Innovating for pleasure
The fascinating history of sextech
In the 1970s, sex educator Betty Dodsen invited women into her New York home
to learn how to masturbate. She demonstrated using the Hitachi Magic Wand, a veritable legend in the sex toy world, and encouraged attendees to disover their vulvas and the pleasure they could create for themselves.
Dodsen has remained an influential educator who led the feminist, pro-sex movement, but she has thankfully been joined by dozens of others working in the sextech industry to invent toys, apps and platforms that reduce sexual stigma for anyone with a vagina.
What is sextech?
Like any other tech industry, sextech develops products designed to disrupt and enhance human sexuality. The website you’re reading now, the Coral Journal, is an example of sextech. The industry includes apps, toys, and so much more.
The history of sextech
began in the late 1800s, when English physician Joseph Mortimer Granville invented the first vibrator. The electric device was advertised as a cure for ailments like headaches, chest congestion and arthritis. And before you ask, the original vibrator was most likely not used to treat “hysteria,” the outdated diagnosis portrayed in a documentary about the device. The filmmaker’s hypothesis solidified itself as an urban myth, but there isn’t much evidence to support it.
Later, toys like the Magic Wand
were developed. Although you can flash forward to today and enjoy dozens of entirely new pleasure devices, the struggle with sexual stigma rages on. In 2019, Lora DiCarlo’s Osé won a CES Honoree Innovation Award
, only to have it taken away once they realized it was a pleasure tech product designed for people with vaginas.
Lora DiCarlo was subsequently banned from exhibiting at CES, until eventually, the conference organizers received enough bad press for their archaic and sexist policies, that they agreed to allow sextech to exhibit in the health and wellness category. They also reinstated Lora DiCarlo’s award.
The Osé is a far cry from earlier sex toys that relied on vibration for pleasure. It’s biomimetic, meaning it’s designed to mimic the best kinds of human touch. Osé combines a G-spot massager and clitoral mouth to arouse and stimulate both pleasure points simultaneously. The sextech industry continues to put amazing products on the market that combine stimulation and are simply better at pleasing people with vaginas. Sure, some companies make intensely life-life robotic sex dolls
, but the industry is about so much more than that.
Sextech isn’t just products and toys, though; it also paved the way for digital services like telehealth and sexual wellness coaching
. This kind of coaching helps answer burning questions and find solutions for those who aren’t satisfied their sex lives; other medical providers may assist with more physical problems via telecommunication. In short, anywhere you can find the intersection of digital publication or technology and ex, you can be sure you’re looking at a sextech innovation.
So how does sextech help me?
As mentioned, apps are a big part of the sextech industry. Companies like Coral provide a safe place to learn about sex and gain control of your own pleasure. Much of the content Coral and Lora DiCarlo publishes is designed to untangle, demystify and destigmatize sex. Sexual empowerment is for everybody
, and it helps that many sextech companies are owned by women. One of the industry’s primary goals is reducing and undoing sexual stigma.
Sextech apps are also great in that they put sex education in your hands easily. Apps are easy to download on any mobile platform, and help bridge gaps in sex ed you may not have gotten in class. For people with vaginas who grew up in religious or conservative settings, they may not know much about their own vaginal anatomy, desires and body. Sextech makes that education accessible.
Last but most certainly not least, because many sextech companies are led by women, design is becoming more inclusive and thoughtful. Toys like Osé
feature a customizable fit and are anatomically designed, meaning they work with your body. The best sex toys for women
and people with vaginas also take into consideration clitoral and G-spot stimulation, because as we know, most people with vaginas don’t orgasm from penetration alone.
All these benefits work together to solve problems like the orgasm gap, a real epidemic among couples. The orgasm gap
particularly affects hetersexual couples, meaning that cis men often achieve orgasm far more often than their cis female partners. In fact, 66 percent of heterosexual people with vaginas orgasm frequently whereas 73 percent of people with vaginas within the LGBTQ+ community do.
The sextech industry is by nature diametrically opposed to the orgasm gap. Every toy with dual stimulation, every app that publishes educational and destigmatizing content and every blog post that uses inclusive language is a stepping stone to solving the problem.
The next few years are promising for the sextech industry. Both Lora Dicarlo and Coral continue to create new products for people with vaginas that destigmatize and educate. New research may undo the more harmful aspects of the industry, with at least one report stating that sex robots can actually cause harm
It seems more and more people are becoming sex positive; een creators are Tik Tok are explaining and encouraging kegel exercises
while others educate younger viewers
about safe sex.
We hope new inventions and toys will come along to pleasure us, but the most exciting part of the sextech industry is still the unknown. There are so many things left to discover about the clitoris, G-spot and vaginal anatomy, as well as how to pleasure them. The next generation of innovators is sure to stand on the shoulders of current creators, as we’ve done with those before us. It’s an exciting time in a stimulating field!