"Prepare to have your life CHANGED," my friend Claudia texted me in response to a screenshot I sent of a receipt for the Satisfyer Pro 2, a rose-gold, rechargeable, waterproof vibrator that looks similar to a Clarisonic face brush. I was curious, excited, nervous, and embarrassed as I awaited its arrival, obsessively tracking its shipping route so I could stealthily grab the package, open the box alone in my room, and try it out for myself, by myself.
I had never owned a vibrator before the Satisfyer. I didn't think I needed or even wanted one. I thought my fingers were enough - they had been for the last decade ever since I first discovered the wonders of my own touch. But then, a month into quarantine, I was sitting in my bathtub and watching Claudia's latest YouTube video titled "Your Sphincter SUCKS." It opens with a cute flat-lay of products, including two Tiffany blue boxes with the capitalized words "TETHER" and "ROMP" on the front. A chipper, copyright-free jingle plays over the clip, as an aesthetically pleasing title card reading "Sex Toys 101" appears on screen.
There isn't anything incorrect, immoral, or even odd about a virgin buying a vibrator. My search for self-pleasure is a very deliberate, personal choice that doesn't affect anyone but me.
Then, Claudia walks into frame, looks at the camera, and asks you (me) how we're doing. It feels like we're just hanging out and chatting about life. Claudia was one of the first friends I made during my freshman year at NYU and one I've stayed close with even after I transferred to USC. She and I are both Leos, which we love to connect over (obviously), and we've always had a really honest and open dialogue about everything since the moment we met.
When we entered lockdown, Claudia and I started FaceTiming more often, and she told me that she was thinking about starting a YouTube channel. I'd watch all of her videos and give her feedback, and she'd teach me, tell me stories, and give me tips over FaceTime or in her videos about nudes, sex toys, and first times.
Even though Claudia and I are similar in many ways, she's a lot more sexually experienced than I am. I'm a virgin, which is something I don't really talk about much. I'm not particularly proud of my chastity. I'm 22 years old, which, as a college student, makes me feel simultaneously ancient and childish. I wasn't raised religious, so there was never any tangible authority figure telling me to save myself for marriage. As a result, I've internalized my virginity as my own lack of effort and appeal. I've been told for years that I need to "put myself out there more" and that maybe I should consider "lowering my standards and expectations" about who I have sex with and the experience itself. And there have definitely been instances when I've thought about swiping right on a stranger and letting go of my virginity and preconceived notions about it. I've entertained this hypothetically but have never acted upon it, simply because that wasn't my desire - and isn't that what sex is all about?
I know there's nothing wrong with never having had sex, nor is there anything wrong with having it. I suppose the paradox of being a woman is that there's shame if you do it too much or not enough, whatever either of those means. When you lean too much on either side of this arbitrary and misogynistic scale, you're either too slutty or too frigid. Have an "appropriate" amount of sex and come off that you do, but filter the manner by which you talk about it.
Though our world is turning into a more open and sex-positive one - one that questions old-fashioned ideas about sexuality, gender, and the interplay between the two - I personally still feel shy talking about sex and feel especially so talking about self-pleasure.
I experienced minor cognitive dissonance when I decided to buy a vibrator. I thought that, for some reason, you need to have had sex before you own or even want one - like getting a vibrator would practically be me deciding to lose my virginity to an inanimate object. Yet, there objectively isn't anything incorrect, immoral, or even odd about a virgin buying a vibrator. My search for self-pleasure is a very deliberate, personal choice that doesn't affect anyone but me and ensures a level of safety and comfort that, in itself, is desirable and pleasurable.
As I watched Claudia enthusiastically endorse her favorite sex toys, I decided to get over my irrational insecurities and said, "F*ck it," literally. I felt guilty for spending $60 on something that I felt somewhat ashamed of, but as my finger floated over my mousepad in hesitation, I reminded myself there's no reason I shouldn't look forward to my new gadget. So, I prepared for the life-changing powers that Claudia confidently vouched for.
As I've gotten older, I've slowly been stripping pieces of my internalized shame off my back. With help from friends like Claudia, I feel more comfortable talking about sexual desire and seeking it out. I trust people like her, who I know won't ever judge me for however I'm feeling or the things that I want.
And Claudia was right. The Satisfyer Pro 2 is a technological wonder that brings me instant joy, and I don't regret buying it in the slightest. With help from human friends and inanimate ones too, I've been able to stay sane and happy during this pandemic. I've looked outwardly for comfort and support, letting myself experience the small, immediate joys of cheerful conversation and cheeky consumption.
For so long, I've held onto guilt and worry about being overly hedonistic, always questioning if I deserved to want this or if I was worthy to have that. My fears and insecurities have stemmed from the implicit rules of the outside world - a world that makes you aware of your anomalies and flaws and, as a result, dictates what your desires can or cannot be. However, by looking inwardly, I'm learning to accept the ways in which I'm different and be content with who I am and where I'm at. With every day moving forward, I try to overcome any sense of shame or fear of being self-indulgent or selfish, as I actively search for solace in the people and things in my life, and that now includes a really good vibrator.