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If having sex toys in the Oscar gift bag isn't wholesome, then I don’t want to be

Stefanie Iris Weiss is the author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable and 8 other books. She keeps her carbon footprint small in New York City, where she writes about sexuality, sustainability, su...

The Academy sues over sex toy in the Oscar swag bag for being 'less than wholesome'


Oscar “swag bags” have courted controversy for years, with good reason. Every year their value rises exponentially, and the goodies within get more and more obscene. “Obscene” not as in explicit, but as in “obscenely expensive.”

This year’s bag will contain something called a “Vampire breast-lift,” a walking tour of Japan and $275 dollars' worth of magical Swiss toilet paper. This list of ridiculousness goes on, and I agree that many of the items, including an antiperspirant patch, shame women for their bodies’ shape and its functions. (See “Vampire breast-lift” above. Please never ever tell me what this actually is.)

The Academy is suing Distinctive Assets, a marketing firm that puts the swag bags together, for sullying its good name, claiming that certain products, including a woman’s sex toy, are “unseemly” and “less-than-wholesome.” Sure, it makes sense to distance yourself from outlandish excess in a down economy and in the age of Bernie Sanders. But I’d argue that right now, the idea that the Oscars have a “good name” to defend is a bit of a stretch.

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Let us not forget that the Academy has something much more important to worry about this year and in all the years to come: #OscarsSoWhite. It’s both superficial and myopic to file a lawsuit about “unseemly” products when your racist policies have just come under very legitimate fire. I wish the Academy’s legal team would advise them to worry about inclusivity before sex toys.

What seems to have the Academy’s knickers in a twist are the “less-than-wholesome” items named in their lawsuit. One of these products is a weed-vaporizer, and the other is a product called the Fiera: arouser for her, touted as a health and wellness product for women. I can’t vouch for it personally, but it seems like a wonderful and necessary addition to the erotic toolkit of any woman experiencing low libido. After the massive failure of Addyi, better known as “female Viagra,” the Fiera is one of the first non-pharmaceutical products I’ve seen targeted specifically to women’s arousal issues.

Body-shaming gifts aside, why is a toy used to get a woman aroused before sex less “wholesome” than Viagra or Cialis? Dirty and/or “unseemly” this product is not. And taking this argument further, what’s the big deal about straight-up sex toys targeted to men or women? There is nothing to be ashamed of here.

Consenting adults are getting these bags, not ten-year-olds, who are subjected daily to old men making coy remarks about getting their flagging penises started up again. Viagra commercials, my dear friends at the Academy, are a lot more “unseemly” than sex toys discreetly put in a bag and handed to Jennifer Lawrence.

In a country where Congress has tried to defund Planned Parenthood eight times, we need to get over our fear of women’s bodies before we do anything else — especially before we bring frivolous lawsuits. When a perfectly airbrushed, perfectly thin, perfectly under-30 woman’s body is the currency of choice in Hollywood, yet women are paid less than their male co-stars, sex toys are the least of the industry’s problems.

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I have a different idea — let’s give sex toys to all the women at the Oscars, not just the celebrities, but to the screenwriters, DPs, makeup artists, designers and film editors — even the ones who are boycotting this year. God knows they need them with all that stress of being a woman in Hollywood.

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