The second big-screen installment of the cult favorite Fifty Shades of Grey has hit theatres just in time for the year’s steamiest holiday: Valentine’s Day. The sequel seems to have drawn the same massive crowd as the original, grossing almost $150 million in only two days according to Forbes. After a year’s hiatus between the release of Darker and the first movie, the controversy that swirled around the movie’s suggestive message had almost been forgotten. Now the franchise is back and so are the critics. To add to the discussion I have researched the sexual and psychological attractions that have millions of women enthralled with the erotic trilogy. Let’s take a look at the origins of the genre that has so many people on edge of their seats with bubbling excitement or outright disgust, and also learn why women are so obsessed with the tumultuously sexy Mr. Grey.
To look into the minds of the women that adore the racy trilogy, I went on a mission to see what psychologists say is the reason behind the obsession. Psychology Today’s Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) ties the female society’s desire for E.L. James’ erotic prose to its traumatic past of emotional and sexual oppression.
While many take on the belief that such taboo content was not invented till recently, Dr. Khoshaba states, “Racy novels that stimulate the senses have existed for hundreds of years”. She refers to the genre of sensationalism, which originated in the Victorian Era as women became disgruntled with society’s expectation of subservience and obedience. This fresh mindset gave way to a new era of literature that centered on the idea of female sexuality and female dominance over males. Still, as a sign of the times, these stories would end with the female being punished for her actions. Dr. Khoshaba argues, “Fifty Shades of Grey is a contemporary sensation novel”.
She says that the plot, which follows the Dominant Christian Grey as he pursues the young virgin Anastasia Steele as his Submissive, showcases our society’s subconscious anxiety towards the idea of a wholly independent female, suggesting that while we are making strides in gender equality women are still suffering from the impact of sexual oppression. This proposal indicates that Fifty Shades of Grey is perhaps a flawed version of a literary genre intended to strengthen women’s confidence in their sexuality. Also, it opens the conversation as to how the many real life practitioners of Mr. Grey’s BDSM view sexuality among the genders.