Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

50 Shades of Grey or Shifty Plays of Lay?

I just finished reading the trilogy “50 Shades of Grey.” And I’ve got issues. Not about the dominant/submissive sexual practices. sex therapy, sexual performance, sexual satisfactionNope. I’ve got issues about how they have portrayed “vanilla sex.” There are several problems with how regular sex is portrayed in the novels, the results of which I fear will make women and men feel inadequate.

  1. First of all, women generally aren’t as sexually responsive as portrayed in the novels. The percentages of women who are able to orgasm via intercourse alone is in the range of 20 – 40%, and it is commonly thought that even these women require some sort of clitoral stimulation. Therefore, it is highly unlikely the main character, Anastasia, would be able to orgasm consistently via intercourse.
  2. It is extremely rare for women to orgasm from just nipple stimulation alone. (Sorry- I don’t have a number. A quick internet search appeared to yield a 2% rate, but I haven’t fully investigated the source yet). The fact that Anastasia did this on her very first sexual experience is almost ridiculous.
  3. Intercourse for virgins is usually quite painful. For Anastasia to orgasm via intercourse during her very first sexual experience is again, ridiculous.
  4. The usual way that women learn about their bodies is usually via masturbation. Anastasia had never masturbated (!) and so she had absolutely no prior experience with how her body responds. Yet, she was able to “shatter” each and every time, starting right at the beginning, and usually multiple times. Women vary widely on what type of stimulation they like, where they like it and how intensely. Somehow we are to believe Christian (her sexual partner) was able to read her mind? You know, the mind she didn’t even have because she had never masturbated before? Mind boggling.
  5. Out of the numerous sexual encounters between the couple, with the exception of one, Anastasia was able to orgasm despite how upset she was at Christian. Because Christian is one psychologically messed-up character, there was a lot to be upset about. The research about female sexuality tells us that women’s sexual desire is affected by outside influences (like relationship problems). Again, unbelievable.
  6. Women do not orgasm because their lover calls their name. Orgasm is not a conditioned response; rather, it is a reflex. And pressure and stress can interfere with reflexes- so it’s much better to just allow orgasms to happen rather than try to order them into existence. More rubbish.
  7. Now, onto Christian. For some unfathomable reason his penis is able to perform no matter what the situation, how tired he is, or how much he has had to drink. Penises are not machines. They are part of the human body, and as such, will tend to fail from time to time. Yet for some reason Christians’s penis always seemed to be erect. I’m wondering how his blood vessels withstood the pressure…

You may say, “lighten up, Barb, it’s just fiction.” The problem is, it isn’t. Firstly, it isn’t written as obvious fantasy. Secondly, because of the racy addition of the sadomasochism element the regular, or “vanilla” sex is portrayed by the novel as normal. And that is the problem. This isn’t normal sex. And if you don’t know much about sex, you won’t realize how impossible and ridiculous the portrayal is. Rather, you will probably feel inadequate, and that your partner is inadequate, too. Suddenly you won’t be so happy with your sex life. And, from what we know about the research, sexual unhappiness is tied closely with marital unhappiness. And I’ve seen too many couples whose unrealistic dissatisfaction with their sex life interferes with their sense of love and commitment. Now do you see the issue? Shame on E.L. James.

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