Sex and Sensibility: Fifty Shades of Fetishes 

ISSUE 2 - Column 1 - Jennifer Constable

By Jennifer Constable


2011 was the year of the Royal wedding, the London riots and sexual liberation. The world was on the cusp of an erotic revolution as some might call it, which came in the form of silky ties, nipple clamps, and the elusive figure of Mr Grey.

‘50 Shades of Grey’ had, quite literally, seduced the country selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015, flying to the top of countless bestsellers lists, becoming the fastest selling paperback in the UK of all time, and the film adaption making in an impressive $569.7 million, making it the fourth highest grossing film of 2015 worldwide. It was official, we were infatuated.

But what was it about this trilogy that had us so hooked? From a purely critical angle, taking into account its rather predictable plotline, beige character profiles and overall distinctly average writing (sorry, E.L James), it’s hard to make the argument that its success was based solely on its, eh, literary merits.

50 Shades was scandalous- its release raised eyebrows, it was erotica of epic proportions, and you didn’t have to download it illegally online. We giggled and exclaimed in hushed whispers when we caught sights of middle aged women reading it on trains- but that didn’t stop us sneakily reading snippets ourselves when we thought no one was looking.

It was by no means a romantic masterpiece of written prose but, for all its flaws, it managed to ruffle society’s prim and proper feathers and debunk one of the greatest sexual taboos: kinks are okay, and nothing to be ashamed about.

Previous generations have been conditioned to find any sexual interest other than “vanilla”, to be disgusting- and this is fundamentally wrong. We shouldn’t feel ashamed for having a penchant for certain things that get out hearts beating that extra bit faster.

It’s the intimacy and excitement of sharing these desires that makes sex the enjoyable thing it is. Some people have a thing for feet, some like to indulge in a bit of light (or heavy) spanking, heck, some people even like to –wait for it- lick each other’s bums. From role play to wrist restraints, kinks are fun and shouldn’t be discouraged.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you start converting the spare bedroom into your very own red room of pain, or that you invest in a latex gimp suit. All I’m saying is that it’s okay, and healthy to be open to trying new things (within the limits of the law of course). The chances are that if you’re into something, however seemingly gross or vaguely inappropriate it may be, someone else will probably be into it as well- or they’ll at least open to experimenting.

Talking about your likes and dislikes is essential in every sexual relationship- keeping quiet doesn’t benefit anyone. While you’re staying silent, worrying they might find your fetish weird, you could be missing out on many memorable nights worth of kinky, filthy fun.