Every few months I see the same question come up on forums and Twitter: Is it acceptable for people with vaginas to write reviews on toys that were made for penises? Should females* even be allowed to write such reviews? Since I have a post coming up on the Tenga Flip Hole, I want to address the arguments I’ve seen and why I think it’s acceptable for me, a female-bodied woman, to write a review on a toy designed for males.
Here’s the thing. I, along with a good number of female reviewers, write male toy reviews based on the information our male partner gives us about the toy. We don’t just make it up, or simply imagine how it might feel if we had a penis. For example, here’s how it works with Husband and myself: he uses the toy (or we use it together, depending on the type of toy), he gives me the details, I ask questions if necessary, and then I, as the writer of the relationship, type it up in a review. I check with him to make sure I got everything he wanted to say, and then publish the review. In my upcoming Tenga Flip Hole review, this is exactly what I did.
Now, let’s take a look at the arguments.
Argument 1: Women don’t have the right parts to know what a male toy feels like.
Rebuttal: That’s true. That’s why we have a male partner test it and give us details.
Argument 2: A woman’s male partner may be lying to her about his feelings on a toy to spare her feelings.
Rebuttal: This was one of only two arguments I saw that truly made me angry at the time. The reason is that it makes assumptions about the relationship of a female reviewer with her partner. Husband is not going to lie to me about how he feels about a toy. If he pretends to love a toy just because he knows I’m excited about it, he’ll also know that I’ll be expecting him to use it since he loves it ever so much. That’s a no-win for both of us.
Last year, I saved up and bought him a Tenga Flip Hole. I was really excited about it and thought he’d love it. Even though he knew I was excited about it, guess what he told me? He didn’t like it. It was cumbersome and heavy, and he preferred the little $10 Tenga eggs. Really, if he’s going to lie to me about his feelings on a sex toy, we’ve got way bigger problems than how our review is going to go.
Argument 3: Men lie before, during, or after sex and orgasm, and may be lying or stretching the truth in their aroused state, or they may not have an honest impression of the toy because they’re aroused. Therefore, the information a man gives his female partner can’t be trusted.
Rebuttal: Ah, the other angering argument. Part of the point of toys is to use them in an aroused state. If an aroused state makes you have a dishonest impression of a toy, then every review everywhere is a lie. If the person giving the information is dishonest, then that’s another issue entirely, and nothing to do with reviewing. This is another argument that makes assumptions about the relationship of the reviewing couple.
Argument 4: If a female reviewer snatches up a male toy, there will be less items for male reviewers to have. Since there are oceans of female toys, but only a few male ones, it’s not fair to take away a male’s chance at reviewing a toy.
Rebuttal: This is a complicated argument, and one that I would say is accurate in some cases, but not others.
Let’s say a shop offers a certain number of free products for onsite reviews. Since there is a very limited number of each product available, in those cases I would leave the gents to have the male toys and I would call that fair. However, once you get offsite of the shops and into your own blog or website, the issue becomes more muddy. Then it’s not just a matter of how many are available, but a combination of how much a business likes your site, whether you fit in with the way they see themselves, what your follower base is like, and even how well you present yourself in an email. But even if a female gets the toy, she will be writing the review with the help of her male-bodied partner unless she is completely unscrupulous and makes everything up. And honestly, why would she? If she can’t possibly use the toy, why would she bother wrangling it in the first place?
Something else in this argument I want to touch on is the lack of male reviewers that have their own blog. Don’t get me wrong, they’re out there, but it seems that they are in far fewer numbers than female reviewers. Since I started blogging, I’ve run into dozens and dozens and dozens of female reviewers, a few transgender reviewers, a few couples that review as a set, but maaaaaybe 3 male reviewers. I don’t have a guess as to why that is, except for maybe the small number of toys designed for males compared to the number designed for females. The difference in number may make being a male reviewer unattractive to males only interested in penile toys. There does seem to be a growing number of prostate toys, but not everyone is interested in those. For toys made to fit over the penis, the number compared to vaginal toys is staggeringly small.
So, with so few male reviewers out there, how will shoppers get information if they only look for reviews written by other males? They probably won’t find the few reviews there are. It’s a sad sort of truth, but a truth all the same.
Let’s say a potential shopper finds 3 reviews written by males on blogs for some new penetrable toy. If two of those reviews don’t give enough information, and the third one seems a little too excited over their (free) product so you don’t know if you can trust him, then what? That’s it. Done. Therefore, I submit that female bloggers writing with the help of their male partners provide something very valuable to the review and shopping community: more variety of information. We’ve already established that their partner is probably giving them correct information, and the woman herself is probably telling the truth, so what you are left with is an honest review that is just as valuable as if it were written by a male. Without the female reviewers pitching in with the help of their partners, the number of reviews for penetrable toys plummets, and the shoppers suffer from a lack of honest information.
Argument 5: You wouldn’t be happy if a male wrote a review of a female toy with the help of his female partner. You’d rather have a review straight from the female.
Rebuttal: Well, sort of. It’s not really an issue because reviews written by females are generally numerous and easy to find. The few reviews I’ve seen written by males about their female partners were extremely short (2-3 sentences), generally written on a shop’s own site, and merely said that their partner orgasmed (or didn’t). Now, if I were to find a nice, long, detailed review from a male reviewer about his female partner’s experience (and I’m sure those types of reviews are out there) I would absolutely take it into just as much account as a review written by a female.
And there you have it. Ideally, there would be a lot more male reviewers speaking about their experiences, but without that, females with the help of their partners have to fill the space.
*For simplicity, I’m speaking in terms of cis-gender.