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I’m pretty sure that even if you haven’t read any of the books or seen any of the associated movies that you probably still know a little bit about the contents of 50 Shades Of Grey, or the 50 shades series (that’s right, they somehow spun it out to four books).
In case you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a brief overview – it’s a erotic romance story (which started its life as an adult Twilight fan fiction) which sees a naïve young lady meet a very handsome and wealthy man, and they both take a bit of a liking to each other and then [SPOILER ALERT] it turns out that the man has a bit of a thing for hardcore BDSM. The story from there on is a lot of “I like this” followed by “I don’t like this”, and so on and so forth.
So now, almost a decade on from when the book was first released and caused mass hysteria amongst women-kind everywhere, is 50 Shades still relevant and has it changed how the world views kinks and fetishes?
It is no secret that talking about all things sex-related has always been somewhat taboo. Who wants to know such personal details? It’s almost understandable why people thought that this kind of discussion was something that should be kept between a man and a woman who were exclusively in love, and even then should only be muttered under the duvet, in a locked bedroom with the lights out. The thing is that regardless of how you feel about these sorts of discussions, the world is a much more liberal place than it used to and it’s only getting more so. Like with everything else, the internet has been an absolute game changer in allowing people to discover more about themselves and helping them to normalise the things that they enjoy that they thought they shouldn’t.
The internet is not only a haven of information, but it has also become a safe place* to find people who share your interests – whether it be through forums and dedicated websites or specialised dating sites like Mistress Dating (because if kink in bed is important to you then you might as well know that you’re compatible from the offset!).
These aren’t just limited to BDSM, with (I imagine, I haven’t looked) there something out there for pretty much everything. I’m not even talking about having to find your way into some dingy corner of the dark web** but right there on Google’s front page if you search for the right thing (or the wrong thing – parents this is why you should utilise parental controls on devices that your innocent young people can access!).
The glory of the internet is not only about being able to explore your interests, but also having access to a wealth of information on how to explore such interests in real life SAFELY. Never underestimate the importance safety. Where necessary, also keep in mind the importance of consent – feeling safe is more than just physical.
So what about outside the internet – are people more open and normalised to kinks and fetishes, and even sex talk in general? I would say so, to an extent – I would say certain elements of BDSM, like subs and doms, are definitely fairly widely known and accepted while other fetishes and kinks, and indeed elements of BDSM, still have a long way to go. Is this as a result of 50 Shades or is it a by-product of an increasingly liberal world? That I’m not so sure about.
*obviously there is still a lot of dangers around using the internet to meet people and I implore you all to remain vigilant and take as many precautions as possible if doing so.
**if you’re sexual preferences are homed in a murky corner of the dark web then there’s probably a very good reason for it and while I won’t kink shame, some things do just need to be left alone)