Etsy Bans Adult Products

Etsy bannes sex toys

The online marketplace Etsy, known for its unique crafts and vintage treasures, is set to implement stringent new rules on adult content, which will see the majority of sex toys banned from its platform. Effective July 29, the company’s freshly minted “Adult Nudity and Sexual Content” policy, revealed on June 27, outlines a crackdown on items “applied to the genitalia” or “designed for genitals to be inserted into them.” This ban covers an array of intimate products including dildos, vibrators, rings, and plugs.

‘Etsy’s aversion to insertion’ appears to stem from a desire to sanitize its offerings. Items that are deemed “non-insertable and non-penetrable” will still make the cut, provided vendors comply with Etsy’s rigid guidelines for “mature” content. These stipulations include tagging items as “mature,” ensuring they don’t feature prominently on shop avatars or home pages, and making sure thumbnails are “appropriate for general audiences.” Explicit depictions, whether of genitalia or the use of products, are vehemently banned.

But Etsy’s policy doesn’t wholly eradicate adult content. In fact, it delineates a nuanced approach to “non-realistic content”—like paintings, illustrations, sculptures, and line drawings—allowing some level of nudity. According to the guidelines, “visible breasts and buttocks,” “genitalia or anuses without any additional sexual context,” and “sex acts without visible genitalia or anuses,” are still kosher. But any sexually explicit visuals featuring genitalia or anuses, especially in contexts involving “visible arousal, sexual stimulation, sexual body fluids, or sexually suggestive posing,” are strictly off-limits.

The platform has also erased a swath of fetishized items off its stock list, including worn underwear and content that zooms in on sexualized body parts, such as foot pics. Any representation of illegal sex acts ranging from bestiality and necrophilia to incest and non-consensual sex, too, faces the ax under Etsy’s new edicts.

Even suggestive sexual language won’t escape this purge. Phrases referencing “familial relationships” like “Daddy’s slut” or “Choke me Mommy” are out of bounds.

This sweeping purge follows a broader digital trend. Remember the infamous 2018 purge of adult content on Tumblr? Or OnlyFans’ ill-fated 2021 attempt to ax sexual content, which they later backflipped on? Indeed, this latest move by Etsy aligns with a larger wave of online sexual content censorship. Plus, let’s not gloss over the brewing legislative storm—lawmakers from 19 states have rolled out proposals that would require identification to access adult content. Etsy’s new policy signals yet another watershed moment in the evolving narrative around online sexual content.

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