In a move that’s both sweet and life changing, it was my first boyfriend who bought me my first sex toy. (Yes, the same ex who was just a tad too big for me). Sex was getting more pleasurable than my debut session but I’d yet to have an orgasm. Perhaps buoyed by his confidence in knowing that his tool could never be replaced by a mechanical one, he presented my gift behind a shy smile a few weeks later. When I stopped by his place that evening, he placed a tiny blue keychain in my hand.
“What’s this?” I was genuinely confused.
“A present – I was out on errands this afternoon and picked it up for you.”
“Oh no, it’s a vibrator! It’s for you to explore and have fun.”
He then turned it on by twisting the head and it started buzzing away.
I was both intrigued and slightly appalled. My idea of sex toys at that age (21) were gigantic phallic dildos that were just running gags in teen comedies or bachelorette parties. It was the first time I encountered a bullet vibrator and had zero idea how to use it or where to even put it. Of course he wanted to try it out that night. I was nervous AF but figured since he bought it, he’ll know what to do with it.
And ladies and gentlemen, that’s how I became a convert to the world of sex toys.
Hot off the heels of the announcement that pop star Lily Allen is the face of Womanizer, the global sex toy brand, there’s a buzz (pun definitely intended) around female masturbation and sex toys. As Allen reasoned in the press release : “Sex toys are still seen as a taboo subject because they are related to masturbation and female pleasure.
Female pleasure in itself is a taboo subject. The only way to make taboo subjects no longer taboo is to speak about them openly, frequently and without shame or guilt.”
Did you know that a current survey by Womanizer with 7,000 participants from 14 countries shows that 94% were not informed about female or male masturbation in sex education classes? 1/3 of the surveyed women did not masturbate at all.
Why is this important? While we respect that for some, there are religious and value-based factors involved in their decision to refrain, masturbation on the whole is natural and important in sexual discovery.
It bring about health benefits (e.g. Easing of menstrual cramps, hello stress relief! etc) and allows you to explore and know your body fully without the perceived pressure from sexual partners to “perform”. Ever been in a situation where it’s just frustrating for the both of you when they’re trying to help you reach climax? Yup, you don’t have to deal with that when it’s just you and Ms Vibe.
When I’ve brought up the topic of sex toys over drinks with my girlfriends, it seems that these were a few common misgivings:
• “Why would I need one? We both reach climax during sex..”
• “I’m not sure how to bring it up with him. He might think he’s not good enough for me if I used one.”
• “Isn’t it a waste of money? What if I use it too much and get addicted?”
• “I’ll feel like a pervert if I walk into those sleazy shops and buy one for myself…” “
• It’s kinda intimidating. I don’t know where to start or what to buy…”
So we’re starting a guide to one of our favourite sexual wellness topics: sex toys and tools for your pleasure. In this first part of the series, we’re going to get curious about: Debunking the Sex Toy Myth.
In the next few articles, we’ll be covering topics like factors to consider when buying a toy, types of toys, brands to covet, how to maintain and take care of them, and even a walk-through guide on how to step into a store without feeling like complete deer-in-headlights. So let me get on my pulpit and start preaching!
Debunking the Sex Toy Myth
Let’s begin by going through these social stigmas when it comes to the use of toys in the boudoir:
Myth 1: Why would I need one? We both reach climax during sex..
Ahhh… the “sexual pleasure = orgasms” debate. To take this down, we’ll have to challenge the conception of sex and pleasure in the first place. Sex isn’t just penetrative (PIV) sex. It includes oral, anal, mutual masturbation – basically if it involves arousal and pleasure with one’s genitals and/or intimate parts, that’s considered a sexual experience. While we’ve grown accustomed to society’s (and let’s face it – porn) mindset that for sex to be good, it has to end up in orgasms. That’s simply not true. For some, the intimacy with their partners and feelings of trust, mutual pleasure and closeness achieve just as much satisfaction. Masturbation and mutual exploration of your partner’s erogenous zones allows you to learn what types of touches, sensations and techniques will turn you on or off. Sex toys and pleasure tools aren’t a need but add variety and fun and bring your relationships, especially to yourself, closer.
Myth 2: I’m not sure how to bring it up with him. He might think he’s not good enough for me if I used one.
Well, feel free to share my story about my generous ex! He continues to be in my good graces just for his gift despite the crazy course of our relationship! Jokes aside, this is a tricky subject and requires some delicacy when bringing it up with your partner. Sex is a funny thing – it takes up quite a large part of one’s headspace despite being a topic that’s still hush-hush.
Most of us still equate sexual performance as a major factor in a romantic partnership’s success and personal worth. Even women aren’t immune to having their sexual prowess connected to worth, just check out Cardi B’s summer anthem: “I don’t cook, I don’t clean/ But let me tell you how I got this ring”
(Ed’s Note: I do still love WAP and think it’s absolutely about owning your own power and sensuality without shame. Plus it’s just so freaking catchy…)
Back to communication with your partner, first off – you might be overthinking it. Out of all my exes, I’m pleasantly surprised that perhaps it was just one or two who took offense when I asked about introducing toys. Turns out in my case that it correlated with their lack of generosity as lovers and their own body insecurities. In general, most guys were extremely open and encouraging when it came to experimenting with tools in the bedroom. It took some pressure off of them in having to guess what combination of moves will achieve my orgasm. UpUpDownDownLeftRightLeftRight anyone?
It’s also generally a massive turn-on to have an open-minded partner who’s ready to try something new. This approach will work if you’re just dating and still in the honeymoon phase so you’re both learning about each other. What happens if you’ve been married forever and all of a sudden really want to broach the idea of bringing in a dildo that doesn’t look anything like him?
This is where some guys may feel like they’re getting “replaced” or rejected in their sexual performance. Some guys may also project and wonder where this sense of experimentation is coming from (e.g. “Is she fantasizing about someone else?”, ”Is she exploring with someone new?”). While it may seem frustrating when we’re genuine about our intentions, it’s perfectly normal to both parties to have these fears and doubts.
We recommend approaching the subject in a non-sexual and relatively neutral setting. Please do not spring on him with a pegging harness as a surprise during foreplay. Depending on how comfortable your relationship is,you could be as direct as you want (“Hey, how do you feel about being tied up…”) or hint (“You remember that scene when we watched that movie…”) when you’re testing the waters.
Once he engages in the conversation, please be direct and simple in order to avoid any confusion and miscommunication. For example, you may bring up a scene from 50 Shades of Grey because you’re intrigued about being handcuffed, he thought you’re referring to being flogged instead. Ouch!
If he seems hesitant, avoid accusatory language (“You never want to try anything new…“) and assure your partner that a toy cannot and will not replace him. Instead, focus on how it’s adding playfulness and excitement to routine and leads to increase intimacy and trust. (See Common Myth 1).
Suggest that you can go shopping together as a couple, whether online or in person to pick out something within your comfort zones. There’s also tons of toys that can be enjoyed as a couple or recommend that he should also try out a male’s toy during your exploration sessions together.
Myth 3: Isn’t it a waste of money? What if I use it too much and get addicted?
Technically, you can get addicted to anything so we won’t try to moot that point. However if you’re worried that you won’t be able to achieve orgasms without them in future, just remember that libidos change and yes, sometimes your tastes and what works for you will change too. You can always take a break from toys or certain types of sensations. That’s part of understanding your body and knowing your turn-ons and turn-offs. That’s the fun part of sexual exploration – you’re always learning something new about yourself!
No one ever complains how a handbag is a waste of money and we’re definitely guilty of having more than just 1-2 in the closet! If you’re still trying to justify a toy, treat them like an accessory to your sexual escapades. Sure, you’ll look cute in that outfit but wouldn’t it look amazing with that great necklace to complete the look? Or sometimes you just need a whole different look for that mood (ring for adults?). Knowing and owning your sensuality will give you a better appreciation for your body and what it can achieve. It’s also part of our self-love and what better investment with optimal returns other than yourself?
Myth 4: I’ll feel like a pervert if I walk into those sleazy shops and buy one for myself…
There’s a little bit of truth to this myth in the past when the only sex toy shops you’ll see are those seedy little dark spots with flashing CONDOMS CONDOMS CONDOMS neon lights. That’s all changed of course. With the proliferation of online stores with discreet packaging and shipping, you also have female-friendly and ethical sex brands that are into sexual wellness and pleasure empowerment. There are also local stores that take sex seriously as a business with customer oriented service and product knowledge expertise in a non-intimidating and friendly manner. There’s Alice Maple and The Hedonist Store for those in Singapore and in the US, there’s the OG Babeland (shoutout to my first keychain vibe!) and Spectrum Boutique that’s all about sex and body-positivity for all on the Kinsey Scale.
But we’ve got you – look out for our upcoming guide to your first time at a sex toy store and what to expect.
Myth 5: It’s kinda intimidating. I don’t know where to start or what to buy…
Sex toys are called toys for a reason – they’re suppose to be fun! Of course I can say this now as a confident connoisseur of toys and tools for every sexual occasion. However I still remember clearly how nervous and full of trepidation I was when I saw that plastic blue bullet vibe.
“Is it going to break in me?”
“Am I going to be electrocuted if it short-circuits?”
“What if this isn’t natural?“
“What if I can’t come still with this toy?”
Every. Single. Anxiety. And yet, I didn’t ask:
“What if it feels super good?”
“What if I have multiple orgasms?”
“What do I want to try out next?”
Trust me, you will 😉
I won’t promise that you’ll ever get rid of that anxiety and the feeling of buyer’s remorse each time when you’re about to try out a new toy. I remember how it took me multiple trips to my favourite store to explore ”backdoor” fun and that’s when I really appreciated having an empathic and knowledgeable guide to go through my needs, hesitation and budget. (P.S. Her name is Pea and also serves as my unofficial sex therapist!)
Sure, I have some duds in my toy box but I’ve also found my Holy Grail that if I were to be stuck on a desert island, just give me my Womanizer Premium and a charger and I’m set for life! This is my favourite myth to bust because I can’t wait to help you find your very own personal gem for your toybox.
That brings us to the next article to watch out for: Factors to Consider When Buying A Sex Toy. Stay tuned!