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I’ve read a few romance novels before, but reading the pop culture phenomenon Fifty Shades of Gray was definitely…different. I was interested in the book because it’s become such a huge name in the book and publishing industry, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.
What’s interesting is that Fifty Shades isn’t exactly the first of its kind. Other forms of BDSM literature can be found in several places; Literotica is a site where you can browse for erotic literature by category, and BDSM and bondage are among the many choices. You can also find a list of alternatives to Fifty Shades at The Guardian.
So what made Fifty Shades pop? What made it stand out from the crowd? I recently read an article in Marie Claire about high-society women discussing the book at charity functions. How did that happen? Cultural phenomena occur all the time, and certain stories and events make the news, but Fifty Shades is more than just a phenomenon. It’s everywhere.
One of the things that has made Fifty Shades such a big-name book is the fact that it gives a feeling of empowerment to women. Sounds pretty counterintuitive, right? But studies show that women fantasize about submissive situations about half of the time when they daydream about sex. So you can see why reading about the willing submissiveness of another woman may help some feel empowered enough to ask that in their own relationships. It’s freeing, in a way, to be able to talk more openly about sexual desires. While sex isn’t always a publicly acceptable subject, you should always communicate your sexual preferences to your partner. And even if you don’t fantasize about those sorts of things, the point is to be able to communicate with your sexual partner.
Another reason Fifty Shades may be so popular is the advent of new technology in connection with literature. It’s much easier now to read books and to follow trends in literature because of e-readers, apps, iPads, etc. The advent of social media also make it much easier to share the big-name books that we love.
Some drawbacks to the book are that the writing simply isn’t all that great, and its origins as Twilight fanfiction are definitely noticeable. Still, you can’t put a price on entertainment value, and its simple prose may actually work for it: those who don’t care for more sophisticated wording, or who may be young enough to have a hard time with more developed literature can find the book more accessible.
The origins of the book, however, are clearly seen. Anastasia bears so much resemblance to Bella that it’s humorous. Before I even knew that Fifty Shades started out as Twi-hard fanfiction, I found myself saying, “She’s Bella made over!”
Because of the lack of great writing, I had a hard time reading Fifty Shades of Grey. But as it was a new experience for me, I wanted to research the phenomenon a bit. What did you think of the book?