Toy stories: On the disciplinary regime of vibration

  • 1 University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
George Rossolatos


Sex toys promote a new consumptive ethos whose significance may be adequately outlined by attending to the institutional implications of this product category’s consumption. By drawing on Foucault’s theory of sexuality and the technologies of the self that materialize with the aid of discursive formations about sexuality, as well as on relevant sociological and ethnographic insights, I undertake a qualitative content analysis on a corpus of 100 sex toys’ product reviews from popular magazines and web sites in order to identify how the discourse about sex toys is articulated in terms of three dominant categories of sexual scripts (Simon and Gagnon 2007, Sexual scripts. In Richard Parker & Peter Aggleton (eds.), Culture, society, and sexuality: A reader, 29–38. London: Routledge), namely, cultural scenarios, interpersonal and intrapsychic scripts. By opening up the discussion to a broader cultural terrain, I outline how the consumption experience of sex toys, as articulated in the reviews’ discursive formations, facilitates the emergence of new consumer trends, particularly with reference to orgasm-on-the-go and no-touch-orgasm, while redefining existing ones.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.