Hallie Lieberman’s Buzz: A Stimulating History of Sex Toysis a wild ride (no pun intended) from start to finish. Based on her experience selling sex toys at in-home “Passion Parties” and her dissertation on sex toy history, Lieberman recounts how sex toys have been used to both liberate and oppress people throughout U.S. history. Along the way, she busts several common myths about sex toys and shares some fascinating facts.
Buzz proves that sex toys have never been just about sex. The way they’ve been sold, used, and legislated has reflected many different societal hierarchies and power dynamics. “Sex toys soaked up the meanings of whoever was promoting them,” the book reads. “In one context, they embodied liberationist radical feminist values, while in another, they symbolized traditional gender and sexual roles. Feminists championed them for masturbation while traditionalists promoted them for monogamous heterosexual sex. Sex toys symbolized gay liberation in the Pleasure Chest and disability rights through Gosnell Duncan’s newly renamed company Scoprio Products. Sex toys were always political, but the politics they embodied was up for grabs.”
In case you don’t have time to read it, here are some facts about sex toy history that I learned from the book.