Ten years from now, when I’m breaking ground on the Lieberman Phallological Museum and Dildo Emporium, I don’t want to be the only person in the world who believes that sex toys can rise to the level of art. In that spirit, I will use this blog post to attempt to convince the world that some dildos, vibrators, and male masturbators should be categorized as art. The question of what art is can never, and will never be answered. So I’m not going to try to do that here. I will just use Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography to define art: “I know it when I see it.”
Functional objects always have a disadvantage when it comes to being labeled as art. It seems like if something actually serves a purpose, it cannot be art. That’s why car museums are considered kitschy and museums filled with sculptures of giant human fetuses are considered high brow. And when the object has a sexual use, it’s more difficult to convince people of its artistic character, which leads to this intractable question: “If you can fuck it, is it art?”
Even if you believe that sex toys can be art, in the past 30 years most sex toys have been too ugly to be thought of as art; they’re frequently made of fluorescent jelly plastic and feature disturbing faces. But recently, some progress has been made in this industry, and companies are manufacturing beautiful sex toys. I’m not sure what caused this trend. Partly it’s the green movement, which led consumers to be concerned about the materials their products are made out of. This has caused a shift from sex toys made from phthalate-filled jelly materials to those constructed from silicone, wood, steel, and ceramics. It has also led to some accountability in the industry, which is important because the FDA doesn’t regulate sex toys. And since you can’t try out a sex toy before you buy it, the design is extremely important. If you’re going to shove something up your ass, it better be well made.
Here are three sex toys worthy of the label art, and my speculation on their artistic inspiration:
(side note: This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. There are at least a half-dozen other sex toy companies producing fuckable art).
Girard Dildo by Babes N Horny:
Made of high quality silicone, this dildo is designed to fit perfectly into Babes N’ Horny’s hand-crafted harnesses that are painstakingly constructed by a London tailor.
Yooo by Fun Factory: Appearing like an inverted Mickey Mouse insignia and available in Pop candy colors, the Yooo vibrator is playful and unique. It’s also made of silicone, has two motors, and is rechargeable.