Jan 052012
 

or

A Guide to Sex Toy Reviewers: Stop Using Achievement Levels When Recommending a Sex Toy as Good or Bad

It seems all too common in the reviewing community to label a crappy/weak vibrator as being “great for beginners”. I’m sure I even did it at some point when I first started reviewing, but that doesn’t excuse it.

STOP DOING THIS.

Just because someone is new to sex toys doesn’t automatically mean that they need or want a weak, surface-buzzy vibrator. Stop using this as a means to sugar-coat a crappy toy. You can surely say that someone who is very sensitive to vibrations and prefers subtle, gentle sensations would like that vibration that feels like a fairy blowing in the vicinity of your clit from a distance. That’s valid. But a beginner to sex toys is not always (frequently not) a beginner to sex or masturbation. In fact I might be so bold as to say that many women who are buying their first vibrator are looking for something to help them get off because they’ve not had great luck on their own. That was definitely the case with me. I purchased a few shitty, weak vibes back then and I’m so glad that they weren’t they first vibrators or else I might have given up totally, thinking that what I needed wasn’t out there. Because, of course, those shitty, weak vibes were heaped praises on the sites I bought them from for their strength and “perfect for everyone!” weasel words.

As a reviewer you also should not assume that every slim/slender vibrator is great for beginners. Again, they’re new to sex toys. Not necessarily penetration. And of course even the most well-honed sex-loving person doesn’t necessarily love/want/need girth. Many simply don’t. Conversely, many do. Base your recommendations not on someone’s “skill” level or familiarity with sex toys – instead, base it off reality: word it as “If you are sensitive to vibrations, this would be good for you” or “If you prefer slender insertable toys, this is good for you”. You can and should talk about the size of the toy in relation to how easy it would be to hide it or simply warn them that it’s a beast – are some people intimidated by big honkin toys? Sure. But let’s not lump everyone together like that.

I mean, is there some secret RPG-esque ranking that I’m not aware of? Is there a level 1 Beginner, a level 4 Beginner, after which you’re a level 1 Intermediate user and finally after the purchase and/or use of X number of sex toys you hit the much-lauded rank of Advanced User?

What should a “sex toy for beginners” recommendation look like?

  • It should have multiple speeds/intensity levels so that they can figure out what they like and need
  • You should always do your best to differentiate between surface-buzzy and deep-rumbly vibrations and know what the difference is – once someone knows that the vibrator they hated was considered surface-buzzy they know to then look for a deep-rumbly one next
  • We should be steering them towards affordable yet body-safe materials – Jelly is not ok for beginners, it is not ok for anybody
  • We should not be advising them to plonk down over $150 on a singular toy if they own 2 or less toys. They don’t know yet what they need and what works best for them in terms of size, shape and vibration type/intensity
  • Ignore the size: Never say that a small or medium size toy is “good for beginners” just because of the size.

And for the love of holy sex toys, just stop sugar-coating reviews: call a spade a spade. It doesn’t help you as an affiliate because once you recommend a shitty toy to someone they won’t trust you in the future. And wouldn’t you want someone to steer you away from a vibrator that should not even be on the market, just like you’d want your friend to be honest and say “Honey, that pair of pants isn’t really flattering to you, let’s find something else”? I would. In fact that’s why and how I found sex toy reviews in the first place. I was so jaded and skeptical and wary of buying a toy that looked ok but I couldn’t tell what the vibrations were like and so I just started asking around in random places and it all led me to finding the blogger reviews (which were so much less saturated back then). And while a seasoned buyer eventually learns to take every review with a grain of salt and realize that what one person thinks is heaven inside silicone will be a piece of shit to someone else, that knowledge takes time, patience and a willingness to keep buying sex toys until they find The One. Or, The Five, whatever your heart desires.

All of this is why I have become unafraid to call out Lelo on their half-assed ventures their last two lines. They were the darling of the sex toy world in the beginning and everyone wanted one or seven of them. That reputation still exists. I think it still exists, in part, because we’re still inundated with too many shitty manufacturers and toys and we want, no need, to call a company Good. Worth It. We don’t have enough Good Eggs in the basket so when one starts to stink a little we perfume it up and try to believe – for ourselves and the sex toy world at large – that it’s still ok. It’s just one bad egg, right? When a company starts riding the coattails of their initial success then we need to pay attention and call that out.

What would I recommend as a good sex toy for beginners? First of all, a good bullet. And by “good” I don’t mean expensive. I mean something that has a variance in intensity levels, is deep and rumbly and isn’t so expensive that replacing it in a year is a hardship or hating it isn’t a waste of money. And then probably some sort of curved, insertable vibrator of silicone or plastic that is moderately priced, can be pull double duty and doesn’t require strange batteries.

  • http://macho-isms.com macho99

    guilty as charged. :P point(s) very well taken though. :)

  • Pip Hunn

    ” You can surely say that someone who is very sensitive to vibrations and prefers subtle, gentle sensations would like that vibration that feels like a fairy blowing in the vicinity of your clit from a distance.”

    That is possibly the single best sentence related to sex toys I’ve ever read. I literally exploded with giggles, disconcerting my housemates to no end.

  • http://elspethdemina.wordpress.com/ Elspeth Demina

    There are some things which I think worth noting are for those with experience. I run in kink circles, and just like inverted suspensions, or zippered play piercings are for experienced/advanced players, I see toys such as the Tantus Cowboy or most SquarePeg insertables as generally not being a good choice for someone who has little to no experience taking large objects in their rear orifice. That doesn’t mean that folk who are experienced fisting bottoms mightn’t be seeking such items, and I do like the terms “experienced” and “starting out” over “advanced” and “beginner”. It’s all in how one uses the terms as well. I think saying that a toy mightn’t be the best choice for someone who is a beginner to a certain experience, when experience is tantamount to safety in using the toy.

    For vibrators? I’m with you. Tell me about the sensation itself, and let me decide if it’s for me. I’m not a “beginner” with vibration, but I still don’t like like the Hitatchi. The type of intensity it has just isn’t my thing. Yet I love my Mystic Wand. Go figure, right? Vibrators don’t require experience to use them safely, beyond not taking a plugged-into-the-wall toy into the tub with you, which is basic LIFE experience and if someone doesn’t have that, there’s no helping them with a toy review really. Afterall, my father has a chainsaw that says “Do not stop chain with hands or genitals”. …

  • http://ofsexandlove.com adriana

    I tend to say things like “this will be good for beginners or people who don’t like their toys too big.” Saying anything is good for just one type/group of people sounds lacking to me. I like the “Or.” And while you’re right that a person who is new to toys may not be new to penetration, I think this often is the case. Any when you consider that a medium toy (1.5″ diameter, for example) is about average penis size, then that seems to make sense to me to say “this medium toy is good for a beginning of toys who has had sex before”.. Plus, with sex toys, there does seem a tendency to learn to use and love larger ones as time goes by, similar to how someone may become more picky with their toys and eventually more toward more expensive toys. So, with size at least, it’s not entirely baseless.