When SEXTECHGUIDE launched in 2016, ‘sextech’ was in its nascent stages as a topic – it existed, but there wasn’t a lot of information around, and there certainly wasn’t a lot of acceptance or feeling of mainstream legitimacy. For an area that touches everyone, having an independent place to go for non-sensationalistic news, features, reviews and more seemed like a necessary step. So I started this site.
Over the subsequent years – and perhaps in small part to our continued focus – the sextech industry has continued to grow. ‘Big name’ publications now regularly include basic sextech features among their coverage. CES, the biggest electronic trade show in the world, is finally accepting sextech as an official category. Progress is unarguably being made.
However, as sextech continues to reach a wider audience, brands and businesses are using it as just yet another buzzword. Take, for example, Product Hunt’s inclusion of a sextech category in its ‘Golden Kitty’ awards.
You’d have thought that given the word ‘tech’ is in the award title, and it’s being given by an organization specifically known for its ties to tech startups, that there could be something remotely ‘tech’ about the proposed finalists, which include… “a sextech journal”. It’s a book, folks. A book.
This isn’t a reflection on how good the Sex Journal for Couples is – it may indeed be brilliant, but it isn’t ‘tech’. It definitely isn’t ‘sextech’.
What it is, however, is a very presentable project from Product Hunt’s point of view. It’s for couples. It doesn’t require anything anatomically accurate being depicted. It’s simple for everyone to understand conceptually. And it’s still not sextech. Indeed, the category’s eventual winner was Coral, an app that describes itself as being for “horizontal happiness” and that achieves this through ” a mix of science, stories and practical exercises created by experts”.
Again, Coral may well be great, this isn’t a judgement on the product, but on how the winner and runner-up of the sextech category were both incredibly tame in terms of pushing any sort of barriers. And one of them wasn’t tech.
It’s not a problem restricted to Product Hunt at all: many big companies now want to cash in on the work that has gone into making sextech an acceptable discussion topic, only they still don’t want to engage in any of the ‘messy’ bits. Sexual wellness is allowed, but truly, don’t mention an orgasm.
Even CES’ inclusion of sextech products is restricted to lip-service: products designed for outright pleasure, or those modelled on any human anatomy, are still not allowed at the show.
Sexual Wellness vs Sexual Pleasure
Sexual wellness isn’t the same thing as sexual pleasure, and forcing companies to masquerade as one, when in fact they are in the business of the other doesn’t do anything to advance the discourse around sextech, future human sexuality, or how we interpret the changes that are coming our way sexually.
Pretending that any old vibrator (or indeed journal) should count as ‘sextech’ is the sort of shallow assessment that we’re here to challenge.
Defining what exactly sextech is can be hard, particularly when it comes to devices. We get it. But its also not that hard.
Imagine you were going out to buy a new refrigerator. You wouldn’t consider that ‘tech’ shopping generally. It’s a purchase of necessity, rather than luxurious desire.
If you go out and buy an app-connected, hi-tech fridge that re-orders your groceries for you and reads your meeting schedule to you in the morning, then that’s more of a tech purchase.
We consider sextech devices in a similar way, which is why a basic vibrator isn’t something that we cover. Does it have an innovative design? Is there a companion app? Can you use it in VR? Does it connect to interactive content or other devices? Then its probably sextech, and deserves a place here.
Lip service being paid to an industry is one thing, but beyond the bandwagon-hopping frustration that may arise, the wider picture is one of a net gain. More awareness, more acceptance and more knowledge is rarely a bad thing, particularly when it comes to sex.