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  • Wed, 6, Nov, 2019 - 5:00:AM

Why are sex toys R18?

You’ve probably heard of the Satisfyer Pro 2 by now. It’s that rose-gold airpod-looking device that’s got folks calling in sick. Users have reported experiencing the best orgasms of their life thanks to the gadget’s unique combination of suction, vibration and pulse. Emily Writes reckons it’s awesome, Amazon reviewers report falling out of the shower, I’ve even heard a rumour someone’s got it tattooed.

It’s the kind of news that’s got no downside. People with vulvas (specifically clitorises) are getting theirs. They’re getting theirs in the bath, they’re getting theirs on the sofa. They’re getting off on a boat, they’re getting off on a goat (except, hopefully not). The only folks not getting off, at least with the aid of that special golden friend, are vagina-owners under 18.

Sure, they could buy it online – but who wants to risk their parents opening that unusual package on the doorstep?

Or they could always ask someone to buy it for them, but let’s be real. When I was a teenager I could barely utter the word horny, let alone ask an older friend to buy me a wanking device.

Sex toys are R18 in New Zealand, as they are practically everywhere else in the world. This despite the New Zealand age of consent being 16.

I mean. What?

Of course, I think people should able to buy sex toys at the same age they are legally able to engage in sexual activity. That just makes sense. But I also think it should go beyond that: I think people should be able to buy sex toys at any age.

Now hear me out: I do think young people should wait before having sex. Not because it makes you impure (it doesn’t). Not because it’s a special gift you should save for your eventual spouse (yikes). Just because… young sex (that is: sex between two people who are young) is generally one of the most unsatisfying things you could ever hope to experience. Especially for vagina-havers.

It mostly involves five minutes of slapping your sweaty bodies into each other. If a clitoris gets involved at all, it’s usually because someone is HAMMERING on that sucker like it owes them money. It rarely involves mutual orgasm.

But you know what’s not one of the most unsatisfying things you’ll ever go through? In fact, quite the opposite? Figuring out how to orgasm.

I was one of those teenagers who opened Girlfriend magazine straight to the sealed section. I was, let’s say… figuring things out almost nightly. And still, my go-to response if anyone ever asked if I’d ever touched myself? A defiant ew, no!

We live in a culture where girls (and all young folks with vaginas) are both rampantly sexualised and completely robbed of sexual agency. Trends in pornography continue to show women as sexual objects more often than equal sexual participants. And we know that young people are getting a lot of their ‘sex ed’ from porn.

But the thing about masturbating (as hard as it can be for us Kiwi folk to even utter that word) is that it’s not performative. It means locking the door and exploring yourself, for yourself. People who know how to orgasm will inevitably have higher expectations of sex than people who don’t. They’ll be less likely to fake it. They’ll hopefully be more confident in their own sexual proclivities.

I understand why sex toys are R18. It’s one of those knee-jerk ways of ‘keeping young people safe’. But keeping young folks away from clit stimulators does nothing to keep them safe from sexual predation. It only serves to make sex an even scarier beast than it already is. When we empower young people in their sexuality we set them on a path toward making informed choices.

Young people are horny. They’re also ashamed. I don’t think the answer lies in burying our heads in the sand.


  • Sex /
  • Sexuality /
  • Autonomy /
  • Feminism /
  • Female Orgasm /
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