Back in May, Darrin Rose wrote a piece for the National Post on Fifty Shades of Grey and how it may negatively affect women living in the suburbs of Canada. His main concern is that exercise facilities are going to start adopting the sexual practices used between Anastasia and Christian Grey (the two main characters in the book).
I’m currently reading the first book of the trilogy, and I can confidently say that I have no interest in joining any sado-masochism themed gym classes. But, hey! I have yet to finish the book.
Fifty Shades of the Stairmaster, or the Problem with Bringing Sex to the Suburbs
Darrin Rose, May 27, 2012
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has sold 10 million copies in only six weeks of sales, and in doing so has shed a lot of light on what suburban moms are looking for in the bookstore, if not in the bedroom. It has been banned in some U.S. libraries, generating controversy in equal measure for pornographic content and terrible writing. If you like books that read like a triple-X version of your Grade 8 diary, then you’re in luck. But trouble looms on the horizon.
The book has become part of the zeitgeist, leading to all kinds of new sexual ideas in the suburbs. I should confess that as a city dweller, I like to encourage the notion that urbanites lead sexy, dangerous lives already. But the suburban soccer moms who make up the majority of the book’s readership are discovering a sexy, dangerous world of bondage, discipline and sado-masochism, also known — by lazy people and perverts — as BDSM. While BDSM is currently a risqué, fun activity, the suburbs will do what they always do when they find a new sexy idea — turn it into an exercise you do at the gym, thereby simultaneously destroying its sexiness and enjoyability. They did the same thing to the Lambada and stripper poles.
There is a bizarre shared history between sexy ideas and personal fitness. Gyms need to sell memberships, and what better way to find recruits than promising something naughty? It certainly works better than promising hard work and unlimited creepy guys with short shorts. But like fashion, sexiness is fuelled by novelty, so gym owners are constantly searching for new sexy trends to ruin by making them into exercise.
The Lambada became an exercise craze shortly after it was a dance craze in the late ’80s. Also known as the Forbidden Dance, it was swishy and sensual and made girls feel like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, but only at the end part when she could actually dance. Dirty dancing didn’t become exercise until the Lambada caught on, because the phrase “I’m learning how to dirty dance” isn’t something you would say when there are kids around. But Lambada-ing? How international! How sexy! How acceptable at neighbourhood barbecues! An accessible name allowed the gym people to ruin it, and soon you could sign up for Lambada lessons at the Y. Who wants to do a dance at a club that moms are doing in aerobics class? Game over, Lambada.
The same thing happened to stripper poles, which you can find in the aerobics room of many gyms these days. It takes a really asexual person to see a stripper pole and think “that’d be great for low impact muscle development.” So stripper poles were installed in the sweat factories, and real life took a hit. If you go to a strip club and think the best part is the gymnastics, you’re really missing the point. They did the same thing to lap dances and stripteases, two related disciplines now doled out in 60 minute lessons at strip malls across the nation.
And now Fifty Shades of Grey has BDSM lined up next for the exercise treatment. That way middle-aged women can take flogging classes, where personal instructors literally beat you into shape. We’re probably a couple years away from spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine while a personal trainer whispers in your ear “do you like that?” and “you’re such a dirty little jogger.” A workout seems much more intimidating if you need a safety word to make it stop, but I would rather be spared the sight of a gym full of moms being spanked while they do hamstring curls.
The gym industry seems determined to take the fun out of everything. Let’s just keep sex and the sweaty gym in two different categories, shall we? If we don’t stop this trend, eventually the line between exercise and adult fun will disappear entirely. We’ll end up with porno-cise, where suburban moms go to the gym to simulate the very thing that made them moms in the first place, only with more vigor. And when’s the last time you got home from the gym and thought “I could really go for another round of exercise?” It will be the end of sex. So please, women of Mississauga, Laval, Airdrie and Burnaby, keep this one safe in the bedroom. Under lock and key, if you will. If you don’t, we’ll all be punished.