I wrote this essay in October, 2014 about a new product making the media rounds – The Handie.
And now, for your reading pleasure, I present you with the handiest essay about dudes masturbating and why we should slow our proverbial roll when it comes to this (admittedly odd looking) product. Enjoy!
I’m a sociologist, and I’ve spent the past ten years studying all manner of adult entertainment, from working conditions on porn sets to the cultural significance of sex toys. At this point in my explorations (and life), not much surprises me, but I must be honest: the first time I set my eyes and mind upon The Handie, I was a little taken aback.
Currently seeking crowd funding via Indiegogo, The Handie is described as “the world’s first ever all-in-one finishing tool for men.” Basically, it’s a self-lubricating right-handed glove with a “penetration simulation” vessel near the thumb and pointer finger that also doubles as an “easy to clean catcher unit.” There’s also a bullet vibrator located near the pinky that one may or may not choose to activate. And it’s red.
I’ll give you a moment to consider the mechanics of it all.
After I too took a second to wrap my mind around what exactly The Handie was working towards, all I could think about were the lefties – how does The Handie work if you’re left-handed? Maybe people are ambidextrous when it comes to their penises..?
The Handie has been getting a lot of press lately, and many media responses didn’t quite make it to the handedness issue. In fact, many reactions were quite dismissive and sophomoric. “The Handie looks like the syphilitic hand of a 19th century street walker in London,” said Supercompressor. And according to BroBible, “This is the most creepily terrifying way to jack off…” And the folks over at BarStoolSports offered this copy:
“Are you lonely? Really really lonely? Does your cat brushing against your leg provide the only physical contact you experience all day? Do you have a fetish where Iron Man jerks you off? Just really goes ham on your junk? Works it like a pepper grinder? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then The Handie is for you!”
I get that The Handie looks and seems excessive, and the notion that this is an attempt to create a market (rather than meet a need) is not lost on me. But at the same time, what do I know? My unfamiliarity about what exact issues men may be facing while masturbating gives me pause. It also makes me wonder if perhaps some of these responses are not themselves a bit shortsighted and excessive.
Consider: The Handie touts its potential to “build stamina” as one of its many benefits, however, I didn’t see this mentioned in even one review or response. And though the idea of “premature ejaculation” is extremely fraught, according to the Mayo Clinic, one out of every three men experience this problem at some point in their lives. It stands to reason then that The Handie may be of interest to 33% of all penis-wielding humans – 33%!
But one out of every three guys might not venture to pick up The Handie due to one generally regarded no-no – shaming. Be it slut shaming, body shaming, or even Ebola shaming, shaming generally comes from some sort of perceived transgression regarding “normal” (heavy air quotes) behavior. And even though we have made great strides as a collective culture, we do still have some very fixed ideas about what constitutes normative sexual behavior. The Handie doesn’t seem to fall within those pre-determined strictures. But really, in a world that also contains Fleshlights, jack rabbit vibrators, and the Sqweel, is The Handie really all that odd?
Consider, for example, the implications of BarStoolSports’ comments. The Handie is allegedly perfect for the lonely, socially awkward, fantasy dwelling shut-in, an archetype that I’m pretty sure is not going to resonate positively with one third of the men out there. And what about the person who actually is a lonely, socially awkward, fantasy dwelling shut-in? Is this person so terrible that they deserve such derision? Absolutely not, and it’s troubling to think that folks who actually might benefit from The Handie may not pick it up because of the judgment and shaming that’s already occurred.
As a culture, the impact of our words and assessments is significant. And I’m not saying The Handie makes much sense to me or has to make sense to you, however I do think we must be mindful of the fact that it may make sense to others.
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