The pleasure products industry has traditionally organized toys by gender, with clearly defined men’s and women’s sections. In recent years, though, the industry has become more progressive and inclusive. Brands are increasingly leaving gendered language off of their packaging and creating products that are not marketed towards any specific gender. After all, gender-diverse folks have existed forever and are deserving of pleasure as much as people who comfortably fit into the gender binary. However, the shift away from gendered language doesn’t just benefit gender-diverse people. Getting rid of gendered sex toys can open new paths to pleasure for everyone, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Right Tools for the Job
Gender-diverse folks have existed forever and are deserving of pleasure as much as people who comfortably fit into the gender binary.
There is really only one important rule when it comes to sex toys: Anything that goes in your butt must have a base. Other than that, it’s all about exploration and figuring out what turns you on. There is no such thing as a toy that works only for one gender. While vibrators and suction toys are generally marketed to women, they can also be used on a penis, or in the back door if they have a flared base. The same goes for toys traditionally marketed as being for men; after all, strokers can work on clits! And assholes are the great equalizer — all humans have one.
Sex toys don’t just get you off. They can be tools to help you explore your body and find out what feels best. They have even helped people see themselves in a different light or reclaim personal agency after trauma. So ideally, we want everyone to have access to all the tools they might need.
Don’t Limit Pleasure
Since sex toys are designed to be used on the body, it makes sense to talk about them in terms of what body parts they can stimulate. If a toy stimulates a penis, anyone with a penis can use it, no matter how they identify. Another way to market or organize sex toys is to talk about the toy’s functions and benefits. By talking about all the different ways you can use a sex toy, without making gender a factor, you might even open other customers up to trying something they didn’t know they were looking for. Nearly all sex toys can work on anyone's body and most toys can be used in versatile ways. It makes more sense to market and talk about sex toys in a gender-neutral way, so we don’t limit people’s access to pleasure by telling them that they shouldn’t use something because they don’t have a certain anatomy or use a certain pronoun. Instead of trying to fit toys or experiences into a gender binary, make it about what feels good!
Toys Have a Function, Not a Gender
Some sex toy companies have taken steps to make the language they use inclusive of anyone who wants to use their toys. Instead of “clit vibe,” they say “external vibe,” and of course anal toys can be used by all. Making “his” and “hers” versions of the same toy and marketing them differently should stop. Some online stores offer a completely gender-free shopping experience. Toys of all different types, from bullet vibes to butt plugs, are shown together without designating sections for men or for women, so the customer can choose based on sensation or specific body parts they’re trying to stimulate. Adjusting product descriptions to be more inclusive can help, so even if the original copy utilizes gendered language to describe the toy, companies can rewrite it to be inclusive and welcoming to their full customer base. The bottom line is, we don’t know or need to know how a customer is going to use a toy or who they’re going to use it on. As long as they know how the product functions, they can make an informed purchasing decision.
Limiting Money-Making Potential
When you alienate certain customers and pigeonhole your product for others, you’re limiting not only the way your product will be used, but also who is likely to purchase your toy. If you want to make more money, explain the many versatile ways a toy can be used so that you open up your customer base to more than just “men” or “women.” By explaining how a toy’s fluttery tips can be used on any erogenous area, or that a rabbit vibe is anal-safe, you give the customer more options.
Inclusivity Is Good for Everyone
For many people, sex tends to be penetration-focused, but too often we leave out many other ways to give or receive pleasure, and neglect a decent portion of the population that doesn’t enjoy penetration. Being more inclusive and recognizing that everybody has different preferences means there are going to be more options for pleasure and more in-depth explorations of the body.
Inclusivity doesn’t just benefit folks who are marginalized. Society tries to teach us about what it means to be a woman or what it means to be a man, or what a clit or penis is supposed to enjoy. But everybody is unique, and so are their preferences — and the more we learn and accept that, the more access to exploring pleasure everyone will have.
Carly S is the “Queen of Wands,” pleasure educator, blogger of “Dildo or Dildont,” and a self-described bad bitch from the Bronx. She has launched Romantic Depot’s influencer program, is the buyer for Spectrum Boutique, and runs social media for Nasstoys.