How Walmart Accidentally Backed Into The Sex Toy Trade

Walmart sells Raging Hard Ons.

Last fall, Walmart acquired online retailer Jet.com. With that purchase, the Walton family-owned mega retailer went big into the sex toy business. We’re not talking about covert “personal massagers.” We mean cunnilingus simulators and fleshlights and the above “Raging Hard On” from sex toy distributor Doc Johnson. It’s a far cry from Walmart’s adorable “sexual wellness” section, comprised mostly of K-Y jelly and the least intimidating vibrators in existence.

In addition to being a boon for sex toy hungry consumers, the merger also spiced up Walmart compliance department conversations. Jet.com president Liza Landsman joked at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit that she would ask the head of compliance, “can you just describe for me exactly what about the anatomically correct male genitalia is making you uncomfortable in the photo? Just circle it on the screens there.”

This isn’t Walmart’s first sex toy forray. They’ve sold vibrators since at least 2012, not long after the Fifty Shades of Grey craze began. Yes, they’re vibes, but they’re the kind you’d find in a drugstore—the cute $20 ones that come in nonthreatening purple and pink colors. They’ve also been hidden in the health section under “personal massager,” a marketing ploy nobody has believed since at least 2002, when the Hitachi Magic Wand was featured on Sex and the City and the entire world learned you could masturbate with something you bought at Brookstone.

Now, Walmart can say it sells sex swings. Or “positional furniture,” which is sex furniture, like that swing from Magic Mike XXL. And dildos entitled “Raging Hard On.” And anal beads. And strap-ons. And couples vibrators.

Decades of sociopolitical evolution have had a liberalizing influence on Walmart. The retail behemoth was founded by fundamentalist Christians and much of its corporate policy reflects conservative Christian values. Now, however, it must appeal to hip millennials who prefer beard oil over the Bible. This doesn’t make up for Walmart’s history of unequal pay or its conservative Walmart PAC. But if capitalism does anything good, it’s financially pressuring entities like Walmart to sell anal beads against their will.

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