Recent media spin on the popularity of the novel “50 Shades of Grey” suggests that assertive and successful feminists want men to be rough and in charge, (e.g. Newsweek “The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Surrender is a Feminist Dream”). Accomplished woman scholar, Dr. Birute Regine disagrees.
She says that the book has all the elements of a good read that women like: It’s hot; it’s sexy; it’s an escape. But she finds what the media is doing in their buzz, suggesting that strong women REALLY want to be dominated in real life, is subversive toward women. The book’s success doesn’t mean women want to be dominated; it means women like sex and have erotic fantasies. Gasp!
Birute agrees that the story is about domination, but she compares it to “The Wizard of Oz,” where a strong dominant character discovers his vulnerability and is transformed as a result. The blogosphere is full of spirited debate about empowerment v. the objectification of women, but the point remains, the fact that women buy erotica, does not spell the failure of feminism.
Dr. Nancy and Birute discuss who defines the media and how women allow media images to define us. There are lots of ideas about how we fought during the Women’s Movement against objectification and how we seem today to be objectifying ourselves.
Besides writing her award winning book, Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World, Birute also launched Iron Butterfly Circles. Her goal is to help like-minded women connect and claim their feminine power. This requires rising above narrow media depictions of women’s limited roles and refusing to accept the way various societies throughout the world conspire against women leaders.
Listen to this lively conversation, then check out Birute’s I. B. Circles and her new book, Iron Butterflies Circles Interactive Guidebook.