In January of 2010, a sex toy called Roxxxy was debuted at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. The device, a life size doll capable of limited movements, voice activated responses and even simulated orgasms, caused a bit of a stir and some amount of conversation. The idea of a "sexbot" has been around almost as long as the concept of the robot. Being on the verge of a functional one of course brings some issues to the public eye.
While I have little experiences with robots, psychology or sociology, I can pull on my experiences as an adult video store clerk to discuss some of those issues. Specifically, men are weird about sex toys.
I don't just mean their own, mind you. I think that men have issues with all manner of silicone and battery operated devices. After all, we're born with perfectly functional sex toys attached, both for our own pleasure and that of our partners. Shouldn't that be enough?
The truth is, though, the spirit is willing sometimes when the flesh is weak or at least in need of a nap. And in those cases, I think it's appropriate and even considerate if a gentleman has his own small box of humming assistants. Assuming his partner is fond of them, of course, there is a great deal that can be accomplished with such devices.
But then, what about those being used on men or for their own solo adventures?
One off putting thing about sex toys designed for men is that they are visually disturbing. Those designed for women are crafted with an almost artistic flair, such that if their purpose weren't obvious, they'd look appropriate as art pieces on the mantle. Alternatively, many are molded after adorable animals; porpoises and penguins, moles and butterflies along side the ubiquitous symbol of sex, the rabbit. Even those molded after the male anatomy are done with taste, and as the penis has its own autonomy even when men discuss it, seeing one without a torso attached seems almost natural.
Men's selection, by contrast, looks like the extras from the prop department working on the next "Reanimator" sequel. Disembodied vaginas and breasts dominate the market, every attempt at realism a new horror. Sometimes these bits are juxtaposed in some improbable fashion, meant to gather together all of the usual points of focus to multiply their effect, but instead simply making them look like a anatomical train wreck.
There are some exceptions, but most of them lie in the high dollar range. A RealDoll will run you over five grand, but with a pair of sunglasses on it, its easy to mistake for a real flesh and blood person at a glance. Spend twenty bucks and you can get a blow up doll slightly more sexy than spare tire.
The market seems to rely on the idea that men in a lust fueled rut will be willing to sacrifice aesthetics for the sake of convenience and sensation, and to some extent that's a safe bet. But still, the actual acquisition of such aids is the subject of shame for many men and finding something that will help grant release but not shred one's dignity or empty one's bank account is not only a challenge, but one that requires that involves steeling one's nerves even before the first package is opened or drop of lube is dispensed.
However, there appears to be a market if not a need for such things. Roxxxy had over 4000 preorders in the month after its/her debut. The RealDoll turned from a curiosity to a business for it's creator in short order. Estimates for the value of sex toy industry vary, but the consensus is that it's a multi-billion dollar business.
Someone is obviously buying.
While I understand that some people avoid sex toys altogether due to moral objections or the belief that a piece of silicone used to pleasure one's self or partner somehow leads to wild promiscuity, I have to implore my brothers to not fear them. While the real thing is best, on many levels, there is no real shame in using toys when taking matters into one's own hands. There is joy to be had for one's self and solid evidence that, if approached with the consideration, attentiveness and communication required for all sexual endeavors, sex toys really can help enhance one's encounters (no one has ever suggested Viagra for your shoulders).
And maybe if we talk about it openly, we can encourage suppliers to provide toys that don't look like an autopsy. Just sayin'.