Here is where Orthodox Judaism and “Fifty Shades of Grey” have something in common. Sex in “Fifty Shades” is safe. It is carefully channeled around a set of rules and hardly the white-hot, unbridled licentiousness common in porn books. There are boundaries around desire, quite literally. The lovers are contractually bound; every detail of their erotic encounter is agreed upon: They will be monogamous, they will use birth control; diet, exercise and dress code are part of the deal. Can’t take the pain? Just say so. The portrait of their pleasure is thus carefully guarded, fenced in by rules of conduct.

Sex is also private. It is reserved for the secret sphere of the bedroom, or even better, Christian’s “Red Room of Pain,” which plainly possesses its own dangers — whips, clamps, riding crops, to name just a few choice items — but remains secluded from the rest of life, its own sacred space. It is a holy shrine to carnal pleasure, and it is cordoned off.

Danielle Berrin, “Like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’? You’ll Love Judaism,” Jewish Journal (31 August – 6 September 2012), 17.

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