I went to a sex shop with Sprite and Rowdy the other day. We got a couple of fun toys, a large quantity of the high-performance lubricants required to fit Rowdy inside a human, and we spent some quality time walking around the entire store in the Porn Trance, just gawking.
I couldn't help noticing an incredibly common theme: a naked woman means straight sex, while a naked man means gay sex. Lesbian sex--which only exists in porn, not in the toy aisle, where even strapons are marketed only as a "bend over boyfriend" item--is indicated by two naked women. It all makes sense if you assume that only men have eyes.
Being a woman sometimes makes me feel like a toaster that somehow gained sentience. People talk about toasters, they talk about what a toaster does and what a toaster should be, they may even be big fans of toasters, but they don't talk to them.
I see this even in women's magazines. The October issue of Cosmo is sitting on my desk right now and it's full of pictures of women. Not the people women would like to look like--the people women would like to be looked at like. Because only men have eyes.
And then a lot of the copy within Cosmo, as I point out each month, is about what women are like or what women should be like. As if I might not know, otherwise.
Walking around an adult toy store, where male masturbators are labeled with sexy women and clit stimulators are labeled with sexy women, I get the eerie feeling that I'm not supposed to exist. My body is, but me, the part that would rather look at men or butch women? Pfft. Men desire, women are desired, and looking at an idealized version of yourself through male eyes is the sexiest thing a woman can hope for.
Then again, maybe this is practicality. We were there for a couple hours, and the whole time, Sprite and I were the only women in the store. Maybe the demographic reality is that straight men are buying all the clit stimulators. Maybe it's a vicious cycle, or maybe most women wouldn't come into a sex shop anyway.
The small contingent of sex toys that are marketed to women--mostly the upmarket stuff, because the $10 made-in-China junk always has a naked lady--tend to have plain packaging. It's just colors and swirls, or abstract woman-goddess figures, that look more like tampon and douche packaging than like porn. I'm okay with this, actually. I don't need to look at sexy men to pick out a vibrator; I just find it disconcerting to face a giant wall of sexy women, each one of them screaming "this isn't for you, what are you doing here?" Sexy nobody, sexy "hey, you're a grownup, you already know what this is for" packaging suits me just fine.
And I'm waiting with bated breath for the first time I see soothing meaningless blue swirls on a male masturbation toy.