Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last month you’ll have noticed a lot of talk amongst women about a certain Mr Grey. Around 11.00pm, Facebook is awash with updates along the lines of “I’m off to bed with Mr Grey now!”, and online discussions reveal the depth of many women’s ardour when it comes to this particular gentleman. In case you have just woken from a month-long coma, Mr Grey is the “star” of the phenomenon that is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy: books that started life as Twilight fan-fiction, went on to be ridiculously dubbed “Mummy Porn”, and are now being read by virtually every woman I know.
Of course I had to see what I was missing and am now halfway through the third and final book.
I have to confess to feeling perplexed. The books are, in my opinion, not terribly well written. The sex scenes are certainly explicit and frequent, but they quickly become monotonous and simply get in the way of the (often weak) storyline. Yet somehow, I am hooked. Despite all my logical objections to these books, I have found them to be compulsive reading – borne out by the fact that I have nearly reached the end of the trilogy.
But even more confusing are my feelings towards Mr Grey. I have to grudgingly admit that I am amongst the throngs of women who experience a shiver of excitement at the mention of his name. There are no two ways around it: he is attractive. Sexy. Downright hot. My confusion comes when I question why.
Christian Grey is controlling. He is obsessive. He has unpredictable mood swings. He suffers from paranoia and is deeply insecure. He is mistrustful and refuses to be open and honest with his partner, Ana. When Ana “defies” him (ie acts like a grown woman capable of making her own decisions) he physically abuses her. He expects constant sex. He has serious, deep-rooted emotional issues. He has a highly disturbing sexual history. In short, if Mr Grey was real I wouldn’t be in a relationship with him if he was the last man alive. It’s true that he is disgustingly, obscenely rich and is very generous with his money. And it is true that he very good-looking, and is an experienced and skillful lover. But these factors cannot possibly make up for his considerable shortcomings.
So why am I, and thousands of other women, inexplicably attracted to him? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is that this isn’t the first time I’ve been attracted to a man who’s clearly not right for me. I have had four serious relationships as an adult. At the time, I honestly believed each one was Mr Right but in hindsight, it’s glaringly obvious that they were all Mr Wrong. I think it’s clear that I need to evaluate my criteria for choosing men – although at the moment I’m vowing to never step near another man again!
Am I the embodiment of the cliche that women can’t resist a bad boy? Perhaps I am an optimist who always chooses to see the good in people? Maybe I subconsciously think I can change someone to be the person I want them to be? Or could it be … there is no Mr Right? Is the answer as simple as saying that every man (OK, OK, every person) is flawed and has some less pleasant character attributes, but just to varying degrees?
For now my questions go unanswered. However I heard this evening that Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more copies in a week than any other paperback, breaking J. K. Rowling’s record. So whilst my attraction to Christian Grey is fifty shades of wrong, I can at least be happy in the knowledge that I’m in good company. Right, you’ll have to excuse me. Chapter Seventeen is beckoning and I’ve got a hot date with Mr Grey.