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"'Fifty Shades' of a kinky sex revolution? Maybe not"

on Thursday, 10 May 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

What's happening to the sex lives of American women when an erotic trilogy focused on kinky sex becomes a top seller?

USA Today

The books in question explicitly describe bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) as a relationship unfolds between recent college graduate Anastasia Steele and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey, who wants her to share his secret dominant/submissive sexual proclivities.

British writer E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed took the top three spots in USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, out today. The first book has been in the No. 1 spot for three weeks. It has been banned from library shelves across Florida and Georgia and parodied on Saturday Night Live.

"It's challenging for many people to define what a BDSM behavior is," says Debby Herbenick, an educator at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University- Bloomington.

The spectrum ranges from "handcuffs and little devices meant for spanking and things like that" to more extremes involving real pain.

Experts say that a big part of BDSM involves role-playing and an exchange of power. So how many people are tying up their partners or brandishing riding crops behind closed doors?

And is it OK?

"I would certainly say millions of people participate in it," Herbenick says, but there are no good numbers because no large national surveys have asked.

Don't call it 'mommy porn'

"We hear fairly often that the estimate on prevalence of BDSM is one in 10. We don't know whether or not that's accurate," says clinical psychologist Peggy Kleinplatz, a certified sex therapist and professor of medicine at University of Ottawa in Canada.

Susan Wright of Phoenix, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group, says the trilogy shows BDSM "in a very responsible way," citing the "extended discussion about what each character wants from the sexual relationship, with great examples of 'hard limits' but also compromises."

She says, however, that the term "mommy porn" some have used to describe the books is "another way of denigrating women's interest in sexuality." ...

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