Fifty shades of irrelevant to the women we respect
Given the opportunity to create their perfect day for a research project, 900 women prioritised 106 minutes of romance with their partner.
Ideally eight hours sleep would precede the love-in, and 86 minutes of socialising was tagged onto the end of the day, but “intimate time” rated the highest and the most important activity of their perfect day.
But all I take from the study, conducted by researchers for the Journal of Economic Psychology, is a projection of women as a bunch of love-starved, vacuous, and needy individuals who define themselves by their relationships. So how come I don’t know one single woman like that?
Fifty Shades of Grey has a lot to answer for. Something that became alarmingly obvious to me when a friend recently shared this snippet from the Facebook fan page:
You can only see a few comments now, but there’s a stack with the same sentiment; grown women literally overwhelmed, to the point of tears, by a fictional character.
On one hand you can laugh this off good-naturedly or cuss yourself for not thinking of such a simple idea. You might also look for a link between Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight and the Mills and Boon books of the days of yore. But it just made me feel sad and concerned.
What the hell are we doing with our lives that a fictional character, who by all accounts sounds like a total jerk, has managed to stir the imaginations of so many?
It’s not exactly new territory, said Dr Elizabeth Shaw, a family therapy specialist psychologist. Women are drawn to the fairytale elements of the Fifty Shades of Grey story.
“He buys her a car within the first month. He’s rich, glamorous and just wants to gobble her up, what’s not to like about that?
“A lot of women fantasise about the dominant, handsome, successful man who sweeps them off their feet and reveals a tender side. And that’s exactly what happens in this book.”
Shaw also told The Punch that 50 Shades has given women a forum to open up and talk about what they want when it comes to sex.
“Women have always been drawn to romantic novels because it opens up the closet for them to talk about sex and want they want. And because it’s a bestseller it doesn’t seem wrong to bring it up at a dinner party, for example.”
Far be it from me to stand in the way of open communication, but the explanation is still just a little bit depressing. The basis of the book is a dominating relationship, where the woman hangs onto every word and direction the man gives her. “Until the second and third novels, where she actually turns him into a good father,” Dr Shaw interjects.
But where amid all the mindless drama of this fictional story are the women we actually know, love and respect? The ones that inspire us with their brains and their knowledge, the books they’ve read and their life experience. Or the children they’ve raised, the jobs they’ve loved and the friendships they’ve nurtured.
Because quite frankly, I know plenty of women like that and they’re too busy living their lives to bother with B-grade romance novels.
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