By Charlie Stone, author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.


In the mood for love this Valentine’s Day? No? You’re not the only one. While we have never had more opportunity to consume sex-related content, it seems our appetite for getting it on in reality is waning fast.


“It’s time to talk more about kink, and take the shame away from it” – at least that’s what some dopey writer in the Guardian says... Except, no it bloody well ISN’T! It’s time to SHUT UP!


How about people stop babbling on so much about sex and actually have a real-life encounter or two of their own instead? And then, please, just keep the experiences to themselves.


Just take a quick glance back at the Ancient Greeks or the Romans or the court of Cleopatra. Extravagant sex was just the way it was for the lucky ones. Catherine the Great was – if history is to be believed – a bit of a goer, too.


I would bet that human sexual activity and the associated oddities and proclivities that travel with it have barely changed since we hunted bison and lived in caves. Just swap a leather sandal for a kinky boot.


What has changed, though, certainly in recent years, is the absolute overload of pornographic images, ‘erotic’ books, websites and… sales, sales, sales. Even the tame Huffington Post, sometimes, seems to be some kind of online sex toy hypermarket.


Take, for example, the gadget shop kind of place on my local high street. This is a store that sells pop-mart memorabilia and posters and bits and bobs of jewellery, ‘Best Dad in The World’ and ‘Grumpy Old Man’ coffee mugs and such like. Beside them are sexy maid outfits, fetish handcuffs, lube and vibrators. On a special shelf right beneath the Batman and Stranger Things keyrings. It’s not an ‘adult’ store; in fact it’s mostly teenagers who shop there.


But here’s the thing; there have been several studies that suggest youngsters these days are actually having less sex than ever before.


My guess is all these things are lixed.


Maybe it’s partly down to sensory overload. There’s just too much sex everywhere slapping kids across the face. And like everything that you get too much of, it has all become, well, a little bit boring. If you can buy condoms and lube at the supermarket checkout alongside Tic Tacs and chewing gum then, maybe – just maybe – you’re taking away a little bit of the mystery.


And what is it with this obsession for confessing everything that goes on behind closed doors, alone or otherwise, anyway?


I don’t just blame the internet. It’s also partly the fault of the worst book ever written; ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I would have said “the worst book I’ve ever read,” except I can’t actually finish the thing. It’s just too badly written. I can’t even skip to the juicy bits. I tried. Don’t bother. They’re actually pretty limp and not even all that juicy. It’s just a dodgy fantasy story about bondage with clunky dialogue and cardboard characters.

(译者注:《五十度灰》最初发表在互联网上,当时叫做《宇宙之王》(Master of the Universe),是一篇受《暮光之城》启发创作的SM小说,由于大受欢迎,2011年5月被出版成书。《五十度灰》讲述的只是个再寻常不过的霸道总裁爱上灰姑娘的老套故事,除了那些荷尔蒙决堤的SM情节,一切都跟中文网上一抓一把的玛丽苏小说没什么两样。)

The book will celebrate its 10th anniversary since publication this summer, and has sold something like 150 million copies. The only thing it’s taught anyone is that truly terrible writing can sell by the container load. And spawn a movie that was, arguably, even worse than the book.


There’s clearly a lot of money in that game. And the book did help give birth to an industry, with people confessing to all the dumb stuff they should leave on the other side of their bedroom doors. (Maybe they’re also hoping for a 150-million-copy pay day…)


We need to talk about kink? Nah, mate. We don’t. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s sales and marketing and you’re just trying to flog some crap book.