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When 50 Shades Of Grey exploded onto the book scene back in 2011, the erotic romance novel caused hysteria amongst young women comparable to that of kale chips and courgetti. From the initial ‘porn or not’ debate, conversation moved swiftly on to whether the spanktastic 50 Shades has made us all more willing to go for spice over vanilla in the privacy of our bedrooms.

When E.L James’ bestseller first came out, you couldn’t get on a train carriage in rush hour without getting an eyeful of Christian Grey’s distinguished silver tie, gracing the front cover of many a woman’s rush hour reading. Subsequently, the Fifty Shades phenomenon hit the big screen and we were being led to believe that cable ties, rope and duct tape were being bought alongside light bulbs and toilet paper at B&Q. Judging by Anne Summers recent surge in sadomasochistic sex toys, I’d go as far as to say that if sex was ice-cream, BDSM would be the new vanilla.

The numbers don’t lie. The sultry retailer reported a 5% rise in its website traffic – within an hour of the film’s trailer going public, sales of handcuffs were twice as high than the whole previous week. Ball gags flew out of the shop at such a rate that the company completely sold out, whilst 80% more riding crops and 50% more spanking floggers and paddles were snapped up.

With the indication that the purchasing of pink fluffy handcuffs is the new “normal,” you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re being tossed in women’s weekly shopping trolleys alongside their poached eggs and avocados to be Instagrammed at brunch.

Honey Scott, xxxpanded’s most famous web cam girl notes the rise in requests for BDSM fetish related requests since the release of the film, revealing “it’s remarkable how many more guys call up wanting the S&M experience.” But what happens if classic missionary is still your position of choice? This phenomenon has left me – and no doubt many other young women – with a handful of nipple clamps and a head full of questions. Has BDSM, kinky sex and safe words become the norm? Is Fifty Shades to blame?

Abruptly, BDSM has gone from ‘kinky’ and ‘out-there’ to straight up socially acceptable. What used to be an activity with a relatively exclusive group of participants has become widespread and dare I say it – ordinary. A fad, even!

This is pretty bad news for the original members of the fetish club. The seasoned BDSM professionals who were whipping their partners in ‘play rooms’ way back when Christian Grey was merely a twinkle in E.L James’ eye are unsurprisingly less than impressed that their formally illicit world has been invaded by the mainstream.

The specific 50 Shades brand of sex has left regular BDSM practitioners foaming at their muzzle gagged mouths, introducing ongoing debate as to whether or not BDSM is a form of abuse – one that has been rife since the film hit the big screen. However, 50 Shades doesn’t accurately portray a real-life dom/sub relationship. The trouble with the film is that it casually associates hot sex with violence, giving no context to the BDSM lifestyle. BDSM is about a whole lot more than just whips, handcuffs and kinky sex – in fact seasoned practitioners tell me a huge element of it is communication and consent. The actual BDSM acts aren’t a problem – it’s the lack of communication between the characters which is the cause for concern.

More than once in the film, the female character Anna takes part in sexual acts that she isn’t comfortable with purely because she is too shy to refuse, or because she fears losing Christian (the male counterpart) if she refuses. I don’t know about you, but for me, this rings serious alarm’ bells. Associating sexual assault and BDSM isn’t fair on a community that regularly indulge in their fetish healthily and ethically.

‘He hits me again…this is getting harder to take. My face hurts, it’s screwed up so tight. He stroked me gently and then the blow comes. I cry out again.

“No one to hear you, baby, just me.”

And he hits me again and again. From somewhere deep inside, I want to beg him to stop. But I don’t. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.’

Not only has 50 Shades Of Grey done little for our generation’s literary appreciation (let’s face it – a 12-year-old could write better), it has served also to offend an entire community and potentially incite feelings of pressure amongst young “Anna’s” seeking to please their significant other.

BDSM is a perfectly ethical and safe world to enter into, as long as it’s researched properly. What was wrong with Mills and Boon, anyway?

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