A few weeks back we published a post about a documentary on male sex toys, specifically a factory in America which make various fleshlights and other models. It was called The Double Feeling by filmmaker Nikias Chryssos and the documentary and our post weren't too kind about the whole male sex toy industry in general.
But, not everyone feels that way and in the interests of fairness here is a rebuttal of that post and the documentary. It's written by guest contributor Octavia Williams who shares a different and valid viewpoint about the subject and the stigma that surrounds it. Read our post here and read Williams' response below.
Shaky handheld videos and awkward tittering do not a sex positive article make. Awkward, shaming articles aggravate an already pervasive problem of shaming people for their totally normal sexual habits. The idea of ordinary rural factories producing fuckable orifices is hilarious. But articles like 'The Double Feeling Visits A Very Creepy Fleshlight Factory In Vegas' run the risk of alienating the people sex toys help.
Masturbation is an area fraught with stigma and gender politics. Female masturbation is often oversexualized and romanticized, all bubble baths and scented candles. Conversely male masturbation is seen as creepy and shameful—sticky porno mags and socks, something to be laughed at and ashamed of. This stigma translates itself into the world of sex toys as well, with the purchasing of male sex toys like fleshlights and sex dolls being seen as something not to be talked about. Even though sales statistics state that sex toys for guys have risen a whopping 1000% in the last ten years.
Sex Toys And Benefits For The Physically Disabled
One of many (many) reasons not to be ashamed of buying, owning, or using sex toys is the positive consequences of their production. A great example of this is how sex toys can help physically disabled people. Disability is another area battling stigma and politics when it comes to sex. Many physically disabled people complain of not being seen as sexual people. Disability activist Penny Pepper wrote on this for the Guardian last year saying, “To be viewed as asexual—when it is not a choice—is not only exasperating, but offensive. For people who are newly disabled, or are younger, the pervasive misconceptions and messages of non-acceptance are truly challenging.”
When you think about it, physically disabled people use plenty of gadgetry to help them in their everyday lives—from hoists to lift them from a chair to a bed, to chairs for showering. What’s the difference between those and sex toys? Sex toy production is beginning to reflect the diversity in users. For example the Tantus Rumble vibrator was funded through Indiegogo this year and aims to be gender neutral and accessible to people with limited mobility. The Doggy Rider by Liberator is a harness designed for a similar audience to hold people with limited mobility in different sex positions.
Hot Octopuss is a company building sex toys off the back of medical research and technology for older users, erectile dysfunction, and mobility issues. Most relevantly the Autoblow 2 (also funded through Indiegogo) is a hands free masturbatory toy designed specifically for disabled people with penises. A backer for the toy, Mark, told Vocativ that, “Socially, it’s more accepted for women to have these toys, whereas men are portrayed as perverted. It bothers me somewhat knowing that I can’t just be open about buying this product. It’s not necessarily socially accepted at this point.”
Overcoming The Problem Of Sex Toy Stigma
Ultimately articles like 'The Double Feeling' Visits A Very Creepy Fleshlight Factory In Vegas' exacerbate the problem of sex toy stigma instead of helping it. Sex toys, and the politics that surround them, is definitely something that needs more publicity and more discussion in order to remove the stigma.
However, the problem is when article’s like the above have less a vibe of “Let’s explore this weird and interesting world of sex toys!” and more of a vibe of “Let’s act like giggly teenagers visiting a sex store and pretending we’re weirded out by it.” At the end of the day sexual pleasure is a human right, and it sucks that there are groups within our communities that are shamed out of being able to have happy sex lives. Anyone should be free to purchase a fuckable jelly “nondescript” orifice without being shamed about their sex life.
Want to read about sex toys? Vice do some great articles on them! They did one last year on male sex toys except instead of finding them “kind of upsetting” they happily proclaimed that “It's time for your prostate to party”! There’s also a wealth of underground sex blogs! Go read Oh Joy Sex Toy, and Girl on the Net! But for fuck’s sake stop reading hashed out shame-y media with shitty handheld-filmed docs.
You deserve better than this.