50 shades of Grey is a book written by a woman and the film is directed by a woman.
Feminists have called for the film and books to be boycotted, arguing that they legitimise domestic violence, glamourise sexual abuse and reinforces the concept of the dominant male.
However, the book and film are read and watched predominantly by women.
Why do women find this plot so compelling?
Actually this is nothing more than a Mills and Boon bodice ripper for the internet porn generation.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice created the formula for most female fantasies written since 1813: Young, inexperienced girl meets older, aloof, condescending but rich and very powerful man, who she initially dislikes but with whom she feels a strong physical attraction. Her latent physical desire for him causes her body to “betray” her and she ends up dancing with him against her better judgment and conscious will (the modern version has her having passionate sex with him against her conscious will). He does male things like hunting, fencing and shooting. She is pretty, intelligent and gentle. She manages to tame this rogue as her own through her personality, intelligence and common sense. Eventually he is tortured by his love for her and has eyes for nobody else, despite having a whole world of women to choose from. He proposes to her and she admits she loved him from the start but didn’t know it.
A few evolution based scientific facts to back up this clever and much used formula:
- Women are generally more attracted to men of a higher social status then themselves.
- Women are generally more attracted to men of equal or higher intelligence than themselves.
- Women are generally more attracted to men who are attractive to many other women (think One Direction and the rich and powerful)
Men and women are having now having much less sex than previous generations and modern women are much less satisfied with the little sex they have. In fact women’s overall happiness has declined markedly compared to our parents and grandparents – both absolutely and relative to men, whose happiness has stayed static.
The sociologists explain this lack of sex and lower satisfaction as a lack of a “sexual script” in modern relationships. The result of our more gender equal, politically correct society is that couples don’t fancy each other as much. Put simply seeing a man in a pinny and doing the school run is not a turn-on for most women. What modern women have is a “life partner” to help run the house and family, whereas our grandparents had a passionate lover (at least until the war or children came along).
Moreover our modern, intelligent, career successful women are finding it hard to find a male partner of a higher social status than themselves. This is called the “Sex in the City Syndrome” – the modern world has many single, lonely, childless, career successful, 30+ women who have been unable to find an adequate sexual partner. i.e. a man who really turns them on. The depth of their unhappiness (and childlessness) has been recently documented by social commentators and researchers.
Apparently seeing men doing physical male things and women doing gentle female things is a turn on and a precursor to great sex – even our politically correct sociologists admit this. Evolutionary biologists have a much better genetic explanation, but it results in the same conclusion.
Let’s get this is perspective. J.K. Rowling sold 400 million Harry Potter books in an 11-year career. Mills & Boon sell 200 million formulaic female romantic fiction novels worldwide every year. And this is only one publisher of this popular genre. So it seems this is what many women want.
Women have made enormous gains in social and economic equality since 1970. But despite this their subjective feelings of happiness have declined in real terms and relative to men’s, whose happiness has remained fairly constant (reference: The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness). So perhaps the success of 50 Shades of Grey is picking up on women’s dissatisfaction with their asexual, politically correct, gender equal lives.
Ask yourself it the formula would work if the hero was of a lower social status (an unemployed labourer for example), less intelligent than the heroine, not masculine or physical and fell at her feet like a soppy puppy from the moment they met.
No, 50 Shades of Grey is female fantasy as it ever was.