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Arts & Entertainment

'Fifty Shades of Grey' induces cringes and giggles, but still has the ladies talking

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey

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The ongoing buzz over the blockbuster erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has taken the publishing world by surprise and shows no signs of slowing down.

Sales have now topped 10 million, putting “Fifty Shades” well on its way to becoming one of the fastest-selling series of all time. Readers, mostly women, who don’t usually read romance books or erotica are the unexpected audience for this sexy trilogy. They’re reading it in book clubs and leaving it openly on coffee tables all over the country.

The book knows no demographic. It’s so popular among the Everywoman that it’s spawned its own genre: People are calling it “mommy porn.”

It has sparked a national debate over why women are suddenly so open about such a taboo topic and how it might affect their sexuality. Experts in the field of human sexuality say when women feel more comfortable and open about their sexuality, it can improve their mental and physical health.

Is this book a breakthrough in female sexuality? What could possibly account for its immense success, especially considering the book’s literary merits are few? How is it that women are so comfortable openly reading and discussing a book with a theme that has been one of the great taboos?


Rachel Kramer Bussel, author, editor, and blogger; edited over 40 anthologies including Best Bondage Erotica 2011 and 2012, Best Sex Writing 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012

Julia A. Ericksen, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Temple University. Teaches courses on sexuality, gender and socialization.