The popular romance-cum-erotica novel Fifty Shades of Grey (some call it “mummy porn”) has made its way into the British court system. In an unusual case, a man is being divorced by his wife for not living up to her expectation – by refusing to reenact scenes depicted in the book.*
The United Kingdom is one of the few common-law countries that largely retains an “at-fault” divorce system. Although no-fault divorce is available – that is, divorce based solely on separation without the consent of the other – the separation period is much longer in the UK (5 years) compared with Canada (1 year). Hence, many contentious divorce cases proceed on at-fault grounds, such as desertation and unreasonable behaviour.*
In the present case, the 49-year-old mother of two claimed “unreasonable behaviour” on the part of the husband. In other words, he behaved so badly (or rather, did not behave) that she couldn’t bear to continue living with him.
According to court files, the wife bought sexy underwear in an attempt to get her husband more involved, but he failed to respond to her advances. Instead, he went “ballistic” when he found out what she’d been reading and blamed the breakdown of their marriage on “that bloody book.”
The husband, in an attempt to expedite the divorce, has admitted that his behaviour in the matter was unreasonable.
Solicitor Amanda McAlister, of Russell Jones and Walker, stated her belief that this case is the first where the new phenomenon of “mummy porn” has triggered a divorce. She claimed that the case is evidence of a social change in sexual attitudes.
Apparently, though, the public has seen this case as a non-event beyond its value as fodder for gossip. I wonder if the public would be as calm if a man were to file for divorce citing the same reasons?
*Keith Gladdis, “Fifty Shades of Divorce: Wife ‘inspired’ by erotic books says husband failed to meet her expectations,” The Daily Mail (12 November 2012) online: MailOnline <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2231576/50-Shades-Divorce-Wife-inspired-erotic-book-says-husband-failed-meet-expectations.html?ito=feeds-newsxml#socialLinks>
+Readers are reminded that I’m not licensed in the UK and do not give legal advice on English law. This blog is provided for news reporting and information purposes, and not as legal advice.