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Sex + Relationships

It’s Time to Let Go of the Stigma Surrounding Sex Toys

Three weeks ago, I found myself in an absolute panic as I walked down the sexual health aisle in Shoppers Drug Mart and tried to figure out which vibrator to buy. I quickly grabbed one off the top shelf and hid it in my cart before practically running to self-checkout, all while surveying my surroundings to make sure no one saw what I had grabbed. I raced out of the store as fast as I could, but unfortunately, the agony didn’t stop there. My grocery bag was see-through, so for the 15-minute walk I had back to my house, I tried to strategically hide the colourful blue, green and purple packaging that could be seen through the bag. I went through all this stress and anxiety for what, the simple act of buying a damn vibrator? It was then that I realized just how wrong it is for women to feel ashamed of investing in their personal sexual health. 

woman wearing black lingerie holding pink pillow

I want to blame society and social media for instilling in me the utter fear of being caught buying a vibrator, however they’re not totally to blame. We have influences like Alexandra Cooper, the single father of the weekly podcast “Call Her Daddy”, who remind us that we should own our sexuality and sexual health rather than hide it. We also have strong female and male celebrities all over the media who demonstrate their sexuality in powerful ways – like damn it, Miley Cyrus uses dildos as home décor, so why should we let stigma cause us to be so terrified of investing in sex toys? Does this stigma even exist, or is it a thing of our imaginations? I ask these questions because everyone is sexual, everyone knows what sex is and that people have it, so why should we be terrified of investing in our own sexual health and pleasure? These, my friends, are questions that keep me up at night! 

The stigma surrounding women’s sexual health, which is both gendered and outdated, goes as follows: men who sleep around and have multiple sexual partners are considered “legends”, “pros”, “icons” and “dedicated to their craft”, while women who have multiple partners are called “whores”, “sluts” and “hoes”. Women are then told to avoid this reputation by not sleeping around but we are called “prude” when we don’t put out, so how do we win? The answer is simple: we need to own our sexuality and shatter the stigma, because last time I checked, women deserve sexual pleasure just as much as any man. I won’t even get into the fact that women rarely orgasm with their sexual partner, but because we don’t often get satisfaction from sexual encounters with others, we are left to do it for ourselves. This is how we come full circle; sex toys help get the job done when others can’t.

kissing in bed
Photo by We-Vibe WOW Tech from Unsplash

Realizing that women should not feel awkward about investing in sex toys turned my world upside down. Men masturbate, so women can and should too! I should not feel ashamed or called a “whore” for standing in the sexual health aisle trying to figure out which vibrator I want. I should not feel like I need to rush out of the store the moment I put the vibrator in my cart. But the stigma doesn’t stop in the store; that’s right, it creeps into the bedroom, too. Can girls watch porn? Is it weird to masturbate? Is buying a sex toy telling all the people around me that I am extremely desperate for some action? NO! Not all women, especially amid university hook-up culture, are comfortable with having random one-night stands every weekend or meeting people through online dating platforms. Moreover, COVID-19 makes it hard to go around kissing people we just met, so sex toys like vibrators are the perfect fix for women in need of some sexual relief. We can get the gratification and pleasure we desire without the worry of STIs, COVID-19 or a creepy old man on the other side of that Tinder screen, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Women’s sexual health is part of our overall well-being and should be treated as such. Doing things like masturbating to practice sexual wellness should be part of our self-care routine. Life is stressful, and balancing school with our day-to-day life is difficult. Going for a run or sleeping it off doesn’t always make us feel better but masturbating and using sex toys can relieve some of that stress. Additionally, practicing sexual health is a great way to improve our confidence in ourselves and in the bedroom – we can figure out what we do and don’t like and learn what different things feel like. Self-pleasure and the use of sex toys should be normalized for the simple fact that they are beneficial to our well-being and confidence.

Photo by We-Vibe WOW Tech on Unsplash

You may think I’m writing this as a pro, but trust me, I’m far from that! This is my first experience purchasing and using vibrators, and I just want to help others with their experience as well as educate myself on women’s sexual health. It’s totally okay to have never used sex toys before, or to have not been sexually active before, because everyone’s sexual experience is different. Whether you are sexually active or not, your personal sexual health is an important thing to learn about and be in touch with, so listen to what your body is telling you, do your research, and be confident in your sexual presence! Like I said, buying a sex toy is an individual experience but is not something that you have to figure out alone. Many women use toys and are knowledgeable about sexual health, so chat with your friends, read reviews on the products, and see what other people like and why they like those things. Women need to stick together and help each other out in so many other aspects of day-to-day life, and this should be one of those circumstances. 

If you’re going into this as a first-time investor in these kinds of products, let me assure you that you aren’t the only one to ever use these products. Sex toys were created for a reason and we should take advantage of that without feeling ashamed or awkward. Own your sexuality and sexual health because it’s yours, and no one else’s opinion about it matters. If we can’t talk about our sexual health and pleasure, how are we supposed to take care of it and act on it? Women should be able to maintain their sexual health without fear of judgement or ridicule. It’s 2020 ladies; it’s time for us to own our sexuality and be able to walk into any store and buy a vibrator with no regard for who is watching. 

Hi my name is Caroline and I am super excited to be joining Her Campus as a writer this year!
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