opinion

What Men Want: Expanding the Realm of Male Sexual Pleasure

Mark Espinosa

It’s the last day of high school and I’m completely screwed. How did I manage to make it all the way through my entire senior year and forget to go to the one class I actually needed to graduate? I’m told that if I pass the final exam of the class that I never once attended, I can still graduate in time. That should be a piece of cake… As the final school bells rings, I accept my fate. I’m done for. It’s usually around this part that I awake in a cold sweat and spend the remainder of my night just staring silently at my ceiling.

I graduated from high school over 15 years ago and I still find myself haunted by memories of it. Yet, I try to think of specifics from my high school days and I can barely recall a handful of specific instances from that time in my life. It’s so odd to think that such a fundamental time in my development, is nothing but a blur of memories that occasionally induce anxiety-fueled nightmares. It’s just an important reminder that these extremely influential moments in our upbringing, whether memorable or not, have such a profound way of defining the kind of people we are today.

I’m still shocked to learn that most men don’t realize that the majority of women can only orgasm from external stimulation and not so much from internal penetration.

I’m sure I’m not going to rock any boats when I say that the male sex shop customer is still something of a enigma for both retailers and sales associates. A problem that often arises is not really knowing what to expect when entering into a conversation with a man standing alone in the vibrator section of your ‘female focused’ sex shop. Will they be confrontational? Will they be overtly sexual? Will they be surprised to learn how little they know about female sexuality? Will you be surprised to learn that they are the exact opposite of what you expected? I worked the sales floor for many years; I’ve helped that male customer who couldn’t understand why his girlfriend needed a vibrator because he should be all that she needs. I’ve also helped that male customer who was desperate for “male enhancement” because he’s been told that the sum total of his sexual usefulness begins and ends with what’s going on between his legs.

We live in a society where men are not properly educated on their own anatomy and are not given any real world insight on actual and realistic sexual encounters. As our industry once realized that trying to sell sex toys to women by targeting them with super sexualized female imagery wasn’t necessarily an effective method; we need to now consider if marketing towards men with blatant sexual images is creating a space where men feel confident enough to openly discuss their insecurities and concerns? As we become more aware of our society’s constant reinforcement of outdated gender stereotypes, especially in regards to how “real men” are suppose to act, I can’t help but wonder if the “traditional” male customer is no longer as traditional as he once was? Which begs a very interesting question: Where does the modern day man fit into the modern day sex toy store?

As I write this, my greatest fear is that you’ll think I’m trying to rationalize any type of negative behavior. In actuality, all I’m trying to do is give insight into why some of that negative behavior exists in the first place. I understand that there is a huge imbalance in our society regarding men and women. I just feel like we can’t keep expecting men to finally “get with the times and get over their shit” if we never invest the time and effort to properly provide resources that illustrate the difference between acting how you feel you’re suppose to and how you actually want to. We live in a world where men are told that it is a sign of weakness to show their true feelings and emotions. Yet, if you’re ever going to be truly happy sexually, you need to be able to express and openly discuss your emotions.

I’m not saying that we need to open up locations that cater exclusively to male customers – that’s just not cost effective. I just think it’s an important reminder that as we move forward with creating spaces where people feel safe to openly talk about their sexuality, we need to also be reminded of the influence our society has on the upbringing of a majority of men in our country. I’m still shocked to learn that most men don’t realize that the majority of women can only orgasm from external stimulation and not so much from internal penetration. Or that being pegged by your female partner doesn’t call into question your sexual orientation.

The resolution to this isn’t necessarily create a larger section for your male customers. The solution could be as easy as providing examples of sexual positions or acts that help destroy the notion that “a man’s penis is the only sexual tool available to him.” This new mentality will help enforce the idea that your shop is a safe space for ALL genders and orientations. As the local sex shop continues to evolve into a location where customers are free to explore their true desires, we need to remember the world our customers are living in. I’m not asking any sales associate to attempt to delete years of negative reinforcement and conditioning or have to tolerate any behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable, but, you’ll be amazed to see how helping someone shake themselves free of all the bullshit can really positively effect your business.

As National Sales Manager of Pleasure Works Wholesale, Mark Espinosa believes that as the industry progresses alongside communications technology, it’s important that we always remember that we get to say that we “give people orgasms for a living!” So, why not have a little fun in the process?

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