Pulp friction- I love Fifty Shades. You’ve got a problem with that?

Pulp friction- I love Fifty Shades. You’ve got a problem with that?

by Marlies Dekkers
Let me start by saying: I’m a bit of a cultural snob. From classical music to literature, it’s the heavy stuff that rocks my boat. Dante’s Divine Comedy is my favorite book of all time, I think that says enough! Still, I really enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, and with me, 100 million (!) women worldwide. With the much-anticipated film coming out next week, I wonder: why do people still call it a ‘stupid’ book? And why it is so hard for us to admit it turns us on?

Throughout the history of mankind, we’ve known what gets men off. They haven’t exactly been shy about it either! If you look at the average porn video, it definitely follows a blueprint: blond girl, big boobs, cumshot on the face after exactly eight minutes. And now we have a billion dollar industry based on that, which is fine, but women have been wondering all this time how much of their sexual fantasies has been influenced by the taste of men. They’re dying to find out what turns THEM on.

Along comes Fifty Shades of Grey, a BDSM* fairytale written like Harlequin novel. Writer E.L. James uses a whole register of romantic cliches -Mister Grey is a rich handsome man, they live happily ever after etc-, but all those elements are used to soothe us into the explicite stuff: the graphic descriptions that make you go ‘ouch!’ if you’re not warmed up properly.

BDSM happens to be my thing. Many of the situations in the book are actually very familiar to me. For years I’ve been trying to tell my girlfriends about my adventures and about how empowering this practise can be, but they would be so squeamish about it that they wouldn’t even let me finish my story!

Now I understand that the hardcore stuff is not to everybody’s taste. But BDSM has a beautiful dynamic at its core: two people devoting themselves to each other’s pleasure. ‘Vanilla sex’ (a term used for conventional sex) usually revolves around the male ejaculation. When that focus falls away, like in BDSM, there is more space for play, such as mind games. To give you an example: you could be having dinner with your lover in a restaurant, when he or she tells you to go the restroom and take off your panties. That too, is BDSM. No whips or nipple clams needed.

What I failed to achieve with my girlfriends, E.L. James managed to do with over 100 million women worldwide: to open them up to the idea of THEIR pleasure being central. Even more than that; she has offered a blueprint for what turns women on right now. I’ve tried to play a part in that with my own designs and brand philosophy, but without these books it would have taken us at least 200 years to get to this point. In that sense E.L. James is one of the most influential feminists of our time.

Is Fifty Shades high art? Of course not. Male-centric porn isn’t exactly high culture either, is it? I dare say Fifty Shades is not even literature, it’s pulp, but pulp that managed to touch all our buttons, sometimes quite literally! So let’s stop calling this book ‘stupid’, and start seeing it for what it is: nothing less than a sexual revolution.

*BDSM: A physical, psychological and usually sexual power-role-play with consensual participants.

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