Monday, February 18, 2013

Human Beings and Sex Toys Are Not The Same Thing & Other Thoughts on Sex Toy Stigma.

That sex toys are not comparable to human functions may be common sense to many of you, but apparently it isn't for everyone.

"I think a good sex toy is better than a good man." -commenter

"Yo, if any of your friends buy you one of those jawns they aren't your friend no more." -a customer, talking to his (presumed) girlfriend about dildos

"Why would he need that if he has me?" -customer to her friend, about masturbation sleeves 

"No, you don't need that. It'll put me out of business!" -customer to his (presumed) wife about vibrators

"I'm just worried he'll feel threatened by it..." -a customer who was trying to return the Lelo Tiani 2 (my store does not take returns of unsealed items and she had opened it in full knowledge of that) after her male friend said he would be threatened that it was trying to take his "job"

"Ewwwww." followed by laughter- more people than I can count, looking at a variety of products, from dildos to masturbation sleeves to butt plugs. 

Ok. We get it. Many people are insecure about their sexual performance, their sexuality, and their relationships. I know, it's ok, but this thing where people are threatened by the use of sex toys, even ones that are beneficial to both sexual partners, it drives me crazy.

Sex toys are not the same as people. Even SUPER REALISTIC REAL COCK DILDO 2000 (TM) is not anything like a penis. A Fleshlight is unequivocally not a vagina. You know why? It's not a penis. It's not a vagina. It's not physically a part of another human being.

I know this isn't a revolutionary thing to say. It's been said before, by a lot of people. But still, seemingly, people don't understand and allow their insecurities to govern their relationships and sexual life.

Sex toys, in all of their forms, function differently from a human body and, despite some of them looking like human body parts (since many people are not interested in going outside the boundaries of what's considered 'normal' even when using sex toys), they do not function like a human body part. Beyond all that, sex toys can be used in a variety of creative ways to add to your sex life: intercourse, foreplay, and more. That's what they're for. I'll talk about a few examples below:


This is one of the most common 'offenders' for people; many men just do not seem ok with the idea of their female partners using something that looks like a penis. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward and at the very least understandable: it makes them feel insecure, obsolete, like they aren't good enough. I can understand why, with our culture being the way it is, that a Big Dildo would make a guy feel insecure- especially if he is insecure about the size of his natural penis (as many are, even if they are within the size range considered average) which he likely is if he's insecure about the dildo in the first place.

Although the Tantus T-Rex looks kind of like an idealized penis, it's proportions are anything but realistic: it may be 6" in length, which is relatively average, but it is 2.25" in diameter. That is not realistic. 

The thing that should be kept in mind in this situation is that although some dildos are highly realistic, they are not penises. A penis is a reproductive organ that is attached to a human: it gets hard and soft, it's a completely unique shape, it may or may not have a foreskin, it responds to stimulation and has specific forms of stimulation that are more pleasing to it, it experiences orgasm, it can transmit STD/STIs, and it can impregnate you if there isn't a condom and/or birth control involved and the person is fertile.

Please please PLEASE do not share porous (read: jelly rubber, elastomer, elastomed, TPR, TPE, Silagel,  silicone hybrid, etc) sex toys. Do not use in more than one orifice. These cannot be completely sterilized and can be dangerous if used without precautions: if you're going to share with someone or use between orifices, use a condom. Use lots and lots of condoms. Or do the good thing for yourself and everyone and buy a verifiable 100% silicone product or other nonporous product like ceramic, glass, metal, or specially treated wood. 

A dildo really cannot do the same things- it is a static shape and size, it may be very hard or very soft, and it could be a range of different materials: none of which are attached to a human, feel anything, or have blood pumping through them. Some people have allergic reactions to dildos that are made with unsafe materials. You can make some hot or cold (glass or stainless steel, generally), and it will never get too tired to continue pleasuring you. It cannot impregnate you and it cannot transmit STD/STIs unless it is porous and you have shared it with someone who has an STD/STI. Of course, there are certain safety precautions that should be taken with different materials when we're talking about dildos (and you can read more about that here), but they are not the same as the safety precautions that need to be taken with a penis (if you do not want to become pregnant or gain an STD/STI). If you take precautions with your dildo and research materials so you know how to properly clean, store, and care for it you should not have any, or at least many, issues.

Look at these colors. How awesome is the Riley from Babes n Horny? Sorry guys, but I've never seen a penis that's this beautiful.

Some dildos are a completely unrealistic shape which offers a completely different experience than a human penis does. Examples I can think of are fantastic Tantus products like the Splash or any of Bad Dragon's products. Interesting non-phallic or fantasy dildos can be found pretty much anywhere, and there are some fantastic options out there, whether we're looking at beautiful glass creations from Fucking Sculptures or Crystal Delights, Really great silicone products from Tantus, Whipspider Rubberworks, BS is Nice, Babes n Horny, wood products from NobEssence, or Metal Njoy toys.

As far as interaction goes, the other great thing about dildos is that yes they can be used with a partner. Same sex couples can use them together, a man with erectile dysfunction or some other medical issue can still pleasure his partner (I've heard fantastic stories from people who are paralyzed from the waist down and get a hollow dildo so they can still pleasure their partner- one of my coworkers had a man almost burst into tears with happiness when he realized that was an option), they can also be used for double-penetration (Hello, Spare Parts Deuce) and pretty much any way you can think of. Pegging is pretty hot, too, if you ask me- though I know there are a lot of insecurities around the gender-bending which is a whole other can of worms.

If thought about positively, people can explore all sorts of alternate sex practices using this kind of toy, and open up new possibilities for themselves and their partner(s). Of course, they can also be used solo-  maybe you want to explore your sexuality on your own terms, or don't feel like having a sexual partner, or maybe you just feel like masturbating with a penetrative object. Some people find that using dilators helps their body adjust to penetrative sex, and there are a lot of other possible health benefits from using this kind of toy.

The bottom line is that dildos are a fantastic tool of sexual agency for people of any age, gender orientation, or sexuality, as many sex toys can be.

Masturbation Sleeves

It seems like there's an even bigger stigma about men using sex toys than women. My understanding of it is that the general view is that men can get off easily, whereas ladies need to try harder to get off so using tools for such is 'warranted'. I disagree with this mentality, mainly because everyone is different and is stimulated differently, and I think that everyone should have the right to explore their sexuality, with or without toys. Societal shame in any form is something I view as a challenge to personally get over, and a challenge I wish more people would work on fighting against.

The way I personally look at masturbation sleeves is as a masturbation enhancer- they're controlled by your hand, but they aren't your hand, and stimulate differently from how a vagina, hand, mouth, or anus  does.

Because all vaginas are crayola peach and cherry blossom pink.

Although many masturbation sleeves try to simulate mouths, vaginas, or anuses and this is all well and good, I think that it's ultimately a futile pursuit- not only because it is one that's unrealistic (masturbation sleeves are not human body parts, something you should be aware of if you've read this far) but because it assumes that men are only interested in realistic products: that they only want to fuck that OMG JUST 18 TIGHT PUSSY or Tight Asshole (TM). It doesn't offer the range of experience that is possible and honestly, I think it's kind of offensive, not only to what they're trying to emulate but to the men they're marketing to- yes, it's cool that there are realistic vaginas, mouths, and anus masturbation sleeves, but ideally that wouldn't be all there is, just as realistic dildos shouldn't be the only option. The other issue here (and with realistic dildos!) is that they tend to be very limited in terms of color options. A variety of realistically colored realistic products? PSHAW. Let's give them the peach color we know they all want and maybe throw in some chocolate brown for the whiners.

Bad Dragon's Dragoness Sleeve. Bad Dragon products are always highly customizable, but because of the nature of their sleeves, they only come in one density and size- however, there are lots of color options. I really like the Sunset Gold and Deep Purple shown here. 

Thankfully, there is starting to be more variety on the market in terms of masturbation sleeves. Though you can still fuck your favorite porn star, Fleshlight has some interesting fantasy (vampires! zombies! cyborgs! frankensteins! aliens!) and non-realistic masturbation sleeves (like the Flight and Pure), Bad Dragon has some interesting 100% silicone fantasy sleeves, and Tenga is treating masturbation like it's a science, with non-realistic products engineered to create a range of interesting sensations. Unfortunately, these sorts of products are still the exception (Most of what you'll find on the market are "Fantasy Fuckhole" type products), but at least there are some bigger companies (like Fleshlight) starting to cater to different interests.

IT HAS PUBES. This isn't even the craziest example of a masturbation sleeve trying way too hard to be the real deal that I've seen. 

Masturbation sleeves are cool because they also can be used in tandem with a partner, if you so please. Of course, not everyone has, wants, or even needs a partner, but for those of you who are in a relationship- think about it for a second. Maybe you don't feel like having intercourse with your partner. Lube up a sleeve and with relatively minimal input, it feels pretty good for them and you could likely get them off (no guarantees, of course, since again: everyone experiences sensation differently and likes different things). It's also pretty exciting to watch someone masturbate, so why not add some toys to the mix? They're also good for foreplay, as any sex toy can be, and you can safely enact your partner's fantasy of fucking two orifices one after the other without worrying about bacterial infections from anal-to-vaginal penetration or the spreading of yeast infections in vaginal-to-vaginal penetration (yes, this is a thing I've heard of actually happening). They're also great for people who have certain fetishes involving inanimate objects, or even for those who fantasize about necrophilia (get your hands on that Zombie Fleshlight and submerse it in some ice water before use, let me know how that goes for you). As with any sex toy, you're really only limited by your imagination and what the toy is capable of.

There are also new masturbation products like the Verspanken, which is fantastic because you can easily use it with a partner- since it doesn't cover the whole penis, it can be used while performing fellatio, it could probably be used during penetrative intercourse if you're really talented, and beyond that, like masturbation sleeves, it can be used by someone on someone else.


My thing with vibrators is that not only do they perform a function no human can (sure, maybe you're really talented at fluttering your fingers, but can you keep that up for hours, if necessary? I didn't think so) but they are really really fantastic for women who cannot orgasm without clitoral stimulation. This is a really common occurrence; as I've said, everyone is stimulated differently and have different requirements to achieve orgasm, which should not necessarily be the only or even ultimate of sexual interaction, but it does feel pretty good. Some people don't prefer to orgasm for various reasons, and that's fine (we all have the right to control our sexual experiences) but I'm not going to focus on that here.

The Lelo Tiani is a couple's vibrator. Wrap your mind around that: it's worn by a female bodied person and can be used during penetrative sex, and the act of penetrative sex pushes the internal piece against the gspot. If the partner is male, he'd be feeling the vibrations moving through the internal part of the toy while penetrating. 

Vibrators are great for all sorts of stimulation, depending on the individuals preferences, and I'll name a few here:

- Clitoral stimulation, during intercourse or alone

- Penetrative stimulation, again, during intercourse or alone (for female bodied persons, you can use a vibrator anally* or vaginally while your partner penetrates the other orifice or is pleasuring you elsewise, for male bodied persons, you could use a vibrator anally* while penetrating someone else, or while fellatio is being performed on you, or however feels right to you)

- Stimulating a male partner's testicles, perineum, or the outside of the anus with a vibrator whilst performing fellatio.

*for any sort of anal penetration, do make sure that you're using a body-safe material (preferably non-porous so it can be sterilized, if not, at least reserve a toy only for anal penetration for you or use a condom. The anus is very sensitive and you should be careful not to cross-contaminate between partners and orifices) and make sure you're using something that is anal-friendly. What this means is that it has a base of some sort on it. Why? because if it doesn't, your body may decide it wants to keep that toy: as in, your second sphincter may spasm and if there isn't a base on the toy, it could be sucked into the rectum. No, you cannot push it out. You can't fish it out with your fingers. You now need to go to the emergency room to have it removed. That's both expensive and embarrassing. I'd suggest educating yourself before trying anal play, both because it makes you less likely to make this kind of mistake and it makes you more likely to actually gain pleasure from anal intercourse. A good book is Dr. Jack Morin's Anal Pleasure and Health. 

These are just a few examples, there are so many more. There are a lot of different kinds of adult products not mentioned that people may feel threatened by or hostile towards because they don't understand what they're for or how they work, and definitely not how they can be pleasurable for them. The basic message I'm trying to convey here is that yes, it's ok if you don't want to use a sex toy. You have every right not to use something and not to do something you aren't interested in doing. Despite that, though, it may be useful to experiment and at least educate yourself on the positive use of different kinds of products. It could help create a completely new experience and open up new possibilities in your sex life, whether solo or with a partner.

1 comment:

  1. Toys allow for variety! Especially if you are in a committed relationship, toys give you a chance to explore new sensations that you can even share with a partner.
    Toys give an extra hand when all you want is some personal self-loving time. Masturbating isn't a replacement for a partner, its a different and intimate experience to have with yourself.
    Sexy time with a partner is great because they respond back with moans and movements and laughs and squeezes that a toy can't give.

    loved this article!