The other day, I got a Tumblr message inquiring about my appreciation of dildos as art:
“What makes you look at a dildo and be like “festinating art and detail”? Do you also watch porn for the story?”
After concluding that the author probably meant to type “fascinating”, I started to compose a quick reply to this somewhat snarky little note. Several paragraphs later, I realized that what I was really doing was writing a blog post. The question may very well have been sarcastic, but the idea at its core is thought provoking enough for serious analysis.
I understand that a dildo’s primary purpose doesn’t require it to look good. But humans make a whole lot of functional things prettier than they need to be. We put an awful lot of effort into worrying about how our clothes look, even though plainer garments would cover us equally well. When you go shopping to buy something as ordinary as a pen, you’ll find dozens of different colors, shapes and designs. All of them will apply ink to paper successfully. When I drive down my street, I see mailboxes in a variety of different colors, and even some decorated to look like animals. I’m not an engineer, but I doubt that those fancy mailboxes do a better job holding envelopes and packages. You can even buy toilets in an array of styles, for crying out loud.
As important as function is, people want more than that: they want to surround themselves with things that are visually pleasing. The fact that an object is purchased primarily for a simple, utilitarian purpose doesn’t mean that it can’t also be beautiful. Of course, our individual priorities vary. Some people are heavily driven by looks, others to a lesser degree. Some obsess about clothes while happily driving an old clunker of a car. It doesn’t always make sense, but clearly appearances matter.
Speaking for myself, sex toys are a whole lot more interesting and exciting when they look nice. It’s like the presentation of food at an upscale restaurant. Sure, that food would still be tasty and satisfying if it were slopped onto a plastic tray cafeteria-style. But putting it on a fancy plate and arranging it with some sense of aesthetics enriches the whole experience. It’s a feast for your eyes as well as your mouth. Same principle applies with dildos, just change “mouth” to “vagina”1. The truth is that a beautifully colored and sculpted dildo has a positive impact on my arousal level. I will legitimately enjoy using it more than a similar bland-colored, generic looking toy.
I also consider the artistic side of sex toys because there is no doubt in my mind that some of the folks making them are artists. They have honed their craft for years. They’ve invested countless hours of hours to developing their techniques. They sculpt. They carve. They agonize over their choices of pigments, finishes and other materials. And they constantly, obsessively, fiercely push themselves to produce ever more beautiful toys for their customers and fans. I happen to appreciate those efforts.
Take, for example, this hand carved beauty I recently ordered from ShouldaWooda:
Or this marbled masterpiece from Damn Average:
Or this colorful craziness from Exotic-Erotics:
I understand how it could seem odd to find beauty in sex toys. Many of us grew up conditioned to see these things as “dirty” or “bad”, or at the very least as a secret to be hidden at all costs. Seeing toys as art means being proud to own them, rejecting the shame and stereotypes that have lingered for so long. Ultimately, that’s what makes me see dildos as art… how could a tool dedicated to pleasure not be a beautiful thing?
P.S. No, I don’t watch porn just for the story. I do, however, find that a little background/setup of the scene enhances it for me. Perhaps I’ll flesh that answer out later in another post…
P.P.S. Huge thanks to Emmeline Peaches, sex blogging superhero and artist extraordinaire, for the featured image on this post. I was having a hard time finding an image to use when her perfect fan art appeared on Twitter.
- Or “anus”, depending on your preferences and anatomy. ↩