Archive for March 23rd, 2011

23
Mar


Sex toys are here to stay.

According to two recent studies, millions of Americans use one or more sex toys. We’re talking vibrators, dildos and butt plugs, as well as blindfolds, handcuffs and nipple clamps. We’ll leave whips and leather underwear for another discussion.

Like all technology, sex toys are an extension of the body. They are hands, tongues and genitalia that are bigger and stronger, and never tire. They are tools that help us give pleasure to ourselves and to each other.

Sex toys can be equally great for partner sex and masturbation. Any sex that can be improved by something that probes, stimulates, squeezes or alters sensation can be enhanced by a sex toy.

Unfortunately, some would-be users are self-conscious about feeling they need assistance. Others are concerned that their partner will feel inadequate. But this is like feeling self-critical that you need a comfortable chair to enjoy a movie. Our shyness about using sex toys really expresses the shame we feel about admitting we’re sexual in a sex-negative culture.

It’s no illusion. Until recently, for example, most national magazines refused vibrator advertising — including Ms. magazine. And only last year, the state of Alabama criminalized the production or sale of “sexual devices marketed primarily for the stimulation of human genitals.”

Why the controversy about a 5-inch battery-powered piece of buzzing plastic? Sex toys are about sexual pleasure, not about reproduction or romantic love (although many romantic, loving people and couples use them).

A vibrator or nipple clamp in your hand is the smoking gun of pleasure — you simply can’t deny that getting off is exactly what you have in mind.

So sex toys are a vehicle for sexual empowerment — for learning about our eroticism, for pleasuring ourselves, for encouraging our partners to feel things more deeply. They are, literally, the way we take our sexuality into our own hands. No wonder so many authorities frown on sex toys and make us hide them under the covers. Using a sex toy is, after all, a political act.

And it feels damn good, too.

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