07/27/2012 02:28 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Why I Refuse to Read Fifty Shades of Grey


I haven't read Fifty Shades of Gray and not sure that I want to.

From what I hear, it's quite the scorcher.

Is it abnormal to be generally embarrassed by the overall heaving and titillation that accompanies the mere mention of this book's title?

A prude I'm not, but things are getting a wee bit out of control, at least in the online world. There are Fifty Shades of Gray parties, Fifty Shades of Gray book club discussions, heck -- even libraries are getting into the picture, banning the book in some cases and by doing so, making it even more sought after than it is already. The whole thing is a bit over the top, even more so now that the book has been officially cited as "Mommy Porn."

Perhaps it's the idea of a virginal girl being dominated by what sounds like an overbearing control-freak of a boyfriend that is captivating the folks who are enthralled with the book. Perhaps it's the fact that some moms now feel emboldened by the actions of the novel's chief protagonist as well as by her willingness to get her groove on despite her apparent lack of experience.

Finally, the bestseller's popularity may indeed be a direct result of the fact that women are living vicariously through the novel's main players without having to go through the experience of domination themselves. They get their pleasure by reading the book, not actually being told what to do. Sexy but safe, I guess.

Sure, indulging in a fantasy via prose can be constructive in some instances, but the giddiness with which this novel is being consumed is all a bit perplexing. Is the excitement based on the sheer eroticism of the story, or is it the naughtiness that is felt by those who read the book on their e-readers, in full sight of strangers on the subway, in the doctor's waiting room or at the local library? Is the "selling point" behind the book the fact that there is an inherently sexy story being told that speaks to most women's secret longings, or the fact that "nice" women and moms in particular are not supposed to indulge in this type of behaviour?

Who knows; either way, the book continues to fly off the shelves and is digitally downloaded at a furious pace.

For the record, I did a completely unscientific survey of female friends who had read the book, some moms, some not, all of them varying in age. The younger set were in their twenties, the older were forties and up. The verdict? Funnily, it was almost split down the middle with half of women of all age groups calling the novel "hot" along with other spicy terms; the remainder calling the book anything from "cheesy" to downright "dreadful."

That being said, the latter review doesn't seem to be an issue with the masses. There is clearly a large segment of the population who, despite the bad reviews, feels that Fifty Shades of Gray is worth its weight in gold...or otherwise.

A thrill? A fantasy? A secret desire? The book seems to be all three, depending on who's talking. For many, the erotic novel has been lauded as an opportunity for women to investigate their innermost yearnings, regardless of whether or not they'd act them out in real life. For some of us, however, we'll take a pass.