A blindfolded woman, bright red lipstick, with the title of the Newsweek cover story above her right breast: "The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Surrender is a Feminist Dream."
Looking at the issue I thought, "This is why print magazines are going to survive. Glad I've stuck with our Newsweek subscription after The Daily Beast took it over."
The old Newsweek wouldn't have had such a provocative article. Kudos to the new Newsweek.
Many of the online comments on the story appear to be from feminists who aren't surrendering to the notion that what successful, powerful, confident, independent women want is..
To be spanked into submission. Which, I gather, is a central theme of "Fifty Shades of Grey," the hugely successful novel by E L James (a woman).
Wow. Amazon shows 1,557 customer reviews at the moment, most decidedly positive -- though there are a considerable number of disappointed readers. For various reasons, such as described in this excerpt from the first 1-star review I came across.
~ The writing was too sterile. There was no depth and I found it hard connecting to any of it. There was a whole heap of - I touched him, he touched me, I did this, he did that. And it wasn't engaging at all. When I read I want to be able to feel the emotion, not be told how a scene is playing out as if the heroine is actually an observer.
~ The sex - it wasn't hot at all. I wouldn't even classify it as erotic. For some strange reason I have the opinion that you need to be able to refer to your vagina as something more erotic than 'down there' before you can pull off a significant hotness rating.
~ Christian - ok, he was relatively hot but not enough to get my blood pumping. He wasn't alpha enough for me. One moment he is trying to be hard core the next he is gasping because she is wearing his underwear. Now if that was my dominant alpha, he would have given me a cocky smile, licked his lips and gave that 'how you doin' look, But no, he gasped like a little girl.
~ The price....I don't get it. How can a publisher charge this much for a book written so badly??
The Newsweek story drew me in (so to speak...) in part because I find the whole romance novel thing intriguing.
Whenever I head to the magazine section of the south Salem Fred Meyer store to thumb through car magazines, I walk past several rows of paperback books featuring the romance genre. There's lots of them.
As Stephen Colbert likes to say, "the market has spoken."
Women buy tons of books featuring a heroine who is swept off her feet by a macho, albeit sensitive, alpha male. Fifty Shades of Grey is #1 on various NY Times bestseller lists, so this also points to what many modern women are looking for in their romantic/sexual fantasies.
The Daily Beast conveniently extracted fourteen of the "naughtiest parts" for those of us, a.k.a. men, who aren't interested in reading all 528 pages of Fifty Shades of Grey. Here's some samples.
“At the touch of leather, I quiver and gasp. He walks around me again, trailing the crop around the middle of my body. On his second circuit, he suddenly flicks the crop, and it hits me underneath my behind … against my sex … The shock runs through me, and it’s the sweetest, strangest, hedonistic feeling … My body convulses at the sweet, stinging bite. My nipples harden and elongate from the assault, and I moan loudly, pulling on my leather cuffs.”
“His arms are wrapped around me, and he’s pulling me to him, hard, fast, gripping my ponytail to tilt my head up, kissing me like his life depends on it … He drags the hair tie painfully out of my hair, but I don’t care. He needs me, for whatever reason, at this point in time, and I have never felt so desired and coveted.”
I've got to agree with the Amazon reader quoted above; these don't seem very erotic to me. But, hey, I'm not a woman. Whatever turns you on.
That's one of the messages in Katie Roiphe's Newsweek cover story. Human desire/sexuality is amazingly mysterious. There aren't any hard and fast rules (though "hard and fast rules" sounds like something Fifty Shades of Grey has in a sex scene).
Feminism and independence can go hand-in-hand (or hand in something else) with surrender and submission.
It is intriguing that huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace, when they make up almost 60 percent of college students, when they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands, when the majority of women under 30 are having and supporting children on their own, a moment when—in hard economic terms—women are less dependent or subjugated than before.
...In the realm of private fantasy, the allure of sexual submission, even in its extremes, is remarkably widespread. An analysis of 20 studies published in Psychology Today estimates that between 31 percent and 57 percent of women entertain fantasies where they are forced to have sex. “Rape fantasies are a place where politics and Eros meet, uneasily,” says Daniel Bergner, who is working on a book on female desire to be published next year. “It is where what we say and what is stand next to each other, mismatched.”
The researchers and psychologists he talked to for his 2009 New York Timesarticle, “What Do Women Want?” often seemed reluctant to use the phrase “rape fantasy,” and in scholarly pieces, the idea makes even the chroniclers of these fantasies extremely nervous and apologetic. Even though fantasies are something that, by definition, one can’t control, they seem to be saying something about modern women that nearly everyone wishes wasn’t said. One of the researchers he interviewed preferred to call them “fantasies of submission”; another said, “It’s the wish to be beyond will, beyond thought.”
But why, for women especially, would free will be a burden? Why is it appealing to think of what happens in the passive tense? Why is it so interesting to surrender, or to play at surrendering? It may be that power is not always that comfortable, even for those of us who grew up in it; it may be that equality is something we want only sometimes and in some places and in some arenas; it may be that power and all of its imperatives can be boring.
Hmmmm. Maybe that's too much analysis.
A woman put up a You Tube review of the book that ends with "I really enjoyed it." Nice and simple.
She helped me understand why Fifty Shades of Grey appeals to so many females. Apparently the young innocent Anastasia Steele helps rich entrepreneur Christian Grey explore his secret, damaged side, bringing out untouched aspects of himself through his passionate relationship with her.
Sounds like Romance Writing 101. Here's the video review: