There’s nothing embarrassing about owning a sex toy. Let’s face it, there are far more shocking things to find in your partner’s bedside drawer: a copy of Nigel Farage’s autobiography, perhaps, or some woefully bad love poems. Yet despite this, there is still a stigma attached to sex toys for men.
Sex toys for men: why so much shame?
Perhaps there’s a shame attached to male sex toys because of the way society has traditionally presented sex and masturbation. For hundreds of years, masturbation was seen as a firmly ‘male’ activity – something that women either didn’t or couldn’t do. What’s more, sex itself was presented as a universal good on the part of the blokes: if you get your end away you should be happy. That leads to an assumption that men will chase whatever orgasms they can get, and should be pleased with whatever happens. Saying ‘I actually want something a bit special when I masturbate’ would sound strange, and asking for male sex toys would be met with cries of ‘what’s wrong with your hand?’
When female sex toys enjoyed an explosion in sales (in part boosted by the phenomenal success of the Ann Summers rampant rabbit, which featured on Sex and the City) male sex toys were still sold in a hush-hush way. To this day, sex toys for women are often touted as a brilliant addition to couples sex – either watching her use it or getting him to use it on her. How often do you see the same advice given to men?
“Grab your favourite sex toy and let her watch you get off.”
It’s rare, no? Well, it shouldn’t be. Part of our mission to promote sex not stigma involves giving guys the message that there’s nothing shameful about sex toys for men. There’s no need to hide them away or whisper about them in secret: they can be as much a part of a healthy sex life as sex toys for women can. And that includes solo sex as well as coupled sex.
Sex toys for men: challenging the stigma
We know as well as anyone that this message isn’t always easy to get across. The problem with cultural norms is that they’re often deeply ingrained. It’s not just a question of putting out a press release that says ‘Sex Toys For Men Are Acceptable – No More Shame Now!’, change takes time.
Luckily for us (and men everywhere), there are plenty of awesome people out there challenging the stigma surrounding sex toys for men. Here are a few of our favourite articles.
Nichi Hodgson recently spoke to Dazed about sex toys for men, explaining that:
“There is also a persistent belief in our society that ‘real’ men don’t need aids. If you don’t get off on your own, there must be something wrong with you sexually.”
In June last year, the Independent published a great article which examined attitudes towards sex toys for men, including a couple of fascinating insights:
“Studies conducted at Indiana University in USA in 2009 found that 45 per cent of men aged between 18 and 65 years who use sex toys were more likely to participate in sexual health promoting behaviours such as testicular examination and male sexual health clinics. They also scored highly on satisfaction levels of erectile dysfunction, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function and sexual desire.”
In an article over at The Debrief, sex educator Justin Hancock unpacked some of the reasons for the stigma around sex toys for men:
“Whereas female pleasure during sex isn’t assumed (hence the huge number of sex toys available for women), it’s generally assumed that men are having a good time.”
Should we get more vocal about sex toys for men?
This question’s a rhetorical one, because obviously we think the answer is yes! While there are plenty of articles out there which talk about the progress we’re making in terms of embracing male sex toys, many men are still unsure of their status. Should they show their partners what they have in their sex toy drawer? Is it OK for them to drop massive hints about getting PULSE for Valentine’s Day? Our answer is hell yes. When we’re challenging outdated attitudes, it always takes a few brave souls to speak up and tell their own stories. The more who do it, the easier it becomes for the next person to say ‘me too!’
And it certainly couldn’t hurt to see sex toys for men featured more on TV. Male sex toys haven’t yet had their ‘Sex and the City’ moment, but we’d love to see one happen in 2016…