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Pornography and the Fifty Shades of Gray


Right now there’s a big stir in the literary world over the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy.  These books are current best sellers among women readers.  They are also very sexually explicit.  The characters in the books engage in many forms of dangerous sadomasochistic sex.  Some have even labeled it “mommy porn.”  Have you ever wondered why so many women are reading these books while few men are interested?  It all pertains to how men and women are wired differently.

Men are wired to be visually stimulated.  When we see an erotic image, we automatically look at it.  This starts a chemical reaction in our brains that results in an emotional high, excitement, sexual arousal, orgasm, euphoria and relaxation.  The effect that it has on a man’s brain is like a very powerful drug and it is highly addictive.  This is what leads men to become addicted to pornography and sex.

Women, on the other hand, are not as visually stimulated as men.  While a woman enjoys looking at a handsome man, she is not usually sexually aroused by it.  This is why most women don’t view pornography.  They get little out of it.  Women are more relationally stimulated.  This is why women enjoy romance novels, soap operas, and chick flicks.  It is the promise of a romantic relationship that can stimulate their brain chemistry to create an emotional high, excitement, sexual arousal, orgasm, euphoria and relaxation. 

Many people find it difficult to understand how Fifty Shades of Gray can be compared to pornography.  There are no pictures in the trilogy and the characters are fictitious.    I believe there are four ways in which books like the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy can be considered pornography.  To understand this we first need to define pornography.  My clinical definition of pornography is “Any image that leads a person to use another person for their own sexual pleasure.  It is devoid of love intimacy, commitment and/or responsibility.  It can be highly addictive.” 

Based on this definition, here is how Fifty Shades of Gray can be considered pornographic:

  1. When we think of an image, we normally think of a visual image, such as a photo or a video.  However, images can also be created with words.  The best authors are able to create vivid images with words.
  2. Even though the characters in Fifty Shades of Gray may be fictitious, they still promote the concept of using others for one’s own sexual pleasure.  This can be compared to pornographic anime, where the characters are also fictitious.
  3. Pornographic literature has the same stimulating effects on a woman’s brain as visual pornography has on a man’s brain. 
  4. This type of literature is also addictive to women.

These factors make books like Fifty Shades of Gray no different than the visual pornography many men view.   While more research needs to be done on the effects of pornographic literature on women, all women need to be aware of how such literature can harm the way they view men and relationships.  No woman wants to be objectified in visual pornography, so why should women and men be objectified in pornographic literature?   Women also need to be aware of how such literature can be addictive.  We al l need to protect ourselves, and our loved ones, from the harmful effects of pornography whatever its form.