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Fantasy vs. Reality: The 50 Shades Phenomenon

Whips, chains, & floggers, oh my! Fifty Shades might not make good literature, but it is one hell of a catalyst for conversation. The astounding popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy has brought kink out into the sunlight, but now what? What happens when poorly researched fanfic is used as a mainstream cultural reference point? These books could fade as a fad or they could be leveraged as a new way of being open about sexual desires & normalizing kinky fantasies. Couples have been furtively bought feathered riding crops & fur-lined handcuffs for decades, only now it’s becoming socially acceptable to admit it. Learning the difference between fantasy, reality & abuse is a key element to healthy kinky expression but on this point Fifty Shades fails miserably. The books start as sexy inspiration but ends up promoting unrealistic expectations & false stereotypes. Yet when the books are used to arouse a social sexual awakening & get people talking, they hit the mark perfectly.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What were the themes in the Fifty Shades trilogy which contributed to its runaway success?
  2. Do fiction writers have an obligation to portray real life communities in a way that is respectful to the culture of those communities?
  3. With an influx of people who suddenly identify as kinky because they were turned on by these books, how many will actually bother to learn the safety side of BDSM play?
  4. For those that do pursue their new kinky love life, how can technology be used to inform, inspire and educate consenting adults about pleasure?
  5. What are ways that we can keep the conversation going and fire up a new sexual revolution to remove shame & promote creative, responsible and oh so hot sex that we all have a right to experience?



Kali Williams, Founder, Erotication

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