On 50 Shades of Grey, and other people’s porn

As a purveyor of dirty blog porn, I have an inherent bias towards masturbatory material that involves words instead of pictures. Bottom line: I want more people to read more porn.

Below are two quotes from books I’m reading at the moment. Which one would you most like to rub one out to?

Book 1

“Obediently, I turn, and my heart is thumping, desire instantly replacing unease, coursing through my blood and settling dark and yearning, low, low in my belly. He scoops my hair off my back so it hangs down my right side, curling at my breast. He places his index finger at the nape of my neck and achingly slowly drags it down my spine, his fingernail grazing my skin.”

Book 2

“I bring up a porcelain pot and place it upon my knees, the abbot backs towards me, stoops, I press his anus, pry it open, and, to be brief, agitate it in every way I think to hasten his evacuation. It takes place, an enormous turd fills the bowl, I offer it to its author, he seizes it, precipitates himself upon it, devours it, and discharges after fifteen minutes of the most violent flogging which I administer upon the same behind that shortly before had laid such a splendid egg for his breakfast.”

It won’t surprise you to read that these both come from very different books. Book 2 is ‘120 Days of Sodom’ by the inestimably disgusting Marquis de Sade, and Book 1 is ’50 Shades of Grey’ by the inestimably romantic E.L. James.

Those who have read the first book will know that it’s a fairly mainstream erotic novel, documenting one woman’s discovery of bondage and submission, as she gets drawn further into a sexy romance with an incomprehensibly wealthy businessman. Those who have read the second book will probably still be trying to make the nightmares stop.

I’m a little bit annoyed by 50 Shades of Grey – probably not for the reasons people think. I don’t care that it’s a bit fluffy, or that its wide-eyed shock at the idea of spanking ignores the fairly mainstream nature of the practice. What I really care about is the sheer number of people who have pushed it at me and gone “Hey, GOTN, write a scathing blog post about this!”

50 Shades of Grey is good

I’m going to say it loudly and clearly – 50 Shades of Grey is good. It’s not something I am deeply absorbed by, nor is it something that has led me to slick my knickers and knock a quick one out before bed. But it’s not the tedious drivel-fest that angry people had led me to expect.

There are some parts of the book that, although not written in a way that gets me off, still evoke certain things that can spark my imagination. Right at the beginning our heroine (Anastasia, since you asked) nearly steps out into the road, and our wealthy be-suited hero (Christian) pulls her into his arms. She stays there for a while, trembling and willing him to kiss her.

“Pah!” You cry. “What shite is this? I thought it was a dirty book – why am I reading about a woman in love crying out for a romantic smooch?”

You’re not – you’re reading about a man so dominant and controlling that he can have a woman throbbing with fucklust in the middle of the street. And he is so fucking good – so in control and hard and arrogant and domly – that he makes her throb and yearn by not doing anything at all.

I’ve been in just this situation with dominant guys. The waiting, the desperation, the occasional moans of frustration while a controlled and controlling man decides what he wants to do to you. He might beat you then walk away. Tie you down, sit on your chest and then stroke his cock just inches from your gaping, hungry mouth. He might bend you over and rub the tip of it right over your clit, pushing the end ever so slightly into you, holding you down as you try to push back, wanting him to push the full length of his dick into your throbbing, aching wet cunt.

OK, so the scene in the book doesn’t feature actual cock, and if it featured actual cunt Anastasia would refer to it cringingly as her ‘sex’, but there’s something there that’s hot nonetheless. Although not explicit it conjures a feeling that has so far made thousands upon thousands of readers shudder inside, and ache with a desperate need to be touched.

50 Shades of Grey is not for you

Did I crack one off to 50 Shades? No. At least not yet – I’m only halfway through. But the reason I didn’t is because, as I said above, it’s not for me. I rub one out primarily to cock pictures, videos of dudes wanking and my own sordid and repulsive imagination. So it’s not written with people like me in mind, and if you’re reading this blog, it’s probably not written for you either.

There’s an excellent passage where our dominant, wealthy hero takes Anastasia through a list of soft and hard limits – he asks what he can do to have her panting but not phoning the police. She says yes to spanking, no to anal fisting, but ‘maybe’ to buttsex. And that sums it up perfectly:

50 Shades of Grey is not a book for people who crack one off to sex blogs – 50 Shades is a book for people who say ‘maybe’ to buttsex.

Although I wince at some of the phrasing, although I am embarassed reading it on the train because I don’t want to be seen as a girl who might giggle at the word ‘penis’, although it’s essentially the Twilight of the porn world, I still don’t want to be rude about 50 Shades. Because as long as some people find it hot and wank to it, it’s done its job well.

50 Shades vs the Marquis de Sade

Some people will read erotica that you find cheesy and saccharine. Others will read filth so foul it’ll blow your mind. I like to think (if anyone’s got a lucrative book deal to offer) that I fall somewhere in the highly-marketable area between the two.

My point is that porn is incredibly personal, and it makes me a bit uncomfortable that so many people are pointing and laughing at a book that, for some, could represent their first foray into literary filth.

I like that it exists, because it gives those who like it the opportunity to read it, and it gives people like us, who might have more honed and explicit tastes, the opportunity to reject it on the way to a different bookshelf. But I don’t want to mock it because for those who love it, it’s a very personal glimpse into their fantasies. By all means express an opinion, but delivering a scathing critique could cripple their arousal and leave them feeling cold and pathetic. I don’t want anyone to dip into porn only to be told that their specific taste in filth is laughably wrong, and they shouldn’t bother.

Personally I want to read something much more sordid and direct – I want to read about girls crying with lust as they’re pounded by teams of angry, horny men. I want words like ‘encunted’ and ‘spunk’, and I want porn that takes me from arousal to disgust and then back again until I wonder if I should be arrested. 

But over and above all this I want to see more people getting comfortable with their sexual desires, and being able to discuss those desires without being torn to shreds by more experienced perverts who call their fantasies mediocre. Whether they’re braving the horrors of de Sade or flirting with 50 Shades of Grey, I just want more people to read more porn


  • I must admit I love your way with words and thoughts….my first ebook out on Monday 4th June is a true story and has a slight ref to sex but my editor has already told me, well instructed me to write an erotic book for my 2nd book, which I may do…..but just to say love your blog and will keep checking.

    If you want to check me out, please feel free:



    Bye for now!!!!

  • JVCake says:

    Can’t argue with this post.

  • Totally anonymous username says:

    I’m unlikely to read it because of the whole ‘thinly disguised Twilight fic’ thing, but the thing that makes me sad is the number of comments I’ve seen (from friends-of-acquaintances on facebook, for example) saying they’re ‘in love’ with Christian and would ‘cure him’ of his ‘weird tastes’.

    • Caramella says:

      The books started off as a Twilight fanfic piece, with the names and a few minor details changed. Somehow it got picked up, and the author was encouraged to expand it into a full-length novel, and its sequels.

      I haven’t read them, but, like Twilight, I strongly prefer not to pay for lite fiction that I’m only reading for ammunition.

    • Vida Bailey says:

      Ugh, that’s stupid. The ‘cure’ thing.

      It’s not ‘thinly disguised Twilight fic’ and it never was – it *is* Twilight fic. Unashamedly so. That’s what it was written as, what it was loved by the first thousands as, and why got popular enough to be published. People loved Twilight in their millions, just as they loved this. Mass appeal of not-great-writing is a thing, eh?

  • Girl on the net says:

    Totally anonymous – that is… odd. And odd not just because the idea of ‘curing’ someone of their sexual fantasies is fucked up, but odd because I cannot comprehend someone falling in love with Christian without having submissive tendencies of their own. They are essentially wishing to be dominated by someone who they would actively not want to be a Dom. Does not compute.

    Incidentally, I bloody love the Twilight books. OK, they’re not exactly literary masterpieces, but fuck did I fall in love with Edward. Then Jacob. Then Edward again. Judge me – I dare you =)

    David P Perlmutter – excellent self-promotion. I wholeheartedly approve of your tenacity and wish you the best of luck with your forthcoming book.

    • Totally Anonymous Username says:

      Oh, I’m not getting into Twilight, I don’t understand the appeal, but then I’m more Team Damon/Book!Stefan, anyway. (Yes, together.)

      But yes, that is why I found those comments sad/baffling.

  • A very charitable piece GOTN, but whether or not you choose to uphold people’s right to read bad fiction, the ideas about BDSM portrayed in the Fifty Shades books are specious and damaging: http://therighteousharlot.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/sweet-valley-high-meets-story-of-oh-my.html

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmmm… I think you’ve read a lot more of it than I have, so I don’t want to comment in-depth on the story itself. But your criticisms are interesting. I feel like even if you hate the ideas behind it, that’s not necessarily a reason to hate the book as *porn*. Sure, I’d potentially hate the book if it was, say, a self-help book or something that I felt I necessarily had to aspire to, but as porn I can see it as a story about two interesting (albeit pretty shallow) people who do some dirty sex.

      I get really twitchy about stamping my ethics too hard on what is essentially a fantasy. I agree with some of your points (especially the wealth – why, why, why does he need to be so fabulously wealthy?!) but I think it’s perfectly possible to hold that something is sexy (or has the potential to be) without necessarily agreeing with the ethics and motivations of all the main characters. For the same reason I can love Twilight’s Edward while simultaneously thinking that some of the stuff he does is creepy, stalky, and not the sort of behaviour I’d put up with in a partner, likewise I can appreciate that some of the things Christian does are hot, despite the fact that – when all’s said and done – he’s a gigantic douchebag.

      But I will have a further think and come and reply to your post properly when I have read the whole book. For all I know he might kill her and eat her at the end, and then I’d look like a proper arsehole.

  • Just wondering – do you have a preference for porn written by male or female authors? Do you find there’s a difference at all? I almost without exception find that female authors are ‘better’, I guess that is to say more to my tastes. I’ve read a lot of the Black Lace books – their Wicked Words anthologies are a really good place to go off and find a full-length novel that you’d really like.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I think as a general rule guys and girls have very different styles of writing – so I’d probably be able to make a guess as to whether some anonymous porn was written by a man or a woman. But I think for preference it’s all about tone, style and what’s actually happening. The one teeny tiny exception to this is that men seem to have a real penchant for using words that I hate – pussy, arsehole, cum, etc. If I could do a find/replace on these words in all porn, I’d certainly enjoy it more.

      • crafty banker says:

        Gotn, I totally agree about the words used in porn. So many of the stories I’ve read make whatever the protagonists are up to sound like a lesson in gynaecology rather than two (or more) people having a good time.

        Less anatomy, more emotion and feelings would make a huge proportion of porn much more wankable imho.

  • Charlie B says:

    I liked 50 shades, the sex was a little mediocre, but as a romantic set of novels, it was quite nice and some elements of the psychology of the relationship in it’s early stages hit the spot.

    But I definitely say yes to buttsex. And BDSM, in it’s heavier forms.

    Maybe I’m the minority?

  • bambilish says:

    I enjoyed the fifty shades trilogy for the escapist nonsense that it is. No, it’s not very good porn. No I didn’t wank to it. But I don’t care. The ease with which she is multi orgasmic immediately after losing her virginity bothers me – do women need any more pressure, and i was surprised that its written by a woman as it reads more like a ‘wave my knob at her and she’ll come’ male fantasy. I honestly don’t know why all the controversy.

  • Liza says:

    I’m right there with you on getting others to read more porn. And better porn. I occasionally review erotic fiction on my blog, which is mostly a sex blog, but with excursions into other topics. I’d love for you to check it out.

  • Leandra says:

    I haven’t read 50 shades purely because it doesn’t sound filthy enough. I know it’s a romantic erotica And I’m not knocking it, but if I want to read erotica I would buy erotica, same as a romantic novel. I agree people should read more porn. Maybe 50 shades will open more womens imaginations and views on erotica and the bookshops will be profit from how much erotica is being read!

  • It may have been better if the Random House editor had pulled their finger out. As it were. Ahem. Hence my (safe for work) remix… http://italic-eyeball.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/a-facial-sonata-50-shades-of-grey-remix.html

  • kathryn stone says:

    There’s an excellent passage where our dominant, wealthy hero takes Anastasia through a list of soft and hard limits – he asks what he can do to have her panting but not phoning the police. She says yes to spanking, no to anal fisting, but ‘maybe’ to buttsex. And that sums it up perfectly:

    50 Shades of Grey is not a book for people who crack one off to sex blogs – 50 Shades is a book for people who say ‘maybe’ to buttsex.

  • kathryn stone says:

    There’s an excellent passage where our dominant, wealthy hero takes Anastasia through a list of soft and hard limits – he asks what he can do to have her panting but not phoning the police. She says yes to spanking, no to anal fisting, but ‘maybe’ to buttsex. And that sums it up perfectly:

    50 Shades of Grey is not a book for people who crack one off to sex blogs – 50 Shades is a book for people who say ‘maybe’ to buttsex.-perfect

  • Pat Bateman says:

    There’s a blog called Bizzybiz where the author has torn the 50 Shades franchise to pieces. It’s certainly put me off (but I’m a man, and wasn’t intending to read any of it anyway). Away from EL James, there used to be a vast amount of high quality erotica available online through duotrope.com, but recently it’s gone subscription-only, which makes it a lot harder to find good erotica.

    p.s. I saw Salo years ago and it made me want to puke my guts up. But I’m still tempted to read the source material, 120 Days of Sodom, just to see what it’s like.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I assure you, it is fucking horrific. Towards the end I could only read one or two pages at a time, then I had to watch a South Park before bed, or I’d have had nightmares about it and woken up screaming. Sodom, that is, not 50 Shades. 50 Shades just left me with a mild feeling of arousal and desire to read something more spanky.

  • Susan says:

    Girl on the net… spot on article!

    Have you also read ‘Folly’ by the Southafrican author Jassy MacKenzie. 50 Shades is rather romantic as pointed out, Jassy’s style is a bit less flowery. I haven’t read it yet though. But after 50shades, I’m ready for a bit more porn.
    x susan

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