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"The debate: Is the submissive relationship seen in 50 Shades of Grey degrading to women?"

on Wednesday, 04 July 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Independent

Since the first in the erotic trilogy was published a year ago, 50 Shades of Grey has sold over 10 million copies. Coined as “mummy porn”, the novel and its sequels have made it to the top three spots in the bestseller charts in the UK and the US.

Not only is the racy novel the best selling e-book of all time, it is also responsible for boosting erotic purchases. Sales of erotic literature and porn magazines have risen by 130 per cent in the last month, while the number of women buying sex toys has more than doubled. revealed that the book title was their most searched term – wilth “Sex toy discounts” and “Ann Summers” a close second and third.

If you haven’t yet given in to the currently ubiquitous titillation surrounding the books, the fantasy novels centre on a handsome billionaire, Christian Grey, who seduces a virginal college graduate, Anastastia, into a submissive relationship.

When asked about researching for the book, author E L James responded: “Well, yes, they are my fantasies lived out and ­explored,” she said. “But I don’t know how much detail I want to go into. Um, well, let’s just say I had a very nice time ­researching the book. That’s all I’m going to say. I’m ­actually now blushing.”

Both its success and appeal are apparent, but discussions over what the subtext of the book has to say about modern feminism has come to fruition. It’s been argued that the submissive relationship seen in the book could undermine female equality and sets a negative example to readers.

But does the sadomasochism seen in 50 Shades of Grey degrading to women? Or is purely fantasy, with whichever form of sexual exploration a personal choice to pursue in the bedroom?

Dr Gina Barreca believes that the outdated erotica seen in the novel serves to promote unhealthy ideals of relationships in and out of the bedroom, but Meg Barker argues that the sadomasochism experienced between the two protagonists in the bedroom is far more common that many would like to think. ...

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