On the Fifty Shades Trilogy

Introduction: Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Ways to Look at Fifty Shades

By Lori Perkins

Everywhere you go people are talking about Fifty Shades of Grey, from the supermarket (where it is on sale) to the airport to PTA meetings and even church socials. It is the book of the year, if not the decade.

You all know the stats. It has sold more copies than the Harry Potter series in a mere six months. It has dominated the New York Times bestseller list since April 2012. As of this writing, 32 million copies have sold this year in the US alone.

So the real question is: Why did this book, and its sequels, capture our attention now?


I want to make it clear that, as a literary agent who has toiled in the erotica fields for decades, I love the Fifty Shades trilogy. Its success has shown the world that a strong market exists for erotic fiction written, edited, and purchased by women.

To me, Fifty Shades is smut for women. I consider myself a “feminist pornographer,” which always raises a few eyebrows. But I believe this movement of women claiming their own smut is part of the evolution of feminism–proudly owning your sexuality is a big part of equality.

When I was a young feminist, I was given Story of O by a lover, and I was offended by it–not because of its overt subject matter but because I knew that I was not a submissive woman (I didn’t know the terminology back then; now every young woman will). I’ve wrestled with this my entire life in my  …

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