Tell someone you’re buying sex toys, and chances are good they’ll assume you mean one thing, and one thing only: a vibrator. Though vibrators are hardly the only pleasure product on offer — dildos, butt plugs, cock rings, masturbation sleeves, and kink toys routinely line the aisles of sex toys shops around the country — they’ve managed to take a dominant position in the erotic imagination of Americans.
And yet, for all their prominence in the pleasure product industry, there’s nothing inherently superior about vibration when it comes to orgasm production. There’s no peer-reviewed scientific study that suggests that vibration is the stimulation best suited to sexual pleasure.
To the extent that vibration has been able to exert dominance in the sex toys arena, it’s mostly because it was one of the first mechanized modes of sexual stimulation to gain a foothold in our culture — and once it established itself, it seems no one felt the need to come up with anything different.
“There hasn’t been a lot of creativity,” Coyote Amrich, purchasing manager for San Francisco-based sex toys shop Good Vibrations, tells Refinery29. And why would there be? Vibration has brought pleasure to millions of people over the years; as long as adult sex toys manufacturers have been able to cash in on that, there’s been little motivation to innovate or explore other options.
But as more manufacturers have moved into the adult toys market, stores have become glutted with any array of nearly identical variation on the vibrator. Try as people might, there are only so many ways to innovate on so simple a concept — and that means anyone looking to make a splash in the sex toys space needs at least a little bit of creativity and innovation.
Which is why the past few years have seen an uptick in vibration alternatives. The classic marital aid has been joined by pressure-based products, adult toys that attempt to mimic the thrusting of penis-in-vagina sex, electro-stim items, and, perhaps most notably of all, a selection of products devoted to suction. It’s this latter category that seems to be getting the most attention and traction in the market — and, with any luck, suction toys might stand a chance at upending the dominance of the vibrator.