You know sex toys have officially gone mainstream when a profile of a vibrator company graces the Style Section of the New York Times. In case you missed it in all its newsprint glory, that happened earlier this summer when the founders of the feminist-minded sex toy company Dame Products were featured talking about “Eva,” a “hands-free” couples product, which they hope closes the “pleasure gap.” It’s no coincidence that this $105 luxury item was also the first sex toy to ever be funded on Kickstarter, which bent its own internal rules barring such items from being on the site.
Dame Products, which describes its mission as designing sex toys “to heighten intimacy, and to openly empower the sexual experiences of womankind,” and its many competitors seem to have unlocked a fundamental formula for success that is equal parts wellness and women’s empowerment.
“I think the fact that we have a more holistic view of sex than sex as this one act makes us a lot more relatable,” Alex Fine, CEO of Dame, told Salon. “Self-love is the key to all of it.”
Make no mistake, bringing innovative sex toys to the masses is still an uphill battle, even for high-profile companies like Dame. Often, banks and payment processing services have clauses that flat-out ban any adult-oriented business, and venture capitalists are known to avoid such investment opportunities for fear of alienating stakeholders. But on the whole, sex toys just aren’t the kind of taboo topic they once were, as evidenced by the profits rolling in. It’s estimated that the sex toy retail market will surpass $50 billion within the next three years. And it’s more than just sales. We’re also witnessing the advent of corporate appropriation: Broad City, the girl power stoner comedy series set to debut its fourth season on Comedy Central, will soon have its own sex toy line.
All in all, the world of sex toys is a far cry from the seedy, underground…