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 mayarodale.com.




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23 Responses to 50 Shades of Politics

  1. Bonnie May 11, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Smaller government, please!

  2. Amanda May 11, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    FANTASTIC! So much to think about…This is one blog post I could discuss with my friends for hours (and will)!

  3. Christina Taylor May 11, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I do agree that men are still trying to control women; however, I totally disagree with the comment about “government limiting access to BC” as a means of control. In the contrary, this gives us more control. When I was 18 and out on my own for the first time I marched on down to the health department and they gave me the options of the different types of hormones I could put into my body. I knew about condoms because of school but was taught by the awesome government funded agency that the best route was hormones. I mean, that’s the safest route, right. Doesn’t protect against STDs, no one truely understands the longterm effects. But that’s what the government does to control the amount of babies us young girls may be having. I opted for Depo. I mean, let’s not have a period. The government graciously funded that for me. So nice of them. I now have a slew of health problems which started in my mid 20’s. I’m in my mid 30’s and have one healthy child and two mis carriages. I wish I knew then what I know now. I so would have never taken the shots or the pill. I would have stuck wtih what the hubby and I have been using for a year now…a condom. Works wonders. Guess what? They’re free and will continue to be free. Women don’t need hormones, they need education. Instead of getting on your high horse and believe what another side of the government is telling you, “Oh, these evil republicans or tea party people, they’re trying to control you. They’ve started a war on women,” or the other side, “Democrats are so horrible to stay at home moms,” make an informed decision on your own. We as women have to stand up and say shut up! We don’t need a “man” or government to take care of our Birth Control. Don’t listen to the media’s inflamatory stories. Do true research and make true informed decisions.

  4. Dana B May 11, 2012 at 10:21 am #


  5. Maya May 11, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Christina, yes! The heroine of the novel 50 Shades of Grey does EXACTLY that–she researches, soul searches, asks questions. She decides for herself. Fortunately she has the freedom to act on those informed choices.

  6. DJinPA May 11, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Thank you, Maya. Your thoughts are well-considered and thought-provoking. It seems to me that as a culture, we have lost our ability to grant the next person in our civil society the right or free agency (or the simple grace) to make their own choices independent of a growing vocal portion of society’s incumbent duty to declare whether they “approve” or not and having to endure their thesis for what is right based on their anecdotes. So many days I want to scream “Nobody asked any of you all!” to the busybodies and control freaks. And it has metastasized into the wider body politic. I was raised by some pretty old school evangelicals verging into plain folk “fundies” back in the 1960s. Even those folks back then, at least in my own familial sphere, in the supposedly “golden era of family values” weren’t as controlling or as unwilling to grant their neighbor the freedom in our free civil society (and also grace emanating from their own belief system) to decide for themselves as folks are now. As they saw it, if they dictated to others, others might one day be allowed to dictate to them. I recall my mother telling me so many times to mind my own business and whatever other people do is between them and God and since God had not gone on coffee break and left me in charge, I should channel my energy into tending my own garden rather than clucking at my neighbor’s weeds or choices of flowers. Our society and the greater religious community in America has lost its way when it comes to reciprocal kindness or a sense of humility. When this happens, it seems people seek to control one another: “You aren’t like me (the center of the universe) so clearly you need fixed.” It is nothing short of depressing.

  7. Judi Hendricks May 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Interesting that the controlling male is named Christian…coincidence, perhaps.

  8. Christina Taylor May 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    DJinPA – I love your comment!! I’m going to borrow the part about God has not gone on coffee break! That’s so true!!! I do wish people would go back to minding their own business and only help when it is really needed!

  9. Maya May 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I second that! DJinPA what your mother said is HILARIOUS “God has not gone on a coffee break and put you in charge.”

    Judi, that IS an interesting coincidence! Tho my mother says, there are no coincidences…

  10. Amy Valentini May 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Maya, brilliantly put. Thank you!
    Happy Mother’s Day to your Mom and to you (Penelope is your little girl). xoxo

  11. sarah May 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Well in our country it is going in the opposite direction and the government is “offering free contraception” to welfare beneficiaries – which in practice will mean forceful persuasion and pressure. (They are also considering requiring all beneficiaries to immunise their children.) It’s always very scary when a government sets itself up as a moral authority. Once can’t help but ask, what’s next?

  12. Teresa May 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    How ironic. Chemical BC is so non organic. It contaminates everything and adversly affects even those who choose not to use it. So much for choice. Not only do I not have a choice that it is in my water but I get to pay for it too.

  13. Marylynn May 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Fact of the matter is with the comments left.. the government is in no way trying to control, or give away BC to women.. the law stated that women deserve coverage on their OWN INSURANCE.. how many times are people seriously going to interject this to mean free handouts, government handouts.. etc.. the law states that no one but a woman and her doctor are to decide if she wishes to receive Birth control and that her insurance company MUST pay for it.. ?? am I missing something here.. I figured this would be a no brainer.. of course our insurance should cover our healthcare needs and NO I don’t need to discuss it with my boss, government, Minister (unless I am inclined to do so).. it’s about our own freedom to choose OUR health care.. your article was wonderful done.. and you are absolutely right.. it is about control.. the government is just saying YOU have the right.. As it should be.. thank you sweetie.. very well done.. loving hugs..

  14. Nat May 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I think this article, well intended though it is, is fairly off topic for this website. Maria commented on how you may have lost readers to the site… may I suggest that it may not necessarily have to do with disagreeing with the post, but perhaps because the subject does not belong on a website entitled “Farm Country Kitchen”? It’s your site and you can post what you want, but that can mess with the expectations of the readers, who may opt to go elsewhere.

  15. J May 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    No one is trying to take away your rights. you have the right to have sex, the right to not use birth control, the right to do as you please. What you do not have the right to do is to ask me to pay for the choices you make.

    Stupid article that ruins a great website. Unsubscribing to this site and every other one linked to it.

  16. Dani May 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    I am a new reader to this site as of this week and I loved the article that Maya wrote and completely agree with her. This site is incredibly informative in so many ways, on so many levels with so many interesting topics. I have thoroughly enjoyed each post I’ve read so far. This article, and the threads of conversations that follow, only cement my future status as a reader…I am definitely NOT offended but intrigued and excited about future posts and conversations. Thank you Maya and Maria!

  17. Claudia May 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    I am not offended at all. The women that cannot see what is happening to the rights of woman should read and think a tad bit more. For all the Js that leave a lot more informed women will come. Me for one. Keep articles like this coming.

  18. Graciela Villarreal May 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    I loved the article and the different comments, and I am not offended. I do not use birth control anymore. I am past that age, but I strongly feel that birth control is a health issue, a very important one. It must be about control because it does not makes any sense.
    There is a very old saying that always makes me laugh it referred to pregnant women as “sick of past pleasures” pleasure or not, sex, pregnancy, birth control are part of women health, and this problem is about health. and each woman knows about her body her problems, and what she needs to be healthy (and happy).
    It is also her responsibility to be well informed about what she does to achieve it. her right her responsibility…
    I loved about God not being on coffe brake and leaving anybody on charge. I couldn’t agree more
    And I love about gardening, and cooking, and reading about interesting issues

  19. linda walsh May 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Education and information will never go out of style. This
    way, folks can make an educated decision. What is a good
    decision @ one time in your life may be a different decision
    @ another time in ones life.
    Let women decide for themselves. If women are economically challenged let us, the people aka the government, provide resources.
    Education needs to be provided, all through a life. Too often,
    education was provided @ a juncture when options became
    limited. Want all humans to have education and information
    long before a CRISIS. If families neglect THEIR responsibility
    in educating their offspring, this is their choice. However, I believe we as a country owe answers to all Americans, at critical
    ages through our mandatory educational system. For instance,
    we are all aware that ninth graders learn algebra. Well we all need to be aware that at certain ages/grades that the public school system will handle pregnancy, birth control, personal respnsibility/accountability by seventh grade. In this way, families which are progressive can educate their children ahead
    of time in a way they prefer. If families procrastinate, then their
    children will learn @ school. Give young people ALL the information they need to prevent or reduce life long consequences that have serious consequences.

  20. jan walton May 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Very well written and food for thought! 🙂

  21. Evelyn May 18, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I’m not offended. I am greatly concerned with what’s going on across the country and was saddened to hear that your mom has lost some readers.
    This reminds me of an article by Chris Mooney where he’s stating that there is actually a name for this condition “motivated reasoning.” He writes…
    “…an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called ‘motivated reasoning’ helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, “death panels,” the birthplace and religion of the president, and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts….
    “….In other words, when we think we’re reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we’re being scientists, but we’re actually being lawyers. Our ‘reasoning’ is a means to a predetermined end—winning our ‘case’—and is shot through with biases. They include ‘confirmation bias,’ in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and ‘disconfirmation bias,’ in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.”
    I hope I’m wrong, but I think there’s a lot more going on and related to this than limitations to contraception, it’s like a cancer, or some alien slime monster, manipulating and warping many, too many – far away from their good ‘ol common sense.
    Perhaps we’re seeing Mother Nature, or evolution, at work regarding over-population through the process of Natural Selection. Maybe this is what it looks and feels like while it’s occurring.

  22. Heidi May 25, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I think it takes a brave person to challenge the norm, to speak their mind and embrace a different point of view. I feel this article is one that asks us as readers to do the same. I am not offended because there is nothing offensive about it. Asking someone to question their belief or open their mind to an alternate way of thinking cannot be offensive, unless one is against doing this. To learn, we have to allow ourselves to open our minds, even if it stirs emotions. I also feel this article is appropriate for this website because, at least since I’ve been reading it, it’s been dedicated to challenging the norm and asking us to question our beliefs. My beliefs on modern agriculture, health and wellness have always been challenged by this site and I hope it continues to do so! Thank you for all your bravery and dedication to improving and inlightening my continuous education… My life!

  23. maya rodale June 4, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Rereading this post months later and fascinated by all the comments. Thank you all for a great conversation at the farm country kitchen table 🙂

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