Saturday, February 14, 2015

50 Shades of Stop Being Terrible at Sex

So there's the movie that's out right now and people are all losing their minds over it. One half of my Facebook feed is all about how only depraved sinners will go to see the movie. The other half is about how awesome the books were and how excited they are for the movie.

I don't really want to comment on the writing of the book (I haven't read it) or the acting in the movie (I haven't watched it). That's not my place or my purpose. This blog is about marriage, not literary or cinema critique.

What I think needs to be said is this: 50 Shades of Grey is popular for a reason.

There's a reason that over 100 million copies of the books have been sold. There's a reason why so many people (mostly women) are flocking to see the movie. Understanding that reason is important to your relationship (the books and/or movie are up to you).

I know I'm not the only one who grew up in a situation where sex was naughty. I grew up in a Christian home and in church I was taught that sex (outside of marriage) is wrong. Mostly I dropped the parenthetical as I incorporated that idea into my teenage psyche. I just got the message that sex was wrong. I would ruin my life and perhaps catch gross and deadly diseases if I did it. Despite the fact that I really (really) wanted to have sex, it would have labeled me as a dirty, terrible person if I had.

Then I got married and I was supposed to magically change my mind and start thinking sex was awesome.

Does your brain work that way? Yeah, neither does mine.

My wife and I have been working for our whole married life to unlearn the message that sex is shameful and wrong. Even today when we talk about sex it's sometimes too scary for us to do so with the lights on. We've been married for over 11 years and talked about everything else, but we still have those moments when it's just too shameful to say certain things while looking each other in the eye.

Gentlemen, I'm going to be frank with you here (if you're not a gentleman, you can still read this part, it probably applies to you, also I'm making generalizations here that may not apply to every person or every relationship for the sake of brevity).

Guys, if we're satisfying our wives then perhaps they won't need or want to read/watch 50 Shades of Grey.

Yeah, I said it.

In the whole sex-is-bad culture there's the terrible double-standard that says boys will be boys while girls have to be pure and virginal. Basically it's saying that men are allowed to be sexually satisfied while women are not. One of the worst examples of this is in things like female genital mutilation that still goes in on today.

Our culture is having a hard time letting go of the notion that women are meant ot be property for the sexual gratification of the men. They aren't, so let's stop acting like it.

But, James, you'll argue, in 50 Shades of Grey, the women is not in control.

I know. She's told to do all the stuff and, even when she says that it's time to stop, Christian (the male lead) keeps going. So that absolves her of any guilt in wanting the stuff that happens (some bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) but still getting to experience it.

Let me say that again, she gets to enjoy sex without feeling guilty about it.

The fantasy of 50 Shades of Grey is for a women to have the benefit of sex without the guilt and shame. The guilt and shame are there because our culture (by which I mean Western religious culture which still permeates much of American society) says that sex is dirty and wrong. The lack of enjoyment is there because our culture has said that sex if for men's enjoyment not women's.

So if we work (and it will be work) to unlearn the idea that sex is dirty we can start to address some of the guilt and shame issues. But that's not enough. Sex is awesome and both men and women should get a chance to enjoy it.

So what should you do?

Here's a short list of suggestions:

  • Talk about your sexaul fantasies (even if you have to turn off the lights). 
  • Take turns being the focus of sex (tonight it's all about what she wants). 
  • Debrief after sex to talk about what worked and what didn't.
  • Remind yourselves that sex is awesome (say it outloud to each other). 
  • Do your best to make sure that everyone fully enjoys the sexytimes (guys let her finish first). 
  • Play, experiment, take risks, have fun (get some toys or some ropes or go on an adventure). 
What would you add to the list? 

What am I absolutely wrong about? 

Have you seen the movie or read the book(s)? What did you think?