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50 Shades Of Smut: Confessions Of A Fanfiction Reader

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Fifty Shades of Grey. From entertainment sites to the morning news, everyone has something to say about the hot, new erotic series. It’s been called “mommy porn” by the New York Times, and sits atop their bestsellers’ list, currently at #1, #2, and #4 amongst combined print and e-book fiction.

It seems like everyone has read it (at least according to “The Today Show” and my own Facebook feed). And yes, even I have read Fifty Shades. Only, I read the story almost two years ago when it was called Master of the Universe, and author E.L. James went by SQ Icedragon. Oh, and Christian and Anastasia? They were originally called Edward and Bella.

My secret is out. I’ll admit it: I read Twilight fanfiction.

I have to say that I was a wee bit shocked when I realized that the Fifty Shades that was being touted all over my Facebook feed was actually Master of the Universe. No, it wasn’t because I think there’s, well, something shady about profiting off of fanfiction that hasnt been completely reworked into something wholly new, but rather because mainstream media seemed to be completely gobsmacked that women actually like this kind of writing … you know, the kinky kind.

Most major news outlets wrote about this so-called dirty little secret of suburban housewives everywhere and seemed genuinely shocked that they were eagerly devouring what they dubbed “mommy porn.” Calling it that isn’t cute or catchy. Giving erotic fiction as a whole this condescending and demeaning nickname implies that there is something wrong or surprising about mothers wanting to read (or write) sexually edgy fiction.

Can we please get past the idea that there’s something shocking or novel about women writing fiction for other women, and actually enjoying it? Why do we need to put a dismissive label on it? If it was a man who had written such a story, would the press have spun it the same way? Probably not.

But here’s the wild part – Fifty Shades isn’t actually anything new or groundbreaking. Women aren’t suddenly finding their sexuality in the suburbs with cleverly hidden e-books. Clearly, though, they are more comfortable talking about it to mainstream media now that a certain book has skyrocketed to the top of a bestsellers list. Regardless, erotic fiction of the Fifty Shades variety has been around for a long time.

Maybe some women are all aflutter at this supposedly amazing discovery, making it seem like a brand spanking new concept. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: there are pockets of women across the country who have been enjoying 50 shades of smut for a long time now, and doing so for free.

We just need to take a peek over at the archives of places like Fanfiction.net, the birthplace of Fifty Shades. While in its heyday, Master of the Universe amassed quite a number of fans, all in search of a little kinky smut to go along with their midday coffee break. However, it wasn’t the only story of its kind out there. There are hundreds of similar stories that range in heat, from romances light on the sex to ones that are true bodice rippers and then others that explore more niche genres like gay sex, BDSM, and various kinky fetishes.

Kristina Sanchez, who writes Twilight fanfiction under the penname LyricalKris, feels like there’s nothing shameful about wanting to read about sex and fantasy, and in fact, it’s perfectly natural.

“Sex isn’t something you can get away with not thinking about. People who try to say they don’t think about it, or who want to treat it as if it’s some sort of taboo secret, are just … well, like fish in the water who are refusing to acknowledge that they’re wet.

A good part of why I read books is to have experiences and adventures I would otherwise not. It’s not the entire appeal, but it is a good part. Why would sex be outside of that? It’s likely that I’m never going to have my super hot boss fuck me up against a window in a skyscraper office building, for instance. Even if it happened, it’s never going to be that perfect book moment where everything is hot and sensual. Real life is messy! Fantasy is a lot … neater.”

Sure, her stories are based off of a young adult story about a teenage vampire romance, but then again, so is Fifty Shades of Grey. The only difference is that these fics can be found for free online. While there may be some disagreement within the fanfiction community over the concept of “pulling to publish,” many fanfic writers think the popularity of Fifty Shades is simply giving a glimpse into something that has been around for ages.

Fanfiction writer Theladyingrey42, who has written stories with BDSM themes, sees an upside to all the mainstream attention on Fifty Shades. “I think that exploring sexuality is such a huge part of life, and I don’t understand why it’s taboo to talk about it, read about it and enjoy it. I love that one of the boons of eReaders is that women have felt more free to read books that are sexually explicit. If Fifty Shades leads to more access to books that explore sexuality and sexual relationships, and more high-quality books about those topics, then that seems like a very good thing to me.”

So, whether you’re a fan of Fifty, or want to dip your toes into the wilder side of the pool (for free!) check out these fabulous fanfics that would cause some folks to clutch their pearls and fan their faces.

While all of these suggestions fall under Twilight fanfiction, any true fanfic-er knows that these types of stories happen within almost any category (from “True Blood,” Harry Potter, and “Dr. Who” to everything in between). 

  • OurLivesUnbound: A twist on the stereotypical BDSM fic by “theladyingrey42.” With a timid male submissive, and a strong female at the helm, this fic challenges preconceived notions of “typical” BDSM relationships.
  • OnceUponADesire: A sexy spin on the Cinderella story that includes some BDSM elements by “BornOnHalloween.”
  • OverTheTop: A m/m romantic story with a heated edge that looks at what happens when an “unabashed pleasure seeker” has his world rocked by an enigmatic man at a local gay club, by “Starfish422.”
  • TheSubmissive, TheDominant & The Training: A BDSM trilogy by “Tarasueme” that garnered a total of over 47,000 reviews. It tells the story of an inexperienced submissive, her veteran dominant, and the journey together.
  • TheTripHome: A story that starts off as a threesome and finds itself delving into the concept of polyamory, by “MsKathy.”
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