All About Those Beads in 'Fifty Shades Darker'

If you're a devoted fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, then Fifty Shades Darker, the cinematic adaptation of the second book in E. L. James' series, which opens on Friday, will probably not hold too many surprises for you. However, if you're a more casual fan of the wildly popular trilogy about love, money, and kinky, kinky sex, you may come away with a few questions. Like...what are those beads Christian gives Ana in 50 Shades Darker that she uses to, um, pleasurable effect in the film?

Stop right here if you don't want to read any spoilers, and wish to head into your Fifty Shades Darker screening as innocent and uninformed as Ana, back when she had that flip phone. I respect that, and would never demand that you come to my Red Room of Movie Spoilers as anything but a totally willing participant. But OK, everyone who's left, here's what goes down: In a scene in Fifty Shades Darker, Christian hands Ana a set of beads, which she initially mistakes for anal beads. Not being an anal beads kind of lady, Ana protests that she's not willing to use them, only to find out that that's not at all what they are — they're actually for vaginal insertion. Later in the film, Ana inserts the beads into her vagina before she and Grey head to a formal event; wearing the beads seem to give her pleasure every time she laughs or coughs.

So before we have a philosophical discussion of whether you personally would like to have a public orgasm at an event filled with fancy rich people (...maybe?), we need to get down to brass tacks — or balls, as it were — and dig into some facts: what is this sex toy that Ana is using, exactly? Well, they're called Ben Wa balls, and they have existed long before E.L. James had ever heard of Twilight. According to sexual health site Go Ask Alice,

Ben Wa Balls, also known as Love Balls, Orgasm Balls, and Smart Balls, come in a variety of sizes and materials. Some are metal and naturally weighted while others are plastic with metal ball bearings inside. Some come attached with a silicone or nylon cord for easy removal...They are rumored to have two main functions: strengthening the kegels (thus intensifying sexual pleasure and orgasm) and providing sexual stimulation themselves.

While people agree that they can help you strengthen your vaginal muscles, opinions vary regarding whether Ben Wa balls will bring you sudden screaming orgasms — some folks find using them as part of sex play very stimulating, while many tales of unsexy Ben Wa ball snafus are floating around. Are Ben Wa balls for you? Only you can decide that. But now, at the very least, you can at least know a little bit more about what's going on in Ana Steele's panties — and really, isn't that the dream?

Image: Universal