During a frantic online rummage for last-minute Christmas presents (I am too old to risk actually purchasing anything on the internet this close to the 25th, but I thought I might find some inspiration for presents I could then go out and buy in the shops and drag home in a bag on a stinking bus full of fat tourists through solid traffic), I came upon something very disturbing indeed: novelty baby clothes inspired by… Fifty Shades of Grey.
You thought the sexualisation of children had gone only as far as six-year-old girls dressed up as Lady Gaga. But it has gone much, much further. Such as, for example, tiny romper suits available on a website called Etsy, with ‘My mummy read Fifty Shades of Grey nine months ago’ written on it.
Nine months. Get it? Hilarious, no doubt. But an odd thing to want to wrap up and put under the tree. The image that sticks most in my mind from a swift read of Fifty Shades some months ago is of the eponymous Christian Grey giving his girlfriend an orgasm by whacking her sharply in the privates with a riding crop. That wouldn’t lead to a baby, would it? Gosh, there’s so much I don’t know. I even managed to waste quarter of a century of sexual activity without discovering that the secret of female ecstasy is a smart crack in the goolies with a cold stick.
Other seasonal gift suggestions include baby clothes featuring the image of a neck tie (famously used in the book to fasten the heroine to assorted solid objects for the purpose of silent physical violation) and jumpsuits and bibs with ‘My mummy pretends Christian Grey is my daddy’ written on them.
Isn’t that a lovely idea? When I’m spooning spag bol into my own baby daughter this Christmas, I think the thing I am most going to want to see on her front, along with the tomato stains and dribble, is information about what my wife is dreaming of to keep herself awake during our annual festive rumpy.
But if the wind is blowing that way, then I must blow with it. And with that in mind, I plan to market a range of Christmas gifts next year myself, which will stay close to the traditional sorts of presents one tends to buy at this time, but with a timely twist of the sort of light bondage, domination and sadomasochism the British public seem to require in even the most mundane present these days. I shall call it ‘Fifty Shades of Santa’, and it will include:
Pin The Tail on The Donkey game (Donkey not included)
Really just a blindfold and a sharp object. For two players or more.
A nice bedroom slipper No, not a pair. Just one slipper. Oh come on, do I have to draw pictures?
Adjustable silver napkin ring Or is it?
Gardener’s kneeling mat For indoor use only.
Personalised Cluedo Set You know it is Miss Scarlett in the library with the lead piping and the rope. But how long will you make her wait?
Personalised Monopoly Set Joining the dog and the top hat are such sexy new playing counters as the handcuffs, the leather mask and the dildo. In this game, it’s all about getting the other players to stop at your hotel on Old Compton Street, luring them into a dogging session on Free Parking, and hoping you are lucky enough to be sent directly to jail, to be chained up and punished, because you’re a naughty, naughty boy.
Piping hot mince pies Applied to the thighs.
The Oxford Dictionary of Safe Words Contains words such as ‘tiramisu’, ‘zygote’, ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’, and other helpful things to shout when those nipple-clamps are just too tight even for you…
…I’m worrying now that when I print this piece out to check it through there is going to be some terrible misunderstanding. The list is going to print accidentally in my wife’s office and she’s going to think it’s what I want for Christmas and get me all of it. Or, worse, it’s going to fall behind a sofa and be found by my baby daughter 17 years from now, who will no doubt look at it, laugh and say, ‘Ugh, Dad, people in the olden days were so vanilla!’
Giles Coren writes for the Times.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 15 December 2012