The Fifty Shades Phenomenon and Its Effect on Our Social Sexual Behavior

Tom Stewart, Kristen Tribby, Carol Queen, Rachel Kramer Bussell #ccon50 CatalystCon East, Sunday March 17, 2013


  1. This panel will look at the consuming psychology inspired by the Fifty Shades trilogy phenomenon and discuss new Fifty Shades-motivated shoppers coming into an adult store for the first time, as well as return customers.

    More than a decade ago, The Sex and The City episode “The Turtle And The Hare” introduced viewers to the Rabbit vibrator. Shoppers responded with demand and sex toy manufacturers responded with supply. While consumers’ bedrooms buzzed night and day, so did the factories, knocking off and churning out new variations of the Rabbit.

    The panel will discuss why the Fifty Shades phenomenon is more than just a “flash in the pan” and look at it from the points of view of a sex toy manufacturer, retailer, sex educator and writer of erotica. People of all ages that have never been into an adult boutique, are now walking in, having conversations with complete strangers and purchasing sex toys. How are Fifty Shades readers responding to the sex scenes in the trilogy and what could this mean for greater acceptability of BDSM/sexual practices in North America and beyond? Is the Fifty Shades phenomenon reaching only soccer moms in the suburbs and how has this demographic being inspired by the Fifty Shades wave and to what degree? Are college-age students the next consumer? What are they doing? What are they buying? How are they shopping? What guidance might they need from educators, social media sources and bloggers as they become the next major consumers of sex toys?