Tag Archives: toxic toys

CatalystCon Part 1: Dildos, Dildos, Dildos

I think we all know that dildos (and other sex toys) are generally pretty kick-ass. They can provide amazing, squirty orgasms and aid in fantasies, they come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, and they’re super fun to photograph. But dildos can also do a lot of other things, like potentially make you money (reviews!) or poison your orifices, both of which I learned more about at CatalystCon West.

Will Write for Dildos: How and Why Companies and Reviewers Should Work Together (#cconreview)

(EpiphoraLorax Of Sex, Jenna Clark, Krista Arendsen)

I suspected that Will Write for Dildos would not only be informative but also entertaining, and I was right. In the panel, Epiphora and Lorax dished out some expert advice, complete with their signature sarcasm and wit, and they even did an impromtu rock, paper, scissors over who would answer my question!

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During the panel, Epiphora explained that reviews should be entertaining, well-written, informative, honest, and not sound like an ad or a boring list of specs. Some other pro-tips Piph and Lorax shared: never agree to someone who asks to “proofread” or pre-screen your review, don’t review for companies without an affiliate program, and be clear, concise, and professional in emails with partners. They also discussed what they’re looking for from manufacturers and retailers, such as trust, availability, communication, patience, and mutual support.

From the manufacturer perspective, Jenna shared what Tantus looks for from reviewers, like diversity, honest feedback, and commitment to sexual health values. Though respected bloggers often champion the importance of honesty in reviews, it was refreshing to hear that manufacturers like Tantus value sincere opinions as well, so that they know which products are working and which could use improvement, etc. Krista from Lovehoney also spoke about the importance of professionalism during communication and honesty in reviews, but also fairness, for example thinking about who a product might or might not work for, not just whether it’s your new favorite.

Are you sad you missed this panel or want to learn more about it? You can listen to and/or read the whole thing here! Also, check out Epiphora’s #cconreview panel resource page.

Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates with Metis Black (#ccontoxic)

TOXIC TOY PANEL BANNER 4

Another panel I found particularly important for my blog was Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates (#ccontoxic) with Metis Black from Tantus. I’ve known for quite a while now that phthalates (plasticizers added to PVC to soften it) are dangerous, and that since there is absolutely no regulation of sex toy materials, often toys are misleading labeled as silicone when they actually contain other materials. I was worried before, but after this panel I am all out horrified. Apparently there are lots of other dangerous chemicals, chemicals that could strip off paint or that should be labeled as radioactive, in sex toys as well, and not just jelly toys, but also others that we normally consider safe, such as hard plastic or glass.  Some glass toys that are made in China contain mercury and lead and can have tiny fissures that we can’t see.

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Some other important things I learned in the #ccontoxic panel were that the novelty label on toys doesn’t mean anything if it’s implied for sexual use in a store, that raw silicone costs 3x as much as TPR (hence the steeper prices), Triclosan (the ingredient in most anti-bacterial soaps) is questionable as well, and that there is no proof that using condoms over jelly/other toxic toys will protect you (many have found it only delays reactions.)

Getting depressed just reading this? Luckily there is hope in Cali. Prop 65, which calls for clear and reasonable warning for reproductive toxicity and could mean a big WARNING label on toxic toys, as well as in organizations such as Dildology and informed manufacturers, retailers, bloggers, and consumers. We need to continue to learn more, spread the word, and only buy quality toys from manufacturers that actually oversee production.

Stay tuned for CatalystCon Part 2, which will be up soon!

Learn more:

Buying a Sex Toy: What You Need to Know

Dangers of Jelly Sex Toys

Dildology & Safe Sex Toys

Glass Sex Toy Facts

Metis Black on Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates

Phthalates in Sex Toys

Silicone Sex Toy Facts

 

The “Dildo Wars”- Dildology, Doc Johnson, and Sex Toy Testing

A week ago, Dildology posted the results of lab testing of the composition of the James Deen Realistic Cock, which found that the dildo was composed of 39% PVC and 61% Bis(2-ethylhexylhexahydrophthalate.) This is problematic, considering that Doc Johnson claims the James Deen Realistic Cock is made of “Non-Phthalate PVC with Antibacterial Sil-A-Gel” and Dildology’s test results seem to show that it is actually made of 61% phthalates.

So what is the big deal? The big deal is that phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastics, have been linked to negative health effects that range from burning and irritation upon contact to more serious problems like organ damage and cancer. While the true extent to which phthalates are harmful is unknown, the concerns have been enough to have them banned in children’s toys in the US since 2009 and restricted in children’s toys by the European Union since 1999.

Since more people have become educated about the negative effects of phthalates, which have been commonly used in jelly sex toys, some sex toy companies have responded to consumer demands by phasing them out of their product lines, or even better, by only producing toys made of safe, non-porous materials like 100% silicone, glass, and metal. But the problem is that there is absolutely no regulation of sex toys. So just because a toy package says a toy is phthalate-free or silicone doesn’t mean it really is.

This has been a known fact to people in the sex toy community, but up until recently no one had a solution for tackling the issue. This is where Dildology came in. The organization formed with the mission of verifying sex toy materials by sending sex toys that they get from retailers to accredited labs to be tested and then posting the results to their Wiki page.

The method in which Dildology tests sex toys is essential because it allows an unbiased sample of the product to be tested. If manufacturers sent Dildology toys directly to be tested, they could essentially make sure the product will pass ahead of time, and testing random toys from retailers prevents this. For the past few months, many bloggers (including myself), sex educators like Violet Blue, and some sex toy retailers have been helping raise awareness and funds for Dildology so they can begin testing products.

The James Deen Realistic Cock wasn’t the first toy tested (the Jimmy Jane Hello Touch was found to be 100% silicone as claimed), but since it was the first to fail, it’s caught wider attention. On Tuesday Lux Alptraum, CEO and Editor of Fleshbot, published “Sex, Lies, and Phthalates,” which discusses the results, phthalates in sex toys, and calls for petitioning government regulation of sex toys. Yesterday, Doc Johnson published their response to Dildology’s claims on their blog, in which they claim that Dildology’s findings are false and that they “deliberately incited public outcry by posting erroneous information without further research or attempting any contact with the manufacturer (Doc Johnson) beforehand.”

Now a lot of us don’t know what to think. Upon reading Doc Johnson’s response, Epiphora, one of the most respected sex bloggers in the US, tweeted,I dunno what to think. I do not know science.” Dildology has since updated the James Deen results page to also show Doc Johnson’s full response, and Lux Alptraum has added a link to it in her original article.

Doc Johnson claims that the Dildology lab test “lacks depth and sophistication.” Specifically they say that:

“The Dildology website is in error.  It is a common mistake made by non-scientists who do not have a working knowledge of polymer chemistry. The ECA testing lab used by the website found bis(2-ethylhexylhexahydrophthalate) which could, to the layman, appear to be DEHP. This misinterpretation and lack of deeper analysis speaks to the competency of the laboratory used.”

But what does this really mean? Hell if I know. I can’t even tell if they are claiming their product doesn’t have any bis(2-ethylhexylhexahydrophthalate, or if they’re claiming bis(2-ethylhexylhexahydrophthalate is in fact not DEHP (phthalate.) Either way, the plasticizers they claim they use in their toys earlier in the article (1,4-benzenedicarboxylic acid, di(2-ethylhexyl) ester and/or 1,2-Cyclohexane dicarboxlic acid, diisononyl ester) don’t match, so I’m confused to say the least. If I were a chemist myself, I feel like I would be able to interpret Dildology’s findings as well as Doc Johnson’s response more accurately. But since I’m not, I don’t know what they’re talking about.

Doc Johnson also says that they use three different third party labs to test their products and that they passed as phthalate free. But can we really trust results of a company’s products that are done by the company itself? I know that I for one don’t want material verification to take place solely at a company’s lab or on their terms, I want a non-affiliated organization to do testing on random products actually sold at retail stores. I want unbiased results. I want the truth.

By accepting a company’s (unregulated) product claims, we are assuming that they are having testing done on the products that we buy in retail stores, but how do we know that we’re getting the same products that were tested? Whether the testing is done in their own lab or the product is sent to be tested, it’s obviously in their interest to use a product that will pass the tests, regardless of whether or not it’s the same thing they actually use in their product line.

So who is right, and where do we go from here? In discussion about these “dildo wars” as Tristan Toarmino put it on Twitter, Lux Alptraum calls for government regulation of sex toys so it’s not a “he said, she said” issue. While I’m not opposed to government regulation of sex toys, it doesn’t seem like that will happen anytime soon. In the meantime, what do we do? Who do we believe?

For one, we can try to educate the public more about sex toys and advocate safer products made of silicone, glass, and metal, so that plasticizers/phthalates and whether or not they are included in toys won’t be so much of any issue. Many bloggers such as Violet Blue, Dangerous Lilly, Epiphora (and myself) are working towards this already. But even that can be problematic since there isn’t regulation and companies can essentially label toys as silicone even if they aren’t, though from experience handling many different products bloggers trust certain companies (like Tantus and Lelo) more than others.

Another thing we must do is think critically. I may not be a chemist or know much about the specifics of material testing, but I do know that I don’t automatically trust product claims from testing done by the company itself such as those done by Doc Johnson.

If Dildology’s findings are false, I can understand why Doc Johnson is angry, although I don’t think Dildology purposefully posted misinformation or tried to harm Doc Johnson’s reputation since they simply posted the test results they received from a lab without any commentary. And it doesn’t mean that we need third party testing of sex toy materials any less. If anything, it means we need more funding and support for third party testing in multiple labs to ensure accurate results.

And if Dildology’s findings are accurate, Doc Johnson obviously has a lot to gain from trying to discredit and stop Dildology’s mission.

Like many others, I’m confused by the “dildo wars” and the claimed results from Dildology and Doc Johnson. I plan to stay updated with the issue until further information comes to light. In the meantime, I still support the promotion of safe, non-porous sex toy materials as well as believe that we need sex toy material verification from third party organizations like Dildology that are unaffiliated with sex toy manufacturers.