It occurred to me recently that the attitude I have towards sex toys has changed drastically in the last ten years. But is it because I’m older and wiser, or is it just that there are so many more amazing sex toys on the market than there were back in 2007?
Sex toys in my 20s: exciting but simple
I still remember the first sex toy I
ever bought. And it might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t a
vibrator. While many girls have their first sex toy experience with a
bullet or a
rabbit vibrator, the first one I shopped for was a
strap-on dildo. Yeah. I KNOW. I was pretty lucky.
I’d ventured into sex toy shops a
little with my first boyfriend, but we’d end up just coming out with
a stash of
condoms or lube. I think on one occasion we ventured into
the ‘sexy DVDs’ section of our local shop and wandered out with some
not-very-hardcore porn. But the first actual toy I bought was in the
first year of university, when a guy I was sleeping with drove me to
a seedy-looking place on the outskirts of the city and we bought a
big dildo with an elastic harness.
It was pretty awesome, and somehow made
even sexier by the fact that the shop hid the purchase on the debit
card under the shop name ‘DIY solutions.’ An amazing piece of
euphemism if ever I heard one.
From then on, new toys were bought
mostly by the guy I was with – he had more money than I did, while
my student loan was a bit stretched even eating only beans on toast.
ben wa balls, anal vibrators, and he bought me my first ever
rabbit. A toy I loved so much I shagged through at least a hundred AA
batteries in the first year of owning it.
But back then sex toys were often very
simple, and the thrill of them came from the fact that they did new
and interesting things. They were also things I wanted to hide from
people – I’d be horrified if a flatmate walked into my room at uni
to see a dildo displayed on my desk (which happened more times than
I’d have liked – I am a bit rubbish at tidying). What’s more, the
toys were very specifically things I would only talk about with a
partner. Whispers of ‘what do you think about trying this…?’ late
at night, in the dark.
Sex toys in my 30s
The main difference with sex toys in my
30s is that I have abandoned a lot of the shame or secrecy I used to
have around sex toys. Things which I’d have kept hidden from view ten
years ago are now often either displayed around my house or left
drying in a line alongside the bath. I’d probably do a whip-round to
take them off display when my parents came round, but friends I know
and love enough to invite to my house are not only OK with seeing sex
toys, they also frequently ask for recommendations.
Buying sex toys now isn’t about
whispered conversations and secret credit-card transactions either. I
buy sex toys in the same way I buy new household gadgets and
appliances – looking at reviews, comparing different brands, and
weighing up all the options. This is partly because these days I care
more about quality. When I was in my 20s sex toy selection was about
deciding what I wanted – a
butt plug, say – and then picking the
cheapest one available in my local sex shop. Perhaps one of the
greatest things the internet has done for me is make it possible for
me to make active choices about the sex toys I buy, rather than being
limited to a few options bought in a rush because I’m nervous about
being in a seedy-looking shop.
Are these differences all down to my
age and wisdom? I don’t think so. Although I definitely have a more
mature attitude to sex toys in my 30s (I’m unlikely to giggle at a
sex toy unless it’s particularly weird-looking), the main thing
that’s changed is that sex toys have simply got
better. The difference between a good rabbit vibrator in 2007 and a
good rabbit vibrator in 2017 is almost as great as the difference
between a Nokia 3310 and an iPhone 7. Sex toy manufacturers are
coming out with toys that are more innovative, powerful and downright
beautiful than the options that were on offer before. And the fact
that you can buy them online at sites like this means there’s no need
to go hunting for your local seedy shop with boarded-up windows if
you want to browse the options.
It’s partly because the world has moved
on – at least some of the credit is down to amazing sex educators
who have been successfully spreading the word that masturbation is
fun and normal, and sex toys are a great way to enhance it. But it’s
also partly driven by the fact that more people are listening to that
message and actually buying sex toys. The more people who buy, the
more manufacturers (and distributors) can invest in coming up with
even more new and better things.
In my 20s, the sex toy industry was a
bit like I was: trying hard but not quite there yet. In my 30s, the
sex toy industry has blossomed like I have into a discerning and
innovative pervert. Long may this trend continue.