8/28/17
Men’s Sex Toys Leave a Lot to Be Desired
A word of warning: Some links are definitely NSFW.

Women’s sex toys can be things of beauty. Just look at Em & Lo’s BFF, LELO: They offer pleasure objects that make me wish I had lady bits just so I could try them…that make me want to play with people who do have lady bits just so I can watch them at work. Smartly designed, aesthetically pleasing toys inspire the very best kind of lust.

And then there are men’s sex toys.

There is something so very functional about most men’s toys. If what the ladies play with are sexy nymphs and cuddly cupids, what men use are large hairy satyrs in serious need of manscaping.

I am a cisgendered heterosexual man who understands the male need to simply blow off the biological pressure. But the sheer crudity of these devices, things that couldn’t possibly be used in partnered sex, seems to reduce male desire to the very least common denominator. The logic seems similar to that given by good-looking successful men (cf. Eliot Spitzer, Charlie Sheen) who employ sex workers: “I don’t pay for the sex. I pay for them to go away.”

You know something has to be done to improve things when the category’s major competitor can be found in the laundry basket. (Yes, I’m talking about socks here.)

The Typical Male Sex Toy

Imagine a plastic tube whose one end is an exact replica of a porn star’s vagina and the other a replica of her ass. Or her mouth. (Apparently the idea of having intercourse with a famed porn actress — or rather, a famed porn actress’s body parts — seems to provide an important vicarious pleasure.) Despite the different “names” of these products, their appearance and functionality are indistinguishable.

While various indentations, vibrations and interior materials make most of these toys enjoyable things to use, and different manufactures design different internal devices to better simulate sex, they remain almost unbearably ugly.

Now imagine cleaning them.

Even if wrapped in metal and plastic, they’re still, at heart, utilitarian devices totally devoid of sensuality. Best suited to immediate gratification, they withhold even a hint of psychological complexity or erotic depth (Exhibit A: Fleshlight’s Sex in a Can, pictured above). The best of the lot may be the BLEWIT, which, if you can get past the name, is at least ergonomic and comparatively easy to use and clean.

Variations on This Theme

There are innumerable variations on vagina/anal canal simulations:

Tenga EggOther Masturbation Sleeves: Some are small enough to put into a pocket. Some are single use. Some are ball- or egg-shaped rather than tubes. A few are actually attractively packaged although no better looking in use than any other sleeve (cf. the Doc Johnson MOOD Powerball Stroker; TENGA Flip and Eggs).

Penis Pumps: Add a vacuum to a sleeve, and voila! If anything, they’re even uglier, more graphic and potentially harmful!

Sex Dolls (sometimes called “love dolls,” god help us all)Whether select body parts (like  groins, faces, etc) or expensive full-body silicon puppets, sex dolls are, shall we say, “substitutes” in  various flesh colors made with “Cyberskin” (a synthetic that feels just enough like regular skin as to make you appreciate what you’re missing)These are women reduced to less than meat and one wonders who could possibly want to masturbate with a piece of meat. (Does anyone remember Portnoy’s Complaint in which the hero has sex with his family’s dinner liver? Yech, but not really different.) Yet a quick Google search for male sex toys reveals there’s a clear demand for dolls like this.

None of the above toys is elegant. None makes you want to deck a velvet love nest with flowers and candles and sing as you use them. Reading online reviews of these products is reminiscent of a gourmet food reviewer trying to write a polite review of their meal at Burger King. 

A Few Rays of Hope

Is all lost? Thankfully, no. There are a few toys that don’t feel completely degrading:

Hot OctopussHOT OCTOPUSS’s Pulse: Cleverly nicknamed the “Guybrator” (TM), it’s an open-ended shell-like device with wings that open and close on the penis. It seems to have originally been designed for men with disabilities which may partially explain why it was made more sophisticated than salacious.

FUN FACTORY’s Cobra Libre 2: A vibe for the head of the penis that feels a little more “video game controller” with it’s prominent buttons.

Manta Ray:  Imtoys’ silicone textured wubby for your johnson, with various customizable vibrations and patterns. Plus it’s waterproof!

The Sqweel XT:  A man’s version of the woman’s Squeel 2, designed to simulate oral sex with rechargeable rubber “tongues.”

Imtoy’s PIU: More elegantly designed than its unfortunate name (pew?!), it grasps and caresses the penis in synch with porn (alas, mostly vaporware to date but apparently improving). Reviews suggest it remains a work in progress but it offers the possibility of sexual pleasure without female degradation: one can at least imagine a two-way interaction with a real person.

All of these work, but none is what you’d call romantic. At least these toys offer eroticism that is not a mechanical vagina. Still, they’re exceptions, not the rules.

The Prostate Is Your Friend

As noted, when male anatomy enters the picture, attractive design usually goes out the door. One exception seems to be toys that are also meant for women, of which the most obvious is the butt plug. There are so many good-looking ones that only a general review will do.

Unfortunately, there’s one real problem with anal toys that keeps them from being a major source of  male enjoyment: they frighten a lot of dudes. It’ll make me gay! It’ll make me girly! It will surely hurt! All myths. The anus is full of wonderful sensory nerves. Butt plugs can be incredibly pleasant when combined safely and thoughtfully with partnered sex and mesh nicely with all forms of penile play.

Lelo's EarlSolid plugs: Because form must follow function and function requires a smooth curved surface, your favorite store will have a range of beautiful things: here are a few made of glass/pyrex,  NJoy rules the heavy metal roost, Lovelife does remarkable things with silicon, and—lord love us all—LELO sells a very nice gold plug/prostate toy complete with matching cufflinks. Most glass and metal plugs will have lovely handles—again form follows function—although I admit to a kitschy enjoyment of those that are jeweled.    

Vibrating plugs: There are vibrating plugs as well, but they are usually less attractive, more functional gadgets. Unique among these is the B-Vibe Rimming Plug. Although not as elegant as many solid plugs, its weight and heft help.  Plus it does (and mostly feels like) exactly what the name implies. It has received remarkably positive word of mouth (yes: another bad pun).

Prostate toys: These scare men even more than butt plugs do, because of the automatic clinical associations with this organ. It’s too bad, because prostate massage can offer a lot of pleasure, in addition to purported health benefits!

Lelo's BrunoDrawing almost surely on their skill in devising G-spot stimulators, manufacturers have created a range of good-looking powered and unpowered toys. Lelo’s Bruno and Hugo, and Adammale’s Naughty Boy and Cheeky Boy are perfectly ergonomically shaped works of art that reach both the prostate and the perineum with strong vibrations. Other companies make similar products; again, the necessity of form following function ensures good-looking toys.

There are also unpowered prostate toys. Aneros, for example, offers a wide range of attractive products (cf. HelixSyn, which has a handle that is both graceful and provides perineum stimulation).

Penile stimulation: Finally, there are vibrating penis rings and sheaths, designed primarily for partnered sex (cf. LELO’s Tor 2), but in a few cases able to be used alone (cf. the Incite 10 and a “waterproof bunny). These are pretty functional and probably not all that much fun to use alone. Still, they can work for both solitary and partnered sex and their type of penile stimulation offers a useful direction for other toy makers to explore.

The Future Is Female

Still, even at their best male toys are less subtle and less pleasurable than those made for women.  Something must be done! Are straight men doomed to lust for accessorized pleasures that never come (pardon the expression)? No. I say again NO. We need help here, and we will have to go to where straight men always go when they need style advice: straight women. 

jimmy jane form 5JIMMYJANE’s Form 5: Typically thought of as a woman’s vibrator, it can be “set at the base of the penis so the wings hug and stroke the shaft or placed underneath the scrotum or perineum.”  (Pro-tip: Most vibrators can be used to stimulate men in this way.)

Remote Control Thong: A male version of women’s remotely controlled thongs now exists, but it seems more a novelty than an erotic aid.

Some women’s vibrators made for vaginal play can, in theory, also be used for penile or anal play, but in the latter case, one needs be sure that A) the product has a flared end (a must for safety; you do not want to be one of those red-faced folk in the emergency room) and B) it does not enter the vaginas post-butt-play without being sterilized first. 

Hmmm. We seem to have run out of female-flavored help here, and while we have found things far better than artificial orifices and plastic torsos, we still have not found the male equivalent of the Rabbit: the honest self-pleasuring device that does not demean women or make men feel like pigs.

Why Do Male Sex Toy Deserts Exist?

Overall, most male toys still show minimal wit: first you put it in and then you take it out. But why is the immediate reaction so unpleasant? Unpartnered men surely are entitled to sexual pleasure too, and online reviews suggest that most of the “sleeve” products are indeed pleasurable to use. Why are they so esthetically unpleasant? Why do they send such unpleasant messages?

Probably because they seem to have been designed by men. Except as noted above, the overwhelming majority of male sex toys are engineered to provide effective routes to ejaculation. They reduce sexuality to a penis going into an orifice. They deny the possibility of human interaction. It is impossible to visualize men using most of these with women, even women who love them.

Are men just more direct? More primitive? Are we reduced to the all-purpose explanation, which is that all men are pigs? Not sure. But the overall focus on immediate ejaculation makes the average male sex toy mechanical, functional, and unattractive. The message is not a pleasant one: a hole is a hole, and any woman who might be attached to it is secondary.

Calling All Female Product Designers!

Men need you. Design products that you would enjoy giving to your romantic partners. How about a remotely-controlled sleeve as attractive as a Lelo vibrator. Penile vibrators that take the Guybrator design one step further. Penile sheaths providing a range of vibration, pulses, and stimulation. Devices that simultaneous pleasure the penis, taint, and anus. All attractively and ergonomically packaged. Bits and pieces of all of these can be found today; it only remains to bring them together in a design that says “erotic,” not “mechanical.”

Do you remember Jessica Rabbit? She wasn’t bad; she was just drawn that way. Help prove that men aren’t really pigs, they’ve just never had a way out of their sties.

Dr. AlanK, a psychologist specializing in the way people interact with ‘progress’ in general and technology in particular, describes himself as educated beyond his competence and opinionated beyond his education. Besides being an MVP commenter on EMandLO.com, he is currently working on a book about how increased healthy life expectancy will influence family structure.

More on male anal play:
20 Fun Facts About the World’s Relationship with Butt Toys

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