Sunday, April 01, 2012

'Mommy porn’ – I don’t buy that


The latest erotic publishing sensation in the US is Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James, which features bondage and masochism.
The prospect of harnessing, and igniting, female sexual desire has long prompted feverish responses – and many disappointed business ventures, says Jojo Moyes, above - 'Mommy porn’ – I don’t buy that
The prospect of harnessing, and igniting, female sexual desire has long prompted feverish responses – and many disappointed business ventures, says Jojo Moyes, above Photo: Martin Pope
A famous Seventies advertisement for hairspray features a man watching admiringly as a woman with swinging hair and an enigmatic smile walks past. It bore the tag line: ''Is she or isn’t she?”
If the hype is to be believed, we may soon be wondering the same about the enigmatically smiling female readers of Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotic novel by E L James that is, apparently, resurrecting dormant sexual desires in American women.
Grey has topped the New York Times bestseller list and the planned trilogy has garnered the English-born author a seven-figure publishing contract. The film rights went for a reputed $5 million last week, ahead of publication here next month. Not bad for something that started as a piece of fan-fiction published free online.

The novel follows the sexually charged relationship between a student, Anastasia Steele, and a “dashing but damaged” young entrepreneur, Christian Grey and centres on their BDSM (bondage domination, submission and masochism) activities. It is bracingly euphemism-free – few “tidal waves” or “manhoods” here. Chat rooms are alive with discussions about what is being described as ''mommy porn’’ or “the pornography that it is acceptable to be seen reading”. The feminist website Jezebel notes that its astonishing 16,000 reader reviews on Goodreads are split between those who see it as “a flawless rendering of the internal, psychological struggles of a novice submissive in a BDSM relationship” and those who dismiss it as “poorly written” and “utterly ridiculous.” It is certainly unintentionally funny. Will I ever read a less erotic sentence than: “My medulla oblongata has neglected to fire any synapses to make me breathe”?
The prospect of harnessing, and igniting, female sexual desire has long prompted feverish responses – and many disappointed business ventures (Playgirl or The Erotic Review anyone? Female Viagra?). But as the growth in popularity of the e-reader allows women to read literary porn in secret – Mills & Boon is now publishing more risque novels digitally than in print – the idea of a nation of women secretly being turned on to some light bondage is more fun than discussions about quantitative easing. The truth is, however, that Grey is far from radical. So when publishing executives state with breathless certainty that this is “the future of female erotica”, this particular female replies, just as breathlessly, oh really?
Read the full story at The Telegraph.
Footnote:
Book One of the trilogy is being released by Random House NZ 5 April.
The Bookman has almost finished book three and will be commenting in the next few days.

2 comments:

Don Donovan said...

There was an ad that read: 'Does she, or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.' Is that the ad referred to?

Judith said...

Dear Bookman, thank you for reading this so that I don't have to!