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Ann Cannon: Color us ‘Fifty Shades’ of confused?

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2015 09:02 pm


Dear Men,

Sometimes I think it must be very confusing for you when it comes to figuring out what we women want. Our boy Freud certainly got that one right, didn't he?

Like, I remember that time I caught one of my teenage boys reading the first "Twilight" book.

"Seriously?" I said to him.

Not that I objected, particularly. I'm all about getting boys to read. But I will say I was surprised. This was absolutely the last son I would have expected to find secretly reading a romance.

Son blushed. "I just want to see what kind of guys girls like."




I had to give him points for trying. It's not easy growing up in a house full of brothers with nary a female in sight, because you know how it is: Moms aren't girls. They're just moms.

"Well," I told him, "don't you go around using Edward as a role model. For one thing, you're not a vampire. For another thing, you're not dead."

I've been thinking about that experience again, what with the recent opening of "Fifty Shades of Grey" and all. I wonder if you, Dear Men, are confused all over again. After watching NFL player Ray Rice coldcock his girlfriend in an elevator and then listening to the media discussion that has followed, what are you to make of the Fifty Shades phenomenon? After all, didn't a woman write that book? And aren't women mostly the ones reading it?

I can only imagine my own husband's confusion if I suddenly lifted a page out of "Shades of Grey" and injected it into our relationship.

ME: Hey. Dude. I think I need some "disciplining."

HIM: Wait. What? In all the years I've known you, you have never ever wanted anybody — your parents, your teachers, your employers, your church leaders, the parking meter people, the government and certainly not your husband — to discipline you. In fact, you're just all about giving the middle finger to people who want to discipline you.

ME: Whatevs. Apparently I'm supposed to want me some slappity-slap-slapping, accompanied by a side dish of spankity-spank-spanking.

HIM: Ew.

ME: Also, I want you to stalk me. And threaten me. And isolate me. And also beat me. Beat me real good. But only if you reward me with lavish gifts afterward, because that's what true love looks like, yo. Plus, I want to help you because you're so tormented. I want to rescue you. And fix you. Won't you please, please, please let me fix you?

HIM: Well. OK. If that's what you really want. But can I finish reading the morning paper first?

Yes. I know. The book is pure fantasy. And most readers, male or female, are bright enough to know that. But it's got to be confusing for you men, right? Well, you're not alone. Because it's confusing for me, too.

I'm at a complete and total loss to explain the popularity of a book like this. I suspect it has something to do with the "feeling desired" part and also the "fixing you because I'm the only woman on the planet who can fix you" part. And then, of course, it helps that everybody is super good-looking and gets to fly around in an awesome private jet instead of having to fly coach to Texas (like I just did) on an airline that charges you for everything — checked bags, carry-on luggage, sodas, peanuts, the privilege to watch bad cable TV. Oh, how I miss the days when we used to make snarky jokes about airplane food, which used to be included in the price of the ticket. DID YOU HEAR THAT, AIRPLANE FOOD? I MISS MAKING SNARKY JOKES ABOUT YOU!

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