Up until the turn of the century when Sex in the City made it trendy to own a vibrator, sex toys generally were regarded as taboo. However, since that episode aired, women world-wide have seen the vibrator as a symbol of sexual liberation for the Millennial generation. My theory is that it was kind of a substitute for breaking down the sexual double standard that men can have as much sex as they like, but women need to stay pure and preferably in the kitchen. However, the vibrator's new-found trendiness was still a welcome one (despite the fact that I was only a teenager when that episode aired).
(Found meme as example of existing double standard)
It's interesting though that when it comes to men's toys, particularly masturbators, society hasn't really moved past that original taboo. Men who own toys are often seen as either a bit of a joke or predatory rather than sexually liberated and open-minded. If a woman brings home a guy and she's accidentally left her vibrator on top of the bedside locker, she could easily giggle it off and say "oh that's my vibrator, hope you don't mind." If the situation were reversed, however, and the guy had left his Fleshlight out on his bedside locker, the words "serial killer" would probably spring to mind for most women. I think there is a couple of reasons for this and neither of them actually involve anything C.S.I.-related.
Men's toys don't get the kind of media exposure that women's toys do. Men don't have a Sex in the City equivalent that would promote a particular type of toy. The previously mentioned Fleshlight came close, but ultimately it was seen more as a gross gag-gift than anything else.
Men's toy design and packaging. This is where the toy industry isn't doing themselves any favours if they want to be producing for the mass market. While women's and couples' toys have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of quality, packaging, and brand recognition over the past 10 years or so, there are still so many men's toys that are branded and packaged with cliched, sleazy phrases written on them and a picture of a highly enhanced model that looks nothing like your girlfriend or any woman you know, for that matter. Instead of building a brand and products that say "This is a tool to get you off," (Like the vibrator in SITC), these men's toys say "I prefer a toy above human interaction." No one wants to be seen like that or think of themselves as "that guy."
Unfortunately, for a long time these were the only kinds of toys available to straight men (I assure you, the gay options were and are just as bad), and the taboo and shame surrounding men's toys just kind of stuck. Now though, there are a few brands that are pioneering the way for men's toys. In fact, we're so proud to stock toys like the Lelo Bob and the Tenga 3D (above) which recently won a 2012 Red Dot Award for excellent design and is the first sex toy (male or female) to do so. Now that the tide is starting to turn for male sex toy design, I think it's high time our attitudes towards them shifted as well.