Why are so many strong, independent, powerful women drawn to sado-masochistic porn like Fifty Shades of Gray?
Katie Roiphe finds it all puzzling:
It is intriguing that huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace, when they make up almost 60 percent of college students, when they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands, when the majority of women under 30 are having and supporting children on their own, a moment when—in hard economic terms—women are less dependent or subjugated than before.
This is not to mention a spate of articles on choosing not to be married or the steep rise in young women choosing single motherhood. We may then be especially drawn to this particular romanticized, erotically charged, semipornographic idea of female submission at a moment in history when male dominance is shakier than it has ever been.
In truth, there is nothing mysterious or even intriguing about the phenomenon. Once you look closely at the question, it answers itself.
Many modern women have successfully repressed their feminine mystique. Then, one day, they wake up to discover that men do not find them to be sexually attractive. The Pied Pipers of contemporary feminism forget to tell them that their sex appeal lay in their femininity.
If they want to have sex lives and relationships with men, they have to move on to plan B.
Strong, powerful, independent modern women work with men on an equal basis, interact with men as equals, and are respected by men as equals. But the same men do not see them as sexually desirable.
At the least, the men they would want to marry do not see them in that light.
Absent a feminine mystique, a woman has two real options: a role-playing fantasy in which she is submissive and her partner is dominant, or submitting to the reality that her man will look elsewhere for sexual pleasure.
After all, feminist philosophy professor Nancy Bauer once suggested that college women can feel empowered by getting drunk at parties and falling to their knees to provide whatever service male partygoers might require. My comments here.
Bauer called it liberated and empowered, but really, it’s submissive.
Of course, none of this should really come as a surprise. The truth has been staring us in the face for years. Most people have too much decorum to call it by its name.
If you ask which American woman represents the highest embodiment of the feminist ideal today, the answer must be: Hillary Clinton.
But hasn’t Hillary Clinton’s husband made abundantly clear that his sexual desires have always been directed toward just about any woman who walks by, with the sole exception of Hillary Clinton?
Let’s imagine that Hillary Clinton was unwilling to do what Anastasia Steele did in Fifty Shades of Gray. Let’s grant that she would have refused to submit to his male authority, even if it was play-acting.
Of course, Bill Clinton did not just engage in a discreet extra-marital love affair. He did not bother to hide his infidelities. He was reckless in his choice of sexual partners.
Recklessness means that you do not really care about getting caught. In fact, it suggests that getting caught and having your dirty linen aired in public might serve a larger purpose.
When you are married and unfaithful, getting caught humiliates your spouse. It also advertises your dominant male status to the world.
Could it be that being married to a strong, powerful, dominant female makes a man feel as though he needs to show the world that he is still the alpha?
Emotionally speaking, systematic humiliation involves forced submission.
A woman (or a man) who has been subjected to such humiliation can always assert her pride and walk away. Hillary Clinton did not do this. Thus, she submitted to the moral equivalent of what Anastasia Steele accepted from Christian Gray.