This February, the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy passed the 100-million mark for number of copies sold, making the erotic S&M-themed novels just as bestselling as tamer blockbusters like Twilight and Harry Potter. If the books’ widespread popularity wasn’t enough to suggest that an interest in S&M is far from out of the ordinary, new research supports the idea that it isn’t uncommon for men and women to fantasize about being sexually dominated, as Christian Grey does to girlfriend Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades. In fact, according to the study, many more seemingly atypical sexual fantasies are actually not unusual at all.
The study, published last Friday in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, surveyed about 1,500 adults who rated, from a list of 55 sexual fantasies, which fantasies they were most and least interested in. The researchers found that only two sexual fantasies (bestiality and pedophilia) were statistically rare (where 2.3 percent or less of respondents included it as a fantasy) and nine were considered statistically unusual (15.9 percent or less). Urinating on one’s partner and wearing clothing associated with the opposite sex were among those considered unusual. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there were five fantasies—wanting to feel romantic emotions during sex, oral sex, having sex in an unusual or romantic place, and having a special atmosphere—considered typical (more than 84 percent of the responses). The remaining 39 were common (more than 50 percent of the responses), meaning 44 out of the 55 sexual fantasies were experienced by at least half the people polled. These included dominance and submission, as well as bondage, group sex, and anal sex. The study authors noted that calling a sexual fantasy “unusual” might not be correct anymore given how common the majority of them were.