Jun 152016
 

A telling conversation on Twitter about Lelo's feelings on our anger about partnering with Sheen for the Lelo Hex. When asked why they are working with someone who has assaulted women, Lelo responds by saying they are not endorsing his past, that this is about promoting condom usage and preventing STIs. How many new sex toys has Lelo put out in the last 3 years that have made reviewers wonder “Did they even test this on a human first?”. But hey, prototyping, that would be the smart way to go. It also costs money, so Lelo is going to avoid that. Instead, they’re going to continue to make products that are often more miss than hit; they’re going to hype them up and add gimmicks like scent or music-responsive capabilities. They’re going to angle for that celeb market that Jimmyjane tried to corner years ago with their Little Platinum and Little Gold vibrators – they’ve started offering 24K gold plated versions of their half-assed sex toys. They’ve made offensive ad campaigns but nothing has angered the sex-positive, feminist community (and, arguably, well beyond) like their Lelo Hex condom.

FYI: The links to other articles are worth full reads. I couldn’t make umpteen quotes from them all so trust me on this one: You want to read these.

Why? Because they chose to use a celebrity who has been charged with domestic abuse on partners time and time again. Sarah chronicles this well, starting off with this gem:

If you only know Charlie Sheen as a man of negligible talent whose body composition is probably 13% cocaine, you might not be familiar with the night he spent in jail after assaulting his then-wife, Brooke Mueller. This was in 2009. He was charged with felony menacing, third-degree assault, and “mischief”. He was released on $8,000 bond. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault as part of a plea bargain and never set foot in jail for this crime again.

The comments have been furious and plenty on social media. I gathered up just a very small fraction of the best tweets about the Lelo Hex debacle; it should give you a pretty good idea of the flaws people are finding with their decision to partner with Charlie Sheen AND their condom design which makes it pretty imperceptible that there’s a hole/break. Just what we all want, right?

Lelo’s response has been to basically not give any fucks about the haters and just continue on sticking their heads in the sand. As written in the New York Times

Steve Thomson, LELO’s chief marketing officer, said in an email that Mr. Sheen was “the perfect choice for LELO, a tragic reflection of the current situation in sexual health of today, but more importantly, a symbol of change with the strength and the courage to confront key issues head on.”

And that is really the heart of the problem, and my primary reason for putting them on my Blacklist. They give NO fucks about their retailers, the sex educators, the bloggers, and their customers. Don’t believe me? This comment on my post that details all of my grievances with Lelo over the years is from someone in the industry who needs to remain anonymous:

I think the thing that upsets me the most is that Lelo – or at least the individual(s) at Lelo that are in charge of creating the most recent rounds of campaigns – simply don’t care.

I don’t say that as a ‘they obviously don’t care as they’d be back tracking if they did’. I say that as someone who is acquainted with at least one individual who orchestrates these decisions, as far back as the Pino shitstorm. I watched their personal Twitter account and their interactions with their peers who were asking them WTF they were thinking. They were proud of it. They *are* proud of their Hex work, and have made that abundantly clear.

They. Don’t. Care.

Publicity is publicity to them – negative doesn’t matter. They referred to sex bloggers and educators who were rightfully questioning their decisions as ‘whiney SJWs’. Our opinions mean zero to them – and in fact, the more we tweet, the more they can say they’re the hottest topics of conversation.

They feel they are too big to fall, too trenched in the industry to lose out. The more attention, the better even if it’s folks throwing out their Lelo toys in mass droves and swearing off never working with them again.

They. Don’t. Care.

I am not supporting the Lelo Hex. As Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo aptly put it: “Safe sex is important, and everyone should wear a condom. It just doesn’t have to be this one.” I am not supporting Lelo. I’ve spent 2 years actively trying to recommend other brands to people instead of Lelo, but some items are just (unfortunately) better than the competition. Not many, but a few. However, every single review I have published for them will link to this post. Every extraordinarily reluctant and infrequent recommendation will come with this post as a warning. I am done reviewing their products; if you are a reader and want to know MY opinion on their new items….sorry. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.

2r6ft54

One more choice quote that I have to pull; from Menegus’ article at Gizmodo, linked above: [the Lelo demonstrator/employee?] also insisted on showing me that, once fully unrolled, the HEX has the word “respect” printed in some sort of latex bas relief at its base. “Respect, what?” I asked, genuinely unsure of the message’s implications. “Respect the man who wears it,” was his impromptu answer. 

Further reading: 

Molly’s Daily Kiss – Is it just a big Con dom?

Ninja Sexology- Hex no, Lelo

The CSPH – Video: Why The CSPH Store No longer stocks Lelo

A small sampling of the many people on Twitter who proclaimed outrage and/or boycotting promises when the announcement came out.

The comments to my Tumblr post show even more people boycotting Lelo – this goes beyond educators and bloggers

The Smitten Kitten: Writing about why they won’t be stocking Lelo products

Educator Jill McDevitt with her thoughts about Lelo, and her boycott

Cara Sutra: When a Condom Fails

UK shop Sh! writes about their feelings on the launch party and the choice of Charlie Sheen as the rep

Horny Geek Girl, another blogger boycotting Lelo

The Daily Beast: Charlie Sheen’s Lelo Condom gets the shaft from sex bloggers

Because this whole thing needs a theme song:

 Posted by at 6:46 pm
  • SickRose

    I really do like some of their products (What I wouldn’t give for a large smart wand!), but I don’t recommend brands I don’t like to customers and Lelo keeps putting themselves on the shit list. I used to be a big fan of them years ago, but ugh…this shit is just gross.

  • Narelle Perry

    Lelo have become a bad brand, right up their with pipedreams etc. It’s been happening for years, from scented vibes, disappointing marketing, and falling quality, yet increasing their prices to ridiculous levels (that’s coming from a POV of a retailer and customer). Now this, 1.using crowdfunding to support it, huh? A multi-million dollar making company using crowdfunding? 2.using Charlie Sheen…WTF?! Safer sex is important and the message continually needs sending, but using this guy? I don’t get it. Lelo have lost their way.

  • Tzipora

    Wait, they’re using crowdfunding for the condoms yet also promising free ones to anyone who signs up for their email list? That doesnt even make sense.

    I follow a lot of freebie sites and whatnot and I keep seeing posts about their Hex condoms. Don’t think anyone has actually gotten one for free but the amount of people who have signed up because of the freebie offer must be staggering. Very curious to see how they handle that. If they can send out tens of thousands of free condoms then how exactly do they justify crowdfunding at all? I mean obviously there’s also the point that it’s fucking Lelo so that begs the same question but sheesh. And im not even gonna approach the other issues…

  • Narelle Perry

    It’s on Indiegogo. They were only wanting 12K…but they’re up to $133K now eek. I wasn’t aware they giving away condoms. If they do, well, every businesses wants to look community spirited, but it feels a bit like politicians coming out and kissing the babies lol Is the condom so bad it needs a complete overhaul like they’re saying? lol If they just get rid of Charlie sheen, I’d be much happier.

  • gheewizzers

    The condoms arent free (they make you pay 1 dollar for a 3 pack “freebie”) I’m in the process of getting my money refunded after seeing this, other articles, and rereading the product page… I’m just terrified that a condom can be pierced and still look fine. I know its possible in a “normal condom” but making it even harder for you to tell? not good…

  • Done! :)

  • Darla Smith

    Well, lelo products are good but, too bad for them they chose to work with a man who commuted domestic violence. I hope this wont affect their market.

  • For some people they may be good, but there are better brands out there and other vibrators to choose from. I don’t feel that they’re good enough and I don’t see how this won’t affect their market. In fact I hope to hell it does because it’s the only way they will see that what they did was WRONG.

  • Brilliant! This latest fuckery from them has on contemplating dumping the whole line. As a boutique retailer I KNOW they could not care less about me and my business so why do we bother?!?!

  • Well “technically” you’re not one of “those” stores (sticky-floor, I guess they meant? I don’t know) so maybe they’d care MORE?? https://www.facebook.com/sugarjacq/posts/10153727797484639?pnref=story.unseen-section

    Who knows. I’ve heard from some online retailers that their rep is rude af and horrible to deal with.

  • With all the progress that’s been made in the industry, this ‘new’ condom is like taking 15 steps back. Speaking of new, they need a new slogan. How about ‘Lelo – Increasing Unplanned Pregnancies Since 2016!’ *shakes head*

    I get what they’re trying to create, and great the condom doesn’t actually ‘break’… but If we don’t know there’s a hole in the condom how do we know to take it off and put a new one on? Sperm are microscopic and *can* get through. Honestly, who ever thought that one up as a marketing technique should be demoted.

    Maybe if the video showed that even a pin couldn’t poke through they’d have something to be proud of – *that* would be revolutionary. But this? No. Just no. Terrible, terrible marketing.

    Besides that, It’s not like all the other condoms are garbage. Most of them don’t feel like much now anyways. This was unnecessary on so many different levels.

    As for the whole Charlie Sheen issue, I’m just disgusted. *washes hands of everything Lelo*