This month sees the launch of Enby, a new, gender-neutral sex toy. Wild Flower, an independent sex shop based in Brooklyn, has designed the toy in-house. Founded by Amy and Nick Boyajian, both of whom identify as non-binary, Enby is their first own-brand toy, named after the common shorthand for non-binary people, NB, pronounced ‘enby’.
As a retailer, Wild Flower is committed to inclusive and sensitive attitudes toward sex. The shop’s website has a blog with sections dedicated to “mindfulness & sex” and “non-monogamous relationships”, for example. On its Instagram, it features a gorgeous range of individuals—people of all ages, genders and sizes—as well as some hilarious memes. Wild Flower’s merchandise reads: “Trust Yourself, Feel Yourself, Touch Yourself, Please Yourself, Hear Yourself, Know Yourself, Fuck Yourself, Love Yourself”.
Much of the sex industry is still surprisingly gendered, often unnecessarily. Identical toys might be packaged and marketed entirely differently in order to appeal to women and men. Online, toys are generally categorised into ‘for him’ and ‘for her’, even though, to be blunt, a dildo is a dildo, regardless of the user’s gender.
Slowly but surely, however, more options are becoming available for trans and non-binary people, designed with diverse bodies and queer pleasure in mind. Amy and Nick consulted various members of the LGBTQ community while developing their toy. One trans friend of theirs complained about how she had thrown away all of her sex toys after her surgery, because they were no longer compatible with her body. Other trans people have explained how they often resort to toys not marketed at their gender identity, which can worsen existing gender dysphoria.
Enby looks somewhat unusual, unlike any other toy on the market, but this just demonstrates its innovation. It is something different and new. It’s available in black and deep purple, colours chosen for being gender-neutral, especially compared to the pinks and reds that dominate the market. The Enby can be humped, used to masturbate, tucked into a harness. “Hump it, stroke it, tuck it, share it”, reads the product page—it’s like a dirty Bop It.
Enby might not be the first toy to claim the title of being gender-neutral. PicoBong launched the Transformer in 2014, offering “millions of sex toys in one” with its product description listing the sex toy’s possibilities, “It’s a rabbit vibe, a clitoral massager, a cock-ring, a G-spot stimulator, a prostate massager, a double-ended vibe, and much more”. However, its success was debatable. One review summarised, “In trying to create a sex toy that can be used by everyone, PicoBong made a sex toy that is useful to no one”.
The Enby, meanwhile, has received stellar reviews so far, with an average of 4.89 stars out of 5 and comments such as “A game changer” and “Super validating”. Enby is available to pre-order and ships from the U.S. at the end of July. I discovered it myself last month at a community market in Manhattan. I now regret not investigating further at the time.
An online review at Allure recommended the Enby to a transgender man, concluding with: “Overall, I’d recommend Enby for anyone, regardless of gender or genitalia. As with any other sex toy, you’ll have to play around with it to determine how it best works for your body, but it’s absolutely worth it once you find that sweet spot”.
Enby represents a new direction for the sex toy industry, one that is more open, diverse and inclusive. Just like in the porn industry, small, independent brands are inevitably leading the way, but with such positive results, hopefully bigger brands will follow suit. After all, everybody—and every body—deserves pleasure.
You’ve probably sexted before, possibly with your partner or with your most recent match. It can be a fun, stress-free experience for some, but for others who’ve never done it before, it can also be intimidating and beginners can miss out on the opportunity of becoming a master of dirty talk. That’s where Slutbot comes in.
Launched by the creators of Juicebox, a sex and relationship coaching app, Slutbot is a free service developed by sex educators and erotic fiction writers—sexting pros basically. At the moment, texting Slutbot is only free in the U.S. and Canada, while the rest of the world can sext with it for the cost of your standard messaging rates. If you feel like trying it, you can text ‘slutbot’ to (+1) 415-650-0395.
Slutbot starts by asking your age, gender, and the gender of the person you’d like to practise sexting with. The chatbot offers different types of pairings like female user to male bot, female user to female bot, male user to female bot and so on. After picking a pairing that suits your needs, you’ll have to choose between two types of sexting: one softer, called ‘slow & gentle’, and another called ‘hot & sexy’, which, much like its title, is more forward.
When I decided to try it, Slutbot was considerate enough to choose a safe word, in case things got too hot too soon—the bot picked ‘pineapple’ for some reason. The conversation started quite slowly, with sentences like, “I’ve been thinking about you today. Last night was really hot”, nothing too crazy considering I picked the ‘hot & sexy’ option. Slutbot quickly killed the mood by using texting abbreviations like ‘O.M.G.’ and the ‘100’ emoji three times in a row, making me wonder if I was texting a bot or a 15-year-old. The experience as a whole wasn’t that bad, and for a sexting beginner, the upsides that could come from a few conversations with Slutbot are clear, if you can ignore the over-the-top use of emojis and the absence of any sense of humour.
Talking to the New York Times, Founder and CEO of Juicebox Brianna Rader said, “People think sex and dating is supposed to be easy and innate, but it’s not. It’s absolutely a life skill just like all other life skills, but unfortunately we’re never formally taught these things.” A study conducted by McAfee in the U.S. showed that 49 percent of all smartphone users sext and of those, 70 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, so it only makes sense that someone came up with a sexting ‘starter pack’ to help onboard this new generation of sexters. Although Slutbot is exactly what it says on the tin—a slutty bot—it should be seen as a first step towards opening up new horizons for your sex life (that is, if you feel like you need a little push).
Slutbot tackles important issues, like consent and communicating desires, by always ending a text asking users if they’re enjoying this conversation or want to try something new. By practising your sexting skills with Slutbot without dreading the possibility of being ghosted, you could eventually feel confident enough to try it out with someone real. Ghosting is a problem that goes hand-in-hand with technology, especially texting—not only with sexting. That’s where another app called Mei comes in, your best chance at texting perfectly, thus avoiding any chance of being ghosted. Once you’ve downloaded Mei, the app includes an AI assistant that gives you real-time comments on your texting skills as you chat with friends, family, and partners.
Let’s say you’ve been talking with your new crush for a few days, but you feel like the conversation is not going as smoothly anymore. In your text conversation, Mei will pop up at the top left corner to comment on your way of texting, advising you on which tone you should try out and why. The app’s website says, “We hope to be a new messaging option that users can be excited about”. Although the concept sounds great on paper (we all ask someone close for texting advice from time to time) the idea that people could one day rely on extra help to text from AI should be a forewarning of how our society is beginning to lean perhaps too heavily on technology (especially when it comes to social interactions).
By now we all know that technological innovations have both positive and negative impacts on our social interactions. So next time you feel like sexting for the first time, or you don’t want to receive an unsolicited dick pic, you’ll know Slutbot is always here for you. Same goes with texting your mum after having a bad argument with her, Mei will be there to help you formulate that perfect text. Let’s just try to avoid being dependent on these apps—preferably without throwing away our phones.