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The recent film release of the best-selling book, 50 Shades of Grey, uses whips and cable ties to illustrate the age-old story of the differing wants, needs and inequalities between men and women.
In this blog post, Vicky Rowan, Laughology PA and office manager asks if those inequalities are innate or are they imposed on us by society.
According to news reports we've got ourselves so hot and bothered over 50 Shades Of Grey B&Q HQ has issued an edict to branches to stock up on cable ties and rope in case we become a nation of dungeon builders. Staff have been ordered to bone up on the racy content of the film to better advise novice BDSMers. Even pensioners are in on it, with sales of WD40 projected to go through the roof.
The Sun even sent a hapless reporter to a store in Ilford to quiz the staff there on their S&M knowledge. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on which side of the grey fence you come down on, the whole B&Q shebang was a well-timed PR stunt and the staff briefing was a hoax.
The story illustrated nicely the pull of the 50 Shades oeuvre. The books have sold over 100 million copies and have been translated into 51 languages including Thai, Hebrew, Icelandic, Latvian, Korean and Mongolian. Despite being critically panned, the film is a box office hit. So what is it that has managed to capture the erogenous zones of the largely female market? Is 50 Shades Of Grey really what women want? The Huffington Post believes the story taps into a common desire to be 'swept away from our mundane lives and into a world of passion and ecstasy'. And that it 'affirms the classic fantasy that the handsome prince is going to ride into our lives on his noble white steed and sweep us off of our feet, take us away from our ordinary existence and bring us to a beautiful castle where we will spend the remainder of our lives living in luxury, leisure, and of course, pleasure!'
I can't recall any Disney Prince who rode to the rescue with a spanking paddle and a gimp mask in his saddle bag but is there an element of truth in this theory. Is 50 Shades what women really want?
Firstly you have to commend anything that gets people interested in books, but from my experience and some of my female colleagues on the Laughology team, it's not everyone's cup of tea. However, you can't argue that it hasn't tapped into a very female market. I've seen hundreds of people reading it but not one man. When it comes to tastes in erotic literature, there is definitely a difference between what floats Martha's boat and what floats Arthur's boat.
My partner often tells me how different men and women are. Apparently men have better spatial awareness and women are better equipped emotionally. And the commonly held view is that these differences are inherent. We are born different. Newborn girls will have a predisposition to buy soft-core romantic fiction when they grow up, men will invest their reading time in Andy McNab.
Here at Laughology we know it's a bit more complex than that. We are all born much more similar than most people believe and nurture has more of an effect over how we develop than nature. Laughology's 50 Shades of Grey Matter (see what we did there) sessions give greater insight into the psychological variables that create what we are. It draws on neuroscientific research which shows how behavioural differences in the sexes are formed and how neural pathway development is influenced by social and environmental factors and the belief systems that went before us and are passed to us.
Culture influences brain development and identity. Much of what we consider to be 'hardwired' is actually malleable. Boys and girls are made and not born. The way we treat people - our children, our employees, our students- hugely impacts on the way the brain can develop. This is hugely pertinent for anyone leading and managing teams. Diversity in all its forms is a must in a global market. Inequality has a negative impact on teams and individual development. When organisations understand how to recognize and challenge stereotypes and treat everyone equally, they can thrive. And only then can they cast themselves free from the shackles of unconscious bias. And if you're a 50 Shades fan, the other shackles can stay firmly attached to the bedpost – each to their own!
Have you seen 50 Shades of Grey, or read the book? Is inequality innate or is it imposed on us by society and if so, what do we need to do to change that. So loosen the cable ties and leave your opinion in the comments box below.