Sm{art}: Does it matter if your vibrator is sexy?

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How many times have I heard people describe a new new laptop computer or i-Whatever as sexy? So much so that apple has built a brand on technology that people want to touch, hold, explore. Sleek, clean, shiny. High-touch and high-tech. And yet, when I think of sex toys design, I often think garish, clunky, and tacky. Why would the ultimate in touchable tech not follow suit?

jimmyjane-form6-vibrator
(image from jimmyjane)

A recent post on www.good.is asserts it may be "thanks in part to social stigma that makes it harder for consumers to stand up and complain when they're unhappy with their purchases. After all, who is going to mount a public campaign if their vibrator is too awkward to hold for long periods of time, or if it isn't rotating fast enough for their taste?" Some designers are going a little deeper to create a more modern toy, one that is sexy and smart to boot. Perhaps it's time for a bit of a revolution here.

jimmyjane's "rabbit"

(image from jimmyjane)

Tactile, ergonomic, "stereophonic", and sleek, jimmyjane's toys have a very modern and minimal look, but also take the modern approach is more than skin-deep. Part of the draw of these toys is the attention paid to usability (at least in terms of the technological side…life span, noisiness, etc.) and toxicity in manufacturing. Many traditional vibrators are made with plastics that have toxic phthalates added to boost flexibility. Jimmyjane has engineered these out in favor of phthalate-free platinum silicone and stainless steel; batteries are rechargeable; and items are waterproof (?!). The San Francisco-based company uses FDA-approved, toxin-free, and biocompatible materials that comply with a host of safety standards, including the European Union's stringent Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

The most obvious draw, though, is the markedly different look of the toys. Some are clever, some look like they'd be right at home in a Bond movie. They've even reinvented some of the classics…by giving them a pristine white makeover along with the chemical clean-up.

jimmyjane's "rabbit"

(image from jimmyjane)

Of course, jimmyjane is not the first in this market.  Swedish company LELO was founded in 2003 to put the sexy back in sex toys. "We simply could not believe that there was neither a company or a product represented in the shops that had any sort of design aesthetic, or a sense of quality or functionality. After extensive research elsewhere – including what was available online – we realized there was a demand that was not being catered to."  And again, all products are non-toxic, phthalate-free, and comply with CE and RoHs standards. Also in Sweden, the exhibit "Sex, Love, and Design" shows some promise for promoting sex toys as objects of desire, though I have to admit I wasn't able to find many images beyond line drawings of sexual positions on various home decor items (has anyone seen the show?). Company njoy also esposes great design as part of their mission, with some liquid-metal looking gadgets all made from "premium medical-grade stainless steel for purity, beauty, and ultimate durability." They actually have a blurb about company ethics on their site as well, though it is fairly general.

LELO, njoy toys

(image on left from LELO, image on right from njoy)

While I am kind of excited by the design possibilities, I have to say some might seem a little cold. Do they remind us too much of the technology we use for work, or ergonomic kitchen implements? Or does that give the toys more widespread appeal? 

Do we want to get sexy with futuristic, immaculate robots? (Um, when I put it that way...maybe yes?!) Are they TOO cold and "designery" to bring into the bedroom? Do tell!

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Comments

7 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I laughed when I saw this

I own two of the pictured toys, and a third is high on my wish-list. I love JimmyJane's products, in large part because of the aesthetic (also, they work).

I don't think the toys pictured seem cold at all (well, except for the stainless steel, but it warms up right quick), and to the contrary, I have always avoided toys that were too "realistic" -- I want a toy, not a fake penis! (How heterocentric is that?) I'm glad that the industry has started to realize that we don't need to replicate body parts (or animals...) in order to make sex fun, and that what we put on our cunts (hello mucus membranes!) should be as clean chemically as possible.

Um, yes!

Have to say, it matters to me. When I'm looking for a new toy, I of course think of price and function, but appearance is pretty high up there too. Just like how chocolates seem to taste better when they're bought in colorful wrappers, the look of your toy can alter how you feel about using it. Doc Johnson has some attractive specimens, though I don't know good they are in terms of toxins.
As far as vibes and Apple, they have a number of crossovers already; there's the OhMiBod (http://www.ohmibod.com/) and DJ's iVibe for starters (though I'm pretty sure the latter is connected in name alone!) There is an inherent eroticism in a personalized little machine you control with your hands...

Function Verses Looks May Vary

Admittedly i'm hardly the one to be proffering an authoritative opinion on the subject of vibrators. My first thought is usually: "Do they make one that goes with a double-ender or a strap-on (for the pleasure of the stap-on wearer)?. i've seen plenty of ads for various vibrators but haven't visited many adult sites to observe them in use. i wonder how one goes about sorting through all the testimonials trying to figure out which are propmotions and which are objective? i can think of one instance in which looks might take a somewhat higher priority: if it is being used in the making of a video advertisement, for an adult movie scene or other relatively public viewing. i'll be following the comments to this post to see whether my not-well grounded opinion that the way it feels is most important is more prevalent. i would think looks would most often be secondary and that safety and functionality would be the biggest consideration in purchasing the items.

It's nice to have an option

It's nice to have an option you might not mind airline security finding!

Joking aside, though, the hilariously terrible design of the typical toy makes it impossible for me to enjoy it. I could never bring myself to use something that looked like a bullet or worse, a severed member.

In fact, I'd say I like this new style because I don't like the "gadget-y" feel of many toys. Looking at your generic dildo or the monstrosity that is the rabbit is a real turn off. But some of these brands, LELO in particular, look almost organic in their simple shapes. They don't approach disturbing realism, but they also don't make me feel like I'm visiting a doctor's office, either.

Absolutely, I think more

Absolutely, I think more aesthetically pleasing sex toys are a good idea. I've never been tempted to buy a vibrator until I saw these lovely things. They're so sleek and organic looking, and they look soft, not rubbery. You ask if they look too much like ergonomic kitchen implements, and all I can think is that if aesthetics matter when I'm buying kitchen tools and cell phones, why would they not matter when I'm buying something so much more personal?

The eco- and health-friendliness is a super added bonus.

Give credit where credit is due

All of the toys mentioned in this article are lovely, and the trend described is real, but I'd like to shed some light on the origins of these changes in product availability.

The beginnings of the current move to better built and designed sex toys can be traced back more than fifteen years. Vixen creations began introducing dildos in the early nineties that were the first to feature a glossy finish and rich colors (before that silicone was only available in pastels). The sculptural design quality of their early releases were unlike anything else on the market before them. The industry is just catching up to that work now.

Most of the smooth curvy shapes popular in current high end products are reminiscent of Vixen's Stimulator (sold primarily by Good Vibrations throughout the nineties as the Wave).

It is lovely to see more of the industry catching up to innovative designs first produced a decade and a half ago, but it would be even nicer to see someone move the ball forward again.

Whilst Reading Bitch Magazine and On The Subject Of Toys

Whilst checking out some of the products offered by advertisers in Bitch Magazine i did happen to notice a Fun Factory Share XL Double Dildo, the Rosebud Dual Stimulation Vibrator, the Dirty Kitty Bike Tire Flogger and numerous other items of interest at Smitten Kitten Online . i am not affiliated with Bitch Magazine or any of their advertisers - i just happen to like them! Too bad i don't have a partner. Bitch Magazine makes for good reading and i like checking out the ads too. Your fan, (obviously).