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"'Fifty Shades Of Grey': Why Men Are Getting In On The BDSM Action"

on Monday, 18 June 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

International Business Times

With a place atop the New York Times bestseller list, a $5 million movie deal and endless media coverage, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has become a cultural phenomenon. Just as countless romance novels have done for decades, the book has hit a sweet spot for women from all walks of life. But men are not immune to the effects of "Fifty Shades." Some couples are crediting the book with spicing up their sex lives, and maybe even saving their marriages.

The book's author, E.L James, talked about the positive feedback in an interview with the Daily Mail. "One older woman sent me an email saying, 'You're waking the dead here,'" James told the Daily Mail. "Another woman wrote and said, 'You've spiced up my marriage. My husband wants to thank you, too.'"

With sex toys flying off the shelves and BDSM (that's an acronym for Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism -- for you vanilla folks) becoming more accepted, it's clear men aren't going to escape the "Fifty" craze untouched (in fact they may end up with a few bruises).

For those that have (somehow) managed to remain in the dark about "Fifty Shades of Grey," the book follows a 21-year-old virgin, Anastasia Steele, who agrees to become a gorgeous 27-year-old billionaire's submissive. Christian isn't so much a character as he is a projection of every woman's dream (or, rather, every insatiable woman's dream.) He's enigmatic, charming, and irretrievably smitten with Anastasia. Over the course of three books ("Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" round out the trilogy) he doesn't watch a single televised sporting event or stand her up to go drinking with his friends. In fact, Christian has no friends. His every waking moment is devoted to the sexual gratification of his paramour. The words "not tonight" just aren't in his vocabulary. He's unendingly ready to have passionate, primal sex with her ... sometimes moments after he's just had passionate, primal sex with her.

You could view the "Fifty Shades" phenomenon as a kind of post-feminist victory: Finally, men are being held to the same unrealistic standards that women have been. Much like "Twilight" (which inspired "Fifty Shades"), the sensual story presents an idealized, unattainable, romantic partner who has little in common with our real-life husbands and boyfriends. But instead of choosing to live in a fantasy world, many women are trying to incorporate the racy role-play of "Fifty Shades" in their own lives, with their own partners.

Hardware stores and sex shops have seen a dramatic spike in business from women stocking up on bondage accessories. New York's "Babes in Toyland" has had a 30% increase in overall sales since the books became popular. Certain products like bondage tape have seen a whopping 1500% increase in purchases, according to a CBS New York report.

It feels safe to assume that women aren't intending to test drive their new purchases alone. "Between sex shops and Home Depot, sales have really picked up," said Kim, the manager of the popular adult store Eve Garden in New York -- which has enjoyed a boost in sales. "A lot of costumers have come in looking for specific products that appear in the books." ...

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