Sunday, February 15, 2015

50 Shades and Porn...what they can teach us.

With the release of the new 50 Shades of Grey movie I’ve noticed A LOT of social media the past few weeks pushing people to boycott the movie do to its negative content and unhealthy portrayal of women.  Many have made the comparison that the book and the movie are simply Porn for women……which if we are honest………they probably are.

But… an interesting thought occurred to me the other day.  Statistics show that somewhere between 60%-70% of men either have or have had issues with pornography at some point in their life.  That’s A LOT of men.

Likewise, we can call 50 Shades porn if we want to, but porn or not, it had over 100 million in book sales and a quick Google search will show you that erotic romance novels generate over a billion dollars a year for a primarily female audience.  That’s A LOT of women!

What’s interesting to me is not just the incredible “success” (if you can call it that) of the porn industry and the erotic novel industry, but the fact that they are so strongly divided along gender lines.  There is plenty of research out there that shows the negative aspects of porn addiction, to the point that even GQ Magazine recently released an article about it, but one can’t deny that if its affecting 70% of a gender, then something is hitting a nerve among that gender.  And likewise, one could claim the same things about erotic romance novels but when billions are being poured out by mainly women to read them, something again is hitting a nerve among that gender as well.

Good, bad, or indifferent, it is inescapable that these two industries have “exposed”  (haha see what I did there…..) some very powerful drives within the male and female psyches.  Both at their core present little more than unrealistic fantasies and expectations for each gender, which play a part in the frustration and controversy surrounding them.  But I think it’s important to note that fantasies are MAKE BELIEVE situations that address REAL DESIRES.  Is it possible that we could be missing something really big here that could help men and women to understand each other better?  It makes sense to me that the one reason this stuff sells so well is that the needs and desires they address must NOT be being fulfilled in real life, thus the escape to fantasy land.

I’ve been married almost 17 years now and know full well how the passion of new love can be lost in the mundane repetition of life, but that doesn’t mean the desire for certain things go away.  I can’t speak for women as I’m not one, but I’ve dealt with A LOT of guys who have struggled with sex and porn addictions.  And almost every time it’s the same….want a little secret ladies??  It’s not really about the sex as much as it’s what the sex represents.  Everyone mocks the stupid plots of a pornographic show.  Some plumber comes over to work on a sink and a desperate woman begins throwing herself at him trying to seduce him.  What most guys won’t tell you is that we want to feel desired too sometimes.  Guys tell me, I really wish every now and then my wife would look at me the way those women in the Sports Illustrated Photos are looking at the camera or the way the women in the porn look at the guys.  It’s make believe we get it, we get that those women are just acting…..but they are acting in a way that is striking a real nerve with 70% of men…..

Ladies, I bet if we took the time to ask you we could probably learn a lot about what it is in these romance novels that is causing them to fly off the shelf.  The reason why “chic flicks” are always best sellers….maybe we could learn about the way these men pursue their women in ways that make them feel special or valued, or loved?  I’m sure I can’t articulate it nearly as well as one of you could, but guys we need to pay attention to the hidden messages in these shows and movies because even though we might see it as a bunch of garbage, there is something there that is resonating with the ladies.  

Often we are intimidated by the story lines…women look at the women in the magazines and think “I could never measure up to her.”  Men look at rich good looking characters in the fiction films and think the same thing.  But perhaps the reason for the insecurities is because we are looking at those situation through the lens of our gender rather than trying to see what our significant might see there.

If we don’t like the exploitation and dysfunction that surrounds the porn and erotic scene, perhaps the best way to put it out of business is not by boycott but by trying to fulfill those desires and needs in the lives of our significants so that their realities no longer need the fantasy.