GREENWICH, Conn. -- There's a lot of hype surrounding the movie, "Fifty Shades of Grey," which opens Friday, Feb. 13, in Fairfield County. After all, the book sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.
So what does that say about its readers and its many clamoring-to-see-it viewers?
"The truth is, controversy gets people's attention," says Mendim Zhuta LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist of Therapy Now, which has offices in Greenwich, Stamford and Cos Cob.
"The other truth is, sex sells. Put the two of them together in the topic of BDSM [bondage and disclipline practices] and you have a recipe for major buzz."
"The sheer amount of people who've read the book is so phenomenal, there must be something important behind it," says Joanna Whitcup, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in Greenwich.
She says sex can be a very serious situation with unspoken taboos. As to why the book was so popular and in return, possibly the movie? "Couples have forgotten how to 'play,'" she says. "This is something you can do in the privacy of your own room and can explore in your own room."
And that includes the popular female fantasy of playing the "good girl/bad girl."
"Bondage is probably the most popular female fantasy and so this scenario of doing something against one's will --but not getting hurt -- can be appealing," she says.
Ditto for men who are often in powerful, take-charge roles. For them, there's the attraction of letting go and being dominated, she adds.
In the context of a loving and healthy relationship it might be perfectly normal not only for a couple to be curious about BDSM but also to experiment with and/or possibly incorporate some of its elements into their sex life, agrees Zhuta.
"Just as long as the acts do not cross a certain line and are consensual. However, outside of that context is where we can get into some shaky ground."
Which leads to this: Two recent studies hat report some worrisome results; one that women who have read the book are more likely to have abusive partners; another that women are more likely to have poor health habits, eating disorders and take part in binge drinking, proving there's more to the story than what's on the page or screen.
"When the elements of domination outside of the bedroom are depicted we start to enter into a whole other realm," says Zhuta. "I think we have to be extremely careful with anything material depicting elements of domestic violence for entertainment purposes."
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