Ode to a pink dolphin vibe

10 Apr

Pin Up Sundae wrote an interesting opinion piece on EdenCafe recently about how sex toys reinforce gender stereotypes.

…The animals found commonly in designs marketed towards women reinforce their ‘femininity’ – the delicate butterfly, the cute rabbit, the dreamy dolphin and the beaver with its nod and wink to modern slang. Men on the other hand are given robust and masculine animals on their toys, if they’re present at all. You can find a cock ring featuring an elephant, bull or horse to underline the strength and power of the penis, but you’re unlikely to find a vibe sporting the same animals, or aspiring to associate the same qualities with a vagina!”

It’s very hard to find cheap sex toys geared towards women in neutral colors.  All of my first toys were in distinctively feminine pinks and purples.  I avoided dual action vibes altogether because I couldn’t find any under $20 that didn’t have a rabbit on them.  While the rabbits in dual action vibes serve a functional purpose (those ears intensify vibration) it does not explain why the prevalence of toys like the Hello Kitty pocket rocket by Sanrio Co or the I Rub My Wormie by Big Tease Toys.  This degree of child-like imagery and animalism does not exist in toys for men.

Sundae also wrote,

“Whilst I understand some may find toys with a non-realistic look a less intimidating way to enter the world of sex toys and that they can be a fun novelty item, they’re also implicitly reinforcing certain gender stereotypes. This is not only reflected in the shapes chosen for some of these items, but also the fact that come in a range of often stereotypical/childish colour palettes – baby pinks or hot pinks, purples, pastels and flecked with glitter. There is nothing at all wrong with having a preference for these colours; it’s simply interesting to note that there are rarely any other options when purchasing inexpensive toys.” [emphasis added]

Having just gotten back from a Brown Bag Party, I was thinking along very similar lines.  Although I’ve  noticed a decrease in hyper-femininity and hyper masculinity in higher-end sex toys, it’s really hard to find cheap sex toys for women that aren’t in the same color-scheme as Barbie’s accessories.  Part of this is because many of the cheaper toys are geared towards people buying their first sex toy, so there’s a big priority to make the toys less intimidating.   What I don’t understand is why the best way to make the toys less intimidating is to hyper feminize or masculinize them.  I can understand how animalistic themes would be used to make sex toys more deniable in areas where they are illegal, it does not explain why there is significantly less animalistic imagery in toys for women than in toys for men.

Although they’re hard to find, there are cheap gender-nonconforming toys geared towards beginners.  Bottle Rocket’s Orion comes in a brilliant fire-truck red, but it’s geared towards women!  There’s also a number of cock rings and masturbators that come in lighter colors and gem-tones.  The Tickling Tongue Ring by WHK GmbH come in pink, and the Stoker bud by Cal Exotics comes in the shape of a flower.

These toys definitely aren’t the norm, but I hope they’re a sign of change.

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