Today, we’re going to talk about sex toys for men (and a little bit about the gender binary, natch). This topic came up while I was brainstorming with the folks at Lubezilla, who kindly offered to sponsor this post. As always, words and opinions are my own — I’m a control freak like that.
According to handy-dandy Google Analytics, about half of the people who read this blog are male, or are coded that way thanks to Google’s algorithms. And yet, the majority of the toys I write about are marketed towards women and made for vulva-owners. What gives?
Stigma & Myth: Let’s Bust ‘Em
Unfortunately, there’s some serious stigma surrounding sex toys for men. Both strokers1 and prostate toys are stigmatized for different reasons, but one thing props up the stigma itself: The toxicity of the way that the world views masculinity. So, let’s do some myth busting!
Myth #1: Buying a stroker means that you’re sexually undesirable (or creepy).
Definitely not true! I think this myth comes from the idea that sex toys are replacements for partners, rather than toys/tools that are enjoyable regardless of your relationship status. Buying a stroker doesn’t mean that you can’t get laid — it means that you want to enjoy a different sensation, and that’s just fine. Speaking of which…
Myth #2: You shouldn’t need a stroker — just get off with your hand!
I mean, sure, you probably can get off with your hand. You can eat with your hands, too, but chances are you use silverware or chopsticks anyway. Sex toys are tools that allows us to do things differently, more efficiently, and sometimes more pleasurably. Sure, you may not need one, but you don’t need a PS4 either, and no one is coming to take your man card away for buying that.
Myth #3: All strokers are creepy.
First, we have to acknowledge that what people mean by creepy is usually that they look anatomical, which… isn’t creepy, inherently. It’s just a body part. What makes a stroker with labia creepier than a dildo with a coronal ridge? Nothing, except social stigma. If you’re really not into anatomical representations, though, don’t worry. One of my favorite companies, Tenga, makes some amazing non-representational strokers.
Myth #4: You can’t use them with a partner.
You can use any toy with a partner, especially once you expand your view of what constitutes sex to include anything sexy or intimate that you do with someone else. Some strokers, like the Fleshlight Quickshot, are shorter and open-ended, making them perfect for play with another person.
Myth #5: Ok, maybe strokers are fine, but prostate toys are gay!
I’m going to be nitpicky here: Toys cannot be straight or gay because they are inanimate objects. Can toys make their users gay? Does liking butt stuff mean you’re gay? Nah, dude. Liking butt stuff means you recognize and enjoy the pleasurable sensation of prostate and/or anal stimulation. Nothing more, nothing less. Anuses are sensitive, prostates are built for fun, and as long as the toy is safe2, you should savor it to your butt’s content.
Stigma & Shame: Two Things That Don’t Belong in Your Sex Life
Are you convinced yet? Maybe there’s still something holding you back. Think about whether or not that might be social stigma or internalized shame. Both of these things can be changed, but not unless they’re recognized first.
One of my favorite thinkers, Brené Brown, writes and speaks extensively about shame. And while shame is a deeply unsexy topic, we’re going to have to talk about it briefly in order to understand why all this stigma is, frankly, bullshit. But back to Dr. Brown! She wrote in Daring Greatly that men often feel as though masculinity is a box that they are placed in, and as they grow, that box becomes more and more stifling. Stepping outside of the box presents various risks, from being viewed as “a pussy” to being rejected by people we love. Shame involves a lot of “shoulds” and leaves you with little room for what you want.
Let’s quickly talk about the gender binary, because that’s related, too. When we define masculinity so rigidly, when we place men in a masculine box, we create one image of what it is to be a man. The so-called opposite, or even just things that fall outside of the box, is what it is to be a woman. But this rigid, binary thinking means that self-expression is stifled, and that social expectations of gender leave many of us feeling more like we’re performing rather than being.
And I know that I’ve said “men” and “women” a lot in this post. That’s something I actively avoid in most posts because so many people exist outside of that binary, and their sexual wants and needs and even shame are valid, too. I made that linguistic choice today because I really wanted to address the particular issue of toys for cis men.
Gents, I want you to consider stepping outside of the box. Then help someone else out of theirs. The more we live bravely — or dare greatly — the more other people will see and be positively influenced by our actions.
These may be strong words for a conversation about jerking off, but I maintain that embracing sexual pleasure is political, radical, and contributes to whole living. Thanks, Lubezilla, for making this happen!
The image for this post comes from PicJumbo.com.