Grow or Die?  223
in 2014 in the hope of bringing a version of the Good Vibrations model to one
of the world’s biggest adult playgrounds.
Nowadays, there’s nothing unusual about publications like Bitch magazine
running full-­page ads for feminist sex-­toy businesses or publishing stories
about the history of the dildo.24 The availability of how-­to books about sex
that discuss everything from male prostate play to strap-­on sex, from open re-
lationships to sex during pregnancy, has exploded. More and better-­made sex
toys for people with penises exist than ever before. Sex-­ r elated podcasts such
as Sex Out Loud and Sex Nerd Sandra examine the intersection of sex and cul-
ture, while a growing cadre of sex-­toy bloggers review what they see as the best
and worst that the industry has to offer.
Budding sex educators looking to hone their skills and market themselves
as sex professionals can enroll in Tristan Taormino’s Sex Educator Boot Camp
and Reid Mihalko’s Sex Geek Summer Camp. Representations of sex toys can
be found on television with increasing frequency, including depictions of dil-
dos and strap-­ons in shows like Transparent and Broad City; and one Aus-
tralian university is now offering a course on sex-­ t oy design.25 The 2012 pub-
lication of Fifty Shades of Grey, the runaway best seller about an emotionally
distant billionaire and his young female paramour, generated a boom in sex-­
toy sales across the globe. British retailer Love Honey introduced the official
Fifty Shades “pleasure collection” and the Adult Entertainment Expo (aee)
held business seminars on how retailers could better capitalize on the “Fifty
Shades Frenzy” by hosting special “ladies nights” and bdsm workshops geared
toward first-­time customers.26
These cultural shifts did not happen overnight. The increasing availability
of sex toys and the growth of the women’s market are the result of decades
of efforts on the part of feminist retailers, manufacturers, and educators to
make sexual products more respectable—and therefore more acceptable—to
segments of Middle America that previously would never have dreamed of
venturing into an adult store. Sex-­toy packaging with sultry images of porn
stars has been replaced with softer and more sanitized imagery, an expensive
but worthwhile undertaking for companies hoping to appeal to women on
the basis of “friendly, colorful and informative packaging devoid of bodies”;27
discourses of sexual health and education, rather than titillation, are regu-
larly used as marketing platforms; and new breeds of sex-­toy manufacturers,
such as Tantus and NJoy, are bringing sleek design, quality manufacturing,
and lifestyle branding to an industry that historically has not been known for
these things. “What we are seeing is a confluence of cultural shifts,” explained
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