It’s 2018! Hurray! Happy New Year everyone! Rather than write a nice, homely, warm tingling reflective post to ring in another year of blogging, I’ve gone on a bit of a rant about how the sex toy industry could do better. Because it really could do so much better. Both the manufacturers and the retailers. I’m annoyed that my little corner of geekdom can be so god damn shitty sometimes. It wouldn’t be hard to do better. So here’s my little list of just a few things that sex toy companies could do to make this industry better.
1. Stop Selling and Making Products That Aren’t Body Safe
Stop. Just stop it now. You know exactly what you’re doing. Anal toys made of porous materials like TPE? Really? Really? Jelly rabbit vibes? Just a squishy mess of bacteria ridden nastiness. Please just stop. You should be able to sterilize the materials you are putting inside your body. I don’t care if TPE or other jelly rubber is cheaper. Use silicone, or glass, or metal or ABS plastic. I’m very disappointed in you. Be more responsible.
2. Stop Gendering Toys
Come on now, we need a “toys for women” section and a “toys for men” section about as much as we need separate “boys” and “girls” sections in the toy store. Not only is this bizarre separation ignoring the many other genders that exist, it’s also forcing sex toys into these little binary boxes when there is no fucking reason for it. For example, rarely, if ever, will you find a magic wand in a “toys for men” section, yet LOADS of penis possessing people love them, just as much as folks with vulvas. Many people who identify as men may not even look at a magic wand because it’s not in their special, masculine-approved section of the website. That’s just sad.
Same thing for women and prostate toys. Just because you don’t have a prostate doesn’t mean you couldn’t repurpose a prostate toy. One of my favourite static dildo’s is actually a steel prostate dildo I got from a site that was only marketing it towards gay men. To flip this around again, another great example is rabbit vibrators; these you’ll find exclusively marketed as “toys for women”. However, they can make awesome prostate massagers, with added perineum stimulation!
My point is that separating toys into man/women sections is closed minded and limits the possible sexual experiences your customers could be having. And y’know, it’s just a shitty thing to do, pretending all the other genders don’t exist. If you can’t think of a different way to categorize products then hire someone who can. I take paypal.
3. Include Images of People of Different Body Types, Genders, and Races
Ever look through lingerie and think, Jesus, is every lingerie model white? It’s overwhelming to me to see the same looking model over and over again. I get it, they’re hot models. You have a narrow view of acceptable attractiveness, which is tall, thin, with decent sized breasts for base sizes, and tall and curvaceous with a clear hour-glass figure for plus sizes. But you know who looks like that? NO ONE. Also, most people in the world are not white. Looking at lingerie models, perhaps only 5% are not white. That is fucking shameful. You should be ashamed of yourself.
It’s not just lingerie models, Sex Toy companies use images of people all over the place, to promote products and to generally advertise. You know what most of those people look like? Lingerie models. Can we please just have some variability, or I dunno, some people who look regular? What you’re doing is reinforcing a very narrow view of what is sexually attractive, and what this says to your customers is that your products are for this narrow group of white, conventionally attractive, cis people. Wouldn’t it be cool if people saw images that made them think your products are for everyone? Sexual pleasure is for everyone. Start acting like you believe that.
Although it’s unlikely, what I’d really love to see is images of people of different genders, including trans, queer and non-binary folk, way more images of non-white people, and a range of body types, including disabled people, and a range of ages (all 18+ obviously). That’s what the world looks like after all. Be inclusive. There is no good reason not to be.
4. Include Images of Different Relationships
Being a raving pansexual, I struggle seeing only images cis men and cis women pairings on sex toy websites. The images present couples/relationships as hetrosexual, using the same models with a narrow view of attractiveness as described above. Really, on your whole fucking massive retail site you couldn’t find the space for just one picture of a cute queer couple? Shame on you! Did you also know that people have relationships with more than one person at a time? I know, right? Mind blown. So maybe one or two group shots would be nice?
While we’re on the topic, please can you stop with the whole “couples toys” bullshit? This annoys me so much, you almost always mean a het couple, and your “couple’s toys” are based on one person having a penis and another having a vagina. That isn’t the only way to be a couple! Also, every toy is a fucking couple’s toy if you use it with your partner! Can’t think of another way to categorise? Then hire someone who can. Seriously, I’d love to gut your website.
5. Remove Racist and Misogynistic Language From Your Copy
Whenever I want to feel really angry, in an “I can’t believe this shit still happens” kind of way, I just read the copy on sex dolls and some more anatomical dildos and penis masturbaters. My jaw drops every time and I’m there screaming in vain at the screen. Who the fuck approved this misogynistic, sexist, and / or racist bullshit? Just read it back to yourself and think “is this a fucked up thing to say?” if the answer is even a little bit “yes” then you need to rewrite that shit. If you’re not sure ask a friend who you know isn’t racist or misogynist. Can’t think of anyway to write copy that’s not a bit racist or misogynistic? Either don’t stock the product (probably for the best), or hire someone who’s a better person than you.
So there you have it, just my two cents on how the adult products industry could be a better, more inclusive and safer place. 2018 seems a good time as any to change.
I am under no false illusions that anyone of importance from the sex toy industry will actually read my little blog. It feels good to have a bit of rant though, doesn’t it ey?
Edited 11/01/18 bullet point 4 slightly, because it was brought to my attention that what I wrote sounded like I was suggesting cis gay and lesbian couples weren’t queer and that someone in a cis man/woman paring couldn’t be queer, which was definitely not my intention. The point I was trying to make was that the websites are presenting a heteronormative picture of relationships by exclusively using images of cis man / woman pairings. We all know the people in the images are models, not actual couples, and the sexuality of the models is unknown to us. So we have to think about image the retailers are trying to present to us by choosing to depict “couples” as one cis man and one cis woman. I believe many sex toy companies need to be more inclusive in the way they chose to depict relationships.