Skip to content

Fifty Shades Stripped Bare


Event Status

Fifty Shades of Grey has come a long way since E.L. James first wrote it as Twilight fanfiction, but its cultural impact has been just as sensational. Best known for its explicit forays into sexual power play and BDSM, the erotic romance novel has birthed two sequels, a Hollywood film and seemingly endless commentary.

Despite criticisms of its prose – and countless parodies – Fifty Shades has also brought erotic fiction a renewed profile, and broadened mainstream discourse around kink, gender dynamics and what ‘acceptable’ sex looks like.

Perhaps most tellingly of all, it seems that everyone has an opinion – but especially those who might not have read the book or watched the film.  

If this is what mass erotica looks like, what does it say about us? Is it good or bad for the erotic fiction genre? What do the books (and film) symbolise or endorse – and has pop culture truly judged this book by its cover?

Join us for a frank examination of the Fifty Shades phenomenon, with speakers including critic Helen Razer, sex educator Maureen Matthews and media scholar Patricia Edgar in conversation with gender researcher Hannah McCann.


Helen Razer

Helen Razer was a broadcaster and is now a writer. Her appointments in radio were at the Triple J national network and ABC Melbourne. Her books include A Short History of Stupid, co-authored with national affairs correspondent Bernard Keane, a 2015 work on the history of bad Western thought shortlis... Read more

Patricia Edgar

Patricia Edgar is a sociologist, educator, film and television producer, writer, researcher, and policy analyst. Through a career spanning four decades she has been at the forefront of media for children nationally and internationally, winning multiple awards for her achievements and programs. ... Read more

Hannah McCann

Dr Hannah McCann is a Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her research is located within critical femininity studies and she writes on queer identity, beauty salons, queer fangirls, and more. You can find her work in the Conversation, Feminartsy, and Overland, as well as jo... Read more

Maureen Matthews

Maureen Matthews grew up an English Vicar’s daughter. At 23, she was diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa, and is now legally blind. In 1996, Maureen opened Bliss for Women, Melbourne’s only adult store and bookshop for women. Next year, ... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

More details

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to the Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

View our privacy policy
Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.