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Fifty Shades of Grey adds to the burgeoning “mom porn” literature market

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The web is positively a-buzz with talk about the new vanilla BDSM bestseller Fifty Shades of GreyWritten by E.L. James, the book is the first in a trilogy detailing a presumably torrid affair between a business tycoon and a college girl, spiced up with light-to-middling BDSM (i.e. light torture devices like whips, chains and, I don’t know, My Dinner With Andre). Predicting more mainstream acceptance of erotica (the book will see a 750,000-copy paperback re-release), publisher Anne Messite told the New York Times, “The people who are reading this are not only people who read romance. It’s gone much broader than that.” 

Grey concerns a college girl — the too-aptly named Anastasia Steele — who’s about to graduate without having job-hunted or masturbated in her entire life, and Christian Grey (who allegedly possesses fifty shades, as well as billions of dollars) who cares for/fucks Anastasia Steele. This is far too fitting, given the current zeitgeist of youth desperation, unemployment, and unprecedented neediness. What sucks is that Grey seems to sexualize my generation’s professional haplessness rather than subverting it. Personally, I'd rather get a job right now than masturbate to my joblessness and destitution (though it must be said that joblessness and destitution have led me to spend more time on the cost-efficient activity of masturbation).

Ultimately, despite the book’s apparent unconventionality, it's actually far from the taboo-breaker it would seem. Sexologist Laura Berman tells HuffPo that "the most common female fantasy is a submission fantasy." Grey may be groundbreaking for the American mainstream, but despite the hype, it sounds replete with the same tired tropes that have plagued romance novels throughout the years. Indeed, the reign of cyclopean rods and wholesome pinknesses has not ended.