Monday, February 2, 2015

Why I love 50 Shades of Grey

The 50 Shades movie is coming out next week. Which if you work in the land of sex toys is what we call A BIG DEAL.

In rest of the world, is it a big deal? It looks like it. Folks are excited about seeing the movie. So excited in fact, that ticket pre-sales are record breaking (funny that Hollywood often says women can't drive ticket sales - this year's proving them wrong over and over).

There are plenty of valid things to criticize about the book (see our next blog). However, when us sex positive folks get our undies in a bunch about those issues, I think we miss the point.

50 Shades of Grey sold more than 100 million copies. Right up there with Harry Potter and Twilight. That’s 100 million, mostly women, buying, reading and talking about a book because it turns them on. Talking about it publically. Reading it on the subway and at the break table without shame. It caused folks to talk about female pleasure on morning TV. It reminded millions of women that sex is fun. And it turned up the heat in millions of bedrooms across the globe. 50 Shades of Grey brought people joy. And I’m grateful.

It also got people reading. I spoke with several women who told me that they hadn’t read a book since high school, but they read all three 50 Shades books and then proceeded to read other erotic fiction novels. Anything that gets people reading is good by me.

Part of what I think brought non-readers into 50 Shades is it’s accessible reading level. When I worked in public health I was taught that any reading material we published should be at a 6th grade reading level or below. Why? Because we wanted the information to be accessible to everyone. And there are many people who are most comfortable reading around that level.

Much of our erotica is written at a 12th grade or higher reading level. Which is great for people like me who’ve been reading incessantly since they were four years old, have a college degree and get excited when they find unfamiliar words. But for the vast majority of people, complex sentences and big words are a turn off. Or worse, a cue that this thing doesn’t welcome them. Erotica is fun. In some cases erotica can even be life changing. People of all reading levels deserve to have access to it. 50 Shades met a need. A need I hope erotica writers continues to meet.

Because of this book, there was a nation wide shortage of kegel balls. If those folks use them, they're having better orgasms and healthier PC muscles. People came into our store glowing and excited and saying, “my spouse and I haven’t had sex like this in years”. Men who hadn’t read much of the book walked in the door with lists and sparkles in their eyes. 50 Shades ignited passion in places where passion was on a break. That is a very, very powerful gift.

So, thank you Ms James. I think you’ve made this world a better place. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. May it spark as much steamy joy.

Next - what's wrong with 50 Shades.

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