A Man’s Thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey
E. L. James’s best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey has spent months on the best-sellers’ list. What I heard and read about the romantic novel confused me. What was there that attracted women readers in such numbers? Now that I have read the book I am not sure that I have an answer.
The story opens as the main character, Anastasia Steele, is about to complete her senior year of college. Despite being beautiful, our heroine has made it through college without having serious boyfriend and is a virgin.
All of that is about to change after an unexpected encounter with the male heartthrob, Christian Grey. Grey is a perhaps 30 year-old Adonis, who is also a billionaire by reason of founding the company he owns and runs, plus being a helicopter pilot, a wine connoisseur, a philanthropist, a casual pianist with a love for obscure classical tunes and a glider pilot. Most importantly, this over-achiever is a skilled lover; he is able to make a woman’s body sing like a Stradivarius in the hands of a violin genius. (Real World Comment: Granted that the designated heartthrob in this genre of bodice rippers cannot be an ordinary bubba, but it is difficult to envision anyone accomplishing all of these things by age 30, even if he never slept.) Oh also, Grey has a libido that any teenaged boy would be pressed to match.
Within a few pages, our heroine succumbs to Grey’s advances, only to discover that he has very strong appetite toward dominating the women in his bedroom (BDSM). Although the two have fallen for each other, the rest of the novel is spent with young Anastasia trying to reconcile her feelings for Grey with his “unusual” needs.
For a male reader, the surprising thing about Fifty Shades of Grey is that so many women would read it. In a 21st Century America, where a man can get into trouble for referring to a woman in the office as a “girl”, where women resist stereotypes that suggest female roles or sexual stereotypes and insist on treatment as equals with men, I ask myself what draws women to this book?
Granted I observed years ago that women’s thought processes seems more complex and less uniform than men’s. If you were to list the male motivators, sex, love, money, power, religion/ morals would just about exhaust the list. For women the list is longer and the inter-connections of those motivators seem more complicated.
Nonetheless, I have to ask what draws women to read Fifty Shades of Grey? Why are American women reading a novel about a young, college graduate who agrees even to one night of sexual domination, much less seriously entertaining a long-term commitment to such a relationship? Shouldn’t the Helen Reddy song I Am Woman start playing in Anastasia’s young head just before she slaps the fool out of this man and runs out, regardless of how beautiful and rich he is?
Two explanations seem possible: First, when the bedroom door shuts, women see themselves in a different world. Sex is animal behavior, and, among mammals, the male is traditionally the aggressor. So it is instinctual that a woman expects her man to be the aggressor and take her. The bedroom is the one place that women tolerate, no expect, men to show that animal side we all know that they possess. Christian Grey crosses the boundary of acceptable aggression, but he raises the question of where is the boundary for most people. Does the reader consider, “Hmm, maybe a little of this weird stuff wouldn’t be so bad…occasionally.”? Second, this is all fantasy, and the majority of women just read books like this for escape. Most of us lead boring lives. Perhaps going around on the arm of a head-turning billionaire for a while sounds like fun, even if he is major-league kinky. Or, maybe there is another form of fantasy. If the brain is a woman’s largest sex organ, then perhaps reading Fifty Shades of Grey is the reader’s mental foreplay to her own evening’s activity.
Regardless, it might be an interesting exercise for a woman to highlight what of the sexual activities in this novel would be willing to do with her husband or partner. Then show it to him.
As a husband, I have this thought. If men gave the book to their wives or lady friends with a highlighter and a request to mark anything that looked like fun, I wonder how many would get back an unmarked book with a comment of “In your dreams!” Or would there be some surprising highlights?
I found reading Fifty Shades of Grey to be moderately interesting. What would be much more interesting would be to talk to women about why they read the book, what they liked about it, and did they act out or fantasize anything they read in the book. However, I doubt that I will get to have those conversations. Damn!
Lorinda’s thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey
I finally did it. I read all 3 books and yes I am grieving it is over. I have to tell the truth and let you know I made the last book last for months. I am not a book reader nor do I read for fun I always feel I need to be getting something out of it. I love all three books by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Gray series are fabulous lv lv lv them!
I know we did a small write up on the first book and yes all of the books have lots of sex and more sex, however it is so much for than that. They have changed my life!
Life just happens sometimes and you get caught up in all the day to day BS, all the stress, kids, business, money and the little things that you fight about with your hubby. You forget how to laugh, have fun, be more light hearted. I know all of you are probably thinking… what does that have to do with Fifty Shades of Gray? A LOT! For me the book brought me back to a time in my life of when you had that first love and the things you did for that first love of your life, whether it was wrong or right you find yourself understanding the choices Ana makes, but the whole time your brain is saying what the heck are you doing?? You fall in love with Christian Gray and the love Christian and Ana have for each other, also we develop a new love for Audi cars as well! Yes there is a lot of hard core sex and the faint of heart may not be able to take all that, but for me different strokes for different folks. And after being married for 10 years there are a few tips I have used in my own life to spice a thing or two up.
One of the main themes that keep coming back to me is the love they have for each other. It doesn’t matter about the money Christian has, or how good looking he is, they are simply in love, passionately in love with each other, the kind of love that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. The kind of love that all of us women want to feel and experience. It made me realize, that if I showed and gave more love to my husband, I would get that same feeling in return.
My mom has always told me we control how things really go down in our home. We set the mood, we are the leaders of the household, and we just let the men think they are. Joel might not agree!
Joel is my soft place to fall and I am his. Fifty shades of Gray changed something in me. It softened my heart, and made me realize that love and the man that loves you is such a special gift. You need to cherish it, take care of it, and the rest will just fall into place. I decided while reading this book, I did not want to be the wife or the woman that always had a reason why I was too tired to make love or have fun after the kids went to bed. It was just as much about me as it was for him. I have some friends that we were having a discussion about marriage and the things that create a distance or a wedge in a marriage. The biggest thing he kept saying was making love to his wife was his way of showing how much he loves and appreciates all that she does for him and when she always said no, it was like she didn’t care about his love. It made think marriage is not about just me and if I am tired or not in the mood. Let me tell you ladies it just as much our job to get in the mood and embrace whatever it takes to make it happen. Yes, I am going to say SEX saves marriages just us much as communication does.
I started the first book in July and made it last till about two weeks ago. I know most people read all 3 in a weekend. But the books were a great place for me to go and check out, and then practice what I read later! (Sorry probably too much 411 for you LOL!)
At the end of the day we all want to feel wanted and loved, and you have to give that to get it. The main question you have to ask yourself is are you willing to let yourself out there to get and experience love and is that warm fuzzy feeling worth the risk?
I am so overjoyed in so many ways, I took the time to read all 3 books, it has changed my life and my marriage for the better. I am not saying it will do the same for you but what do you have to lose?
Laters Baby, LoLo
Give me feedback. I want to hear if it has done the same for you and what you think!
I didn’t start reading the first book till about a month go. I’ve made it last because I have two young boys to care for 24/7, and one is home schooled, so I don’t have much time during the day to read. I usually do my reading at night when I’m not exhausted. Before starting to read book one I wondered myself why all the women I knew were SO into this series….well I understand now. It is like an escape from our own boring but oh so busy lives. It’s kinda like this, I don’t allow drama into my life, but I enjoy watching Keeping up with the kardashians….it’s like my little “drama fix”….not that I want drama, but they’re so entertaining, sometimes ridiculous, but mostly my get away from real life for an hour.
I’m definitely enjoying book one of the Grey Series….in fact I read from 8-12:30 last night! I was shocked at how long I read. Can’t wait to finish and continue onto book two.
Definitely a good read.
Oh girl! I read all three of them in about two weeks. I ran through the gamut of emotions while reading them. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. The one thing that kept me going back for more was the thought that she could give him what he really needed, and a reason to give up what he thought he needed.
Like you, it has improved my relationship with my love. And, as I would not let my daughter read these books (she’s only 14), I would use the way Christian treats Anastasia as an example of how a man should treat a woman. He respects her so much, and tolerates so little from others in her life. I want my daughter to settle for no less than princess, and neither will I. But you are right, you’ve gotta give it, to get it, and I’ll treat my man like the prince that he is.
I too was in mourning when I finished #3, because I use books as an escape from my real world, if only for an hour or so at a time.
Thanks for sharing your feelings on the books!