Everybody has an opinion on Fifty Shades of Grey whether or not they have read the book. It is considered blasphemous to not know about the escapades of a certain Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.
Over the year, we have loved, hated and obsessed about Fifty Shades, but never stopped ignoring it. Some very peculiar trends emerged, for instance, non-readers were spotted travelling in metros and buses with their heads buried in the pages of Fifty Shades, couples consciously took to having more sex, even kinky sex, sex toys became the order of the bedroom, men and women looked at lacy lingerie with a fresh pair of eyes, and the term 'bondage' suddenly came to be replaced with 'casual sex'. What's more, erotica stole back into literature, and every writer worth her salt wished to pen a mega success story like our dearest 'mommy porn' czarina EL James.
As the year goes by, we try and chart the highs and lows of our association with Fifty Shades, the trends it started notwithstanding criticism from literature lovers the world over, and why cynics still had a copy of it hidden somewhere in their closets, but won't admit to.
1. Fifty Shades of Grey inspired women to have kinkier sex: 2012 has been adjudged the year of experimental sex, a survey revealed. And it was women who drove men into kinky sex by urging their partners to try bondage and role-play, apart from picking unconventional places for having sex. The global survey after a feedback from 10,000 women between the ages 25-50 from eight countries found a paradigm shift in the attitudes and mindsets of women towards sex and relationships, not to mention a surging interest in sensual accessories, duration of sexual encounters, preferences for outdoor sex, leading to women becoming the more domineering partner in bed. A very kinky finding came out of the research, which was, sex sessions lasted an average of 15 minutes longer than last year, and sex thrice a week became the norm. Even technology played its part in sexual relationships with over 70 per cent women admitting to 'sexting' with partner and enjoying phone sex.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey inspired baby names: West set off a peculiar trend that of naming babies inspired by characters from the erotica Fifty Shades of Grey. As per BabyCenter's annual global list of top 100 baby names for 2012, Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired Anastasia rose by 10 per cent, Ana moved up 35 spots, though Christian, however, declined in popularity. In an interview to Today, BabyCenter's global editor-in-chief, Linda Murray said, "Earlier this year we heard moms telling us...'this book is an aphrodisiac,' and its helping them get pregnant. So it was not a surprise to see these names coming up the list." She added, "I'm wondering how the moms are going to explain the inspiration for these names in a few years."
3. Fifty Shades of Grey boosted sex toy sales: The Fifty Shades sex boom was followed by an official range of pleasure products which the bestselling author EL James developed with the help of designers. Cheesy as it gets, the sex toys were given names inspired by passages from the book, a first for fans of erotica who could buy the official soft bondage merchandise available exclusively at Britain's largest online sex toy retailer, Lovehoney.co.uk. A third of the entire stock that was to last until Christmas reportedly sold out on the first day of trading a little after the collection was made available on pre-order. In the order of most popular sensual toys, the Inner Goddess Silver Balls, which the site described as ideal for those "in need of a new toning challenge with added satisfaction," sold twice as faster than the rest. Creating a blatant sales pitch for the 'designer' sex toys, the Daily Mail had quoted the website as saying, "Enjoy Anastasia-style pleasure thanks to these advanced kegel balls." While Insatiable Desire Mini Vibrator and the Yours and Mine Vibrating Love Ring came a close second and third.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey pressurized men to perform: Women all over the world realised their sexuality and claimed their sexual freedom by pressurizing their spouses to not only perform in bed, but also break free from their routine and try something different each time, just the way Christian made every sexual act a huge surprise for Anastasia, so much so that she ached and tingled to get into the act with him. A survey by ECigaretteDirect.co.uk found greater frequency of intimacy as the biggest demand on men from their partners, followed by sexual variety and increased duration. Surprisingly, about 34 per cent men admitted to struggling to keep up with their partners' sexual demands that went through the roof after reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and blamed themselves for getting their spouses to read it in the first place.
5. Fifty Shades of Grey sent lingerie sales soaring: In a bid to recreate the X-rated bedroom scenes from the book, women and men hit the stores with vengeance for a supply of racy bras, lacy panties and suspenders among other negligee. Ann Summers, High Street lingerie favourite, owed its 78 per cent boost in lacy lingerie sales to "the Fifty Shades effect." From Marks & Spencer, Victoria's Secret to Debenhams, every leading label saw a rise in lingerie shoppers this year with about 63 per cent of them demanding lacy bra and knicker sets in red, black and purple, outside of the runway favourite, baby doll nighties. A phenomenal increase in male customers was another notable trend.
6. Fifty Shades of Grey turned into a literary sensation: Fifty Shades of Grey and the whole trilogy managed to top the New York Times Bestseller list for months now. Thrillers among other socio-political fiction books came and went, but Fifty Shades held its own among a wealth of great literature. Not only that, it even inspired many others to write explicitly on sex. Raine Miller, for instance, wrote Naked the first book of the Blackstone Affair trilogy that tells the story of Brynne Bennett, an art student's passionate affair with successful businessman, Ethan Blackstone whose sole interest is to bed her. Rings a bell? What's more, Hilary Boyd's Thursdays In the Park, a book about passion among the elderly, became a raging hit post Fifty Shades as it had to be reissued in August despite failing to sell any more than 1000 copies when it was first published last year. The book setting a new trend of 'gran lit' is being touted as the next big thing after James' 'mommy porn'.
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