This weekend, SNL had a field day teasing moms about their obsession with Fifty Shades of Grey, further acknowledging that we pretty much all have our noses buried in the E.L. James BDSM series right now. (I can attest to witnessing proof of this last week: Grey and book #3 Fifty Shades Freed were for sale at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, but book #2 Fifty Shades Darker was SOLD OUT. Guess most of us are reading at the same pace? Ha!) Most women are reading it on their e-readers, though some of us bolder types are consuming it in paperback form. (Even in public. What? It's for work!) And believe it or not, there are those who would rather borrow their "mommy porn" fix from their local library. Unfortunately, curious ladies in Florida won't have the chance to do that now.
The series has been banned in 17 Florida libraries (specifically, in Brevard County) after being called "too pornographic." Oh, give me a break.
The library services director in Brevard County told The Palm Beach Post that the book doesn't meet their "selection criteria." Still, there are a couple of copies floating around, because the library acquired them prior to realizing that they didn't approve of its "soft porn" content. Ha. Now, they're eagerly awaiting the return of the books, so they can get rid of 'em. (Maybe they shouldn't hold their breath? Perhaps women are now lending these rogue copies of Grey on the black market!)
The sad thing here is that it's all a matter of perception. First of all, there are much dirtier books out there. Second of all, while Fifty Shades isn't in the same category as sexually-charged, controversial classics Lolita or Tropic of Cancer (in other words, of course it's not literature and never will be!), it's not total trash. It may be erotica, but there is character development and a real plot, which should deem it library shelf-worthy.
What's more, there's obviously a HUGE demand for the books. People who may not have made time to read in years are picking up this series, which should make librarians -- who I'm sure live in fear of us all going to hell in an illiterate hand-basket -- jump for joy! In a time when libraries are threatening to close, because "everything is digital or online," the least they can do to make the case that they're still relevant is to offer the bestseller everyone wants to read. By refusing to, these Florida libraries are making a tremendous mistake.
Here's a news report on how the racy book isn't exactly for everyone ...
The erotic “Fifty Shades of Grey” apparently is too blue for the Brevard County Public Libraries system.
The wildly popular first installment of a titillating trilogy by British author E.L. James, “Fifty Shades” is parked atop every best-seller list in the country, from Amazon to the New York Times.
But the sadomasochistic saga won’t be found any longer on Space Coast library shelves. All of a “handful” of copies were removed from circulation earlier this week.
“It’s quite simple — it doesn’t meet our selection criteria,” said Cathy Schweinsberg, library services director.
“Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realized what it was. We looked at it, because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn.”
The “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold more than 3 million copies in all formats. Local bookstores report brisk sales of the first book, a hit with women of all ages, and the Volusia County Public Library system had 13 copies as of Thursday. The Orange County Library System doesn’t stock it.
Trashed by many critics speaking to its literary quality, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is explicitly sexual in its description of the relationship between heroine Anastasia Steele, an innocent recent college graduate, and Christian Grey, a 27-year-old billionaire businessman with domineering and sadistic tendencies.
While the naughty novel doesn’t check out with local library officials, a quick look at the Brevard system’s online catalogue reveals a solid stash of some of the most erotic and enduring literature.
Copies of “The Complete Kama Sutra” are available through the Cocoa Beach, Mims/Scottsmoor, Palm Bay and Titusville branches. Also up for grabs countywide: “Fanny Hill,” “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” “Fear of Flying,” “Tropic of Cancer” and “Lolita.”
So what makes “Fifty Shades of Grey” different?
“I think because those other books were written years ago and became classics because of the quality of the writing,” Schweinsberg said. “This is not a classic.”...
JOPLIN, Mo. — When you say “romance novels,” you’re covering a whole lot of territory. From sweet to BDSM (which I looked up: It stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism), romance books fly off the shelf faster than any other genre.
You have doubts? Here are the facts from Romance Writers of America:
Romance fiction brought in $1.358 billion in estimated revenue for 2010.
Religion/inspirational: $759 million
Mystery: $682 million
Science fiction/fantasy: $559 million
Classic literary fiction: $455 million
And these facts don’t account for independently published e-books because RWA doesn’t recognize them. What passed for sexy romance back in the ‘80s is tame stuff today. Leading the charge is a book which, some speculate, has created a whole new genre -- which I don’t see as possible considering how far the romance novels labeled “erotica” have already gone.
“50 Shades of Gray” by E. L. James is either erotica or porn, depending on who you ask. It’s also a New York Times bestseller “because women across the world are enamored with the book,” according to Rt.com.
The novel has become an international smash, but “are thousands of women buying a book that encourages them to submit to male domination?” Rt.com wonders.
Some call it mommy porn, which outraged a writer at Chicagonow.com. She calls that label “the worst term ever invented. Ever.” She also calls the book “soft core BDSM,” a new genre of literature. This is better than mommy porn? ...
Crowds of fuzzy, cuddly bears will flock to Manhattan's West Side this week, but not the kind that live in the woods.
Urban Bear NYC will celebrate the subculture of gay men who refer to themselves as "bears" from Thursday through Sunday in the Meatpacking District, Greenwich Village and Chelsea, with a full calendar that includes a street fair, a pub crawl and an all-bear comedy show.
Robert Valin, executive producer of the festival now celebrating its fourth year, defined "bear" for the uninitiated.
"The stereotypical bear is a blue-collar guy with a little bit of extra weight and facial hair," Valin said. "I don't think most bears look gay to people. They look like the kind of guys women want to bring home to their families."
The bear fest is expecting about 2,000 people this year, up from 1,500 last year, Valin said. Men from as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Spain have said they will attend. ...
We met at a local bar on a Monday night, as friends do, to talk about the meaning of life and such. As we finished our second beer, he cleared his throat.
"We should probably discuss what we like to make sure we're on the same page," he said.
This was how my first BDSM relationship began — with a conversation.
The topic comes on the heels of the hype created by the controversial New York Times best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotic trilogy where a virginal college student participates in a BDSM relationship as a result of the sexual interests of a new lover. Dubbed "mommy porn" because of its suburban female demographic and strong sexual nature, the e-book shot to No. 1 on the New York Times e-book fiction best-seller list, leaving America to wonder, "What does this say about modern American women?"
Although I haven't read it, mostly due to its seemingly cheesy Twilight nature, the book's popularity thrills me. Its success strikes me as a slap across the face to slut-shamers the nation over, with women assuming control of their sex lives. Not because they're going to run out and buy a bunch of S&M gear (although, trends show they have in some parts of the country), but because it means women are curious and hungry to explore other facets of intimacy, even if they don't stick with it. ...
Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has claimed it is "normal" for him to have sex with six different women at orgies, Daily Mail reported Monday.
The 63-year-old economist, once tipped as the next French president, gave the extraordinary explanation to magistrates probing claims he used 800-pounds-a-night prostitutes at swingers' parties.
He has been charged with conspiring with pimps and of knowing fraudulently obtained money was being paid to the vice girls by the racket based in Lille, northern France.
In a hearing from March, the transcript of which has only been published Monday, a magistrate asks Strauss-Khan: "Bearing in mind the high number of girls, their age and their behaviour, do you maintain you did not know they were prostitutes?"
"I counted that there were six girls in total," Strauss-Khan replied. "That does not seem to me to be a considerable number."
"Numerous young women with whom I've had sexual exchanges - no, that's the wrong word - sexual relations, had the same age difference," Strauss-Kahn answered when he was asked if the girls would have agreed to have sex with him, considering their huge age difference with him, if they had not been paid.
Strauss-Kahn openly confessed to attending swingers parties in France and Belgium, but said he never knew the girls were prostitutes because "they were all naked at the time".
For thousands of years, every reasonable person knew that the sun revolved around the earth. After all, people could see it happen with their own eyes. And when Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler used science to show otherwise, people laughed at them. It took a century for the idea that the earth revolved around the sun to even begin to catch on.
History is full of popular ideas that science has disproved -- but which still remain popular. The reasons are typically religion, politics, or economics -- but the fact remains that, well, facts are not the only determinant of what people believe.
When the subject is sexuality, facts have a pretty poor reputation in America. The media, cynical politicians, and various pressure groups get tremendous benefits from misinforming -- and frightening -- the American public. And when someone speaks up with the facts, they're often shouted down, dismissed as simply having a personal belief. Bill O'Reilly is famous for equating a progressive's facts with his own, albeit differing, opinion.
Let's look at some popular beliefs about sex that science conclusively disproves -- and which continue nevertheless.
The Internet Myth: The Internet is a hotbed of sexual predators, and children are at terrible risk.
Science: The overwhelming majority of the "unwanted sexual solicitation" on the Internet reported by young people is from their peers, and is generally benign. According to the state-of-the-art Harvard/Berkman Institute report, the main risk faced by minors on the Internet is bullying, not sexual predation.
Sex education Myth: Talking about sex honestly and using the proper names for body parts inflames kids' curiosity; teaching them about sexual decision-making and safer sex encourages them to have sex.
Science: Young people taught comprehensive sexuality information that does not focus on promoting fear or religious messages tend to postpone their first intercourse, are more likely to use condoms the first time they have intercourse, and tend to have fewer sexual partners.
Strip clubs Myth: Strip clubs destroy neighborhoods with crime and prostitution.
Science: No police department in the U.S. has documented an increase in police calls or violence in neighborhoods with strip clubs when measured against comparable neighborhoods without strip clubs.
Swingers' clubs Myth: Swingers' clubs are a hotbed of STDs and drug use.
Science: Swingers do not have a higher rate of STDs than their non-swinging peers; in fact, people with open relationships use more safer-sex behaviors than people having clandestine affairs. Police departments that raid swingers' clubs (typically for minor zoning infractions) virtually never document illegal drug use.
Sex offenders Myth: Sex offenders are snarling predators with no conscience, whose behavior is so compulsive it cannot be controlled or influenced.
Science: According to the Department of Justice, sex offenders have a strikingly lower recidivism rate than any other non-sexual felony.
Pornography Myth: Consuming pornography leads men to be more sexually violent.
Science: According to the FBI, in the 11 years since the Internet has flooded America with porn, the rates of sexual violence have decreased. And while crimes of sexual violence are typically under-reported, there is no reason to think that under-reporting has increased; in fact, public awareness campaigns have almost certainly decreased the under-reporting. ...
Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey yet? Do you plan to?
The erotic New York Times best-seller has created a national stir and the local chatter shows that despite how controversial the novel is, it’s on high demand to either love or hate.
The book is part of a trilogy that includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, written by E L James. Some say it’s just the next generation of popular erotica, though others believe it’s a new, inappropriate level of “porn for mommies.”
Regardless of all of the conflicting circles of criticism and praise, it seems locals are doing whatever they can to get their hands on a copy, just to see for themselves. The Ferndale Public Library’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, currently has 10 holds on it.
Is its fame a surprise?
Victor Wooddell, owner of Berkley Book Corner, says he’s trying to keep up with the demand of area readers requesting Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s been next to impossible, though.
“I can’t keep it on my shelf. I’ve had at least a dozen special orders,” he said.
Wooddell noticed a sudden spike in interest three or four weeks ago when the book was featured on NPR, he said, and has had a constant stream of orders ever since. ...