Fifty shades of permission and pop porn. 3


It’s official. The planet’s column inches are now drenched with words like, “hotly anticipated”, “erotically-charged”, “kinky bestseller”, “BDSM has me tongue-tied.” (okay, maybe not that last one).

The Fifty Shades of Grey silver-screen tsunami is here. And finally, women everywhere are hearing that post-modern, Shakespearean utterance, “Laters, baby…” in Dolby surround sound. Sure. All very arousing. Question is, why?

One word: permission.

For 125 minutes, with feet firmly planted on a sticky floor, women are “given” free rein to express their sexuality…albeit in a dark room with strangers watching two actors have well-lit, choreographed orgasms. But darn it, we’re going to love every manufactured moment. ‘Cause it’s good, old fashioned, pre-packaged, accessible erotica. Who cares if there’s a little non-consensual BDSM? A leather flogger or three? Unknown-2An emotionally-castrated dude taking control? All fine. The book’s bestseller status assures us this is an acceptable sexual outlet for the modern woman’s weary, time-ravaged libido.

Don’t get me wrong. My friends and I happily sat in the front row on opening night, revved up for arousal. But I squirmed in my seat the whole time and not because of a script that inspired more titters than turn-ons. Or the sullen Mr Grey whose emotional range is matched only by Emmett from the Lego Movie.

No, here’s my issue with this shady phenomenon… 

Unless we’re watching stylised pop-porn like Fifty, or getting tipsy and predatory on Studs Afloat, or testing a vibrator’s strength on our noses (recommended), what else is a socially, morally acceptable expression of a woman’s sexuality in the 21st Century?

Sex therapists seem to agree, E.L James’ bonkbuster has “given” us chicks permission to explore our sexualities. What fun, or WTF?

Is our view of our sexuality and what we are free to feel, think or do, so messed up that we’ve handed over our desires/kinks to some pulp clit-lit author?! The fact that a squillion women have bought into Christian’s kinked-up version of true lerve, points to one thing: women are (still) sexual, libidinous creatures. But if we need to watch a virgin’s scripted sexuality unfurl so we can somehow connect with our own, well, that, to me, is more twisted than Grey’s tie.

Flocking to “mummy porn” for the permission we can, should and must give ourselves, astounds and annoys me. When did our sexuality become “inaccessible” or “unacceptable”?

Thanks to the movie Hysteria, some of you may already know that in 19th century England, female sexuality was largely pathologised. Women didn’t have orgasms – just “hysterical paroxysms”; theirs for the price of a doctor’s visit.

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And therein lies the rub.

For the last few centuries, we’ve been fed a fairytale that’s less about the shiny knight and more about a libido that just doesn’t scrub up. What’s a poor girl do? Supress. Repress. Devour clit-lit. Pore over porn. Anything but give yourself permission to come of (real, sexual) age not dictated by writers or the media.

Have we become so squeamish about our sexuality, we need highly-publicised triggers to wake up our natural urges? I hope not.

Thing is, there’s nothing wrong with gushing over Fifty.

We just need to see it for what it is – a fantastical depiction of a virgin’s deflowering – at the hands of a sociopath in designer suits. So, as you revel in the flick’s diaphanous plot and fashion, the sexified soundtrack, the shots of Seattle, please keep this in mind…

Exploring your sexuality isn’t predicated on the price of a movie ticket. Just like the humble orgasm, organic or vibrated, it’s utterly, deliciously free.

Now, pass me the pop-porn.


Phyllis Foundis is a writer, mother, producer, story hoarder and award-winning TV host of Foundis, a talk show for men, by men and those who love ‘em. A vibrator veteran and champion of intimacy beyond the bedroom, Phyllis is has recently been nominated Most Outstanding New TV Talent in the 2015 ASTRA Awards. Her book, The Joy of Sags: Sexual adventures from the pre-menopausal frontline is out in 2015.

This article was published on The Hoopla 16 Feb 2015 – see the comments here.


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3 thoughts on “Fifty shades of permission and pop porn.

  • spollydolly

    Am enjoying the vision of a darkened theatre full of women (and men!) in raincoats with pockets full of popcorn …listening to the sound in unison of giant orgasmic crunches, one after the other!
    Well I certainly never needed Fifty Shades to give me permission to explore my sexuality…maybe I could have even given him a few tips I learned from my own Mr Jey!
    I do not think this gives us permission…I think it just makes sexual creativeness more publicly acceptable.
    Mills and Boon paperbacks were the frowned upon folly of idle housewives back in the day…and what is “Fifty Shades” but one huge long M & B with a hard-on for a cover?
    “Blasphemy!” I hear?….not from my position!

  • Miss Ellie

    Oh, you darling! Thank-you so much for being so honest and eloquent about the Fifty Shades phenomenon. I have been trying to communicate the same sentiment to my friends since the book came out, but I just come off as an agressive book-snob (I am an aggressive book snob…) You’re right, there should be nothing wrong with women using this books content as a trigger to explore their sexuality (I’m sure vibrator sales would have risen significantly since the book was released and I know plenty of men who’ll say “Don’t knock the book – we’ve never had such great sex before my Mrs. read it!!”. All this is great. But what scares me is that so many women NEEDED this book to actually give them permission to explore their sexualities. All I could think when my straight-laced, vanilla-sex loving friends started raving about how good it was to be tied-up and spanked was “What the f**k have you been DOING all this time?”. I really pitied them. And what is it really? Just another pre-packaged box of one-size-fits-all ideology for the person who can’t think for themselves, chosen FOR you by very clever publishers and marketing execs. I DO hope Fifty Shades starts a sexual revolution for women, but PLEASE let it be for the right reasons…