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Why Body Safe Sex Toys Matter

Why Body Safe Sex Toys Matter

We often tell customers that when it comes to regulations, the sex toy industry is the Wild Wild West. That is, there is no regulatory body ensuring that adult toys use body safe materials. By calling them “novelty items,” toy companies are able to avoid the rules. While the same materials were banned in children’s toys, they are still in tons of sex toys; many of which are falsely advertised as “body safe,” or even as silicone. 

Does it matter? Well, yes. Sex toys are ubiquitous. According to Justin Lehmiller of the Kinsey institute, since the advent of COVID, approximately 65.7% of non-binary folks, and 52.9% of people who identify as women used toys for masturbation.[1] According to a survey done by the University of Guelph in 2017, approximately 52.3% of Canadians use sex toys.[2] Also, if you're reading this ... You probably care to know about the safety of sex toys.

We aren’t the first people to talk about this. Back in 2003, when toy store Smitten Kitten launched in Minneapolis, they noticed that their sex toys sweat.[3] This “sweat” was off-gassing of hazardous chemicals from jelly materials. The badass folks they are, they spread the word and committed to selling only actually body safe toys. Where I can largely depend on research, they had to send toys for lab testing. At Bonjibon, we proudly do the same. Any and all toys that we carry are as body safe as can be.

So what’s the actual problem?

Well, there are a couple of categories to worry about: Potentially toxic materials and porous substances. Of the two, toys that are both potentially toxic and porous are the most dangerous.

Porous but nontoxic products do exist, like some ABS plastics. The issue with them is that they are fertile ground for microorganisms to grow and fester. Even diligent cleaning will not necessarily remove the microscopic dangers. So although the polymer itself is nontoxic, it becomes hazardous with use.

On the other hand, some products are potentially toxic from the jump, like TPR/TPE, jelly-like polymers, and vinyl. There is strong evidence that the potentially toxic materials do serious harm. Greenpeace did a study in 2006 by testing samples and found toys full of phalates, carcienogens, endocrine disruptors, which can cause birth defects – some of the toys were comprised of 51% hazardous materials.

These materials are regulated in children’s toys is because there are serious risks associated with them. It is generally agreed that DEHP is very dangerous, and can cause cancer, birth defects, and harm to reproductive systems.[5] In 2005, it was shown that AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth) babies exposed to DEHP through breast milk had lower testosterone.[4]

So what CAN I use?

Look for toys that are 100% pure silicone, glass, stainless steel, or ceramic. Since the labeling isn't always correct, buy from a trusted retailer (Like us) and/or learn about how to test products - for instance, using a polarizing lens and computer monitor to check for stress on your glass toys, or learning about the qualities of silicone to determine if your toys are indeed 100% silicone. Dangerous Lily is a great resource for this.

Great, so I can find safe toys. But what should we DO?

It is unlikely that tort law will be the way forward on this issue because of needing to establish causation between the toxic contact and injury, and we don’t have enough research on it yet... Because of the stigma.

Legislation is likely the solution – though even legislated standards are often skirted whenever companies get a chance.

There are things that you can do right now. First off, if you're in the financial position to do so, vote with your coin and shop at a reliable sex toy reseller (Like Bonjibon) who is committed to doing the research and finding body safe materials. These include medical grade silicone, glass, properly treated wood, and porcelain. Second, talk about it. The stigma around sexual pleasure and sex toys runs deep. The more we talk about it, the less the issue can be swept under the rug. 

 

[1] Lehmiller, J., 2021. How Many People Have Used Sex Toys During the Pandemic? — Sex And Psychology. [online] Sex And Psychology. Available at: <https://www.lehmiller.com/blog/2020/8/26/how-many-people-have-used-sex-toys-during-the-pandemic> [Accessed 25 August 2021]. It’s interesting to note that folks who identify outside of cis and straight are more likely to use toys. Additionally, against conventional knowledge, the number of folks using sex toys did not go up materially during the pandemic. 

[2] Wood, J., Crann, S., Cunningham, S., Money, D. and O'Doherty, K., 2017. A cross-sectional survey of sex toy use, characteristics of sex toy use hygiene behaviours, and vulvovaginal health outcomes in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 26(3), pp.196-204.

[3] 2021. The Truth About Adam and Eve. [video] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igXU3OMvTWA> [Accessed 25 August 2021].

[4] Beisanz, Z., 2021. Dildos, Ar Dildos, Artificial V tificial Vaginas, and Phthalates: How T aginas, and Phthalates: How Toxic Sex T xic Sex Toys Illustrate a Broader Problem for Consumer Protection. Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality, 25(1), p.211. 

[5] P65warnings.ca.gov. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets/di2-ethylhexylphthalate-dehp> [Accessed 25 August 2021].

Other suggested resources: 

Videos: 

Pritchett, J., 2021. [video] Available at: <https://vimeo.com/40545180> [Accessed 25 August 2021].

Written:

Dangerous Lilly | Salty Sex Toy Critic, Dildo Burner, Sex Toy Myth Buster - Sex blog with a focus on sex toy reviews and education. 2021. Toxic Toys – The Definite Guide to Toxic Sex Toy Awareness | Dangerous Lilly {a sex blog by Dangerous Lilly}. [online] Available at: <https://dangerouslilly.com/toxictoys/> [Accessed 25 August 2021].

Rada, Phd, A., 2019. Imposed Morality. Calwell, Australia: Inspiring Publishers.

 

 

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