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Don’t worry, the cryptic slashes and letters in the title of this post are not some secret code!
“/r/IAmA” is the designation for a thread on Reddit – the specific subreddit for interactive, live interviews called "Ask Me Anything,” or an AMA. After going through an approval process that involves a snazzy picture and sign, people getting interviewed hop on Reddit at a specific time and answer questions posed by Reddit users in real time.
Myself and Motorbunny co-founder Brooks Butler hosted an AMA on May 3 at noon EST. We got asked a wide scope of questions, things ranging from the funny to the serious to the technical. Here are a few of the questions we answered.
(Doctor’s Note: I edited these questions a touch for grammar and typos. Typing in real time is challenging, both for the questioners and the answerers!)
Here’s a question that I think many people may have in general, not just about the Motorbunny BUCK.
Q: When women use products such as the BUCK are there issues with being satisfied by "average" sex again?
DrCT: This is a tricky question... Since there is no such thing as a universal women's experience about anything, one can't really say. If 100 women used a Motorbunny and you asked them about it after, it's very likely that you would get 100 different answers (NB: this is not a women thing, this is a human experience thing).
So in terms of using a sexual object like a Motorbunny (or any other type of sex toy), it is 100% possible that it would hit all the right notes and jettison all other types of sex experiences FOREVER -- but that's not likely. Since sex is so multifaceted and personal, as well as social (think about all the things you think about sex, especially types of sex you haven't directly experienced... those are products of wider social processes related to communication and shared knowledge -- social!), satisfaction comes from a wide variety of sources/directions.
The best way to figure it out is to communicate/ask. So if a person has used a Motorbunny and it blew them out of the water, that doesn't mean that nothing else will ever be good/good enough again. It just means that that experience was part of the exploration and process, which is hopefully a fun positive thing.
Here’s another one I answered – something pretty sociological:
Q: What is the one thing you have learned in your field about social behavior that you did not know before? One thing we all should know?
DrCT: Well, honestly I have been doing this for SO LONG that it's difficult to remember. At the same time though, it seems like every day -- still, after all this time -- I learn about new things: new things people like, struggle with, are doing, etc. Part of that is not knowing everything (because no one does, obvs), but part of that is also that people are always doing new things.
So, with that perspective in mind, I think one thing everyone should know -- or at least try to keep in mind -- is keeping an open mind. I know that may sound cliché, but the human sex experience is so very diverse. There is no way to know about or agree with everything. As long as consent is present, then people's sex explorations and experiences are awesome. As an individual, that doesn't mean you or I have to be down with or for everything, but I think keeping in mind that every consensual experience has merit is the one thing I think everyone should know.
Here’s a serious of questions posed by one user that Brooks responded to:
Q: What’s the R&D process? Where do you start, and how do you test it?
A: We start with a long list of customer requests. At first, we read up on complaints about competitors’ product and made sure to address the bulk of those in prototyping. Now, we regularly ask our customers for feedback on features, new attachments, how they use Motorbunny, etc. and they lead the way.
Q: Are there tests to prove it’s safe for human use?
A: Beyond decades of people using saddle vibrators, not that we know of. All materials, however, are third-party lab tested to ensure they are body safe.
Q: Do you do blind studies, what do they look like?
A: We have partner lifestyle organizations that give their members opportunities to hop on and test out product. They fill out short surveys that we provide.
Q: What is used to prototype? 3D printing?
A: We use everything from sketches and cardboard to CAD models and wax molds.
Q: Is this a regulated industry? Is there FDA or equivalent oversight?
A: There really isn’t. Weird, huh?
Here’s another question directed to me, followed by my answer:
Q: As a sociologist, do you study the impact of masturbation and masturbation devices on people's sexual life? And if so, is there a notable difference on the sexual life whether people don't masturbate, masturbate by hand or masturbate with devices?
Second question: How hard is it to get honest answers from people when you ask them about their sexual life? Don't people often try to embellish what they do (like, "oh yes, I've had several threesomes with Scarlett Johansson and Karen Gillan")?
DrCT: That's a really good question (the first one about masturbation, etc) but actually not within my specific area of research expertise. I am not aware of any research that addresses that, but when we're done here I will do some searching around and see if I can find anything and get back to you.
Re getting honest answers from people, be it about their sexual lives or anything else, that can always be an issue and there are lots of reasons why. If you are talking about a survey for instance, depending on the instrument itself, you can experience limitations based on how the questions/answers are phrased and how the responses are collected (like, how people give their answer), among many other issues.
For instance, if you write a question asking about the number of times a person is having sex in a week, but the response options don't encompass what a person sees as having sex (mutual masturbation with a partner vs intercourse -- are both "having sex"? some people think yes, others think no), people may -- either on purpose or not -- have trouble responding. And in qualitative scenarios (in-depth interviews, focus groups, etc), there are all kinds of issues too -- rapport between the interviewer and respondent, perceived "controversy" associated with a topic and how that person feels about it, on and on.
There are books and books written about issues related to data gathering in all forms and the issues are almost endless -- the short answer is it can be really difficult to get honest answers. As a researcher, you do your best to try to make the best instrument and study possible, but there will always be issues.
Here is another question that Brooks answered, the back and forth of which is interesting. Though I don’t know if the user asking the question was trying for this, this question gets at the uneven rule enforcement and social discrimination sex-related objects must contend with every day.
Q: I noticed Motorbunny isn’t found on Amazon. Are there any rules or regulations against listing sex toys on Amazon and other similar outlets? Do you find this isn’t a strategy for your business because of the reviews system?
A: Amazon is tricky. Lots of sexual health devices get hidden in search. We recommend browsing to the sexual wellness category and then searching!
Q: I tried searching that category and still couldn’t find your product. Is it listed? My question was why was the decision made to not list Motorbunny on Amazon?
A: It is listed! Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CE0UAJO?ref=myi_title_dp
Q: Oh I guess you’re right then, it is hard to find products on Amazon sometimes.
A: Indeed... We've spoken to Amazon about this dozens of times.
There you have it – questions... and answers!
Doing and AMA is fun and a little stressful. It takes a minute to think about people’s questions in general and the pressure to answer quickly, thoroughly, and kindly in an as expeditious as possible manner is challenging. There were a lot more questions than just these though, including several that we could not get to in the allotted time. Next time!
In the interim, do you have a question? Ask me anything, and I’ll answer the best I can!