Is There Something Wrong With Me If I Don't Like Vibrators? Why Sex Toys Aren't For All of Us

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Every "Have the Best Sex Ever" advice column produced by a generic woman's publication invariably includes an item extolling the virtues of the vibrator. Women are supposed to love vibrators; both for their sensation, and for the sexual liberation that comes with taking pleasure into your own hands. But I don't like them — and I never have. Does that make me weird? Prudish? Anti-feminist?

I certainly don't think so, but some women seem to disagree. Often, when I say I don't like vibrators, women seem to assume that I simply haven't tried one, or that I tried the wrong one, or that I have old-fashioned views about female sexuality. In reality, none of those things are true. I'm a strong advocate for female pleasure, and I want us all to live in a sex-positive environment. Which is exactly why I defend my right not to enjoy vibrators so vehemently.

Sex toys can be a great addition to a couples' bedroom repertoire, but too often, women have the vibrator foisted upon them as the panacea for their orgasmic woes. You know what else is a good solution? Having your partner do some damn work and put in the time to learn about what you like in bed without electronic help. 

I bought my one and only vibrator on a trip to the sex shop Babeland during my junior year of college. This was the start of a period of self-proclaimed 'reinvention,' in which I intended to gain control of my spiraling depression by doing exciting, single-girl things like purchasing vibrators and getting drunk on red wine. Neither of these strategies was particularly successful. Getting drunk on red wine often ended up with me crying in the living room, and the vibrator ... well, let's just say it was not the key to my newfound sexual satisfaction.

Although I'd always been just fine without one, vibrators intrigued me because so many women I knew spoke of loving them. I wondered if there was a new level of solo-sex I could reach with the help of a toy. 

The vibrator I decided on was fairly run-of-the-mill, vaguely penis-shaped, and blue. I picked it out because it was inexpensive, but also because it was the least sci-fi-looking to me. So many of the other vibrators had weird appendages that made them look like creatures from low-budget science fiction movies. My vibrator was simple.

Once I got it home, I was pretty excited to try my new toy. After all, I'd been led to believe that I had the Holy Grail of orgasms in my hands. But that was decidedly not the case. My first vibrator experience — and all subsequent attempts thereafter — felt clunky and awkward and, well, boring. The pulsing of the electricity lacked subtlety and, even when switching between intensities, was too one-note to hold my interest. I gave up and resorted to my trusted hands-on method.

A large part of my distaste for vibrators is the way that they feel. For me, they're too intense (even on lower settings) and too, well, mechanical for my liking. The buzzing sensation seems clinical and reminds me of lying in the dentist's chair getting my teeth electronically cleaned. I just don't find them sexy. 

Don't get me wrong — I love that women love vibrators. The vibrator has been an extremely important piece in the puzzle of female sexuality. The vibrator helped countless women figure out what they like and how to get it. 

But I do think it's problematic that women seem to be expected to rely on them for orgasm, even in the context of relationships. In conversations about improving the sex lives of women, the vibrator often takes precedence over a focus on communication with one's partner — especially if that partner happens to be a man. 

Take one Cosmopolitan article entitled "I Married Someone Even Though He Never Gave Me an Orgasm," in which the author describes her quest to sexual satisfaction. Inevitably, a vibrator is suggested as the ultimate solution. Though the writer enjoyed using the toy, it did not give her the results she looked for.

One friend [...] insisted we go on a field trip to Babeland. Even the well-groomed gay salesman took me up as a personal challenge: “Well, we’re going to have to fix that for you!” It sounded dauntingly familiar.


Ultimately, the large purple vibrator he selected didn’t do it for me either. Oh, it was nice. I squirmed and I squealed and I ran down the batteries. But I didn’t orgasm.

Sex toys can be a great addition to a couples' bedroom repertoire, but too often, women have the vibrator foisted upon them as the panacea for their orgasmic woes. You know what else is a good solution? Having your partner do some damn work and put in the time to learn about what you like in bed without electronic help. 

Men are never expected to get their primary sexual satisfaction from anything other than their hand or another human being. A man's sexual partner is expected to know exactly how to bring him the greatest amount of pleasure, and if they don't, then most likely, a toy would not be seen as the solution. (Though, to be fair, a pill might be.) Simply suggesting the vibrator as the main means to achieving female orgasm may be preventing women from learning how to vocalize (and manually learn) what they need and want from sex with another person.

For single women, the vibrator plays a very different role. It can be a wonderful way to expand your horizons during solo sex. But when I was single, if I ever expressed dissatisfaction with my relationship status, I was often met with a comment along the lines of Just get a vibrator! They're better than men anyway.

The idea that a piece of equipment in a funky color is better than another human being is ludicrous to me. Masturbation is an awesome way to figure out what you want and need in the bedroom. In fact, I'd argue that it's a necessary part of sexual development. A vibrator, however, should be optional. And no, that does not make me uptight.

Liberation is about getting exactly what you want out of sex. For some, that means using a vibrator alone, or with a partner. For others, that means a whole host of things that don't involve a vibrator at all. Either way, the conversation about female sexuality should focus less on which vibrator is the most epic, and more on how to communicate what you want to a partner — and yourself. After all, why limit yourself to one kind of exploration? 


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