Sex Advice

We Say Yes, Yes, Yes to Self Pleasure as Self Care

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Dame
All parts of wellness had a shake up this year—how we work out, what we eat, the products we put on our faces, the way we rest—and the reverberations of those changes will be felt into 2021 and beyond. Here's how the innovations born of this year will usher us into the future. See All

Much in line with Well+Good’s prediction late last year that 2020 would bring a widespread understanding that sexual pleasure is integral to well-being, this year in quarantine has led many to explore and celebrate self-pleasure as a form of self care. According to a June 2020 report by pleasure product brand TENGA, 84 percent of Americans now recognize masturbation as a form of self-care (compared to 44 percent in 2016).

So what can we expect 2021 to hold for the future of sexual health and pleasure? With market projections for the sexual-wellness industry to grow 9.8 percent annually, reaching a valuation of$40.5 billion by 2025, put plainly, we can expect more: more pleasure-focused products that make more sexual exploration possible for more people.

“In 2021, consumers will continue to integrate and approach sexual wellness as a part of their overall self care and will expect that brands do the same,” says Maude founder and CEO Éva Goicochea. “Elevating the design and marketing in an inclusive way has completely resonated with the consumer and has helped destigmatize the category.” In addition to Maude, brands like CakeBlex Technologies, and Lora DiCarlo are prioritizing inclusivity so all bodies, orientations, and preferences are celebrated—and they’ll continue doing so in 2021.

One way they’re doing so is with the help of celebrities making the brands more well-known, and destigmatizing pleasure products in the process. Actor and model Cara Delevingne recently signed on to the Lora DiCarlo team as co-owner, with plans to expand the brand’s product line to appeal to a wider, more diverse consumer base; singer-songwriter Lily Allen recently released her own special edition Womanizer vibrator, Liberty by Lily Allen; and actor Dakota Johnson just announced she is investing in Maude and also signing on as the brand’s co-creative director.

In addition to sex toys, pleasure market apps that merge masturbation with mind-body wellness will also see growth next year: New sex-therapy app Kama recently received $3 million in funding, as did intimate well-being app EmJoy, which saw subscriptions triple in lockdown. Audio porn platform Dipsea is adding a sleep feature to help listeners enjoy erotica meant to lull them to slumber. And &Jane, an erotic storytelling app, plans to add nonbinary and trans narrators in the coming months.

Another crucial component of the self-pleasure as self care movement centers on unleaning—specifically the narrow, heteronormative, shame-filled version of masturation so many folks learnt growing up. “Every time we talk about sex, every time we bring it either to our Instagram or to our blogs, it’s with the lens of ‘What can we unlearn?'” says Kiana Reeves, chief education officer of Foria’s School of Unlearning, a content platform and workshop series that spotlights inclusive sex educators and offers courses like: Masturbation: A Re-Edcation. Meanwhile, Allbodies, a sexual-wellness platform, offers a popular vaginal masturbation course focused on destigmatizing and normalizing self-pleasure.

Though the projected market growth is broad in the sexual wellness sphere for 2021, one throughline is clear: Recognizing masturbation as self care means going beyond the orgasm. It means creating more intimate, personalized, pleasure-focused experiences that everybody can enjoy… even if the only body you’re enjoying is your own.

Shop, Ahem, Self-Care Tools

1. Baci Premium Robotic Clitoral Massager, $160

Shop Now: Baci Premium Robotic Clitoral Massager, $160

2. Bloomi Arousal Oil, $58

Shop Now: Bloomi Arousal Oil, $58

3. Blex Technologies Exclusive blexBox, $99

Shop Now: Blex Technologies Exclusive blexBox, $99

4. Cake Organic Aloe, $24

Shop Now: Cake Organic Aloe, $24

5. Maude Vibe, $45

Shop Now: Maude Vibe, $45

6. Zee Bullet Vibrator, $30

Shop Now: DAME Zee, $30

Explore the rest of our 2021 Wellness Trends.

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