Men Shouldn't Be Afraid of Sex Toys
We’ve only recently as a nation become comfortable with the concept of masturbation as a normal and healthy activity. And only a few among us have been brave enough to facilitate the means to ensure that everybody who can masturbate, will masturbate.
Stigma is tough to dissipate.
Yet, as we make cultural headway, we're missing one milestone that leaves men high and dry. That’s right, it’s still considered weird for guys to use sex toys.
Before the Fleshlight: turn-of-the-century sex toys
Despite what you may have read in the early days of the Internet, the Nazis most likely did not have a hand in the creation of sex dolls.
The earliest recorded account of a manufactured sex doll comes from Iwan Bloch's book The Sexual Life of Our Time and goes into comically graphic detail about how one would use said sex doll for their own pleasure: “...the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature… by means of a ‘pneumatic tube’ filled with oil. Similarly, by means of fluid and suitable apparatus, the ejaculation of the semen is imitated.”
Since 1908, we’ve made progress by leaps and bounds, blessing the world with RealDolls, Fleshlights, prostate massagers, guybrators, and even... feet you can have sex with (everyone has their thing!). This should go without saying, but all these links are extremely NSFW, by the way.
Perhaps it’s because vibrators have been in production since the eighteenth century -- by way of steam-powered fuck machines -- but it is now commonplace to assume a woman owns a sex toy of some kind.
When the very same conversation revolves around men, the results are quite unsettling.
Where does the stigma come from?
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with jerking off using something aside from one’s hand.
“I think the stigma exists because guys who are interested in jerking off are considered guys who aren't getting laid, and there is nothing more emasculating on our culture than the idea of a guy who isn't knee deep in pussy at all time,” says writer, Brian Moylan, who has tackled the subject previously.
Regularly exercising that part of the body can actually ward off erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer -- plus, it’s super fun to do. With the benefits of the female orgasm being just as compelling it’s surprising that men can’t get away with even as something as innocuous as a latex mouth hidden in a soda can.
The company Hot Octopuss challenges conventions by steering away from the sex toys that overtly bear a resemblance to the female anatomy, potentially leading the owners of said toys feeling ostracized.
“The majority of male toys have been designed to look phallic and to as closely as possible replicate the action that a man would normally experience with a partner,” says Adam Lewis of Hot Octopuss, “This has led to the perception that if a man uses a sex toy that he must be a little perverted, desperate or unable to find a partner.”
This rings true, too, with men like Brian Sloan -- the guy who unleashed the Autoblow 2 and 3Fap upon the world. “A lot of sex toy companies think they need to put sexual images on the package and I never really saw that.
People’s idea of what turns them on is so different; it’s really limiting to make the product about sexual imagery.”
'A healthy part of sexual expression'
Overly sexual or not, it shouldn’t be an issue for men -- or anyone -- to have their kinks.
“If there was only one way to do any one thing, life certainly wouldn’t be very interesting!” says Steve Thomson, the CMO of LELO, a Swedish brand making huge strides with sex toys, BDSM accessories, and massage products.
“Male sensuality and self-pleasure seems to be treated by many as something of a joke, a crude one at that...”
“Our sexual preferences, just like our sexual practices, develop and change over time, and when so many of us begin exploration of our sexual selves as young adults, it really doesn’t make sense to stop that exploration once we become older and enter into more serious relationships. Men, just as women, can change up the ‘pleasure-routines’ that it’s so easy to fall into and treat their sexuality as something important to discover on their own and with their partner through the use of sex toys to keep the spark burning hot.”
That’s one thing to keep in mind, too; the fact that men can get just as bored with the same old routine as anyone else. With the distinct lack of clitoris in the male anatomy leaving men to practice the same routine over and over, it’s no wonder that devices like the LOKI prostate massager exists. Men need more.
“Male sensuality and self-pleasure seems to be treated by many as something of a joke, a crude one at that,” Thomson says. “Perhaps it’s due to the (false) characterization of men as slaves to their libidos, particularly as it develops during their adolescence, and the idea that men masturbate only in lieu of having sex... obviously this is no more true of men than it is of women; male masturbation is a healthy part of sexual expression when performed solo or with a partner.”
The male libido
Perhaps that’s the answer -- the idea that men are “slaves to their libidos,” while assuming women simply put up with it. This way of thinking, now egregiously tired and out-of-date, limits both men and women in their sexual conquests. It’s the kind of thinking that labels women as “sluts” when they sleep around while shrugging and saying “boys will be boys” when men do the same.
“Sure, the phallus is much easier to stimulate than lady parts,” Moylan noted. “It being completely on the outside of the body and all, but it doesn’t mean boys can’t get as much from a sex device as ladies can… ladies have a far more than guys ever do [and] if there is one area in the world where women have more choice and opportunity than guys do, then it is in the sex toy aisle.
Masturbation for men is just as intricate and complicated as it is for women. The honest-to-god option of simply wanting more shouldn’t be scoffed at or laughed at… even when this "more" manifests itself into a toy that looks exactly like a vagina or bears resemblance to the business end of a bazooka.
So, how does one get over the awkwardness of a sex toy? Try it.
“The best way to get over the stigma of a sex toy is to use one, says Moylan in a candid email exchange with yours truly, “And not one of those cheap fake vaginas you buy at the sex shop. I mean a real good one. I've had some of the best orgasms of my life thanks to sex toys. I suggest the Pulse by Hot Octopus which will make a guy come so hard he might never recover (in the best possible way) or the Tenga Flip which feels like putting your dick in pure magic.”
Pure magic? Who would want to deny anyone (including themselves) something like that.
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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and doesn't actually feel shame.