An Open Letter to the Sex Toy Industry
As I sit here in yesterday’s clothes and a forehead wrinkle that would make most upper class women instinctively reach out to rub it smooth and tell me the wonders of Botox, darling, I’m really happy that I have a job where I can sit here at home and do a little work and then do a little of this or that and put in my time in snippets. It works around my doctor visits and my grocery shopping and my trips to see/help my mother1. Some days it leads me to sex toys and sex toy manufacturers that absolutely disgust me; some days it simply leads me to companies that merely annoy me because of their cheesy crap and half-ass site; other days I’m shown the better side and see that there is good in the sex toy world.
I will start out addressing the small companies, the niche companies who are ultimately good eggs with products ranging from pretty decent to admirable. I write this post not to just let off some steam but with the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe…….just maybe….some of these words will land on the right computer screen and be taken to heart. Maybe one change will happen.
Dear Small Company;
You are trying hard. You are fighting the good fight, perhaps. You are making your items out of body-safe materials and you are not trying to pass off a wolf in sheep’s clothing as an innocent lamb2. But your online presence is really fucking important. Your website is super fucking important. As a customer I want photos and I want details. Lots and lots of details. I want to know the every dimension and exactly how it works. I don’t want some artistic/”French”/mysterious website that is more about the visual than the information. I can see your item or your kit and yet I have no fucking idea what exactly it is? I’m not going to buy it. As a person working for a reseller I want high quality photos of every item and every color and even more details than I’d want as a customer. Why do you make our jobs hard, when all we want to do is sell your product? How can we underlings write up your great products so that Consumer Joe Schmoe who doesn’t know jelly from silicone can see that they’re better and that they should buy your item instead of some dodgy crap from the Walmart-equivalents3 of sex toy manufacturing?
Update your site. Make it easy to browse and easy to read. Sure, go for your artistic merit but don’t let it take over the main goal: Showcasing your worthy sex toy product and telling us why it’s worth twice the money for what looks like the same thing from the Big Guys. Don’t skimp on the information about you and the toy. At all.
Dear Middle-but-good Company;
You’ve managed to become a name. A brand that people trust. You use silicone and I trust you that it’s actually and honestly 100% medical grade silicone. Now I will fully admit to not knowing a damn thing about how your stuff is manufactured and why your dildos cost as much as my monthly cable-slash-phone bill4 so I don’t feel that I can whine about them being so pricey. But it is really hard to sell your product to those people who haven’t learned their lesson yet or just are too cheap to care – all they see is $55/$75 for a sex toy when hey there’s one over there for $19.95! Some of those people will eventually learn; maybe after their doctor explains that the burning redness is from that dildo, or maybe after a storage mishap and their dildo melts.
Dear Luxury Sex Toy Manufacturers;
Despite being a toy snob, I’m not really a fan of you on the whole. Sometimes I am, like with Njoy but then they kinda fall into the small-niche moreso than luxury. But Njoy at least lives up to their price tag. You luxury guys….eh. You’re all about the bells and whistles and the super pretty packaging. A vibrator that you can customize to your preferred shape or rotation is impressive on paper but when I actually go to use it and find that all your promises are as useless as a fake Hallmark card? I’m gonna be harsh and pissed that I spent (or theoretically spent if given it for review) upwards of $100 on your sex toy, thinking that for sure YOU got me and finally…something good.
To you I have two things to say: Let your products speak for themselves – and save the buyers money by cutting back on that fancy ass packaging and the brooch5 and the extras. Second, for fucks sake gimme a better vibrator motor! If the cheap shit companies can use a motor that produces vibrations that go beyond tickling the surface of my skin so can you. The women and men who are buying your toys are not delicate fucking flowers. Put a decent motor in there that produces a vibration to be proud of, dammit, and then the controls for multiple speeds will make everyone happy – from the delicate flowers to the tough cookies. I do not like or support Doc Johnson on the whole (as an example) but unfortunately they make a couple bullet vibrators that are perfect – motor-wise. Zini, Lelo, Je Joue, JimmyJane, Nomi Tang, and others who create different/fun/new/pretty/innovative sex toys: I’d be backing you if your motors weren’t as limp as a wet noodle 9 times out of 10.
Dear Big Boys who’ve been around since the internet was invented and then some;
I’mma go ahead and name names right here – I’ve said this all before, it will come as no shock and I am not shy in voicing my disgust. CalExotics. Pipedreams. You guys make a lot of shitty products, some downright offensive products, and some eh products. I don’t trust you, I don’t like you. But you’re a big company and you’re everywhere. You have the Walmart angle. All of a sudden your previously labeled “jelly” toy is now suddenly body-safe non-porous TPR? Nope. Don’t believe you. Especially when it still fucking stinks to high heaven. Your perpetuation of disgusting gender stereotypes and bad ideas that you sell with copy that would make your own mother blush and you justify it by saying that it’s flying off the shelves so it’s what guys want6 and by golly you gotta give the people what they WANT! Fuck that. Have some fucking integrity. Topco, Doc Johnson – you might have some (minor) redeeming qualities/products but overall you’re crap. You, too, are contributing to the unsafe materials and shoddy mechanics and the bottom line is that you don’t care. You are a politician.
I can’t say anything to the powers that be in your companies. You will never EVER change. All I can hope for is that somehow those of us who know better are able to drown out your voice with the voices of the people who care and who are trying to produce something with integrity rather than make a buck.
Dear Resellers/Retail Stores who are determined to carry every product made;
I get it. You’re in this to make money. You’re one of a million other sites and the competition is stiff. But really, do you have to lower your standards and put flowery copy writing on utter shit and sell the items that might actually cause cancer, or at the very least are a colossal waste of the consumers money? Adam & Eve was the first site I bought a sex toy from. But when those first two sex toys quickly showed their ugly underbelly I lost faith in them as a whole. And I never shopped there again. You can make money AND have integrity. It requires a little more hard work, though. The internet isn’t the land of the quick, easy buck anymore.
I’ve been reviewing sex toys for 3 years. I’ve reviewed more than some people, but far fewer than others (which is probably because after the first year I was reluctant to review something that I just knew I wouldn’t like and it’s hard to review item after item that leaves you jaded and I’m not easy to please – but I’m not impossible either. I just refuse to sugarcoat a half-ass product). I’ve seen a lot. I’ve grown to know that I don’t have to put a positive, happy spin on every review I do even if the product wasn’t my thing or is overpriced. Would it help pad my bank account, as an affiliate? Sure it would. But that isn’t the reason I started reviewing toys and I’m going to be blunt. If that means I am the only person on the web saying that the latest high-tech Lelo toy is a sopping wet disappointment? So fucking be it. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be real and save other people like me the money.
It’s heartbreaking to see the little companies die. Jollies LLC made some great sex toys and they were really innovative without trying too hard (Zini, Je Joue, etc). Their products were at once simple yet unique yet just what we needed at the quality we wanted. But they went the way of the little corner bookstore after a Barnes and Noble moved in two blocks down. And it’s sad.
Jaded but Hopeful (in a cheerful Comic Sans font)
(If you are a “recipient” of one of these letters, for once I will allow companies to comment on a post. I generally don’t because they’re usually just trying to get a free link but if you are genuine in your response then I’ll post it. But don’t be offended if I remove the link to your company’s site and please….use your real name in the comment name field, and not the name of your company)
- Despite of course the fact that I can’t/don’t feel comfortable telling her exactly what I am doing and who for because I really don’t want to have that conversation and she’s a very suspicious woman of all things internet ↩
- I’m looking at you, CalExotics, publicly proclaiming that ALL of your TPR and PVC and “Cyberskin” and other squiffy hybrids are all free of phthalates and are totally body safe. For trying to say even that all your TPR is non-porous when I’d bet it isn’t because you’re too cheap and only in this to make money ↩
- I would consider this to be large companies who produce thousands of various items at low cost, mark them up 300%, don’t care what materials they’re using, mass-produce with shoddy quality control and are around because they were they first and they simply have the most stuff at places like Rt 15 Adult Book Store. Companies like California Exotic Novelties, Doc Johnson, Topco, Pipedream, BMS Enterprises, and Nasstoys. ↩
- and no, I don’t have Vonage ↩
- Yeah I’m talkin to you, Lelo, with that Insignia line that looks really fancy but is actually just plastic and mediocre vibrations ↩
- Yes, I’m talking to you, Pipedreams, with your “cum dumpster” copy on overpriced body parts ↩