'Fifty Shades of Grey' -- Why is everyone talking about it?

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by Kaley O'Kelley and Javier Soto

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 2:13 PM

PHOENIX -- Amid a storm of controversy, the book "Fifty Shades of Grey," with its explicit sex scenes featuring bondage, is flying off bookshelves, both physical and digital. More than 2 million copies have sold in record time and the movie rights have already been acquired by Universal.

If you don't know about the book firsthand, chances are you've at least heard of it. It was the Entertainment Weekly cover story not too long ago. (Their reviewer gave it a B+.)

"Fifty Shades of Grey," in short, is the story of a less-than-experienced young woman who embarks on a passionate relationship with a man whose tastes run toward domination and the darker side of sex.

It got its start as Twilight-related fan fiction. Author E. L. James submitted it one chapter at t a time until an Australian publisher jumped in and divided it into three books.

The first book in James' Fifty Shades Trilogy, "Fifty Shades of Grey" shot to the top of the New York's times Best Seller List. As of this writing, the three books -- "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" are books two and three in the series -- occupied the top three slots on the combined print and e-book fiction list. Grey and Darker, No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, have been on the list for nine weeks each. Freed, No. 3, has been on it for eight. The bundle of all three books it No. 9 on the current list.

Considered erotica, but labeled by many as porn (some call it "mommy porn"), "Fifty Shades of Grey" actually has been banned from more than a few U.S. libraries.

Regardless of whether you're a fan, this book certainly has people talking, including 3TV's Kaley O'Kelley and Javier Soto.

They sat down with Dr. Debra Wickman, a obstetrician and gynecologist, and Dr. Shannon Chavez, a clinical psychologist specializing in women's sexual health, to talk about the book and why so many women are finding it appealing.

"I think women are finally finding something that they're connecting with," Chavez explained. "Their friends and people that they know are saying, 'Hey, you've gotta check out this book.'

She went on to explain how reading erotica, or even just romance, translates into physical arousal for women. The thought it that when there's arousal, desire will follow.

"This type of reading can really help women's sexual functioning," Chavez said.

But it's not just women who can benefit.

"I think it can help men understand women's sexual functioning a little more," Chavez said. "Women are not as visually stimulated as men. We have more of an emotional stimulation. ... It can help partners to understand each other better."

There just might be something to that.

According to Chavez, 74 percent of women "have increased romantic activity with their partner after reading this type of material."

It's not the sex in the book that has many talking and others concerned. It's the bondage.

Is that what women want?

"I think it's just fantasy," Chavez said. "It's not necessarily that's exactly the act women want, but it evokes -- emotionally -- a response. It may help women explore their own fantasies and needs and say 'Hey, I need to spice up my own love life.'"

Both Chavez and Wickman are with SHE: Sexual Health Experts in Gilbert. Focused solely on women's sexual health need, theirs is the only practice of its kind in Arizona.

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