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A decade of techno-sex: Look how far we've come

Ten years of turn-ons - is society tuned in?

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Are you lonesome tonight? Not with this handy bit of kit...

Nonetheless, what has changed in the male end of the market is a major shift toward toys that are purely functional. To that end, the Fleshlight and the Tenga system – as vibrators always have been - are "pure" masturbation systems, without the excuse of even pretending the presence of a partner. Ditto the monkeyspanker, with its curious resemblance to a table tennis bat with a hole in the middle.

On the female side of the fence, there are new textiles and new colours – particularly dayglo. Pyrex has made its entrance as the basis for a new and arty line in dildos, with the advantage that the object can be left in the fridge – not the freezer! – for a couple of hours before any bedtime action. The emphasis on what sex toys are for has changed little although – with all that emphasis on ergonomics – each year seems to bring a new and even more far out shape to the bedroom. Nonetheless, according to Lovehoney, the Rabbit remains a favourite "must-buy" for women.

Other techie trends include the appearance of "fucking machines" – which look highly dangerous and are still more likely to be found in a certain sort of porn than in bedrooms up and down the country. That has begun to change with the advent of the Sybian – a snip at just over £1,000 – and no doubt the next decade will see further advances in this area.

Electro-stimulation is also on the up, both through the rediscovery of Victorian cupping devices, and entirely new systems such as the e-stim.

What then of the internet? While some would claim that it merely follows and reflects existing trends, there is a strong argument to suggest it has been at least in part instrumental in this latest sexual revolution.

From the early days of Usenet and IRC, through to sites and channels dedicated to particular kinks, the internet has worked to bring together people with previously rarefied interests and to encourage them. That is the accusation often levelled at the internet by the pro-censorship lobby – and is a particularly damning argument when it comes to issues such as paedophilia.

However, the reality is that prior to the internet, many sexual "interests" remained sufficiently unusual that practitioners could spend most of a lifetime without ever encountering anyone who shared the same kink. The effort required to go out and find even one like-minded individual was too much for most.

By contrast, the internet now plays host to sites that cover almost every kink imaginable, providing space for individuals to discuss with other like-minded people. At the more mainstream end of things, topics such as bdsm now boast sites such as informed consent in the UK which claims almost 150,000 members. In parallel with such sites, the BDSM scene has proliferated a network of munches, clubs and events that now provide real world back-up to what was originally stimulated into action online.

Swinging, too, is an area that has seen its popularity soar over the decade. Likewise "dogging", polyamory and all manner of fetishes. It would be too simplistic to "blame" such growth on the internet, but it has played a major part.

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