When it comes to designing and marketing toys, there are certain things that companies do that cause me to roll my eyes and seethe with frustration. Whether it’s creating toys that aren’t fit for their purpose or perpetuating sexual shame, sometimes sex toy manufacturers really frustrate me. Here are five things that I wish sex toy companies would stop doing.
Using the word “Massager” instead of “vibrator”
I’m always puzzled when I see the word “massager” pop up on the packaging of an item that is very clearly a vibrator. I get that there are a lot of appliances that were intended to be used to relieve sore muscles, which have subsequently become cult-favourite sex toys (Hitatchi Magic Wand, are your ears burning?). But often dildos and vibrators are sold under the guise of “massagers” that purport to “ease tension” and “reach those tight spots”. All of this pussy-footing around just seems so silly to me. That item that looks like a pearly pink phallus that rumbles and buzzes? I’m gonna use it on my genitals. It’s a vibrator. The jig is up and you aren’t fooling anybody.
2. Non body-safe materials
There are materials that you aren’t allowed to use in the manufacture of children’s toys that are regularly used to make toys intended to come into contact with the most intimate parts of your body. Some of these materials are not safe because they are porous and can harbour bacteria that can cause infection. Some are actually toxic and can cause anything from minor irritation to chemical burns. And yet companies continue to make sex toys from non-body-safe materials because it’s cheap and they look good. The worst part is that a lot of the “beginner” ranges of toys are made from these materials. Those cute jelly dildos and small sized butt plugs look colourful and are easy on the wallet, but they can be seriously bad for you. I wish that more sex toy companies would work harder to make their toys safe to use.
3. Anal toys without flared bases
I have lost count of the number of toys I’ve seen that are marketed as being “anal safe” that are actually anything but. You should never put anything in your backside that doesn’t have a flared base to stop it getting sucked up into your ass. Even though this is a very well-known rule, companies continue to make toys that are intended for butt play that have no means of retrieving them. It’s very simple, if you want to sell butt-toys, make ones that aren’t going to disappear inside your consumers.
4 Including Anal-eze with butt toys.
While we’re on the subject of butt toys, let’s talk about Anal-eze. Anal-eze is a numbing lotion that you’re supposed to apply to your asshole before anal play to stop it from hurting. It’s also the Product Most Likely to Induce a Tantrum from this blogger. Anal-eze is pointless and plays into so many insecurities people have around anal play. Firstly, if you’re going to be playing with your anus, you don’t want to numb the area because you’ll miss out on all the pleasure. Secondly, anal play doesn’t hurt when it’s done properly. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down, use more lube, relax, try a smaller toy, or change positions. Pain has a function, and without it you run this risk of doing real damage to yourself. I think that a lot of people use products like Anal-Eze because they are afraid of anal sex and believe that it’s going to hurt. And ironically, if you can’t feel your butt, you’re more likely to rush or use something that’s too big and you’re going to be sore when the numbing wears off, which only reinforces that fear that butt sex is painful.
While I get pissed that Anal-Eze even exists, what makes me truly livid is the fact that some manufacturers include it in the packaging with their butt plugs and anal probes. To me, that eliminates the pleasure and power a person might experience from buying an anal toy and replaces it with fear and shame. Also, it’s just plain unsafe.
5. Claiming to mimic “real life” sex acts.
In the last year, there has been a tidal wave of clitoral suction toys that are supposed to feel “just like” oral sex. But they never do. They feel great, but the sensation of a machine on your genitals is always going to be different to a real person. Sex toys aren’t a substitute for a partner. Sex with toys doesn’t feel like sex with a person. And that’s ok. I see sex with toys as a different kind of sex to having partnered sex, and I like both for different reasons. Trying to make a toy that mimics sex with a human being will always leave the consumer disappointed because even if you could perfectly replicate the sensation, you can’t program a toy to be spontaneous or intimate. I wish that more manufacturers would focus on marketing how great the toy feels, rather than comparing it to sex with a partner.
There are plenty of companies out there that create amazing body-safe toys without cringy marketing or a side-helping of shame with every purchase. But there are still plenty of stores out there selling toys that commit these five sex toy crimes. And I wish they’d stop. Because sex toys are so much fun and the less shame and stigma that surrounds them the better.
What are your sex toy pet hates?