Fifty Shades' dirty secret isn't sex: women just want a break

Comment

Opinion digest: the appeal of Fifty Shades to women, rethinking outsourcing, and ending Zimbabwe sanctions

LAST UPDATED AT 11:05 ON Thu 19 Jul 2012

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WOMEN YEARN FOR FIFTY SHADES
ALLISON PEARSON ON THE EL JAMES TRILOGY
The best minds in publishing are at work trying to understand the rampant success of Fifty Shades of Grey, says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. But it's not that complicated. EL James's "mummy porn" trilogy about 22-year-old virgin Anastasia Steele's contract for submissive sex with gorgeous-yet-troubled billionaire Christian Grey isn't well written, but it satisfies a hunger readers didn't know was there. Grey is not a common pervert, he is young, sexy, tasteful and caring. He supplies Anastasia with a new car and beautiful lingerie, and upgrades her air ticket. What is shocking is that Fifty Shades is so conventional. Women today have more power and opportunity than ever, but they have never been so knackered. Fifty Shades' "dirty secret" isn't about the sex: it's that women yearn to take a break from the frantic multi-tasking, and "let someone else take charge for once".

LET'S EXPLODE THE MYTH THAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS BETTER
STEVE RICHARDS ON PRIVATE OUTSOURCING
The deeply embedded assumption that a slick, efficient private sector delivers high-quality services for the public has been challenged by the darkly comic G4S saga, writes Steve Richards in The Independent. It's "an emblematic story of changing times". Since the 1970s, the fashionable orthodoxy insisted that the public sector was the problem. But just as the banking crisis cast light on the corrupt and irresponsible financial sector, we are now getting a glimpse of incompetence and greed in another part of the private sector. This is not to argue that the public sector is perfect. Parts of it are complacent and inefficient. But rather than focus on the unglamorous task of making the public sector more adaptable, ministers still prefer "the deceptive swagger of the incompetent entrepreneur". Now political survival should "motivate ministers in future to draw up much tighter deals with companies and focus more on improving the public sector rather than expensively by-passing it".

WE MUST BRING ZIMBABWE IN FROM THE COLD
PETER OBORNE ON LIFTING SANCTIONS
For the past decade, the UK has taken almost every measure short of military invasion to isolate the Zimbabwean regime, says Peter Oborne in The Daily Telegraph. Aid has been suspended and heavy sanctions targeted at senior members of the regime, while Zimbabwe was forced out of the Commonwealth in 2003. This week British policy towards Zimbabwe has sensibly taken an entirely new turn. The Government has announced it wants to drop many of its sanctions. "Eventually, so long as mishaps do not occur, Zimbabwe is likely to return to the Commonwealth." The sanctions were established, understandably, to express repugnance at Mugabe's regime. But the Coalition is now asking: what practical good do they achieve? There are signs of hope, both politically and economically in Zimbabwe. Sustaining these will rely on removing sanctions. This takes political courage, but has a precedent. There would have been no peace in Northern Ireland "if ministers had not been able to talk to men of violence". · 

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