Category Archives: masturbation

sex toys in lesbianville

If you Google “lesbianville,” you find a series of website about the town where I live.

And there’s this GLORIOUS feminist sex toy shop on Main Street called Oh My. You can friend them on Facebook. I did a fellatio workshop there last spring, and I think I’ll probably do an orgasm workshop in the fall, and I’m working toward the possibility of writing some educational materials for them to give to customers who buy things – stuff about lube and anal play and multiple orgasms.

But even in this woman-centric town, this woman-centric sex toy store doesn’t get the attention it deserves. People feel awkward; they don’t necessarily want to be seen going in; they don’t know it’s there. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told to, “Go to Oh My and get yerself a bottle of silicone lube,” and they say, “Where’s that?”

HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?!?! You LIVE here!! I’m likeNeil deGrasse Tyson, only about sex positive feminist sex toy retail – I want to grab people in the street and say, “HAVE YOU HEARD THIS?!”

But ya know, lesbian and “joyfully sex positive” don’t always go together. Lesbians are just as capable of being sexually hamstrung as everyone else; they have a wide array of reasons to feel really great about their sexuality and plenty more ways that they’ve been taught to feel ashamed. Just like everybody in America.

But at least Lesbianville has Oh My. With a place like that on Main Street, how can we not move ever closer to true sexual liberation, where we all – ALL of us – feel gloriously at home in our sexualities? I believe that such a space can serve as a hub, where people who seek toward joyful, confident sexual self-expression can find the support, the information, and the lube, vibrators, and paddles they need to achieve it.

I mean, how many of these places are there in America? There’s Babeland, there’s Good Vibes, and there’s this small, humming collection of independent, local feminist sex toy stores sprinkled sparingly across the continent. And here’s one right in downtown! I am so fuckin’ lucky to live in one of the towns gifted with a place like this, a community space where women can celebrate their sexual bodies and sexual minds.

If you have a glorious, feminist, sex-positive, local sex toy store in your area, put a link in the comments section and I’ll write a post about as many of them as I can. I’ll organize a frickin’ cross-country road trip to visit all the feminist, local sex shops in America! I’ll make videos! It should be a mini-series on PBS!

And if you come to Northampton, be sure to visit Oh My. Tell them Emily sent you to buy a bottle of silicone lube.

make a penis happy

Enough with the political blah blah blah, eh? How about some straight up Sex Advice for Having Better Sex? Here’s one for the folks who have sex with people who have penises.

It’s one that I always think everyone knows and then I’m surprised when it turns out people don’t. Quite simple, but it can make all the difference:

When you’re dealing with a penis, squeeze up, relax down.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Whether using a hand or a vagina or a mouth or a mechanical device…

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

(Not so much with anal sex, you mostly just want to let the anal sphincter relax during penetration.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

With manual sex, a wrist-twist is a very fine thing to add, especially swirling over the head, where the bulk of the nerve endings are clustered.

With the vaginal muscles, you relax as he (or you) thrusts in, and squeeze as he (or you) pulls out.

With oral sex, you suck on the up, and relax a bit on down. This is particularly useful because it can save wear and tear on your jaw, so you last longer. (Really you should save the sucking for the very very end, and use your hand on the shaft throughout the blowjob.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

It can make all the difference.

The reason it works is straightforward mechanics. The shaft doesn’t end at the pubic bone; it extends deep into his abdomen, like this:

penis anatomy

Squeezing up tugs the whole shaft, which feels nice. Squeezing down would sorta jam all that extra, interior shaft down into his body, which, ya know, doesn’t feel as nice.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Makes a penis happy. And when the penis in your life is happy, doesn’t the sun shine just a little brighter?

bullshitness of rabbit vibrators

I recently said I should do a post about the bullshitness of rabbit vibrators, so here it is.

To begin with, what I mean by a rabbit is a dual vibrator – most commonly a vibrator with a large shaft for penetration and a bullet for external, clitoral stimulation. It gets called a rabbit because one particular brand has molded the jelly sheath over the bullet to have little bunny ears. There are also dolphins and thumbs and lots of other things. It’s cute.

So wherein lies the bullshit? Well it’s not that they’re not effective – but anything with an off-center motor that you can put between your legs can be effective; I know someone whose engineer boyfriend built a vibrator out of an ibuprophen bottle, and pubescent girls worldwide discovered the glories of a vibrating Harry Potter broomstick.

Instead, the bullshit lies in the rabbit’s position in culture.

First of all, the rabbit became famous as a result of a Sex in the City episode where one of the characters gets “addicted” to it. (I don’t remember her name because I’ve only seen a couple episodes and didn’t like any of them. I might as well just confess here that I think Sex in the City is bad for all people, everywhere. I also dislike Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost – clearly I am a freak and a loser, living at the coarsest fringes of civilization. Feel free to shun me.)

The episode was a commercial. It was a product placement of the crassest, most cynical kind.

So the first reason the rabbit is bullshit is that its popularity is the result of a television commercial, not as a result of its ability to get women off.

Which brings me to reason number two that the rabbit is bullshit.

Had Lelo offered SitC more money than the rabbit did to promote the Lily, this would be a different post because the Lily is a small, beautiful, powerful, rechargeable, nearly silent clitoral vibrator with infinitely adjustable speed and I will forever sing its praises to the heavens. Even its shape, to me, has a grace and elegance that echoes the flexing of a woman’s body at orgasm.

But if you walk into a sex toy store and you see the Lily on a shelf, and then you see the rabbit in its foot-long glory, which will you think is better? The rabbit with its size, its many functions, and its cultural import, is surely the more impressive there on the shelf. And if you haven’t looked too closely at cultural myths about women’s sexuality, you might think that it’s a better design for meeting a women’s orgasmic needs.

But it’s not. It’s designed to meet CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS around a woman’s needs.

It’s a big, colorful, rotating, oscillating SHAFT… with a bullet vibe attached. What does that say? It says that what a woman really needs and wants is a giant dick that does fucking magic tricks, and maybe some clitoral stimulation too.

That’s the second bullshitness about rabbits. It tells women what they need is a cock. It feeds wrongheaded cultural expectations around women’s sexuality, rather than nourishing women’s sexuality as it truly is.

This comes up all the time when I talk to college students. When they see even just a traditional slimline vibrator, they assume that women are using the shaft for penetration. And mainstream porn certainly represents women’s masturbation as a largely penetration-oriented activity. The rabbit is part of this cultural discourse, this myth; the SitC character can only be satisfied by a giant, buzzing, candy-colored cock.

In fact more than 90% of women masturbate with NO VAGINAL PENETRATION. (I’ve lost the paper where I got this number – looked for it on Google Scholar and can’t find it, sorry.)

The third, related, bullshitness: it tells women what they need is a cock, thus failing to tell women that really the vast majority of them would be better served with a clit-centric toy; the cultural phenomenon of the rabbit makes people think otherwise.

If you really want a dual vibrator designed genuinely to meet a woman’s orgasmic needs, have a look at the We-Vibe II, whose proportions accurately reflect where and how stimulation is effective for most (not all, of course) women.

I’ll move toward a conclusion here, though there’s lots more to say. This is hardly a comprehensive analysis of the rabbit in particular or sex toys in general. I just want to register a tiny squeak of frustrated rage that popular culture is failing us so very, very badly by repeating the myths that make women feel broken, subordinate, and conflicted.

If men are learning about sex from porn – and my college health ed colleagues recently did a survey that suggests that 1 in 4 college men thinks porn accurately portrays how sex works – then, I think, women learn about sex from popular culture, from things like SitC. I believe that cultural representations of sexuality have a responsibility to participate in a healthy, factual, and feminist construction of women’s sexuality. Promoting something like the rabbit, with its phallocentric implications, does everyone on the planet a disservice.

If SitC were written by sex educators, the toy would more likely have been, for example, the Cadillac of vibrators, the Hitachi Magic Wand) – it’s big, it’s loud, it plugs into the wall, and it does the job.

But instead it’s written by writers who don’t necessarily know anything about sex outside the mainstream nonsense, and so the mainstream nonsense is recapitulated.

single on valentine’s day

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Thank GOD I’m single. You too? I know, it’s so much better.

No disappointment when the significant other fails to provide any evidence that they think about you when you’re not standing in front of them. No comparing what your S.O. did to what your friends’ S.O.’s did and wondering if you couldn’t do better. No struggling to think of something glorious and special and original to do for the S.O., only to discover that every idea it’s possible to have has already been had and you’re doomed to reproducing something from a movie. No awkward “Is it too early in our relationship to do Valentine’s Day?” No comparing this year to last year or this valentine to the last one or yourself to anything. No nauseating others with your goopy, soppy public displays of affection. Cripes.

So this is what you do, okay, my formula for the Best. Valentine’s Day. Ever.: get yourself to the nearest Lush or similar and get a bath bomb, bath melt, or bubble bath. While shopping, also buy a large Dairy Milk (not crappy old Valentine’s candy, no matter how on sale) and, say, an imperial pint of Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale. Rent a movie – NOT a romance, fer cryin’ out loud. Get a Monty Python movie you can recite by heart or “Children of the Corn” or anything but a romance. Get “Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox story.” That shit is funny.

When you get home, have a two-hour soak in a Lush-ified bath, eating the chocolate and drinking the beer and maybe rereading a favorite novel or listening to “This American Life.”

(Don’t wash your hair or shave your legs; it’s not that kind of bath.)

When you get out, slather your entire body with the oil, cream, or lotion of your choice. Notice how fabulous you are.

Next, order a pizza for delivery. While you’re waiting for it, climb into bed and have a lovely masturbation session, with fantasies of many, many beautiful bodies all at your service, all utterly enraptured by you and only you. Come BIG.

Meet the pizza guy at the door with sticky fingers, trembling thighs, and a crooked smile.

Eat your pizza. Watch your movie. Call your sister or mom or BFFL or whoever won’t ask you when you’re going to meet someone and settle down.

You may want to add friends to the pizza/movie portion of the evening, or to the bath/masturbation portion, or possibly both; that’s cool too.

The important thing is that you go to bed happy and relaxed and really pleased that you’re living well without wasting energy on a mediocre relationship just for the sake of being with someone, anyone.

Well done!