Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beware: Sex Toy Parties

Adult toys have gone mainstream in a big and surprising way, with female-only sex-toy parties now the rage nationwide, regardless of regional religious ideology.

When I was a kid, it was Tupperware home parties that caused a sensation, today that idea has been turned on its head. Now, those almost identical home parties have been converted into the perfect venue to sell adult sex toys and related items directly to women.

It is fascinating and also somewhat nauseating to realize that both marketing ploys peddle plastic that promises happiness to women.

“We argue that sex-toy sales follow the exact patterns of Tupperware sales but, since the artifacts sold are for the bedroom rather than the kitchen, foster an even greater sense of intimacy between the women – which has both positive and negative consequences for thinking critically about the commodification of sexuality, bodies, and lifestyles in our capitalist culture,” writes Martha McCaughey and Christina French in a journal article.

“Vibrators and other sex toys constitute the technological route to a self-reflexive body project of female orgasm. We ask to what extent such a body project, achieved primarily through an individualistic, capitalistic consumption model, can offer a critique of normative discourses of heterosexual sex and identity. Is this new plastic purchased at parties liberatory or just another form of containment? In other words, how much Tupperware does a woman really need to buy, before she’s been bought?” the women ask.

“My other ride is a Rabbit Pearl,” the authors quote an automobile bumper sticker.

There are almost as many different companies to contact for these “ladies nights” as there are women who want to host one.

Here’s one web advertisement, with the company name removed:

“These parties are fun, true. But they're also educational! Your Consultant is trained by sex health experts and arrives at your party with answers to the most intimate questions. She'll also tell you about new techniques and tips for improving your relationship with your partner! Where else can women discuss sexuality in a safe, comfortable setting? Your guests will remember your party for the great time they had, but also for the way it changed their lives.”

This company says it “has been enhancing the sexual relationships of our clients with sensual products designed to promote intimacy and communication between couples. We are recognized as the premier sensual products, party plan company in North America.

“Sensual aids and toys have been used dating back as far as recorded history. Today they are more popular than ever, yet many people need or want to be discreet about purchasing such items.

“Through our in-home parties, we are able to bring the value of product knowledge, education and confidentiality simply not found in the retail environment.”

In addition, this company, and all of the others, promise women a secure source of income, saying, it “offers women the opportunity to own and manage their own business, while promoting sexual awareness and well-being. Our direct-selling business model provides generous rewards and recognition for our independent consultants.”

Well, I say: BUNK!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved sex toys, I just don’t think this powerful marketing strategy revised for the new millennium is the right one for these products. Like Martha McCaughey and Christina French, I worry that it’s all just another way to make women into a commodity, including packaging their sexuality into giggly for-ladies-only parties.

And, like the authors, I fear linking the marketing to an intimate venue where women share personal secrets, only increases the likelihood they will buy, buy, buy! Finally, I fear this type of marketing will reach into additional generations of women.

Women are rarely given a chance in our society to truly understand their own sexuality, needs or desires. Without that basic knowledge, it is impossible to know whether a sex toy would be useful or not.

About 30 percent of all U.S. women report never having had an orgasm! That is a shocking statistic. It is important that women learn how their bodies work, what turns them on, and how to express that desire.

Sex toy parties do none of that. In fact, the vast majority of women who attend these parties buy products they believe their husbands or male partners will like – not products they, themselves, will enjoy.

It is all about how to make themselves appealing to the opposite sex, what sexy lingerie to wear, how to please and fulfill their man – the same messed-up agenda that women have been force-fed for decades. No wonder the economic template is 1950’s-60’s classic Tupperware.

Many of the women who attend these parties do not feel comfortable talking about sex or sex toys in other environments, and the marketers are banking on just that. They want these women to be nervous, even anxious, and to see their “parties” as the easiest, safest way to improve their sex lives for their men – so that they will become better wives and girlfriends.

Where once women were sold plastic containers as the end all and be all of the perfect wife’s arsenal, so too these parties promise vulnerable women sexual superiority through the knowledge and use of sex toys and intimate items.

Women should be free buy sex toys if they are interested in them. They should feel comfortable enough to buy them on their own, or with their partners, or not buy them if they do not want or need them. They should NOT be treated as though their real sexual needs and desires should only be addressed within the boundaries of an all-woman conspiracy that closes its ranks and offers only silence to the world.

Women deserve respect, information, and choice. Marketing sex toys at them by trading on the unique friendships between women within their own homes is obscene. It masquerades as an opportunity for women to earn money at home, and help other women. In point of fact, it creates an environment that pretends real concern for women’s lives. The truth is this is marketing, pure and simple.

The “consultants” at these parties are generally NOT sex therapists or relationship experts. They are the Best Buy associates of sex toys: they know how the gizmos work, that’s all. They can’t help you improve your intimate life, only you and your partner can do that. If you are unhappy with your sex life, do something about it. Talk to your partner, seek real help. Going to a party and buying a sex toy or related item from a stranger will do nothing but make your wallet lighter.

In the future, I will be launching a new feature on this blog: Inside the Adult Toy Box. It’s goal will be to describe the advantages of some of my favorite sex toys. It is not designed to supplant a woman’s choice, or to influence anyone to buy a product in lieu of understanding their own body and their needs. It is meant solely as providing information, my personal opinions and preferences.

The Internet has opened up a whole new world of information literally available at the tap-tap of a key pad. If you do not know about sex, the way your body works, and are too uncomfortable to talk to someone directly then: Research, research, research!

If your relationship is not what you want it to be, talk to your partner or seek real help from trained professionals, etc. Don’t be fooled by marketers who could care less about your real life and sexuality, but solely on making the next sale.

—The Curator

1 comment:

  1. mostly readers think that having these sex toys are helpful in terms of excitement, enjoyment and pleasure during sex. it adds more suspense and thrill that t helps one way or another the communication of couple especially the married ones.