BY LYNSEY G.
Sex toys have long been considered the purview of single females alone in their bedrooms. Until the advent of the Fleshlight a few years ago, sex toys for hetero, cisgendered men weren’t big players on the scene, and though there are many "male masturbator" sleeves on the market these days, their numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of pleasure products for women.
To make matters more complicated, many female-directed novelties advertise themselves as making men "obsolete" in the bedroom: the vibrator in the nightstand has come to represent a barely-animate rival to straight guys hoping to please a female lover. The tension between men and their partners’ sex toys is a storied truth of the modern sexual marketplace: Whereas women’s columns are full of tips on "how to get your guy to use your sex toy on you," there have been relatively few products that seemed to actively invite both partners to play equally in the sex toy experience.
But after attending the Sexual Health Expo in Los Angeles, then the Adult Novelty Expo and Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month, I’m happy to report that this tension is starting to evaporate, overcome by technological advancements. Not only are there more sex toys than ever on the market for men to enjoy, there’s also a burgeoning market for couples-friendly toys. Toys that are made for use by men on women, toys that are made to be used by women on men, and (finally!) toys that aren’t so damn gender--or sex-specific, which can be used by people of numerous body types and genders in any sort of solo or relationship configuration you want!
Here are some of the new and enduring oldies-but-goodies that caught my eye at the expos, listed alphabetically. Go forth, reader, and explore:
1. Bad Dragon Enterprises: For the fantasy-obsessed individual or couple with a taste for the bizarre. I mean the coolest, weirdest dragon dongs, unicorn dicks, T. Rex johnsons, disembodied tentacles, and a variety of wildly imaginative masturbation sleeves for the male-bodied people, too. They’re way weirder than you’ve ever imagined--and they’re even customizable! (I love these.)
"Bad Dragon was founded in June 2008 out of a shared love of all things fantasy. At the time there was a very poor selection of fantasy-themed toys available, and so the focus of enthusiasm and talent went towards filling that niche."
2. Chakrubs: for the earthy, slightly witchy, possibly hippie person or couple who digs crystals and rocks. (This is basically me.) These buds and wands are designed for use by anyone who likes inserting things into their body.
"Chakrubs are sex toys made from 100% pure crystal that brings a sense of sacredness to your playtime. These beautiful, hand-crafted tools are created with the intention of opening oneself up to the healing properties crystals provide."
3. Crystal Delights: For the socially-conscious, luxury-enjoying person or couple with an eye for shiny things, cosplayers, and those with furry tendencies who enjoy butt play. Crystal Delights makes butt plugs and dildos of gorgeous, hand-made glass featuring Swarovski crystals and/or real or faux fur tails (think bunnies, foxes, and My Little Pony, among others). They also make dilators for those who need help opening up, who experience sexual dysfunction, or who are in the process of sexual reassignment. And they have an entire line of toys that raise money for cancer research.
"At Crystal Delights…we want our customers to think of our adult glass art as the equivalent of a Tiffany & Company creation. Countless hours go into the research and development of our products, while keeping quality of materials used, safety and enjoyment, and of course the beauty of the glass and its adornments at the forefront of our process."
4. Curve Novelties: For the ergonomically-friendly individual or couple. Curve designs toys for all body types, including toys that can be used by multiple types of bodies, including plus-sized, pregnant, male, female, or not quite either!
"We cherish our Curves and our goal is to give each and every sexual being a reason to love our Curves as well. To that end, the utmost time and care goes into the creation of our toys…We want everyone to find pleasure in our products—after all, every body deserves the best!"
5. Impulse Novelties’ Closet Collection: For the stylish, design-loving person or couple. The Closet Collection specializes in toys that can be used by men and/or women, together or alone--especially their Black Door Collection. Also, check it out, they have a "What Closet Collection Toy Are You?" quiz!
"Sex toys are great for couples too. Not all vibrators are just for solo use. Introducing sex toys into a relationship can not only enhance intimacy between you and your partner, it can also add a new lease of life to your bedroom activities. Sex toys allow us to discover new pleasures. When you’re able to share that with your partner, you are well on your way to an exciting and more fulfilling sex life."
6. Maia Toys: for the holistic, wellness-minded, color-therapy-loving person or couple. These are primarily female-body-oriented (though there are a few designed for male bodies, as well). Their colorful, sleek, and innocuous designs make them shoo-ins for use by couples.
"Color greatly arouses human emotion and behavior. Colors can evoke certain feelings…When Maia Toys creates new pleasure objects, color plays an important role. While the materials, shape, and functionality are all very important, color is front and center. Using color, Maia Toys help evoke the desired feelings when using our products."
7. Time to Squirt: For the couple with a woman in it who wants to squirt. That’s about it. But what a crazy idea! They developed a watch that the penetrating partner can wear while pleasing the penetrated partner, which indicates when the hand and wrist movements are correct for bringing on female ejaculation. The woman at the booth swore to me that she has never seen it fail. I’m skeptical, but I’m also extremely intrigued.
"We started Orgasmic Research with a goal of bringing mind blowing pleasure to millions of women around the world. We tried out 100’s of different techniques & device designs before we developed the patent pending Squirt Watch. We have tested this with well over 1000 women and we are now pleased to bring it to you."
8. The Tréasor novelty line from Over the Top Toys. Sadly, Tréasor has not launched yet, so I can’t link you to them. But I really want you to know about them. Tréasor makes products like I have never seen before. Some are very female-specific, like the French Kiss, which looks like an ear or urinal, but which is the first female-bodied toy I’ve ever seen that I feel 100% certain could make me orgasm--and take care of any mess I might make. There’s also the Olivaire, which looks like a little dinosaur that could be used by a man or a woman and would deliver to both. And then there’s the Duet, specifically designed for use on both male and female bodies in a couples environment. I’m so excited about these toys I’m putting out a heads-up for all readers! Watch out for these toys!
9. We-Vibe: The We-Vibe, in its many forms, has been around for years now, but it revolutionized the couples sex-toy market. The original We-Vibe won every award there is to win and was featured on Oprah, way back before Oprah was always talking about sex toys. It’s made to be worn internally by a partner during penetration, and it’s something else entirely.
"Bruce and Melody had a mission. They founded Standard Innovation Corporation and Bruce dedicated himself to the enormous – and enormously important – task of creating a safe, high quality, eco-friendly sexual aid that enhances the love-making experience for couples. Many years and thousands of design iterations later, the ideal solution was found."
Lynsey G. is a writerly type with an interest in sex, feminism, pornography, and paisley print. Her work across multiple genres has appeared in Bitch Magazine, Refinery 29, Nerve.com, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, xoJane, the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Menacing Hedge, and elsewhere . The winner of a 2013 Feminist Porn Award for her documentary film "Consent: Society" and an avid defender of the Oxford comma, she's currently blogging at LynseyG.com and working on a graphic novel, a poetry chapbook, and a memoir of her time as a reporter for the adult entertainment industry (forthcoming from Overlook Press).