Why We Need Erotica

Hayley Phelan in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a lot of hand-wringing around erotica, especially erotica that centers on female submission. Feminists worry that it perpetuates harmful gender dynamics, while conservatives shudder at the frank depictions of female sexuality. Intellectuals usually dismiss it as smut. In the meantime, millions of people — mostly women — gobble it up. The box office success of Fifty Shades Freed, the third installment in the Hollywood trilogy based on E. L. James’s best-selling BDSM romance series, is only the latest example. How is it, wondered pundits, that this particular movie is a hit at the height of the #MeToo movement? Why are women flocking to see a film about a rich, white man dominating a much younger, much less powerful woman?

There’s no obvious reason that a movement against misogyny, sexual assault, and non-consensual advances should be incompatible with fantasies of consensual, sexual submission. For one thing, fantasies of submission are not strictly a female feminine phenomenon.

More here.