The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is finally released on Thursday but since late last year this trailer and several others from the movie adaptation of E.L. James’s first best-selling erotic novel have been reawakening lustful thoughts and deviant deeds in the suburbs.
Or perhaps not?
Has the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy really spiced up the sex lives of millions of couples around the world since it was released in 2011? Are Australians really having more great sex with more partners than ever before? And what’s polyamory and why are some people opting for open marriages rather than the secrecy of infidelity?
The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR) survey provides one of the most significant overviews of our nation’s sexual behaviour and attitudes.
The first ASHR survey was conducted a decade ago, and the findings of the second survey in November show we’re having more sexual partners, more oral sex and more sexual role-play than ever before.
But, on the flip side, those in committed heterosexual relationships are having less sex each week than they would like.
ASHR researcher Professor Juliet Richters, from the University of New South Wales’ School of Public Health and Community Medicine, says people have been keen to know if Fifty Shades of Grey has boosted the percentage of people practising BDSM (bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism).
“Before we had the result, people were saying to me, with Fifty Shades of Grey, is there a big increase in BDSM?” Richters says.
“And there isn’t. The BDSM stayed more or less flat at 2.8 per cent of the population.
“But we had a slightly different, broader question that we asked first, which was: ‘In the last 12 months have you been involved in role play or dressing up?’
“That was the practice that more than doubled in the 10 years, from 4 per cent (in 2004) to 8.3 per cent,” Richters says.
“I think that role-play is where we are picking up the Fifty Shades of Grey effect. It’s safely naughty without getting mixed up with weirdo guys with leather masks on.”
The ASHR survey of 20,094 men and women aged 16-69, via landlines and mobile phones, was conducted between October 2012 and November 2013.
Richters says both men and women are having more oral sex. A decade ago, among people aged
16-59, 79 per cent of men and 67 per cent of women had had oral sex, but now 88 per cent of men and 86 person of women have done so.
“The oral sex change is a generational change,” Richters says. “Oral sex moved with the people who came of age in the ’70s from a slightly shocking practice that the more sexually adventurous did, or sex workers did, into something that became a fairly ordinary part of what people might call foreplay.
Australian sexologist Lynda Carlyle says the world’s largest experiment on human desire, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, found the most common sexual fantasy is domination and submission.
“It is the only sexual interest that we all have in common — gay, straight, everybody,” Carlyle says. “We are talking about power roles in sexual relationships, the sense of one person having power and the other person willingly or unwillingly submitting to that power. ...
When it comes to love and sex, "polyamory" is today's "it" word.
Poly relationships, meaning romantic connections involving more than one person at a time, seem to making more headlines each day. "I have a fiancé, a girlfriend and two boyfriends," states one recent CNN headline. "Jealous of What? Solving Polyamory's Jealousy Problem" reads one in Salon. "Should We All Be in 'Monogamish' Relationships?" asked Yahoo recently. "Sex and Polyamory in the Hashtag Age" was a Good Morning America segment just this week.
"There's this huge group of younger people that are involved in these things," one 20-something told Rolling Stone in its big "Tales From the Millennials' Sexual Revolution" investigation.
What's great is the ubiquity of polyamorous relationships in the media and pop culture. But there's a prevailing problem that cannot be ignored: their whiteness. And that standard of whiteness not only erases the experience of people of color; it reflects the actual exclusion of these people in poly life and communities.
A hot "trend" portrayed as sexy, youthful — and rich and white: Polyamory may be more accepted than ever, but it's still largely portrayed as an exotic, vaguely kinky alternative to the institution of monogamy. Purposefully or not, when media and pop culture portray polyamory as something practiced mainly by affluent white people, it makes the image of the movement more accessible and acceptable to the mainstream.
Just take Rolling Stone, which made a point of noting of its subjects: "They're ... both young professional types. She wears pretty skirts; he wears jeans and trendy glasses. They have a large, downtown apartment with a sweeping view." The same archetypes are prominent in pop culture portrayals, like in Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating.
The perception of poly as white extends beyond media and pop culture and into academia, where nearly every study of polyamorous people to-date focuses on white subjects. A 2011 study by professors Elisabeth Sheff and Corie Hammers found that in 36 studies of polyamorists/kinksters that noted participants' race and class, only an average of 10.8% of respondents were people of color, while 76.8% were of middle-class status or higher and 78% had at least some college education.
But not only is polyamory neither a new development nor a hot "trend," it's been on the spectrum of human relationships since the beginning of civilization. Andy Izenson, an associate attorney at a firm specializing in nontraditional families, told Mic, "Living in chosen families, living in collectives, living in multiple-parent parenting situations ... calling those things poly is what's new, not doing those things." And poly lifestyles have also long included people of color, something the media dialogue seems to be missing.
One explanation is that white researchers may have difficulty convincing people of color that they have good intentions in studying their sexual habits. If so, the sentiment shouldn't be too surprising given the current state of poly communities.
A white, affluent image that reflects a troubling reality: A 2013 survey of polyamorous people from online groups, mailing lists and forums found that almost 90% of the participants identified as Caucasian. People of color, especially black polyamorists, report feeling "othered" and excluded in poly environments such as meet-ups, with women feeling especially at risk of being objectified and fetishized as an exotic sexual plaything. ...
Bennett is the lead sponsor on a bill to disallow private clubs from opening on properties zoned for office use, as is the case at 520 Lentz Drive in Madison, where The Social Club has applied to open.
Bennett laughed about appearing on the club's website but declined comment.
A first reading on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday night, with a public hearing to follow in March.
Goodpasture Christian School leaders, who don't want the club to open next door to their campus, will host a meeting for the school's parents and local businesses at 6 p.m. Monday at the school.
Right now, we’re talking more about rape and sexual assault possibly than we ever have before, and it’s obviously a conversation we need to be having. We also, however, need to be talking about recovery after sexual assault — but for some reason, we’re not. Why? Tracy Clark-Flory makes an effort to break down this taboo in her piece for Refinery29, “What Sex After Sexual Assault Is Really Like”; it introduces an important element to the ongoing conversation about rape and sexual assault, and honestly, it should be required reading for everyone. We’re still fighting an uphill battle with regards to things like legal definitions of consent — but it’s also important to remember that our work isn’t done when that whole part of the conversation has finally been satisfactorily addressed.
One of the things that makes talking about recovery so difficult is that, as Clark-Flory put it, “There are as many different symptoms and coping strategies as there are survivors.” In order to demystify it, though, Clark-Flory spoke both to individual survivors and to Wendy Maltz, a sex therapist and author of the book The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse. Here’s kind of the Cliff Notes version of what I think are the most important takeaways; the whole piece is definitely worth reading, though, so head on over there to check it out. ...
Just a week after her assault, Donna wanted to have sex with her boyfriend in an effort to reclaim it — “It’s important for me that rape and sex are not the same thing,” she said to him at the time. She doesn’t remember having sex with him then, though, and now she says she knows it was too soon. As she worked through what had happened to her over the following weeks, sex with her boyfriend got less traumatic; she learned how to communicate clearly, to set boundaries, and to explain both what she needed and what was OK. Donna and that boyfriend eventually broke up — but afterwards, she met the man who would become her husband. “He’s very passive,” she said, both personality-wise and sexually. “He’s not a dominant force and, for me, that was something I needed. I needed to feel safe.” ...
When toys are made for movies, they are usually intended for children.
But with the Valentine’s Day weekend premiere of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” many of the tie-ins to the film are for adults only.
The sex toy industry is banking on the hope that the Universal Pictures film will generate soaring sales, much the way the blockbuster erotic novel of the same name created thousands of new customers from the female readers who passed the book around their suburban culs-de-sac.
In anticipation of such keen interest, mainstream retailers are stocking up on the pleasure industry’s blindfolds, whips, handcuffs and masks. Manufacturers have designed new packaging and products to fit the kinky tone and theme of the film, which is based on E. L. James’s story about a naïve young woman’s introduction to games of sexual bondage.
Even Target, one of the nation’s largest retailers, recently began selling an official “Fifty Shades of Grey” “vibrating love ring,” an item intended for wear by men, but not on the finger.
“It is the biggest moment for our industry in popular culture pretty much ever,” said Claire Cavanah, a co-founder of Babeland, an adult novelty retailer. “We’re all sort of preparing for what could be another wave of toys.”
Ms. James’s sexually charged trilogy — two followed “Fifty Shades of Grey” — became a cultural phenomenon, and turned Ms. James into something of a legend.
She sold the publishing rights to Vintage Books, a division of Random House, and soon reached even more readers who may never have normally read erotic fiction.
Last year, Vintage Books announced that it had sold 100 million copies of the series. Ms. James, a middle-aged British mother and former television producer, was credited with introducing the concept of BDSM (standing for, loosely: bondage/discipline, domination/submission, sadism/masochism) into the mainstream vernacular.
She also ignited a huge bidding war in Hollywood. Executives vied for a chance to pitch Ms. James and her literary agent, Valerie Hoskins, on how best to tell the story of Anastasia Steele, a virginal 21-year-old student who becomes the submissive sexual partner to Christian Grey, a successful 27-year-old businessman.
Universal Studios and Focus Features eventually won, and agreed to pay $5 million for the rights to make the film.
The studio wanted to capitalize on the same readers — and others — who sent sales of adult products skyrocketing after “Fifty Shades of Grey” had its debut as an e-book in 2011. Suddenly, retailers had trouble keeping once-obscure products in stock. The novel spurred a 7.5 percent jump in sales of sex-themed products, including toys, videos and books, in 2013, according to a report from the research firm IBISWorld.
“We were kind of taken by surprise when the book came out,” Ms. Cavanah said. “But we’re much more prepared for the movie.”
The movie will not be as graphic as the book. Neal Slateford, a co-founder of Lovehoney, the only company that has the rights to make the official “Fifty Shades of Grey” adult products sold in Target and elsewhere, does not expect certain toys used in the book’s steamiest scenes to appear in the movie. ...
Keeping the spice in a marriage can be difficult. Some turn to therapy or date nights, others have sex with other couples.
Tina and Fred, who wish to remain anonymous have been married for 30 years and are swingers.
They've been in the "lifestyle" as it's called, for seven years.
"It's fun. it's different. It's exciting." said Fred.
"We learn things from other couples. We learn things we like and things we don't like and try them out at home, said Fred's wife Tina.
Tina, an accountant, and Fred who is retired from the military, are among the estimated 4 million swingers in the U.S.
It's become a multi-billion dollar industry with conventions, destination resorts and cruises.
There's also apps, websites and private clubs.
One of the top clubs in the country is right here in San Antonio, The Player's Club.
"We are not out in the open because we don't want everyone coming by here. We want people to seek us out. People that are looking for this in their relationship. It's not for everybody." said club owner Tom, who prefers to keep his identity hidden.
Tom and his wife of 34 years opened the club 15 years ago as a hobby and it grew quickly.
Tom says the club now has 4000 members which consists of people who work in law enforcement, the medical field and even school teachers.
"This is a safe way to meet people in the swinging lifestyle to meet friends and socialize and interact. A lot of people not in the lifestyle will think it's just a wild orgy and it's not.
It looks like any other nightclub with a dance floor and music but this club has private cabanas and a special room with toys etc.
Sex is not allowed on the main floor but anything goes in the cabanas and that special room.
You can pretty much do anything you want. You can live out your wildest fantasy just remember women call the shots.
"We want women to be comfortable." said Tom.
There are rules to keep women feeling safe for example, couples are screened before they become members, single men have to be invited and you must ask before you touch.
"We don't like pushy behavior. We don't like groping." said Tom.
Privacy is of the utmost importance and for that reason Tina and Fred have become regulars at the club. ...
ARLINGTON, Texas -- An alleged swingers' club in an upscale Arlington neighborhood has been ordered to cease operation because it violates zoning.
On a swingers' website, Eutopia is promoted as an exciting, upscale "lifestyle" venue.
Neighbors say it's not a venue, it's a home. And they've been trying for weeks to get the city of Arlington to crash the party.
"This is a sexually-oriented swingers' club in my neighborhood," said neighbor Jon Vecchio. "We don't want it here."
Vecchio lives a few blocks from the half-million-dollar home at the corner of Cooper Street and Beady Road. The yard has been paved to accommodate 70 cars. It's owned by an Azle man.
But a man in Weatherford told us he's been hosting parties since last summer. The home has hosted close to 60 erotic parties, some with themes, since it opened in May 2014.
David Esopenko said off-camera it's not a swingers' club, because he doesn't charge... But the suggested donation is $80 per couple, $20 for single women and $80 for single men.
Esopenko said the money mainly covers snacks and drink set ups. The city says up to 200 people have attended some parties, which could add up to thousands of dollars in one night. Esopenko said not everyone pays and that no money is collected at the door. He saID guests write a number on an envelope, and drop the cash into a box.
"Shocked," Vecchio said. "Couldn't believe it was going on. We don't want it in our neighborhood."
The city just sent the owner, James Self, and Esopenko an order to cease operations. According to the city, Eutopia is a business because it offers promotional advertising, regular hours (every weekend from 8:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.), and services such as food, beverages, and condoms.
The house is furnished, but unoccupied. Esopenko said he plans to move in.
"Yeah, right," Vecchio said. "I don't believe that any more than he's just having parties for a hundred of his closest friends." ...
On a Monday night in late January, Liam and Tracie are cooking dinner for their daughter Emily. It’s her 16th birthday, and they’re having nachos and birthday cake.
As Liam and Tracie prepare dinner in the kitchen, Emily is on the couch in the living room talking with Melissa and Matthew.
Liam and Tracie are a married couple, and so are Matthew and Melissa. But they are also polyamorous. Liam and Melissa are paramours, which means they share an intimate relationship with each other. Matthew has a paramour outside the group, and Tracie currently is not in another relationship.
“Right now I’m invested in my own individual exploration,” she says. “I have a couple of projects that I want to work on now and am not really looking for another romantic attachment.”
THE START OF LIAM AND TRACIE’S POLYAMORY
Liam and Tracie decided to open up their marriage after Tracie had an affair with a friend.
“I made the mistake of not talking with Liam before I went ahead with it,” Tracie says. “But we decided to see what this could add to our marriage instead of taking away from it.”
Tracie and Liam met Melissa and Matthew through an online dating site a couple of years ago in Missouri. Liam and Melissa immediately hit it off, and got permission from their spouses to begin dating. After two years of the couples living separately in Missouri, they decided they were ready for their next adventure. They found an apartment in Rock Creek, a Portland suburb, and moved in together. They’ve been here for five months. ...