I have touched on these themes before in my Defense of Twilight posts, (here, here, here, here, here), but they bear repeating.
In no particular order, I want to point out the following things.
1. Women are not stupid.
Some critics think that the people who read 50 Shades are going to jump right in and start doing unsafe sexual practices, such as untutored BDSM. There are millions and millions of people tying each other up and spanking like crazy without having been to a single workshop at a leather conference and somehow they survive. Guess what. We do know how to do research.
2. Women are able to separate fantasy from reality.
Teenagers who watched the Batman series in the late 1960s did not try climbing up buildings crouched over with a single rope.
3. Women are not illiterate.
50 Shades is considered to be horribly written, with cliches and redundant phrasing. Here's a little rebuttal from Joanna Russ' How to Suppress Women's Writing, pg. 129:
Women always write in the vernacular....
In the vernacular, it is...hard to be "classic", to be smooth, to be perfect. The Sacred Canon of Literature quite often pretends that some works can be not only atemporal and universal (that is, outside of history, a religious claim) but without flaw and without perceptible limitations. It's hard, in the vernacular, to pretend this, to paper over the cracks. It's also hard to read the vernacular as Holy Writ...
Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art.4. Women's sexual fantasies and arousal are important.
Portnoy's Complaint is considered Great Literature. Susie Bright gets told to shut up. Say no more.
5. Ultimately, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS what a woman reads.
Adult men can read comic books, war novels, spy novels - anything they want, really. Because it is none of our business what they read. Same for women.
Will I read 50 Shades of Grey? After I meet my deadline, for sure. I'm sure parts of it will annoy me and others will get my motor runnin'.
Just like any other novel.