Let’s talk about strap-ons. Why? Because I just conducted a search on the history of strap-on dildos, and there was shockingly little to be found. Apparently, this is due to the "often taboo nature of strap-on activities…" A peculiar assessment, given that it’s just another bedroom activity that people of all shapes, sizes, genders and sexualities can (and do!) enjoy. Never mind that it’s a fun and healthy way to modify and play with your body; because it’s a topic about sex, and especially about so-called kinky sex (gasp!), it’s considered taboo.

What's the best way to make something less taboo? Talk about it. So yeah, let’s talk about strap-ons.

In the Beginning…

There’s a decent amount of info on the history of dildos, but not much written about people who like to strap them on. It seems women in ancient China were down with dildos and used them on each other, but it’s unclear whether they experimented with actual strap-on play. There is evidence that the ancient Greeks made leather harnesses for their stone dildos (Stone! Ouch!). And of course, The Kama Sutra, the Holy Grail of kink, discusses the use of dildos, both by hand and with straps or a harness.

Outside of these examples (and a 19th-century Chinese painting that shows a woman using a dildo strapped to her shoe), we’re kind of in the dark about our ancestors’ attitudes toward strap-on sex. We don’t want future generations to suffer the same misfortune, so let’s talk about where we’re at with strap-on dildos these days. (Get more background in A Long, Strange Trip Through Dildo History.)

In the Now…

Although the basic idea behind dildos hasn’t changed too much, we’ve made some substantial upgrades to our strap-on play. First off, we traded in stone dildos for ones made with body-safe, easy-to-clean materials. Mostly, we stick with non-toxic, medical-grade silicone, but on occasion we experiment with glass, metal, and even wood. (Get more info about what kinds of materials are best for your sensitive bits in Sex Toy Safety: A Guide to Materials.) These days, dildos come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so that everybody can find their perfect fit. As for the methods by which these dildos actually get strapped on, well, we’re still applauding the ancient Greeks for their ingenuity. Leather (or vegan leather) continues to be the material of choice for strap-on harnesses.

How else have we modified our strap-on play? We've added technology, of course. Whereas wearers of strap-ons used to experience primarily psychological pleasure, with the addition of vibrators to the dildo harnesses, wearers can now feel heightened physical pleasure as well. Wearers can turn their vibrators on to stimulate themselves while using the strap-on dildo to stimulate their partner. With all these additions and upgrades, it’s like we took the satisfactory strap-on sex of our foremothers and dialed it up to an 11. It’s awesome! And it’s about to become even awesomer. (Afraid to strap one on? Read 7 Big, Fat Misconceptions About Strap Ons.)

In the Future…

Strap ons are going bionic. Yup, bionic. Orgasmatronics, Inc is bringing the Ambrosia Vibe, the world’s first "bionic strap-on," into production thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. What the heck is a bionic strap-on, you ask? It’s a strap-on dildo that responds to touch with real time vibration feedback. Massage or suck the dildo and a bullet vibe in the base of the dildo vibrates. In other words, rather than controlling the vibrator by clicking buttons on a remote, users can apply a rhythmic motion to achieve a reaction.

So what else can we do to modify and improve strap-on play? I don’t know. But I sure as hell hope we can keep talking about it.