A century and a half after their humble beginnings as electromechanical devices designed to cure hysteria (not a real thing), sex toys now rake in over $15 billion a year and offer more options than ever before. And that’s great! But not all of these options are good ones, IMHO. I have tried more than a few pleasure products in my time as a sex editor, and, along the way, I’ve encountered some features I just can’t get behind. Or over. Or under.
1. Vibrators you wear inside your underwear. Cheesiness factor aside, who actually orgasms from these? (If you do, I’m jealous.) These toys tend to vibrate at a higher frequency than others, producing buzzy vibrations (which are superficial and even numbing) rather than rumbly ones (which are resonant and powerful).
I get not everyone loves intensity — I personally prefer the Hitachi Magic Wand to anything else I’ve tried — but vibrating underwear is still rarely enough to push a person over the edge. Unless that person is physically pushing it against the clit, in which case, maybe just use a normal vibrator?
2. Stupefyingly complicated vibration patterns. I’ll always opt for consistent over varied vibration, although I can maybe see the appeal of vibration that builds up gradually, drops, then repeats. But a vibrator tapping out Morse code on my clit? Not sexy.
3. Metal handcuffs. I am all for getting tied up, but I’d rather keep my circulation intact while I do it, thanks.
4. U-shaped toys designed for vaginal insertion alongside a penis. The We-Vibe is the best-known example of this, and many people love it. No shade if you do too — different strokes for different folks, literally — but I could never get it to fit comfortably and stay there, leaving me with the sensation of both a penis and an errant tampon competing for space in my vagina. (I recommend the Eva couples’ vibrator, which nestles into your labia, to anyone who feels the same way.)
5. Cock rings that just don’t stretch. Some lower-end penis rings are made with jelly rubber, which feels divine but sadly contains phthalates, toxic chemicals used to soften plastic. More expensive penis rings tend to be made of silicone and so are much stiffer. It’s safe to say it’s mood-killing for a guy to jam his penis inside one of these and equally distressing to feel my vagina bumping up against a hard object with every thrust. Pass. This was a tragic dilemma until I discovered elastomer, a super-flexible, phthalate-free material — Jimmyjane makes a lovelyelastomer penis ring.
6. Too many controls. Let’s see: There’s one button that turns this thing on, a dial for intensity, a lever for pulse frequency, a touchpad for thrusting, a switch that orders you Seamless, but only if you toggle it five times fast, ohmyGodIgiveup.
7. Remote-control vibrators. Masturbation is me-time. I might let you watch, but communicating what I want is hard enough without the tech — I’m not also walking you through which intensity and pattern to use when. Let me handle this one, I got this.
8. Toys that aren’t USB-rechargeable. OK, so it’s more of a dream that every toy of mine is USB-rechargeable than a requirement. But if you saw the tangle of orphaned chargers that have lost their now-dead sex toys and are sitting neglected in the corner of my room, you’d understand.