Recently, I got to speak at Exxxotica New Jersey with Motorbunny’s Founding Partner Caleb Thompson. We were talking about sexual devices and the meanings we as a society have attached to them, as well as how these meanings can be limiting in some ways.
What is an Exxxotica show?
The Exxxotica shows are really interesting. The program itself is a traveling show that makes stops in cities like Chicago, Portland, Miami, and New Jersey. They are “B2C” – business to consumer – events intended to appeal to the public (versus “B2B” business trade shows). This means that the show itself is attended by customers, fans, lifestylers, and the sexually curious. Industry stars are in attendance to meet people, and exhibitors include purveyors of fetish clothing and gear, sexual wellness products, companies that host lifestyle events and vacations, and sex toys. Motorbunny had a booth, too!
In an effort to bring added use value to attendees, the Exxxotica shows also offer extensive educational programing. There are “how to” workshops about different types of fetish and sexual activities (things like spanking and facesitting, for instances), lectures from sexual health experts, and even Q&A opportunities with clips and cam companies. This is where I came in during Exxxotica New Jersey.
Sexual Devices, Social Meanings, and You
Caleb and I led a seminar titled “She Won’t Need Me Anymore! Sex Machines, Couples, and Misconceptions.” Here’s our seminar description:
Sexually speaking, many men are adventurous -- down to try new things and experience pleasure in new ways. It’s been widely postulated though that these very same men are also “terrified of being replaced… by a piece of plastic, silicone, or glass.” Apparently, many heterosexual men are frightened by sex toys.
From discrete, simple vibrators to more involved devices with high visual impact, sex machines can be intimidating -- but don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from devices that can help intensify intimacy and expand your sexual repertoire. In this seminar, Motorbunny Founding Partner Caleb Thompson and Sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals will break down why sex machines can be intimidating, why this is totally normal, and what you can do to incorporate them into the bedroom, your work, and your wider life.
I started us off by talking (briefly) about ideas related to social forces and the ways in which meanings are assigned to objects and events and goals and feelings by wider society. It’s not that something is ever good or bad or neutral, for instance. It’s that we’ve collectively decided that something has a particular meaning or meanings. Consequently, meanings can change and meanings can be different for different people and groups. Honestly, this topic is one of my favorite things to discuss!
This concept even applies to sex behavior, including the use of sexual objects. We then unpacked the idea of what using a sexual device – something like a Motorbunny, but definitely not limited to a Motorbunny – can mean to people. This is where Caleb came in.
We then went through several examples of Motorbunny customer testimonials – all anonymous, of course. Caleb recounted stories that showed variable meaning attached to using a Motorbunny. He went through different examples for different demographics – age, presence of disposable income, interpersonal communication, sexual orientation, and more. It was interesting to discuss the different ways a Motorbunny (and, by extension, other sexual objects) can impact different people within different social groups. We talked about all this within the context of wider social forces and, ultimately, the need for communication amongst sexual partners.
What’s the point?
Exxxotica shows are all about sexual freedom, liberation, and exploration – whatever that means to you and your comfort level, under an umbrella of consent. (Consent must always be present!) People come to see stuff and – in many different ways – learn stuff too. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about all sorts of topics and products and services related to sexualities.
Overarching all of this though is this idea that meanings are created. In terms of sex, these meanings are widely varied and are not always “comfortable.” It’s interesting to consider: if sexuality didn’t have soo many contested, associated social meanings, then maybe there wouldn’t even be a need for events like the Exxxoticas. If sexuality and iterations of sexualities were just a NBD kind of thing, then people may not need to seek out a giant show filled with new ideas, community, and experts.
The fact remains though that sexualities are associated with many contested ideas, and all of these ideas are socially constructed. It was great to have an opportunity within a space like Exxxotica to help break down where these ideas come from – and how they don’t have to stay that way if we don’t want them to.
Take some time out to think about what sex means to you and maybe consider where those associated ideas came from. It’s an interesting thing to ponder!
- Dr. Chauntelle
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