Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Review: Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman's Heart

I found this book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman's Heart by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery, at my local library and was instantly drawn in. The sleek cover, edgy trim size and overall design instantly made me think of a sexy but thoroughly sociological study of women and erotica. My enthusiasm was extinguished after reading only a few sentences and realizing the book was written from a Christian perspective and the authors use the Bible to back up their opinions about the detrimental effects of erotica to women’s lives. I put the book back, but I kept thinking I should read it anyway. So after a few days contemplation, I spent my book allowance and bought a new copy for myself.

Well. Let's just say this book was not written for me. I do not hold a Christian world view. I do not believe porn or erotica are mortal sins and I don’t believe fantasizing before or during sex is unhealthy to a relationship. This could be a long, complex post about jealousy, possession, social mores, communication, and respect, but I suppose that is why I blog. My viewpoints are laid out in the posts I write. The authors lay out their own views in this book, so I shall let the book speak for itself:

“Whether you are addicted to crack cocaine or addicted to the love of a fantasy man makes no difference. They both keep you enslaved to something that has replaced God.” Page 53

“Erotica places undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally.” Page 91

“The problem is not erotica – the problem is that we want to read it.” Page 133

“Can you imagine a day ... hearing about porn producers, strip clubs and writers of erotica going out of business because no one is interested in what they offer?” Page 148

"This book is not ultimately about the Fifty Shades series or even about erotica. This book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women. Our prayer is not just that you throw out the junk that enslaves you to the world's thinking but that you join a call for revival among God's women." Page 146

The arguments in this book against erotica are the same arguments I make for the teachings in Christianity. These authors believe bringing porn and erotica into a relationship taints the authenticity of said relationship and promotes an unrealistic view of sexuality.  I believe bringing in many of the teachings in the Bible concerning sexual purity taint the authenticity of relationships and promote an unrealistic view of sexuality. There is not much to be debated here.

However, since the thesis of this book is supposed to be erotica, I will express my personal defense for the genre.

I turned to books because the people who wrote them and the characters that lived within the pages were willing to have conversations with me that no person in my life was willing to have. Erotica gave me a safe place to explore things I would have never been able to confront without the paper cuts and a flashlight under my covers. The words awakened my body and gave me a deeper appreciation for literature. Before I read erotica, I was always trying to escape, get outside of my fragile body and fly far away. Erotica brought the story inside and I read with my skin, my heartbeat, and my fingertips as much as with my mind. And I took what I learned from erotica and applied it to all the others stories that happened across my path. And I learned far more by letting these stories in rather than trying to run away with them.

We need to look inside ourselves in order to learn who we really are and what we really want. Only when we have a firm, unflinching grasp on the truth can we balance our most passionate desires with the respect, communication and trust that make genuine relationships.

I will continue to read erotica. I will continue to write erotica. I will continue to give readers a chance to glimpse the reality within so they may take the steps toward a fully realized and balanced sexuality.


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