S&M has gone mainstream!

But, it has been a slow build over time. The popularity of “bodice ripping” romance fiction opened the subliminal doors to dominance & submission in relationships. In fact, the category has sometimes been referred to as female pornography, as well as a popular form of modern erotica for women!

But the phenomenal success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which has sold more than 65 million copies, has blown those doors off their hinges. Add the digital age/Internet to the mix, and you have a sexually empowered female population exploring non-vanilla, S&M pornography online, partaking of female authored erotica and sexualized fan fiction, as well as exercising their purchasing power for sex toy accessories and bondage gear.

Rope sales at hardware stores nationwide are on the rise (12-gaugee, 50 feet, non-braided nylon is recommended!) and shopping for riding crops and handcuffs are not far behind. At Babeland, women-friendly brick & mortar and online sex shops in New York and Seattle,sales of kinky products are up nearly 30& in 2012 — and visits to the bondage section on their website have spiked 81%.

Additionally, they have a “Fifty Shades of Grey” book and bondage kit sold online for $29 and a more extensive “Fifty Shades of Grey: Indulge Your Fantasies” kit, which includes restraints, a riding crop and “Spank Me Baby” body powder for $169. Is this a net positive or negative for women? What does this say about:

  • Female psychology & sexuality?
  • Politics & feminism?
  • Business & economics?

[Tweet This!] A Time Out UK survey revealed that 71% of women confessed that they wouldn’t mind “a little more pain” to turn them on in the bedroom.

Is it any wonder that HarperCollins UK founded a new imprint division titled Mischief, tasked with publishing a new series of ebook erotica and erotic romance fiction exploring romance and explicit sexual fantasies for the purpose of pleasure.

Let’s look at a timeline of how we got to this brave new world of kinkytainment:

2000Quills, directed by Philip Kaufman, is inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade, Quills re-imagines the last years of the Marquis’ incarceration in the insane asylum at Charenton.

- Quills, directed by Philip Kaufman2001The Piano Teacher is a  French-Austrian erotic thriller film based on Nobel Prize for Literature winner Elfriede Jelinek‘s 1983 novel of the same name. The main character is a woman whose sexual repression is manifested in a long list of paraphilia, including voyeurism and sadomasochistic fetishes such as sexual self-mutilation.

2002  – Secretary is a independent film based on a short story from Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill, and explores the relationship between a sexually dominant man and his submissive secretary.

"Secretary" film2004Bettie Page: Dark Angel is a biopic starring Paige Richards based on the last three years of the short career of Bettie Page, a famous American 1950s pin-up and bondage model

"Bettie Page: Dark Angel," biopic starring Paige Richards2005The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  is a crime novel by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book of the Millennium trilogy which, when published posthumously, became a best-seller in Europe and the U.S. The plot involves element of law, crime & BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadomasochism, Masochism).The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird created film version 2009 with protagonists played by Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. A Hollywood adaptation of the book, directed by David Fincher, was released in December 2011. The main characters were portrayed by Daniel Craigand Rooney Mara.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson2005 – The Notorious Bettie Page is a  biographical film directed by Mary Harron that focuses on 1950s pinup and bondage model Bettie Page.

"The Notorious Bettie Page" directed by Mary Harron2006 The PetAn alternative look at Power Exchange in an ultimate scenario through the life of a young woman in dire financial straights accepts an offer to be a wealthy aristocrat’s human “pet” for six months. Then ruthless modern “pet-nappers” kidnap the woman to sell her on the Global Slave Market.

2006 Psychopathia Sexualis – Multi-narrative film adaptation of Richard v. Krafft-Ebing’s notorious medico-forensic study of sexual perversity.

2010Venus in Fur is a two-person play by David Ives. The plot involves a writer-director of a new play, an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. A new auditioning actress convinces him to read through his play with her, and the balance of power shifts as the actress establishes total dominance over the director, exactly as in the novel. Director Roman Polanski shot a film version of the play, in French in late 2012.

2010“S&M” is a song by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna from her fifth studio album, Loud. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdS6HFQ_LUc

2011A Dangerous Method is a historical film directed by David Cronenberg, adapted by writer Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. S&M scenes abound.

2011Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, a best-selling trilogy of novels followed by the sequels Fifty Shades Darker 2011, and Fifty Shades Freed (2012). There is also an upcoming film based on the first novel in development from Universal Studios.

2013Kink is a American documentary, produced by actor James Franco, about the BDSM website Kink.com.

"Kink, "American documentary, produced by James Franco2014 –  An S&M-inspired video by fashion photographer Quentin Jones entitled “Miley Cyrus: Tongue Tied”  is released. It is featured in her Bangerz tour.

Miley Cyrus: Tongue Tied In the 21st century, BDSM-related internet searches (domination, master, bondage, sex slave, sadisism, masochism) are up to 70-80%! Even Cosmopolitan magazine did an article in 2012 titled “So You’re Curious About Bondage…,” which cites a survey of 10,000 women done by the intimate lifestyle company LELO that found that 47% of respondents have experimented with bondage and gives S&M tips (such as they are).

Have you read any of these books or magazines? Listened to any of these songs or viewed the music videos? Watched any of these movies? The success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is somewhat unsurprising, since it aligns with my research discussions with successful businesswomen who admit that they can be dominant at work, but prefer to be submissive in bed. A 2009 article in Psychology Today bears that out as well:



And there you have the completed history of S&M in our series! S&M has a rich history and it is undeniable just how prevalent S&M is in our culture today!

Dommercise: Think about mass media’s influence on your sexuality, particularly in the area of dominance & submission. Are you a more take control kind of gal in bed, or do you tend to like your partner to take the reins? Do you have a Fifty Shades of Play fantasy? Are you comfortable with putting it into practice? Try an S&M movie marathon with open minded friends. Take a walk on the wild (and safe) side. Once you’re comfortable with the power play in the bedroom, you’ll feel more empowered to explore it in the boardroom!


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