The last time I went to a sex shop, I counted 16 butterflies—that’s 16 vibrating, pulsating, bead-filled, butterflies. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered butterflies to be all that sexually arousing. (Have you ever tried to masturbate with a real butterfly? It’s pretty tough. Even when you get it to stop fluttering around, its little fuzzy legs feel freakin’ weird on your…ahem, never mind.)
Oh sure, there were a few penises and vaginas in the store—mostly pocket pussies and bachelorette party gags—but the items suggested for my own personal genital use either sparkled or glowed, giggled or fluttered, in a myriad of strange shapes and faces that I’d never even considered putting into my twat.
And I hadn’t even counted the dolphins yet.
It made me wonder, is there some sort of sexual subterfuge going on; some collective cultural desire to hide sex even with something as liberated as sex toys? Because why don’t many dildo manufacturers associate their sex toys with, y’know…sex?
I began to feel as if there was some sort of vast conspiracy, some penis pogrom, trying to make me sexually attracted to a glitter-stuffed purple Rabbit knock off with a buck-toothed grin where my clit should go. I started to think about what it would be like to masturbate with the Easter Bunny. It all went downhill from there.
Party in Your Pants
At a home sex toy party I attended not long ago, the sales woman passed out demo versions of the wildly elaborate and expensive dildos offered for sale. I’d worried a bit about where they’d been before grabbing one. Had they been sanitized? Was that a gun case she was carrying them around in? (No kidding, she said the foam-lined steel case she used to tote around her dildos had been first purchased to carry around her husband’s high-caliber assault rifle. Seriously. I don’t even want to think about what that means.)
Anyway, I’d gotten over my germ-phobia by the time she slapped the Turtle down in my palm. Or, I think it was the Turtle. It could’ve been the Rabbit, or the Hare, or the Three Minstrels, or any other variation of anthropomorphic creature from Grimm’s Fairy Tales—I could barely tell. Its wiggling green length seemed more like an alien torture device than a dildo.
Until I held it. The strange, swirling beads inside rubbed against my palm, soothing and massaging as it buzzed with the power of a high-speed band saw.
It felt so awesome.
But then, one of my girlfriends at the party interrupted my hand massage by saying, “This thing is staring at me.”
We all stopped and looked.
Sure enough, molded into the tip of the long, white appendage my girlfriend held was a face, subtly hidden under a habit-like covering, with round cheeks and a very displeased expression.
“It looks like an Oompa Loompa,” she said.
“It looks like Baby Jesus!” another cried in horror.
The saleswoman was quick to mention that no blasphemy had been intended. (She was very religious, too, and had spent a bulk of her time describing her dildos as ‘marital aids’ and ‘female empowerment tools.’ Like it was horrible to think we’d actually use them for something as base and menial as getting off. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I feel empowered when I masturbate, but mostly I just do it for the orgasm. Anyway…)
She went on to explain that government regulations overseas require many dildo manufacturers to mold cartoon faces on their dildos to keep them from looking like they are meant for sexual use. Also, state obscenity laws keep her company buying cartoon dildos, not just because they’re cheap, but they can go across some state lines where buying sex toys is actually illegal.
“Yep,” I muttered, “vast conspiracy.”
To me, the dildo looked like a very disappointed Orson Welles. I shuddered at the thought. Slowly sliding a disappointed Orson up my vaginal cavity? A happy Orson would’ve been one thing, but this—he was too Citizen Kane, too War of the Worlds for me to think he’d actually be able to give me a decent orgasm.
Worse, what if I’d bought the dildo without noticing the face? Surely, in the dead of night, when I was blithely plunging it in and out of my happy-box, some ancient Chinese magic would ignite—then the face would come to life and slowly gnaw at my innards.
Oh, God, I have too vivid an imagination for dildos with faces.
But, it made me think (as I wrestled with my girlfriends for possession of the Turtle), it’s not like I’ve always masturbated with a perfect representation of the male genitalia. I’m hardly a purist. Just the other day, I was in the thrift store and I found a dusty old box with the classic vibrating “face massager” in it, and I almost bought the thing.
Ah, the face massager. That brilliant, camouflaged device that’s pleased many a Leave it to Beaver housewife in less sexually liberated times. It’s good to remind myself that, only a couple of decades ago, making a genital-shaped vibrator was unthinkable. The classic face massager doesn’t look like a penis at all—in fact, it looks more like a Betty Crocker tool for making salmon bisque, or something from Ron Popeil.
And yet, it’s probably the most erotic shapes I’ve ever seen, because it was the first thing to get me off. (I stole it from the un-used dresser in my mom’s guest room. Ah, a subversive orgasm can be as fun a liberated one.)
Of course, I didn’t actually buy the face massager in the thrift store. It had to be at least 50 years old, and the cord had some rusty wire bits sticking out of it. Still tempting, but “accidental twat electrocution” is not the way I’d choose to die. I think I’d prefer being gnawed to death by a magical dildo possessed by a Japanese sex demon that looks like Orson Welles. That kind of death’s got pizzazz.
To Each Their Own
So, back to the sex store… As I’m staring at the Easter Bunny, ranting, “What’s so damn sexy about a dolphin, anyway?” when my husband reminds me that some people might not want a penis or a vagina introduced into their sex.
“You know, a lot of people don’t love cock as much as you do,” he said. Bear in mind, my straight husband once served as the president for his college’s LGBT club (long story), but his reminder made me feel a little less oppressed by government conspiracy. Just think of all the lesbians who’d prefer to avoid penis, or gays who don’t care for vagina! Or, maybe it has nothing to do with sexual orientation at all, and everyone else just wants their dildos to sparkle.
At the end of the day, our market is democratically driven by demand. Manufacturers produce what they think will make them money. If a dildo doesn’t sell, it doesn’t stay on the shelves. Or, it gets dropped in the markdown bin for two dollars with the rest of the decade-old box-and-wire bullet vibrators that look better suited for twat electrocution. (Note: Don’t ever buy anything from the markdown bin.)
So, I put the Easter Bunny dildo down and started counting dolphins. And I thought, maybe—just maybe—there is something sexy about a dolphin. A dolphin is kind of long and slick, with nice girth, and it brings to mind happy frolicking in foam-lubricated ocean waves…
Then I thought about it coming to life, animated by Eastern demon magic and cackling in that chipper dolphin way, “Plaaaaay with meeee!” and I had to smile.
Then I had to buy it.