“Is it housekeeping though?” I have bumped into a male acquaintance while clutching the May edition of Good Housekeeping magazine, and he seems confused. The 129-year-old stalwart (91 years old in the UK) made headlines this week with a feature it sweetly and discreetly trails on its cover as “our most intimate test ever”. A hundred Good Housekeeping readers, aged between 30 and 80, have tested a range of vibrators to find out if “they’re hitting the spot” (If you’re interested, the stylish, pebble-shaped Je Joue Mimi was the winner, scoring 77 out of 100 and collecting accolades for not being “scary”). Cue bewilderment from the male populace – my friend eventually decides the feature is a cynical stunt designed to make the magazine “sexy” – and sniggering from the tabloids. The Daily Mirror, for instance, trumpeted the news with the headline: “Housewives’ favourite Good Housekeeping magazine shocks readers with SEX TOY review.”
Well I never. The only really shocking thing about this story is that women using vibrators somehow constitutes headline news.
There does seem to be rather a difference in the way that we regard women and sex toys and men and sex toys. Just as an example, can we imagine, say, Popular Mechanics running a feature on the use and performance of a Fleshlight?
Or to put it another way, men who masturbate are sad wankers while women who do are exploring their sexuality?