Summer reading really sizzled up this past season with the release of 50 Shades of Grey. Whether you restricted your “recreational” reading to your inconspicuous IPad, Nook or Kindle, or blantenly aired your dirty laundry and saucy summer selection out for the world to see in paperback, many Mommies cannot deny that they were seduced by the allure of this beach book must have.
There is an obvious attraction to this type of trashy novel, with a man who will take the reigns in the “relationship” (using that term loosely), as many Moms are tired of being the sole bearer of the family itinerary, to do list, mealtime menu and chore chart. Not to mention the date decision maker–where to dine, when and with whom…? There is something undeniably sexy about being the “submissive” for a change and leaving it up to your partner to take control and simple tell you what to wear, where to be and when.
Many tired Moms (even those who refuse to admit it) have the occasional fantasy about following behind the footsteps of their fearless leader, someone who will give them a vacation from all the thinking, multitasking, planning and preparation of the “day to day” monotony that many Moms face. This generation of “independent women” often juggle motherhood, a career, their relationship, and their family. It can be an emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting role, one that is often under estimated, under valued and under appreciated.
Who wouldn’t want some wordily, billionaire, with intellectual prowl and mind blowing bedtime behavior to sweep you off your feet? That being said, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to attain such unrealistic rapture?
Many will argue that 50 Shades of Grey should be viewed simply as a guilty pleasure at best; an escape from the everyday. However the question must be asked if in an effort to provide tantalizing entertainment void of restrained inhibitions, the book risked portraying an unhealthy relationship as not only sexy but suitable for a young woman. While many followers of the 50 Shades Trilogy claim that this book was marketed towards the stay at home Moms, “bored in the bedroom and looking for ways to heat up things at home,” it would be unrealistic to believe that this sultry and “forbidden” form of fiction would not find its way in to the longing fingers of young adults, especially since the main character in the book is 21 years of age, just graduating college.
While strong minded Moms, filled with years of confidence, wisdom and life lessons, can read such a book, seeing the sexiness for what it is and the ridiculous nature of the rest, impressionable young adults may not be as disciplined or discerning. For a Mom, a book is no longer a book. For the same reason that watching a TV show, such as Law and Order SVU or Criminal Minds, or the many series basing their plot points on child pornography, rape and assault, are no longer entertainment but much more unsettling. After becoming a parent, books too undergo a more analytical eye.
Reading a story that suggests a relationship filled with guidelines, rules, physical abuse and dominated discipline is anything less than unhealthy, is not sexy but disturbing. If the “games” remained in the bedroom, 50 Shades could almost be scene as a seductive story with sub-par writing, seeing that the word “delicious” and phrase “stop biting your lip” monopolized a good chunk of this chic lit. However, the main character had continual internal debates with the unease she felt about entering in to such a contractual “relationship.” From the beginning the “relationship” made her physically, mentally and emotional distraught, but because she so desperately wanted to “hold on to her man,” she pushed herself past her breaking point through the majority of the book.
Providing readers with something sexy and seductive that will make them blush, make their blood boil or heart race is one thing. But 50 Shades flirted a little too closely with a line where uninhibited became unhealthy. While Moms may be able to differentiate between the two, many young woman may not. For this reason, the book was more of a turn off than a turn on.
Teaching your child to respect themselves, their bodies and their peers is a hard enough job for a parent. Building confidence, self esteem and healthy body image, especially in young women, is a battle that society and the media do not make any easier. For these reasons, it was challenging to find 50 Shades anything but difficult to digest.
Studies show that girls’ self esteem reaches its height at nine years old, and unfortunately continues to gradually plummet from there, allowing them to be most confident at a young age and sadly increasingly insecure as they continue to develop and mature. The media, social expectations and pressures and hormonal changes do not help with this sad statistic. For this reason, reading 50 Shades seemed to be rewarding submissive, subservient behavior with saucy sex. But should you have to give up one in order to get the other? And if so, is it worth it?
While many people who read 50 Shades this summer may disagree, seeing the story merely as a “beach book,” the question should at least be asked if there is any harm in sensationalizing unhealthy relationships as sexy, especially when parents are already faced with the relentless role of balancing self-esteem, body image and healthy relationships with the misrepresentation of such topics in the media.
But after all, this is just my biased opinion, as the Founder of Boston Babies’ and the Mother of a little girl. Boston Babies and its readers would love to hear your thoughts…