Sex toys. Has there ever been a better time to live (excepting the global pandemic)? Personal pleasure is just an arm’s length away without the usual issues like worrying about a sexually transmitted disease or heartbreak or pregnancy. Again, has there ever been a better time to live?
Sex toys used to be a major taboo subject wise let alone in terms of the ability to procure one. Boy, have things changed. Usage of sex toys has been on the rise worldwide and it is one of the few markets that have gotten a boost from the pandemic. The outbreak of covid-19 has positively influenced the growth of the market with factors such as lockdowns significantly increasing demand.
Female empowerment and product innovation
Perceptions of female sexuality are changing. Sex is no longer this shameful thing that women did for individual men and lose women did for a multitude of men. While it’s true that sex toys are not just for women, women dominate the market.
There are more sex toys designed for women than there are for men and while initially, the majority of the designers were male, things are changing and women designers are now rising in the industry. They are coming up with more creative designs beyond the standard penis shape. The sex toy designs provide female-specific pleasure.
Product innovation and the wide range of designs to pick from also means anyone can find a toy that is pleasurable for them. Toys are designed with inclusivity in mind so that there are some designed with disabled people in mind.
This embracing of female sexuality and female pleasure has allowed women to bravely pursue and embrace their own sexual pleasure. It has also meant women can take charge of their pleasure without relying on men (for heterosexual women) who historically and presently continue to fail to satisfy. The orgasm gap was a term coined to describe the disparity in orgasm between couples.
Heterosexual women consistently have the least number of orgasms with heterosexual men at the top of the pyramid as most likely to orgasm. The order from highest orgasm to least orgasm goes heterosexual men, gay men, bisexual men, lesbian women, bisexual women, and at the very bottom heterosexual women.
The reasons for this gap are varied, one of them being women have long been socialized to prioritize the desires and sexual pleasure of their partner and to view their own with shame. Men are also conditioned to view sex as over once they have achieved orgasm with their primary focus being on their own sexual experience. This is changing with sex toys giving women an opportunity to prioritize their own pleasure.
It’s worth noting that a lot of taboo and shame is still linked to male sex toys. Patriarchy and misogyny have given the world objectification and dehumanization of women for as long as anyone can remember. Male sex toy advertisements go out of their way to compare women to what we are to believe are sexually superior sex toys while missing no opportunity to denigrate women. This branding and framing of male sexuality and male sex toys do very little to put them in a good light strengthening the taboo and shame around them.
Accessibility through online stores
Ecommerce, the activity of buying and selling products or services over the internet has revolutionized how people shop and consume. There is less taboo about sex and related activities, but there is still taboo around it. Most people who would comfortably purchase a sex toy online may not so readily walk into a brick-and-mortar sex store on a busy street corner. The anonymity the online space affords combats any insecurity and shame people had of walking into a sex shop.
Online stores also mean accessibility so that commonly used sex toys like vibrators are much easier to get. A quick search online, select one within your price range and it’s delivered to you whether you are in a liberal country like the US or a developing country like Kenya.
Loneliness and isolation
Sex toys’ sales went up during the pandemic when people were forced to lockdown. At the same time, research shows that even before the pandemic hit and people were forced to isolate loneliness levels were steadily rising. People everywhere are overworked and isolated leading to what has been termed an epidemic of loneliness. The former US Surgeon General, Vivek Murphy as far back as 1997 referred to loneliness as a public health epidemic.
Globally, the cost of living is steadily rising as is the productivity of employees and the hours spent working, however, the wages are stagnant. This means people have to work more in order to barely survive which means they no longer have the time or energy to socialize and build relationships which in turn means they have to take care of their own needs, sexual or otherwise. This loneliness and isolation from others are some of the reasons the sales of sex toys rose during the pandemic.
Marriages are becoming less common globally and the figures are much lower among younger people. This makes sense when you consider that young people are the most financially precarious. They are just starting out in an increasingly unpredictable economic world that is prone to financial collapse. Jobs are decreasing and incomes are low while the cost of living is high.
This demographic is stressed and anxious and alone. Ignoring the connection between marriage and economic conditions or to put it broadly, ignoring the connection between relationships and economic conditions is shortsighted. People are stressed, overworked, broke, isolated, and lonely and all they have is them and their reliable vibrator or preferred sex toy to get them through this increasingly scary life. And ching ching ching… all the sex toys sellers laugh all the way to the bank.