Monday, 2 July 2012

Shhhh don't tell the men


Ladies, let's talk porn. I don't mean male-targeted images of triple G cup women smothered in body oil and clad in the size equivalent of a 6-9 month baby-grow. What I have in mind is more the type that is supposed to appeal to you, that calls for a little effort on your part to read words on a page. You've probably gue  ssed that I'm talking about the new phenomenon known as porn lit- that's sweeping through households and causing women to abandon their chores and children. Tut tut.
I know not all women will be comfortable with this topic but the astounding success of the recent porn-lit book, "50 shades of grey" and its sequels are proof that whether you care to admit it or not - most of you are up for it. Now, don't get me wrong, I think women should be able to read/watch pornography as much as men, (well perhaps not as much ), especially if it means that they'll be more in tune with their sexuality, but what's left me a little surprised and sorry to say a bit disappointed as is finding out what it is that titillates you closet freaks.
I was on a work trip when a colleague/friend raved about reading 50 Shades of Grey; she could hardly contain herself as she went on about how great and unputdownable (my favourite made-up word) this offering labelled 'mummy porn' was. In place of pictures, the author, a mummy and wife herself offers up explicit accounts of sexual encounters between the main character Anastasia Steele and the flawlessly handsome, sexy, rich and sexually-experienced Christian Grey. You can imagine my intrigue after her summary, and I'll admit that the thought of reading a raunchy novel written from a woman's perspective did hold some sway aswell. As soon as I could connect to the internet, I downloaded a copy to my kindle ready to read as I whiled away the hours in between meetings. I was looking forward to reading something other than the stereotypical literary offerings of the arrogant man versus the indignant woman who ends up falling for him inspite of herself. A few minutes later, I was tearing into page one but no sooner I had started reading, excitement turned into irritation - hang on a second I thought, why am I reading about some silly
soon-to-be college graduate - awkward and insecure about her body and her blonde perfect and supremely confident roomie - did I just download 'Sweet Valley High- the college years' by mistake?
Essentially what E.L James, the author, offers up, is a story that is told in the first person by a character with enough self-deprecation to make Bridget Jones blush. As I willed myself to continue reading, I couldn't help rolling my eyes and mouthing to myself "here we go again". On the one hand was the main male character oozing confidence- on the other, Anastasia, the clumsy inexperienced female protagonist, completely lacking in self-belief. I struggled to continue reading and even the raunch wasn't enough to get me through because of the constant use of cliches. We're not talking just your regular cliches but male fantasy ones, from the account of her being deflowered by Christian, to her reaction to him being 'so well endowed' to the fact that inspite of her lack of experience she is able to give head like a pro (pun intended). Ms. James' writing was appallingly child-like, repetitive to the point where you find yourself shouting "enough with the Inner-Godess accounts and the lip-biting that makes him want to bite her lips" - or "Yeah yeah we get that the shades of grey is a play on so his name and favorite colour etc etc- we get it, Ms James, no need to keep hammering it home" I cringed at so many moments, I had to keep checking the title and cover to make sure I hadn't mistakenly downloaded a vintage copy of Mills & Boons from the 80s.
E.L James had a fantastic opportunity to give us an appetite-whetting account of what happens behind closed doors. She could have told the story from a female perspective- one that is experienced and confident- I would assume she has that voice or she wouldn't have been able to write such a novel. Yet what we have is another male porn fantasy bar the pictures- the virgin, inexperienced and eager to please, willing to play the role of the submissive versus the dominant male who commands obedience, is able to go all night without the help of a single blue pill and then top it all off by playing the piano beautifully whilst revealing his six pack in low rise trousers.
While I admire her for tapping into a market that either noone knew or everyone had forgotten existed, I believe this book is successful less because E.LJames tells a story that we've not heard before but rather because women are clearly craving porn that they can read and or experience without having to hide. In as far as it allows women to read something so socially taboo in public, it deserves some praise, from a literary perspective, it reminds us why, regardless of what those short courses say, we can't all write - or atleast write well. And for those men who are still reading inspite of the post's title, if it helps get your partners/ wives excited then perhaps you should consider buying the second and third installments for her yourself. I will say though if you're into S&M then these books will be right up your street. If like me, you just want to see what all the fuss is about, I would suggest you borrow a friend's copy - provided of course if she'll admit to owning one.

1 comment:

actonbell said...

Great review, well stated! This "novel" is a train wreck. I did read it for free on my Nook because it was available for awhile on Epub Bud. I didn't review it because I didn't know where to start. I really wanted to kick her inner goddess down a flight of stairs, and I go so sick of all the repetition. There are good, struggling writers out there who must feel so disheartened.