Why isn’t this sex toy wearing a wife beater? Why isn’t it blasting Eminem? Why isn’t it friends with OJ? Why doesn’t it endorse Robin Thicke? Why doesn’t the spout emit AXE body spray?
I feel these are legitimate questions to ask of a sex toy named the Womanizer. I know it was designed by Germans, but guys, it’s 2015, you need to nary lift an ass cheek off your chair to find the answer to any imaginable question. For instance, I recently Googled “do cats go through menopause” and “can guitar face be controlled.” You are capable of Googling “womanizer.” You’re not naming your external hard drive; you’re naming a product, which presumably you plan to market in the US. This word has connotations.
The company’s intended meaning, I’m sure, was that this toy pleases women… and by women they (problematically) mean clitorises. The Womanizer W100 sucks — quite literally. It has five levels of vibration too, but the reason you’d fork over $189 for this contraption would be for the sucking sensation it promises.
Shaped like an ear thermometer or zit zapper, the Womanizer looks less like a pleasure device and more like it’s supposed to diagnose my clit or remove errant materials from my orifices. Gaudy as all get-out, I assume the company’s only source of information about their target market was an alien whose two earth-souvenirs were a VHS tape of Poison music videos and a copy of Pretty Pretty Princess. I “chose” the blue snakeskin design, apparently unable to let go of that dark time in my life when I thought snakeskin-printed pants made me look ~cool~.
But maybe the design would appeal to a certain type of person. I had the perfect subject to ask: my childhood friend, whose office is hot pink with leopard print curtains — on purpose.
“This looks like shit,” she said immediately when I handed the Womanizer to her. “I don’t trust it. It’s tacky as fuck… and I literally own a bedazzler.” I told her the price. “I wouldn’t pay 18 dollars for that,” she retorted. “If I went to a bachelorette party and they were giving out favors, I’d expect that to be in there as a fucking joke.”
The construction does feel cheap.
To its credit, the Womanizer has a 2-year warranty. Its packaging adorably promises “100% lust & good feeling.” It comes with an extra silicone nozzle (which is easily removed for cleaning) and a hard shell zip-up case — dusty baby pink with the word womanizer in a swoopy font, so if someone finds it they’ll think it’s the place you store your Britney memorabilia and/or weapons to hunt men who’ve wronged you. Its manual contains the same bullshit ableist verbiage I’ve encountered before. It charges via USB but is not waterproof.
This is how it begins: I turn the Womanizer on and it gurgles at me. Imagine the sound of a tiny whoopee cushion or an aquarium pump without enough water. I apply it to my genitals, because that’s what I have to do: spread my labia and hunt for my clitoris. The nozzle glows red — to help me, I guess. When the toy makes contact, its gurgle dissipates to a low hum, akin to a car idling outside.
I want to make this clear ASAP: the sucking sensation is mild. It doesn’t feel like it’s pulling at my clit, nor does it attach to my body like a clit pump would. Have you ever had a horde of fish nibbling tenderly at your clitoris? Me either, but I imagine it feels a bit like the Womanizer. The sensation is indirect, subtle, and formless — sort of a delicate undulation plus vibration. It feels closer to oral sex than any toy has felt before, but at best it’s like a person going “p-p-p” really lightly against my clit, and my clit only. 1
At first, my clit registered the sensation as only a moderate deviation from sensations it has felt before. It did not bowl me over. After a couple uses, I confidently began the draft of this review: this toy is not powerful, strong, or any other synonymous adjective, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fucking liar.
Then I kept using it. And I got confused. The vibration, itself, is not strong — that is true. Compared to most vibrators, it’s nothing. But the more I tested the Womanizer, the more I noticed the nuances of the stimulation. “Powerful” still doesn’t feel like an apt descriptor — but the sensation is certainly unique.
One day, the Womanizer lost its charge on me. It blinked red and became more and more feeble until finally shutting off completely…
…and I was sad. I wanted it to be alive. I wanted to keep using it.
That’s when I started having a bit of an existential crisis as a sex toy reviewer. What would it mean, in the grand scheme of things, if I liked a toy this ugly and this strange and this expensive? Could I, in good conscience, tell anyone to buy such a device? Would I be laughed out of town for delivering anything but a blistering burn of a review for a toy called the goddamn Womanizer?
The Womanizer is billed as this effortless orgasm machine of a toy, yet it requires a lot of focus. Precision. Patience. It wants to be stationary and perfectly-positioned atop my clit. It wants not to be interrupted while it does important work, like an egomaniacal surgeon or a dad building a ship in a bottle in his study while sipping scotch.
I guess I’m pretty lackadaisical when I masturbate. Pretty imprecise. I hold a vibe against my clit, and it goes through small, slight adjustments often, while I jiggle a dildo in my vag — sometimes thrusting, sometimes not. It’s a highly effective dance I’ve perfected.
The Womanizer upsets all that. In a life like mine, where dildos line up for a mere moment in my vagina, it makes everything hard. Anytime the Womanizer loses contact with my clit — say, the base of the dildo hits it, or my hand falters at all — stimulation abruptly ceases. In fact, it sputters and starts blowing cold air at me like I just entered a walk-in freezer.
Plus, it fucks with my orgasms. It fucks with the peak — the part where I’d normally try to diffuse the stimulation a little by adjusting the vibe, but can’t with the Womanizer. I can’t position it to the side of my clit, or move it off, or decrease pressure… so in a moment that’s supposed to be the best part of the masturbatory experience, the Womanizer can become abrasive and overwhelming.
My orgasms with the Womanizer are incredibly localized. It stimulates only my external clit. Traditional vibrators are able to reverberate beneath the surface, rumbling my internal clitoris and working in cahoots with the dildo in my vagina to stimulate my CUV complex, including my G-spot. The Womanizer is like a free agent, acting alone, taking no input from the other toys involved.
So I’d estimate at least half my orgasms with the Womanizer have been dissatisfying for one reason or another. Sometimes, because I dared experience the stimulation from the dildo, which overshadowed the subtlety of the Womanizer. Sometimes, because I concentrated on the Womanizer and was hit by a sharp clitoral sensation I couldn’t tone down.
I’m not going to give you a number of minutes it took me to come with the Womanizer, because 1) every goddamn review mentions that, 2) it actually varied a lot, and 3) immediate orgasm is not the ultimate sex toy goal. The Womanizer and I have a fundamental disagreement about this. It wants to skip the arousal process and literally induce an orgasm. I would like to enjoy myself a little.
And that’s the last sad piece. The cerebral one. Using a vibrator, I feel like an active participant in my own pleasure. I can move it around, adjust pressure, feel it rumbling through my vulva. With the Womanizer, everything is so pinpoint, so immutable — it feels like the stimulation is happening to me. A mindfuck I can’t personally get into.
Most reviews of this toy say stuff like, “I didn’t want to like the Womanizer, but I LOVE it.” I don’t love it. Love is too strong a word, one I’m not keen to throw around. I save that word for toys that I would replace with my own money if something happened to them. Toys that I consider necessary to my survival as a sexual being. Toys I can feel confident recommending.
But I do not feel confident with the Womanizer. It has broken my recommendation barometer. Is this a toy for people who need direct or indirect stimulation? For sensitive people who prefer subtlety, or folks with seasoned clits wanting something different? It might be good for people who have a hard time getting aroused… but what if it’s too much, or not enough, to secure orgasm for those people?
There’s a dichotomy going on here that I don’t know how to parse. There are uncomfortable facts, like the retail price of $189. Like the lack of waterproof functionality. Like the fact that this toy looks like I’m checking my clit for a fever or sucking snot out of it… in 1987.
Yet despite the caveats, of which there are many; despite the existential crises and persistent confusion; despite the fact that my life is simpler without the Womanizer; a single, unavoidable truth remains: I, myself, like this sex toy. The Womanizer is a sex toy that I like.