During a sex toy industry panel last month at Momentum a question was asked about privilege and the sex toy industry. I’m not 100% sure I understood what the questioner was asking specifically about, but as the panal was made up of two prominent retailers (Good Vibrations and Babeland) as well as manufacturers of high-end toys (Tantus, Njoy and Nob Essence) I heard it as being about the move in the industry towards high-end, high-quality and frankly, expensive toys. If the industry is moving towards most new toys being in a price range that out of many people’s reach, does that leave a large portion of people stuck with sucky or no toys? Do these high end toys provide a level of sexual pleasure that is unattainable with cheaper items? Is the sex toy industry moving to be something that is for a privileged few?
I actually think about these questions a lot, from both a retailer and a consumer point of view. As a shop owner I struggle to not only stock high quality toys, but to also make sure that there are toys available to folks who don’t have a lot of cash to spend but still want a safe, good toy. I also believe in being honest about what a $150 vibe can or can’t do compared to a $20 vibe (which, honesty, makes me a kinda crappy “sales person”). As a consumer, I have always been interested in toys that don’t suck and are priced so I can afford them, as I have never had the kind of income that would have let me spend 1/3 of my paycheck on a sex toy.
So I wanted to break this down a bit for anyone wondering if you really do need to spend big bucks to have a Big O.
The truth is that yes, a high-end, rechargeable, silicone vibrator is a beautiful thing. Toys made by Fun Factory, JeJoue, Lelo, We-Vibe and others are gorgeous, safe toys that come with longer warranties and some have unique functions you don’t see on less-pricy toys. 100% silicone dildos made with love in the USA (like Tantus and Vixen products) are heirloom quality pieces that will last a lifetime and work wonderfully. Stainless steel toys like those from Njoy are carefully crafted and designed and art pieces in their own right. And there is good reason to save up for these items. The materials are super safe, they last longer and in many cases are produced in a more ethical manner than “mainstream” toys.
But that said, not everyone has $100 to spend on a sex toy (or wants to spend that much) and I think folks sometimes wonder if they are missing out on “better sex” just because they opted for a $16 vibe. I’ll tell what… I do not think that is the case.
I think a lot of folks can have just as fantastic a time with a $10 Silver Bullet as they can with a high-end piece. Yes, the silver bullet is made cheaply in China and won’t last forever, but the vibrations it provides are freaking awesome and well worth the price of a movie ticket. The hard plastic it is made of is known to be a safe material and transmits vibrations really well. And there are a lot of vibes in the $20-$40 range that have great functions, are made of safe materials and can provide anyone with orgasms for just pennies apiece!
When it comes to dildos, there are fewer choices of non-silicone materials that body-safe but while silicone toys are getting fancier and more expensive (our priciest dildo is $132) there are also plenty of affordable options as well and if you can scrape together $40 you can get a great dildo that will be your best friend FOR LIFE . And when it comes to dildos, so much more has to do with what you are looking for size, texture and shape-wise, so there is usually more than one option at various prices. And like a penis on a live human, a lot of penetrative sex being awesome has to do with how the tool is used, who is using it and how you feel about the whole experience.
So yes, I sell, use and love “luxury” toys that are the price of a pair of Keen sandals (or more) but I also can testify that you can have a rockin’ good time with a toy that costs much, much less and I am committed to keep stocking our shelves with toys at all price ranges and making sure that they aren’t just cheap junk, but are useful devices of pleasure.
And don’t forget, if you ever have questions about the toys we carry or want my personal, honest opinion on a toy, just ask!