The New Female-Focused Sex Toys You Need To See

ELLE takes a peak inside Unbound, the erotic shop revolutionising the sex toy industry.

Women are four times more likely than men to say they don't enjoy sex. Which, when you think about it, is an astonishing, but not entirely surprising fact. Do you often feel non-plussed about a night of steamy passion? Could you take or leave a quickie before work?

Men have been privileged in the bedroom, in the sex industry, and in the sexual healthcare system for far too long, says New Yorker Polly Rodriguez. The 30-year-old is the woman behind Unbound - a female-fronted erotic shop - which seeks to address this pleasure gap. Not only do they offer thoughtfully designed products from a range of brands but an inclusive space to talk about female sex and pleasure, without stigma, sleaze or shame.

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Personal experience also motivated Rodriguez to start Unbound.

'The first time I tried to to buy lubricant and a vibrator, I was 21 and going through treatment for colorectal cancer,' she tells ELLE. 'Having a poo bag (i.e. ileostomy bag) while going through radiation and chemotherapy had a unique way of making me feel anything but sexy.'

The cancer left Rodriguez menopausal, and searching the Internet for self-pleasure solutions, yet everything she came across reflected the Madonna-Whore complex: either too medical or too obscene.

She started working on the idea from her tiny NYC apartment soon after. 'I wanted Unbound to become a place where women and femme-identifying individuals could define their sexuality for themselves as opposed to the male gaze defining it for them, and I felt the best way to do that was to create products and a shopping experience that put design first.'

Unbound offers lines of vibrators, games, lubes, as well as lingeries and accessories, targeting a pro-women, sex-positive, body-confident audience, with a distinctly millennial aesthetic.

'My fundamental belief is that women are brilliant and hilarious. Everything we do at Unbound stems from that central truth. Our design is intended to be thoughtful and our copy should make you laugh,' she says.

To navigate the stigma around buying sex toys, Rodriguez says they create discrete packaging, so women can order products to the office without colleagues raising eyebrows.

Which is great, and helpful, but why do women feel stigmatised for seeking self-pleasure?

'I think, generally speaking, society is afraid of women in power and it always has been that way. A woman who can satisfy herself without needing anyone - especially a man ' is terrifying to people.'

She continues: 'I always want to respect the female experience while also acknowledging the reality that the world is not binary. Gender is, after all, just a construct. However, anatomy is not and historically most 'sex toys' (I hate that term) were designed my men. They were often pink, phallic, and made with toxic materials like parabens and phthalate. Given that the vast majority of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, they were also not exceptionally effective.'

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But with a new wave of female designer and entrepreneurs, like Rodriguez and her team, taking over the Sex Tech space, it looks like pink plastic penises might very soon be a thing of the past.

Arousal Gel Box

In November, Unbound are launching 'The Babe Pack': affordable vibrators made with medical grade silicone, with a simple, sleek, minimalist design. The line includes 'Bean', a small, spherical shaped vibrator, designed with first time users in mind; 'Squish', a USB-rechargeable vibrator that uses reactive technology, (the harder you squeeze, the harder it vibrates), and 'Jelly', a 100% natural, glycerin-free lube that can be used with latex condoms and vibrators.

'I use every single product we make. My all time favourite is the Squish. I think it's the best vibrator on the market because if it's sleek design and rumbly motor. I love that it's immediately reactive to your body so that the harder you squeeze it, the harder it vibrates,' enthuses Rodriguez.

In curating the products Unbound offer - including brands like Dame, Chalkrubs, We-Vibe, Je Joue, Tenga, MysteryVibe and Crave - design and safety are top priorities. Affordability is also key.

'Knowing what I know about the industry now, there is no reason a simple rechargeable vibrator should cost more than £150,' stresses Rodriguez.

Rebound Box featuring Tenga Iroha Mini vibrator and arousal gel

23 year-old Raj* (not her real name), from New Jersey is a typical Unbound customer: 'I stumbled upon them while browsing my Instagram Discover feed.'

She was drawn to Unbound's vision and advocacy of sexual wellbeing and self-love. She now uses their Je Joue Mimi Soft vibrator and Good Clean Love's Almost Naked Lubricant 4 to 7 times a week.

'I definitely think there's a social stigma around sex toys for women,' explains Raj. 'I truly think it stems from the fact that sex toys often provide women with pleasure that men often can't and men are really threatened by that.'

Danielle Page, 29, is another happy Unbound customer. She regularly uses their line of 'wearables': dual purpose jewellery, such as a vibrator you can wear as a necklace. The line was conceived, Rodriguez says, to let women be proud of seeking pleasure for themselves.

'I believe it lets women wear their values on their sleeve. Like, hell yes my bangle bracelets are also handcuffs. I can wear whatever I want because I'm a grown ass lady!' Rodriguez says.

'As a single woman my sex life is...sporadic at best, so being able to wear something like the Vesper, lube necklace, massage ring or bangle handcuffs (all my faves) on promising dates or nights out and know that I've got what I need on me in case an opportunity presents itself is empowering,' Page tells ELLE.

She continues: 'I think there's never been a more important time for women to stand up for themselves and to claim what is theirs.'

In other words, in 2017, Unbound is exactly what women need.

Shop the Unbound collection here.

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