I, like all of you, having been watching a media firestorm concerning the film, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I have read and heard the shaming and condemnation. (And yes, when we tell women that what they feel is silly, corrupt, or damaging to the future of all women, we are shaming and/or condemning.) I have seen the Facebook posts, the boycott petitions, and the open letters to our daughters. But here’s the thing… this film did not emerge out of nothing. Millions of women responded to and enjoyed this story. Given those numbers, I think it is safe to assume that some of those women are people we like, respect, and perhaps even love. Think about that for a moment.
One of the most important elements of erotic fantasy is that it is a fantasy. Much of what turns us on in our minds are things that we would never really want to do or are situations that we would never willingly manifest. But hey… isn’t that the point? The beauty of a fantasy is that it is safely locked in our mind away from the judgment of others. Authors who delve into erotica are courageously putting those thoughts in print for those of like mind to enjoy.
For the record, I read the 50 Shades trilogy. The characters annoyed me, so I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed it and for that reason have elected not to see the movie. However, my opinions of this particular bit of eroticism does not change my opinion that we should NOT try and dictate to others what they should and should not find erotic any more that we should dictate to others who they should and should not be attracted to. Think about that.
Society has been trying to dictate and shame women into molds of sexual acceptability since men and women first collected into groups. And that doesn’t just apply to women.
Raising empowered daughters is important. Ending domestic violence is important. Understanding the meaning of healthy love is important. But so is acknowledging ourselves as sexual beings. Since when did owning our sexuality stop being empowering?
Imagine for a moment that one of the millions of women who loved this story and even fantasized about some of the scenes (perhaps even while having sex with you!) is someone you know, like, respect, and/or love. How do you think she feels right now?
Is it really empowering to make women feel ashamed of how they feel? And before you start to say, “Not my women,” think of the book sales. If you are one of those people doing the judging, I can guarantee that you have just put up a communication and intimacy barrier between you and that person. And here’s the thing. You will never know it exists.
Those women in your life–your friends, colleagues, sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, and maybe even daughters–will never have an open dialogue about sexuality with you. But worse than that, you have told them, with your judgment, that they are not okay.
When we post condemnations we are condemning all who fall into that category, even our dear ones who are too embarrassed or furious to admit it to us! Why? Because this particular category does not just include the author and the movie studio, this category includes the audience that loved the book and anticipated the movie. Women. Millions of women.
You may think that all of your dear women friends and family are above this sort of thing. But guess what? You will never know. Can you guess why? Because you have closed the door to that communication. You have made it clear what you think of women who respond favorably to this story and you have made fun of (or worse, passed judgment on) their secret world of thoughts and fantasies.
Fantasies are the most personal thoughts we have, and we will not give them up. We will simply slip underground where women and our sexuality have been residing for a very a long time.