Consent isn’t enough: The troubling sex of ‘Fifty Shades’

Consent isn’t enough: The troubling sex of ‘Fifty Shades’

What is a fantasy? From Freud to Ludacris, it’s been an elusive idea, suggesting both an escape from reality and an expression of hidden desire. In culture, fantasy works like a mirror: It reflects who we are, but it also shapes what we become.

Love it or despise it, American culture’s sexual fantasy of the moment is Fifty Shades of Grey. Since Random House bought the rights to the trilogy in 2012, the series has sold well over 100 million copies worldwide. Trailers for the movie adaptation of the first book have been viewed 250 million times, according to an ad aired in early February; it’s expected to gross at least $60 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

And that means the Fifty Shades fantasy is about to become all the more influential. Yes, the story will likely reach an even larger audience, but more importantly, it will be told in a new, visual form. When the movie comes out, the Fifty Shades version of hot, kinky sex will become explicit and precise, no longer dependent upon the imaginations of readers. Early reports say the movie shows at least 20 full minutes of sex, although it’s only rated R.

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