Recently I was asked by HotOctopuss.com to answer some questions about my experience using sex toys with chronic illness for this article about accessible sex toys (find a complete list of my press appearances here under “In the Press”). This topic is so near and dear to my heart that I decided to elaborate here on my blog.
Let’s start with the basics: pleasure should be accessible. That means pleasure products should be accessible, but sadly, the vast majority of sex toys are designed with able bodies in mind.
Disabled and chronically ill people have sexual needs. In fact, we form a massive untapped market that is especially likely to benefit from sexual technology, since we are more likely than the average population to deal with arousal issues, erectile dysfunction, and decreased sensation.
Haven’t you ever felt that gnawing need to relieve that sexual tension, despite being sick or otherwise not at peak physical shape? Doesn’t it totally fucking suck laying around in a puddle of raw, blazing horniness when you can’t because you just don’t have the energy or strength?
I knoooow, right?!
Unfortunately, society doesn’t like to acknowledge that disabled people are just as sexual as anyone else.
To make matters worse, when considering sex toys and disability, there’s often very narrow conceptions of what disability can look like, which leads to misinformed ideas about how to approach the problem. Some people may have issues with gripping objects or pressing buttons, others may have difficulty reaching. A sex toy that meets one disabled person’s needs wouldn’t necessarily help another one.
For instance, I experience widespread pain and fatigue that comes in cycles of flare-up and remission. Although I am able to have orgasms and enjoy penetration, it can be difficult to sustain certain positions or repetitive movements.
Plus, while my needs may differ from someone dealing with a spinal injury or an amputation, they might even differ from my needs yesterday! I think it’s critical to recognize that every human being – even the most able-bodied – experiences times when they are sick, weak, or injured.
So why do we design sex toys primarily for able bodies?
That’s why I believe in a flexible, customizable, modular approach to designing sex toys for greater accessibility.
As I said in the article for HotOctopuss:
Sex toy manufacturers should not view their toys as “for able-bodied” and “for disabled” customers. Instead, they should assume that all their products may be used by people with varying levels of health and disability. Modifications allowing sex toys to be used with less physical strain and in a variety of positions can benefit everyone, since we all go through periods of better or worse health.
In other words, instead of having a separate toy designed for every possible physical limitation, I would love to see sex toys designed from the outset to be used seamlessly with other devices that can transform them into hands-free devices or extend handles to reduce strain. While designers should absolutely design toys for particular conditions, there’s a lot that could be done to ensure the standard sex toy is more accessible for everyone.
My dream toy? A vibrating g-spot dildo that could be paired with a myriad of different attachments depending on my needs that day. Need a longer handle? Boom. Grip strength not happening? Presto, hands-free. Wanna get fucked without having to fuck yourself? Pop that thing in an ergonomically designed fucking machine.
Know of anything like this in the works? Does this already exist but I’m just woefully uninformed? Drop me a line and TAKE MY HARDEARNED MONEY. I’m salivating just thinking of those daily, guaranteed orgasms regardless of what new horror my body decided to invent today.
For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, I highly recommend listening to Episode 154 of the podcast Disability After Dark in which disability awareness consultant Andrew Gurza discusses sex toy design with Dr. Judith Glover, one of the lead innovators involved in his new project, Deliciously Disabled.