Good Vibrations was kind enough to send me a copy of the book, Toygasms: The Insider’s Guide to Sex Toys. I was excited to read this book and hopefully gain new information about choosing toys and using them in unique ways.
On a basic level, the book does just that. It provides a general overview of the types of toys available and describes material types as well as basics of playing with them. This book is definitely one that is geared towards beginners with toys so it starts from the premise of needing to convince your partner to play with them and needing to overcome personal embarrassment.
Now, there are certainly people out there that may have feelings of shame and embarrassment about sex toys but I’m not one of them. This irked me a little bit as I began reading but I was able to get past it to evaluate the information that was provided. And the information in this book is of good quality and reliable. However, there were some serious issues with it that ultimately turned me off pretty significantly.
Beyond the assumption of shame and negativity that the book started with, it also carries a strong assumption of heterosexual cisgender relationships. That assumption was one that I could not get past. A book like this has an opportunity to normalize a spectrum of sexual behavior, gender expression, and relationship styles by mentioning them as equally valid and Dr. Sadie Allison doesn’t choose to take that opportunity. The book is illustrated and the illustrations and text refer almost exclusively to hetero couples. The pictures of solo play depicted all depict female-bodied people. Even the chapter on anal play only has passing reference to the male prostate and otherwise assumes female-receptive anal sex. The only image in the book that depicts a same-sex couple is of two women in the section on double-ended dildos.
Beyond the huge blindspot of non-hetero sex, the book also has a somewhat obnoxious tone. Dr. Sadie Allison’s attempts to come off as playful and flirty end up sounding juvenile and embarrassing. The jokes and puns all sound dorky and forced and they often come at the expense of complete information.
My final critique is the the book doesn’t make a single toy recommendation. Perhaps this is an attempt to appear neutral or keep the material up-to-date but some reference of particular toys and manufacturers would be an incredibly useful element that is simply not included.
In summary, Toygasms: The Insider’s Guide to Sex Toys, is a book that is stymied by inadequate scope. If you have no information whatsoever about sex toys at your disposal it might be helpful. But if you are sitting here right now, reading this review, you don’t fall in that category. With so much quality, specific, up-to-date, and gender-sensitive information available online, I can’t think of a reason to read a book like this. A great place to start, in fact, would be the Good Vibrations Magazine.