50 Shades of Commodification

Everyone's talking about how the book 50 Shades of Grey and the movie Magic Mike are "mom porn." I disagree.

I think they're commodification of moms.

When I first heard about 50 Shades of Grey I was kind of baffled about why it was such a big deal, because so many of the women I know either read sex-filled books or watch porn. It might not be BDSM-themed, like 50SoG is, but whether it's the kind of book that euphemizes body parts or the kind that describes every detail in detail, we've been reading them for years. And whether it's just a racy movie or something more hardcore, we've been watching, too.

So the idea that by reading 50SoG we're doing something racy or titillating or being "naughty" and that that's a break from our usual boring, buttoned-up little lives is silly. Insulting. Patronizing. And all the fuss over 50SoG and Magic Mike, and, I'd argue, those works themselves, is commodification of us and our lives.

Remember when moms used to put a piece of cheese and some crackers and a piece of turkey and some apple slices in their kids' lunch? Then marketers packaged it up and called it Lunchables. That's all 50SoG is--the Lunchables of erotica.

Thank you but I can put together my own lunch.

The one good thing I can say about 50SoG is that maybe it's allowing some women to think about and talk about sex who were afraid of reading or thinking or watching or talking about it before. I've heard of women worrying that they were being "bad Christians" just by reading (or thinking about reading!) the book. (Have you read the actual Bible? There are way more than 50 shades of every color in that book--sex, violence, deceit, betrayal, eternal damnation, etc.) But they're still reading it.

So maybe it's giving them a starting point to start verbalizing thoughts about sex and sexuality in a way that isn't too personal. (And isn't that the appeal of all erotica and porn? That you can have sexual thoughts that aren't a betrayal of your real relationship because they're happening to a different protagonist?)

I just wish the book wasn't so wink-wink "Oh I'm reading something naughty." And that it was better-written. And fact-checked.

And didn't feel like a carefully-calibrated attempt to package up our desires and expectations and sell them to the world.