Why You Need to Buy a Vibrator (Like, Today)

The first time I explored my body, I was 13 years old. I had a vibrating back massager from Shoppers Drug Mart that had little beads for arms and LED lights which lit up when you turned them on. 

You probably know where this is going.

I’m not sure exactly why I felt compelled to use this little back massager as a method of masturbation, but I remember having three thoughts swirling around my head:

  1. Am I doing this right?

  2. Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?

  3. Why do I feel so ashamed?

After a few minutes of awkward movements, I turned off the device and put it under my bed. Then I cried.

Birds, bees and procreation

The hardest thing about navigating female sexuality is that it’s never, ever talked about. Sex is prescribed to us as a simple formula: penis in vagina, penis ejaculates, semen enters fallopian tubes, little spermies swim up to the egg - boom, bam, BABY! (literally.)

We aren’t taught that the journey from point A (mommy and daddy who love each other very much, blah blah blah) to point B, is not linear. It loops and swirls and jars way off course, and often, the users aren’t always planning to end up at point B(...aby). So why is this miscommunication so detrimental to our mental and sexual health? 

In the most basic form of heterosexual sex-ed, the main focus of pleasure is based on male ejaculation. The point is, the narrative surrounding vaginal pleasure is nonexistent. So it’s no surprise that so many people feel uncomfortable with it. Frankly, most of us haven’t been told that masturbation is both acceptable and really important when navigating our own sexual health.

Figuring it all out

“The reality is, all of us who have vulvas and clits are really different,” says Carlyle Jansen, founder of Good For Her, an inclusive sexuality store and workshop centre based in Toronto. 

“For people who have penises, what works for one more or less works for the other. But when it comes to vaginas, we're all really different.”

Jansen’s store challenges preconceived notions of what a sex shop typically is or looks like. 

At Good For Her, sales staff operate within the bounds of what looks like a residential home on Harbord Street. They offer women-and-trans-only hours on Sundays from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m., for those who are looking for a gender safe space while they shop.

Different strokes, am I right?

The media industry doesn’t make it any easier for women to navigate the difference between what is expected of them during sexual encounters, with what they truly find pleasurable.

“If you polled your friends and asked them who likes nipple stimulation and who doesn't, you're gonna find it’s about half and half, whereas if you watch porn, you think everybody loves it,” says Jansen. 

“So if you read an article that says, ‘oh, this is amazing, this is the best way,’ try it,” she says. “Figure out if that works for you, and if it doesn't, it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you, it just means it works for some people and not for others.”

“But there are so many options!”

The wall of vibrators inside Good For Her can look intimidating, but Jansen says not to worry. She stresses the importance of asking sales staff for help. “At our store, we're not on a commission,” she says. “Our real focus is not to push anything in particular, it's about what’s best for the customer.”

In the store, customers might be asked if they’re looking for a toy that provides internal pleasure or external pleasure. Jansen suggests thinking about this ahead of time. Ask yourself, “Where do I like pleasure?’”

So, where do I start?

When I bought my first vibrator, I didn’t have answers to any of the questions the saleslady asked me. All I knew was that I had a small LED back massager that lived under my bed. So don’t feel ashamed if you don’t know what you like yet, that’s actually a really great place to start.

“I usually recommend getting something that is long and thin,” suggests Jansen. “Sort of what you traditionally think of as a vibrator, because you can use it on your clitoris, externally, internally—you can explore with it.” 

Taking the leap

So what do you do after you’ve purchased your first vibrator? Start by reminding yourself that there’s no pressure. Orgasms are widely viewed as the ultimate result of masturbation, but you might not get there every time. And if you’re anything like me when you’re starting out, you’ll probably wonder: “Wait, was that it?”

Your first few experiences exploring your body might not have the results you’re hoping for, but the key to a healthy sex life is patience. Here are a few suggestions to get in the mood:

1. Relax completely

Whether that means lying in bed with the lights off, taking a hot bath or just taking a moment to yourself when you’re home alone. Get completely comfortable and take the pressure off yourself.

2. Watching porn is totally normal

Everyone has different preferences. Try watching a video or two and think about what makes you horny. Don’t feel awkward, you’re not the first to watch intimacy on screen. That’s the whole point!

3. Get creative 

Don’t be afraid to try different things. One angle might feel great for five minutes, then lose sensation. Try different speeds, angles, movements and use of your own fingers to see what feels right. 

4. Don’t be discouraged 

If it doesn’t work right away, don’t panic. Vaginas are extremely finicky and you might have to spend some time working out what feels best for you. 

I don’t think I’m ready for a vibrator, yet.

Honestly, buying and using a toy specifically designed to help get you off can be terrifying and take a great deal of confidence. 

“You don’t have to use a sex toy,” says Jansen. “There’s no one right way to have sex. But if you're having challenges with orgasm, something like a vibrator can be a really useful tool to make sex more fun and easy.”

For me, it was that little pink back massager. For others, their first try might be with a powerful showerhead or their own hands. This is the time to experiment!

You (come) first

The most important thing to remember is that it’s your body. For some, masturbation just doesn’t compare to intimacy with a partner, and that’s totally okay! Your orgasms are your own. We’ve been wired to believe that our orgasms aren’t important, but they are. You deserve to have positive, healthy and pleasurable sexual experiences, and knowing where to find encouragement is the first step to accepting that.

Resources

There are some great online resources that encourage sex-positivity that I want to recommend:

  1. 1. Eileen Kelly @killerandasweetthang

    Eileen is a sex educator and founder of Killer And A Sweet Thang, a website and social account self-defined as ‘the sex-ed we wish we’d had.’ I love seeing these posts in my feed, from inspirational quotes, to tips and tricks and insightful article. Kelly does a spectacular job of normalizing pleasure. Not to mention, her aesthetic is amazing. 

  2. 2. Ev’Yan Whitney @evyan.whitney

    Ev’Yan is a ‘sexuality doula’ and sex educator with a passion for discussing and normalizing sex positive spaces. Her podcast, The Sexually Liberated Woman celebrates ‘femme sexual liberation’ from sexual shame. She’s also the creator of the online course and guidebook, Sexting Myself, encouraging radical self love and reclamation. 

  3. 3. Pink Bits @pink_bits

    Pink Bits celebrates the parts of our bodies that we are often taught to hide and be ashamed of. The illustrations depict an honest account of what it’s really like to be a woman. For me, it’s really validating to know that other people share my insecurities, and to unpack the reasons for our inherent sexual and body shaming tendencies is incredibly healing.