From Chick Lit to Cliterature

So, there I was minding my own business on the bus ride home when I was distracted by a whimper. I think “whimper” is the right word to describe it. I had my headphones in, but I still heard a distinct whimper. I looked in the direction of the whimperer. I wouldn’t describe her as middle aged, but she was pushing mid-40s.

She was engrossed in Fifty Shades of Grey. I smiled at the cliché. She was sitting on her own and wasn’t wearing a wedding ring (if that counts for anything these days). No doubt you are aware of the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades and the deluge of parodies: Fifty Shades of Hay/Andy Gray/Earl Grey/David de Gea and Bacon, oddly enough.

I obviously missed the memo that it is okay to read pornography on public transport.

This woman was riveted to the extent that she had clearly forgotten she was on the bus. Now, I read that JK Rowling is releasing an adult book featuring drug abuse, assault, rape and underage sex.

Is this really a new phenomenon?

Mills and Boon have been at it for generations, peddling trashy smut with muscular moody Romeos gazing into the middle distance and spurned Juliets clutching a bouquet of roses, wiping a tear from her cheek.

The church has pontificated about this scourge of middle-aged ladies polluting their fertile minds with sin. Piles of the books were burnt in the Deep South. Remember who else believed in burning books?

Clearly, the Catholic church has nothing more important to worry about. The third biggest land owner in the world with assets in excess of $5 billion – after King Abdullah II of Saudi Arabia and the Queen – has never been good at prioritisation. An organisation who could afford to feed, clothe and house the world’s poor, if it was so inclined, is more concerned about the rise of “cliterature”.

To explore the issue from another point of view: what would happen if a man was flicking through FHM or any of the lad mags spawned from the mid-90s Loaded revolution. This grown-up porn lite, fleshed out their content with glossy aftershave ads and double-page spreads on what belt to wear this season. Editor James Brown was not kidding anyone. The readership just wanted to see some skin and read letters which wouldn’t be out of place in any one-handed rhythm mag.

“The next thing I knew she was pulling me into the hall and undoing my trousers, I nearly dropped the newspapers I was delivering.”

Even more entertaining were the letters penned by supposed female readers – mainly tales of threesomes and erotic proposals. Really, is there any harm in any of this? Who has the right to tell us what is moral and what isn’t?

Putting the shoe on the other foot, would it be okay for me to blatantly read rape fantasy literature on public transport? How about if I had vibrating love beads up my arse and was glowing with excitement.

Her seat was soaking wet when she got off at her stop.

I chose to keep standing.


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