesn't usually get that racy) -- was this: "Sunscreen Can Stunt Penis Growth in Boys --Yes, It's True According to Dr. Martha Howard." I haven't done the research to enquire if there is any basis for this claim, but I did want to share the fact that this is the latest in our world of everything-is-bad-for-your-kids these days.
According to a recent survey in the UK's Daily Mail, almost 80 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men were excited by the domination and submission theme of the 50 Shades trilogy. Why? Well, if you've been having sex with the same person, in the same place and positions for years, it is incredibly exciting to have that person behave in a way that is unfamiliar and unexpected.
How do you explain the unprecedented success of a trilogy of mommy porn: soft porn aimed at and read by, predominantly, women? In a word: Play. The 50 Shades of Grey books have so far sold 10 million copies in 37 countries. Admittedly, the book's shenanigans could intimidate some couples, but judging by most media reports, the effect has been just the opposite. Women find the books are sparking their libido (the sex scenes are very graphic) and men are loving that.