Why Fifty Shades Leaves Women Wanting More

Why Fifty Shades Leaves Women Wanting More

Can’t Fail Sex Recipe for Erotic Romance 5 cups Twilight 1 cup Marquis de Sade 3 cups raw sex — finely diced Yield:    Fifty Shades of Grey   Two virgins It’s well known that Fifty Shades of Grey began as a work of “Fan Fiction” published online, closely based on Twilight.    The resemblance between Twilight and Fifty Shades is indeed striking. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Fifty Shades is loaded with graphic sex, while the Twilight characters never saw each other naked until volume 4.   The romantic and erotic ingredients of Twilight are closely copied in Fifty Shades. Like Twilight’s Bella, Fifty Shades’ Ana Steele is a sexual and romantic tabula rasa — a virgin in the purest sense of the word.   Ana has never before felt sexual attraction, never been in love, never masturbated, and never had an orgasm. Like Bella, she comes from a silent, unexpressive father and a childlike, disorganized mother who have long since divorced — and from whom she can expect very little. In an interesting twist, given what’s usually assumed about the importance of women’s social networks, both heroines are fairly solitary.  They are bookish creatures, somewhat out of step with the popular crowd. The emotional solitude of the female lead has been a  staple of the romance genre since Pamela in 1740. Twilight and Fifty Shades are no exception.   As discussed earlier on these pages, there’s something compelling about virgins locked in towers.   (More on that later.)   Team Christian Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey is a near-clone of Twilight’s Edward.  Like Edward, Grey is uber-sophisticated, plays the piano...
The Year in Clinical Sexuality, 2011

The Year in Clinical Sexuality, 2011

 December 26, 2011 As we get ready to leave 2011 behind, I would like as always to express my gratitude to family, friends and colleagues for your support and encouragement over the past year; and to my patients for your trust and confidence.   May we all merit much happiness in 2012. Here’s my list of 2011’s most interesting happenings in clinical sexuality and related disciplines. Vampire Lovemaking This year, in Twilight:  Breaking Dawn Part 1, Bella finally consummated her relationship with Edward, after three years of cinematic foreplay — and immediately ended up pregnant.  By the end of the movie, she’d become both a mom and a vampire.    Shows what can happen. In SexualityToday at the Movies:  Breaking Dawn, we continued the discussion of the “integrative” aspect of ordinary female desire that we began in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay and in The Nine Rooms of Happiness:  What Does a Woman Want? Elsewhere on the paranormal sexuality front, The NY Times Magazine featured a cover story on the new MTV series Teen Wolf —  “We Are All Teenage Werewolves.”  In Wolf Love in the New York Times, I discussed how the human-to-werewolf transformation works as a metaphor for sexual arousal — especially its primal, selfish aspect. Australian writer Katherine Feeney picked up on the idea in Unleashing the Animal Within.  And Cosmo ended up interviewing me for an article in the December issue entitled “The Fierce Sex Every Couple Should Try.”    Shows what can happen.   What Can Google Teach Us About Sexual Motivation? This year saw the publication of A Billion Wicked Thoughts, an interesting report on what must be the world’s largest...
SexualityResource at the movies:  Twilight Breaking Dawn

SexualityResource at the movies: Twilight Breaking Dawn

   A Secret Erotic Code As most careful readers of the Twilight series know, there is a literary work that gets mentioned in each of the later volumes that explains the story. For New Moon, we have Romeo and Juliet. That’s easy. For Breaking Dawn, there’s The Merchant of Venice. A courtroom drama, where a woman acts bravely to save her doomed lover’s life.   I won’t spoil it for those of you waiting to see the final movie next year, but the reference is accurate. The one that stumped me, though, was Eclipse — for which the corresponding literary work is Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I couldn’t recall much about Wuthering Heights since loathing it in high school.  But when I mentioned the Bronte novel to my wife, she gave me a certain look — and a low, pleasurable moan — that made me feel sure I’d missed something important. Like most men, I felt I’d rather spend a week at a crafts fair than re-read Wuthering Heights.  But  my curiosity got the better of me.   I devoured it in one weekend.   Why Wuthering Heights? For those of you who faked reading Wuthering Heights in high school, it’s about Catherine — an impulsive, rather obnoxious young woman; and Heathcliff — her cruel, depressed, brooding but loyal lifelong friend.  In the novel, Catherine marries someone else, then Healthcliff spends the rest of the book making everyone miserable, and all the major characters die prematurely. Re-reading Wuthering Heights, I wondered what connection Stephenie Meyer intended between Twilight and the Bronte novel.  There’s an incestuous dimension in both books –...
Sex Therapy and Twilight: Eclipse

Sex Therapy and Twilight: Eclipse

  Growing up, you come to learn that you’re not the center of the world — that the people who love you also have other concerns.  But eros is primitive, and your erotic mind is a poor student.  It remains fixated on an image of pure, absolute attention from an adoring other.   The power of that image remains undiminished as erotic fantasy throughout your life. In my neighborhood in New York City, it’s not fashionable to read Twilight.   But as a sex therapist, I felt I needed to — and I was glad I did.   It’s erotic fantasy that works.   That’s why it’s such a huge hit. For those of you who haven’t read it or seen the movie series, Twilight is the story of a young teenage woman, Bella, who falls in love with her fiendishly handsome biology lab partner Edward.   Along the way she discovers that he is a vampire, and that he loves her at least as much as she loves him – in the same all-consuming, obsessional fashion.   It’s romance in a grand style. In an earlier blog, “Twilight and the Art of Foreplay,” I discussed how Edward’s capacity to give Bella his absolute focused attention is so fascinating because in the average heterosexual woman’s experience of men it is so rare.   Women typically give much more attention to their men than they get in return.   One married woman I know had to stop reading Twilight because it was too painful to reflect on the absence of an Edward in her life.   Edward’s attention to Bella is absolute – once he meets her, she becomes his entire...
Twilight, and the Art of Foreplay

Twilight, and the Art of Foreplay

  Foreplay.  Women traditionally complain they don’t get enough of it. Often this gets interpreted as being due to a woman’s needing more physical stimulation to get fully aroused.  OK, maybe sometimes that’s the issue.   But I don’t see it as the essential thing.  The physical aspects of sex rarely are. The essential thing is this:  Foreplay represents the one time when a woman can get a man’s full and undivided attention. That is, if it’s good foreplay.  In good foreplay, she is his entire focus.   She feels his desire for her, and his arousal.    She feels his heightened interest in the small details of her body, made more intense by  his anticipation of even greater pleasures ahead. Having your partner’s complete attention – a very important part of sex.  One of the most important parts.   It’s in every romance novel since Jane Austen.   The heroine meets a man who attracts and puzzles her.   She spends the novel trying to figure him out, only to discover that he is crazy in love with her, and that he has spent every second since they first met thinking about her.    And that he can’t stop thinking about her.    Because she’s just that fascinating. One reason this basic formula is so appealing is that in the average woman’s life it is so rare.    The average heterosexual woman has been sorely disappointed by the fact that she thinks about the men in her life much more than they think about her.   Usually she has more capacity for sustained attention than a man does.    Men tend to be oblivious. Good foreplay, like...