On Sex Toys & The Stuff of Things

 

Sensoaesthetic engineer Mark Miodownik of London’s Institute of Making has a little interview in the May/June Psychology Today that I found fascinating; his thoughts on the materials that make up our daily lives carry over so well into the world of sex tech. Toy materials – glass, silicone, stainless steel, thermoplastic rubber, plasticized polyvinyl chloride, the stuff this stuff is made of – say a lot about the person purchasing the item and the act(s) the item’s purchased for.

Miodownik says:

Bathrooms are really indicative. People are naked in there; we exist as raw animals. What, then, makes you comfortable? We choose hard materials. It’s bizarre: Why reflect back to yourself the sense of being in a place where you are vulnerable? The only thing I can come up with is that people, above all things, want to feel clean in the bathroom. So it needs to be shiny, but stainless steel and metal feel too institutional.

If this is true (and it rings true to me) it helps me understand the reactions of my customers to certain sex toys. Above and beyond color or shape or size or even function, the first and most immediate reaction is almost always to the material of the toy. Glass and steel are the most polarizing; for every mad scientist whose eyes twinkle when confronted with something like the njoy Eleven, there’s someone who balks at even the most seductive of glass dildos. There’s the fear of breakage, yes, but apart from that glass is just too hard for some people – too shiny, too institutional, too divorced from the squishy softness of human flesh.

But silicone, oh, beautiful silicone! Let us sing the praises of this magical material -

squishy or firm,

glossy or matte,

double-layered for realism or joyfully, colorfully abstract.

Done right, it’s durable and sterilizable and body-friendly and dishwasher-safe and lovely. It’s accessible – usually not realistic-feeling enough to enter the Uncanny Valley, but not totally unfleshy like glass. Silicone rocks. I am a fan. I guess the toybox proves that.

I’ll post a picture of the Little Toy Garden sometime when they’re all dusted off and can be arranged photogenically, but here’s the breakdown:

Dillies

Vibrators

Booty toys

Strap-ons and harnesses

  • The Share by Fun Factory, in rose pink
  • The Gal Pal by Doc Johnson, in purple
  • The Sysil Edge by Mantric, in pink and purple

G-Spot toys

Of these 24 toys, there’s one each of stainless steel, glass, hard plastic, urethane, unidentified plasticized jelly whatever, and aluminum. The other 18 are silicone.

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