Sarah Brown (auntysarah) wrote,

The Ergonomics of Onanism


The seahorse-like gadget on the left is what I've asked for for Christmas. It's called the Delight, and it's made by a company called The Fun Factory, who are based in Germany and seem to be distinguished by designing female sex toys which are high quality, and rather unusual compared to your usual dildoes and vibrators.

They sell a lot of their stuff in the women-oriented "erotic emporium", Sh! (men have to be accompanied by a woman in there). It's one of my favourite shops in the whole World; they make you a cup of tea when you go in and the friendly women there go the extra mile to make sure your shopping experience is a good one. Apparently they try all the products there themselves (nice job), amnd are more than happy to discuss details and offer advice. The stuff they sell is generally high quality, and very reasonably priced. It's a real pleasure to go in there and browse, and I've found it makes the experience at some of their competitors, where one may expect to find cheaply made, expensively priced rejects from a badly made porn flick, seem very poor in comparison.

It was while I was in there some weeks ago that I saw the Delight, their latest acquisition, sitting on the display in its combined carrying case/recharger (another nice touch). It immediately grabbed my attention, and after taking a couple of seconds to work out exactly how one would use it, the first thing that went through my mind was, "What an amazingly clever idea! Why has no-one thought of that before?"

See, even in somewhere like Sh!, which is a space that oozes female sexuality from every pore, and is possibly just a tad lesbian on occasion too, much of the merchandise is still designed, at a fairly basic level, as a penis mimic. Now clearly the male and female sex organ are a good match for each other at some level - they accomplish the job of procreation and evolution has spent countless generations refining the way it works, but I can't help feeling that evolution and sex toy manufacturers aren't quite working towards the same design goals. From a purely biological point of view, it's useful that the sex act is enjoyable, but enjoyment is still very much a means to an end. The sex toy industry need not concern itself with efficiently mating sperm and ovum, making its money from ensuring that our toes curl in as enjoyable a way as possible.

While it therefore makes perfect sense to be inspired from nature, there seems to be an assumption inherent in the design of many sex toys that the goal is to accurately duplicate it, which seems to me to be missing the point. Take clothing as an analogy. Nature provides us with a certain amount of natural ability to maintain warmth and comfort, but a nice comfy sweater is not designed along the same principles as body hair, or animal fur, nor should it be. When clothing manufacturers don't have to worry about producing our clothes by growing them in situ on our skin, and realise that we can take them off if they're too warm, wash them in detergent if they're dirty, etc., they can do a much better job than evolution did. As a result, we wear clothes that allow us to thrive in environments where our ancestors would surely have perished.

It's surely the same with sex toys. Just as a modern pullover bears only the most superficial resemblance to a piece of animal fur, there's no real reason to expect that the best kind of vibrator is a mechanical penis duplicate. At the risk of being accused of misandry, I suspect that most designers of female masturbation aids are probably male, or at the very least not thinking out of the box. That's why I like the look of the Delight so much - it looks like someone sat down and set about designing something that was specifically designed with the ergonomics of the vulva in mind, rather than starting with the penis as a template and working from there. Indeed, I have a suspicion (and perhaps others can add their own thoughts on this in the comment thread) that the reaction of most of those reading this born with, and still in possession of a penis, upon seeing the Delight is very much along the lines of, "Huh? How's that work then?".

I know that's what my reaction would have been before I got my own "ladybits", but perhaps I was just a bit unworldly?

Anyway, please do let me know what you think about this, all you lovely people, because I am genuinely curious. Personally I think that The Fun Factory are very much the Apple of the sex toy industry - they just seem to have this feel for ergonomics and nice touches.

The lady at the shop seemed to share my enthusiasm, by the way. She told me they'd been arguing over which one of them got to take it home and try it out.
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