The idea of buying sex toys is usually considered foreign by many Africans, a subject that is not usually openly discussed because of several cultural and traditional inhibitions, which render the topic “inappropriate”.

However, contrary to the stigma around the adult toy industry, the sex toy trade is flourishing across South Africa as couples are increasingly getting relaxed, and open minded with the idea of buying sex toys.

Désir a luxury sex toy e-commerce store has revealed that it is recording month-on-month increases in the sales of couples’ sex toys in South Africa.

The sale of sex toys is now evenly balanced between both sexes, compared to last year when 70 percent of purchases were by men.

Brodie Meyer, MD of Désir says there is definitely a new trend emerging, where spicing up the sex life with toys is becoming commonplace, and more acceptable, “South Africa is in line with an evolving global sex toy market, which is changing from a dark, secretive and explicit industry to one of innovation, openness and acceptance”.

Women look at sex-toys on September 27, 2013 at the Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show in Johannesburg. The Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show is currently in its sixth year. Photo: ANP/AFP Stephane De Sakutin
Women look at sex-toys on September 27, 2013 at the Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show in Johannesburg. The Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show is currently in its sixth year. Photo: ANP/AFP Stephane De Sakutin

In a statement, the company says evidence of this shift in attitude is also reflected in the type of products being purchased online, such as more creative options that focus on shared sexual fulfilment rather than abject gratification.

Read: African governments, We Want Our Sex Toys!

Meyer adds: “Men are now buying toys for women, and this suggests that couples are communicating about sex in a healthier way”.

“Our best sellers this year were designed for couple’s play, and we believe that couples are working together on sexual fulfilment, engaging on topics around equally fulfilling intimacy and that men are working a little harder to make sure that sex is gratifying for their partners too,” Meyer says.

The negative social stigmas around the adult toy industry are slowly crumbling, and Désir says the language of sex and the sex toy industry is now starting to become more mainstream and acceptable.  “Our clients buy our products for their health benefits, for reasons of empowerment and education and for their emotional wellbeing,” the company says.

Désir also runs a ‘sex, love and health blog’ which aims to inspire education around taboo topics and to stimulate open dialogue between the public, and the creators of sex toys.