50 Shades of Grey turns 10 (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)
As saucy sensation Fifty Shades Of Grey turns 10, Britain’s top sexperts explain how it changed the sex lives of women forever.
It was the fastest-selling UK paperback of all time, topped best-seller lists around the world and has been translated into 52 languages.
Yes, Fifty Shades Of Grey – which sent bondage/discipline and sadism/masochism (BDSM), not to mention dominance and submission blushingly into the mainstream – turns 10 next month.
And in spite of MeToo, the raunchy romance between Anastasia Steele and billionaire Christian Grey continues to shake us up…
Girl On the Net, Sex blogger
‘Fifty Shades definitely nudged BDSM and kink into the mainstream and opened up lots of conversations, not just about the kind of sex Ana and Christian have in the books but around women’s desires more broadly.
‘When I started sex blogging 10 years ago, I was having to fight quite hard to explain that women can and do enjoy sex – we’re not just exchanging sex for love, presents, comfort or money.
‘For women, it’s become easier to discuss kink, pleasure and sex toys, and easier when we say we’re horny to be believed.
‘The book was very helpful as a springboard for people to start talking more about what they want sexually. And that had a huge ripple effect. Because the book was so financially successful, more companies and writers wanted to get in on the action.
‘I don’t think Fifty Shades hampered the consent issue. It’s fiction but thanks in part to public discussions about consent in Fifty Shades, we’re having far more informed conversations about consent in our own lives – and that’s a really good thing.’
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele (Picture: Chuck Zlotnick/Focus/Universal/Kobal/REX)
Annabelle Knight, Lovehoney sex and relationship expert
‘Fifty Shades had a giant impact on making sex for millions of couples less “vanilla” and more adventurous. Bondage was not seen as an extreme activity but a fun way of mixing up your routine and creating closer intimacy. Products which were previously niche became overnight best-sellers.
‘Shortly after the books were published, Lovehoney developed the Swoon range exclusively for Boots and now sex toys are on the shelves of Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
‘They’ve been fully embraced by the mainstream. Shoppers can pop them in their basket in the same way they buy condoms, without raising any eyebrows.
‘You only have to look at Lovehoney to see the huge explosion in the popularity of sex toys and soft bondage in the last 10 years.
‘When the books first came out, our sales were about £15million a year and centred on the UK. A decade on, we’re a global brand with sales exceeding £100million per year. Riding crops and blindfolds are experiencing a huge sales surge.’
Lovehoney are creators of the EL James-endorsed Fifty Shades toy, bondage and
lingerie range, lovehoney.co.uk
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey (Picture: Chuck Zlotnick/Focus/Universal/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock)
Calandra Balfour, owner of Lust! and Taboo sex shops in Brighton
‘Ten years ago it was obvious when someone had read Fifty Shades. They’d visit sex shops with the Fifty Shades shopping list: blindfold, riding crop etc. Prior to that, a pair of fluffy handcuffs was considered risqué. The increase in people trying these kinds of items increased a thousandfold and is now completely normal.
‘People are more adventurous now. Then, even the word “kinky” was considered deviant. I run BDSM workshops, which are always packed. People can’t get enough!
‘The book allowed women to ask for what they wanted sexually and there’s no coming back from that change in attitude. It’s acceptable to have wants and desires, and it’s acceptable to be vocal about them.
‘Those women are mothers, aunts, friends, and their attitude has filtered down with greater openness when talking about sex – an openness to be sexually curious and enquiring.
‘I see much younger customers now. Ten years ago, seeing a 22-year-old buying themselves a ball gag was very rare. Not now.
‘I envy them. I wish I’d been that sexually experimental and confident at their age.’
See lust.co.uk and taboo.co.uk