In the past few years, there’s been a secret invasion that’s threatening us all. It’s coming into our homes through our mail slots, and to the tune of an insistent hum, has the power to threaten our health and sanity. I’m here to blow the lid off this scourge which I call the rise of the machines. Forget AI—the real existential threat facing us all is the Complicated Sex Toy.
Allow me a three-sentence montage of how we arrived here: Thanks to the internet, sex toys went from exclusively available at shops you wouldn’t want your mom seeing you walk out of to discreet, often niche or even women- or queer-owned, online sites. (Win.) Next, due to coronavirus lockdowns, people shut in their homes experimented with sex toys to pass the time, and sales boomed. (Win.) At the same time, public discourse (i.e. marketers) repositioned sex toys as a part of sexual wellness, a term that further dilutes skeevy associations and promotes them as tools to help you feel and look your best. (Win.) Girlbossing, meditating, exercising and masturbating—it’s all about the balance.
Now then, here is the rub. With the global sex toy market booming (from $27.17 billion in 2017 to a projected $62.32 billion by 2023), market penetration (yes, that's right, penetration) is reaching critical mass. So what’s a company to do in order to keep expanding? Why, innovate.
But having covered this market for years now and tested scores of these gadgets in the name of hands-on journalism, I’m here to suggest that enough may well be enough. Lately a number of toys have crossed my desk that seem intriguing from their sales pitch, dangling the promise of more and better sexual experiences for solo users and couples. They tout multiple motors, separate gyrating arms, dozens of pulse patterns, adjustable shapes, multi-functionality. Yay, I guess…however in practice, sorting it all out during the act is a bit frustrating.