Sylvia Johnson

Fifty Shades of Grey, Phenomenon Explained





“I fall apart in his hands, my body convulsing and shattering into a thousand pieces.”

“I unravel at his words, exploding around him as I climax and splinter into a million pieces underneath him”

““You. Are. Mine. Come for me, baby” He growls. His words are my undoing, tipping me over the precipice.  My body convulses around him and I …. loudly calling out a garbled version of his name into the mattress”

“His voice is hard, hash, raw at my ear and I explode around him as he pounds rapidly into me”


It is amusing the way the author of Fifty Shades of Grey describes the same thing over and over again in seemly different ways.

Men and women, alike, can’t help but feel irresistibly attracted to the word “orgasm” and even more so to the feelings and sensations this phenomenon evokes.

The book (I have read up to pg. 145 of the first book) is full of repeated thoughts,   repeated feelings, repeated physical descriptions and mostly repeated sensations.  It encourages not elaborated thinking and offers no space for intelligence. It lends no room to discovery of any unknown passions.  It is definitely not a literary master piece; however, it does not fail to awaken basic human instincts.

Mr Grey is rich, handsome, smart, seductive, powerful, talented, sweet, kind, in control, he is ever so polite, but most of all he is horny.

I’m one of those people who could not resist the curiosity of knowing what was this all fuss about after witnessing such a huge media frenzy.

When I heard comments like:

“It has been the best seller in Britain for the past year”


“It’s doing better than Harry Potter did when it first came out!”

Well! To be compared with a Harry Potter, a book series that has sold over 450 million copies since first published in 1997;   making it the best selling book series in history.  Harry Potter has been made into a film series which is now the highest grossing film series of all time. The books  have been translated into 67 languages.

What could possible be compared to this?

I immediately bought the 3 Grey books.

After reading little more than a quarter of the first book, I feel compelled to write about how it feels and about my understanding of the…

Mr Grey phenomenon”:

  • You get 113.000.000 results in 0’22 seconds when you Google it.
  • 40 million copies sold since May 2011, selling at a rate of a book per second.
  • 6370 YouTube related videos, including numerous teaser trailers made by fans.
  • The story has been sold to Hollywood for $5 million.
  • There are numerous celebrities that have been suggested to play the main roles by the Grey fans, and some have actually showed an interest themselves.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has been spread worldwide by women and by word-of-mouth. No much of the fancy marketing, I suspected, but a video of true Grey Fanatics, which has travel across the globe.

Blessed  be  the Internet!

Why is it so popular?

That is an easy question to answer really, and I don’t see why so many people are still surprised with this phenomenon. It is simply explained thus: The author offers the reader an experience of total sexual debauchery;

Put your hands up whoever does not like sex….

Put your hands up whoever has an amazing and very

fulfilling sex live with no complaints at all whatsoever…

I don’t see many hands up for the first statement, and for the second statemen, I see a few more male hands perhaps ,but not so many female hands.

American studies indicate that 4-10% of adult women have never experienced orgasm.  Women have been found to be orgasmic only 40-80% of the sexual practice.  Physical sexual satisfaction is influenced by several social factors;

Social background: Age, religion, childhood, education and timing of the first sexual experience.

Emotional ties: Happiness in the steady relationship.

Sexual techniques: The use or none use of sexual material.

Returning to the subject, Mr Grey; there is another important element within the story: Unlimited luxury, wealth and power.

Sex and money do it for us, humans. This is the way we are made. Of course, spiritual fulfilment, love and joy shall follow or ideally shall come first.

I do believe it is a trend that has actually tackled about unresolved issues on the topic it lavishes on.  Like any other trend it will pass, but not before people has squeezed out all the potential for discovery and liberation it carries, be it freedom of thought and speech, or freedom in any other form of expression such as freedom in sexual exploration.  This phenomenon can mark the emancipation of a modern woman who is perhaps beginning to admit that she would actually like to get more out of her sex life

Imagine being at an art Gallery; you walk about watching the pictures and sculptures. You know it really isn’t your thing; you don’t quite share the artist’s point of view at all. But suddenly you find yourself looking upon a vivid illustration of two things in life you really like. Those things are things you desire, openly or secretly.  In spite of the colours and texture and even the method of expression, which you actually dislike, you recognise those two elements which are missing in your life, yet brightly expressed before you at the Gallery, in the form of a painting.

Without the need of a luxurious canvas nor a perfect mix in colours, your senses are tickled and lead to the sensations that having those two elements can evoke in you.   You love the feeling,   not the painting itself but what it makes you feel, it awakens something that is within you.

This is how I found myself reading Fifty Shades of Grey with a strange, yet almost involuntary, enthusiasm it was a contradiction:  In regards to the literary work, I did not find I took to the author; her style, I found too simple to the point of patronizing and at times boring.  Her interactions with her subconscious, at first I thought  they were funny, then, soon, annoying, but later, even irritating.  The repeated and, in my opinion, wrongful use and mention of an “Inner Goddess” I found very disturbing.

But then, there is this gorgeous male specimen, rich, dominant, smart, beautiful, horny, and an “intoxicating” irresistible and constant promise of a sensational sex life experience.

Given this, who needs literature?

Unless of course you stop and realise that you are actually reading a book.

The mysteries of dreams and imagination play an important role here.

I am happy to confess that to this day I have not yet ever lead a sexual life which I could call “Memorable”

I dare say I am not the only woman in this planet that has not had a sex life to boast about and recall from it remarkable and unforgettable sex experiences.

There is also the love element in the book.

Twenty pages into the book, I knew what was going to happen:

Love Story. But it is not any odd love story. It is an intense love story.

Seen it, done it, lived it, felt it, watched it, heard about it, cried about it, laughed about it,  a million times before over and over, everywhere you look….

Predictable!  So what?

It is a love Story, and we, humans, cannot get enough of them. This is all we want, in life.  All we think about it, all we wish, all we sigh for…

What is your favourite story? For most people it will be a love story.

I confess I found myself wanting to read on, none stop. Even though I knew what was going to happen I wanted to be there, I wanted to witness it. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to participate in that first date, and in the first kiss, and the first night, the first time again!

How would that feel to make love for the first time again?

Surely I could do that, I could even be Ana, and I could be with Mr Grey; from the comfort of my own bed or couch I could take part in the Fifty Shades of Grey love story.

That’s actually what fiction books do, and I guess that’s what they are supposed to do.

Now, the main question arises:

Is a book good because of the exquisite use of literacy, imaginary, sentence formulation, thought provoking reflections, complexity of the storyline, themes, ideology and ability to challenge our intelligence and influence our environment?


Is a book good when it manages to engage the readers in a way that they feel invited to, by their own imagination, be instantly transported into the world the author has created for them,  and they do not wish to depart from it until the invitation no longer exists, when the book is finished?

It is the concept of reading that we are judging. Not the book.

In my opinion the book is by no means “Good” in what I understand a good book should be.

But it is useful and entertaining for other things that do not necessarily need literacy.

When it comes to sex, fantasising is very useful.  How much easier can it get when someone else has done all the fantasying for you?

The author might not have severed you delicacy, exquisite taste and eloquence, she has done better than that, as far as sexual fantasying is concerned, she is giving you raw material for you to chew on at will.

Fifty Shades of Grey has its fans but it also has its haters. I’ve read many comments, a large number were negative comments. One stood out particularly:

“Over rated crap, I wish I hadn’t finish it”

This made me laugh out loud.

Whoever finishes a book or a series of books if they are not enjoying them?

Unless, the book is compulsory course work.

Who knows? What if the collective subconscious mind has made it a must read, compulsory book?

Do the haters hate he books, or do they hate the fact that they enjoy the books?

The author is not just brave, she is actually facing the facts: This is what we fancy now and then, preferable discretely and at times from a distance.

Let’s face it: We are sex-taboo-society.

Maybe its time we came to terms with this.

This is my point of view in the phenomenon.  It has made me particularly interested in sexuality studies in our society; I will be doing some more research on the topic.

I can’t wait to read your comments!

Sylvia Johnson

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