Fifty Shades started surge of Mammy Porn in Ireland

first printed in the Sunday Independent on February 2, 2016

Jillian Godsil, who wrote ‘The Cougar Diaries’, has interviewed people about the impact of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. With the film adaptation of the book about to hit our screens, she reckons men in the audiences could be in short supply

50 shades pic

 

 

 

 

 

PRIOR to the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, what might be considered deviant sexual practices were not discussed at the dinner tables the length and breadth of Ireland, much less practised in the bedroom. But following on from the book’s publication, the conversation went mainstream and in between the sheets.

I started interviewing people and talking about the impact and found to my empirical knowledge that sex had mushroomed in Ireland. Taxi drivers, hotel porters and bartenders – the true barometers of Irish society – were having more sex than ever before and the women were driving the train.

Which is somewhat ironic since the protagonist in Fifty Shades is submissive and very passive. The very Irish women turned on by the book appeared to be tying up their men – and sales of rope in Woodies are going through the roof without a single shred of evidence of any DIY being done. So, the reason Irish men are smiling is less a case of ‘mommy porn’ and more a case of ‘mammy porn’, and you will do what you are told!

And now, the tale is coming to a cinema near you. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to be the ultimate romantic, first-date movie. In fact, I don’t think it will even mimic the Sex and the City experience where groups of women dressed up as their favourite character in the sitcom, drank cocktails and strode around town on impossibly tall heels.

We all know Fifty Shades has sold in huge numbers (about 100m and counting) but I am not sure how the transition from reading erotica to watching erotica on screen will play out. The former is normally a very intimate affair, the latter a public experience.

Then there is the question of appropriate fashion – will the ladies all bring their favourite piece of bondage equipment with them? And I say ‘ladies’ for I don’t think there will be that many brave male souls accompanying their partners to see the film. And for those guys, about to take that plunge, I salute you now gentlemen!

It is hard to believe that the novel was published only in 2011. The book, and the accompanying phenomenon, covered new ground, old ground and some very dodgy ground, but one thing is for sure, kinky went mainstream and there is no closing that particular drawer.

At the beginning of the Fifty Shades excitement, a number of elements were said to be behind its success. The first was the popularity of online book stores and electronic devices such as the Kindle. People no longer had to go into a book store and actually ask for a book – buying erotica or dirty books in the noughties was still like buying condoms in the last century, a shameful act that required much steeling of nerves. Now, the same purchase could be done seamlessly online. And even better, once purchased, no-one could tell what kind of book you were reading – it could be history, non-fiction or erotica.

But while the anonymous purchasing and reading may have propelled the initial interest, soon actual physical book sales were outstripping or at least equalling online sales. In the summer of 2012, it seemed impossible to fall over anyone on a beach not reading the same book. .

But then there were tales of the book being left behind in hotels. Travelodge published a report that said EL James’ book topped the list of most discarded books, which may not upset the millionaire author, but it does beg the question, will the audience react in the same way in the cinema?

For every one person I met who loved the book, I met one who hated it and was unable to finish reading. Will we see streams of people leaving halfway through, like a poor showing at an indie film festival?

My own personal reaction to the book was frustration, and not the good kind. I am a sex-positive feminist and consumer of both erotica and its more edgy bedfellow porn. I am a devotee of Cindy Gallop and her MakeLoveNotPorn start-up, an admirer of Erika Lust and her women-centric porn and some very quirky stuff in between. I do, however, draw the line at reading Barbara Cartlandesque prose just to get to a post-modern, hardcore sex story stapled thinly within such a storyline.

The writing was inspired, as we know, by Twilight fan fiction and it shows: with every inner goddess, subconscious dance move and references to those jeans hanging off his hips. But my biggest criticism of the book is also my biggest compliment to it – the role of women and its impact on women.

Ana, as a character, I hated with a passion. I hated her for three major things. The first was that she travelled hundreds of miles to interview a businessman, but never did any research before stepping into his office – instead she relied on her friend’s notes to conduct the interview.

There is one question at the end of her friend’s notes which asks if Mr Grey is gay. Ana, this supposedly intelligent woman, cannot read the question in her head without blurting the three words out loud.

This was in the opening chapter, and I think this is where my frustration set in. Why do attractive female protagonists have to be so stupid?

The second was the fact that, as an unlikely virgin at 21, Ana proceeds to have effortless, countless, mind-blowing orgasms with Mr Grey. It would appear she has clitorises all over her body, which makes her a medical wonder.

The final nail in the coffin, for me, was her rejection of presents from her boyfriend. I have to say render unto Caesar and all that. If I am dating a mechanic, then a bunch of garage flowers is lovely; if I am dating a billionaire, then a first edition book is very thoughtful. Or maybe I should have watched Boy Next Door (2015) where JLo is given a first edition Illiad by the eponymous anti-hero. Who is the foolish one there?

So will the Mna of hEireann watch erotica on the big screen now that Fifty Shades is being painted on the big screen? Yes – if only to brush up on their knot-tying techniques. Gentlemen, you have been warned!

Jillian Godsil is a Master’s student in screenwriting in IADT, freelance journalist and author. She has published a quintessentially Irish trilogy of feminist, activist and comic erotica under the pen name of Aoife Brennan and entitled ‘The Cougar Diaries’, Parts I, II & III, which is available on all good electronic devices. She blogs on real world stuff at www.JillianGodsil.com

Sunday Independent

Cougar Diaries – purchase here

Mixing your genres – Feminist, Activist, Comic ….Erotica!

How do you make the medicine go down? With a spoon full of sugar of course.

Watch me explain on video here

 

Last year when I found myself speaking into a vacuum about debt and austerity in Ireland, I decided to use the one weapon at my disposal, the one thing the banks could not take from me – namely my pen – and I wrote a trilogy that has at its core the harsh human cost of our economic tragedy. And I say tragedy because most of what has happened to Ireland was so unnecessary. I can guarantee that in all the reviews of 50shades there is not one mention of the collapse of the American banking system. Whereas in the reviews of my humble trilogy there are loads of references to the social and economic landscape that is Ireland today.

So, if you fancy the idea of reading about Ireland in recession, spiced up with some very naughty bits (for people cannot live by recession alone) then I think it would be a very good thing to buy and read my books. Telling the truth through fiction (and naughty bits) seems like an honourable thing to do. And reading about Ireland in Austerity is also an honourable pastime.

Here is me talking at the Women’s Inspired Network in Wexford to explain how I came to mix my genres.

The Cougar Diaries – thinking women’s erotica – Also read by men (and students of modern Irish history)

The Cougar Diaries, Part One (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Two (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Three (UK) (US)

and if you prefer hard copies – why not visit Lulu.com

xmas picture

The Next Big Thing

On Wednesday 2 January my ‘Twitter/Crime/Modest’ friend Susan Condon tagged me in an online blogging initiative called The Next Big Thing which is a series of questions about writers’ next projects. The idea is to draw attention to writers and their blogs and to lead readers to writers they might not have come across before.

I have given Susan three labels as one is not enough. We first met as strangers in 2011 on the steps of the Westin having recorded a Christmas charity single that went into the Irish charts at number eight. Four of us started a conversation literally as we were leaving and have been in frequent contact ever since. Twitter is great for making new friends in real life.

Crime is of course Susan’s thing. So much so, her husband sometimes lies awake nights wondering if he is safe.  Recently I had a very funny conversation with Susan and another friend and crime writer Lousie Philips at Maria Duffy’s book launch. The two girls regaled me with stories of how they searched for gory details online on how to kill someone, what happens when you stick knives in funny places and then about bodies decomposing. Their children were less than pleased their kind mothers were engaging in such research and even worse, writing about it. So armed, I returned home to my two teenagers and said wasn’t it better that I was writing about sex and not horrible serial killers and the like. Both my teenager children said they would categorically prefer if I wrote about twelve year olds being killed! Hmmm.

Finally, Susan is one of the most modest people I know. She was won loads of awards and prizes and you’d have to stick knives into funny places before she would tell you. I am looking forward to her book very much. The little snippets sound thrilling. She is also a great supporter and friend and compassionate woman. Even if she writes about murder most foul!

 

My Next Big Thing:

Can I be greedy and say I am working on two next big things? Can I? Can I? They are both so different that it is like inhabiting two very different worlds. The first is a non-fiction book on the impact a severely disabled child has on a family; the way the lives of the parents and siblings are affected. It is a heart breaking book and the family were very honest with me. It is very painful and does not have a happy ending.

The second is of course a sex book. Absolutely salacious. I may have to publish under a pseudonym. However, I believe my book has a lot to say about a woman dating in her 40s post-divorce. Unlike the very obvious 50Shades, my sex book really looks at dating issues and then of course has lots of sex!

What is the working title of your book?

The non-fiction book is tentatively called Waiting for the Gift – in direct contrast to the notion that having a severely disabled child is blessing. Love is there but the burden is overpowering. My sex book has the working title of … My Sex book, lol.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  

The non-fiction book happened as I was approached by the family who wanted to share their experiences, good and bad, to help people facing the same issues and also to open the eyes of people, such as myself, who literally had no idea. My sex book was born from necessity. I was broke and decided that my poverty must be overcome. Sex sells!

What genre does your book fall under?  

Gift – the human condition with heart breaking aspects and some self-help and growth aspects. I guess it might also be considered a biography of a family in stress.

Sex – mainstream women’s commercial literature with plenty of good things to say about the human condition. Aha – there are some similarities between my two books aside from a common author

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?      IFTAs2012 019

Michael Fassbender can play the brother in the first book and the lover in the second. In fact, he can play all the male parts! Should Mr Fassbender agree to play the main lead in my Sex book, I think it only fair I should act opposite him.

 

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Gift – uncovering the myths surrouding disability and the impact on the family

Sex – how to live, survive and have fun post-Divorce

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

Gift took the guts of a year as I interviewed and wrote. Sex took six weeks for the first draft – I wrote like a woman possessed

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?   

I don’t believe there is a comparable book with Gift, not to my knowledge anyway.

Sex – of course 50shades but with a cold dose of reality and a very likeable 40 year old main protagonist

Who or what inspired you to write this book?   

I was invited to interview and recount Gift. I found it a real privilege to do so and found it very, very sad.

Sex was inspired by life but driven by poverty!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  

Some friends have been kind enough to read early proofs of both my books. With Gift a friend who works with siblings affected by disability in families said she found it very powerful and true. It is a story often forgotten and rarely told.

With the Sex book, the general reaction is for women to book their husbands into hotels and for men to take cold showers. I say no more….

When and how will it be published? 

Both are with my agent. I was very happy to give him Gift and really look forward to hearing back. I was mortified to give him Sex – poor man, what did he do to deserve to have to read that!

Just before I hand over to my tag team I wanted to add…

My life this century has been a little bit interesting. I write a blog which reflects that and also my latent activism. Sadly I have been severely impacted by divorce and debt and struggle to survive financially with my two great kids. I believe I have been given a voice and should use it. I have a huge number of people who support me but even more importantly are those people that I don’t know but who are in the same pickle as myself. One might fall, but together we can create change.

Or as citizen Smith once said …come the revolution! Lol

My other books are available on Amazon or Lulu

And now over to my diverse and interesting fellow writers – watch their posts on Wednesday January 16…

Tommy Collison

Tommy is an Irish student, blogger and writer. He writes and listens to a lot of music. He is a secondary school student in Limerick.

Links

https://twitter.com/tommycollison

www.tommycollison.net

 

Mary Bradford

Mary Bradford is a published writer of short stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and the USA. She had completed her first novel ‘A Thorn in my Side’. Her first short story collection, ‘A Baker’s dozen’ is now on sale on Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords in paperback, Kindle and ebook format.

Links

https://twitter.com/marytbrad

http://marytbradford-author.blogspot.ie/

 

Patricia (Trish) Nugent

Trish lives in Terenure, Dublin, and is a writer of poetry,memoir and short stories.

A part time actress, Trish has appeared in Fair City, Love Hate and several Movies and TV commercials.  She is a full time wife and mother of three sons and one daughter. She is a member of Rua Red writers group and An Cosan Drama group in Rua Red.

In 2011 Trish represented ‘Platform One’ for social Inclusion week by performing her own monologue ‘The Bisto Tin’ onstage at the Civic Theatre.  Presently Trish is compiling a poetry and memoir collection.

 

Links:

https://twitter.com/Trish_Nugent

trishnugentwriter.wordpress.com

 

 

Death By Sex?

The irish Book of the Dead by Jillian Godsil

What is it about the Irish and their fascination with death? From wakes to accidents, to death by sex, by misadventure, by time, this new collection of short stories traces a personal approach to death in all its froms. At times funny, stark and poignant, the nine stories will leave the reader wanting more.

Buy this book now on Amazon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
 Illuminating July 10, 2012
From a woman who knows how to make a word pack 20 punches this is surely a knock out blow. I think any short story gets its greatest compliment when its read twice just to make sure you missed nothing first time round.

The day I lost my Bosoms!

The day I lost my bosoms

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune: to lose both looks like carelessness, so intoned Lady Bracknell in Wildes’ Importance of being Earnest. So, too it was that I lost both my bosoms to a severe allergic reaction while on a brief break in the sun last week.

Well, to be strictly honest, I did not lose my bosoms so much as I could no longer see them without the assistance of a mirror. My eyes had so swollen up as to render me half blind, fully oriental and scared silly my face would never return to my normal occidental self.

 

Under a hot sun, misfortunes may sometimes look harsher than under a cloudy Irish sky, with all its 50 shades of grey. In the searing heat my skin puckered and grew angry. First a tell tale itchy rash across the top of my arms and then my face began to creak and redden. On day two of a short five day break I knew I was in trouble. That evening, my right eye was puffy as if I had overslept. I kept on touching the skin under my eye, conscious of its straining to expand.

I went to sleep that night an Irishwoman with bosoms and I woke up the next morning looking like a very unattractive Asian woman and unable to see clearly in any direction, especially below. It is like those stories of overweight men who sigh of the lost sight of their manhood. With the swelling across my face, especially around my cheekbones and eyes, I could see nothing south of my nose. I spilled a little yogurt while having breakfast and had to go the mirror to find out where the drop had landed – ironically bang in the middle of my bosoms.

When I awoke that morning I could feel the strangeness in my face. My eyes felt as though someone had injected a saline solution all around them in a bizarre cosmetic procedure. They were bloated like arm bands and wobbled in a terrifying fashion.

Fortunately I was on a family break and surrounded by siblings who took care of me, but there was no change to my face for the next three days despite latherings of aloe vera, fistfuls of antihistamines and the regular application of cold compress cloths cooled in the freezer (on one occasion the cloth was frozen hard and I feared then for ice burn on my poor face as the cardboard textured cloth pivoted coldly before starting to defrost and ease across my cheeks).

I genuinely worried would my face stay like that. Had the wind changed? Was this to be the next ignominious chapter in my life – telling what is was like to endure a terrible facial disfigurement? I know, how shallow is the view of one’s face, but it is an intrinsic part of who we are. When we look in the mirror we just expect to see the same familiar face there.  Once, many years ago as a teenager I had a serious bike accident with the main injuries on my face. Then as now it swelled up in a grotesque caricature of normal myself. Indeed, I had a visit from my first boyfriend to the hospital to see me. When I was discharged a week later, I no longer had a boyfriend. God love him!

Flying home was also a peril as I had to leave the safety of my air conditioned holiday bedroom and mingle with strangers. I tried the celebrity approach of wearing sunglasses indoors, nabbing my daughter’s for this purpose. However, they made me feel claustrophobic and unsteady. And then there were the deep indents from the frames in my puffy cheeks when I took them off. ‘No one knows you in the airport,’ said my family kindly, but when the server in Burger King wished me a good day with a big smile, I really found it very hard to return the gesture; not least because it hurt to squeeze my puffy cheeks upwards for a smile. He must have thought me a most rude, grumpy and frankly ugly woman!

And then I was terrified I might explode on the flight while at high altitude, like cheap breast implants and splat all in my vicinity. Fortunately my worst fears were not realised, although how I went through passport control without a caution or at least a double look I have no idea.

When I retuned home I visited my family doctor. She walked past me in the waiting room while calling my name: she did not recognise me. There was no need to ask for drugs, these were liberally granted to me – more antihistamines, steroids and antibiotics as well as cooling creams and painkillers. I needed them all.

Today, a week after a first went down I am so much better.  My face is again recognisable and normal. My rash is gone, almost. And I have finally been able to get a full night’s sleep.

Three important lessons have come to me as a result of this little hiccup in wellness. The first is to always be sick in the company of your family: there is no one to mind you so well. The second is to love your face, wrinkles and all (apparently when puffy I had no wrinkles so my kid brother kindly told me!) as there is nothing so dear as that which is so familiar – the same goes for favourite teddies, worn slippers and well thumbed books.  And finally, don’t worry about losing your bosoms, they will still be there once the swelling goes down!

Ends