My "50 Shades" sex party

I made fun of the silly erotic bestseller. But I have more in common with the heroine than I realized

Published June 17, 2012 1:00AM (EDT)

       (<a href=''>katalinks</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(katalinks via Shutterstock)

The thing you don’t realize until a few days after attending a sex party is just how many people saw you naked. Is the guy giving you the once-over in the work elevator doing so because you’re wearing a short skirt or because he was one of the 12 gentlemen who had his hands all over you two nights prior? Is the girl on the spin bike next to yours one of the half-dozen you kissed while a crowd of voyeurs watched? You don’t know. didn’t know.

Well before the “50 Shades of Grey” phenomenon, I had been intrigued by domination and submission. I’d flirted with it in the form of cheap handcuffs and haphazard requests for my boyfriends to spank me, and I’d even gone to a sex party in college, back when the image of a woman being flogged on a St. Andrew’s Cross had been a go-to fantasy. I had a slight chip in my front tooth from a ball gag accident gone awry.

Maybe it was my own furtive attempts at BDSM that annoyed me so much about “50 Shades of Grey.” The wide-eyed virgin Anastasia didn’t seek out a shadowy subculture to test the limits of her own desire; she stumbled into it, and she just happened to hook up with a hot and mysterious millionaire who knew exactly how to turn her on. The book seems to confirm the infuriating failure of modern women to find sexual pleasure on their own, and its wild popularity has also thrust an underground world of kink into the mainstream. The sex-toy store Babeland hosts workshops inspired by “50 Shades” and confirms their sales of bondage equipment increased in the past year. Moderators on the kinky social networking site have seen a surge in dom/sub members. And sexual educators around the country are using E.L. James’s book as a jumping-off point to inspire the “vanillas” of the world to learn more about BDSM. The book has inspired vigorous debate on Fetlife between those grateful that BDSM is losing its stigma and those worried that dilettantes and gawkers will...

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By JL Scott

JL Scott is the pen name of a writer living in New York.