E.L. James' erotic series has resonated with millions of readers, with over 100 million copies of her book sold worldwide and overwhelming attention given to the trailer for the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Less than a week after the clip went up on YouTube, it became the most-viewed movie trailer of the year.
As a psychologist who published a book about female sexuality, I love talking about the theology, biology, and psychology of sex. But when it comes to the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey, we must acknowledge what a narrow view of sex and power comes through in this very popular story.
The appeal of Fifty Shades reflects our hyper-sexualized cultural climate, in which the procreation-focused, missionary-position-only thinking of our puritanical past has been rejected. Instead, the cultural norm has become fetishized sexual behavior that equates "good sex" with over-the-top pleasure, wild foreplay, and euphoric orgasm. It champions personal gratification, and with the book's edgy BDSM details, places sex firmly in the realm of power and control.
While I believe healthy sex in marriage can and should include passion and pleasure, our sexuality encompasses a whole feast of longings and experiences that extend far beyond the sexual high in Fifty Shades.
What about the middle-of-the-night sex in which you don't need to turn on the lights because you know every crevice and wrinkle of each other's bodies? Sometimes sex is a tender exchange of quiet knowing, rather than steamy taking.
What about the medicalized intercourse you desperately want to enjoy but have begun to dread because you automatically imagine the forthcoming negative pregnancy test? Sometimes sex does involve pain, ...1
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