Toy, drug, shop: Product placement
The media, particularly television, need more than words to bring a story alive. So they are reliant on case studies, compelling storylines and ideas that can be represented in ‘televisual’ or ‘photogenic’ ways. However they are also often constrained by those who advertise with them (for which much media is dependent). This leads to a curious situation where the media, knowing that ‘sex sells’ wants to cover sex/relationships issues. But they cannot do so in ways that are too explicit for fear of losing advertising revenue or breaching broadcasting regulations. So they promise us explicit discussions of sex but usually rehearse them in safe/predictable/stereotypical ways.
“Sex surveys” are often sponsored by sex toy companies, for instance, or to coincide with a launch of a new product or project. So the questions can be skewed to show a need for a certain product as a solution. Also participants are often not a cross section, but rather people who visit a certain (sex toy) site. The results are then applied to the general population.
Creating a ‘normal’ view of sex means that anyone ‘abnormal’ can be sold products which can help them achieve ‘normality’: loss of desire for a partner can be ‘solved’ with an ‘aphrodisiac’ pill and sexual dissatisfaction can be ‘cured’ with a vibrator. However, these oversimplifications ignore underlying issues, whether physical, emotional, systemic or otherwise – and many of the products sold have no research to support their efficacy.
Put simply, marketing tends to work by creating problems then selling solutions. By centring pills, toys and products as the way to solve all sexual products, it sends the message that ‘good’ sex can only be achieved by spending money.