How Are Sex Toys Tested?
Since the beginning, people have always tried to find new outlets to satisfy their sex drive. Sigmund Freud, the father of sexual psychoanalysis, spent much of his time going on about how our sexual urges can be transferred to an object. And never has this been more apparent than with our national obsession with sex toys.
Every sex toy that hits the market is hopeful of becoming the next “Rabbit” or “Oriental Balls” - but are these delightful objects undergoing any testing to see what is their appeal and safety before they are released to the public for purchase? And who determines that they can do what they claim on the box (or in the box, for that matter). With computers, an entire department is devoted to testing the hardware, to see if it can withstand the rigours of daily wear and tear. Is the same standard given to testing the hard wear of sex toy hardware?
Sex Toy testing is a Real Job
What is really going to make your ears prick up is the news that sex toy testing is an actual job! People who have an established online presence can blog about a sex toy’s, hem hem, efficacy, and then post their experiences. Usually, this is done with the sex toy manufacturer's approval too. If a customer clicks on a sex toy’s link to buy it, the lucky blog writer will get a percentage of the sale. There are even blogger tutorials on 'How to become a Sex Toy Tester' although it’s hard to imagine why they would want to share!
Willing test subjects are also recruited by the sex toy manufacturers. They are given a prototype version to take home and give it a whirl, so to say. We can banish the sterilised image of men in white coats surrounding a young test subject to observe the effects of a vibrator from our minds.
Rabbits Testing out Rabbit Vibrators?
There’s also an urban myth that some sex toys are tested on animals. This is complete fiction because part of the testing process is getting feedback. It is kind of mind-boggling to think that there was someone out there who gave positive feedback for the monster size butt plugs that are found in the fetish section of your friendly adult store, but (!) apparently, there was.
The FDA's Centre for Devices & Radiological Health (CDRH) announced to the lubricant industry that all products need to pass pre-marketing safety tests in December 31, 2015. These tests are to determine if the product causes irritability or hypersensitivity in rabbits and guinea pigs. As a reaction to this, regulators from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and product manufacturers voiced their objections to the FDA, urging the use of human test subjects, marking it a better and more reliable method.
In America, lubricants are considered a Class 2 medical product, which puts them in the same category as powered wheelchairs and condoms. Sex toys have managed to dodge this regulatory bullet by being considered novelties, but all the ointments and lubricants that make everything slide so appealingly must undergo the pre-marketing test process.
Of course, scientists had to go and try spoil all the fun by seeing if Artificial Intelligence could be used instead of humans, in sex toy testing. One of their attempts is the 3D Vaginal Assay System. This is an epithelial replicating model sold by MatTek that can duplicate the properties of human vaginal tissue.
How this multicellular model system works is that the product is closer to human mucous membranes than that of a rabbit or guinea pig. "There is no other animal in the kingdom that has the same kind of vagina as humans”, says Wendy Strgar CEO of Good Clean Love, who visibly opposes the testing of products on animals.
So, this leaves the sex toy testing market open for the exclusive use of humans - which makes sense.
Have there been any Sex Toy F@#k ups?
There are some hilarious stories from the 70s up to the 00s, about travellers from America who plugged their vibrators into British hotel sockets, proceeding to then nearly vibrate off their tender parts! This is because the electric current in Britain is double that used in American homes. This has been corrected by the across the board change to battery power, so no more unwanted "bangs for your bucks" for those unwitting travellers!
Even after the controversy that surrounded the flammable properties of nylon and articles of lingerie made from nylon causing vaginal infections, the sex industry still prefers it as the material of choice for naughty panties. Out advice? Stick to edible ones.
Now for the Science Bit
But back to the testing of sex toys. Someone who tests a sex toy, responds with both an emotional and physical opinion. It is difficult to imagine someone formally reporting back any drawbacks or inconveniences to the manufacturer or even commenting dryly on how practical and efficient it is!
Behind the launch of any marketable product for the public’s titillation, there is unquestionably a serious process undertaken to make sure a sex product is fully functional and suitable for its audience. On the internet, you can find hundreds of channels and blog-writers, statistically mostly female, who have made it their business, even their calling, to post articles laced with saucy descriptions of their experiences while testing sex toys. These fortunate few have a lurid appeal and fascination that goes beyond the mere interest of the toy itself.
One such person, Venus O'Hara, a fetching redhead with a substantial online following writes:
"Lying on an unmade bed having orgasms is an obvious perk of my job, but it’s only a very small part of the whole process”. Which sounds like a person who has definitely tried to find more than just animal satisfaction in the sex toy testing profession.
On the other hand, it is easy to imagine, other candidates busy with their toy testers in the privacy of their bedroom or bathroom, handing it back to the manufacturers afterwards with a nod of approval or murmur of agreement announcing with complete job satisfaction, "It works!".