We hope you’re working on something special for our Bedroom Issue, which will launch on the same day in February that Fifty Shades of Grey opens in theaters nationwide. Lest you suspect we aim to ride the coattails of that movie’s almost certain success, we wanted to remind you of some unflattering findings associated with the trilogy. Dr. Amy Bonomi of Michigan State University recently conducted a study linking Fifty Shades readers to a history of abusive relationships. Even if the books don’t directly cause dangerous behaviors, though, they certainly glamorize sexual violence against women. If that isn’t offensive enough, the writing itself, sprinkled with such over-familiar gems as “I roll my eyes at myself,” and “I hit the pedal to the metal,” makes reading them tantamount to being trapped in the Red Room of Pain.
The Bedroom Issue is our vote of confidence that real writers can do better. Sex, and even violence, deserves our attention as part of the human experience, but in the writing we love, neither is simply gratuitous or unexamined. In the hands of a capable writer, intimacy helps us better understand characters and relationships, and becomes a tool to explore and challenge universal truths in all their messy complexity. While we love poems like Sharon Olds’ “After Making Love in Winter,” in which a female speaker is mirrored by a shadow on the ceiling “throwing its arms up for joy,” we also appreciate the exaggerated violence of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian because the rough beauty of his language ensures that the horrible acts he describes are neither glorified nor trivialized. Regardless of what characters do with their bodies in either type of scenario, though, our favorite writers keep the human heart always at center stage.
We are hungry for your thoughtful takes on all that happens within the confines—or concept—of The Bedroom, and we want this issue to be everything Fifty Shades tried and failed to be: truly sexy, sometimes serious, frequently playful, and above all honest about the varied palette of human sexuality. Thank you for the hundreds of submissions we’ve delighted in reading so far this month. For those of you on the fence, the race is open until Friday the 19th, and we hope you’ll trust us with your best.
Submit to The Bedroom Issue here.
--Katie Cortese, Assistant Editor