Are Hongkongers becoming less squeamish about sex? The answer is yes and no, judging by a range of "massagers" that were launched in Watsons last month.

Yes, Hongkongers have been using back massagers for, er, other purposes for a while, but these toys are more explicit about their raison d'etre, as their names demonstrate. The Frenchman, described as a "cunning linguist", is shaped like a tongue, The Tennis Coach has a rounded tip and The Millionaire comes in a classic bullet shape.

Retailing for HK$349 each, the toys are produced by Smile Makers, a Swedish firm founded by Mattias Hulting and Peder Wikstrom. The latter came up with the idea after visiting a sex shop in Stockholm and finding the experience seedy - something that might strike a chord with Hongkongers. While sexual well-being is becoming less taboo, sex toys are still mainly sold at seedy upstairs joints in Wan Chai and Mong Kok.

The decision to launch the "massagers" at mass-market retailers around the world, Wikstrom says, is an attempt to normalise safe sexual activity for women. At some Watsons outlets, the products are sold in the "family planning" section.

Smile Makers has also launched three lubricants, named Little Light Liquid, Stay Silky Serum and Generous Gel (HK$179 each). Made from natural plant extracts, they are packaged like high-end beauty products.

Progress it may be, but let's face it: the term "massagers" is a cop out. Hongkongers may be feeling these new vibrations but, seemingly, they are not yet ready to scream their praises.