You can buy a sex toy in almost every shape, size, and color, but they still don’t run the gamut. The pursuit of personal pleasure largely excludes non-binary bodies. Fortunately, a handful of brands with a focus on gender-free sex toys recognize the need for improvement. Soon, anyone with the desire for some self-love will have a toy at the ready in the drawers of their nightstands.
“Making a sex toy gender-free makes it more accessible to everybody,” says Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower. The adult store for sexual well-being will release its first gender-free vibrator, Enby ($74), at the end of this month. “We want to bring queer experiences to the forefront because gendering sex toys—or subscribing only to certain ways of using a toy—often leaves out queer bodies and experiences.”
“When we label a sex product ‘for women’ or ‘for men,’ it doesn’t take into account all of the people who don’t identify with those labels.” —Logan Levkoff, PhD
The marketing of personal pleasure products can also be damaging to those who don’t identify within the gender binary, according to Logan Levkoff, PhD, a relationship and sexuality educator. Much of the market stills splashes the toys in colors traditionally associated with being male or female (i.e., cotton candy pink and baby blue). And the slogans are no better. “When we label a sex product ‘for women’ or ‘for men,’ it doesn’t take into account all of the people who don’t identify with those labels and winds up preventing people from exploring their sexuality using these items, because of an assumption that it’s not ‘for them,’” Levkoff says.
Brands like Wild Flower—and PicoBong, the maker of another gender-neutral toy called the Transformer ($130)—are re-writing the rules. These companies design toys that accommodate the needs of every gender, and thus revolutionize the way people masturbate and/or play with their partners.
The inspiration behind Enby is one example. After going through a gender affirmation surgery, one of Boyajian’s friends shared that she had to throw out all of her sex toys and start over. “That was one of our light bulb moments: we wanted to create something that could take you through any transition, no matter your anatomy or identity,” says Boyajian. “No one should feel like their body or sexual desires are an afterthought.”
“No one should feel like their body or sexual desires are an afterthought.” —Amy Boyajian, CEO and co-founder of Wild Flower
The innovative curves of Enby reveal how it can caters to the sexual hotspots of every body. But Boyajian says the sexual creativity Enby encourages is the biggest source of pride. “We had folks of all anatomies and identities test Enby to ensure we were meeting all their needs. Many of them came up with even more creative ways to use Enby, so the possibilities are endless,” says Boyajian.
The hand-sized device really is a giant step in a more inclusive direction. And they’re only just getting started. Picturing the future of the industry, Boyajian sees a world where users—not brands—dictate the use of each device. “For too long, the sex toy industry has prescribed identities and preferences onto its users. When we give customers the room to explore, we’re creating space for them to prioritize self-love and pleasure on their own terms,” says Boyajian.
Rarely does traditional sex education tackle pleasure for pleasure’s sake, how to have sex for non-reproductive purposes, or the wide spectrums of sexualities, bodies, and genders that exist. Instead it tends to cover penis-in-vagina penetration only, pregnancy risks, and STI/STD transmission, leaning heavily on scare tactics that may not even work.
Traditional sex ed is failing us all, but when it comes to standardized sex education in the U.S., the LGBTQ community is especially left out of the conversation. A GLSEN National School Climate Survey found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics. Among self-identified “millennials” surveyed in 2015, only 12% said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships at all.
The good, and even possibly great news is that not being boxed in by the narrow definitions of sex provided to us via traditional sex ed means that we are free (and perhaps even empowered!) to build our own sex lives that work uniquely for us, our partners, and our relationships. But we still need some info in order to do so.
Let’s talk about what classic sex education might’ve missed about how to have sex if you’re queer, from what sex between queer people means to how to keep it safe and consensual between the rainbow sheets.
What Queer Sex Means and How to Have it
Redefine and self-define sex. Sexual desire exists on a spectrum just like gender, sexuality, and other fluid and fluctuating parts of our identities. From Ace to Gray-Ace to Allosexual and everywhere in between and beyond, check in with yourself and your partners about how they experience sexual desire (if at all).
Similarly, “having sex” can mean a million different things to a million different people from making out, to certain kinds of penetration, orgasmic experiences, etc. You get to decide “what counts as sex” to you which is especially true when it comes to sexual debuts — a necessary and inclusive term for self-determined first times that looks beyond the traditional, heterosexist version of “losing your virginity.”
Honoring the identities and bodies of ourselves and our partners with respect, kindness, compassion, and tenderness is crucial and can feel even more precious and rewarding when you’re queer. Truly pleasurable sex — regardless of your identity — starts with a sense of safety, clear communication, confident boundaries, active listening skills, and self-awareness.
Check in with yourself first. Active consent starts with knowing yourself and what your boundaries are. Though an important piece of practicing consent is asking your partner for permission and for their preferences, it can be easy to forget to ask yourself similar questions. What do you want out of a sexual experience? Where are you confident you don’t want to venture now, yet, or maybe ever? What are you super excited to explore?
This check-in can help you determine what you want from sex and what queer sex means to you. This is when you can think about experimenting with sex toys, whether you’re interested in penetration, and what kind of touch feels good to you.
Sometimes we don’t even know where to start if we’re not sure about what our options even are. Scarleteen.com or Girl Sex 101 (much more gender-spectrum-inclusive than the title suggests) are both great resources that can get some of your questions answered. You can also find more information here.
Name your own bits. Body parts, especially private body parts, can be complicated territory for LGBTQ folks, and understandably so. One of the main goals of sex for many of us is to feel good in our bodies. The first step to this can be feeling good about the terms we use for our body parts. Try on one or a few that might work for you, communicate them to your partners (especially new ones), and ask them how they like their bodies to be talked about or touched.
Gender roles are bendable roles. You don’t have to adopt traditional gender roles in sex unless you want to. Media mediums from PG-13 sex scenes to X-rated porn can create clear splits between what’s considered being “sexually masculine” (being the do-er, taking control, knowing the ropes) and being “sexually feminine” (being the receiver, being passive or reactive, being led rather than initiating the sexual interaction).
Just because you identify with being masculine, feminine, or somewhere in between doesn’t mean you need to act a certain way or do anything in particular in your sex life. You can be a Ferociously Fierce Femme, a Passive Prince of Pillows, a Non-Binary Take-Charge Babe, or any version of your sexual self that follows what feels good, affirming, and right to you and your partners.
Talk about sex outside of a sexual context. Talking about sex with your potential or current partners before the clothes come off can be a great way to keep clear-headed communication and consent thriving. Sexual interactions are vulnerable, exciting, and can get your body and brain functioning in all new ways. So, sometimes it can be easier to talk about your feelings about sex, your enthusiastic Yes-es, your definite No’s, and your curious Maybes over coffee or text first, in addition to in-the-moment communication about consent.
Make an aftercare plan. We know that consent, permission, and pre-sex talks are all important parts of a healthy sex life, but we can forget to think about what happens after we have sex (besides water, a pee break, and snacks, of course). This is aftercare — or, how we like to be interacted with after sex has ended.
Aftercare preferences can include what we want to do immediately after sex (cuddle? watch Netflix? have some alone time?) and can also include what happens in the upcoming days or weeks (check-ins over text? gossip parameters? is there anyone you and your partner definitely do or don’t want to dish to?).
No matter your aftercare preferences, a post-sex check-in conversation about how things went, what you’d love an encore of, and what you might want to avoid next time (if you’d like there to be a next time) is always a good idea.
Always keep it consensual. Consent starts with asking permission before any sexual touch or interaction begins, continues with checking in about how things are going, and ends with talking with each other about how the sexual interaction went overall so that feedback can be exchanged and any mistakes can be repaired.
True, enthusiastic consent thrives in a space where each person feels free, clear-headed, and safe to speak up about what their No’s, Yes-es, and Maybes are.
Safer Sex for Queer Sex
Hormones matter. Even though testosterone hormones can decrease your risk of unwanted pregnancy, folks on T can still become pregnant, so make sure to use condoms if sperm is likely to be in the mix. Estrogen hormones can slow sperm production, but if your body is still producing sperm, an egg-creating partner could still get pregnant, so put your favorite birth control method to work.
Starting or ending hormone therapy, whether it’s testosterone or estrogen, can impact your sexual response, your desire levels, your emotions, and even your sexual orientation — so don’t be surprised if these changes crop up. Find safe people to talk to about any complicated feelings this may trigger rather than keeping them bottled up.
Condoms aren’t a one-trick pony. Though the gym teacher might think that putting a condom on a banana tells students all they need to know about wrapping it up, they’re usually doing little more than wasting a high-potassium snack. Condoms can help reduce pregnancy and STI/STD transmission risk for all kinds of penis-penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) so they’re important to learn to use correctly. But, they can also be used in other ways. Condoms can be put on sex toys to help with easy clean-up, or if you want to share the toy with a partner without getting up to wash it (just put on a fresh condom instead!), and can even be made into dental dams.
Gloves are another important piece of latex (or non-latex if you’re allergic) to keep…on hand…in your safer-sex kit, as they can prevent transmission of fluids into unnoticed cuts on your hands and can protect delicate orifice tissues from rough nails or your latest catclaw manicure (Pssst: if your nails are extra long and pointy, you can put cotton balls down in the tips of your glove for extra padding).
Lube is your friend. Lube is a great addition to all kinds of sex, but comes highly recommended for certain kinds of sex. A good water-based lube (avoid the ingredient glycerin if you’re prone to yeast infections!) can add pleasurable slip to all kinds of penetration, is latex-compatible, and reduces friction from sex toys or other body parts.
Lube can also be put on the receiver’s end of a dental dam or a small drop can be added to the inside of a condom before you put it on to create more pleasure for the condom-wearer.
Anal sex especially benefits from lube as your booty doesn’t self-lubricate like the vagina does, so it can be prone to painful tearing or friction during penetration. Using a thicker water-based lube like Sliquid Sassy for anal sex reduces friction, increases pleasure, and decreases chances of tearing which, also lowers risk of STI/STD transmission.
Sadly, no one is immune to STIs. Though it’s true that certain sex acts come with greater or lesser risk of STI/STD transmission, it doesn’t mean that certain partner pairings are totally risk-free. The Human Rights Campaign’s Safer Sex Guide (available in both Spanish and English) contains a helpful chart that breaks down the health risks associated with specific sex acts, complete with barrier and birth control methods that’ll help lower your risk.
Remember, some STIs/STDs are easily curable with medication, some are permanent-yet-manageable, and some can be lethal (especially if left untreated). So, knowing the difference and knowing and communicating your status are all important pieces of your sexual health. You can continue to lower STI stigma while reducing rates of STI transmission by keeping conversations about sexual health with your partners open and non-judgmental.
Sex toys need baths, too. When choosing sex toys, it’s wise to pay attention to the kind of material your toy is made out of. Medical grade silicone, stainless steel, glass, and treated wooden sex toys are all, for the most part, non-porous, meaning that they can (and should) easily be washed with soap and water between uses, between orifices, and between partners.
Sex toys made out of cyberskin, jelly rubber, elastomer, or other porous materials have small pores in them that can trap dirt and bacteria (kind of like a sponge), even after you wash them! This means that you could reintroduce dirt and bacteria to your own body causing bacterial or yeast infections for yourself, or you could pass bacteria or STIs to a partner via the toy. You could avoid these porous materials entirely (check the packaging to see what your toy is made out of) or you could use a condom on them every time like you would a body part.
Just another day at your friendly neighborhood sex shop
By: Emma Chekroun
Having a part time job in college isn’t uncommon. Some students wait tables, others have jobs through their university, and some, like Haydin Wellens, a junior at the University of Minnesota, work as a cashier at a sex shop. Similar to other students, Wellens goes through his week’s worth of classes before working eight to nine hours on the weekend. Wellens fights exhaustion and tries to keep up with homework while working his late night shifts. The highlight? Much better party stories.
Wellens revels in the opportunity to talk about his job. “People will be talking about their jobs, and I usually start out with I work at a sex shop and…” pause for reaction. What usually comes next is smiles and stares of anticipation.
That anticipation lingers. There is something exhilarating in talking about and going to sex shops. Staring wide eyed at all the toys and tools that decorate the walls is enough to make anyone feel eager and anxious.
While customers may only dedicate a few hours to browsing a sex shop, for those maintaining these glimmering palaces of self-love, it’s a lifestyle.
Not Just a Job
Vincent Valcroft, assistant manager at Bondesque near Uptown, said he loves building people up through his work at the BDSM and fetish wear specialty shop. “I get to contribute to something that helps people,” he adds, “to bring greater wellness, meaning, and pleasure into their lives and relationships.”
Wellens, cashier at Lickety Split, and Cat Charles, website manager at Smitten Kitten, both said the best part of their jobs was answering questions and giving customers a safe space to ask them.
Charles said it’s “delightful and fun” to have sex as the subject manner of work. They enjoy making sex a normal and comfortable topic for shoppers.
Education also takes an important role in working at a sex shop. At Smitten Kitten, every employee is trained in the store’s sex ed curriculum. The shop also holds periodic free sex workshops, such as “Anal 101.”
Bondesque also holds workshops centered around BDSM, which Valcroft hopes contributes to a “holistic kink experience” in the store. Meanwhile, Wellens takes on an informal education outside of work, utilizing the internet to be better informed.
“I love figuring out how the different toys and interests work,” Wellens said. “Doing research into products on my own time doesn’t really feel like work.”
Education is a major way these sex shops pay it forward to the community. A shop’s attitude also has a big impact on its workers and the community. Wellens described how his manager created a position for him when he applied to Lickety Split back in June of 2018 and how that contributed to the family-like workplace he enjoys so much.
Valcroft went as far to say at Bondesque it’s “not a sale, it’s a celebration” and described the fun and explorative setting he strives to achieve at the store. When the community you and your store are a part of branches off into a spectrum of gender identities, orientation, and age groups, it’s important to “celebrate people,” Valcroft said.
Even a community saturated with pleasure and support has its occasional negatives. From drunken shoppers to more dangerous exchanges, it’s not always easy being the purveyors of pleasure.
Wellens has had his fair share of run-ins that range from hilarious to horrifying. One particularly frightening story involves a knife and customer named Jelly; “we learned he was called Jelly after the fact,” Wellens clarifies.
Jelly became irate, yelling slurs at Wellens’ co-worker. Wellens went on to say, “He got super frustrated and pulled out a knife.” He adds, “It was more funny after the fact,” although that seems hard to believe.
Wellens’ stories only get wackier from there. At one point, a man came in waving around a sizeable chunk of marijuana for no apparent reason. Drunk frat guys have played leapfrog, Wellens added. “One time a guy bought a cock ring,” Wellens continues, “and tried to put it on in the store.” This patron wasn’t drunk or high—just “very excited,” Wellens clarified.
For Valcroft, there hasn’t really been one defining hard part of his job, except maybe when “the gimp gets loose,” he explained, only half kidding while a devilish smile spread across his face.
But all laughs aside, the world of sex shops, is just that: a world.
There’s a Whole World Out There
Even sex shop workers encounter kinks they’re not familiar with. A resounding response from all three sex workers, no matter the kink, is that sex shops are a judgment-free zone. Don’t be afraid to have questions, just leave the nitty gritty personal experience out, according to Wellens.
Your kink isn’t that weird, Charles assures. They also encouraged beginners to be open to new experiences and not be discouraged if something doesn’t work out for you.
Valcroft described BDSM and fetish as a “journey,” which the other sex workers agreed with—it’s a journey to find what you like.
Lots of communities are included, so there is a good chance you can find what you are looking for. Smitten Kitten specifically identifies as “queer-centered.” Every shop mentioned here has some form of gender expression or cross dressing inventory, gender expression involving toys, and other items for persons in the transgender community to express their identity. This can include strap-ons or realistic artificial penises.
A tour of Bondesque illuminates several kinks that fall under the radar of popular culture, such as sex toys for electrosex, which involves electrostimulation, and is surprisingly safe. There are also tools/toys for medical fetishes and latex fetishes.
And yes, for those interested in feet, Lickety Split sells silicone feet, according to Wellens.
Aside from kinks, a few new things discovered this week through interviews, an anal workshop, and a sex shop tour: silicone lube is not good for silicone sex toys, fetish parties are like raves mixed with fashion mixed with latex, and there is something out there for practically everyone. Most importantly, sex shop workers make a rewarding career not only out of selling toys but also out of making comfortable environments for sexual deviants and newbies alike.
There is no doubt that sex is great. However, it can use something to make it more passionate and wild from time to time. The best thing to achieve that is to find the right “hardware” for your games and let it all play out really really well.
Besides making sex better, sex toys can bring many different benefits to the table, or into the bed, however you like it (this is a judgment-free zone). But among all the physical benefits, there are some psychological ones, too.
Some people are shy about their sexual lives or talking about sex in general. What is more, at the very mention of sex toys even they can get all giggly and blood rushes to their cheeks like they are teens again. However, what not many of us know is that if you get over it and talk about sex toys, you can actually feel more confident to talk about sex.
Sex toys are not a taboo anymore and everyone uses them; either with their partners or by themselves. So, if you are able to talk about them in any way, be sure you will be more free to talk about sex with your partner, for example. You will eliminate that shyness, guilt or embarrassment you might be feeling, and your sex life will get better and more satisfactory in no time.
“Cure” for sexual dysfunction
There are both men and women who can have sexual dysfunction, and sex toys are something that can aid in that. For example, there are women who suffer from anorgasmia, which means they can hardly reach orgasms while having sex. That is why vibrators and relaxing sex toys, are recommended. As far as men are concerned, a helping hand of sex toys can make them climax without having to get an erection. There is no harm in trying kinky toys like Hustler Hollywood has, for example, and giving it a shot.
Plus, if you manage to finally get that orgasm, there is no doubt that your confidence will rise. Another positive thing is that they will take the pressure off of you because you won’t be overthinking what you’re doing in bed. You just need to relax and let the toys do their thing. And, at the end, you will feel confident about your relationship, things will get back on track sex-wise and you will relieve stress!
Great sex equals a great relationship
You might have that spark with your partner, but things are bound to get boring sometimes. That is why you need to communicate. Surprisingly or not, sex toys will lead to better communication with your partner. Even a simple visit to the sex shop with your partner will make you communicate better. You do need to be open about what you want, like and dislike, so it is a great way to get to know each other better.
Furthermore, you will learn how to “navigate” your partner better. Without the toys, you might feel shy about telling him “a bit to the left” or her “to use less teeth”, but with sex toys, things can change. If you’re using vibrators you will be more relaxed and open about where he or she needs to go in order to hit the spot. Plus, some toys can reach places no man or woman has ever touched.
According to Bustle, you can say that sex toys can improve your honesty and communication because they will spark the conversation and make your relationship even better.
They just make you feel good
The mental benefits of using sex toys are almost the same as the benefits of sex. But double the dosage! Sex boosts your confidence, but with the use of sex toys, you are even more confident because you managed to go pass that stigma and taboo.
Sex leads to increased intimacy, love and trust in a relationship, but with the toys, you two can get even closer. This is because your aforementioned communication is better, you made that special bond when buying sex toys and you learned new things about each other and your bodies. Plus, a lot of oxytocin is released after each passionate, sweaty and successful round in the bed, which only leads to stronger relationships and more respect towards each other.
After all this, we can say for sure that sex toys are beneficial. Forget about all that kink-shaming and go a little wild. Your relationship can use a little something new and fun, and your partner will be happy about it, too! Not to forget about that confidence boost and more happiness in your lives. So, take your partner’s hand, find the toys you both like and go on an adventure of kinky fantasies and plenty of fun.
A personal massager, a sperm counter, virtual-reality pornography, something described as “the world’s first ebook-driven sex toy”: All of these products have been exhibited at CES, the country’s largest consumer electronics convention. Two of them won awards there.
So Lora Haddock was surprised when Osé, a hands-free sex toy she designed with a team of engineers from Oregon State University, had its CES Innovation Award revoked after three weeks. In an email explaining the convention’s change of heart, which Ms. Haddock shared with The New York Times, a representative cited a clause in the awards’ terms and conditions that disqualified products deemed “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.” (CTA refers to the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES.)
“I was shocked,” Ms. Haddock, 33, said, “and then I was angry.” The award “signified a shift in inclusion,” she said. “And then it was actually, no you’re obscene and you’re indecent and immoral, and you’re not innovative at all.”
Last year, CES had more than 180,000 attendees from around the world and racked up more than 100,000 mentions in media outlets, by its own count. For start-up companies like Ms. Haddock’s, exhibiting at CES is crucial for attracting investment. It’s all the more important for sexual wellness companies, which by their nature have a difficult time placing ads on platforms like Facebook, in magazines and in public spaces.
ohn Parmigiani, the director of the Prototype Development Lab at Oregon State University, first met Ms. Haddock in 2017, shortly after she had officially started her company, now called Lora DiCarlo. Over the years, Mr. Parmigiani — who has worked with companies like Boeing and Daimler Trucks — had become a go-to person for entrepreneurs seeking expertise in mechanical engineering.
“I went into the meeting with Lora having no idea what her product was,” Mr. Parmigiani said in a recent interview. “The third sentence she said was along the lines of, ‘I didn’t have my first blended orgasm until I was 20-something years old.’” Mr. Parmigiani said he was briefly taken aback but he kept listening.
“I thought, it’s a little out of my comfort zone,” he said, “but there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Ms. Haddock had used a term that describes a sexual climax reached from simultaneous external and internal stimulation. Her first blended orgasm, which Ms. Haddock said occurred at age 28, “knocked me off the bed onto the floor. I laid there wondering, how do I do that again?”
That wasn’t what sold Mr. Parmigiani on the project.
“I gave him a list of 52 functional engineering requirements that would be needed to produce this product,” Ms. Haddock said. “And that’s when he lit up.”
Ms. Haddock, who previously worked in health care and served in the Navy, is a self-described anatomy nerd. She knew she wanted her product to be customizable, so she started gathering data for where the G-spot and the clitoris are located on different bodies. “I tried to have that conversation with every single person with a vagina that I knew,” Ms. Haddock said. “I literally asked them to measure it with their hands and a tape measure.”
Osé, which will be available this fall for $250, expands, according to user preference, once placed on the pelvic girdle. It doesn’t vibrate but uses gentle, autonomous motions and air flow to enhance stimulation. Eight patents associated with Osé are pending. The team that built it includes Dr. Ada-Rhodes Short, who specializes in robotics and artificial intelligence, and Lola Vars, a current doctoral candidate in design-focused mechanical engineering at Oregon State University.
In follow-up emails, officials from CES and the Consumer Technology Association appeared to step back from the earlier assertion about the product’s violations of the morality clause, writing instead that Osé did not fit into the robotics and drones category, nor into any of the other product categories.
“It certainly is a robotic device if you look at a definition of a robotic device,” Mr. Parmigiani said. “There is no justification. Lora DiCarlo should have won the award.”
In a statement provided to The Times, Gary Shapiro, the president and chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association, said: “We have apologized to CEO Lora Haddock for our mistake, as the Lori DiCarlo product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CES is a professional business show, and porn, adult toys and sex tech products are not part of the event. CES is a large show with over 4,500 exhibitors. We acknowledge there are inconsistencies in exhibiting companies, and these will be addressed.”
But Ms. Haddock believes that what happened was more than an accidental oversight or a clerical error. So she published an open letter accusing CES of gender bias last Tuesday, Jan. 8, the first day of the convention. It is not the first time the trade show has been accused of gender bias: In 2018, numerous people in the tech industry criticized CES for having no female keynote speakers for the second year in a row, a failing CES attributed to “a limited pool when it comes to women in these positions.”
This year, of the 89 judges for innovation awards, 20 were women. CES said that it is committed to diversity, and pointed to its announcement this year that it will invest $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color and other underrepresented start-ups and entrepreneurs.
On display at CES was a wide array of female-oriented products, including breast pumps, fertility trackers and skin-care tools, but critics point out that many of them exist to enable women to support something or someone else. “They’re in service of fertility, of society as a whole, of the household,” said Ms. Vars, the technical director at Lora DiCarlo. She noted that a sexual health company that has exhibited at CES for years, OhMiBod, won a prize in 2016 for its Kegel exerciser. “It’s something construed as good for men’s pleasure or fertility,” Ms. Vars said. “I hear that as a joke from men: ‘I like to sleep with women who do their Kegels.’”
“Sexual health wellness is something that can only happen behind closed doors, especially for women,” said Polly Rodriguez, the chief executive of Unbound, a company that makes lubes, vibrators and other sexual wellness products. Ms. Rodriguez has never applied to CES because of its reputation for gender-based discrimination. (Earlier this year, Unbound was in the news after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rejected the company’s ads on the grounds that they violated rules against obscenity.)
But other female-driven sexual wellness products have gone the way of Ms. Haddock’s.
Karen Long, who has been in health care technologies for more than 20 years, was told that her company’s libido enhancing device, Fiera, did not qualify for the health and technology category in 2015. A later email from convention organizers added: “As a practice, we don’t allow sexual wellness products at CES.”
“We’re a consumer product that’s very clinically driven, with studies to support our product, validated surveys, OB-GYNs on board and everything,” Ms. Long said.
“We’re all sick and tired of this,” Ms. Haddock said. “It’s not just about our product. It’s about something bigger. It’s about really embracing an understanding of human sexuality, of recognizing innovation. When you call something obscene just because it has to do with a vagina, technology as an industry starts to lose out.”
Liz Klinger, the chief executive of Lioness, which makes a smart vibrator for women that collects data about sexual arousal, was similarly appalled. (She applied to CES in 2017 and was rejected.) “They said they weren’t going to include any new adult products in this space,” Ms. Klinger said. “That they had bad experiences in the past and didn’t want any new products on the floor.”
Later she found out that another applicant was approved to rent an entire room to show VR porn.
Sex is sex, right? There can’t be that much you can change about it.
But sex trends do indeed exist, whether in terms of the tech we’re using to get off, the type of relationships we have, or our views of sexual acts.
The good news is that as long as you’re having consensual fun, it really doesn’t matter if you stay ahead of the curve.
If you are keen on being at the cutting edge of sexual stuff, though, you’re in luck, as sex toy brand Lelo has just released their predictions for the top sex trends of 2019.
Just do everything on the list then pat yourself on the back for being the trendiest, sexiest person ever. Congrats.
Open relationships and polyamory
Of course, polyamory is not a new concept. But thanks to documentaries (oh hey, Louis Theroux), celebs and influencers sharing stories of how polyamory and open relationships can work, the idea of non-monogamy is becoming more widely accepted.
Think of how BDSM was pushed on to everyone’s radar by Fifty Shades Of Grey. The same sort of thing is happening with polyamory.
Not the ones you’re imagining, blow up ones with holes for mouths.
We’re talking fancy sex dolls made to feel and look incredibly lifelike, made with silicone and internal skeletons for a more human feel.
With the rise of household devices such as Alexa and Google Home, it’s no surprise we’ll start using artificial intelligence in the bedroom, too.
This can range from vibrators that collect your data and adjust to give you an orgasm every time to sex robots who respond to dirty talk and adjust their personalities to fit your desires.
Yes, the techphobes among us will be freaked out, but 2019 will be a cool year when it comes to seeing how far we can take sex tech.
Blame Ariana Grande.
Lelo reckons that in 2019 we’ll see more women remaining happily single later into their lives, with no desire to get into relationships.
Self-dating will be on the rise, as will treating yourself to all the toys you could ever want to provide satisfaction solo.
Will 2019 be the year we finally accept that men can enjoy sex toys too?
The sex toy market will launch a bunch of new male sex toys this year, including prostate massagers and masturbation sleeves, which will hopefully normalise something that’s, well, very normal: using tools to masturbate more effectively.
Vibration is great, but Lelo says 2019 will see the rise of newer, fresher ways to stimulate pleasure.
The brand’s Sona sex toy, released in 2018, uses sonic waves to stimulate the clitoris, to drive pleasure much deeper in the body.
You’ll also spot more toys that use pulsing or suction.
Sometimes a long-distance relationship is unavoidable. Here are some expert tips and clever tech we suggest to keep an intimate relationship lively and hot from miles away.
Tristen Weedmark, Global Passion Ambassador for vibrator company We-Vibe, recommends that long-distance partners look into Avocado or Couple, apps that both offer multiple ways for couples to connect in daily life. They are multi-purpose apps with built-in capabilities for partners, such as sharing sexy photos, working simultaneously on doodles, sending virtual “kisses,” or coordinating calendars and to-do lists.
Lay the Ground Rules
There are so many different options for connecting remotely. Texting, photo chats, live video, and phone calls are just a few options, and each comes with its pros and cons. “Figure out what works best for you in an LDR,” says Weedmark. “For some it might be constant texting throughout the day, while others prefer long phone calls a few times a week.” Mix and match your options and see what sticks. Once you can settle on a style that suits you both, you might be amazed at how multi-faceted LDRs can be.
Just because you’re separated doesn’t mean you’re not part of each other’s lives. Take the time to celebrate special days, like birthdays, anniversaries, or life achievements in ways that are memorable. Send cards, flowers, or homemade gifts the old-fashioned way. To keep track of past efforts and future events, consider the two-person messenger app Twyxt, which auto-generates a relationship journal from your messages and allows users to make a “Keepsake” collection of their favorite messages and photos.
Rules of Sexting
A couple can be great at texting, calling, and sending presents while skimping on more intimate ways to relate. “Without the regular sexual contact that many couples take for granted, you may start to feel more like friends rather than intimate partners,” says Weedmark. The trick here, she says, is to develop intimacy in other ways, which comes down to being more straightforward about your desires and emotions. It’s also probably time to boost your virtual sex skills. Learn how to avoid saving sexy pics and video to the cloud and be careful not to sext anyone you don’t mean to. Then, try something new with your partner.
There are many sex toys that allow couples to pleasure each other from afar. Weedmark’s company has the We-Vibe Sync, which is an app-enabled, adjustable vibrator that allows a woman’s partner to control the toy while also sexting or chatting in the app. Toys like this can help make partners feel more in tune with their partner during long-distance sex.
Trying to visit each other is a no-brainer, but it’s worth some extra effort to make the experience as exciting (and easy) as possible. First of all, consider coordinating itineraries through using an app like TripIt, which can sync with email and calendars, skipping the need to forward and record travel details. It can be a blast for partners to play host to their other halves, while enjoying their own city from a fresh perspective. Or couples can choose to meet somewhere in the middle, which may land them in unusual but story-worthy spots.
You’ll find no shortage of explanatory pieces on the Internet when it comes to butt stuff. There are so many ways to explore the butt. Some people use fingers, while others prefer dildos or butt plugs. And, of course, people enjoy a mix of things. Yet in all of this ongoing hoopla, we’ve forgotten a key player: anal beads.
Anal beads are the unsung hero of butt play. They are freakin’ amazing, and yet when asked about butt play from readers, I never get questions about anal beads.
Butt plugs and anal beads are two different toys, although they both go in the anus. “Anal beads provide stimulation through movement, while a butt plug offers internal ‘fullness’ or pressure,” explains Alicia Sinclair, a certified sex educator and CEO of the butt-centric company b-Vibe. “Unlike a butt plug, which is often used in preparation for penetrative anal sex, and is only meant to go in and stay [in place], anal beads were designed to stimulate inside the body and specifically to move in an out of the bum.”
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about wanting to explore butt stuff. Will there be some poop? Possibly, but if you clean up thoroughly, you’ll be just fine. You might come in contact with some fecal matter, but this simply goes with the territory. The sooner we move on from that, the sooner we can delight in the butt fully. I love butt play of any kind because it is an equalizing sex act that everyone can enjoy, regardless of gender. Everyone, after all, has an anus.
“Playing with products like anal beads allows you to really create equality in the bedroom and experience pleasure for the sake of pleasure, rather than tying it to identity in any way,” Sinclair adds.
The anus is a huge area of pleasurable possibility. You don’t need to put anything all the way inside of the butt to enjoy it. The anal opening is clustered with nerves, making any play with toys very enjoyable.
“As the beads are removed, they arouse the sensitive nerve endings of the sphincter muscle,” Sinclair says. “This stimulation creates a series of pleasurable sensations, like having a muscle massaged. The beads can be removed at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect, and can amplify the intensity of orgasm or even initiate for some. A great element is that using anal beads can be a hands-free path to stimulation, which means you can use your hands for other important erotic matters.”
Sign me up, please. Here is what you need to know about anal beads and all their multidimensional wonders.
Anal beads can be for newbies.
If you’re unsure if you’re ready for le beads de anal, Sinclair assures me that anal beads are totally fine for butt play beginners. While your forays ought to begin with a well-lubed finger or two, she assures SELF that there are “anal beads available in sizes for folks at all entry levels.”
Where to begin as a newbie when you’re looking for that perfect fit? Sinclair says that if you’re a beginner, it’s best to choose beads with “graduated sizes.” Meaning, ones that start small on the string and grow in size as you move up. “This allows the user to start with the smallest beads and then works towards the larger beads as they become comfortable with the sensation,” she says.
You should start with anal beads that come with three to four beads. You don’t need some long, snaking set of 15 balls when you’re starting out—that could be a little intimidating. “Make sure there is a good-sized flared base or circular handle at the end of the beads, otherwise there the beads may get lost inside the body,” Sinclair adds. Yikes. No one needs a trip to the ER, amiright? The rectum is not a closed area like the vagina; once something goes up the butt and disappears, it probably won’t be coming back on its own.
Stick to medical grade or body-safe silicone.
Materials for anal beads, like all sex toys, vary widely depending on where you buy them. Simply put: Do not buy cheap, crappy sex toys. If you buy beads made of jelly or non-ABS plastic (the only non-porous grade of plastic) then you risk leaving bacteria behind. These materials can never be fully disinfected. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Your anal beads will have lingering poop on them.
“Silicone is my go-to material of choice,” Sinclair tells SELF. “It’s body-safe, non-porous, and all you need is mild soap and warm water to clean.”
Vibrating anal beads can be a super-fun way to ease yourself into playing with this new toy. “It promotes relaxation and can amplify the pleasurable sensations,” she says. “At b-Vibe, we specialize in vibrating anal beads and playing with different points and patterns of vibration.” (If vibration isn’t your thing, there are plenty of body-safe silicone anal beads that don’t vibrate. It’s all about preference.)
If you’re truly not sure what sensation you want to feel, start with a basic set of three to four non-vibrating beads and see how you feel about them. If you’d like to experiment with bigger beads, vibration, or a larger number of beads, go from there. There are so many different kinds to choose from.
Grab some lube.
You can use anal beads alone or with a partner. It can be easier to give toys a try alone for the first time to avoid awkwardness or nerves, but this is completely up to you.
Be sure you have a ton of lube on hand. Avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys; in other words, stick to water-based lube. I recommend Sustain Natural for all play, including anal. If you are more of an oil-based lover, I’m obsessed with CocoLube. Oil-based lubes are great for anal play because they are super slippery and don’t need to be applied as often as water-based options.
If you are sharing butt toys, be sure you are thoroughly cleansing them before using them with a different partner. Otherwise, you risk transferring bacteria or STIs.
Relax and breathe before insertion. You can lie either on your back or side, whichever is most comfortable for you. I suggest starting on your side if this is your first time. You don’t want your butt hole to be tensed up. Put the beads in one at a time, checking in with yourself and your partner along the way.
“Once they are inside, you’ll feel ‘fullness’ and receive pleasure as they move inside you,” Sinclair says. “You can stop wherever—there’s no pressure at all to go the full length of the beads. You can then leave them in during partner play or pull them out at varying speeds, depending on the desired effect.”
Sinclair suggests leaving the beads in during intercourse, slowly removing them one by one when you’re nearing climax for “toe-curling orgasms.”
Clean your anal beads immediately.
After you’re finished getting busy, wash your anal beads right away. You don’t want to leave lingering bacteria on your toys. Use a mild antibacterial soap and leave them on a towel to air dry. Be sure to pay special attention to any nooks and crannies. Be thorough.
If you’re really into sanitizing, I absolutely love the UVee Box. It uses UV light to remove 99.9 percent of surface bacteria on your toys. I use it for everything in my house from my cell phone to my jewelry. It’s a worthy investment.
Do away with shame! Go boldly into butt play and have the most fun!
The sex tech industry is booming and you’re the last one to know. How do you feel about that? If I were you, I’d feel lame as hell. So, why not do something about it? They’re all gonna laugh at you either way. At least you’ll be having back-to-back orgasms while the nay-sayers snicker behind your back.
Our beloved gods of good sex have bestowed upon us a myriad of perverted pleasure products that pique every nook and cranny of our depraved interests. It’s time we took advantage of that. In today’s world, it’s possible to find a male sex toy that can do just about anything you can imagine. In fact, some manufacturers still know how to surprise me, believe it or not.
As John James, the Sex Toy Expert, I know all about sex tech and the products that have come out of its catacombs in the last few years. I’ve made it my life’s mission to “stay on top” of every sex toy I possibly could (pun most definitely intended). The results haven’t always been pretty but they’ve almost always been fun.
What Is Sex Tech?
I’m a gentleman and a scholar but even I don’t know the actual definition of “sex tech”. My best guess is that is has something to do with sex toys and technology. As far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off with their technical jargon. For our purposes, the term “sex tech” refers to any sex toy or arousal product that utilizes some form of technology in its design, features and/or functionality. Got it?
What Kind of Toys Are We Talking about Here?
One of the first questions I get when introducing someone to sex tech is, “So, what kinds of toys use technology like that?” I suppose it’s because most people only know about the traditional stuff, having little to no experience with the world of luxury brands and tech-savvy features. That’s okay though, because ole J.J. is here to help.
First of all, there are 5 main types of male sex toys that generally have a techie component or two. Know them and find your way to some of the best orgasms you’ve ever had. Ignore them and keep beating your meat like your granddad.
Known for their durability and simplicity, handheld masturbators allow for manual manipulation of your penis and a fully customizable experience for you and/or your lover. Often made with pre-programmed speed or intensity settings and graced with the ability to connect via Bluetooth or internet for a real-time sex session, today’s masturbator isn’t the simple pocket pussy of yesteryear.
Automatic Blowjob Machines
Once I tried an auto-blow device for the first time I started to wonder why the sex toy industry even bothered making anything else. These things are amazing and I’ll tell you why: Not only do they feel almost exactly like a real deep-throat knob-job but they also work without manual manipulation and can (sometimes) link up to other devices. While some masturbators do that too, only automatic blowjob machines simulate the kind of shameless, enthusiastic head you have to pay good money for.
FUN FACT: Many masturbators and auto-blow machine models come with orifices and/or skin-like sleeves that have been molded after famous porn stars.
If you want to get REAL nasty, go for a humanoid torso that has tech-friendly features like touch-sensitive controls, sync-motion, vibration and Bluetooth connectivity. Among the most high-tech (and most expensive) male sex toys on the market, torsos are also among the most realistic in terms of visuals and can sometimes be have their hyper-humanistic skins and canals warmed.
There are a lot of p-spot stimulation toys out there that are designed with high-tech features and pleasure-seeking settings. Although usually not as futuristic as the auto-blow machines or the torsos, prostate and perineum massagers come in all shapes and sizes from beginner to pro. The higher-end models can be synced to Bluetooth, smart phone apps or other toys for an interactive or long-distance party.
A staple of the modern-day bedroom in my humble opinion, the cock ring is a must-have for any contemporary pervert with something to prove. A good high-tech cock ring can be controlled via wireless remote or smart phone app, plus it’s generally rechargeable and waterproof. Made for discreet guys who like safe restriction and convenient kink, well-made cock rings with high-tech features bring out the animal in any man.
The Final Verdict
Doesn’t it feel so much better to be “in the know” about male sex tech and the options that currently flood the market? I know I feel much better having schooled you on what’s up. If variety is the spice of life, then an existence without several high-tech sex toys must be an extremely bland one. I, for one, have better taste than that.
To be fair, there are a couple of reasons why penetrative shower sex is objectively difficult: It’s dangerous and there is no lubrication. You think that one-legged standing sex position is going to work out for you and then … it really doesn’t. You wind up with this awkward, dry humping and grinding situation that often ends in frustration and general angst.
Fact: The shower is slippery. With all that soap and water on tile or linoleum, you’re very likely to take a tumble if you decide to have penetrative sex. How can you expect to have an orgasm with one leg in the air, praying to the high heavens that you won’t fall and break your leg? It’s just not practical.
Instead of making P in the V sex the end-all-be-all of shower sex success, do other things instead. Have your partner stand with his back to you and reach around for a handy. The dominance is intoxicating. Bend down and suck on her nipples and touch her clitoris with your hand.
We have to stop putting pressure on ourselves to “get it in.” This makes shower sex less fun and ultimately a lot less satisfying.
Don’t rush it.
Enjoy the shower itself. Wash each other. Shampoo your partner’s hair and give them a head massage. Let them wash your back and shoulders. Showering can be very sensual even without sex so lean into that romantic aspect of the experience. There is a kind of primal urge that comes from cleaning your partner. Just look at monkeys picking bugs out of each other’s fur.
Listen to the sound of the water, smell the lovely soaps, and take your time to simply be with your partner. Showering together is basically foreplay with zero effort on your part.
Get comfortable with making out under the water
It should come as no surprise that, in the shower, there is going to be water everywhere. It’s going to run down your face and over your eyes, and probably into your mouth when you start kissing. Don’t let this deter you, let it be fuel for a steamy, wet makeout session.
Haven’t you ever heard of making out under waterfalls and all that other romantic movie stuff? It’s like that. These are going to be wet kisses so, get down with it. Yes, you might have to spit out water occasionally, but this just comes with the territory.
Feel the water running over your body. Lick it off of each other’s chests. Long showers are the best. Kiss and enjoy.
Try some standing sex positions if you’re brave enough
If you insist on having intercourse, there are definitely some positions that are better than others. We have a complete guide right here. Most comfortable for shower sex-ing are a three-legged stand and the 90 Degree Angle. For the 90 Degree Angle, if you’re on the receiving end, be sure your partner has something to hold onto with one hand. Again, slippery = dangerous.
Remember, this is not the only thing that makes shower sex valid. If you start having intercourse only to realize it isn’t working for you, have some hand-sex, oral sex, or any other kind of sexual play you feel like. Don’t force it. That isn’t fun for anyone.
Silicone and oil-based lube are your best friends
There are plenty of amazing (and not so amazing) lubes out there. You want to be sure whichever you choose is paraben, petrochemical, and glycerin free. When in doubt, water-based lubes are your best bet for sex. But, in the shower, water-based lubes don’t have the staying power you need.
Opt instead for a silicon or oil-based lube. These lubes hold up against the water test and will keep things smooth and slippery during shower friskiness.
If you go for silicone, we love Babelube Silicone from Babeland. If oil-based is more your style, you can use something all natural like 100 percent organic coconut oil or almond oil. If you’d prefer an oil-based brand, we’re big on Boy Butter in the original formula.
Just keep in mind that if you’re using condoms, oil-based lubes are a no-go. Oil is incompatible with latex and can break down the material, leading to breakage. With condoms, stick to silicone lube.
Don’t forget the toys
The golden rule of sex toy owners used to be: If it has a motor, don’t submerge it in water. Luckily, this is no longer the case for many a vibrator. Many companies have waterproof sex toys that are not only bomb for shower sex, but can even be taken into the bathtub and dipped under the water completely. It’s pretty revolutionary.
“Fundamentally, people who move to live in a care home should be able to have the same rights, choices and responsibilities they enjoyed at home provided that these do not impinge upon the rights of others in the home,” the 44-page guide states.
“Care home staff should strive to achieve a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and control with the need for care and observation, for example, residents remaining in bedrooms undisturbed or with locked doors and staff waiting to be invited before entering,” it continues.
The guide states that: “sexuality remains a fundamental aspect of being human throughout life. It encompasses gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, intimacy, sexual expression and sexual acts.
It goes on to say that sexuality also influences “identity, self-image, self-concept and self-worth. It also affects mental health, physical health, social relationships and quality of life.”
The leaflet sites case study examples of real patients and the problems they have encountered when it comes to sexual activity within their care home including an OAP who was refused help with masturbation because staff “felt ill-equipped to deal skilfully” with the request.
Another case study explained how a resident had ask to watch porn in his bedroom. The guide noted that patient “should be supported” in accessing “the entertainment” he desired.
Commenting on the guide, RCN spokeswoman Dawne Garrett told the Daily Express: “Just because people live in a care home doesn’t mean they lose the same rights, choices and responsibilities they once enjoyed in their home.”
And actually research suggests many of the older generation are likely enjoying more sex than their younger counterparts.
A 2009 study, National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project (NSHAP), conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, found that almost three quarters (74%) of women aged 75 to 85 believed satisfactory sex was essential to maintaining a relationship, while 72% of men felt the same.
The same study found that over a third of men (38%) and almost a fifth (17%) of women within this age bracket were sexually active. And why the hell not?
Researchers from Coventry and Oxford University in the UK have found a link between frequent sexual activity and improved brain function in older adults.
The study, published in in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved quizzing 73 people aged 50-83 on how often, on average, they’d had sex over the past 12 months. Participants also answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.
The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.
Like it or not, we’ve entered the annual period of seasonal gift giving. Hanukkah begins Sunday, December 2. St. Nick’s follows on Thursday, December 6 (leave your shoes out on the night of the 5th). Next up is Winter Solstice on Friday, December 21. And then we wrap up the traditional gifting holidays with Christmas on Tuesday, December 25. Basically, if you’ve got a romantic partner in your life, you’re probably going to be doing a little shopping real soon.
Each year, the staff of the Tool Shed spends about six weeks helping people navigate the fun—but sometimes tricky—adventure of purchasing sex toys for another person. Giving overtly sexy gifts has an etiquette all its own. There are some obvious things (like don’t give an acquaintance a set of vibrating nipple clamps) that are basically common sense. But there are some less obvious things, too. Read on for some important gift giving dos and don’ts from Tool Shed staffers…
Don’t limit yourself to obvious sex toys, i.e. dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, etc. Shy or modest folks may recoil from a gift so blatant. You may also find that a person is just not interested in owning or using a sex toy. And if you’re in a new relationship, getting a sex toy out of the blue can feel like a lot of pressure.
Do remember how many different ways there are to be sexy. TS staffer Stephanie says, “For my sister, I got soap and socks with a gift card. It encouraged her to come back to the store and shop for herself.” Massage oil, books, underwear, and truth or dare games are also fun ideas.
Don’t just buy the most expensive vibrator you can find. You wouldn’t believe how often this happens! A customer will walk in the store, browse briefly, and pick out a vibrator in the $179-$219 price range. Sometimes they’ll ask, “So, is this the best one?” And we’ll try to explain that there’s no best vibrator for everyone. It’s a very individual thing. But because our culture equates cost with quality, they buy the toy anyway.
Do pick a toy that is body safe and reliable, but also that’s likely to make your partner happy. Different things are important to different people. Some people love vibration, while other people find it distracting or annoying. Some people want something small and discreet, but some folks feel that bigger is better. Even color can make or break someone’s relationship with a sex toy.
Don’t buy a sex toy to fulfill your own fantasy, especially if you’ve never discussed it with your partner. For instance, TS staffer Ashe says, “Unless you’ve had a few conversations with your partner about anal play, don’t surprise your partner with an anal toy.” This is also true for BDSM related gifts like paddles, masks, and bondage supplies. New items for activities that you haven’t talked about before can feel less like a special treat and more like an ambush.
Do pick a toy based on what you know about your partner’s pleasure and previous sex toy experience. If the two of you have had your eye on something, but have held back because it seemed too extravagant for a random Tuesday in June, now’s a great time to pick it up. TS staffer Kayla adds, “If you haven’t tried mojoupgrade.com, it might be a great and somewhat subtle way of finding a new gift idea that you would both enjoy. This website allows you and a sexual partner to choose what you both want or desire, then emails you the areas in which you overlap.”
Don’t assume that you’ll get to participate in the using of the sex toy. If it’s a gift, then the recipient gets to decide how they’re going to use it. Before you buy something, ask yourself who will really benefit from the gift. If you want to get your boyfriend a cockring so that his erection will last longer, talk about that ahead of time. If you’re dying to use a vibrator on your girlfriend because you want to see her reaction, be up front about that.
Do give a gift because you want your partner to be happy, and to have some tools to make that easier. While there are definitely toys that are designed for couples to use together, gifts should be things that will bring joy to the receiver.
Don’t use gift giving to make a joke or intentionally cause someone to feel embarrassed. As Kayla wisely says, “Avoid gag gifts or gifts meant as a prank. They may seem funny at the time, but the money you’ve spent could go towards a gift they’ll definitely enjoy, without all the stigma and shame wrapped up around it. Consider getting a hilarious card or funny wrapping paper instead, and have the gift either be meaningful or practical.”
Do pick up supplies and accessories to help the recipient enjoy the gift. That could mean batteries, lube, locking toy box, or instructional book. Consider charging up rechargeable toys so they’re ready right out of the wrapping paper. Make sure you know how to clean and care for the toys, and share that information when you give the gift.
It’s no secret that a wand vibrator is the cornerstone of any notable sex toy collection. There is a reason why Hitachi wands have been best sellers since their advent in the 70s: They deliver powerful, insanely awesome orgasms.
The wand is the clit-whisperer. No matter who you are or what you like, almost every woman will agree that a wand vibrator is the best thing in the world.
Did you know that the love you have for your wand can be a part of partner sex and not just your favorite masturbation accomplice? Yes, that’s correct. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Here’s how to use your favorite giant sex toy during sex.
Why a wand vibrator during sex?
Bringing sex toys into the bedroom is finally becoming a new normal for many people — as .it should. Nearly every woman requires stimulation of the external clitoris to experience orgasm. Sex toys are a conduit to this necessary sexual touching, and vibrators are designed to help you orgasm. Any partner who is comfortable with themselves will not be intimidated by a sex toy, but rather open to experimentation. After all, who doesn’t want their partner to come?
If you’re in the early stages of your sex toy adventures, you’ll probably want to start with something small and non-threatening. Finger vibrators and pocket rockets are excellent for beginners, but eventually you’ll probably be ready to graduate to something bigger and more powerful. That’s where wang vibrators come in.
Wands are, for the most part, freaking enormous. I’m currently looking at my favorite wand and this sucker is a solid twelve inches long. It’s a subway sandwich-sized sex toy.
We love our wands because of their power-packed charge and long handles. They make masturbation easy. You can hold the handle at chest-height and reach the clitoris without moving a muscle. Convenient! The girthy head gives you all-over clitoral stimulation without having to do much in the way of maneuvering.
For the brave amongst you, these same positive attributes can be utilized during partner play. You may have cornered the wand as your solo-only toy, but its big head and long body make orgasms during intercourse even easier.
If you want to ease your partner into it, start by having them watch you use it on yourself. This can be a huge turn on. Seeing how you make yourself orgasm could be just the push your partner needs to get on board.
The best positions for wand play
Starting out with wand play means finding the right positions that are both comfortable and orgasmic for you. Now is not the time to be getting acrobatic. There will plenty of opportunities for that later down the line. For now, stick to these three basic positions to get placement in order.
Don’t worry if it feels awkward at first. All new sex things are weird in the beginning.
Missionary: Your wand can seriously spice up this go-to position. When you’re in missionary, slip the wand between you and your partner. If they are able to stay propped up on the their arms, it will help make some extra room for the wand. Hold the wand like you would while masturbating on your back.
The reach of the wand’s base helps you access your clitoris without reaching down too far. You’ll have ample opportunity to make out with your partner and focus on the combination of internal and external stimulation. Your partner’s weight will add to the pressure of the wand head on your clitoris for intense, full-body orgasms
Open-Legged Spoon: This is like a regular spoon only, you know, open-legged. Lie on your back and spread your legs, bent at the knee. Have your partner enter you from below, perpendicular to your body. Drape your knees over their side. You can align bodies like you would in a classic spoon for more intimacy
Grab your wand and rest it on the clitoris. This is an ideal lazy-girl sex position. You have total access to your clitoris, while your partner penetrates you. This low-impact position will change how you see your wand forever. Plus, it’s super sexy and dirty looking.
Doggy Style: For those of you who enjoy masturbating on all-fours with a wand, this will be your bread and butter. Lie on your stomach, sticking two or three pillows under your hips. Prop your wand against the pillows so you can lean your vulva against the top. Have your partner enter you with either their penis, fingers or dildo from behind.
A wand is amazing for doggy style because you get to ride it while your partner is riding you. You’re basically the center of a filthy nasty sandwich — something everyone deserves.
Queening: This position is great for everyone, but works especially well for same-sex couples. Lean your back against a throne of pillows like a queen. Grab the wand and hold it against your glans clitoris while your partner uses their tongue on the rest of your vulva. The vaginal opening is full of nerve endings and is amazing for exploration. They can also lick up and down your labia. Want to make it even more intense? Have them place a stainless steel dildo inside your vagina while they lick around the opening. The weight of the toy will pull the entire pelvic floor and internal clitoris downwards, resulting in an orgasm for the books.
If you don’t already have a wand vibrator, stop what you’re doing right now! You need one. Whether you’re planning to use it for partner play, by yourself, or both, it’s a must-have.
While Hitachi has long reigned supreme, it’s never admitted to being a sex toy. To this day it claims to be a neck massager. There are approximately zero people on this planet who have used a Hitachi magic wand as a neck massager, but I digress.
Female-run companies have stepped up and created wands that are proudly marketed as sex toys. Plus, they’re made from high quality materials you can trust. Our favorites are Le Wand and Ollie from Unbound. We like our sex toys like we like everything else: Highly quality, feminist, and orgasmic.
Sex is all about sensation and sensual touch. So whether you’re hitting the sack with a one night stand or spicing things up with a longterm bae, bringing new sensations into the bedroom will make for a night neither of you will forget. Read on for SlutBox Blog’s tips for adding unforgettable sensation to you next hookup!
By Amber Rose
1. Do More With Your Lube
Lube is super important for solo and partner play. Any time there’s friction, add in some lube to protect your skin, increase sensation and sensitivity and multiply those O’s. Now, why settle for any ol’ lube when you can slather on some extra sensation?
This cannabis lube is 100% natural coconut oil based, and totally compatible with latex barriers so you can stay safe and sexy. Another fave is the ON Arousal Gel for Her from Sensuva (featured in our very first SlutBox!). ON Arousal Gel is a water-based blend of essential oils that jumpstart natural arousal and increase natural lubrication in folx with vaginas. No further explanation needed!
Sizzle Lips is a warming massage gel that heels hot when you blow on it. Massage Sizzle Lips into a sensitive area on bae’s body, and gently blow to get them all hot and bothered. Kiss and lick it all off – the more you rub it in the warmer it’ll feel.
HandiPop is a super sweet edible massage gel for the slipperiest, longest-lasting handjob. Getting a hand cramp? Finish the job with your lips and tongue.
What’s more intimate than a massage? Indulge your sensuous side with the Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Candle, made from all-natural soy wax, shea butter and apricot kernel oil in luscious scents like Vanilla & Creme de Cacao, Snow Pear & Cedarwood, and Black Pepper & Pomegranate.
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This year, MysteryVibe is taking a step away from anatomy-neutral malleability to try its hand at selling an explicitly penis-centric product, the Tenuto. They announced the new toy, their sophomore offering, in May, though the $130 device likely will not ship until sometime in December.
An L-shaped, flexible silicone loop similarly studded with six app-connected, variable intensity motors, the Tenuto fits onto a user’s penis in several possible ways. But no matter how one wears it, MysteryVibe suggests that it will offer a unique form of stimulation, more holistic and varied than any other male sex toy—the industry term for penis- and prostate-targeted devices—on the market now boasts. MysteryVibe co-founder and “Chief Pleasure Officer” Stephanie Alys recently told me that she thinks the Tenuto, by offering sensations people with penises may never have experienced or even conceived of before, could help men explore a satisfying new world of “pleasure-centered, versus orgasm-centered, goal-orientated sex. Slowing down, learning more about their bodies, trying new things.”
“That whole narrative,” she added, “is something we’re really keen to push forward.”
Granted, researchers haven’t probed how men engage with sex toys too deeply. Social psychologist and sex researcher Justin Lehmiller has speculated this may be because so many people only think of toys as a part of female sex and sexuality that few even consider exploring male toy usage.
Some sex store sales figures do suggest that men shop for sexual goods about as often as women. A 2014 deep dive on one chain’s sales by data journalist Jon Millward, though, showed that men mostly dominated purchases of things like condoms. Women dominated purchases of vibrating toys, the retailer’s highest selling device category. Men did dominate purchases in the lower selling anal toy category. But non-heterosexual men seemed to drive those figures, reflecting widespread and persistent stigmas around anal stimulation among straight men. Many men who bought toys that weren’t explicitly made or marketed for their gender seemingly did so for their female partners to use, whether in sex or on their own. And few women bought toys for their male partners. A 2009 survey similarly found that only a minority of American men had ever used a vibrator, and the vast majority of them only used these toys with (and likely only on) their female partners, rather than for solo fun.
When men do buy items for their own use, Millward and others have found, most seem to opt for penis rings, or other devices mostly meant to help people with erectile dysfunction get or maintain an erection. In Millward’s data, only about a fifth of his already limited pool of male consumers actually bought a device specifically made for penile stimulation. And his data came from the tail end of an apparent spike in male toy sales from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s.
Sex culture observers have suggested any number of reasons for the anemic state of the male sex toy market, all of which probably have some merit: Most media, for instance, only depicts women as toy users—and increasingly represents them as sexually liberated souls. In the rare instances pop culture does show men using sex toys on their own, they are typically portrayed as sad sacks or weirdoes who can’t find a partner. The zeitgeist also increasingly seems to view sex toys as a vital tool for accessing female pleasure, and this pleasure as a vital component of holistic wellness, or a strong relationship. That is likely why big chain retailers like Walmart feel comfortable selling vibrators now. But the zeitgeist also insists that male sexuality and pleasure are simple, built around the quest for a quick and efficient orgasm, for which one only needs a hand and one frictional, repetitive motion. That implies that men who might want, or even need, toys for themselves are somehow deficient or deviant.
This is a fair amount of cultural and behavioral baggage for a company to push against. So I asked Alys: Why did MysteryVibe decide to move into the fraught male sex toy space in the first place? And how does the company plan to sell a novel device like the Tenuto to a limited, and likely skeptical, consumer base?
According to Alys, the MysteryVibe team decided to create Tenuto for a pretty simple reason. Their existing consumers said they wanted the company to make an explicitly male-facing toy.
Alys noted that while the Crescendo is gender-neutral, many consumers “still conceive of it as a product for people with vulvas.” That is not necessarily a problem. Many men find, through partnered or solo exploration, that they can bend even toys built explicitly for use on vulvas or in vaginas towards their wants and needs. So plenty of people who assume the Crescendo is a female-focused toy may learn, rather intuitively, that they can get some mileage out of it for their own erogenous anatomy.(Similarly, MysteryVibe points out that people with vulvas can likely still find uses for the Tenuto.) But many, if not most, men never do figure out that seemingly female-facing toys can work for them, too. “One of the core pieces of feedback we were getting from men who bought it for their partners,” Alys said, was “‘when are you going to create something for me?’”
MysteryVibe, in other words, seemed to see a clear male consumers base open to buying a high-end and novel toy for their own pleasure and exploration, like the company’s existing product, but waiting for something explicitly gendered that would, in a sense, give them permission to buy and use it.
Looking at the male sex toy space, Alys said, the MysteryVibe team realized there was plenty of room for innovation, especially by moving away from designs that try to mimic human anatomy in function and in form. Variable, unique sensations and a discreet design could together offer, as Alys put it, “something that people with penises can be proud to walk into a store, buy, and use.”
Alys seems to believe that stressing the Tenuto’s novel form(s) of stimulation can effectively draw men towards it—that many men are eager not just for a respectable company to tell them it is okay to buy a toy for their own pleasure, but for a product to encourage them to explore their bodies. “Elevating the conversation around pleasure is where we’re aiming, in terms of some of the marketing and some of the ways we’re hoping to talk to people” about the Tenuto, she explained.
However, she does acknowledge the massive gap in the way pop culture and society talk about female versus male toys and sexuality. She also seems to acknowledge that there are not as many cultural forces normalizing male toys as there have been for female toys over the past couple of decades (e.g. Sex and the City, Goop), much less cultivating a complex view of male sexuality and encouraging slow, pleasure-not-orgasm-centered self-exploration. She maintains that this exploration would be valuable for the many men who have internalized a simplistic view of male sexuality. Exploring themselves, she stresses, could clearly help men achieve new heights of personal pleasure, and learn to explore their partners’ bodies as well, leading to more satisfying sensual lives overall. But it is hard to see how the sort of pleasure exploration-focused pitch she makes for the Tenuto could push past the largely intact cultural barriers against, and stigmas around, male sex toy usage to reach the bulk of male consumers.
So perhaps unsurprisingly, while the promotional materials for the Tenuto mention novel pleasure and self-exploration, they lean just as heavily, if not more so, on the rationales men already use for buying sex toys: satisfying their female partners and managing their erectile dysfunction.
“Why use a vibrator,” one promo asks, “when you can be the vibrator” by wearing the device so some of its motors act as a clitoral stimulator during penetrative vaginal sex? This, MysteryVibe’s press release materials argue, could help men close the orgasm gap between them and their female partners. They also boast that the Tenuto’s sensations can spark blood flow, which can help men get, or maintain, an erection.
These sales points position the Tenuto as a cross between a penis ring and a vibrator, items men might already be willing to buy for partnered sex. Its inconspicuous design, seen from this perspective, further positions it as something men might feel less embarrassed to buy than existing devices that could, in combination, serve the same purpose.
For Alys, though, that messaging is just a good hook to grab people initially. She believes that the same narratives that have helped to diversify female sex toys in recent years are bleeding into discussions of male sexuality. This seems to give her faith that, after the right introduction, men will be willing to engage with, and want to buy, the Tenuto as a more revolutionary tool for exploring new types of pleasure.
She also believes that, by presenting the Tenuto in spaces that usually do not feature sex toys, like tech conferences, she can create a moment of shock in unwitting audiences that opens a door of potential for some to reconsider the role and meaning of male sex toys. Novelty and surprise may be enough to give people permission to explore the Tenuto on its own unique sensory terms.
None of this is certain, though. The question of how to overcome the cultural forces that have limited male sex toys in the past “is a lot of the stuff that we’re still trying to figure out,” Alys admitted. She added that the Tenuto alone isn’t going to tear down longstanding social-sexual stigmas, and by so doing open up new potential in the male sex toy market. “I will probably spend my entire life talking about sexuality and breaking things down and establishing new attitudes,” she said.
In that sense, Tenuto may be as much a piece of sexual activism as entrepreneurship. It is, in part at least, a MysteryVibe manifesto on the realities and needs of male sexuality. And it is a gamble on the power of a few established marketing entry points, surprise, and innovation to encourage people to engage with, and hopefully embrace, a (for many) new and complex vision of male pleasure and sexuality. It is impossible to say whether the startup’s gambit will pay off. But even if it succeeds in moving the needle slightly, it could be a major step towards a more diverse, dynamic (and lucrative) male sex toy market.