When I was 15, my boyfriend tried to introduce a frozen Mars Bar into our playground antics. “C’mon,” he whispered, drooling awkwardly on my neck. “It’ll be fun.”
When I was 15, my boyfriend tried to introduce a frozen Mars Bar into our playground antics. “C’mon,” he whispered, drooling awkwardly on my neck. “It’ll be fun.” The thought of chocolate dripping stickily down my thighs left me squirming uncomfortably on his parent’s leather couch, and I stammered something about being late for dinner before grabbing my Theta Mathematics textbook and fleeing out the door.

Seven years later and I still shudder involuntarily at the thought of having candy rammed into me, no matter how sweet. At first I thought it was simply refined sugar that made me uneasy, but I realised it was more than this when my boyfriend suggested buying me a vibrator. “No!” I yelped. “I don’t need one. I can manage just fine on my own.” He stared at me as if I’d just suggested removing the feta off our pizza because ‘one type of cheese is enough’. “I know you don’t need one,” he shrugged. “I just thought it’d be fun.” That word again. Fun. Sex: fun? It didn’t seem so unreasonable. Sex is good. Fun is good. Surely the two weren’t mutually exclusive?

But rational thought has no place in the bedroom, and I still couldn’t help but feel that fucking was serious business. No. Let me rephrase. Making love. We’re talking about the most sacred, most exquisite emotion in existence – the holy grail of human sensation – and let me tell you something buddy: butt plugs ain’t part of the recipe.

Recipes do, of course, get revamped all the time: we make turkeys out of tofu and salami out of chickpeas, and though sex toys aren’t exactly a new innovation, it did seem foolish to keep the silicone away. When I told my best friend, she flashed me a look of concern. Casting furtive glances across the party at my boyfriend, she whispered conspiratorially: “Can he... can he not make you come?” It wasn’t an uncommon reaction, as I soon realised. Ema Lyon, director of d.vice, explains that it stems from three main misconceptions people hold surrounding the use of sex toys:

Myth 1: Sex toys are just for masturbation

Sure, a lot of sex toys can be used for masturbation, but they don’t have to be exiled to the confines of your midnight whimsies. In fact, the most popular toy at d.vice is the We Vibe, a rechargeable tong-shaped vibrating contraption that the woman wears during sex. “This part,” she explains, pointing to one half, “presses against your g-spot as well as vibrating against his shaft, and the other part stimulates your clitoris.” Its popularity stems from the fact that it isn’t penetrative in the same way that vibrators are, and is specifically a toy for couples to use.

Myth 2: If you need sex toys, your sex life must be suffering

More often than not it’s the opposite, since it takes a certain level of comfort, trust and intimacy in a relationship to try new things. Ema also points out that sex toys can be a good mediator for communication. It’s easier, for example, to tell your boyfriend that he’s putting too much pressure on your clitoris with the vibrating jelly bunny head than to tell him he’s licking you way too hard and his stubble is rubbing you raw.

Myth 3: Your partner will feel inadequate if you start using a sex toy

For a long time, I certainly thought this might be the case. I’d feel a little intimidated if I knew my boyfriend was going home every night to his fleshlight and his pictures of Zooey Deschanel. But I quickly realised that toys aren’t a replacement: they’re simply an accessory. A vibrator isn’t going to cuddle you after you orgasm, nor is it going to take you out for eggs benedict the next morning or reluctantly watch Gossip Girl with you.

What a vibrator does do is help you explore your own body. While showing me the range they had on offer, Ema commented that a lot of women come into the store with the complaint that they can’t orgasm during sex. What many of them fail to realise is that only a small minority of women can actually orgasm from penetrative sex alone and in most cases, clitoral stimulation is essential. Using toys like vibrators can help you discover what you respond to best, and couple-based toys let you maximise your sexual experiences. In the end, you both win.

A lot of guys I’ve spoken to agree, and don’t feel threatened by the idea of their girlfriend using a vibrator. “They’re inanimate objects,” one pointed out. “And sex is a lot more than an orgasm.” Another friend commented that while he is “very happy with [his] penis,” he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the thought of his girlfriend having to rely on a vibrator that offered more than he could. “It’s nice to know that you’re capable of pleasuring your partner, and if she has to upsize with a vibrator then maybe that would make me feel like I wasn’t.”

One of the newer vibrators on the market, the Bimini Flash, reinforces the idea that size isn’t everything. A smaller than average vibrator, it marks a shift in the way pleasure is marketed. You don’t need a huge penis, whether real or artificial, to have a good time, and the Bimini Flash is both aware of – and encourages people to understand – this.

Ultimately, sex toys are a great addition to your sexual experience, in the same way that herbs and spices are an excellent accompaniment to any meal. You don’t need them, but that’s the point: they’re fun, and they make things more delicious. And while this isn’t a sweet coming-of-age where the naive protagonist realises the error of her ways and harnesses the power of the cock ring with Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling playing over the end credits, it comes pretty damn close.


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