Why Ann Summers' Halloween and Christmas kink is just another way of policing your sex life

If you walk past Ann Summers' shop window at the moment, you’ll get the distinct impression that, even if it’s cold as a witch’s tit outside, you can have a hot Halloween in the boudoir. So why does none of it actually feel that much fun?

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In the countryside, it’s easy to tell what time of year it is because of how the sheep are crying. Late winter: crying because they’re giving birth. Late summer: crying because their lambs have been removed for slaughter. Rest of the time: just crying because they’re sheep and they don’t know what else to do. In the city, though, you have to look for different signs to mark the rhythm of life, and you’ll find those signs in the window of Ann Summers.

Whatever the festival, Ann Summers has a sexy get up to get you up for it. Right now that means that if you walk past the shop window, you’ll get the distinct impression that, even if it’s cold as a witch’s tit outside, you can have a hot Halloween in the boudoir. All you need to do is invest in the correct confection of underwiring and lace scraps, and you could be trick or treating your way to ecstasy.

And it’s not just All Hallows’ Eve that you can mark with some themed penetration. For Christmas, you can dress up as a Sexy Santa or Santa’s Little Helper. Either one, I imagine, feels just as exciting after a day’s slog in the kitchen followed by a turkey feast topped off with a heavy evening at the cheese board: what could be sexier, after all the planning and sweating, than yet more heavily planned sweating with your Celebrations-distended midriff framed between a red suspender skirt and Mrs Claus’ fur-trimmed balconette?

The Easter display generally consists of bunny girl-alike costumes and shopfront-appropriate allusions to the erogenous zone-busting vibrator known as the Rampant Rabbit. None of this calendar-appropriate kink feels like all that much fun, to be honest. For all the sexiness on show, you might as well tape two small fluffy wireframe chicks to your nipples as pasties and coat your mons in a melted Easter egg.

The Ann Summers window displays are, I’m sure, supposed to be cheekily charming. What they feel like instead is one more harrying item on the bloody to-do list: carve the pumpkin, make the costumes for the kids if you have any (no, they won’t be happy as a ghost), run to the corner shop for extra Haribo in case the trick-or-treaters come and then – then, when you’ve done all that! – slip into something mildly demonic for a bit of Satan-stirring action.

Sex is a delightful thing. Dressing up too. But the leery gaze of the mass retail sex shop window is only asking you to see the insufficiencies in yourself and your relationships: are you getting enough, and is what you’re getting sufficiently kinky? Maybe you should have more, or kinkier? And whether it’s Christmas, Easter or Halloween, wouldn’t right now be the perfect time to spring your newly accessorised libido on your partner? Like the drone of an overloud vibrator, the hum of contrived dissatisfaction drives into your bed and makes you think: maybe if I bought that erotic goop, that gadget, that scrap of eyelets and satin, maybe then I could be having all the sex I’m supposed to be having?

The amount you’re supposed to be having is, of course, the amount that makes you happy – give or take some adjustment for the happiness of whoever you’re in a relationship with. There is no “enough times a year/week/night” figure that would allow you to declare yourself empirically satisfied – and even if there were, the adult toy vendors and the push-up pushers and the massage-oil slickers wouldn’t want you to know what it is. They just want you to want more, so you’ll buy more. There are companies whose business is in telling you you’re not getting all the pleasure you need. Don’t listen to them: your pleasure lies in knowing when you’ve got just the amount of business you want.

Ann Summers even has a display for National Nurses' Day. Image: Getty

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.

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