The history surrounding the genesis of sex toys is rather vague and quite intriguing. Sex toys and sex are still very much tabooed subjects in most parts of the world and this oftentimes clouds a honest and open discourse regarding such issues. In fact there was an era not so long ago when the use of sex toys was seen as repulsive and abnormal requiring medical intervention for those who seek the pleasure of these gadgets. However, human sexuality over the years has evolved and continues to do so at a rapid pace. The definition of human sexuality differs according to the context in which the term is used, however, in simple terms human sexuality is the way by which we express our maleness and femaleness; in other words how we experience the erotic and express ourselves as sexual beings. It is estimated that the sex toy industry is a multi-billion one in which many of the pleasure toys are designed after popular female porn stars and by extension cater to the whims and fancy of men more so than women. Undoubtedly, sex and sex toys are still unmentionable subjects in some circles. Susan Colvin, founder and CEO OF CalExotics in a Forbes magazine interview said that the sex toy market is a $15 billion industry with projections to surpass $50 billion by 2020 in which customers seeks sex paraphernalia to arouse, stimulate and enhance sexual pleasure of both sexes. The phenomenal success of the recently released movie, 50 Shades of Grey, as well as, other movies of the same erotic and sensual genre have fuelled the adult toy and entertainment industries to the point where the guilt and shame once associated with sex toys and their usage hardly exits. It is widely reported that the Kegel Balls ran out of stock once the book 50 Shades of Grey was published. One can assume that Amazon is and remains the largest purveyor of adult toys, offering a wide range of items. Online ordering and discreet shipping saves the prospective purchaser the embarrassment of exposing one’s secret sexual desires to strangers. Claudy, 54, certainly understands and appreciates the change in the ordering of adult toys. He mentioned”in dem days Mail Pac was the means to bring in stuff to Jamaica without much issue”. He added that these packages were always opened and explored with parts and things missing before they were delivered. His sex toy of choice was the Fleshlight. He confided that he was first introduced to this sex toy by a friend and that the curiosity got a hold of him to experience this. He ended our brief chat with the simple but popular statement, “to each his own”.
It is amazing how our views on sexuality have changed overtime. A few years ago women wore ankle-length dresses, sexual intercourse was for procreation not pleasure and masturbation was shunned, however, today, these practices as well as many others are sexually acceptable and practiced.
Sex Toys of Choice
In doing this blog, a number of colleagues shared their experiences about using sex toys. Orvin, 40, revealed that his sex toy of choice was the nipple clamp. “There is only one part of my body that get sexually aroused my nipple”. He added that he learned about the nipple clamp via magazines and asked a friend who was travelling at the time to buy him one. In describing the clamp he said, the ends connecting to the nipples were made of plastic with grits, he added that there was also a chain which connected both clamps. He stated that the nipple clamp operated similarly to a clothes pin. Orvin declared that he used the nipple clamps for about 2 years until the plastic section of the toy became crystallized. When asked if he knew of any local adult sex toy store, he stated that he knows of at least one sex toy store in a plaza along Old Harbour Road in St. Catherine.
Trevin age 61 revealed that he first started using sex toys or gadgets as he prefers to call them in his 30’s. According to him, he first became aware of these devices from seeing them in shops and in porn movies. “I have used a few cock rings”. He added that ‘rings’ give a very rigid ‘hard on’. He disclosed that before buying the cock rings he used rubber bands. Trevin added that “The fleshlight gives you awesome stimulation. You can combine both and be in ecstasy heaven”. He also shared that he has also used the prostate stimulator. “Oh yes, to the stimulator. The biology makes sense”. Trevin, who is married, when on to give a quick lesson in Biology “when the peri anal and the perineal muscles contract around the gadget that’s pressed against the prostate, Wow!” He commented further, “These are the muscles as well as the penile contraction that are responsible for the expulsion of semen”. He ended by saying he would recommend these pleasure toys.
The use of sex toys is by no means the domain of men. Women are no longer shy to admit to the use of sex toys. Over the years the dildo has been a popular sex toys for a significant number of women, both married and single as they seek additional sexual pleasure or just pleasure in general.
A female colleague while stating she understands why some women use sex toys said she prefers intimacy and human contact because sex toys are impersonal. She admits however that there is some form of communication using sex toys. She opines that women who turn to sex toys do so for many reasons, such as, being hurt by men in the past. Secondly, women seeking optimum pleasure which some men are unable to provide, she reiterates that women know their bodies and as a result they can use the sex toys to receive optimum please.
It is interesting to note that the male ego is usually hurt if he is aware that his female partner is using sex toys to get pleasure. Most males will feel a sense of being inadequate to know this, as a result a significant number of women do not readily disclose this information to their male partner.
One respondent David, age 55 revealed that he has been using sex toys for over 10 years. According to him, he uses these gadgets every two weeks. Interestingly, says his wife is aware that he uses the pleasure toys. David, who has a graduate degree, works in the Health Care sector. His sex toys of choice are the flesh light and the prostate stimulator. In response to the question, what do you think about sex toys he said, “They are better than having sex another individual”.
Another respondent who I will refer to as Samuel, age 56, stated he has been using sex toys for over 5 years since a friend introduced it to him. Intriguingly, Samuel is also married; however, his wife is unaware that he seeks pleasure from these mechanical devices. When asked what his opinion about sex toys is, he said, “beneficial to keeping me away from sexual exploits”.
It is clear that for many men turning to sex toys for pleasure keeps them from entering extra-marital relationships.
It is obvious that more and more Jamaicans are being exposed to and using sex toys. However, it bares thought whether the importation of these devices are legal? In a Jamaica Observer article dated August 29, 2012, the Customs Department at the time said, it would not interfere with the importation of sex toys into Jamaica until the Attorney General makes a ruling on their legality. It is interesting to note that section 40 (XIII) of the Customs Act speaks to importation of indecent and obscene articles. It is interesting that a Google search of adult sex toys produced a number of business establishment where Jamaicans can go to purchase these items. Conversely, there is ongoing debate surrounding the legality surrounding the importation of sex toys. On the other hand, there are those who advocate that sex toys are health aids and as such should not be viewed as pornographic and or repugnant in an age of modernity.
It is evident that the pleasure industry will continue to see extraordinary growth in years to come. Gone are the days when people were shy in ordering sex toys. There is now boldness and a desire to embrace one’s sexuality regardless of the consequences especially in an era of social media. We can certainly expect to see the conversation of human sexuality widen and expand to include related forms such as the sexual health of both sexes.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
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