With runaway bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey” finally translated into Hebrew by publisher Yediot Sfarim, Israeli women — and presumably men as well — can finally read the local version and stop relying on the translated chapter installments and sneak peeks that have been offered on various news sites.
While readers waited for the Hebrew translation, newspapers whetted readers’ appetites, offering them the top-ten reasons why American women are so attracted to the bestseller, including summaries of the storyline and even a tongue-in-cheek video — created by publisher Yediot — of actress Orly Zilbershatz-Banai attempting to read a particularly graphic chapter from the book.
Some poked fun at the fact that “Fifty Shades” — a romance novel in which sexual bondage, dominance and submission are the focus of the plot — has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
Yet it was Hebrew University sociologist Eva Illouz who homed in on some valid reasons for the book’s popularity in an article for Germany’s Speigel Online, questioning whether the sexual dynamic it portrayed could be a utopia in today’s world.
The convoluted riddle in romantic relationships — what do men and women want when they are together? — is solved by the sadomasochist contract that is featured in “Fifty Shades,” wrote Illouz.
“I would argue that the sadomasochist relationship in general is a highly plausible solution to the complicated and uncertain labors of love for a number of reasons,” she stated in the article, calling it “The Promise of BDSM,” short for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism.
In brief, wrote Illouz, a BDSM relationship contains pain and pleasure, neutralizing the ambivalence of sometimes painful relationships. While modern relationships require relinquishing autonomy, the BDSM contract makes one “willingly” give up one’s will, and, while equal relationships require endless negotiation, the BDSM contract ends the discussion because roles and positions are set up beforehand. Finally, added Illouz, BDSM relationships are all about trust, the most valued commodity in a romantic relationship.
How do Israelis feel about that? We’ll know better, presumably, when the sales figures come in for the Hebrew “Fifty Shades.”