A Steamy Pile of Literature

Gene Weingarten on

WASHINGTON -- Women may not be any smarter than men, but they are definitely less stupid. Whenever you read about, say, a fatality in an alcohol-related rock-paper-scissors brawl, you know it will not involve women. My daughters boyfriend, Julien, once broke his ankle because he'd decided that a good way to save time was to descend stairs by avoiding the actual steps, leaping straight from one landing to the next.

In short, one of my guiding theses has always been that, on the whole, women are better than men, which is why I delayed writing this column for as long as I could. In the end, I had no choice, because Fifty Shades of Grey became the No. 1 best-selling book in the country. Its readers are overwhelmingly female.

The book is about a young woman who has been turned into a submissive sex toy by a cinematically handsome and charming 28-year-old billionaire. I know nothing about the British author, E.L. James, but by her words I'd guess she's a precocious 14-year-old girl writing during fevered frenzies of self-abuse. The book puts the rot in erotica. For example:

I'm losing all sense of self, every atom of my being concentrating hard on that small, potent powerhouse at the apex of my thighs.

Because I could not reconcile the success of this book with my respect for women, I turned in desperation to the one person who might: my friend Gina Barreca, an expert on feminist literature.

Gene: Please explain why the success of Fifty Shades of Grey doesn't suggest that women are nitwits.



Gene: Gina, are you crying?

Gina said (this is completely true) that she needed time to compose herself. She called back two days later.

Gina: I have come to the conclusion that the problem is men.


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