05/11/2012 09:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

50 Shades of Politics

by guest blogger Maya Rodale, writer of historical tales of true love and adventure

While our government schemes to limit women's access to contraception, millions of people are reading a trilogy of erotic novels that graphically depict a breathtaking amount of sex. Even more shocking, it's a mind-blowing amount of protected sex.

It doesn't matter when (morning, noon, night, later in the night) or where (bed, foyer table, "red room of pain"), or what props are involved (no comment, my mom is reading this), but Christian Grey always uses a condom.

When it comes time for the heroine to get a health check and a prescription for the Pill, gazillionaire Grey has a doctor come to his mansion. I'm sure many of us would love the luxury of a house call from the nice female doctor but would settle for affordable, accessible access to birth control from our doctor's office.

What's the common denominator between this war on women, war on contraception, and this hugely popular erotic novel?  Control.

As a dominant, Christian Grey wants to control every aspect of potential submissive Ana Steele. Our government wants to control a woman's basic biological function (and by extension, her ability to make choices about her body, her career, and her relationships).  To be in control makes Christian (and our government?) feel safe, secure, and assured of his (its?) place in the world.

The relationship the hero offers--that of dominant/submissive, complete with contract--is not one the heroine wants or agrees to. She negotiates. She walks away. She states her limits and sticks to them. She demonstrates what she really wants. In the process of this negotiating, she and Christian fall in love and embark on a relationship based on trust and faith, not rules and contracts.

And a funny thing happens when you find yourself in a loving relationship: You end up feeling safe, secure, and assured of your place in the world. Even though love and relationships are messy, imperfect, and not always black and white, but grey.

Men determined to limit rights of women, take note:  Subjugation is not power, but the freedom to love is empowering to all.


Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels,Explained. She has a Master's degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.Her latest book is The Tattooed Duke. Learn more at

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