50 shades

I was on the train the other week and overheard a conversation from 3 older ladies (they were in their 40s/50s). One of them said in hushed tones “Have you read 50 shades?”, her eyes darting around the carriage and her cheeks flushed red. The other lady replied “Yeh I am reading it, the good bits are in chapter 8”. There were a few giggles at this point. The gentleman sitting opposite them had his eyes closed but his ears were twitching. The third one of the friends piped up and said “I would just go to chapter 8, why bother with all the rest of it?” There was more laughter after that and nervous shifting in their seats. I was rather amused. When I walk into Waterstones I can see this book has hit number 1 and its filling the shelves and flying off them quickly.

I have never read the book and I doubt I will, but it has been quite a hit and women are reading it. From the reviews I have read it has been likened to Twilight but with all the naughty bits left in, it’s also been described as “mummy porn”. Why should Christians be bothered? Well I think this book indicates something that we have known for a while but have been ignoring in our christian circles and in church, which is that women look at porn too. Even though this is in a book form and you have to read words, the words are meant to stimulate. My friend has written a great post on this and its something that I have been thinking about for a while but haven’t had the chance to write about it. She hits the nail on the head.

A Thorn on the Rose says this:

“In church culture it is assumed that men have issues with pornography and masturbation, there are seminars run about it, help and support groups and accountability publicised for men.

When addressing women in church, there is not the same approach. There is a tendency for leaders to not talk about women’s sexuality and problems we can have with our sexuality and expressing it. Who says that masturbation is limited to men? Who says that women don’t think about sex as much as the average male?”

She is right. In my 8 or so years as a Christian I have never heard an address to women about porn. It has always been to the men. I have never been to a “girl talk seminar” where we talk about porn, masturbation and sexuality. Instead we talk about gossip, relationships and comparing yourself. Which is all relevent, but it has left men thinking women don’t have a problem with this and it’s just a “man issue” and its left women thinking she can’t tell anyone about this because women don’t struggle with this.
Well they do. (It also brings up ideas that when a man and woman get married the man will enjoy sex a lot more than the woman, in fact the woman will not really like it at all, which isn’t always the case)

The truth is:

Women look at porn online. They read it to.
Women masturbate.
Women think about sex. Women enjoy sex too.

There is another brilliant blog post about how chic-lit isn’t porn for women, but porn is porn for women: here . To think that chic-flick like pride and prejudice and “You’ve got mail” is the same as porn then we must be reading/watching something very different! 50 shades of grey doesn’t sound like a chic flick but more on the side of porn. (again I haven’t read it, but from the reviews that’s what it sounds like). The Conversational Theology blog post says this great point:

“First, and I want to say this first because I really don’t think anyone else is saying it at all, chicklit and chick flicks are not pornography for women, pornography is pornography for women. There is a myth which the church seems to have bought into completely that women are not interested in pornography. That this sin is exclusively a male sin. Women are instructed not to listen when a preacher addresses the men in the church about this issue. For a long time, I believed this lie too. And then I discovered the internet.”

She says in another article that:

Women keeping their cyber activities secret 70%
Women struggling with pornography addiction 17%
Ratio of women to men favoring chat rooms 2X
Percentage of visitors to adult websites who are women 1 in 3 visitors
Women accessing adult websites each month 9.4 million
Women admitting to accessing pornography at work 13%
Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.

My hope is that we won’t ignore this anymore in our churches, in our christian circles, in ourselves. My hope is that some support will be provided for women, that there will be open conversations without judgement, that there will  be talks on it that are not just limited to men. There is a website that provides support. But we need to start talking about it in our communities.

As my friend says on A Thorn on a Rose:

“I believe that the changing of our culture in regards to women’s sexuality will force the church to also consider women’s sexuality, not only will churches provide ways of helping men with their problems but be able to openly talk to women and provide support for them as well.”

I hope so.

I would be interested to know if there has been any open talk about this in your church/communities? Is it a taboo subject?


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