Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Praise Of Vibrators

Leaving childhood behind is no reason to put aside toys; it is simply a reason to discover new ones.  For quite some time a puritanical position has existed about sex, even while talking about its supposed filth served as a reason to speak freely. Ironically pointing fingers and moralizing served as an outlet for many to engage in sexual conversation even though they would not recognize it as that.

The more the conversation turns explicit, and the fists begin to shake in supposed revulsion, the more we have become open to expanding our ideas about what constitutes acceptable sexual play.  The New York Times recently reported on the  first academic, peer-reviewed studies of vibrator use, “it is nearly as common an appliance in American households as the drip coffee maker or toaster oven”.

The surveys, conducted in April 2008 and paid for by Church & Dwight, which makes Trojan condoms and a line of vibrators, document vibrator use and the related sexual practices of 2,056 women and 1,047 men; 93 percent of those surveyed said they are heterosexual.

Among boomer women, ages 45 to 60, 46.3 percent reported having used a vibrator at some point in their lives, compared to 59.5 percent of women, ages 23 to 44; and 32.7 percent of women, 18 to 22. For men, 45.2 percent, ages 45 to 60 reported having used one; 51.5 percent, ages 23 to 44; and 15.5 percent, ages 18 to 22.

Who would have thought that the vibrator which was once the toy to be hidden and denied, would be as essential to modern day living as the microwave? Thank goodness we have already invented disposable batteries, can you imagine the landfill waste just so that we can get our groove on?

The article seems to take great care to legitimize the use of vibrators in consensual heterosexual relationships.  This could in part be due to the fact that the study did not focus on gay and lesbian relationships. 

Even though the reported usage of vibrators amongst women is high, the fact that it needs to be legitimized through heterosexual sex, rather than for masabatory pleasure reifies the social discourse of the frigid dirty woman.  Vibrators can be a great source of sexual stimulation but what does it say if we only feel comfortable seeking that pleasure in the presence, or control of men?

Much has been made about the so-called hook up culture.  We move in circles disciplining women’s sexuality by continually employing the Madonna/Whore complex as a shaming tactic.  It is so effective that even in moments of isolation many women are still unable to seek release.  It is the perfect example of panoptic control. 

I am pleased to learn that more women are embracing different methods of achieving pleasure, however until we can reach the point when we seek it for our own purposes we are not yet liberated.  Claiming that we have freed ourselves because of increased use of a vibrator is completely inaccurate.  Celebrating sex means appreciating all of its manifestations.

In the interest of broadening the conversation.  Do you own and use a vibrator and if so under what circumstances does your little friend come out to play?

H/T  The Gender Blender Blog