With the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie coming out this week, I am hearing a resurgence of chatter about the best-selling book. While no one seems to be arguing that the story is the “To Kill a Mockingbird” of our time, there is a lot of misinformation circulating about what the sexual relationship portrayed in the book means about women and our culture.

As a Clinical Sexologist, I’m thrilled this book exists. In fact, I sometimes use it, and books like it, as a tool with my female patients who have low or non-existent levels of sexual desire.

While no one would argue that "Fifty Shades" is the “To Kill a Mockingbird” of our time, there is a lot of misinformation circulating about what the sexual relationship portrayed in the book means about women and our culture.

For women who have no interest in sex but want to locate their internal enthusiasm for physical intimacy, the story can put them in a place where they can imagine themselves having sex.  By allowing themselves to fantasize through the book’s main female character, they may be able to awaken the sexual part of their brain that has been essentially dormant.  

While no one would argue that "Fifty Shades" is the “To Kill a Mockingbird” of our time, there is a lot of misinformation circulating about what the sexual relationship portrayed in the book means about women and our culture.

For some women, the thoughts may even lead to them to having a physical sexual response, solely through the use of fantasy.  This can warm the reader up to the idea of having sex or make them desire intimacy when they previously hadn’t.  The way our bodies work, sex begets more sex.  If you have sex, you want to have more sex.  That’s why this can be a really good way to jump start the whole process of increasing your sexual desire.  

I have heard criticism that only “desperate mommies” and “perverts” want to read this book. The truth is: many people have many different kinds of sex. No one can tell, by simply looking at someone, what their lives are like in the bedroom.  However, I can confirm that the people I have worked with who have the most satisfying sex lives are the ones who have open communication with their partners.   

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In “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the two characters engage in sex that has a bondage and domination/submission component to it. Before the first sex scene, the male character has an honest conversation with the female character about what he wants out of their arrangement.  She asks questions, thinks about it, and then agrees.  There are no victims in the book, just two consenting adults enjoying themselves.

I have had newly single male patients ask me if the popularity of this book means they’ll need to start having this type of sex to keep up with the times.  I tell them: Absolutely not!  You don’t have to do anything sexually that you don’t want to. 

While this book may have more people talking about “kinkier” sex, the book is, by no means, a template for a better sex life.  And just because the fictional account of two characters seems steamier than your reality, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the way you’re doing it, unless you say so.  

If you’re intrigued by what you read and want to give it (or anything new) a try, discuss the possibilities with your partner.  They may not agree but you’ll never know unless you ask.

Dr. Noelle Pomeroy is a Clinical Sexologist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who received her doctorate at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. She earned her Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of North Florida and her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. Dr. Pomeroy has done extensive research on women's postpartum sexual problems. She works in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida and is an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida. Click here to read Dr. Pomeroy's blog. Click here to visit the Jacksonville Center for Sexual Health on Facebook.