Better late than never….my view on fifty shades

I know, I know.

All the uproar about the books have died down and I’m only just joining the debate. That’s because it’s taken me this long to finish all three books. I normally get through an average 400 page novel in a day if it’s a real page turner and even though I finished reading book number 1 in two days, the whole trilogy took me over two months to finish for various reasons; work, home, etc.

I finished the last book a few days ago and have since been trawling the depths of Google  in the hope of finding something, anything by Nigerian women on the book. We all know as Nigerians, we no dey carry last with anything as viral as fifty shades so I was quite surprised at the lack of many results on my search.

With the exception of Bella Naija (God bless them) and a couple of other mentions on some Nigerian blogs, I didn’t really find much, which is surprising as I know for a fact that a lot of women, especially in Nigeria read the book. As usual, my trusted Bella Naija came to the rescue. If you’re ever in need of public opinion especially that of women on any matter, I’d recommend going on Bella Naija. Don’t know if it’s just me, but I tend to enjoy the comments more than some of the posts, call me aproko…

From a brilliant review by Ainehi Edoro, who captured most of my sentiments on the book and the 129 or so comments on the post (most of which I read; what? I’m off work tomorrow, I got time!), I was able to gauge; to an admittedly unreliable extent, what ‘some’ Nigerian women actually think of the book.

Most people might think it’s not worth it, but I would have liked to see a proper discussion on the book between Nigerian women. It would have been so enlightening.

I am a sucker for band wagons. I envy people who can ignore the overwhelming majority and turn away from current trend. I’m afraid I’m far too curious to not want to know what all the fuss is about, hence why I caved in and downloaded the three books. 

If I were to say what I thought about them, I would only be rehashing what many have already said, because I’ve observed that most readers agree on some basic things about the book and everyone knows what was good and bad about it.

I think I’ll summarise it as very basic Mills and Boon with a lot of Kinky Sex. I like to think I am a patient reader. I am fine with reading a book that starts out slow and boring and gradually follow it as it builds and gains momentum. I guess that’s why I was patient with the first book because after the first few pages, I was getting bored with the usual familiar M&B sentences I had outgrown since I was 17 and believe me, I read my fair share!

To my surprise, I found myself itching to go for my tea break and lunch just so I could continue from where I’d left off and you would find me giggling away by myself during lunch while people looked at me funny.

The books brought out the romantic in me that I had managed to suppress a long time ago after discovering the shocking truth that the men in my precious M&B books did not exist in reality.

Why did the book go viral? I don’t know, women fantasise, a lot. I know I do. Fifty shades gave people a distraction from their lives and for that period, you could escape into Ana and Christian’s intense world and it was just you, watching them, wrapped up in their ridiculous drama.

I rolled my eyes a lot at the cliches but as irritating as I found them, I had to keep reminding myself that this book did not start out as a book. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously initially so I forgive E L James for that.

From the comments on Bella Naija, I’d risk the inference that Nigerian women are now slightly more liberal in our way of thinking. I’m aware that comments on Bella Naija is by no means an accurate representative of general views in Nigeria, but, in the absence of anything else, it will suffice for now.

Seeing as we define everything with religion most times, I was expecting a lot of religious backlash in the comment section along with the ‘Tufiakwas’ , ‘God forbid bad thing’, and ‘Olorun ma je’s’. I was prepared for E L James to be brandished daughter of Jezebel, and the books labelled demonic and satanic by most readers, therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise to find that the majority were willing to dialogue and debate the pros and cons of the books without bringing religion into it.

I’m not insinuating that religious views should be excluded in this context, I just appreciate the fact that Nigerian women expressed  intellectual opinions on the matter just as well as religious ones.

If for nothing else, the book is good for this. It’s gotten women, even Nigerian women talking about sex in a way that hitherto would have been impossible. I might be wrong, but I am of the opinion that Nigerian women don’t talk about sex. Why should we? we’ve been brought up to believe that it is immoral to even so much as think about it, let alone speak about it or watch it, so much  so that even after we marry (and are now doing it legally), we still don’t feel comfortable talking about it unless it’s amongst our closest circle of friends or family, which is fine. I just think we should be able to have a normal conversion about it without everyone going up in arms and associating such a big deal to it or clamming up because it’s private.

You don’t have to agree with everyone’s sexual preferences, but I believe in open dialogue and opening one’s mind to possibilities. It might not rock your boat but someone else might learn from it and be able to take something from that to improve their relationship.

No one is asking for a full disclosure…but if someone is willing to tell, I am willing to listen. What convinced me to read the books was stumbling upon a thread on Netmums dedicated to the books and you would not believe the stuff some people get up to behind closed doors! Like for real, who said marriage and motherhood are to blame for a lack luster sex life? I am now a firm believer that singletons have nothing on married people especially those with kids when it comes to sex. Some of the comments made me laugh, some made me gasp and some made me feel sorry.

With so much going on in our lives, it’s hard to believe that there are people with 4 kids who make time to have sex everyday of the week! Like seriously????? How?

It’s hard to forget the BDSM, even for someone as liberal as me. Even though experts claim the style of BDSM portrayed in the book is a seriously watered down version of the main thing, it was still a bit much for me, especially with all the ‘instruments’. I googled nipple clamps and butt plugs and silver balls and did not like what I saw. Needless to say I skipped a few pages involving the tying and cuffing and the red room of pain.

It would be interesting to know if there are quite a lot of Sub- Dom relationships in Nigeria. From a couple of comments on Bella Naija, the answer would be yes. To what percentage though, I wonder.

As African women, we are thought to be submissive to our husbands anyways but I suspect most Nigerian women would not be able to look beyond the physical nature of the relationship between Ana and Christian and see it only as abuse.  This is understandable.

Growing up in Nigeria, corporal punishment was a norm. Some of us were flogged as kids with Canes, the popular Koboko and belts for being bad or naughty, so this is the only connotation we have for these objects. It would be difficult for someone to view them as sexual or erotic objects after everyone from parents, relatives and teachers have used them on you as a symbol of punishment and for some abuse.

If you take that away from it, I think Nigerian women would be willing to try most of the other stuff. I wish I was that adventurous but as you probably know by now if you read my blog, I very much fall into the category of the faint hearted.

Having said that, you should have seen the relief on the husband’s face after I finally finished the books…..;-)

*adjusting my half moon specs and raising my glass of red wine in toast*


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