50 trades of grey: The S*x toy industry boom

Over 65 million people hold copies of the most popular erotic book series in the world, Fifty Shades of Grey. One of the bestselling books in the UK since records began, this highly controversial novel needs no description. As you may already know, this is no ordinary romantic dramatic novel which just insinuates sex, this is a full on descriptive piece of the most intimate and wild areas of sexual intimacy.

For the more adventurous of you, you may already be aware of some of the themes explored in the novel. Bondage, dominate and submissive roles and sex toys are central to the storyline. It basically follows the rich and handsome Christian Grey who seduces the young and innocently beautiful Anastasia Steele (Ana). In summary without all the gory details, Mr Grey has a less conventional idea of a sex life, and wants Ana to be his submissive. It’s all fine and safe as he writes out a contract for her to agree to and sign for which explains everything that will happen and the safety precautions and limitations, unlike people often think there’s no force involved that isn’t pre meditated.

Thanks to the massive popularity of the series, there’s also been a massive boost of interest in all ranges of sex toys. According to Closer online, sex toy sales have gone up 400% since the release, and its unsurprising news with the convincing descriptive content of the book.

I’d personally never dabbled in sex toys until one of my friends thought it would be hilarious to present me with a bright orange one for my birthday a few years ago. Frankly I was too afraid to even touch it let alone think about using it, to me it was literally petrifying. I’ll tell you now that was an awkward conversation when my mum found it a year later at the top of my wardrobe.

It wasn’t until recently I discovered a lot more people use them than I thought. I initially thought they were for weirdo’s and couples, or used as a tool for p*rn films. I won’t embarrass them, but I was shocked to find that a certain selection of my close female friends revealed they were frequent users of bullets.

Being the naive, innocent thing that I am, my immediate reaction was why would you want to use a gun bullet to pleasure yourself, is that not a bit dangerous? I then discovered that a bullet is in fact a small vibrator used by both sexes. This really shocked me as I honestly didn’t think my friends were the type of people to use toys because of my naive, stereotypical view.

I’d recently seen documentaries surrounding the topic, of men who pay for life size dolls with realistic mouths and vaginas for a multiple of reasons. Some of the men had none or very little sexual experience or were too busy or not confident enough for relationships with real women. The programme also showed women who run ‘red rooms’ for a business, where men can pay to come and be dominated or sexually humiliated by a woman. This isn’t exactly a taboo topic, it’s been explored in a few mainstream TV programmes, such as in the 2nd series of the popular Teen drama Skins, and a theme in the popular ITV show The Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

The fact that these themes are displayed on mainstream television show that the topic of sexual exploration is becoming more and more common, and it’s ok to talk about. It’s hard for me to have a conversation with my girl friends without it resorting to some kind of sexual topic, be it discussing the weirdest sexual experience you’ve ever had (you’d be surprised) or a crazy new toy on the Ann Summers website.

It might just be because I’ve gotten older and supposedly more mature (I don’t see how, I still laugh when someone says erect, no matter what the context) but I’m not embarrassed to talk about sex anymore. Before it was very secretive and scandalous if you brought it up in a casual conversation, however now I find it easy to talk to strangers about theirs and my own sex life. In preparation for this article, I asked a variety of people if and what sex toys they use. To my surprise, people were extremely open with me and I found out some odd things.

Whilst on the topic of vibrators, I discovered one girl used her electric toothbrush in place of an actual toy. Now she didn’t use the actual head that you put in your mouth, you dirty lot. She used the actual body that vibrated and she highly recommended it.

Unsurprisingly, the guys I talked to found it highly amusing to go through a long list of things they’ve used to *ahem* pleasure themselves with. Ham, a wet J-cloth, Philadelphia and marmalade are a few of the weirder options I had thrown at me. When asked in retaliation what girls used to tickle their pickle, I tried to scout around for some answers but the desired answer of cucumbers and other varieties of shapely foods were scarce. I honestly don’t know why you’d want to use a vegetable for that reason but hey, each to their own.

Other more adventurous endeavours I discovered are quite popular include c*ck rings, d*ldos or rabbits and a variety of lubes. To my disappointment I couldn’t find anyone who used an*l beads or a b*tt plug, but maybe some people aren’t ready to share yet. After all, it’s always the quiet ones you’ve got to look out for.

Overall, we are a new generation of sexual beings. Sex is no longer a private matter. Exploration of sexual intercourse and personal pleasure is forever diving deeper into the weird and exotic, and why the hell not? Being one of the only species that have sex for fun, why should we stop it? Why should we deem anyone who enjoys certain things, such as being spanked or being led around on a collar and told to bark like a dog as an oddity?

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