Sex toys and products

7 Ways the ’21 Grams Memory Box’ Completely Misses the Mark

Published: JUNE 19, 2015 | Updated: JULY 15, 2020
The combination dildo-funereal urn has inspired much interest, but is that really the best way to remember a deceased spouse?

I'll be honest. I think the idea of burning a loved one to ashes, and then keeping the soot in a jar in your home is already morbid and a little disturbing. Sure, we'd all like to think we're keeping our loved ones "with us" by keeping something of theirs near. Couldn't that something be a favorite book, chair, blanket, letter, or photo instead of their charred remains? Artist Mark Sturkenboom disagrees. That's why he created the 21 Grams Memory Box. This artistic trinket combines a ring-box-style presentation with a scent atomizer, an iPod speaker, and yes—a dildo containing 21 grams of your deceased lover's ashes.


Sturkenboom's goal was to assert "an accusation against the unavoidable passing of life." While that's a worthy goal, I'm not sure he succeeded. His attempt to combine scents with aural memory and um…intimate stimulation just doesn't capture the essence of a loved one or of marital intimacy. Where did he go wrong? Here are seven ways the 21 Grams Memory Box misses the mark.

21 Grams Memory Box with dildo that holds cremated remains
Source: Sturkenboom

Sturkenboom Didn't Include a Place to Put a Picture

Really? A photograph seems like the most obvious way to remind ourselves of someone who isn't with you - be they deceased or just living on the other side of the world. Spend five seconds on the Internet and it's undeniable that humans love visual representations of their loved ones and themselves. Leaving this out seems like a huge omission.

It's Way Hetero-normative

Sturkenboom specifically mentions widows as the main buyers of the 21 Grams Memory Box. Gay male widowers probably shouldn't use the 21 Grams dildo since it doesn't have a flared base. That makes it risky for anal use. Lesbian widows, obviously, have even less use for such a product. One could argue that it tactfully implies that only straight couples need or deserve this kind of memorial for their lost love.


An Angle of Necrophilia

This is sure to dampen the mood for some people. While this is clearly a high-end art piece (Sturkenboom declines to reveal the price of the 21 Grams Memory Box except to serious buyers), it's still an urn nestled inside of a sex toy. To my mind, that's only a few steps away from necrophilia. It's literally designed to allow you to insert a bit of your lovers vacated corpse into your body.

The Atomizer Contains a Scent That's Supposed to Remind You of Your Deceased Love

Yet, what if that scent is stale cigars or a backyard barbecue? I'm hard pressed to imagine how Sturkenboom comes up with those scents in the first place. For older guys, aren't we talking about stuff like Old Spice, Aquavelva, single-malt whiskey, or Newport lights? While any of those things might remind you of your recently-departed life-partner, I'd argue that none of these are particularly erotic.

The Sexual Implication

This product gives the sexual implication that all the survivor misses is her partner's penis. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the human penis and all the fun things there are to do with it. But a partner is infinitely more than a sex organ. I suspect that masturbating to a lost loved one is bound to produce more sad feelings than wistful ones - especially in the beginning. Personally, I think the best way to honor a happy relationship cut short by death is to eventually find a new partner and look for that happiness again.


Grief Often Dampens the Sex Drive

This is not universally true, but many people report a loss of sexual desire, sometimes lasting years, after the death of someone close to them. Presenting someone with the 21 Grams Memory Box as a memorial gift could be taken as presumptive, insensitive, or even insulting.

The Odd Birth of the 21 Grams Memory Box

Sturkenboom has said that the idea for the 21 Grams Memory Box came to him while helping a local widow with her groceries. That implies that this is a product for, if you'll pardon the term, old ladies. That's sweet, I guess, but I know very few older people who are even comfortable using an iPod.

You never know - maybe the 21 Grams Memory Box will be a huge seller. In 10 years, maybe I'll look utterly backward and repressed for having mocked it. For now, I'm declaring this as a well-intentioned product that utterly misses the mark and fails to achieve its stated goal. If you think I'm the one who's off the mark here, I'd love to hear why in the comments.


Wednesday Lee Friday

Wednesday Lee Friday is an eclectic writer of fact and fiction. She has worked as a reptile wrangler, phone sex operator, radio personality, concierge, editor, fast food manager, horror novelist, and she owns a soap shop. She prefers jobs that let her sleep during the day. Everybody knows all the best art and literature happen at night! Wednesday's work has appeared in Women's Health Interactive, Alternet, Screen Rant, The Roots of Loneliness Project and Authority...

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