Anna Breslaw’s 600-Word Sprint: Adventures in the Plastic Jungle

As vibrators go mainstream, women are in charge of one more very important aspect of their lives.

The women-run Babeland sex-toy boutique provided a revolutionary shopping experience as well as fodder for family dinnertime conversation. (Photo: Babeland)

Oct 23, 2012

TakePart is happier than ever to present “Anna Breslaw’s 600-Word Sprint,” a weekly column of social justice insight, provocation and solution. Look for Anna’s Sprint every week on the homepage of TakePart.

The first thing I think about when I think about vibrators is my friend Dan. Not for any risqué reason—only because he happens to be the younger brother of one of the cofounders of Babeland, which has become sort of the one-stop Apple store for the upscale lady’s piece.

Dan was about 14 when his elder sister and her girlfriend opened the flagship store in Seattle, and it’s no coincidence that he’s one of the more fluid-thinking, progressive, and nonjudgmental straight men I know. Coming of age in a family where saying the word “rabbit” conjures up an image of the machine (you’re on the Internet; look it up) rather than the animal will do that to a guy, and we’re all better for it.

Frankly, I’m shocked nobody’s optioned the film rights to a movie about his teen years yet.

MORE: ‘Hysteria’: The Medical Orgasms of Victorian England

It should come as no surprise—especially for urbanites—when I assert that we’re well into the Age of the Vibrator. Sex and The City brought it in with Pinkberry.

There’s not really any stigma left when it comes to the 20-something girl’s dalliance with battery-powered orgasms—aside from the arbitrary rules of the occasional indignant boyfriend. (One girl I know was instructed by hers that she was allowed to get one as long as it “wasn’t normal skin color.”)

There is still one underlying question that’s voiced occasionally: Do solo sex toys numb women to intercourse with actual people? To these concerned folks, my only responses are:

  1. Whether the questioner has ever been similarly concerned with the male masturbation rate, which for some bizarre reason is significantly less taboo and doesn’t evoke that same kind of paranoid fear—except from sex-phobic zealots.


  1. Unless you’re a burgeoning sociopath, having sex with a person you care for versus having an orgasm via an inanimate object is like a meal at Per Se versus a meal at McDonald’s. (One-night-stands are also rather like eating a meal at McDonald’s, and often include the same kind of heavy regret that sets in immediately after consuming two Quarter-Pounders with cheese.) By the dictates of human nature, this will always be so, or at least until we as a race evolve into having batteries where our hearts used to be.

Naturally, vibrator technology has advanced along with the various Smartphones and Smartcomputers and all the other Smartthings we all carry around now, resulting in an interesting new line of work for techies who dream up what’s basically a ribald version of Blade Runner.

One thing you can expect from people who work in the “teledildonics” industry, aside from some of the greatest happy hour anecdotes you can probably hope for, is a tech-savvy approach to what erotic fulfillment can be.

Babeland has carried remote-controlled vibrators for some time, and those are nearly as familiar to us as the normal kind. If you, like myself, were unfortunate enough to have seen the Katherine Heigl romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, you are familiar with the 1.0 iteration of the device.

RealTouch Interactive, a company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has designed a top-of-the-line remote-controlled two-way sex toy that involves a lubed-up plastic orifice and accompanying sensor rod (sorry, but it's a literal joystick) to be manipulated by a long-distance partner.

So far, the main consumers of the product are men who choose to sync it with porn or webcam girls.

However, RealTouch Interactive CEO Scott Rinaldo hopes to distribute the invention to military troops deployed overseas. Which is—dare I say—kind of romantic. In a sci-fi kind of way.

How important has the vibrator been to female empowerment and women’s rights? Leave some thoughts in COMMENTS.

Show Comments ()

More on TakePart

A Start-up Builds on New Orleans’ Culinary Foundation