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"S&M Goes Mainstream… Again"

on Wednesday, 30 May 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Fort Worth Weekly

I guess I’m a little behind the curve in the whips-and-handcuffs department — wait, is there an unintended pun in there?

Despite weeks of media fanfare over “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the Twilight fan-fiction series turned sadomasochistic romance trilogy, it wasn’t until I inquired about a large stack of books behind a Barnes & Noble cash register that the popularity of the series hit me like a leather whip (intended).

“Are those all ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?” I asked the middle-aged female cashier.

“Oh yeah,” she said, already laughing. “We keep them by the register because someone asks for them every five minutes or so. I don’t get it, either.”

I’d heard of them briefly, but the conversation prompted me to read a few articles online, where I learned that the trilogy occupies all three top spots on The New York Times e-book bestseller list.


Okay, given the Twilight phenomenon and a little bit of reflection, maybe I’m not surprised. Both take excellent advantage of our puritanical mix of fascination and self-loathing when dealing with the taboos of  “sexual deviancy.”

But it’s the over-hyped, poorly thought-out criticisms that are more absurd — and more disgusting — than anything you’re likely to find in these grossly-coined “mommy porn” novels.

Most prominently, there’s the idea that these books’ popularity suggests sadomasochism is “going mainstream.” Wrong. Sadomasochism has always been mainstream, just not in public. Unlike Twilight, I didn’t see a large, by-the-front-door display for “Fifty Shades of Grey” at Barnes & Noble. The books weren’t even right next to the register, but kept behind a pillar where customers are no doubt less likely to find it, unless of course they are looking for it. ...

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