Why Is Buying Sex Products Taboo?

One of society’s favorite things to do is to tell people — particularly women — what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies. For example, being polite classically involves never talking about periods or sex products. We’ve come a long way in recent years in how we view sex and sexuality. Why is buying a product like a vibrator still so taboo?

Sex Toy Taboo


A Brief History of Your Pulsating Buddy

The history of sex toys involves a lot of code words. Decades ago, women relied on a plug-in-the-wall kind of “Old Faithful” vibrator, but the plug-in wasn’t always so travel-friendly.

Thanks to Sex and the City, the “Rabbit” eventually became popularized. It was one of the most revolutionary sex toys ever invented. Since then, we’ve seen an array of sex toys hit the market, coming in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. Nowadays, we have new and improved products like the Hitachi magic wand, which features a ton of attachments.

Vibrators are also becoming increasingly less pink, which is cool because it recognizes that many people enjoy the use of sex toys (even though pink doesn’t have to be associated with femininity… but that’s a rant for another day).

Sex and the City


Lots of People Enjoy Vibrators

It’s time to learn a trade secret that society (read: the patriarchy) has also kept quiet about — men enjoy vibrators, too! Gasp. Even for cis couples, a vibrator can add stimulation for equal pleasure between genders, affecting various sex organs with the vibration, but men of any sexual orientation enjoy sex toys with and without a partner.

As of 2009, the number of men and women of various ages who used a vibrator was split down the middle. While 50 percent of women had used a vibrator, 45 percent of men had used a vibrator, too —and that includes men of various sexual orientations. Men who used vibrators were actually more likely to report sexual satisfaction and good function and participation in sexual health behaviors, such as exams for testicular cancer.

Nowadays, there are even “holy vibrators” for religious folks. Kosher Sex Toys are also a thing. The UK site, LoveHoney, sells enough lubricant annually to substitute for all of the water used in an average family of four for two months — or 27,000 liters. It also sells an average of four products every minute, every single day. That’s a lot of sex products. Sexual stimulation devices are the highest-selling products among men.


The Time Has Come to Normalize

Just as there shouldn’t be a taboo surrounding periods and tampons, there shouldn’t be a taboo around sex toys and sex products in general. We shouldn’t have to whisper about “personal massagers” in stores, especially when we know that the companies are clearly listening. Very slowly, personal massagers and sexual enhancement devices are getting into major health food stores and retailers like Target and Walmart, as sexual satisfaction becomes more and more of a market for competitors.

There’s clearly progress being made, and we should be able to talk more openly about sex as a society. Kids grow up learning that this is something we talk about in hushed voices and use various code words for. However, if we openly discussed sex as what it actually is — a very normal part of our human existence — maybe we wouldn’t have so many issues with the way sex is framed in the media, and how that subsequently impacts young people. With enough awareness, the taboo should eventually lift, and buying batteries for your vibrator will be as boring as buying batteries for your flashlight.

Sex Toy Taboo

Article by Kate Harveston, Journalist and Freelance Writer

Blog: Only Slightly Biased

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