Private ParcelsDiscreet or open? Online or store? Alone or with a partner? How sex toys are perceived and received today.
Sex toys: For some they mean fun, lust, self-realization, for others shame, insecurity and even pain.
How are dildos, vibrators and womanizers perceived today?
Have we really become more open about sexuality? How do online shops affect our behavior and people working in the eroticism branch?
We asked three sex enthusiasts: Claudia, Mascha and Eric.
Each one of them told us their individual story regarding toys and how German society deals with sexuality in general.
Sex coachClaudia Huber
"Most people still don't know how their sexuality works and what they really want. I became a sex coach to help them face this unnecessary selfmade and societal pressure to live a self-determined sexuality. With or without toys. It depends on what is good for them."
What about sex toys?Practice Makes PerfectUsage
According to Claudia, sex toys can be a real enrichment, not only for the own usage also for the usage with a partner. But: Only in trustful and close relationships and only as an application to the personal sex life
not as a compensation or distraction from maybe existing problems or insecurities.
"If, for example, a woman takes a toy without previous on-hand exploration of herself, she won't know how to handle the toy properly. She lacks her personal inner map as I call it. And if she then starts poking herself with a toy without having a feeling of herself, it feels probably uncomfortable and maybe even painful." That's why for Claudia the first and most important step should always be getting to know oneself and then start exploring.
"I, personally, am a big fan of fumbleing. Or in some cases, I really like vibrators because they relax your pelvic floor if it's braced."
Men and womenWhat Makes Good SexDream partner
Different movementsIs It All About Performance?Authenticity instead of pressure
Different movements exist for Claudia: On one side there is for example a huge orientation on pornography and on the other the Slow Sex movement with a focus on emotional needs. "But the question has to be: Where am I in all of this? Where do I want to be? Most people lack those thoughts."
What she experiences with her clients, is the pressure they have in their backpack. "Performance matters in our society. Even if it comes to such a personal matter like sexuality. The perception is, you must come to an orgasm, you may not have any weaknesses and – especially as a man – you have to supply." Fun and joy fades into the background.
"In my opinion the movements lack to ask the core question: Do I really want to satisfy requirements? No, it should be about what is good for me", says Claudia.
Development of buying toysOnline ShoppingAnonymity versus hands-on
"What is good for you" is also a popular advertising method of online eroticism shops. A reason why constantly more people choose to order online is the fast and easy ordering process and
in the sex toys
– the anonymity they offer. Most online shops send parcels privately. A German, quite young example, is the online shop amorelie.
Amorelie even advertises with the slogan "nobody will know". The company mails parcels without any logo in a white package and promises "quiet and discreet toys". Hints, that ordering sex toys is still something unusual, something to cover up?
Namely, it is not a taboo anymore to talk about sexuality and toys in public, but the topic still seems to be afflicted with shame. Even younger generations prefer to keep their purchases secret as we learned during our research for this feature. According to a survey by amorelie itself from 2016, only 29 percent of the questioned couples indicated to regularly deal with their sexual needs. Talking with their partners about their wishes was not possible for 42 percent.
To go into a sex toys store downtown therefore often means to overcome a lot of inhibitions. But if this step is done, benefits are to be able to get a hands-on feeling of the toys and ask staff for help and advice.
Sex toys sellerMascha Hülsewig
"We wanted frau blum, our erotic boutique, to be a secure and to-go place for everyone who is interested in eroticism and sex toys. My friend Alexandra and I founded the boutique after we quit our previous jobs to try out something completely new. We were fascinated by this branch and wanted to create a reliable location in Stuttgart."
Selling sex toysfrau blumA proctected environment
Vibrators with warming function, dildos in form of fruits or cosy jewelry
– at Mascha Hülsewig's store there is a big selection of toys and accessories for their customer's enjoyment.
"What our customers tell us in here – often very private stories and worries – is between them, Alexandra and me in this protected environment. We want people to feel welcome, comfortable and to ask us questions and for advice."
Mascha is convinced that she and her friend offer their customers a better service compared to online shops. "We have the know-how, experience and time to really show interest in our clients. And when buying in our store the whole data abuse internet debate is irrelevant. At frau blum everything stays with us."
How to surviveCompetitorsOnline shopping or face-to-face communication
Historic rootsThe Origin of ShameGender roles
"The problem is: A lot of people don't really know what they want and how to achieve it with toys. I help my friends to figure this out. I consult – just for fun – in my free time."
Private collectionNo Professional, but an ExpertPersonal experience
The example vibratorWhat Kind of Sex Toys Exist?From "Granville's hammer" to "e-stim toys"
There is a broad variety of sex toys in the branch. They would need their own multimedia feature to be introduced, so the focus here, is set on the vibrator and its inventor:
Joseph Mortimer Granville was a British doctor. When he practiced, back in the end of the 19th century, genital massages were a common way to treat women suffering from "hysterics". So Granville developed the first vibrator, a handy device fed with electrical current, in order to relax his hands during work. His doctor colleagues baptized the device "Granvilles hammer" in his honour.
Human beings are creatures of habits, that's probably why the eroticism branch basically sticked with the classic toys, dildo and vibrator, until today. Nevertheless, the eroticism companies developed applications and updates for them: There are pressure-based vibrators now, which work with moving nubs. There are the so called bumping toys, which should simulate a similar feeling of being bumped as during sex. Also part of the selection are e-stim toys (short form for electrostimulating toys) working with harmless electrical shocks and tongue toys which simulate oral sex.
How to handle toys"Ask yourself."What are Eric's wishes for the future societal handling?
ConclusionSex Toys TodayBetween the sense of shame and lust
It is definite: There is still a lot of shame, insecurity and secretiveness when it comes to sex toys and sexuality.
German society has become more open about it, yes, and it is now possible – at least in younger generations – to speak openly about sexuality, wishes and desires. But at the same time, there is still a gap between Slow Sex movements and a hypersexualization of the society due to excessive pornographic content on internet and media.
And what is concerning for sex coaches like Claudia, is the huge pressure to always be effective, irrelevant if during sex, "just" masturbation or in your whole life.
The competition between online eroticism shops themselves and stores is increasing. Erotical boutiques like frau blum, who manage to survive, are exceptions.
What unites our three sex enthusiasts Claudia, Mascha and Eric, is a similar view on how to deal with sex toys and sexuality: Find out what you like, get to know yourself, practice. Everything else will follow naturally.
Private ParcelsA multimedia feature by Mo/Vision
Louise Stoholm Christensen
International Content Production
Stuttgart Media University, August 2018