When it comes to sex, I am pretty old-fashioned. Not in the icky, misogynistic kind of ways (aside from all that’s been internalized *sheds tear*), but in the manual stimulation instead of technological stimulation kind of ways that include the use of sex toys. And while I’ve certainly heard about, and seen occasionally on-screen, the potential for increased pleasure from the use of sex toys in both partner activities and masturbation, my lazy ass has always kind of felt that they’re more work than they’re worth. Like honestly, come on, inserting batteries into anything that promises sexual pleasure is asking a lot of someone who has perfectly good hands that are not sold separately.
It’s not that heterosexual coital pursuits are less suited for the addition of sex toys, but I personally never felt the pressure of the sex toy phenomenon until I started actively pursuing sex with women. At this point, I had many questions, first of all being, are there sex toys that I should be paying attention to that aren’t just vibrators? And the second being, do all lesbian sexual interactions require sex toys? Like, I know they technically don’t, but am I going to be laughed out of the queer-arena if I come to the game empty-handed? As a sex-positive queer woman, I felt it was my duty to learn about sex toys and see if there may be some that are right for me. To my surprise, there was a lot to learn about.
First, I learned that vibrators are just the beginning--there are so many kinds of sex toys suited for women and vagina-havers outside of basic vibratorsville. From strap-ons to hand-held dildos; to anal plugs; to blindfolds, whips, and handcuffs; to fancy, high-tech vibrating finger pads (!!!), there a number of ways for women to engage in sex toy play--some of which don't even require batteries, but are well worth the effort if they do. In my cursory research on the topic of sex toys, I came across an article about Babeland--basically the popular sex toy establishment du jour--written by two lesbian women, Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, who had noticed the absolute dearth of public information about lesbian sex in general, and about sex toys as they pertain to lesbian sex more specifically. Their incredible commentary and personal knowledge on the subjects can be found here, noting how important it is for every sexually active human to experiment at least a little bit with their own pleasure and discover what works for them and what does not--whether or not this includes the addition of sex toys is up to the discretion of each individual.
Owens-Reid and Russo also have a whole website dedicated to queer education and activism, which can be found here, noting how little educational material exists for members of the queer community who are learning How To Queer or learning How To Queer, Better.
According to Owens-Reid and Russo--seasoned, sapphic sex toy señoritas that they are--Babeland (located in multiple NYC neighborhoods, as well as Seattle) is a must-see on the path to the best in sex toys. Babeland’s variety in toys is staggering, including both leather and cloth strap-on harnesses depending upon personal preference, as well as strap-on underwear if harnesses are not your thing; dildos available in silicone, glass, and stainless steel that also range in levels of realism (think: veiny? Rainbow? Balls? No balls?); vibrators ranging from classic bullet style, to little pads that can be attached to fingertips, to dual-stimulator toys, some of which have technology that can sense the appropriate level of pulsating based upon the pressure applied to it by one’s body; to “Under The Bed Restraints” which allow for bondage without needing a headboard. For anyone who is feeling unsure about the use of sex toys, but is interested in learning more and potentially giving them a try, Babeland is a wonderful resource.
Just remember that with all that play, you’re going to need a bigger lube. We’ve got you covered.
Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes