Good Vibrations: The New Cult of Ecosexual Self-Care
A new abundance of ecosex toys claim to be the route to wellness but when crystal dildos and foliage floggers are priced beyond reach, is free love really free?
The weird and wonderful world of sex toys is undergoing a revolution beneath the crowded umbrella of self-care. We’ve adapted to a world in which we’re nothing if not consumers, attempting to negotiate capitalism on our own terms; from understanding which serums best solve our combination skin to figuring out the yoga to help us transcend an increasingly erratic reality.
Amid all of this, the organic concept of wellness has become less tangible with every appearance of a shiny new brand selling us the philosophy that the path to said wellness is brought within our grasp with every purchase. But how do we define “wellness” in a world continually creating new standards to reach? How do we ground ourselves outside of an online reality of targeted advertising and algorithms predicting our individual insecurities to cash in on a communal cry for help?
Wellness has become warped as our consumerist tendencies are met with open arms by capitalist demand. The cult of self-care has inhibited us from determining what wellness actually means for ourselves on our own time. In particular, Western society has fallen headfirst down a rabbit hole into an increasingly dystopian world where everything is impeccably packaged into endless supplies of miniature elixirs, each with their own formula to guarantee successful skin and high self-esteem. 'DRINK ME for a face which glows with the sheen of financial stability and carefree existence' proclaim pastel-tone potions encased in pristine, minimalistic branding. The sheer spectrum of sex toys available online now might make us feel like we’re all Alices in a wanking Wonderland, but on a daily basis, we’re inundated with products telling us they are the choice to end all choices.
Ecosexuality has long sought to pioneer a literal response in our quest to ground ourselves, urging that turning back to nature might just turn us on. Its manifesto proclaims Earth is not “Mother” but “lover,” and that we need to “celebrate our E-spots,” and believe that “we are all part of, not separate from, nature.” As climate-change denial continues to be all the rage for the racist alt-right and dangerously entertained by our political leaders, great power comes in a revolutionary movement which identifies us all as “pollen-amorous.” It has also come to define the shift in the sex toy market towards the catch-all configuration of ‘sexual wellness’, applying feminist and ecosexual ethics to the tools we use to enjoy healthier and happier sex. There is no reason why we should be limiting our orgasms to the upkeep of skincare routines, or so say those creating aesthetically-pleasing products made from entirely natural materials.
Cleverly-coined crystal self-pleasure brand Chakrubs intends to fill our voids, quite literally, by birthing a series of sex toys designed to reconnect us with our bodies, minds and spirits through masturbation. Offering a range of different crystals in different shapes to cater to different chakras (our bodies’ seven centres of heightened energy flow and activity), Chakrubs operates under the philosophy that those who choose to invest in their luxury products demonstrate the utmost dedication to self-care and acceptance. A rose quartz wand might help mend a broken heart by aligning directly with our heart chakra, while a black obsidian butt plug can break down blockages to your sexual enjoyment and sense of self. Fears that these toys might shatter inside you are far more widespread than a customer’s awareness of toxic materials and phthalates found in some of the most available and mass-produced dildos. According to Chakrubs’ website, their products are completely body-safe, bound together by the strength of their internal molecular structures.
Chakrubs’ founder Vanessa Cuccia anticipated the socio-economic demand in our mass desire for how to practice self-love, translating the historic spirituality associated with crystals into our sexuality. As someone whose childhood was spent eagerly awaiting biannual trips to Fife so I could explore the crystal haven of Psyche’s Garden in St Andrews, never did I expect to find myself in my early 20s looking back to my expansive crystal collection, wondering if I already own a special stone that could be helping me cum. Crystals have always held a folkloric and fantastical fascination, being objects of raw and powerful beauty that prompt an appreciation of such pure earthly delights. Givers of positive energy with a potential to influence the electromagnetic fields of our bodies and minds, they’ve held a historic place in the practices of psychic, Wicca and therapeutic communities, and lie at the heart of many meditation techniques.
Combining masturbation and mindfulness to the manufacture of spiritual, sustainable and stylish sexual stimuli sounds like the ideal embodiment of free love. Of course, it’s inevitable that such dreamy dildos would be slightly more expensive than the online high street’s offerings. Chakrubs present their crystal wands for around the $150 bracket and the naturally dyed, Maplewood models of ‘The Forest Line’ come in at $300 and over. We’re told that this is because there is a higher kind of spirituality or wellness to attain and so necessitates a higher quality of product. A higher price tag simply comes with the territory.
Goop, the controversial company begun by Hollywood actor turned self-help/health guru Gwyneth Paltrow, seems to favour this M.O. as if it were an indigenous mantra ripe for their co-option. A New York Times profile of Paltrow’s success with Goop located the conflict that comes when the privileged make millions from abstracting wellness as an ‘aspirational’ ideal: "Her business depended on no one ever being able to be her. Though I guess it also depended on [the public’s] ability to think they might". Ironically, this September began with the news that Goop has agreed to pay out over some of the illegitimate, and frankly dangerous, claims it has made of its expensive yoni eggs. So when did wellness turn into wanting to be rich? When the face of wellness is white, wealthy and within their means to explore their wanderlust on the smallest of whims, what does this mean for the rest of us?
Eco sex toys, popularised as something to help us feel better about ourselves, are being priced beyond the reach of those who might need it the most, cementing the notion that there is a right and wrong way to negotiate wellness. Those who sought out wellness as a way to own their right to bodily, spiritual and political autonomy now risk becoming completely invisible within it. LGBTQA+ and BAME people – relentlessly labelled and treated as threats, outsiders or non-existent in supposedly woke Western societies – led the way for a revolutionary, bottom-up reclamation of their individualism and freedom as we continued to elect those who stand against it. Minority groups have long been denied an equal footing in conversations about sexual pleasure and health, faced with a predominantly white noise dictating the availability and accessibility of our sexual politics and produce.
Ecosexual products showcase a sex toy industry at its most innovative, exciting and ethical, and they should be sharing the wealth of sexual wellness. If wondrous quartz wands 'made from the earth' must be so expensive in order to be stylish and safe enough for us to be our most-satisfied selves, is free love really free? For those of us just trying to live our best lives as sexy, spiritual stewards of the Earth, we can only hope that the £300 Foliage Floggers and Succulent Swatters of our wildest ecofetishist fantasies will someday be as available as tree-hugging.