What's the Latest Development?

Modern love has become ambivalent, uncertain and indeterminate, says sociologist and author of "Why Love Hurts," Eva Illouz. These facts, she explains, account for the rise in popularly of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, a set of novels which have gripped the world with their account of a BDSM sexual relationship. But why? Softcore pornographic literature has always existed as a sub-genre. The reason, says Illouz, is that the characters in the novels perfectly embody the crisis of modern love: "Each [of the characters] wants the same thing: for the other to desire him/her exactly as he/she wants... Each wants to remain free, and each wants to enslave the will and the desire of another."

What's the Big Idea?

The "Fifty Shades" novels have currently sold over 10 million copies and rights to the books have been bought in 37 different countries. What is no doubt more surprising is that Illouz proposes BDSM as an antidote for the problems of modern love, which she describes as ambivalent, uncertain and indeterminate. "One of the greatest difficulties of modern relationships is relinquishing one's autonomy to another because, in doing that, our sense of dignity is always at stake. The BDSM contract does the logically and psychologically impossible: It makes one willingly give up one's will and autonomy to another. In that sense, it solves the problem of relinquishing one's autonomy."

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