Take a careful look at that woman on the train engrossed in her e-reader.
Is there a small, satisfied smile on her face? Is she shifting uncomfortably in her seat… looking a little hot under the collar, perhaps?
If she is, it’s entirely possible that she’s up to something that she doesn’t want you to know about.
The era of erotic fiction is coming into its own, thanks to e-readers, and its champion is a certain new trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey that has everyone in a flutter.
If you don’t already know the storyline: billionaire bad boy seduces naïve college girl with bondage. It’s huge and it’s being dubbed “Mummy porn”.
Why are women flocking to this novel? Something about it has clearly struck a chord. But it’s badly written and barely believable… to the point of put-the-book-down and walk away in frustration.
Sure, the sex scenes are hot. But there’s not much else going for it.
It’s no coincidence this book started as Twilight fan fiction – another good example of female escapism that struck a chord worldwide.
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s an amorous vegan vampire or an under-30 billionaire with sadistic tendencies, the narrative is the same: ordinary, clumsy but intelligent girl is noticed – finally noticed – and swept off her feet by a man who quite simply, cannot keep his hands off her.
And women are eating it up.
This, I believe, is the key to What Women Really Want.
We want… to be wanted.
The notion of a strong, confident man (usually with a bit of a bad boy streak… the nice guys never win here either, sorry) who can barely keep himself away from us is melt-worthy. Swoon.
We are willing to overlook badly written dialogue, gaping holes in plot lines and even believe in sparkly vampires just for the fantasy of being that girl. The one who is wanted with an all-consuming, burning desire.
Women are more empowered than ever before… and what are we longing for? A little bodice ripping from a knight in shining armour.
Which is fine, because it’s a little bit of escapism from the every day (though, as I cautioned last week don’t go falling down the rabbit hole and believing in the fantasy).
Unlike visual pornography, using your imagination instead of your eyeballs is resulting in a very pleasant knock-on effect for husbands and boyfriends everywhere – women are reigniting their intimate relationships, fired up by the steamy scenes contained in the pages of these books.
While the wider world may only just be cottoning on to the thrills of a good erotic fiction thanks to Fifty Shades, the regular customers at the Rendezvous romance bookstore in Melbourne are wondering what all the fuss is about.
“We’ve been reading erotica like this – and dare I say, better than this – for years. By Rendezvous terms it’s not new,” says owner Mirna Denic.
The store has been around for fifteen years, and while the romance genre may still have it’s own reputation to deal with, Mirna assures me that we’ve reached Mills and Boon 2.0.
“Romances now whether it’s historical or urban fantasty, the language is a lot more modern and contemporary the characters are a lot more contemporary and it’s very different to the “Mills and Boon”, stereotypical format.”
Rendezvous counts women of all ages – from teenagers through to older women -and even some men in their wide clientele.
What are all these people looking for? I ask Mirna.
“The happy ever after, of course. These books are incredibly entertaining, fun and well written. Instead of reading a relationship self help book, pick up a romance novel.”
That goes for you too, men. It may help you figure out a thing or two about what women really do want.
Women, what do you think? Are we in the right ballpark here?