What's this? What's this?
There's sex toys everywhere
What's this?
There's orgasms in the air
What's this?
I just can't shut my thighs
I must be dreaming
Wake up, Jon, and put that there!

With all due respect to The Nightmare Before Christmas, I feel like we've been transported to Sex Toy Town. This week's Sex Stories We Love is all about the new and improved conversations we're having about sex products and how it'simproving our sex and culture.

Sign from Down Below

Toronto, represent! Sex toys are a big industry, estimated to generate $40 billion each year. Yet, rarely do we ever see advertising for the myriad of sexy products. The lack of advertisement continues to contribute to the stigma surrounding sex toys. Keep 'em in the shadows, and they'll always be shady to some. Well, that trend might be on the way out...and in a big, big way! My hometown is abuzz about the big, beautiful Womanizer billboard posted along one of Toronto's main commuter routes. It's the talk of the city. And rightly so. This isn't just advertising. It also screams positive sex ed. Sex toys are awesome! Masturbation is amazing! Well done!

Erotic Empathy

One of the most notable ways the sex toy industry and its consumers differ from other industries is the intersection between form and empathy. No, I am not about to say that sex products aren't a commercial endeavour. They're as much as a do-hickey or thingamabob as all the others.

Yet, what separates out the sex toys from other baubles is the care and concern many designs and creators instill in them. Maybe not always, but in this golden age of sex toys, people are really trying to connect and make them with both function and feeling in mind. Check out Shawné Michaelain Holloway's reinvention of the strap-on and how her work includes consulting with many different people. This kind of thinking imbues an everlasting connection between designer and user. This is how it's done.

By Design!

One of the things that excites me most about scouring the world for awesome sex stories is when I find them in unlikely places. Check out this article featuring genderless sex toys on Dezeen. Bravo to the design site for featuring sex products and discussing the harrowing past and hopeful present of sex toy design. This is definitely changing from the penis-centric vision of years gone by! New designers continue to establish themselves in the market. The result? More comfort and more pleasure! What caught my eye was the comments section (I know...I know...). One reader questioned why the site would feature sex toys. Fortunately, another reader reminded everyone that "it is obviously designed." Sex toys, like everything else in the world, are designed. They deserve every bit of discussion as chairs, buildings, and art.

Sex Toys for Teens

Confession time: I haven't done this, but I think I should. I complete agree with Nadia Bokody: parents should discuss the positive aspects of pleasure with their teenage children and supply them with sex toys if they want them. Offering the opportunity to explore self-pleasure, in a shame-free and fun way is an amazing idea that will not only help that kid, but also improves our sexual culture in the long run.

If your teen happens to have a vulva, they can learn about their bodies in ways that sex ed isn't broaching at this time. I'll take it a step further. Why are sex products restricted by age? Why aren't they sold to teens in the first place? Reducing the stigma around sex toys and masturbation would be greatly helped by ending the prohibition on teens advocating for their own sexual pleasure by allowing them to purchase their own damn toys. What do you think?

Tried, Tested, and True

As a fellow sex toy reviewer, I have only one word for Grant Stoddard as he writes about his long career testing sex toys: AMEN. I have been fortunate enough to try and write about a number of sex products over the years. As most other reviewers will tell you, it's a hard job. Not every sex toy is an orgasm-inducing good time. Yet, you still gotta try it and write about it. At the same time, some sex products are completely amazing and you hold onto that shit for the rest of your life! I know I've got my favourites that I hope never wear out, break, or becomes damage in some way. And I'm going to keep at it. You're welcome for doing this dirtiest of work for your pleasure.

Sweet Revenge

Finally, remember Osé, the sex toy that got a raw deal at CES? Yeah, well, sex tech company Lora DiCarlo just landed a $100,000 grant from the State of Oregon...and a big vote of confidence in women-created sex products!