The summer I turned 19, my three best friends and I went shopping together — for vibrators. We marched into Good Vibrations, a giggling mismatch (two of us virgins, two of us considering ourselves quite experienced lovers), and inched around the store in a titillated knot, unable to separate from one another. After ten minutes of deliberation, we bought matching wand-like vibrators that came in the same color as the newly-minted Apple desktops our parents had bought us for school. There is something comforting in familiarity, after all.
I rolled mine in a sock and stuffed it in a drawer. I only took it out to stare at it on occasion, when I was alone. I never even used it.
As proud as we’d been the day we acquired those magic wands — Here we are, taking charge of our sexuality and pleasure! — We never spoke of that trip again. It wasn't until I started working for O'actually, a company aimed to disrupt conventional thinking about female pleasure, that I asked myself why.
Even in my line of work, sex toys are often discussed in whispered tones, with a subtext of embarrassment. Many women are afraid to admit they use one. Very few of those women would ever even consider admitting they enjoyed it.
The Sex Toy Stigma
Though male masturbation is common enough to have a whole slew of slang terms associated with it, female masturbation is rarely discussed, let alone anointed with slang. Along the same lines, sex toys for women, are even more taboo. We're taught from a young age that it’s dirty and wrong to use sex toys.
Even without the cultural stigma, there's the issue of how a partner will respond. Many men take the suggestion or even the mention of a sex toy as an indictment on their virility, and respond defensively. (Not the right move, guys.) But there are more reasons than I can count that women (and their partners) should be embracing sex toys as tools. Here are just a few of the ways they can help you have a better sex life.
1. They improve communication.
Not only can sex toys can be a really fun addition to already-great sex, but they actually help couples deal with the number one problem most face: communication. Due in large part to the destructive stigma surrounding sex in general, communicating about what we want and need in that area can be really difficult. Bringing a sex toy into bed is a fun way to practice this skill. If you want to find a mutually arousing way to use it, you'll have to communicate, right?
2. They're good for both physical and emotional health.
The vibrator was actually invented as a medical tool. It was a therapy used to stave off female “hysteria" — a term doctors applied to depression, anxiety, or, you know, emotions in general. Before the vibrator, doctors actually had to provide clitoral stimulation by hand. Eventually, one of 'em got pretty tired and invented the first vibrator. The mental, emotional, and physical benefits of masturbating haven't changed at all.
3. They make awesome sex better.
Most people are under the (false) assumption that if you’re using a sex toy, it means your sex life sucks. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. One recent study actually found that women who use sex toys report higher than average sexual satisfaction and ability to orgasm. According to the Kinsey Institute, women who use vibrators also have higher levels of desire and lubrication.
4. They empower you to discover and master your own pleasure.
Unless you know exactly what you love in bed, getting off can be more challenging than making a perfect cappuccino. For women, a sex toy is an awesome means to discover exactly what it takes to have a mind-blowing, toe-curling, finger-clenching orgasm. And that’s the sort of information you can take to your partner, so they can get you there next time.
Update: I don’t keep my vibrator in a sock anymore.
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