'Fifty Shades' Films Support Family Values Amid Kinky Sex

<em>Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele on the set of Fifty Shades of Grey</em>
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele on the set of Fifty Shades of Grey

Explicit sadomasochist sex in a “Red Room of Pain.” A plethora of sex toys and bondage tools. Yet the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy about the love affair between seriously screwed-up Christian and virginal Anastasia is in many ways extremely traditional in the family values it promotes. Absolute fidelity is a given. Polyamory is completely off the table. No threesomes, no swinging couples. Even flirting with others is seen as an extremely bad thing. Anastasia is very jealous of Christian’s previous sexual partners, as Christian is of any guy who shows an interest in Anastasia. Both are adamant about exclusivity. Christian is so possessive that he won’t even tolerate his girlfriend sunbathing topless, because he doesn’t want anyone else to be able to see her naked body. He emphatically declares, “You. Are. Mine.”

These books are romantic chick porn, and chicks aren’t interested in sex scenes between two women and a man — that’s a male fantasy. However, I would have thought that people with a lousy or non-existent sex life might find it rather depressing to read all the rampant lovemaking scenes. So much of the text is devoted to descriptions of body parts that maybe the trilogy should have been subtitled “Grey’s Anatomy.” But that title had already been taken for a hospital TV drama on ABC. So what’s the appeal of “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Despite the sadomasochist overtones, many women would find the amazing amount of sexual attention Christian pays to his lady to be exceedingly flattering and a helluva turn-on. No ho-hum lazy lovemaking with this dude. No desultory half-hearted groping while watching TV. This guy is a pro at whole-body eroticism and he’s obsessive about monogamy.

Dr. Alex Comfort in “The Joy of Sex” writes in detail about why bondage can be such a sexual turn-on. Both sexes may at times have a desire to be dominated or to dominate, or a woman may “need an illusion of rape to be able to lie back and enjoy without guilt.” However, some women may fantasize about sadomasochistic sex — bondage and spanking and all — but if it were to actually happen, they might not like it at all. There’s a fine line between kinky excitement and scary violence.

Spoiler alert: I’ll be revealing the ending to the trilogy in this article, but you already knew they were going to live happily ever after, didn’t you? At the beginning of the “Shades of Grey” trilogy, Christian is a man who enjoys dominating women and inflicting pain on them. Miracle of miracles, by the end of the final book, through his relationship with Anastasia, he has managed to heal himself of the effects of severe childhood abuse, and no longer feels the compulsion to treat women that way. Anastasia wants a traditional “hearts and flowers” relationship. She wants to feel loved and cherished. By the end of the trilogy the purveyor of punishment has become a happy family man, besotted with his young son and with a new baby on the way.

I could tell you that I only read the “Shades of Grey” trilogy for research purposes, to try to get a handle on the sensibilities of modern culture, since the thing has become such a runaway success. However, I did get a certain guilty pleasure reading it, despite the clichés, the predictable ending, and the fact that after several hundred pages the endless descriptions of orgasmic sex started to get a bit repetitive and boring. Anastasia and Christian are impossibly gorgeous, and Christian is impossibly wealthy. Lavish wining and dining, beautiful clothes and jewelry, luxurious homes, worldwide travels, private aircraft and yachts. A man who declares that you alone are the love of his life and the center of his universe. Now all that, rather than sadomasochistic sex, is a classic female romantic fantasy. That’s why Valentine’s Day weekend was chosen for the big screen version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” to be released in 2015. Despite bondage and whips adding an unusual twist to a romantic tale, Rotten Tomatoes reports that the movie was panned by both critics and moviegoers. The sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker,” is coming out on Valentine’s Day weekend 2017. Perhaps the fact that it is ten minutes shorter than the previous film will allow it to gain better reviews. Both movies are likely to be eminently forgettable. Nevertheless, in The Telegraph on August 7 2012, Anita Singh reported that, even though “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been derided by critics for appalling writing, it was one of the best-selling books of all time, outselling “Harry Potter.”

If you’ve read the “Shades of Grey” trilogy and want to take your porn to a whole new level, “Fifty Sheds of Grey: Erotica for the not-too-modern male” is the book to look at. “She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot . . .” I must warn you that this book by C. T. Grey contains fifty graphic shed-based images, and you’ll learn about “the Red Room of Paint.” Sadly, since the book has only 144 pages, many of which are pictures of sheds, as regards text it is rather short. Nevertheless, who knew gardening and building sheds could be so erotic? No doubt the movie version is coming soon.

Former BBC journalist C. J. Grace is the author of “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not,” available on Amazon.com. She is currently writing her second book, “Hotel Chemo: Overcoming Breast Cancer and Infidelity.” Read C. J.’s blogs and hear her radio interviews on www.adultererswife.com.