The Fifty Phenomenon

Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? 

No? 

I have. 

And so have about fifty of my female friends. 

And fifty of their female friends.

And so on... 

It is amazing.  I've been in grocery stores and on the sidelines of soccer games and I'll hear the familiar exclamation:  "Have I got a book for you!"  This is usually followed by several random women, often mere passerby, piping in to say "Fifty Shades!"   With those two words thrown in the mix, women gather, and suddenly there is conversation.  Conversation that doesn't have a thing to do with, well...kids. 

This buzz has been different from the Twilight event.  This has been different from The Hunger Games. Those books were stories that provided a common ground between mothers and daughters(in the case of Twilight), and between parents and their children(in the case of The Hunger Games).  I could discuss these books with my niece, my nephews, and various random children. 

The Fifty books are adults only.   But are these books "Mommyporn", as the media asserts?  I don't believe so, and I resent the implication of that label.  Porn is about the quick fix, the instant gratification, usually between strangers.  What the Fifty books offer is erotica.  Erotica is about the relationship...the slow dance, the anticipation, the delayed gratification...all leading to the grand climax. 

Those women who have read the books share a camaraderie, a safe relationship, where it is suddenly safe for women to ask other women questions about sex, without fear of ridicule and with minimal nervous giggling. As a parent, my world has narrowed dramatically; I don't get to spend a lot of time with other women, and when I do, the conversation is often about children.  I'm not complaining; that's what parenting is about, after all.  But since the Fifty books came out, I've discussed aspects of sex with other women that I haven't even thought about since college, dug out a few old textbooks, found my copy of the Karma Sutra, and I've asked questions of my own. Even if the person asking the questions has no intention of ever using anal beads or ben-wa balls, the curiosity is illuminating aspects of female sexuality that are usually kept in the dark.  I think that is wonderful.

What's more, the women who have read the Fifty books have taken what they've read, and discussed, home to their husbands or significant others.  There are conversations taking place in the bedroom that have not a thing to do with children and everything to do with intimacy.  And that is a good thing.  One of the biggest issues for new parents is re-establishing some sense of intimacy in their relationship.  Once there is a child in the mix, there are interruptions.  There are sleepless nights.  There is sudden projectile vomiting.  Even when the kids are older, there's sporting events, Sunday school, camps, and sleepovers stuck in between the grocery shopping, laundry, and gainful employment.  Being a parent wears us out on most days, and doesn't make us feel sexy or pretty or even remotely interesting sometimes, and that can make it difficult to feel romantic.  There has to be a conscious effort, on the part of both parties, to rebuild the intimacy. From what I've seen and heard, these books offer a place to start, a road map of sorts.  I've heard of some husbands asking to read the books, but mostly I've heard of women reading the books, aloud, to their husbands.  The important thing is that husbands and wives are re-establishing their relationship, rebuilding the very closeness shared before children came along. 

And that is a very good thing.  What do YOU guys think?

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