While women have been devouring the 50 Shades of Grey series for months, they are now being inspired to enact the bedroom scenes in their own boudoirs. And men are far from happy about this.
You'd think that men - who are traditionally thought of to always be 'up for it' - would be pleased. However, it appears that they're shrinking in more ways than one from the prospect of living up to their partner's expectations.
First off is the recently revealed case where a woman is divorcing her husband on the grounds of 'unreasonable behaviour': basically, he's being boring in bed ... if she can even get him that far. After reading the 50 Shades books, she indulged in some sexy underwear to lure her 41-year-old husband into a spot of role-playing, only to be met with a cold shoulder and the accusation that she was only doing all this because she'd been reading too much 'mummy-porn'.
Now men are rallying around this husband and squawking in outrage, such as Max Davidson of the Telegraph, who asks: 'Is sex becoming too demanding for men?' His argument is that, yes, it is! Because 'the book is being deployed as a weapon in the marital bedroom... against which [wives] measure their husbands... This is war, with men in the firing line.'
My response as a female (and one who has admittedly not read the 50 Shades trilogy) is 'grow a pair'. Now it's women's turn to put their hand up and admit that they actually have an opinion on what they like in bed, rather than lying back and thinking of England while he on top gets on with it.
Besides, for years women have been subjected to male fantasies, usually in the form of nubile, non-threatening specimens with unnaturally small waists and unbelievably large and firm breasts. In August 2012, www.handbag.com produced a top-ten list of men's sexual fantasies. What featured heavily was sex with multiple partners: twosomes, threesomes, group sex and celebrity sex, all with their partner's full permission to bonk with abandon.
And this hasn't just been limited to male-orientated media. Pick up copies of women's magazines and you'll see headlines telling you how to please your man in bed, and what his fantasies mean (and how to comply). It's been a women's role to play along with it to keep their man happy, and if they have trouble with some of the demands, well they had better find a way around it so that they don't disappoint. For example, an article in online Cosmopolitan listed 'Tying You Up' as one of their seven hot fantasies (please note, Max Davidson). Helpfully, they give advice on squeamish women on how to meet their partner's demands: 'If you're weirded out by being bound or handcuffed, have him hold your arms above your head during the action.' No mention here of 'just don't do it'.
No one - male or female - should be forced to perform sexual acts that they feel uncomfortable with. But to blame books for creating a new and dangerous generation of sexually demanding women is ludicrous and harks, worryingly, back to the days when novel-reading was considered an unsuitable activity for women in case they got carried away by the content. Admittedly I don't feel totally comfortable with the idea that a woman willingly subjects herself to pain and bondage during sex, if it floats other women's boats, who am I to argue?
Finally, it's easy to blame a racy fiction series for a woman's decision to end a marriage. Dig a little deeper, and you're likely to find more than a husband's refusal to participate in some hanky-spanky. The Daily Mail interviewed the woman's solicitor, who revealed the husband '... never remembered Valentine's Day and he never complimented her on her appearance.' Author EL James said her books provided women with a 'holiday from their husbands' - perhaps in this case the woman just didn't want to come back.