The Myths of Sex Toy Reviewing

April 20th, 2010

I was so excited when I got my first toys to review. I know you were, too! I know if you have just discovered how awesome it is to not only play with vibrators and dildos and butt plugs — Oh my! — but to do so for free in exchange for some words, then you might still be floating on cloud 9. That’s totally cool. I know I wanted to jump right into things and I was sure I was awesome and I made some beginner’s mistakes. I like to think I am beyond that; most people get some gentle guidance or learn from example. Some people realize that reviewing actually takes work and give up when it becomes apparent that companies expect some sort of quality.

The truth is outsiders and newbies may have some misconceptions about sex toy reviewing:

Toy reviewing requires no effort.
True, I’ve seen some rather shoddy reviews which could only have taken seconds to compose but to be a successful reviewer, the ones who earn respect and gain a following learn to do a few things. Like use a toy more than once, even if the first time is horrible. They work on improving their writing skills and describe things in painstaking detail even when the details have become boring to them. They discuss toys with friends, proof read dozens of times, deal with defects and argue with delivery services. The types of reviewers I like to read research materials and compatibility. They double and triple check waterproof capabilities and try toys in ways they would not normally use them, all in the name of a good review. *I wouldn’t be surprised if consistently bad reviews disqualified you from reviewing.
It’s all about experience.
I call bullshit. In fact, most quality review programs have something to say about experience: keep it limited and keep it relevant. I believe this guideline is in place for good reason. Quite simply put, your personal experience can never predict someone else’s personal experience. Furthermore, sometimes I can’t even predict how well a toy will work for me despite being myself. Hard facts generally give consumers a better idea of whether or not a toy will work for them.
Every toy is awesome!!!!
No, it’s not. Toys are made of potentially dangerous materials. Toys break. Defects abound. Poor designs can actually cause pain. And sometimes even a toy which is awesome just does not cut it for me. I wish it weren’t so but it is. In an effort to produce a good review, however, I will try to explain to you why the toy might be awesome for others even if my experience failed (see above).
Sex toy reviewing makes your sex life so much fun!
I won’t lie, it can. It can be a great “excuse” to get your partner or even just yourself to try something new. It can make masturbation or sex more pleasurable. Maybe you’ll have it more frequently. But there’s a big downside to it all. It can get mechanical. Pretty soon you start looking at everything as all numbers and sizes and materials and compatibilities. Like anything which starts out fun but becomes a “job” of any sort, you can forget to smile, to enjoy yourself. Plus, not every partner is okay with the idea of sex toy reviewing. Your sex life can actually take the back burner without even realizing it and sex toys can be pretty intimidating. There are just times when reviewers need to step back from toys so you can enjoy sex — solo or with others — again.
You will be the best reviewer ever.
I am always so excited when I embark upon a new adventure. Sometimes my ego swells a bit and I imagine myself taking the place by storm, making “thank you” speeches while holding flowers. It just doesn’t work that way. Every program has different expectations and limitations. It takes time to learn the ropes and to excel. I like to think I’ve done that but if you look at some of my first reviews on the blog or EdenFantasys, you will see I was not amazing when I started.
Reviewers are loose sluts.
There are a whole bunch of myths about the type of people who use sex toys and then to have the nerve to write about it! The truth is, the reviewer friends I have made are all extremely different. Males and females, some folks who don’t fit any category. Straight, gay, queer, bi and more. Young and old. Some have a lot of sex with the same person, no sex at all, or some casual sex. In fact, it seems that reviewers are just as likely to be the “girl next door” as they are to be the promiscuous one. No single generalization really applies, except maybe that they do like sexual sensations and are mature enough to write about it in a helpful way. Also, just to remind you, the vagina is a muscle which does not stretch out!
A good writer will never struggle with a review.
There are certain types of reviews I just find more challenging. Switching up the format can be difficult, too. I think all reviewers, no matter their writing talents, have days where words just refuse to flow in a way that sounds good and makes sense. It’s to be expected and if you experience it, don’t sweat it.
It’s all about the reviews.
Although I pride myself on writing helpful reviews and I spend a lot of time on them, I know that the reviews themselves are frequently not the end game. The truth is, reviews (especially offsite reviews) offer publicity and exposure. They bring in potential customers. In addition to this, links and keywords work to raise a website’s (the store you review for) search engine rank. Sometimes that is just more important than content.
Reviewers have a direct line to manufacturers.
As much as I’d like, this isn’t true most of the time. Most of the companies I work with are stores, not manufacturers. I assume some manufacturers read my reviews but the fact of the matter is, I review products which have already been designed and created. I am not a beta tester. My complaints do not necessarily mean a change will happen. Even if manufacturers contact me because they want that sort of criticism, nothing might happen because of it. My power is limited.
We talk about sexuality, so we want to talk about it with you.
No, just no. Unless we initiate the conversation, we probably don’t want to be having it. Back off. The same goes for pictures and videos.

To all your reviewers, what misconceptions did you originally have? Is there something I missed or something you find people assume? Let me know in the comments.

14 Comments to “The Myths of Sex Toy Reviewing”

  • Kayla says:

    Great post. I guess I thought the first one when I started, but I was wrong. 🙂

    I do have anything one to add though: That because we review sex toys for fun, we should be willing to show everyone how they work. (As in, masturbating with them) I can’t tell you how many times random guys have assumed that. 🙁

  • Sarahbear says:

    So freaking true. All of it.

    I was so excited to start reviewing sex toys, but now there are times when I just wish I could use a toy and not be thinking about all the details, cataloging them for my reviews.

  • Cinnamon says:

    I know I fret about the quality of my reviews, but my biggest problem comes from burnout. I’m not as avid a writer as most of you guys, so actually sitting down to write one, sometimes becomes difficult. Also, I find myself worrying that all my reviews sound the same.

    This is a great post though! I agree that most people don’t get how much work and research we actually put into our reviews.

  • seaofneptune says:

    I’m actually still new to the whole review scene. I have only been since December 09 and my blog is fairly new as well. For me, the only thing I had starting out was that I wasn’t completely sure what details to include. The first 2 things I ever reviewed were an edible lube and condoms. 2 things that I purchased on my own from a store with my partner. I was nervous about it and people are sure to let you know what you should include the next time around which was very helpful for me.

    The other problem I have at times, is finding the time to do it. I’m a full-time college student and part-time worker. I’m also a full-time partner to my boyfriend ~ so it’s hard learning to juggle it all.

    • Adriana says:

      Like any hobby, reviewing does take time. It’s especially hard to juggle because I do not necessarily write a review immediately after I use a product and some require several uses.

  • Delta O. says:

    Wonderful article! Thank you for covering a very real topic so eloquently. It’s certainly ins’t always fun and games, but is so worth it in my overall (limited!) experience.

  • Lucas says:

    Amen! Having to bash a poorly designed product is a major downer…and there’s a lot of ’em!

  • Karen Blue says:

    I am fast approaching the 6 weeks mark with a product i need to review. Sometimes it is really hard to sit down and focus on a product. I think the toys I love are so much easier to write about. I am getting picky with the items I will review these days. Thanks for the great article!

  • Ally says:

    I guess that it’s just a mental thing of being part of the younger generation but I tend to think of sex-toy reviewers as NOT slutty. They know what they’re doing (most of the good ones, at least) and seem to know how to use things and do things safely. Besides, it’s not like they pull people off the street to test their toys with them.
    I’ve heard this myth (and all the other ones you mentioned) many times and I do think that it’s fairly stupid, but you did a much better (calmer and more eloquent) job than I could have. Thank you!

  • Andy Thompson says:

    Interesting article. I hope you don’t try to write your reviews while trying the products I’d imagine it would be hard to read your own writing.

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