You might think “novelty” means “nice, fun sex toys,” but you’d be wrong. It’s actually a legal term for products not intended for serious use. And thanks to A) bullshitty obscenity laws still on the books in some states (we’re talking to you, Alabama), B) no government regulation overseeing the safety and package labeling of sex toys, and C) manufacturers who focus on quantity over quality (i.e., male customers over female customers), many toys in your average adult store are marked “for novelty purposes only” (read: “Don’t use this anywhere near your genitals!”). These cheap, crappy, gimmicky toys are about as likely to get you off as an episode of Larry King Live. They’re often made in China, most likely under dubious labor conditions. And they don’t come with instruction manuals or ingredients listings (which more often than not would include “phthalates,” a potentially carcinogenic material in soft plastics and jelly rubber); if they did come with use, care, and content info, they’d be considered medical devices and would be subject to expensive safety regulations. “Screw that,” say the big-biz manufacturers. “We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing for the past thirty years, thank you very much.” Good for them, bad for you. So if you’ve got a toy that has rough seams, smells of stinky soft rubber, gives you a rash, feels uncomfortable, is a cheap knock-off of a popular toy, didn’t come with instructions, and/or came in a box with a cheesy naked lady on it, probably best to break up with it.
For more info, please check out our book, “SEX TOY: An A-Z Guide to Bedside Accessories.”