Now that Hysteria’s come out, everyone has an opinion about vibrators. Many of which I ignore. But I had not really heard this particular argument from a woman before, and I was intrigued by its logic. Brandi Megan Granett is troubled, just troubled, that there’s an entire movie!!! devoted to the history of the vibrator, and that her Twitter timeline is full of links to sex toy-related news stories. This is all very upsetting! Because in her mind, fingers are better, and vibrator users are just brainwashed.
I know I should let her have her little opinion in her corner of the internet, but… I have to say something. This shit bugs me because, while the article isn’t extreme or super rage-inducing, its message is insidious. Especially coming from a woman. Especially wrapped in “but really, whatever you do is okay!” language. It reminds me of the “girls who learn to use their hands do better at intercourse” guy, only not as overtly ridiculous and dismissible.
While I’m all for anyone expressing their sexuality and enjoying themselves, when perusing the pages of vibrators available, most, if not all, marketed towards women, I am left to wonder: Why all the hoopla? Why all the need for tools and batteries and life-like stimulation? Why can’t women just touch themselves?
Right out of the gate, I would bet $50 that this woman either has never tried a sex toy, or has never had a positive experience with one. To understand the hoopla, you have to first comprehend that vibrators are nothing like human hands. For one, THEY VIBRATE. For two, they come in all kinds of crazy shapes. They offer a wide array of sensations, from flickering to jackhammering to oscillating to flapping to rumbling. And vibrators provide variety — you know, that thing we’re supposed to nurture in our sex lives so we don’t get bored?
Never mind the fact that fingers in the vagina feel nothing like 99.9% of dildos out there…
Even with the rise in sex toys, this taboo remains.
Good girls don’t do that. There are no jokes about Rosie Fingers the way there are about Rosie Palm, a man’s best girlfriend. With the rise in vibrators, women don’t need to touch themselves to experience pleasure; they can use an intermediary device to put them one step back from the process, to remove themselves from the action.
Oh gag me with a spoon. “One step back from the process”? “Remove themselves from the action”? INTERMEDIARY DEVICE? Please. Vibrators help women focus on the action, because they’re not worrying about the discomfort in their wrists and the orgasm that feels perpetually out of reach. For many women, vibrators simply feel better than fingers. GASP, I know.
I can’t help but feeling women still need permission to pleasure themselves. We need the approval of a credit card swipe and a delicately labeled box with instructions to get in touch with one of our deepest, most natural urges. While I know this may not be true for every woman that rocks a vibrator, part of me worries that this is just another case where women’s sexuality is subjugated to the marketplace instead of celebrated and explored . . . We don’t need special pink magic wands to access this pleasure; all we need is the knowledge that it is okay, more than okay, a birthright, to experience and enjoy one of the gifts of being human.
I’m totally with her on the whole birthright thing. Obviously. But she is not giving women enough credit at all. In our world, it still takes guts to purchase a vibrator. People buying vibrators are not sexually repressed — that doesn’t even make sense. A swipe of the credit card just means taking matters into — dare I say it?! — our own hands. Buying a nice vibrator is an empowering thing, an investment, a commitment to one’s own pleasure. Which I think is what Granett wants, only she wants it to come solely from the pads of our fingers.
Also, should we outlaw every technological advancement that helps us out with our “most natural urges”? Let’s banish toilets and go pee in our backyards from now on. Let’s close down our email accounts and switch back to the sending letters via horse. Let’s trek to the nearest river to get our water, because fuck that indoor plumbing shit.
Vibrators are not the enemy here. If you want the taboo of female masturbation to come down, shunning vibrators isn’t gonna do it. You know why? Because vibrators have had a huge impact on how people of all genders view female sexuality. A positive impact. Vibrators allow people to have their first orgasms. Vibrators help people have orgasms during sex. Vibrators are a great tool for exploring sexual preferences. If not for sex toys, I’d still be masturbating by circling a fucking Sharpie cap around my clit, and I’d probably have gone my whole life without discovering my G-spot. And fuck. No.
I would really like to hear Granett say “all we need is the knowledge that it is okay” to someone who cannot orgasm without the help of a vibrator. Which, by the way, does not make a person damaged or imperfect. You are not a better, more empowered person for using nothing but your fingers; you are simply unadventurous.