Sex Toys

Why are sex toy websites in India not very female-friendly?

a woman's fingers caressing a muskmelon.

Let me tell you a little story – I am a 27 year old, female-identifying human, living in one of India’s bigger metropolitan cities. I’ve always been curious about sex and everything related to it. I wanted to own my first sex toy when I found out about what sex toys meant. But I had no idea where to get myself one. A few people around me, who already owned one, either got their from stores abroad, or many just told me to get one from dingy, dimly-lit stores in markets where the shop-owners look at you from top to bottom and then bottom to top in judgement. Thank you very much but that’s not for me, I told them.

So at 23 years old, I found out that you can buy sex toys from one of the biggest retailers – Amazon! But you can’t find it with the search – sex toys, it was disguised under the ‘massagers’ section. Yes, back massagers, foot massagers, neck massagers. But they did what you wanted them to do – just be a vibrator. But over the last decade, there was a huge boom of retailers selling sex toys on very proper websites. I wish I’d just known! My search began there.

But when I did begin my search, I noticed that most of the sex toy websites I visited were not very female friendly. Was it that only men deserved pleasure? This leaves a huge part of the world – women and queer folks out of the picture. Let me tell you in my little analysis some of the reasons why I think sex toy websites are not very female-friendly.

For starters, everything on sex toy websites are marketed to cater to the male gaze. What does that entail? The imagery used to sell sex toys are very graphic – images of men and women in their undergarments, only catering to the pleasure of cis-gendered, heterosexual men. By doing this, not only does it perpetrate the sexualisation and objectification of female bodies, it also lures women away from purchasing products that are built for their pleasure, and their pleasure alone.

Second, product descriptions on sex toy websites do not have appropriate or detailed information on the product utility. By doing this, sex toy websites do not talk about the kind of pleasure that a woman could receive while using the product. Plus, when only men make purchases on the website, for themselves or on behalf of female partners, they always go for realistic, phallic looking toys over what is functional for women. It is evident on sex toy websites that the age-old belief of men having more purchasing power than women, combined with the taboo of female pleasure, still hold very, very much true.

Third, when sex toy websites focus on female pleasure, it is all about penetrative toys. But in reality, only 41-50% of women can actually orgasm from penetrative sex. Whereas, 90% of women actually climax through clirotal stimulation. So why don’t sex toy websites focus on toys that work with clitoral stimulation and pleasure?

Lastly, but most importantly, all sex toy websites focus on orgasms being the end goal of sex. Whereas, in reality, there’s so much more to sex than just that. It’s about the journey, and it’s about the highs and lows of pleasure. It’s about edging and mutual pleasure. But sex toys focus on one thing alone: orgasms.

Any guesses why sex toy websites aren’t very female-friendly? We are giving you 4. We are building an inclusive pleasure-positive world with Manzuri. And yes, it will always be female-first.

Because that’s our focus – to bridge the orgasm gap.