Apr 16 2012 12:32pm

Newsweek Says Fifty Shades of Grey is Working Women’s Fantasy of Submission

This week’s Newsweek cover story is titled “The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Surrender is a Feminist Dream.” The story inside explains that part of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey’s appeal is that the book’s “happy convergence of the superficial transgression with comfortable archetypes, the blushing virgin and the whips” appeals to working women who are intrigued by female powerlessness.

One could argue that powerlessness is a sexual fantasy that is irrespective of gender. Perhaps the article’s author is saying that having power makes people long to have it taken away? But if so, why is ’female’ tagged to the beginning of that?

There’s a lot that is just flat-out wrong in this piece—that Christian’s BDSM is a “watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism,” when we know it hews fairly closely to traditional BDSM. It seems that the author of the piece can’t tell the difference between the Marquis de Sade’s version of sadism and the sexual lifestyle choice it’s become.

Why is it news that women, even working urban women, like to read sexy books? Why is it suddenly a strike for or against feminism? Why can’t it be read on its own merits (or, some would say, lack of them) as a sexy read amongst a field of sexy reads?

If you read the article, what did you think of it?

E.L. James's Fifty Shades Trilogy: ‹ previous | index | next ›
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Tori Benson
Eh. Roiphe isn't my fav columnist to begin with so most of what she writes I take with a grain of salt. 50 Shades is the adult version of Twilight. We finally get to see what Eddie wanted to do to Bella. (You know I'm right)

I am so over the need to dissect 50 Shades and the publics preoccupatin with it. My thoughts? It became popular because of the controversy surrounding it. Did EL James steal it, rework it, and make it her own? When that accusation made the rounds every blogger this side of the Atlantic had to read and see for themselves. Once we read and saw, we blogged. Then the non bloggers picked it up and away we went. Is it an engaaing book? To me it was rather like a trainwreck. I knew it wasn't great but I couldn't look away.

As for the “watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism,” I don't know where Ms. Roiphe has been getting her freak on but what we read in 50 Shades isn't anything more then a little slap and tickle. BDSM at it's most basic form. The emotional aspects of C and A's relationship is what captured me and many others. Watching both protagionists enter into a relationship that neither of them had any experience with. Watching them cope, adapt, change, and eventually find a happy medium certainly appealed to me more then the light "care bear" moments of bdsm.

Her assertion that we, females, read this because we secretly want to surrender, is a hyped up load of "you know what" that is only being visited because of Dr Drew and the need to make a mountain out of a molehill. Frankly I'm disgusted with Roiphe that she would design to ride this train rather then simply acknowledging that woman and men read romances because we can. We all like HEAs and sometimes we like them with a little sex involved. It means nothing more then that. I don't read Stephan King because I truly believe or want the boogie man to live under my bed. I don't read Ilona Andrews or Patrica Briggs because I secretly want shifters to be real and I'm suddenly into beatstality.

Sometimes a book is nothing more then a book.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@Torifl: Yes, you say exactly what I was trying to get at, without getting too personal about it in the post. I don't know anything about Roiphe, except that today there's been lots of dismissing her as a feminist spokesperson online because of this (and previous) articles.

When Newsweek picks something up, you know it's hit a mainstream wall.
Tori Benson
@MFRampton-When Roiphe can start writing bias free pieces that aren't a composite of many other ideas reworked into her own, then I'll take her more seriously. And it's sad that Newsweek choose to print this piece of sensationalism that doesn't even remotely reflect the views off most women out there. Some men will read it and now have the idea that all women secretly are wanting them to take "control " in the bedroom. Dude, if we want you to take control-we'll tellyou. You don't need Newsweek to guide you. We aren't ashamed we read romances and nothing you say can make us feel that.
Catwoman Felisamorata
4. Catwoman
Just curiousity on my part....

Has anyone who has even the slightest understanding of what BDSM truly, actually is noticed just how colossaly ignorant people like Drew and Roiphe and others like them are about what is behind REAL kink?

(Honestly, I'm about ready to either gnash my teeth down to nubbins, scream, or pull my hair out in frustration when media numbskulls write/comment about something they know absolutely nothing about and then have the temerity to try and act like they have clue. Gaaaaaahhhhkkkkkk!!!)

Deeeeep breath....rant over....until the next time....
5. fadedrainbows
I came here to say this as well-

What Christian calls BDSM in 50 Shades IS "a watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism." I'm not sure if BDSM is still so obscure that very few people have experience with it, or if it is still being judged without knowledge, but what people are calling BDSM just isn't it.

The 50 Shades trilogy read like the fanfic it was. And I agree as well, I read it because it was like a trainwreck I couldn't look away from. I wanted to know more about Christian's and Ana's relationship, but the writing was mediocre at best.
6. pamelia
I have to agree that article was annoying. As if men don't enjoy submitting in the bedroom. As if peoples' sexuality is determined by a straight-line cause and effect. Apparently in her view sex and sexuality can't possibly be a complicated construct in someone's personality! I really dislike the overly scholarly tone of the piece as well:" look I'm quoting intellectuals and using large words and too many of them to express a very simple idea I pulled out of my A##!"
Her assumptions about BDSM are ludicrous. For instance stating that Christian is too nicey nicey for providing affection and basic aftercare is really telling that she did very little research on the topic.
As for Fifty Shades -- I am in the unabashed fan camp because of the emotional connection and thrill I got from reading them. I am also in the camp that sincerely wishes they had been edited prior to publishing, but I'm still glad I read them.
Jessica Turner
7. TheSpinecracker
I have an opinion about this, but Im too annoyed to gather my thoughts into something that makes sense. You've all just been saved from a ill-formed rant.
Jessica O'Brien
8. JLOBrien
The issue I have with all this hype is the following: As long as it isn't illegal, is safe and have nothing to be ashamed of. And articles like this, idiocy like Dr. Know-it-All Drew's are making both men and women ashamed of what turns them on. You aren't what you read, but that doesn't mean you can't like it. I can intrigue you, it may cause you to experiment..but it doesn't always define you. If I take my newest erotic romance and go sit on the park bench and you see the exceptionally hot cover, it doesn't mean you know anything about me except (possibly) what I like to read. You don't know how I get down in the bedroom, what I do for a living or how I put the toilet paper on the holder.

Sometimes I wonder about people who try to "type" people.
9. Theo
"It seems that the author of the piece can’t tell the difference between
the Marquis de Sade’s version of sadism and the sexual lifestyle choice
it’s become." A-freaking-men to that!
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