Charity might begin in the home, but those in the pleasure products industry are looking to expand their philanthropic efforts even farther.
With October recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, several companies have dedicated time and money to the fight for a cure. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected among women in the United States this year. An estimated 40,170 women were expected to die from the disease in 2009 alone. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.
This year, several pleasure products companies have created items or designated a portion of their profits to benefit breast cancer awareness and research programs.
All-natural lubricant developer Sliquid has teamed with fellow female-friendly adult source Babeland.com to create a specialty Swirl Pink Lemonade variety, with 10 percent of retail sales going to the Young Survival Coalition in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Young Survival Coalition is an organization dedicated to working with young women affected by and afflicted with breast cancer. The group works with survivors, caregivers and the medical, research, advocacy and legislative communities to increase the quality and quantity of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 and under.
“Our natural flavored lubricants have been a Babeland best-seller for years, and creating and selling an exclusive taste that no one else has would be a no-brainer way to raise money for a cause near to all of our hearts,” Sliquid CEO Dean Elliott said. “Our chemists worked one-on-one with Babeland reps to develop our wonderfully light and refreshing Pink Lemonade that will be a hit with both men and women nationwide.”
Babeland will sell the new flavor exclusively during the month of October as part of its ongoing efforts to fight breast cancer using the power of compelling personal lifestyle products.
“[Sliquid CEO] Dean [Elliott] is passionate about the cause, and our companies have similar missions rooted in education, health and pleasure,” Babeland Director of Marketing Anne Semans said. “Sliquid formulas are glycerin and paraben free and are a favorite among Babeland customers and staff. By supporting organizations like [Young Survival Coalition], the adult industry can do good in more ways than one!”
Following its exclusive Babeland debut, the new flavor will be available to retailers nationwide starting Nov. 1. For more information about the group, visit YoungSurvival.org.
Babeland and Sliquid are not the only ones joining the fight: Again this year, mega-manufacturer CalExotics will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of its popular Papillon Massager to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an organization dedicated to help women regain their self-esteem after surgery and treatment for breast cancer.
CalExotics Director of Marketing Al Bloom said the company chose Living Beyond Breast Cancer because one of the organization’s stated goals is to help women regain their sexuality after surgery and/or treatment.
“The people at Pure Romance Home Parties are big supporters, and Susan [Colvin, president and founder of CalExotics] was keen on helping the cause. We are into this program about three years, and we encourage everyone to carry the item,” he said.
This year, however, CalExotics has stepped up their charitable giving another notch. To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2010, CalExotics has committed to match all adult novelty manufacturer contributions up to a total of $100,000. Donations to Living Beyond Breast Cancer or Susan G. Komen for the Cure qualify for matching funds.
“For years, we have been committed to promoting early diagnosis and scientific research into the prevention of this terrible disease,” Colvin said. “But with the increasing prevalence of breast cancer diagnosis, we believe the adult novelty industry can do even more.”
To date, CalExotics has contributed thousands of dollars from the proceeds from the sale of the Papillon Massager to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
“Breast cancer has touched too many lives and we must do all that we can to help in the search for a cure,” Bloom added. “Competition aside, this is an issue that everyone in the adult novelty manufacturing sector can agree on—and we’re all in a position to help.”
All adult toy and novelty manufacturers are invited to participate in the $100,000 challenge. Interested parties can contact Bloom at (909) 606-1950, or [email protected] to sign up for the effort.
“I’m proud of the way our industry comes together around issues that are really important,” Colvin said. “By doing our part to fight breast cancer, we all emerge as winners.”
The Screaming O, recipient of two awards from Women’s Health Magazine and countless industry accolades for product quality and positive business achievements, will soon release the OGee Twistee, a bendable customizable personal massager that allows women of all shapes and sizes to fit their bodies and sensual styles.
To mark the release, and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Screaming O will donate 5 percent of sales revenue of the new OGee Twistee vibe—both the lavender and blush pink colors—from Oct. 1 until the end of the year to the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation, one of the nation’s leading breast cancer research and education charities. It was founded in 1985 in memory of Lynn Sage, a Chicago-area woman who endured a six-year struggle with breast cancer with her spirit and dignity intact before she died at the age of 39.
The LSCRF’s mission is to support the understanding, research and treatment of breast cancer in partnership with Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
“The OGee massager is one of the most recent intimate accessories coming from this innovative company whose sole mission is to help empower women, men and couples to feel comfortable exploring and embracing their sexualities,” The Screaming O representative Conde Aumann said. “Our products are all about letting regular people like you and me get in touch with our inner selves and celebrate the uniqueness of every person’s size, shape and personal lifestyle. The foundation of the research and development process behind the OGee was the female form and how to make this a bedroom staple for the widest array of women on the planet.”
As women age, especially pre- and post-menopause, they undergo significant hormone changes, often finding their sex drives spike and/or deplete without warning, company officials said in a release. And especially after undergoing mastectomy or chemotherapy—dealing with changes in their bodies, and losing hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and weight—some women have difficulty even fathoming being the sexual creatures they felt they were before treatment. The OGee’s easy-to-use, nonthreatening and comfortable design gives women of all ages the freedom to personalize it for their specific needs.
In some cases, companies specifically designed a product to benefit a woman who is battling or recovering from breast cancer. Natural Contours, the company known for designing ergonomic pleasure items, created the Petite Pink Intimate Massager to help breast cancer survivors bring pleasure and intimacy back in to their lives.
According to Deborah Kotz, who wrote a health report on “Sex After Breast Cancer” (U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 5, 2008), “nowhere in this burst of coverage have I seen information on a side effect that’s rarely talked about: how tough it is for breast cancer patients to maintain an active sex life.”
Refusing to discuss the impact breast cancer has on a woman’s intimate life is like ignoring the elephant in the room. Natural Contours feels that a product that helps women reignite their feelings of desire is of obvious importance as well as a compassionate response to the needs of women who have survived breast cancer and want to bring pleasure and intimacy back in to their lives.
Because many cancer survivors experience difficulty getting their feelings back due to treatments, medications and a drop in estrogen, health experts suggest incorporating sex toys for both self-pleasure and intimacy with a partner. Gina Shaw, on WebMD, suggests that, “Your ‘getting my groove back’ tool kit should include various sex toys.”
In addition to selling the Petite Pink Intimate Massager, Natural Contours also donates 10 percent of all sales proceeds to Breast Cancer Action, a nonprofit organization that assists women who have breast cancer and brings awareness to the more social and political issues through their “Think before you pink” campaign.
This article originally ran in the October 2010 issue of AVN.