Why 50 Shades of Grey Isn’t As Sexually Revolutionary As Everyone Thinks

50 Shades of Grey, the 2011 erotica trilogy that stormed our book shelves and was then turned into a soft porn film on Valentines Day in 2015. The film was received in one of three ways;

  1. I love it and it’s great for feminism, sexual expression and the modern relationship,
  2. I have no opinion because I don’t want to get involved, or
  3. This is twisted and a step back for feminism as it glorifies domestic and sexual violence and is disgraceful.

‘Suddenly, he sits up and tugs my panties off and throws them on the floor. Pulling off his boxer briefs, his erection springs free. Holy cow! … He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no … Will it? How?’ – 50 Shades of Grey

Whatever your view of the phenomenon, what is quite surprising is that the whole concept of love, sex and desire is nothing new and has in fact been written about for hundreds of years.

Nearly 100 years ago, the world was having the same reaction to D.H Lawrence’s 1928 novel ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover.’ The book tells the tale of Lady Chatterly (Constance) having a passionate affair with her gardener (Oliver) and emphasis is placed on Constance’s need for physical awakening. This book being released in a time where a flash of the knee was considered unacceptable was quite incredible. Extreme censorship and suppression of this book occurred due to worries that it would greatly impact society. Which is exactly what happened, contributing to the sexual revolution of the 1920’s.


‘His body was urgent against her, and she didn’t have the heart anymore to fight…She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce, not loving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. She was giving way. She was giving up…she had to lie down there under the boughs of the tree, like an animal, while he waited, standing there in his shirt and breeches, watching her with haunted eyes…He too had bared the front part of his body and she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into her.’ – Lady Chatterly’s Lover

It is personally surprising that an audience in the 21st Century was sent into such a state of shock when 50 Shades is nothing more than poorly written fan fiction based off of Twilight! Whilst their was definitely rejection occurring in the 1920’s to Miss Chatterly, it overall inspired a sexual revolution and contributed positively to women’s rights and sexual expression. Whereas I’m not too sure if 50 Shades of Grey made as big of a contribution to society.

This comparison demonstrates the direct effect that media and communications can have on society and even influence and promote change. It is this importance which allows us to acknowledge the immense power of the media and why we should be active in consuming it and why the study of the media should be continued.

Further Readings

50 Shades of Grey compared to Lady Chatterly’s Lover: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9453636/Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-It-wouldnt-make-Lady-Chatterley-blush.html


Garica, J. 2012, ‘Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review’, Review of general psychology : journal of Division 1, of the American Psychological Association16.2 (2012): 161–176. PMC, accessed 16 April 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3613286/