The Internet is abuzz after the recent release of the "50 Shades of Grey" trailer. Love him or hate him, Christian Grey is a hit -- it's undeniable.
He’s very much a love-him-or-hate-him kind of guy and there are plenty of people in the “hate” category. However, in the “love” category, all sorts of women are entranced by his allure.
But, why? What makes otherwise independent, self-sufficient, strong women fantasize about a man that many criticize for being abusive, controlling and toxic to a relationship?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll do my best to lay out the reasons why I believe women tend to fall for this dominating fictional man:
1. It’s nice to escape
Most all avid readers like an escape. There’s something indescribably wonderful about getting lost in a book and not coming up for air until it's over.
The best thing about Christian Grey is that he’s not real. He poses no real danger of getting hurt or emotionally betrayed. He’s just sex on a platter, waiting to be your guilty pleasure whenever you want to indulge.
There is no hesitation or anxiety about when you'll see him again or if it’s too soon to contact him. You can spend your next five full days with Christian Grey, and he’ll always be there waiting for more (until you finish the series and have to resort to fan fiction, that is).
Everyone needs an escape now and then. Some drink, some take drugs and some read about men like Christian Grey.
2. Sometimes you want a man to take control
Many women are used to taking care of everything all of the time. We raise children, run households and run businesses — it’s exhausting. Sometimes, we just want someone else to take over, as being in constant control is taxing.
Most women would kill for a man who instead of asking, “I don’t know, where do you wanna go?” simply says, “I made reservations for us at this restaurant tonight.”
Now, take that concept and multiply it by fifty (pun intended). Christian Grey makes it so that you, the overworked, underappreciated and worn-out wonder woman, can sit back, relax and let the man cater to you.
3. Possessiveness has a dark allure
Many people criticize Christian Grey for being overly protective of Anastasia, to the point of possessiveness. While no woman actually wants a man to track her via GPS, — we all understand that is insane — it’s still hot to imagine a man who would care about a woman to that extent.
It’s the same concept behind bar fights. In reality, no woman wants to deal with the mess associated with a brawl; there are trips to the doctor and potential lawsuits, not to mention, we’re just not in high school anymore.
But, the idea that your man gets so bothered by another man simply looking at you that he's driven to violence, well, it brings out an instinctual reaction that can only be summed up in onomatopoeia: rawr!
4. Taboo is sexy
"50 Shades" was many readers' first romance novel. Seasoned romance readers denounce the BDSM-themed book as actually being too tame, but if you’re new to the game, Christian Grey is the perfect man to lead you into the sexual odyssey.
In a world filled with unsatisfying sexual encounters, the missionary position and, as E.L. James puts it, “vanilla sex,” it’s sexy as hell to be able to explore new, taboo areas of intimacy to which you haven’t before been exposed.
It may seem nonsensical that women would fantasize about being tied up, dominated and told what to do, but the thought of entering that red room and becoming Christian Grey’s submissive is actually an incredible turn-on, as it's a plotline in a fictional book, not in an actual room in my house.
5. If they’re broken, we can fix them
As women, we love to fix things. We can’t help it; we’re nurturers by nature. If we see a grown man who is perfect, yet somehow broken, we see an opportunity to make him whole.
Dominating, fictional men often have a dark secret that threatens their relationships in some way. In this case, Christian Grey's past demons haunt him.
The only thing sexier than a billionaire tycoon with a dominating streak is a billionaire tycoon who can also be vulnerable and dependent on you for solace.
Physical superiority and emotional tenderness make the perfect combination, one that we rarely see in real life. It makes sense that our favorite dominating heroes have tragic backstories because trauma elicits sympathy from female readers and only serves to endear us further to damaged characters.
6. It’s an archetype we see again and again
Boy meets girl. Girl is average. Boy brings out something more than average in girl, while girl simultaneously saves gorgeous Boy from himself. Insert sexual tension and a hint of destiny and you have yourself a bestseller!
E.L. James admitted that she originally wrote the "50 Shades" series as "Twilight" fan fiction, meaning that Christian Grey is essentially a sexed-up version of Edward Cullen. While the very idea of fan fiction may be new, the notion of archetypes is not.
In his book, "The Hero With A Thousand Faces," Joseph Campbell explores world mythologies and shows that heroes like Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker fit into a preset mold.
The same holds true with tragic dominant heroes, like Christian Grey and Edward Cullen. As humans, we enjoy these stories because they’re variations of characters we already know and love; we can't help but keep coming back for more.
Still don’t get it? That’s okay; maybe Christian Grey just isn’t for you. Stick to the King Arthurs of the world and stay away from the Lancelots.
For the rest of us, Christian Grey is as good as it gets.