Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Note on Sex Toy Reviews and Language

When I came home from San Francisco and finished writing the most recent sex toy review for Eden, I had a bit of a conundrum. I've been writing sex toy reviews intermittently for at least six months, but I feel like I have a lot to learn and improve on in my writing. I write about what works for me, because I know my body. It's tough to make recommendations. I'm not passing toys around to a large group of people for multiple opinions-- and everyone's body, expectations, and needs are a little different. I hesitate, because a toy that works beautifully for me might not for someone else. 

I'm also hung up on language. When I write a review or make a recommendation, I want it to be clear that it shouldn't just apply to cisgender women. I usually describe my own anatomy using words I feel comfortable with. But those words fluxuate and change depending on how I feel -- for example, I can have a clitoris or a cock. I also realize the words I use are not the words everyone uses, and the anatomy I have isn't the anatomy everyone has. 

Many sex toy stores divide their websites into "men's toys" and "women's toys." But the truth is, you don't need a clit to enjoy a vibrator, and anyone can wear a strap on. The beauty of brick-and-mortar stores is that you don't need these artificial divides; you can go and pick up any toy without someone putting the idea in your brain that this toy is "only for women." The flip side, of course, is that the privacy of the internet offers a space where anyone can buy a toy without fearing harassment, embarrassment, strange looks, or dealing with insensitive or uneducated staff. If you live in a place like rural Louisiana, the internet offers a world of access to toys when brick-and-mortar stores might be hard to come by -- or, worse, exist only as sleazy highway pit-stops filled with cheap, poorly made toys for marked up prices. Eh. Both have benefits and detriments, I suppose. 

For me, it comes down to this: how can I make reviews more accessible for people of all genders? I play with people of all gender identities and expressions. I play with my own gender during sex, and it's often changing and unrestricted. I play with toys of all types, and all meanings. As I was discussing with a friend the other night, sometimes a strap-on is just a toy, and sometimes, it's an extension of the body in very personal and intimate ways. I don't know if all of these realities affect my reviews, or even if they should.

But I do think part of sex-positivity is looking at toys as just that -- a piece that can be used by anyone in many possible ways. It's about recognizing and affirming all forms of gender expression and sexuality.

How can I make reviews more accessible for people of all genders?

1 comment:

  1. I am a female, so I always write my reviews from that perspective. You bring up some good points about making reviews more accessible. Thanks for this article.