Will butt plugs ever go fully mainstream?
The timing certainly seems right: over the past few years, anal's been everywhere. In the spring of 2014, New York magazine ran a piece on "butt play"—not merely full-on fucking, but gentler activities like rimming and fingering as well. Less than a year later, Broad City got its peg on, and by the end of 2015 rimming was apparently so unavoidable that it made a Maxim list of bad sex trends.
Save for that lone strap-on, toys haven't really entered the mainstream anal conversation. But one company is hoping to change that.
Founded by sex educator Alicia Sinclair, b-Vibe's a new sex toy company offering an innovative take on anal pleasure—and betting that a combination of high quality toys and anal education will put them in the position to be the Apple of butt sex. If they're able to ride the recent wave of anal excitement to make butt plugs as common as vibrators, they'll be doing a great service to anyone considering to take it in the booty.
Butt plugs might just be the most underrated sex toy out there. Though they're more commonly seen as a comedy gag than an essential erotic item, they're a pretty important part of the butt player's toolkit. Overwhelmed by the amount of warm up required prior to a nice anal sesh? Butt plugs allow you to set it and forget it, letting a little (or not so little) toy relax your sphincter while you occupy yourself with other matters. They're also great for those who want the experiences of double penetration or the good old Lucky Pierre without the hassle of wrangling a third, or for anyone who loves the sensation of anal penetration but isn't into full-on anal sex.
But what will it take to win over the anal anxious? Innovative tech, for starters. B-Vibe's first product, the rimming plug, is definitely a sign that they're thinking differently. Using the rotating bead mechanism made famous by the Rabbit Pearl, the rimming plug mimics the sphincter stimulation that makes ass eating so enjoyable. (Hey, not everyone thinks it's a bad sex trend.) Though it's definitely not for beginners—the bead component, which is only available in one size, pretty much prevents that—it's a unique take on anal stimulation that's above and beyond what most toy companies are offering.
While there are a number of quality butt plugs on the market, many don't seem to be designed with a solid understanding of anal anatomy. Charlie Glickman, the former education program manager for Good Vibrations who now serves as b-Vibe's spokesperson, told me that during his 16 years at the celebrated sex toy store, he saw a number of anal toys that just didn't make sense: Butt plugs with necks too short for the sphincter to properly grip, thus increasing the likelihood of the toy falling, or shooting, out of the butt; or toys with bumps and ridges more likely to cause pain than pleasure during a session of hard sex.
Even the good products that demonstrate a solid understanding of anal pleasure aren't really known for their innovation. Some of the best butt toys are little more than a well-shaped piece of plastic, perhaps with an embedded bullet vibe for those that want to get fancy. (Aside from the b-Vibe rimming plug, Lelo's Loki Wave is the most interesting item I've seen, and I can't guarantee that it actually works as promised.)
That anal sex has become trendy while butt plugs remain something of a joke speaks volumes about our collective anal aptitude.
Of course, the best butt plug in the world won't have a chance if no one's actually using it. Which is why, in addition to improving the state of butt plugs, b-Vibe's also hoping to educate the masses about their asses, allowing them to figure out if anal play is an activity they'd like to incorporate into their regular routine.
As they expand their product line to include more beginner-friendly toys, b-Vibe will also be offering some much needed anal education on their website. With Glickman's two decades of experience as a sex educator, sexological bodyworker, and prostate expert, the company's got a great deal of butt knowledge to impart.
Which is good, because honestly, most of us have a lot to learn about butt stuff. Proper anal prep is far too scandalous to be taught in schools, and since porn's more focused on fantasy than reality, the hard and fast anal fucking we see onscreen often leaves out a few (or more than a few) important steps.
The very fact that anal sex's become trendy while butt plugs remain something of a joke speaks volumes about our collective anal aptitude. If b-Vibe's able to impart even a little bit of knowledge, they'll be saving so many people from uncomfortable, painful, or even dangerous anal sex.
But whatever happens with b-Vibe, it seems likely that the total mainstreaming of anal pleasure is only a matter of time. Glickman compares our increasing comfort with butt sex to the process of butt sex itself: "A long slow build up, and then suddenly things open up." (Which, by the by, all you anal newbies should consider an essential sex ed tip.)