Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of What’s-all-the-fuss-about

Mills and Boons in the period of science fiction and superhero-formulaic stories or medieval-set wars. That’s what’s old or new about this fast hit trilogy of E. L. James, the Fifty Shades. It came quite as a surprise with misleading and enigmatic advertising that made everyone rushed to the nearest bookstores and grab copies of the trilogy. And, well, it carries the magic word "sex", which always sells.

I’m yet half-way to finish the second book of the trilogy, but it’s already losing me. Every now and again I would pause from reading and stare in space for a few minutes and think what’s going on, am I holding the same copy these women are crazy about? I’m trying to understand what the fuss is about. It appears to me as just another love story – a lame one, as lame as Edward and Bella’s (my patience only took me up to the second book, New Moon). There’s nothing new or spectacular about it. It's just the same old story of a troubled rich man saved by a virgin, naïve and ordinary woman.

And, seriously, do their fuck sessions really deserve all the hype? Has the porn industry lost its edge already? Yeah, written words, for some, could probably be more titillating and arousing than visual materials because they leave more room for their creative minds to take control and play with the scenes, but there’s really nothing new with what they did. They were having sex. Period. No need for endless ecstatic adverbs to their fucking. Even the BDSM element was poorly portrayed, with Ana rejecting the set-up because she’s not into the act. The few occasions of spanking and tying up, I think, isn’t enough to claim that it’s about BDSM. Once and for all, it’s not about sex or BDSM, if this is what the hype is all about. It’s just another cliché romantic relationship of two individuals not quite in the same league.

On the other perspective, I have to say that we’re still far from gearing away from our taste to pale, thin, innocent and sweet girl who catches the big fish, who is an obscenely rich – pilots his own helicopter, sails his catamaran, drives top-of-the-line sports cars, rides gliders, plays piano and a CEO of his many businesses – and a greek-god looking bachelor that every woman would die for.  The formula won’t get old soon or will never, I get it, which is frustrating when you’re someone who’s sick and tired of this literary shit (or even media).

I won’t politicize – yes, politicize – BDSM because I believe this is a purely sexual predilection and has nothing to do with the gender roles the involved parties take outside the sexual play. A woman could be the Dominant – as Elena was with her sexual relationship with Grey, but was a totally submissive trophy wife. Or a man, as powerful a business-tycoon as Grey, could prefer being tied and whipped or flogged by an ordinary lady. I don’t think it is an issue feminists need to be scowling about. BDSM – even as narrated in the book – is normally founded in fair, consensus and mutually-beneficial agreement. Everything is of each one’s choice. And we have to admit the fact that, under a very sound and healthy mind, some women take pleasure with being “controlled” in bed – and, yes, spanked, whipped, tied-up, etc.  It's funny  to assume or think that in this arrangement someone is deprived with her or his rights or the women are being stripped off with their dignity or they’re being stupid to let men control their lives and deny them of freedom in whatever aspects.

Furthermore, I totally do not agree with the Newsweek’s cover story entitled The Fantasy Life of Working Women by Katie Roiphe. I think it’s a ridiculous, narrow-sighted and anti-women article anchored on an unfounded assumption that “huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace" because “there's something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman's life, about the pressure of economic participation, about all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world." Seriously, this quality of article gets published in Newsweek? Women have never felt as fulfilled, relevant and happy as until they were given the right to vote,  to learn in schools and excel in academics, participate in economic and political arena, establish their own lives independently, have financial control, pursue and indulge in their interests without dealing gender-based criticisms, manage their homes, etc. and the “battle” – towards equality as we are still far from there yet – continues more strongly today as it ever was. This won’t change in any way backward or receding because “women feel tired” and fantasize about submission in their sex lives. Most of the women read the novel because it’s the “trend” and it’s what everyone is talking about and they want to be able to get into the discussion with their officemates, girl friends and colleagues. They got curious, jumped into the bandwagon, but ended up frustrated and confused of why it is a bestseller. Many of them find the sex scenes nothing unusual, which makes me grin - like Grey - because it could mean "exciting" things still happen on people's beds and they don't really need this cheap reference to spice up their sex life. I wish Roiphe has read more reviews before writing such almost laughable analysis of the craze.

Honestly, I haven’t read a novel with explicitly written sex scene as this (I’m not much into this line of fiction), even with my few Mills and Boons and Harlequin Romance reads back in high school, but this doesn’t come near to my expectation of an erotic fantasy novel. I’m just glad I’m reading an e-book (shared by a friend) from my Kindle because I’m not willing to pay hundreds of bucks for such poorly-written novel. My time is something I can’t get back, though, sadly.

No comments:

Post a Comment