Why are 54% of women still hiding their sex toys from their partner?
I finally own a vibrator! Yes, it’s true. Previously, I was masturbating with my bare hands -- like a cave person -- but I have finally joined the twenty-first century and automated the process. We no longer scrub our clothes by hand or churn our own butter and quite similarly, I no longer play my vulva like a string instrument.
Of course, I’m not just celebrating that it takes less energy to masturbate every morning. By owning something that exists exclusively for my pleasure, I affirm the importance of female sexual pleasure and solo pleasure overall. Masturbation reduces stress, improves body image and sexual self-esteem, and it even eases my cramps when I’m on my period.
More importantly, it feels great. It’s a way for me to connect with this body that other people have tried to control and legislate. A common suggestion is for women to masturbate so that they can teach a partner their likes and dislikes, but even that falls short in explaining why masturbation is so necessary for self-care. We’re taught that female sexuality comes with conditions -- that it can only be expressed in a monogamous relationship, that it primarily exists for men, that there can be ‘too much’ of it. And because of that, pleasure has become something given to us, if we’re lucky. Unsurprisingly, women of every age group masturbate far less than men. And for those that do, it’s a practice we often feel compelled to hide.
In a recent study conducted by TooTimid.com, 54% of women interviewed said that they hid their sex toys from their partners. One respondent said that her partner had vocalized the desire to never see her toys or know that she used them. Another reported that it would make her partner feel embarrassed or ashamed- as if their presence would suggest that the relationship was lacking.
One woman even said, “With my ex, I hid a very simple basic vibrator. It wasn’t even phallic in shape, and I only used it to vibe my clit. But I was anxious about sharing it with him. Then he found it and immediately wanted me to get rid of it because it was ‘bigger’ than him.”
That’s crazy, right? Oscar Wilde said, “Everything is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” I don’t know how fully I believe that but I can admit, when I orgasm, I feel rooted in my own erotic power. And if I reserved that feeling for partnered sex, I would be relinquishing that power to another person.
I also take so much pride in the sexual relationship that I have with myself, I would be furious if my partner expected me to compromise it. After all, just because I watch a movie alone doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them with who I’m dating. This isn’t a competition. But some men even compare vibrator use to cheating. And with so many people following a romantic template in which our partners are required to fulfill our every need, it’s no surprise that vibrators are threatening in that way. No vibrator can replace the intimacy we create with another human. But if the primary goal of sex, besides pleasure, is to cultivate intimacy, what do we even gain by seeing masturbation as betrayal? Why would someone want me to connect with them but never to my own body?
Men are described as these insatiable creatures so it becomes natural, almost necessary, for them to masturbate -- they apparently have sexuality to spare. On the other hand, female sexuality is supposed to be quieter, more finite. ‘Respectable women’, at least, don’t have a lot of it. So then, using a vibrator becomes an act of greed or perversion. I’ve even been told that using one will cause me to lose feeling in my vulva which would mean my sex drive is so unhealthy that I’m willing to cause myself harm -- only it’s not true! And it’s all just a way of making female sexuality, and female pleasure, more obscene that it actually is.
Masturbation is not just healthy, it’s beautiful. My vibrator breathes life into the loudness and limitlessness of my sexuality. Hiding it would mean behaving as if that is worthy of shame.