Almost every woman I know is reading 50 Shades of Grey. Or talking about wanting to or not wanting to read 50 Shades of Grey. By and large, these are the same women who got swept up in the Twilight series. But let's just say 50 Shades is no Twilight. Where the majority of the vampire series was full of characters not having sex, 50 Shades is...not that. So I've heard. "Mommy Porn" it's called. And people cannot get enough. Not just people I know, but people everyone knows. Thirty-something women. Whispering and giggling daily about S&M porn. And to this I wonder, What the hell is going on?
My personal theory is that women are reading 50 Shades largely because they can download it on their e-reader and no one's the wiser. These same women would not purchase this book and have to look a cashier in the eye. Or answer to a credit card statement. These same women are the type who stop on a certain Showtime channel when it's late and they happen to be staying in a hotel. And they just peek, just for a minute. Out of curiosity. Or maybe for research? To have little nuggets of information to hold in their head if ever needed.
I learned from my mom that there is nothing new under the sun. Women in the 1950's were just as curious about sex - and how other people were having sex - as women in the 1800's and women in the 2000's. It's just that our generation is so inured to soft core porn on regular tv and oversized billboards that we have to swing toward the extreme to be stimulated.
One of the reasons I didn't care for the movie Bridesmaids is because it was so ridiculously vulgar. "Look, everyone! Women can be just as funny and dirty as the boys!" But this isn't true. I have girlfriends who are belly laugh funny. Tears-rolling-down-your-cheeks funny. But it's not because of diarrhea. A woman's humor is usually more nuanced. Layered, if you will. This isn't to knock men's humor. I live with a funny guy who makes funny guy shows aimed at guys. I can get down with some adolescent boy humor. But I'm sick of watching women trying to make the same thing aimed towards women.
I thought Sex and the City did a good job of showing what was special and complicated about women's friendships. I think the new HBO show Girls does a fabulous job of showing how hilarious girl conversations can be, even without all the laughter. But then again, SATC had some pretty raunchy sex scenes and Girls is very, very dirty. But it's different somehow. Smarter?
Truly funny people are usually much smarter than people give them credit for. But you don't exactly have to be an intellectual to appreciate funny. You definitely don't have to sink to the depths of hard-core porn or gastrointestinal jokes to get women's attention. Those things, they don't make us more authentic.
Or maybe I’m just wrong. Bridesmaids was a box office smash. 50 Shades is a runaway best seller. The womanly masses are flocking to this kind of entertainment. Perhaps I’m one of the very few left in the dust of feminine vulgarity. Maybe we all need to adjust our definition of authenticity, before the pendulum swings all the way back from overshare to taboo.
And everything old is new again. Again.