The appeal of Fifty Shades in two words

There’s been a lot of digital ink spilled on the book-turned-movie Fifty Shades of Grey. So, to be clear, I am not addressing the quality of the story, the writing, the acting, the politics of S&M, or the evils of domestic abuse.

My goal is singular — to account for the exceptionally broad appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey to women, and especially to women of a certain age. I’m specifically talking about the fantasy of Fifty Shades within safe boundaries (like between your own ears), not the reality of that lifestyle. After all, they call it “mommy porn,” so mommy is here to explain it to you. In two words.

The two words are, “decision fatigue.”

That’s right, the reason the book blew away publishing records, making E.L. James one of the highest paid authors of all time, the reason the movie set records for opening weekend pre-sales all comes down to the fact that we ladies are tired. We are very, very tired of figuring stuff out.

From the work projects, to the office politics, to the summer camp schedule, to tonight’s dinner menu, we are always, always in our heads. We’re in our heads, our calendars, our to-do lists, our contacts, our phones, and the trunks of our sensible sedans searching for that lost sweater or extra pack of Goldfish.

Where we typically are not is in our bodies, tuned into our senses, letting an experience wash over us. Even during “off hours,” our duties as photographer, family correspondent, and scrapbooker-in-chief prevent us from enjoying the moment. I am that woman who is watching the recital through her iPhone and uploading to Facebook during intermission, because grandparents.

So when it comes to sex, it can be hard on any given Tuesday to turn off all the external noise and internal chatter to focus on pleasure. That’s why the fantasy of someone taking away your volition and your choices is extremely appealing — because it speaks to our tired-out brains long before it resonates lower down on the female anatomy.

So there you have it. Now, I must be getting back to my reality of deciding a bunch of stuff.