Fifty Shades of Grey — the runaway, international bestseller. The extended trailer for the movie is out—with a release date of Valentine's Day 2015, no less—and every female writer with a hint of talent is putting out a copycat romance novel. (Sheesh; the covers all look identical!) Safe to say, people have gone crazy for Fifty Shades.
What has my attention isn't the sex, the writing quality or the potentially controversial nature of the content (alternative lifestyle participants will tell you it's not a book about those in the life of real BDSM, and that an experienced dominant would never take on a completely green submissive partner). What I've been looking at are the dynamics between the characters, as well as how women in the real world are responding to the books and the upcoming film. They're responding strongly, and men need to pay attention.
Is the writing great? No. Is it a true-to-life accounting of the BDSM lifestyle? Again, no. Is it a story of an innocent young woman who convinces a bad boy to give up his ways and meet her on an even playing field, ultimately loving her for all-time? Perhaps, who cares? What makes Fifty Shades different is how the sex and interpersonal dynamics between the characters taps into psyches of many women in the real world. These women yearn for one thing that Fifty Shades drive home: Desire.
The millions of women who have purchased the series don’t just want a love story; they want a love story with passion, desire, and unbridled wanting — with a side order of dominant/submissive sex. It's a primal desire for many women to be attracted to a man who is overcome with an unquenchable want for her—their joint passion so hot it could boil rain as it falls. They want to be afforded pleasure at the hands of someone who is both capable and confident; someone who is secure in their own self and sexuality, and wants to give her as much as she can stand—while finding pleasure for himself in giving. The catch: this power dynamic has to stay in the bedroom, without issues of control spilling out into real life and altering the genuine, respectful love he should feel. In short: They want a man confident enough to ask her what she wants, and who knows how to deliver it... with power.
Based on the content and in reflection of the sales numbers of the Fifty Shades trilogy, it would seem that millions of women want to "let go": To trust, to release, to just be women (as opposed to "moms" or "wives" or "girlfriends"). They want to be sexual, sensual and feminine; to be trusting and hand over control between the sheets to a man who will not use it against her outside of the bedroom. They want a man who is confident, charming, alluring, captivating, mysterious and bad — all the while caring deeply for her integrity and self-respect.
It is precisely these qualities that more men need to embrace: The ability to be strong yet soft in a combination of masculine and feminine—lunar and solar. Men who lead, listen, empathize and act all while staying empathetically confident. Is everyone into dominance and submission? Of course not; but that's not the point. It's simpler than that. These are the traits women want from the men in their lives—and smart men are listening.
For some men, there are two types of foreplay: being touched and the anticipation of being touched. What these guys don't seem to realize is that their version of foreplay is in direct opposition to a woman's largest erogenous zone: her mind. There's no substitute for mental stimulation and intelligent discussion as foreplay. (Well, mostly. For some women, foreplay might begin when he puts the dishes away or takes out the trash without being asked.)
Bottom line: For a modern-day relationship to work, there's no room for men to be stifled by their own fear, insecurities and hang-ups. Societal pressures can water men down and keep them questioning their own sense of masculinity. If a man wants a woman to let go and let loose in the bedroom, he will likely need to let go first, pure and simple. She wants to trust him, and she will. He just needs to lead with confidence and sincerity, and make it safe for her to just be... herself.