In my early 20s I was something of a vagabond. I traveled for the experience itself, feeling good and strong as a young woman out on my own. A travel rule I had was to only pack what I could carry myself. I made packing lists in my journal, revising them on each trip. There is an art to knowing exactly how many pairs of underwear, tights, and knee socks one will need for a trip of any particular length. I decided I needed to be self-sufficient and eco-conscious as much as possible so that I would be prepared for almost any situation that might come up. Continue reading “Have Vibe, Will Travel”
The Amor Dildo by Fun Factory was the first dildo I ever bought for myself. Not the first toy I ever bought or used, but the first one for myself. In roughly 10 years of owning and using sex toys they had always been associated with a sex partner, either because the partner bought them for me or we used them together or the toy was somehow reminiscent of the size and shape of their junk so I would always think of that particular person when using the toy. This practice was not a sustainable way to build a collection because I would either loose toys in breakups or purge them after all was said and done. [Note: unceremoniously dumping a vibrator that reminds you of an ex’s penis in the garbage can be a great way to move on.]
Content Warning: Sacrilegious material and nun puns
I am sure there has to be some correlation between being raised Catholic and ending up a witchy kinky queer freak. I mean, a love for pageantry, mysticism, and a living arrangement without men? Yes please! Obviously I found a different path than a rural convent, but I cannot discount the spiritual and cultural influences in my life– and perhaps it would be funny even try to escape them. I mean, I did end up living in maybe the most Catholic city in the United States.
Sex toys are great. I don’t mean that in a light or glib way. I mean that in a worlds-opening-before-me kind of way.
I have always been a very tactile person and a lover of objects; beach glass, weird sidewalk scores, interestingly shaped plumbing materials- you name it. Part of the obsession with collecting the stuff is the thought “I wonder what I can do with this?” The objects themselves are inspiring and call to a bigger creative task than their original intended use or form.
One question I was routinely asked while working at the sex shop was “How do I use it?” This question was asked about every. single. item we carried. My smart ass response is: However the fuck you want to. But that is not kind or particularly helpful when you are talking to people about sex, which is still a pretty taboo topic generally speaking and also can bring up a lot of feels and/or anxieties for folks. In my experience, people want to be told how to do stuff and also the right way to do it. We all want to feel good and fit in (to whatever group we have claimed) and know that we are normal in that context. This is reflected in the other most-asked questions: What is the most popular? and What is your favorite? As if the general majority or the individual sales associate is a good indicator for any particular person’s sexual desires.
But I digress. Let’s put a pin in the psychology of shopping for sex toys and return to the sex toys themselves. All of the sex toys out in the world are designed by someone. And some are super creative and some are super basic. Artists and engineers and perverts of all kinds have had a hand in making and re-purposing objects for intimate and sex purposes. Of course, these sex toys are created with a function in mind, i.e. a penis-looking object to put inside a vagina; a vibrator to stimulate a clit; a pincher to squeeze a nipple. In order for any of these toys to come into existence, someone had to dream up a scenario where they could see the object being used. But that doesn’t mean that the sex toy’s life should be limited to the scenario of the original designer! Once an object is put out in the world, it is just a hunk of material to be utilized however the new owner sees fit.
So, my actual response to the customer who asks “How do I use it?” is to talk about what the toys can do and what it feels like, in addition to any unique characteristics it may have. Does it vibrate? Is it squishy? Would it be safe to put in a body cavity? Does it move on its own? Is it a material I’d have an allergic reaction to? By zooming out and asking the general questions, you can see if the toy might be the perfect thing for, say, stimulating your perineum if that is your jam, even though it may have been advertised as a clit massager. (This is also why sex toy stores that have displays of the toys that you can touch and hold are SO GREAT!)
It is this kind of creative possibility that makes me excited about sex toys. It’s cool to know the intended purpose, but I want to make my own judgements about them based on the ways I find them to be pleasurable and useful. We are all different in the complex ways our bodies and minds and emotions come together to influence the way we experience and process desire and pleasure. Sex toys can hold a space for play, experimentation, and support as we each take our sexual journeys.
Thanks for joining me on this blog, which I hope to make a documentation of my journey, as well as a space for sharing research I’ve conducted about health and sexuality. Oh, and of course, to celebrate and review sex toys!