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Women Deserve Better Than '50 Shades of Grey' _ HLNtv

Women Deserve Better Than '50 Shades of Grey' _ HLNtv

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7/22/12Women deserve better than '50 Shades of Grey' | HLNtv.com1/5www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/08/opinion-fifty-shades-grey-feminism-literature
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Women deserve better than '50 Shades of Grey'
NEED TOKNOW
Writer: There's nothing wrong with '50 Shades of Grey,' butlet's take it seriously'Fifty Shades' was recently banned from some Florida libraries
Sex and Relationships
|
See all 101 items
By
Avital Norman Nathman, special to HLN
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
 Avital Norman Nathman is a widel published author, blogger and feminist. Her blog,
The Mamafesto
,focuses on the way feminism and motherhood intersect. You can alsoreach her on Twitter 
@TheMamaFesto
.
Every once in a while, a novel ispublished that grips the entire world bystorm, regardless of who its intendedaudience originally was. J.K. Rowling’s"Harry Potter" series enjoyed this sort of phenomenon, as did Suzanne Collins’"Hunger Games" books. For the most part, it’s quite clear what gets folks talking aboutthese sort of books: high quality writing, well thought out characters that draw us in, andstorylines that transcend age, race, and gender, providing something for almost anyoneto connect with.Can the same be said for the most recent literary phenomenon, E.L. James’ breakoutseries, "50 Shades of Grey"? To be fair, it has received its share of media attention,with articles written about it in most major newspapers and magazines, including TheNew York Times and Newsweek. It has also solidified its place in pop culture, making itinto a recent "
Saturday
 
Night
"
Live
 
skit,
as well as on the
Ellen
 
Degeneres
 
Show
.Yet, despite the attention from these varied media sources, what most people are
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7/22/12Women deserve better than '50 Shades of Grey' | HLNtv.com2/5www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/08/opinion-fifty-shades-grey-feminism-literature
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focusing on is the controversy surrounding the series, rather than the literature itself.Most reviews of "50 Shades" agree that the prose is poorly written, with the editingallowing its fan fiction origins to shine through, yet that doesn’t prevent them fromweighing in on what has been called the ultimate in “Mommy Porn.”Completely
condescending
 
and
 
demeaning
 
nickname
aside, it’s significant to note thatthe majority of conversations occurring around "50 Shades of Grey", as well as themajority of criticisms, revolve around the (apparently shocking) concept of womenreading, and <gasp> enjoying erotic literature. It’s even gotten to the point where acounty in Florida
has
 
banned
 
the
 
series
from their libraries’ shelves for being toopornographic.Many writers have jumped on the "50 Shades of Grey" bandwagon, expressing their own critical views, which tend to boil down to a few different schools of thought. Somefeel that erotica like "50 Shades of Grey" is not only a waste of time, but
can
 
bedegrading
to women as well. Others jump on the fact that any woman who enjoysreading BDSM stories clearly has “rape fantasies,” and that this entire genre of literature
can
 
be
 
potentially
 
damaging
to women.Critique of the quality of the series aside, the issue that frustrates me the most in all of this "50 Shades of Grey" hubub is the way women are talked about in relation toreading for sexual pleasure. It’s either looked upon as cutesy, in a “mommy porn” sort of way, or otherwise it’s something to be ashamed of and hidden amongst the other books in your Kindle. So...which is it? Is this something to be tittered about amongst theother moms as they wait to pick up their kids from school, or is it something that grownup, autonomous women should feel shame and embarrassment over?I vote for neither. I say that while "50 Shades of Grey" wouldn’t have been my first (or heck, even 50th) choice for the book that gets us all talking about this genre of literature,here we are. So, let’s talk about it like actual adults, and not treat it like the sideshowspectacle that it’s become. If this had been a book marketed toward men, would we beseeing the same sort of equal parts derision and patronizing reactions? Would themedia dare coin the term “daddy porn?” Of course not.Instead of stopping with a mainstream book that has allowed some women the spaceto finally talk about sexual fantasies and preferences, let’s look beyond this one book tothe larger picture: The fact that women are sexual beings, and sometimes they enjoyreading erotic literature that sometimes delves into the kinky. In a society thatessentially caters to men’s desires, it’s remarkable, though not surprising, when peopleget up in arms the moment a woman expresses some sort of desire.Let’s move past the gendered nature of shame, where terms like “mommy porn” exist,and treat it like the reality that it is. Sure, "50 Shades of Grey" may have opened thedoor to talk about this, but women deserve more than knowing smirks and patronizingcomments when discussing healthy female sexuality because of a book that started off as "Twilight" fanfiction.While we can’t turn back the clock and have another book or series broach themainstream discussion that shows the popularity of erotica and female sexuality,perhaps we can use this opportunity to begin to change the discussion of what womenlike or want. Who knows, perhaps the neighbor next door enjoys reading about beingdominated then likes to try it out in the privacy of her bedroom, or perhaps the cashier behind the counter of the local supermarket simply enjoys reading about being spankedwithout any inclination to actually be spanked.Let’s stop treating it as a farce, or fluke, or heaven forbid, a dirty secret. Let’s turn theconversation into a productive one, where we’re not judging, giggling at or shamingothers for their preferences, and instead, let’s approach the topic of female sexualityhead on, like it deserves to be discussed - with respect, dignity, and a few less insightsfrom Ana’s
“inner 
 
goddess.”
 
Is going withoutsex actuallyharmful?
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7/22/12Women deserve better than '50 Shades of Grey' | HLNtv.com3/5www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/08/opinion-fifty-shades-grey-feminism-literature
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 Add a comment35 comments Beth Loper Woods
· DePaul School of NursingI think the point of her article was why do we have to make it cute or talk about it as if it'sscandalous instead of making it a serious discussion. Men don't have to hide that they aresexual beings - but for women, it's like it's a foreign idea.Reply· ·Like·Follow Post· May 9 at 9:35am25
Nanette Lawrence Whinnery
I don't know why this is such a controversy. It was a great story! If this is so bad, perhaps itstime to take a look at A. N. Roquelaure's collection of Sleeping Beauty! Kinda makes Christianlook like a choir boy!Reply· ·Like·Follow Post· May 9 at 9:21am20
Tammy Quick 
· · Tampa, FloridaThanks for reminding me, I'll have to read them again ;)Reply· ·Like· May 9 at 10:05am Subscribe6
Bridget Lausch
· Top Commenterlol, oh gosh. I'm glad I read down a post, I was just preparing to cite that veryset of books. Great read, by the way. Very informational.Reply·Like· May 9 at 6:15pm
 Alicia Pont
· Art Institute of PhoenixWhat about the "Sleeping Beauty" series by Anne Rice? Those three novels alone could havesparked this discussion, and probably be analyzed for the next 20 years at least.... Godsforbid that women enjoy sexual situations and stories. What does it matter that women arereading something that not only has strong sexual content, but not the traditional 'safe'approach...Reply· ·Like·Follow Post· May 9 at 9:58am17
Lee Stratton
"Gods"?? lol Do you mean the ONE living God AND all the dead fake ones?Keep trying...maybe someday you will be able to think for yourself and not justrepeat what you hear at Starbucks :)Reply·Like· May 9 at 1:51pm
Bridget Lausch
· Top CommenterLee Stratton I think she means the gods that existed for thousands of yearsbefore christianity oversimplified things. Perhaps you should keep trying tounderstand that religion is what man makes of it.Reply· ·Like· May 9 at 6:18pm6
Sydney Lighty
· Beaverton, Oregon 

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