Celebrities Endorsing Sex Toys: Revolutionary or Capitalistic?
Unpacking the tropes and limitations of the sex tech industry.
Quarantine came with many cultural changes but one of the most expected within sex tech was a rise in masturbation and sex toy sales. Sex toy enthusiasts and celebrity stans quickly noticed their favorite A-listers and influencers promoting these toys at record rates. Mashable contributor, Quinn Rhodes recently discussed the trend and questioned whether the marketing style pointed to a deeper issue.
With celebrities endorsing products, brands have seemingly become focused on securing profits while selling toys as “cool girl” items. It’s become a fad paired with an affiliate link to make all parties money. And when respectability politics came into play, it watered down the already taboo industry even more.
As blog Hey Epiphora shared: “[Sex toys] are meant for adding playfulness and fun to your sex life. In our sex-negative culture, where to even enjoy sex (especially as a woman) is somehow blasphemous, this is important.”
When shopping for sex toys backed by celebrities, you’ll see taglines about hot topics like closing the heterosexual orgasm gap and wellness for women. But, rarely do you see inclusion for folks with disabilities, or other marginalized groups who rely on these products, such as Black queer folks and sex workers. If a celebrity is not present in the ad, you’ll probably see a photo of a fruit that’s meant to symbolize a vulva. Rhodes points out the fact that the industry mainly caters to heterosexual women who engage in culturally safe ideas of sex.
Sex toys have been removed of their explorative edge in order to navigate through an erotophobic society, Rhodes explained. It seems that brands believe they have to rely on making sexuality a diluted message or a wellness essential in order to secure coins. But the problem is that sex toys are toys, and toys are for fun. Instead of hosting conversations around the erotic fun that sex toys allow, brands relying on fads might be setting the industry backwards instead of truly being revolutionary.