Sometimes I forget that people are embarrassed by sex toys. Personally, I've been shoving things up my hoo-ha for around a decade, so I am very familiar with my body and my pleasure. I remember being in middle school and wrapping sharpies with plastic wrap to try and fashion my own “safe” version of a dildo (FYI: don’t do that).
My first official toy was a cheap hot pink vibrator from the Spencer’s at the mall, brought home disguised in another shopping bag from Claire’s. I used that until I came to college when I then eagerly rushed to Amazon to see what I could afford. As you could probably tell from my earlier use of plastic wrap, I’m a little bit nervous about putting foreign objects up into my body—obviously not enough to deter me from doing so, but enough that I decided that I wouldn’t just buy the first product that showed up after sorting by price from low to high.
I started off by looking at the materials used. I thought that clear jelly dildos were super cute, but that was actually the first warning sign I ran into. Apparently, one of the biggest concerns regarding sex toy materials is around phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastic that have been proven to damage the liver, lungs, and kidneys, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer. The chemicals have been banned from children’s toys but not from the sex toy industry.
What I imagined was a board meeting full of old white men uncomfortably avoiding the topic of chemical regulation in sex toys, but it turns out that it’s much more money-driven than that. The way that companies get away with this is by marketing sex toys as “novelty toys,” thereby removing any responsibility of the manufacturers over anyone using the toy in any way other than being a novelty.
Amazon as a platform of commerce makes the situation even trickier. After sifting through pages upon pages of dildos (which was, unfortunately, on my parents’ Amazon account that I was still logged into) I finally came across one dildo that looked promising and claimed to be phthalate free! Scrolling down to the bottom of the page to see if there were other related products I could look at, though, I saw a disclaimer in tiny letters at the bottom of the page that told me that manufacturers were able to alter their ingredient lists without changing the information on the Amazon page.
I had never seen that disclaimer on anything that I had ever bought from Amazon before, and that infuriates me. Since this disclaimer is only on sex toys, I feel like Amazon has to know that the system is f*cked, yet they're still complicit in it. While I’m sure that it mostly is a profit-driven choice, I do think it’s a topic avoided due to the general public’s discomfort with talking about sex toys.
Sex toys are a great tool to help people learn about their bodies, especially those with vaginas. I was lucky to start using them before I developed a concept of shame around it, but a lot of people go years without experimenting at all. Personally, owning dildos and vibrators has been useful in fulfilling urges without the complication of involving another person in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love relationships—sometimes I just don’t want to have to worry about the feelings attached to the body part.
Right now, I own two Tantus dildos, and I am very happy with them. One has a handle, which is super convenient, and one has a base that can fit into a strap-on. They’re sturdy, easy to clean, and 100 percent silicone! Instead of buying a vibrator, I have a small bullet that I can use at the same time, and I’m content with this setup. There are lists of reputable brands just a Google search away, many of them residing on Reddit. When it comes to sex toys, quality is worth your money! Now, go get ‘em!