[Content warning: Discussion of sex toys, particularly those for a penis. Also a mention of objectionable marketing practices.]
I have a penis. The vast majority of toys out there for a penis are utter garbage.
- I’ve had toys that provide no stimulation at all.
- I’ve had toys made out of material that’s so stiff that it felt like plastic being scraped along my penis.
- I’ve had toys that sort of melted and deformed.
- I’ve had toys that have torn apart.
- I’ve had toys that have smelled so bad out of the plastic wrap that I tossed them before even using them.
- I’ve had “high end” toys that have stopped working during the first use.
- I’ve had a toy that has a clear design flaw that will lead to serious injury if used enough.
Many toys for people with a penis are sold in ways that range from mildly suggestive, to pornographic, to raunchy, to downright misogynistic and disgusting. (And don’t even get me started on how deceptive the photos can be about toy size…) This is an especially uncomfortable place for an asexual person to explore. It’s getting easier to find toys that don’t fall into that category, but to get there, you still have to wade through a pile of junk like the “Bangin’ Betty Stroker” or the anatomically bizarre pair of breasts with a vagina attached.
Seriously, those are things that exist, and… Eugh. I can’t imagine that sort of thing being remotely appealing even if I weren’t asexual. I mean, I can see how some people might find an object that resembles a piece of anatomy somewhat appealing and arousing, if they’re a fan of that piece of anatomy. So sure, sell the disembodied dicks and rubber vulvas and breasts in a box. But it seems like pure vulgarity would have be off-putting even to someone who isn’t ace.
(Incidentally, in my experience, the further a toy is in the realm of the disgusting or offensive, the worse it tends to be as an actual toy. They can’t sell it on its merits, so they sell it on shock value and sleaze instead.)
Another problem I’ve had with toys is that many of them are too small for me. They either don’t stretch enough, or are housed in a rigid case and can’t expand, or they’re not long enough. For the most part, these seem like decent quality toys, I just don’t fit. Vaginal toys (And, to some extent, anal toys) tend to be very clear about their dimensions, and many are available in different sizes. But many penis toys assume that everyone has a penis that is exactly 5.17 inches long and 1.5 inches across. If you’re bigger, too bad, it won’t stretch much (so it’ll be uncomfortable or rip open, if you can get inside at all) and you’ll pop out the other end, and if you’re smaller, too bad, you won’t be able to feel anything. They need to start selling toys for different sized penises (Which, I suppose, would also involve men feeling safe to admit that they don’t actually have a two-foot-long mega boner in their pants, otherwise those different sizes will have to be “Huge”, “XXL”, and “Jumbo”).
The biggest problem with the sex toy industry is the sex toy industry. I believe they can gain wider acceptance if they drop the sleaze and start making better products overall. And they’re moving that way, especially when it comes to vibrators, but penis toys still have a long way to go and a lot of image rehabilitation ahead before you’ll find them on the shelves at Walmart.