In general, I’ve tried to stay out of the Fifty Shades of Gray debate, in part because I think others have covered the territory quite well (see the Smart Bitches’ awesome take, for example). And, well, after perusing three free chapters of the first book on Amazon, I have zero desire to read the damn things. Not my kind of (hot, same-sex, well-written) porn. Which is cool.
However, I have [and do] laud the books for starting a long-overdue (if often juvenile) conversation in the US about women, erotica, and desire.
That said, Ruth Marcus’ column in today’s Washington Post brought out what is, for me, a new and unpleasant wrinkle in this debate: women telling women what we, as good feminists, should REALLY be fantasizing about.
After blushing for several paragraphs over talking about BDSM sex (tee hee! she’s so naughty!), Marcus actually does a nice job of kicking down Katie Roiphe’s ridiculous claims in Newsweek that feminists want to be subs in the bedroom because they’re tired of being in charge, because they’re threatened by what Roiphe claims is the “shaky” nature of “male dominance” in contemporary society.
Marcus cuts Roiphe to the quick (hurray!) and observes that Gray may be difficult to discuss, in part, because to do so
requires acknowledging gender differences that we’ve been conditioned to deny.
That is: that women’s fantasies be different than men’s.
But then–alas–here’s Marcus’ kicker:
Ultimately, Leonard [EL James’ real name] makes the key distinction: between women’s fantasies and their realities. “In real life, I think it’s something very, very different,” she told NBC. “You want someone who does the dishes.”
Now that’s one hot fantasy.
See, women of America (who read the Post)! Here’s what you SHOULD lust after:
And not this:
And DEFINITELY not this:
Now, I’m all for acknowledging all kinds of desires, especially those that transcend the binary of male and female. If everyone’s legal and consenting, then hop to it.
But, damn it, I’m ANNOYED by Marcus’ choice here. It feels to me as though, with that kicker, she’s distancing herself from those naughty ladies who read Gray, who read erotica/porn so they can fantasize about fucking beautiful men (or women!).
In essence, Marcus’ closing statement feels like an act of imaginative policing, of telling us feminists what we should really want is not a hot sex partner(s) but a man who’ll happily soldier 50% of the housework. That we should get turned on not by this–
–but by the sight of our (presumably male) partner doing the goddamn dishes.
You know, to each her own. That’s cool. But please, middle-aged woman who writes op-ed columns for the Post: please do not presume to tell me, as a feminist (who writes porn) what my fantasies may or may not include. Thank you.
You can have the dishwashing husbands of America all to yourself, darlin. I’ll take the boy with the stupid hat and the stuffed bird.