50 Shades of Sexuality

August 09, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Popular book is spurring talk about eroticism

AUGUST 7, 2012
Family counsellor and sex therapist Jayne Weatherbe is planning a group discussion inspired by the popular Fifty Shades of Grey book series.
Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, timescolonist.com (August, 2012)
Whatever its literary merits, the eroticsexual novel Fifty Shades of Grey has successfully tapped a cache of neglected needs and emotions, a Victoria relationship counsellor says.
Victoria sex therapist and family counsellor Jayne Weatherbe says the bestselling novel by Briton E.L. James is now prompting women, particularly women older than their 20s, to begin talking and thinking about sexual relations in a way they have been overlooking – romance with a hint of danger and mystery.
At the same time, however, Weatherbe credits the 2011 book, with its sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, for themes, characters and plots that stay within boundaries that are physically safe and even emotionally traditional.
“It’s a romantic fantasy,” Weatherbe said in an interview. “It’s not too transgressive; the bondage, the sublimation, the sadomasochism and other sadistic acts are not too over-the-top.”
She compared it to an earlier erotic novel, The Story of O, first published in French in 1954. It depicted physically and emotionally damaging acts of sadomasochism, areas that Fifty Shades of Grey manages to avoid by respecting more traditional values.
“It’s all slightly dangerous, but it has that emotional appeal of a good woman, even a slightly innocent and virtuous woman, trying to heal her man,” Weatherbe said. “And that’s been around forever, and we love that story.”
Weatherbe is planning a discussion group in Victoria to allow women, in particular, to have explicit conversations about sex and relationships. The surprise success of Fifty Shades of Grey is proof the time is right for the conversations to begin.
Jessica Walker, assistant manager of Munro’s Books in Victoria, said the book is the summer reading hit, a “phenomenal” seller.
Walker said she has not yet read the book but a few staff members have. Comments have ranged from “the writing is no great hell” to “I really like the story so I don’t care much about the writing.”
She said buyers range in age mainly from 30 to 50. It has also become, according to claims heard at the bookstore’s till, a big book-club item.
“People say, ‘Oh, I’m reading this for my book club,’ ” Walker said. “People will say that quite a lot at the till – like they are having to read it against their will, but actually you can see they are quite excited about it.”
She said she has heard some feminists have criticized the book for its depiction of a woman who is forever giving up control. On the other hand, the book’s plot and characters follow a fairly traditional romantic theme, but one that is allowing readers to explore erotic literature, perhaps for the first time.
“It’s allowing a lot of people to check it out and even browse the erotica section when they wouldn’t normally, even if they are giggling when they buy it,” Walker said.
Weatherbe said, as a sex therapist, she believes the issues and responses to Fifty Shades of Grey are revealing an interest in sex and sexuality that is altogether healthy and not surprising considering the current demographic with its older population.
Women and men are living longer, providing them a chance to stay in relationships with lengthy durations previous generations rarely achieved. People simply died younger in the past.
“We as women now have yet to make that decision at 50ish to either let all that brain below the belt just wither up, shrivel and dry up, or to keep ourselves fully alive,” Weatherbe said.
“The idea that you just somehow wither up and die at 50, that myth around sexuality really needs to be challenged,” she said. “And this book is really challenging that.”
Weatherbe also believes the book and its enormous popularity reveal something very hopeful for society.
The demographic may be growing older but people still remain interested in each other. And they are obviously enjoying the notion their interests can remain fully active, even long-term fascinations.
“People are asking, ‘What is possible between a man and a woman? Can eroticism and sexuality be central in a relationship?
How do we keep it alive and well?’ ” she said.
“And when we can communicate in a way that we have great connections, great collaboration between men and women, then we can go on being married for a long time, and be happily married and more married than ever before.”
People interested in attending Weatherbe’s discussion on Fifty Shades of Grey can phone 250-388-6434 or go to jayneweatherbe.ca. rwatts@timescolonist.coma
The Associated Press
NEW YORK – Fifty Shades of Grey author E. L. James will soon make her first visits to two hotspots featured in her erotic trilogy: Seattle and Portland.
Vintage Books announced that the Britain-based writer is including the two Pacific Northwest cities on a tour this fall to promote her multimillionselling novels. James will appear at Seattle’s Third Place Books on Sept. 22 and at Portland’s Powell’s Books on Sept. 24.
James will also travel to Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Comments are closed.


  • "There's something about the way that you work. I trust you and I am getting better. People are noticing and I am not bothered by ...

    A 55 year old man struggling with no sexual desire in new marriage says…
  • "This is a compliment to you. I hear your voice telling me that I don’t need to suffer anymore."

    A client from Sidney says…
  • "It feels good to get those things off my chest and to understand the primitive brain’s part in my emotions."

    A client from Greater Victoria says…
  • "You seem to ask the right questions that get us where we need to go."    

    A client on Vancouver Island, BC
  • “I’m beginning to wake up. I’m working to own myself more. It might be marvelous.”

    A Client from Victoria, BC