Why have masses of women brought the book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list before it even hit the stores?
Most likely it’s the happy convergence of the superficial transgression with comfortable archetypes, the blushing virgin and the whips.
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Reading Fifty Shades of Grey is no more risqué or rebellious or disturbing than, say, shopping for a pair of black boots or an arty asymmetrical dress at Barneys.
If every era gets the sadist it deserves, it may not be surprising that we have ended up with Christian Grey, the hero of the runaway bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.
He is not twisted or frightening or in possession of a heart of darkness; he was abused as a child, a sadist Oprah could have dreamed up, or as E L James puts it, “Christian Grey has a sad side.” He is also extremely solicitous and apologetic for a sadist, always asking the book’s young heroine, Anastasia Steele, about every minute gradation of her feelings, and bringing her all kinds of creams and lotions to soothe her after spanking her.
He is, in other words, the easiest difficult man of all time.
Why does this particular, watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism have such cachet right now?