Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Some Are Bound to Miss 'Fifty Shades'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Some Are Bound to Miss 'Fifty Shades'

Article excerpt

The Monessen School District was presented the best chance it will ever have for a teachable moment about sado-masochism last week.

But school administrators, as though they were Seattle Seahawks coaches being offered an opportunity to win the Super Bowl from the 1-yard line, said, "No thanks, we'll pass."

It seems a staff member supervising a group of middle school students handed out a word search puzzle based on the rich literary contents of "Fifty Shades of Grey."

It was not a sex education or anatomy or abnormal psychology or pornographic film-making class or anything of the sort, but before you can say, "Tie me up with tire chains and whip me with those asparagus tips," the students were snickering over the word searches they were doing for "submissive," "bondage," "spanking" and so forth.

Someone quickly realized a mistake had been made, collected the work sheets and returned the students to the true purpose of education - hopefully something important, like making sure they memorize that Jefferson City is the capital of some state out in the Midwest.

The normal litany of parental complaints and public astonishment and school administration apologies followed publicity about the prurient word puzzle, but did anyone stop for a moment and think to call the entire middle school into an assembly so they could be taught why "Fifty Shades of Grey" has spent recent years topping lists of best-selling books around the world, in advance of becoming the best-attended Valentine's Day and Presidents Day weekend film of all time?

No, of course not. The snickering from the pubescents at that assembly would have been out of control.

But a courageous, modern-thinking school principal could have stood on stage in front of those impressionable youths explaining that love is a complicated process, and sex as a manifestation of it can come in many acceptable forms, and people drawn to one another in a devoted relationship can enjoy inflicting and receiving physical pain because . because . well, that's why I was hoping there would be such an assembly so I could attend and have someone help me understand it. …

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