It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! And today I want to tell you how I really feel about 50 Shades of Grey.
The 50 Shades of Grey book trilogy is selling by the millions (UPDATE: and now they’ve made 2 movies out of them!). The books are “mommy porn”, a bit of bondange erotica that married women are buying in huge numbers.
I’ve written some posts about the phenomenon generally, talking about how erotica & Kindles provide a temptation we need to look out for. And last weekend, in the Reader Question of the Week, I posted a question from a woman whose friends at church are all reading 50 Shades of Grey. What should she do?
Most of my thoughts are already here, but I want to add a few more things.
50 Shades of Grey and Pornography: Don’t Create a Double Standard
Most women who may be tempted by this sort of erotica (and I have to admit that I do understand the temptation) would not want their husbands watching porn. We think this is somehow different, because we’re just “reading stories”, we’re not watching two people do something. We’re not objectifying anyone.
But you’re still doing harm. Sex is supposed to be something that joins two people together in love, and that enhances a relationship. If, instead, you allow “erotica” to get you aroused, and then you use that arousal to make love to your husband, you’re not focusing on him. You’re focusing on the story, and he’s really just secondary. Can the sex be good? Sure! But that’s not the same thing as saying that it is intimate. And what we’re aiming for is intimate (and truly intimate sex is good on every level).
50 Shades of Grey Is Bad Because It Causes Dissociation–Not Being Present
Erotica causes you to dissociate during sex (fantasize in your mind) so that you’re not really present with your husband. If you’ve ever been worried that your husband is fantasizing about someone else (or something else) when you’re making love, then why would you turn around and do the same thing?
And there’s one more issue that a reader emailed to me that is so important here. One of the main problems with porn is that it goes far beyond simple lust. It becomes an addiction, and to get the next “high” you start looking at weirder and weirder stuff. So it began with men looking at a Playboy, and it soon digresses into some really disgusting things–things that men would never have wanted to look at otherwise. But once you make sex into something solely physical, instead of something which gives you spiritual intimacy, too, you start sending a positive feedback loop between your brain and your body when you see that stimulus, and you create a craving for more and more.
It’s the same thing with erotica. Once we go down that slope, for many women it won’t be just a novel that explores the darker side of women’s fantasies. It becomes a novel that is truly pornographic in nature, with very graphic sex scenes in it. And that’s not good.
So, look, I know women, even in the church, are saying, “this is a great book to jumpstart your libido!” Or, “I just needed some excitement in my life, and this gave it back to me!” They’re treating it like it’s harmless, and it’s part of the self-actualization trend. We think we deserve to be fully sexually fulfilled, and so we look for quick ways to get there.
50 Shades of Grey Degrades Women and Makes Sex About Power
Look, there is something alluring about being “taken”. There’s something that’s deeply compelling about feeling out of control, especially for so many control freak women. But when we start to eroticize violence (which is what this is), we strip sex of its intimacy and we make it only physical. Do you know what’s really erotic? Vulnerability. Being completely bare and open with someone.
God made us so that that vulnerability would be reached as we emotionally and spiritually grow together. BDSM shortcuts that. When true intimacy isn’t there, it substitutes physical vulnerability with the vulnerability we really long for.
And the reports on how this series primes women to think that violence and abuse are normal are truly scary.
It’s understandable to drawn to this stuff. But realize that the root of it is that you yearn for true connection and intimacy. Work on that instead.
The key to sexual fulfillment is to delight in your husband.
That takes work. That takes communication and forgiveness. That takes energy when you’re exhausted. That takes going to bed earlier, getting more organized so you have more time, being stricter with kids so you have time to yourself, and learning how to shut your brain off of all the things you worry about. It takes dealing with your sexual baggage, and dealing with your husband’s sexual baggage. It takes seeing sex as something beautiful. No, it’s not easy.
But who ever said that the right things in life are the easy things? There is no greater reward than truly connecting with your husband, and you can’t use a shortcut for that, especially a shortcut that has the danger of being a dead end, or leading you off of a cliff.
When I was younger, I saw porn when I was baby-sitting. I never sought it out; it was just there. And do you know how long it took me to get it out of my head? And it wasn’t just the porn; it was the stories that accompanied the porn (the stories are often much more alluring to women). I know now that I just can’t go there, because it took so long for me to be free. I had a really hard time thinking of sex as something beautiful between me and my husband, because whenever we were having fun, an unbidden image would appear or a line from a story. I’m free now, but it was a hard road. I can’t endanger that again. So please, ladies, don’t do that to yourself.
50 Shades of Grey seems harmless, but it’s not. Intimacy is beautiful. 50 Shades of Grey is not. Don’t follow the pack!
If you’re tempted to click that link and download it to your Kindle, try the stop-look-listen thing. Stop and take a few deep breaths. Look honestly at your marriage and what you’re about to buy. And then listen to God.
Other great reads on 50 Shades of Grey:
How Kindles Can Wreck Your Marriage
50 Shades of Danger
Disturbing Trends in Female Sexual Preferences
Stop Grey from Becoming the New Black and White (with lots more links!)
And if you’ve had trouble with porn in the past, and you’re looking to reclaim intimacy in your sexual life, Sheila’s book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex has a whole section on how to make sex holy again!