This year was a mixed bag for sex and sexual expression in America. Positive trends from recent years continued, like sex toy innovation and proliferation. But so did negative trends, like the rising rate of sexually transmitted infection transmissions. Many novel trends in 2018, like newfound male interest in closing the orgasm gap and greater general cultural willingness to openly discuss sexual abuse, trauma, and consent, were incredibly heartening. But this year also witnessed worrying backlash against the MeToo movement, as well as substantial new restrictions on sexual speech and activities online. This blowback and censorship could well continue into 2019. But if more progressive forces can put the kibosh on those trends, then we can (hopefully) spend next year enjoying upcoming innovations, like CBD-laced intimacy products and bespoke sex toys.
Sex Toys Continue To Innovate and Proliferate
As Bonny Hall of the sex toy retailer Lovehoney points out, vibrators and similar products have, over the last few years, improved in quality and gained traction with mainstream retailers as wellness products. And smart toys have grown more functional and popular. Those trends continued into 2018, and will likely march on into 2019 as well. Male sex toys, in particular, have seen a wave of fresh innovation (despite the challenges of selling them).
Porn Continues To Go Mainstream
Porn, adult industry critic Moutasem Sayem argues, continues to accumulate social currency and legitimacy, slowly bringing it out from the shadows. Coverage of Stormy Daniels as a complex and laudable human rather than a porn cliché certainly helped with that long march this year, as have streaming giant Pornhub’s continued safe-for-work, headline-baiting publicity stunts. In porn content terms, faux incest and other “taboo” genres remain popular, and story driven short features with high production values are all the rage. Transgender porn also continues to spike in popularity—a trend that needs unpacking, because the popular consumption and monetization of trans bodies certainly seems to be outpacing popular commitment to trans rights and needs. And porn performers are increasingly accessible, argues Cyber5, editor of industry review site xCritic, as they participate more in the growing worlds of camming and independent custom clip production, not to mention social media, all boons to their personal branding and monetization efforts.
America’s Sexual Health Crisis Drags On
Folks at home may have explored new sexual acts and ideas this year (this is, of course, hard to know for sure), but many of them definitely continued to let their sexual health slip. New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that America suffered yet another year of record level chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis transmissions. The concurrent rise of treatment resistant strains of these diseases makes this ongoing trend increasingly worrying.
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