Why Women Love '50 Shades Of Grey'

This romance novel taps into our most erotic fantasies. Find out how.

Why Women Love '50 Shades Of Grey' [EXPERT]

If you have not heard about the popularity of the novel series, Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James, than you are likely living under a rock. This romance novel's overnight smash popularity is an indication of several things. Number one, women enjoy sex. Number two, women do like erotica. And, number three, women enjoy their erotic adventures wrapped in a handsome fantasy and safely packaged in a monogamous relationship.


Part of the success of Fifty Shades, is that there is a variety of sex scenes in the book in which the main female character, Anastasia Steele, finds herself swept away by her own passion. She is being ravished by a devilishly handsome and psychologically dysfunctional Christian Grey, with whom she has an immediate and lasting committed relationship. This monogamy allows her to experience many dangerous and edgy sexual adventures. The variety of erotic exploits allows for most of the book's intrigue. 

UCLA conducted a study in which they found that 64 percent of women had "ravishment" fantasies. Ravishment is different than rape. We have spent many years teaching men that "no means no," and for good reason. But if "no" means "only playing" and "popsicle" really means no, because it is a safe word, than "no" can mean that I am only pretending that I am resisting you.


Being ravished makes sense on an anatomical level for women. A woman has to physically let go in order to orgasm. Letting tension build is one thing, but holding on to too much tension can prevent the natural release of orgasmic energy in the female body. Knowing that someone else is in charge, knows what he is doing and is determined to bring pleasure, can help a woman relax. Frankly, it means she does not have to take responsibility for her own pleasure. Receiving can be quite powerful and sexy in those moments. 

I call this the "pirate" fantasy. Most women find Johnny Depp's drunken pirate character, Jack Sparrow, to be ravishing and sexy. However, that does not mean they want to be monogamous with Jack Sparrow. Instead, they want to be devoured by him on the deck of a ship. When the heroine is held down by the pirate and in a breathy and sexy voice says, "Oh no, Jack, please, no" and her bodice is ripped open, and she drops her head back, hair blowing in the wind, neck exposed to the villain, is she really saying "no?"

On the other hand, is she saying "No, please do not, but really, yes. Please seduce me now, then leave me alone because your teeth are bad and your breath smells like rum. I need to go find the real hero of the story so I can ride off into the sunset. But, for right now rip my bodice and get on with the ravishment!" 

Fifty Shades has been spoofed on Saturday Night Live, read aloud on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and talked about at every ladies book club in America. The main male character is dominating, into BDSM and always gives Anastasia an orgasm. Christian Grey knows what he is doing  in the bedroom, likes to do it and often. He is in charge and takes what he wants.


But, Christian is not a cad. He never cheats on his lover, and wants her and no one else. They are monogamous from the moment they meet. In fact, he is jealous and possessive. These traits add to the fantasy and make it that much hotter. Not only is Christian Grey gorgeous and rich beyond belief, he is also totally and completely committed only to Anastasia.

This fantasy sells. It is monogamy that is hot, focused on her needs, and at the same time is unpredictable. So, he has some faults and a traumic past, which is to be expected. It gives Anastasia something to work on. She can use her nurturing and submissive attributes to fix his codependency issues. But the monogamy is what sells the story. If Grey was hot but sleeping around, the reader would hate him. He might still be sexy, he might still turn you on. But you would not want to marry him. 

But hey, I do not want to ruin book three for you.


Dr Tammy Nelson is a world renowned expert in relationships, a psychotherapist in private practice and a trainer and seminar leader worldwide. She is the author of several books including Getting The Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together and the upcoming The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity. She can be found at www.drtammynelson.com and her Facebook page Getting the Sex You Want.