The Snarky Feminist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day Sex Toy Shopping

Wondering what toys these are? Find out at the bottom of the post!

Oh, hello! I’m guessing you’re here because you’re ready to shop until you drop—or at least until your cart is overflowing with sex toys for Valentine’s Day and you can’t carry any more. Welcome!

Let’s get something out of the way first. I know, I know, you want to dive right into the juicy stuff. I don’t blame you! This is Valentine’s Day we’re preparing for, after all—also known as That Time of Year When Mainstream Magazines Make Really Shitty Sex Toy Gift Guides and Mislead Their Readers. Er, sorry. My fingers slipped on the keyboard! No use in deleting it now.

Yes, Valentine’s Day. We’re really talking about Valentine’s Day here. I swear.

Anyway, just one bit of serious housekeeping before we begin. Are you buying a sex toy for yourself? AWESOME. Keep reading and go forth and buy all the body-safe things. Buying a sex toy for your partner? Please, please don’t buy a sex toy for someone else without having an in-depth conversation about it first, and don’t ever surprise a partner with a toy during sex. I’m always a fan of shopping with your partner, but if that’s not an option, check out Dangerous Lilly’s advice.

Back to that juicy stuff we might get into. (Yes, I said might, didn’t you see the word “Feminist” in the title? That obviously means we won’t have any fun.)

Against all logic, I’m going to share tips and suggestions for shame-free shopping for financially accessible, body-safe sex toys made by ethical companies. Isn’t that just wild? Join me in this rebellion against the slew of sex toy shopping guides popular magazines put out every year before Valentine’s Day. Take that, capitalism! #OrgasmsAgainstCapitalism

Yes, Virginia, there IS a sex toy under $200. Quite, a few, actually. What if I told you there are even body-safe sex toys under $100, under $50? Well, you better believe it.

For much of sex toys’ history, the only financially accessible options on the market were toxic and unsafe. Now, toxic sex toys still hang around (thanks, unethical companies), but more and more manufacturers are realizing the importance of creating affordable toys that are also body-safe. The sex toy industry admittedly has a long way to go, but despite mainstream advice—*cough* “women’s” magazines *cough*—it’s just not true that you have to spend a fortune to get a quality sex toy anymore.

BREAKING NEWS: Using and loving sex toys doesn’t make you “dirty” or “naughty.” Sex toys don’t need to be your “little secret” or a “private bedroom delight” or [insert any other strange, cringe-worthy, stigmatizing phrase here].

Descriptors like these might seem harmless at first, but they’re everywhere in the sex toy industry—and pop up every five seconds during the Valentine’s Day sex toy shopping frenzy. They imply that sex toys are shameful and that people should keep quiet and hide their pleasure. I have only two words in response: Fuck. That. You are allowed to embrace your sexuality and shop with companies that affirm pleasure as a human right.

No one should be ready for this jelly. This is approximately the time in the lifespan of a mainstream sex toy gift guide that the writer mentions a toxic, unsafe jelly sex toy as an “affordable alternative” to higher-priced materials. Just keep scrolling and shield your eyes. Staring at a sweaty, sticky, toxic dildo through a computer screen never did anyone any favors.

Fuck with feminists, not fakers. Yeah, I said fakers. What is this, the 1990s? I wanted the alliteration, okay? You can be embarrassed, I’m embarrassed too. (Exploitative, unethical misogynists is a good alternative to fakers. Your pick.)

It’s a good idea to investigate sex toy companies and manufacturers’ ethics and business practices before buying their toys. You deserve to use products made by companies that care about sexual freedom, autonomy, consent, and agency—and you can give a big ol’ middle-finger to those that don’t. Feminist retailers like Vibrant, Sugar, and Smitten Kitten have chosen not to stock toys by unethical manufacturers like LELO, and I look forward to seeing other shops follow suit.

Tear down unnecessary “couples” sex toy labels. Next stop, patriarchy! There’s no such thing as a sex toy made “just for couples.” All sex toys can be couples’ toys, just as they can be solo toys. Unfortunately, sex toy gift guides (and sex toy companies themselves) all too often prescribe certain kinds of sex toys for partnered people—and they’re almost always meant for penetrative sex.

“Couples toys” are usually extraordinarily highly-priced in the $150-200 range, making sex toys seem inaccessible for folks who can’t spend a couple hundred dollars on a product that may or may not work for them. The truth is a whole lot easier on your wallet: does a sex toy work for you and your partners? Even if it’s not labeled as a “couples” toy? Even if it’s $150 LESS than the luxury “couples” toys manufacturers peddle? Awesome. Pleasure shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive.

Well, there you have it, Valentine’s Day sex toy shopping extraordinaires. Go forth and shop equitably and free of shame, armed with knowledge of body-safe sex toys and ethical companies. Huzzah!

Products in the header image, starting from the bottom left going clockwise: Magic Wand Rechargeable, Fun Factory Amor, Good Clean Love Lube, Blush Novelties Helio, LVX Supply cuffs and floral paddle, Tantus Super Soft C-Ring, Jimmyjane Iconic Wand, We-Vibe Tango, random rope, New York Toy Collective Shilo, We-Vibe Gala, b-Vibe Rimming Plug, Doxy Wand.

This post was sponsored by Vibrant. As always, all writing and opinions are my own.