They Do Exist.

Sex, Hunger, and 50 Shades Of Grey

Editor’s Note: Today, Jonalyn Fincher has graciously allowed us to republish this piece. She blogs at rubyslippers.com and has also written a second review of 50 Shades of Grey and her thoughts on BDSM here. You can follow Jonalyn at @jonalynfincher. – Lauren

A man walks past your office, he’s eating a sandwich that smells like heaven. You notice it’s past lunch. You want your own. You don’t steal this man’s sandwich, instead you go out looking for your own. You eat. You are satisfied.

A hot man walks past your office. You notice him and you notice your own desire. Not for him, but for your husband. You recognize the rhythm, it’s time. After work (or lunch break?) you go home. You make love. You are satisfied.

But what if this man is a co-worker. What if he greets you regularly and you start to notice that he has become the fire behind your love making with your husband? Is this good?

It all depends.

Appetite

Our appetite for sex, like our appetite for food, reveals how similar and different we are from each other.

When eating, we each prefer different portions, different times, different table manners. We all have unique cravings.

We each have different triggers of our sexual appetite, different amounts of sex we want, different ways we want to do it. We all have things (a scent, a song, a photo) unrelated to sex that turn us on.

Despite our different appetites, we all have lines we don’t want to cross. We all know some sex, like some food, is not good for us.

Sexually Hungry

With E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy topping the New York Times’ bestseller list, it’s rather obvious to me that women are sexually hungry. If you haven’t had good sex in years, you will do a happy swan dive into Fifty Shades of Gray. Thirty to fifty-year-old women are recommending the series as the jump start to mommy libido.

The male lead, Christian Grey, is reminiscent of Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre). Despite the more than adequate proof that Grey is good in bed, I found myself uninterested in finishing the book. Grey’s fetish for sadomasochism, while erotic, is also troubling. Punishment turns him on in a way reminiscent of sexual and physical abusers. Even the compassionate female protagonist, Anastasia Steel reaches her limit and (spoiler alert) leaves at the end of the first book.

Still it’s easy to relate to Ana and her hope to save Grey from his darker side. I could relate to her fixer-upper hopes and yet, Fifty Shades of Gray felt both boring, a somewhat predictable S&M Cinderella story.

So why are so many women intrigued?

Christian cares about knowing Ana. If the man you’re with no longer wants to know you, Christian Grey is a very handsome substitute.

Whenever a man studies you to bring out your pleasure, from the herbal tea to the music to the brown leather whip… do you really care what he’s doing, so long as you tumble into another orgasm?

Sexual boredom can make S&M look like a fairyland. How?

Nothing feels so good (to woman or man) as intentional service for your pleasure. But Christian Gray isn’t serving me, he’s serving Anastasia Steele.

And I’m watching.

What Makes Sex Good?

Most marriages are like a hot bath. They’re great when you first get in, but after awhile they’re not so hot anymore (The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What it Really Takes to Stay Married).

The key ingredient to keeping marriage hot is desire.

Fifty Shades of Gray works, for some, because Gray was written as desirable. E. L. James explained on The Today Show, “I put all my fantasies out there.” You read enough sex scenes, you imagine that being done to your body and you put the book down and go hunting for your husband. No wonder husbands love the book.

So what can be wrong with a book that’s helping couples do it?

It all depends. Once you’ve found your husband, who are you really making love to? Him or Gray?

It turns out you cannot judge your sex life simply by how easily or how often you get turned on. You gauge your sex life by how much you desire your spouse.

The goal is to be turned on by the person you have married. To cultivate a taste for him.

Sex and Knowledge

As followers of the God of Israel, we want more than tittilation in bed. We want what Adam had with Eve.

We want knowledge, vulnerability, safety… and sex.” And Adam knew his wife” (Gen. 4:1).

Good sex is about wanting and feeling known. Even Ana craves that with Christian Gray: “Do I know Christian intimately? I know him sexually, I figure there’s a lot more to discover.”

I have little doubt the next two books will find Ana discovering. But if the first book is any indication, it will be through co-dependently offering her body for more beatings so she can unlock Christian’s fear of being known. Then, they’ll live happily ever after.

Personally, if I need a jumpstart to my desire I’ll read Passionista: The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man or Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Relationships. Or I’ll recall how the man I married makes love to me.

He knows me better than Christian Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is easy arousal because it doesn’t ask anything. You simply consume.

But I want my sexual cravings met with the real thing.

A husband with his body and soul in my bed.


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27 Responses

  1. Katherine

    I understand and appreciate your perspective. However, I don't think we can so quickly dismiss BDSM as ungodly because it doesn't make sense to us. We keep talking about BDSM, but has anyone taken the time to have a thoughtful conversation with a Christian practitioner of BDSM? I will willingly concede that I am not in favor of reading the book, for the same reasons I do not support pornography. But I am not sure I feel comfortable with us taking such a strong stance against a sexual practice that is consensual and pleasurable for both parties.

    I absolutely agree with Jonalyn that BDSM is not something I would ever want to practice in my marriage, because that would not be good sex to me. But what if it is good sex to other couples? I think the GWP has done a splendid job dispelling myths about sexuality, and namely the one that claims sex has to look a certain way. What if BDSM is simply a unique form of sexual expression for a certain population?

    June 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

  2. "Or I’ll recall how the man I married makes love to me" Amen! Fantastic post. Thank you!

    June 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm

  3. Mallory

    It is disheartening to me to read that yet another Christian woman has deemed this series permissible. I do not support Fincher's idea that it all depends on where you spend your sexual passion (ie, on your husband) rather than on where you are finding yourself aroused (ie, this book, pornography). It may seem nice to think that we as humans can separate the two, but I have never seen this to be the case. Eventually, you do end up making love to the Greys of the world, not to the man are married to.

    I am a 25 year old woman, coming up on my first anniversary. In my generation, porn is largely seen as a normal, healthy part of a relationship. Rarely is it talked about for what it really is – a perversion of what sex is meant to be. This book series does the same thing. I think the Grey series has garnered so much attention because it is written by a woman, and women seem to think that makes it okay, freeing and energizing even. I find this difficult to stomach. Do we so easily forget what BDSM emulates? That there are real women, right now, living as sex slaves? That 1 in 4 college women will experience rape or attempted rape? The desire for violence or simulated violence in the bedroom does not come from a healthy, Godly place. It is already so difficult to preserve a sex life as God intended in marriage (and I'm not saying that means a boring one!) – books like these and the idea that they are fine so long as at the end of the day, you seek out your husband, do nothing to help. The images and thoughts we allow into our minds affect us – how we see the world, each other, ourselves. Why don't we care more about what we let in?

    June 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

  4. I Love this post! I really appreciate her not scolding, pointing the finger, saying it's sin, or using alarmist language warning readers to not read the book!
    Most Christian bloggers are screaming condemnation over this, which is not how we help women!
    I personally haven't read it, mostly because I am not a bandwagon reader. I have, however, read a few excerpts, and from a literary view, it's poor at best. It is just awful writing and I love good writing! !!
    That said, you are right about women needing DESIRE. This book obviously carries it in spades. The arousal factor is off the charts apparently for this to be as popular as it is.
    I do find that it is mostly read by the women who have a bad sex life and want to change that. I have seen couples who haven't had sex in years start having it again when she started reading this book. (and read it to him)
    Desire is the number one way to turn on a woman. Sadly, many marriages are suffering and not feelings desired, so women are turning to a voyeuristic approach to get their needs met by reading about great sex.
    I'll admit reading can be a great way to kick start a slow, non-existent libido. But, in the end, what you want is to have that real, hot,
    desirous spouse in your bed, reading to you. :)
    Everyone has to make this decision for themselves and their own convictions.
    Thanks for a well thought out post!

    June 5, 2012 at 2:07 pm

  5. rrc

    I would love to share this post, but the photo in it is pretty racy and would probably be a trigger to many people I know, including my husband. Is there any chance of changing it so I can feel free to share? I think twhe information is really important. Thanks for any consideration there :)

    June 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  6. Tara

    I used to love reading you guys' posts! Now, I don't read them very often mainly because there are topics I'm not too interested in.. which isn't y'alls fault. This one in particular makes my heart sad. The picture is inappropriate and while I think it's important to educate people on sex (to a point) I think this went a little further than it should have. Y'all are better than this. Too much of Christianity has more of the world and less of Christ as the center. Don't lose your focus on Him! God bless y'all!

    June 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm

  7. Jonalyn,

    This is AMAZING! I love that us Christian women are (finally) not afraid not to talk about sex and how it is great and healthy in our marriages! This article was so well-written and very true. I read parts of it to my husband and he loved it too! We did a podcast with you guys at Beth Hallel in Georgia and were so blessed! Keep on keeping on and we love and support you in prayer!

    Brooke Manolis

    thebebebirds.blogspot.com

    June 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

  8. Loretta

    Really the image is so not necessary as is half of the verbatim(may as well be an ad for Cosmo)…bummed about this especially since you all have high schoolers reading this + also bummed since you have ads for women struggling w/ diff. issues (fantasy etc.) . On the upside it is a sober look at what is goin' on in "the world." We need a deep washing to take it back how God intended. pure. simple. covenant.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:10 am

  9. Rachel

    I've honestly been wrestling with whether or not to read the books and this has helped me to decide to skip out on the girl porn. I've had several of my girlfriends talk to me about how amazing they are and how much better their sex lives are after reading them. When I first heard that it immediately concerned me because my thoughts were to wander what images they were envisioning that would make their sex lives any better with their husbands than they were before the books.

    As women we can't very well take a loud stand against porn and indulge in these kinds of books on the side.

    Thank you for writing truth, even when it isn't popular.

    June 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

  10. Excellent post! Spot on. It is about knowing & being known. I am loving the topic here right now. I just wrote about sex on my own blog & no one has commented. Ha! I guess no one feels comfortable there. :)

    July 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm

  11. Adrianna M.

    I crave my husband every day. Especially more since he started his new job working 4a-4p. But he comes home tired and all I want to do it feel his body against mine. Almost 5 years married (almost 8 years together) and I constantly find myself reminiscing of the past and how he used to show me he was into me, he used to touch me and grab me when he thought no one was looking and now….I'll be lucky to get my ass pinched. I started reading 50 Shades today and didn't want to stop but had to because I need to study for my NCLEX-RN examination in less than two weeks. I loved it when a man would pursue me and try so hard….just makes me feel sexy and the sex (when it would happen) felt oh so damn good.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm

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