Image Map

Bed Bitch & Beyond (Not So) Good Vibrations: A Confession

Ladies, I have a confession to make.

I don't like vibrators.

Now, I have much respect for my feminist sisters at Good Vibrations and Babeland. If you love their products, and they get you off and make you happy and compensate for a lover with bad skillz or no lover at all, more power to you. I do not judge AT ALL. Unfortunately for me, vibes always fail to Get the Job Done. And believe me, I've tried.

The first vibrator I ever encountered was a little pocket-sized one that one of my college roommates used to hide in a box of cotton balls in the hall closet of our apartment. I think she kind of liked to show it off--because it made her look daring! and sexy!--and there was an unspoken rule that anyone who wanted to use it knew where it was (there was also an unspoken rule that it would be thoroughly cleaned afterwards).

Unfortunately, the couple times I did try the pocket rocket, it didn't do a damn thing for me. The buzzing felt more irritating than anything else, and it made my hand go numb after only a minute or so. You know how it feels when you drive a stick shift and after a while the vibrations on the gearshift make your hand fall asleep? Yeah, it felt like that--and not just on my hand. I was actually a little worried that I might have damaged some important nerve endings. The sensation returned after a minute or two, but I was not tempted to explore any further.

Then, when I moved to Manhattan, it seemed that hip professional gal had a vibrator. They weren't ashamed to talk about it either. New York City is a vibe-positive kind of town. My friends joked about their personal favorites. My boss once gave me a receipt for something called a "Vibratex" that she'd purchased for over $100 at the Pleasure Chest and told me to get expense account reimbursement for it "because the company should pay for my stress relief!" (Mortified, I buried the receipt in the drawer--no way I was explaining that one to our business manager). Still, despite visits to Eve's Garden and Toys in Babeland, I was never tempted. Between my hands and my boyfriends, my orgasm quota was being met just fine.

But then one boyfriend, a lawyer at a very tony white-shoe law-firm, bought me a Rabbit vibrator--you know, the one Charlotte develops an addiction to on SATC? He'd been watching the show and figured it was the perfect gift (I'm fairly sure the thought process went something like this: "Wow, this thing really makes chicks come. Becky's a chick and she likes to come. And her birthday's next week. DING DING DING!")

I had always been curious about the Rabbit, but not enough to buy one, given my previous experiences with vibrators and the price tag ($100 was a LOT to someone working in an entry-level media job). So when Lawyerboy presented me with the Rabbit and promised to be an appreciative audience while I test-drove it, I figured it was worth a try.

As soon as I opened the Rabbit's plastic clamshell package, Lawyerboy and I exchanged alarmed looks. The thing stank to high heaven. The Rabbit's made of latex--at least this one was--and it smelled like 50 foot high pile of unwrapped condoms. I don't mind a little whiff of latex--in fact, I've used condoms so long the smell provokes a bit of a Pavlovian response in my nether regions--but this just STANK. If you have a latex allergy, steer clear. The Rabbot will put you into anaphylactic shock as soon as you unwrap it.

"Maybe it would help if I washed it?" Lawyerboy ventured.

He gave the Rabbit a good lathering with some dishwashing liquid. That helped, but only a little. The thing still smelled pretty nasty. But I switched it on anyway.

For those of you who've never used a Rabbit vibrator, it has a head that's generically dick-shaped, a shaft that's only a couple inches long, a base that contains a whole lot of little pearl that whirl and smush around under the "skin" and then the namesake rabbit-shaped thingy on top, whose long ears are positioned to vibrate on your clit. When you hit the switch, the whole thing begins to move in several directions--the dickhead glides around in a clockwise circle, the pearls start to shimmy around the base and the ears begin to vibrate.

"Whoa," Lawyerboy looked a little daunted, "it's bionic."

"Yeah, yours doesn't do that," I said, eyeing the revolving dickhead.

The revolving movement was good for hitting my g-spot, and the pearls felt rather nice too. But the rabbit ears--supposedly the selling point--didn't do a damn thing for me. The sensation was so light it was like being tickled with a feather, which was not nearly enough pressure to get me off. And the smell of the thing, now that the latex was warmed by my body heat, was getting exponentially worse.

Fortunately, Lawyerboy had seen enough that he was eager to take over from the bionic dick. So I tossed the Rabbit aside and we got it on sans toys, which was just fine with me. I never used the Rabbit again and when we broke up, I left it in the drawer at his his place.

One of my friends has a Rabbit--she calls it "my boyfriend Jack"---which she is passionately attached to, and she reports that she never had the same problem with the latexy stink. She swears it Gets the Job Done for her. So to each her own.

I've tried a couple other smaller vibes--little fingertip ones that both my partners and I have enjoyed for a bit of extra stimulation in hard-to-reach areas--but they've never become a fixture of my sex life. These days "special drawer" of my nightside table simply contains lube, condoms, tissues and more condoms--nothing battery-powered at all. When my friends extol the virtues of their battery-operated playthings I just smile knowingly and think "To each her own."

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

23 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Why confess? You're not guilty of anything.

We seem to forget that everybody is different. I know girls that get nothing from vibrators, don't get much pleasure from from cunnilingus, or other things women are "supposed to" like.

A person's sexuality is as signature as their personality. There's nothing wrong with being unique.

I definitely plead not guilty!

I was being tongue-in-cheek saying "a confession." Like I said at the end of the post, to each her own. I know what works for me!

Women do seem to get vibrators marketed to them as the be-all and end-all of female orgasms, but you're right, everyone's sexual responses are different. I don't think that can ever be said enough.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

I loved this post, Becky.

I loved this post, Becky. You've captured pretty much the essence of how I feel about the damn things and I love that you did it in a way that doesn't sound sex-negative or overly vibe-bashing. They work for the people they work for, and that's great, but they don't work for everyone and that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them or us. We're all variations on a theme, not carbon copies anyway, so it's not all that surprising that vibrators don't work for 100% of women. And you are spot on about that awful latexy smell too. I have nothing against the idea of vibrators (and in fact find some of the stuff that the better manufacturers have been making downright pretty), but clearly they're just not my thing.

Have you ever tried the

Have you ever tried the Hitachi Magic Wand (aka "the Cadillac of vibrators")? The Rabbit doesn't cut it for me either, but I have yet to meet a woman who the Wand has not been able to "Get The Job Done" for, heh...the trick is, it's plug-in; battery-operated vibes are much weaker and less reliable. The Wand is also tailor-made for all kinds of attachments; I swear by the "G-spotter" one! :) It's also high-quality and will last you YEARS (and not have any annoying latex stench).

P.S. The comment "and compensate for a lover with bad skillz or no lover at all" kinda irks me a little, because it implies that self-pleasure is something one does to, as you said, compensate for not having a partner. Um, no...masturbation is a healthy part of human sexuality that has nothing to do with whether you do or do not also have sex with a partner! One can be having great sex 24/7 with a partner and still want/need/enjoy some solo time. In fact, masturbation can help improve your sex life with others, by making you more understanding of and familiar with your own body.

I haven't tried the Hitachi,

I haven't tried the Hitachi, but I know plenty of women who say it is the Orgasmatron!

I don't think that masturbation is something one does to compensate for not having a partner--God knows, I did it for YEARS before I had a partner. I wrote that because I know many women who either never had an orgasm through masturbation until they used a vibrator, or only have orgasms with partners when they use one. I wanted to avoid implying that they shouldn't use whatever works for them, since I think that everyone's masturbatory needs are different and using a sex toy shouldn't be seen as a failure of some kind.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

I have the Hitachi and I

I have the Hitachi and I LOVE IT. My husband jokingly refers to it as "the machine".

The Hitachi Magic Wand is a

The Hitachi Magic Wand is a soulless orgasm machine. The efficiency in which it extracts orgasms from my body kinda makes me feel like a factory farm cow strapped to some kind of robotic milker.
Is that a positive or negative review? you decide.

Am I doing something wrong? Hitachi doesn't work for me!

I loved reading this simply because vibrators have NEVER done it for me. I have probably spent more time masturbating than most women I know...both with and without a partner...and have very few hang-ups or taboos. I LOVE my curved glass "e-screamer" dildo for hitting my g-spot (and making me squirt so much I have to put down multiple towels before using it), but I have never been able to get satisfaction from using anything other than my fingers on my clit. This is even true during sex...I adore sex...have a voracious appetite...but unless my fingers are taking care of my clit, I can't cum.

Everyone kept telling me the Hitachi Magic Wand was where it was at - and I have some VERY sexual and informed friends...ahem... I kept hearing over and over that NO ONE has ever not cum from the Hitachi. So, when a friend bought it for me (complete with g-spot attachment, since that is primarily where I like my toys to do their work), I was both excited and nervous. It even came with a dial attachment to allow the wand to go from barely purring to roaring like a lioness.

But...nothing. What am I doing wrong??? Like every other vibe I have tried on my clit, it just makes me numb. Even the g-spot attachment doesn't really do it for me. I stumbled on this page b/c I was actually googling looking for more info on how to use the Hitachi in the mind-blowing way others seem to be able to... Any suggestions? I am so disappointed...feels kinda like being the last kid picked at kickball, I would imagine. (I don't know for sure; I was always picked first. :P Kidding!) Any comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!

one word: silicone

while i don't think there is any particular reason to experiment with sex toys if you have no interest, it does seem like you've tried pretty much only the worst of them. well, maybe not the worst. but there are a ton of sorts of vibes out there, and latex is usually fairly gross. silicone is the way to go. i don't know about the hitachi, it seems too powerful (my mom had a 'back massager' i'm pretty sure she just used on her back, and it was way way more powerful than my fun factory diggler is. i never tried it on my cooch, but it was nice on my shoulder.)

also, not all sex toys involve vibrations. dildoes, nipple clips, sensation play.

i don't know, this whole post is seems kind of undereducated. maybe because you live in new york, you feel some kind of pressure to enjoy sex toys, but tons of people have no interest in them and it seems kind of a weird thing to talk about. i don't have any interest in tennis, but i'm not writing blog posts about my disinterest. there wasn't really a cohesive point here.

and i know it's a writing style, but i don't think equating fulfilling sexual experiences with a job you get done is very healthy.

Why write?

I just wanted to defend the purpose (IMHO) of this article because I found it so interesting to read a different persepective from what I normally see. As a reader of a lot of feminist blogs, magazines, and literature, I feel almost inundated with the "pleasure yourself/buy a vibrator/vibrators give pleasure" message. Not that it's a bad thing! Like Becky, I know that they work for a lot of women and are a great stress reliever/orgasm bringer. But I often feel like the majoirty of women have a mindset that vibrators are a necessity (at least, a lot of the authors I read and follow and many of my friends.) As someone who doesn't use them that often, I don't pay much attention to the vibe-market, and it's reassuring to see my point of view collaborated by someone else. I think it's reassuring to have it reinforced that there's nothing wrong with the hand/pillow/non-vibrator. A non-consumer story of masturbation!

Also, the story was specifically about vibrators, not general sex toys. While she did mention she doesn't really use any sex toys, she wasn't bashing them or saying that she tried them but they didn't get her off. The article specifically details vibrators, hence the title...

Have you honestly never heard the expression "get the job done" equated with an orgasm before??? It seems to me fairly common, and not just the writing style here. While I don't love it, since it implies that having an orgasm is a "job" and thus not nessecarily fun, it does give the honest portrayal that you have to work at it to get it... Kind of like having an orgasm, right?

Couldn't agree more

I've always thought there was weird feminist pressure to love sex toys (vibrators in particular). Call me vanilla - I like apparatus-free lovin'. I love this post and especially love Feminizzle's point: anti-consumerism (thus anti-capitalist) sex. Yes please!

i have heard it before, but

i have heard it before, but i'm still not comfortable with it. but then, if orgasms were mroe work, i probably wouldn't bother. which doesn't mean i haven't had mind blowing orgasms, it just means i am very averse to work.

on getting the job done

IMHO, learning to have fulfilling sexual experiences takes time, attention, effort, and practice--just like a job.

I think one of the worst pieces of misinformation women receive is that good sex just magically happens, usually through penetration--in love scenes in movies or on TV penetration alone causes a woman to writhe in ecstasy, and further effort on her part is unnecessary. Reality FAIL.

You may think that sex toys are "a weird thing to talk about", but they're HEAVILY marketed to women, frequently discussed in our media culture, and many, many women use them, so they're entirely relevant in a blog about sex.

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

Becky Sharper www.harpyness.com

i don't think sex toys are a

i don't think sex toys are a weird thing to talk about at all. even to talk about their failings. i guess i just haven't felt any pressure to enjoy them, so i don't totally understand talking about them the way you have here. you are absolutely correct about good sex not magically happening. it just seemed to me out of nowhere for you to talk about how much you haven't enjoyed them. as i said, there are things i have no interest in, and i can understand having no interest in sex toys. i just think a post about how you don't have any interest in sex toys is weird. i think it would be more interesting to talk about how you feel pressure to enjoy them, where that pressure comes from. does other women enjoying sex toys in itself cause pressure, or is it the way your friends talk about them?

Yeah, me too

Becky, you put it so well. Vibrators don't do it for me either. I had a Rabbit, and while it would get me off, the orgasms were always so quick, small and unsatisfying - mechanical, you could say.

I think the trouble is that sex is so much about what's going on in your head and a vibrator is just so easy - it's there whenever you want it. I'm too much of a pervert to get off on that - I need a little resistance! I need it to be less obvious, more unexpected, etc.

Each to her own, though.

well i'm definitely with

well i'm definitely with this. my boyfriend doesn't understand why i use a vibrator when i'm alone but don't want to when i'm with him. and it's just not as good. i mean, sometimes i want a quick emotionless orgasm. and sometimes i want a long fantasy by myself and i'll use a variety of toys to get off, but none of that is as good as the orgasms i have when we're together. they are just less work.

Latex (The Real Deal) & Win a Sex Toy

I dunno when y'all investigated the Rabbit, but it's currently available latex-free. Babeland carries one made of elastomer, which doesn't smell or cause allergic reactions.

For those who are into sex toys, Feminist Review currently has a contest to win a Freestyle Vibrator from Babeland.

Just because it's a peeve of mine...

I couldn't resist pointing out that the sex toys my husband and I use don't "compensate" for anything. We pleased each other before we started using them and we please each other now. Sex toys just bring more variety in sensations to experience and make the whole experience less physically strenuous. I can't tell you how many times I've had people assume that because we use sex toys he must have sucked in bed. Very irritating.

I will admit though, I'm a bit bewildered by the way "sex toys" is so often discussed as interchangeable with "vibrator" on many feminist blogs. A vibrator is A sex toy, but there are quite a lot of other things that fall into that category as well, and are quite a lot of fun in their own right. And not all vibrators are remotely the same, either.

Totally with you on that rubber smell. That material also irritates my skin and makes it feel itchy. First vibe I ever bought was like that, and NEVER AGAIN I said. Had much better results since switching to silicone or other higher end materials. Oh, and the rabbit doesn't do much for me either. My very favorite vibe is "nubby g" which was designed as a g-spot vibe but which is just perfect for my clit for some reason. I only like nice solid things for g-spot fun, like steel or glass wands.

Nice to have some variety in what is talked about in regards to vibes though. :)

~whatsername~

~whatsername~

Thanks for posting

Thank you for the article. You are right; vibrators are very heavily marketed to women in the United States.

From what I understand, vibrators were first invented as a cure for female "hysteria" during the Victorian era. Doctors used them to "cure" the women.

I think it's noteworthy that rates of male circumcision were also very high during this time. Women often experience discomfort with circumcised male partners, so a vibrator might not be great, but it might be better than the alternative. See Kristen O'Hara's Sex as Nature Intended It.

Perhaps it's only because vibrators can help women with circumcised male partners that they get so much press in the United States, where male circumcision rates are relatively high compared to the rest of the world.

I would be very interested to know whether women with intact male partners enjoy vibrators. I would suspect not very much, but if I'm wrong, please do correct me.

Thanks for listening!

P.S. For information on foreskin restoration, google "TLC Tugger" or "NORM" (National Organization of Restoring Men). Best wishes!

Good comment! If you happen

Good comment! If you happen to be interested in learning more about the history of the vibrator (you're correct about the "hysteria," btw), try reading or seeing the play "In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)" by Sarah Ruhl. VERY great (and accurate) period piece set in the 1800s about a doctor who uses a machine to induce orgasms (or, as they call them, "peroxisms") on women whose husbands deem them "hysterical." Dramatic, funny, thought-provoking, emotional, all of the above! It's almost comical to see how far we've had to come in our understanding of the female body and psyche, and will make you think a lot about attitudes towards women and sex back then...and now, for that matter.

I've been with circumcised

I've been with circumcised and uncircumcised men and don't have a preference - and find a vibrator either a pleasurable addition or an upgrade from either. I don't know anyone who holds your viewpoint.
It's also important to note this view is very America-centric. Vibes are produced, distributed, and sold where circumcision never was a thing, like the vast amount of Japanese sex toys.

The pearls felt rather nice too

Why not just turn off the rabbit-ear part? It's got a separate control

Oh look! A man jumping in to

Oh look! A man jumping in to help all us silly women figure out how to use the damn thing correctly, because then it will CERTAINLY get ALL women off! And the anatomy of the device is totally the point anyway!