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For Novelty Use Only

Anyone whose had the patience, or perhaps the restraint, to read the small print on a vibrator or sex toy container, will very likely have come across the phrase “Sold as novelty only” or something to that effect. Subtly inserted at the bottom somewhere, after the superlative description of said product’s abilities to send your body into hyperspace, these sub-sized words seem oddly misplaced. So why the disclaimer?

If sex toys were to endure just a small fraction of the regulation that children’s toys receive, most of them would be sent on the next plane back to China. Kids’ toys need to be made of materials that are completely safe because little ones tend to put toys in their mouths. Sex toys, on the other hand, get placed in every other orifice, but the regulation is minimal.

Novelty (n): a small manufactured article intended mainly for personal or household adornment

The time will come when either the sex toy industry will take full responsibility for its environmental and health impact, or someone in government will force them to do it. Maybe a court case will cost some company a lot of money for something that goes wrong at the most inopportune moment. In the meantime, the fellas supplying us with ever-new looks and thrills just write the words “Novelty Only” and ostensibly forego any liability for incorrect use of the device or long-term injury or illness.

Can You Say Phthalate Without Spitting?

One of the big environmental and personal dangers is the use of phthalates in sex toys. Phthalate is a chemical compound used in certain plastics, which help create the soft texture that became so popular over the last decade or so. There is no conclusive evidence that phthalates cause cancer in humans, but they have been shown to be carcinogenic in animals* and their impact isn’t clear for humans. So let us say that it is not highly recommended to insert them deep inside the vagina, where the tissue is fragile and highly sensitive, for extensive spans of time and repeatedly. They have been outlawed from children’s toys for years.

The more conscious toy producers have started to produce toys without phthalate and all such products are clearly marked “phthalate free”. But the pendulum doesn’t swing both ways: toys with this potentially toxic material are not labeled “with phthalate”. Ten years from now, if we learn that phthalates have caused cancer in some users, the companies can always say, “What? You weren’t really meant to use that dildo-like vibrating object inside your body”. So, how exactly was she supposed to get that groundbreaking G-Spot orgasm that was described and perhaps graphically suggested on the package?

Quality Gauge

This is not a fool-proof system, but it is possible to generalize that the high-end toys do not disclaim the sexual nature of their products. The will to stand behind their merchandise speaks volumes about the quality of a brand.

Either that or the presence of a decent legal consultant. Although labeling something as “novelty” is ostensibly a way of covering their legal derrière, there is no way that this disclaimer would really protect a company in a court of law. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you cannot get off scot-free when your duck craps on someone’s lawn, even if it carries a sign “I am made of tofu”.

Why Worry?

All things considered, if you stay away from toys made with unsafe materials, sex toys are very safe. Our bodies have a wonderful mechanism of telling us if we are using a toy incorrectly: pain. So as long as you stay in your pleasure AND comfort zone, you will not electrocute yourself, glass will not break inside you and you will not develop an addiction. You may, however, experience some behavioural changes; with correct use, you could be more energetic, relaxed  and perky, but have an unexplained need to spend more time alone.

*The Dinah Project believes there are alternatives to animal experiments, especially with regard to non-essential products for humans.

Vibrators labels as novelty items


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