50 Shades of Red

This is our publisher's cheeky poke at 50 Shades promoting their online romance festival last weekend.

This is our publisher’s cheeky poke at 50 Shades promoting their online romance festival last weekend.

by Madeline Iva

“Just finished Fifty Shades of Grey and am now Fifty Shades of Red.” That’s what my sister posted on fb.

Are you all going to watch the movie? I just don’t know.  I’ll read and watch anything I want in the privacy of my own home–but watch the movie in a theatre with people all around me? Eeeesh!

I’ve already sat through many an awkward moment watching unexpectedly graphic sex scenes at the movies, thank you very much.  That time on my first date in high school when neither of us knew where to look.  That time with my then-friend-now-husband during an excruciatingly long sex scene where the actor’s face went red and stayed that way for five minutes while he writhed, grunted and groaned. Oh, it was bad.  I mean, it had to be longest orgasm in oscar history.

The worst part was when I tried to laugh it off afterwards at dinner, but apparently my own face went as red as a beet, totally foiling my attempt at sangfroid.  Neither of us were laughing though, sitting on either side of my prim mother-in-law while watching the lesbian sex scene in Black Swan.  I still slap my hand to my face remembering it.  Of course it was my bright idea to go see it on Christmas day. I’d heard a review describing the film as Hitchcock-ian. Right.  It was only as we got close to the movie theatre that I saw a giant poster for the movie proclaiming in bold letters PSYCHO-SEXUAL THRILLER.  Ugh. (hitting myself) ugh. ugh.

If you’ve been living on Jupiter and haven’t read the book, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Aside from the hype, at its core the plot has an icy/hot hero who’s been deeply emotionally and physically hurt.  He needs healing (and the love of a good woman to bring that about.)  Yum!

It’s total catnip to a lot of readers. Meanwhile, it’s also (surprise!) an anti-BDSM book.  This drives my erotic romance writer friends up the wall.  Yet the heroine is constantly negotiating for what she wants out of her relationship with Christian.  Good for her, right? Okay, well, she ends up compromising a whole lot, but in the end she sticks to her guns–and she wins.

But riddle me this Batman — How the hell did E.L. James get away with depicting a sexual encounter while the heroine is on her period?


People–Aunt Flo never ever comes to visit in romances.  The hero never massages bad cramps.  The heroine never sends him out for Advil, tampons, and Ben & Jerry’s.  No period-related migraines ever drove a heroine to lie upon her couch with a pillow over her eyes.  It just doesn’t happen.  

Yeah–if you were around in the early 80’s I think Erica Jong had some young guy pull a tampon out of her protagonist’s body and chomp on it a bit.  But I mean, common — first of all that’s not romance, and second of all, we know she did it purely for the shock value.  If there’s ever been a romance published that was this popular that treated the crimson tide this casually–I haven’t heard about it.

Page 427:

“I want you,” he breathes.

I moan and reach up and grasp his arms.

“Are you bleeding?” He continues to kiss me.

Holy f***.  Does nothing slip by him?

“Yes,” I whisper, embarrassed.

“Do you have cramps?”

“No,” I flush. Jeez

blah, blah, blah…

“Let’s go have a bath.”


I mean, then we really go beyond the beyond when a bit later on he turns her around against the sink, bends her over, pulls out her tampon, (!!!) and has sex with her.

They collapse on the floor afterwards and…

“I’m bleeding,” I murmur.

“Doesn’t bother me,” he breathes.

“I noticed.” I can’t keep the dryness out of my voice.

He tenses.  “Does it bother you?” he asks softly.

blah blah blah

“No, not at all.” 

“Good. Let’s have a bath.” 

I don’t want to make a big deal of this.  I’m not saying that we romance writers should ALL include this kind of a scene in our romances, etc.  I’m just saying that OUR BODIES OURSELVES would give a thumbs up to how they treat a natural bodily function.  That is all.

But it’s interesting to note that no reader-lovers or reader-haters have pointed out this scene in shock and horror.

Which just goes to show that we’re living in the wild west here.  Along comes an indie author with her spurs a-jangling and rules were made to be broken, sacred cows put on the bbq.  Who knows what the romance gods have to say about all this. One thing you can count on–if something shocking happens out there we’ll keep you posted here at LadySmut.com.  Follow us for 7 days of delectable romance dish.


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  • Kemberlee
    February 12, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Yeah, I heard about that scene and cringed. Just reminds me of hunter tales of men killing animals and smearing blood on their bodies as some rite of passage. Ick! Not for the bedroom, IMO. Of course, blood rites aren’t my thing full stop.

    This series is just so poorly edited, regardless of story content, or lack of, that I just couldn’t get past the first couple pages.

  • Madeline Iva
    February 12, 2015 at 7:37 am

    So people *are* talking about this scene….no one I know has ever really mentioned it.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      February 12, 2015 at 10:30 am

      I read all three books because, honestly, as an erotic romance writer I felt an odd sense of obligation to see what the fuss was about. Also, I find it disingenous when people rag on something they actually know nothing about. So if I wanna trash that series I at least ought to have read it. IMO, anyway.

      I remember the period/tampon scene and found it so unerotic that it stayed with me as long as a gnat flitting about my face does once I’ve smashed it between my palms. Utterly forgettable. I’m on the fence as to whether I’m going to see the movie. Certainly I’m not racing out to do so, but I don’t feel embarrassed to be watching sex scenes in a crowded movie theater full of strangers. Who knows – maybe I’m a voyeur at heart? Or an exhibitionist. 🙂

      • Kemberlee
        February 12, 2015 at 10:38 am

        Elizabeth, I freely admit that I have not read the series. I did try though. I just couldn’t get past the first few pages of poor editing. For me, a book has to be well-presented as well as having a good story. This book wasn’t well-presented so I didn’t give it any further consideration.

    • Kemberlee
      February 12, 2015 at 10:36 am

      It hasn’t been a huge thing. Just a few people now and again in recent months since the movie was announced…mostly wondering if they were going to have that scene in the movie or not.

  • Madeline Iva
    February 12, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Sometimes — I’m thinking of the first three pages, Kemberlee — but also even in some bits I cut out of the scenes from the book above — it sounds awfully British. This is, again, something no one else has talked about….

    • Kemberlee
      February 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      James is from London 😉

      Re the tampon thing…It seems to me, in the 18 years (in April) I’ve lived here that the British are a lot kinkier than one would think. Some people just don’t have a problem with having sex during ‘that time of the month’. Just sounds not-normal to the rest of us.

      • Madeline Iva
        February 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm

        Yes, she is–and it shows. ; > Well, see, I wish I could find it, but there’s this TV show I was watching the other day where one guy was saying — euphemistically–to the other ‘have you ever?’ and the other guy said no, and it seemed to distinguish a level of experience between the two of them.

        Meanwhile….in the pilot episode of Entourage, the guys are bugging Eric saying his girlfriend is cheating on him. Why? Because she wouldn’t have sex with him–she said it was because she was on her period. And in that context the other guys called bulls***. Again, indicating that it is pretty common here in America.

        My main point is not whether people across the land do or don’t — my point is that Aunt Flo is *never* acknowledged in romance land–by which I mean genre land–I count Endless Love as more of a cult love story (i.e. no very happy ending) than I count it as a romance.

        And it’s like — when writing erotic romance, if you’re writing a story that takes place over a month where the sex is intense — how do you deal with that? Most writers just skip right over it, I guess. I happened to like how this book dealt with it.

        It’s funny because at the fb party we had over the weekend we were discussing that swoony romantic moment where a guy is ‘all in’. But cramps are a part of that ‘all in’ reality of true love.

  • bastdazbog
    February 12, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    The novel “Endless Love” by Scott Spenser (the Brooke Shields’ movie was based on this book) has a scene when the heroine was on her period. She is the one who removes her tampon and then she climbs on top of the guy and has very very messy sex, as in the sheets were all bloody afterwards. I was maybe 14 when I read this book and I have never forgotten that scene, in a not-so-good way.

    • Madeline Iva
      February 12, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      OMG — I remember that!!!!!! Jeez—I haven’t thought about that book in forever! You are soooooo right. Now that you mention it I totally remember that moment. And yeah–it was about being kinda messy and gross. Not casual like this. Totally different vibe. That book was like: how f***ed up can young love get? Let me count the ways. Wow — thanks for making me remember that book.

      • bastdazbog
        February 13, 2015 at 2:10 am

        After reading the book I was so wary about seeing the movie because of that scene, I didn’t want to see that acted out on screen, but my girlfriends and I snuck in to see it anyway, lol. (How could we resist? It was all anyone was talking about, of course we had to see it!) I think you summed up the plot/theme of the book perfectly! I love the theme song from the movie, but I have never been able to equate the song “Endless Love” with the book. I don’t remember a thing about the movie, but so much of that book stuck with me. And yes, the vibe is totally different from the excerpt I read of the FSOG tampon scene. The FSOG scene had me shaking my head and snickering. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Shore
      February 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Oh, I totally forgot about that and you’re right! I do recall the scene now that you mention it. Oh man, Endless Love. You’re bringing back the memories, bastdazbog!

  • Madeline Iva
    February 13, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Oh that theme song. Ooooooh that theme long. Mah. Endless. Luuuuuuuv! Now it’s going to be stuck in my head all day. lol. Thanks for saying I summed up the book well. So many haters out there — but I think if a book does that well, it’s gotta be doing something right with readers, so I set my mind to puzzling out what it could be.

  • romancenovelsforfeminists
    February 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    It’s not a scene of a couple having sex during menstruation, but in Loretta Chase’s MR. IMPOSSIBLE, the heroine is a bit debilitated by menstrual cramps, and her fellow (who is characterized as being a bit on the clueless, if amusingly-so, side) is afraid she’s really ill. But once he finds out what all the trouble is really about, he’s pretty matter of fact about it, and is lovingly comforting.

    • Madeline Iva
      February 14, 2015 at 7:36 am

      That’s what I’m talking about! How very funny–love Loretta Chase. I am going to read that book.

    • Madeline Iva
      February 14, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Jackie! So cool that you left a comment, btw! Luv yer blog.


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