Busting myths about sex toys

by Erin Brandt

What if we didn’t train our police to kill? Donate and take action with Black Lives Matter.I promised in my last column to provide a sexually pleasurable topic for this next column. I want you to know that I stretched myself to write this column because I have had to put my business on pause—partially due to COVID19 and partially due to my other job working to help turn out voters for this Election Cycle. It is a rarity to find a job one loves, and I have two! Although, I could use a break from the high-stress, high-intensity work from the last few months. There’s no rest for the wicked, though. 😉

Toy MythsSex toys are one of my favorite topics to teach! Few people use or talk about using toys due to a number of stigmas:

• Toys mean your body is broken

• Toys will ruin your body’s sexual response

• Toys are dirty

• Real men don’t need help

• Toys are for those kinky people

• Toys are for masturbating, only.

Myths are fun to put in print because they highlight their ridiculousness by exposing their backward logic to the light of day. For example, if your body needs help achieving an orgasm or a toy increases your pleasure, where is the harm in using one? Why continue to have bad sex or no pleasure? Using a physical aid is not a negative, it is a smart and beneficial choice for your body.

Everything in moderation. Masturbating with your hand can train your body’s sexual response. If you are masturbating to excess this can be harmful. Using a sex toy in moderation is no different. Listen to your body and if you find that a toy is hurting your body stop using it.

Sure, toys can be dirty if you don’t properly take care of them. It is not recommended to share toys with partners unless you’ve both been tested and agree to share. Even then you can protect toys by using coverings like dental dams or condoms. Cleaning toys is very often as easy as washing it with soap and warm water. We are all getting great practice in washing our hands. Now you can sing happy birthday while washing your toys!

Do I really need to address this one!? C’mon! Of course, this is a myth! We don’t teach boys and men that they are more than their genitals so this is the fear response we get. Everything about who they are is between their legs! I’m surprised we don’t have monuments to it everywhere…oh, wait.

Yes, so folks who are into kink play use toys. Some people who are into kink also like bread and others are gluten-free. So what! You do not need a whole wall of toys and some specific sexual interest to use toys. Sex toys are for any consenting sexual being of a legal age, 18+ please.

This one makes me sad. Toys can be used solo, for sure. But using toys with partners is fun, fun, fun! Don’t live in a small box. Expand your toy play to consenting sexual partners.

Let’s Vibrate!Some toys shimmy and shake! Vibrators come in a wide variety from small, handheld toys for external stimulation and others are great big with protruding parts for an internal and external buzzing touch. Vibrators may have one speed setting or twenty. There’s a whole new style that uses sonic vibrations rather than the mechanical vibrations in traditional vibrators.

Dildos, Dongs, & Plugs*These are toys meant for penetration. They also vary in size and some may also vibrate. You can find smooth dildos, et al. and there are many designed to look and feel like a penis. Some have a flared base or a scrotum with testicles. The only ones that should be used in anal penetration have a flared base to prevent slurpage (not a word but apt). The anus and anal cavity are made up of very strong muscles and they will want to pull a toy into the body. A flared base prevents this from happening. Unlike the vagina, there is nothing to stop the toy from moving deeper into the body. ER doctors worldwide will treat you, as they are professionals, but I guarantee you they trade stories about what was up your butt. Lesson: use a flared base toy!

In that same vein, dildos, dongs, and plugs should be flexible. Rigid or hard plastic toys are better for external stimulation.

SleevesFor the penis owners there are a variety of sleeves for pleasure. Simple jelly ones to more realistic silicone molds of mouths, vaginas, or anuses.

Clamps, Feathers, Paddles, Restraints, etc.You are more than your genitals! Your largest sexual organ is your skin and there are toys for that. If you like parts of your body nibbled or pinched—nipples and ears come to mind—you can use what are marketed as nipple clamps to provide that sensation. Do you like light, teasing touches or hard, spanking touches? Play with feathers or paddles. Interested in bondage but not quite ready to learn how to tie knots. You can buy ready-made restraints that use velcro or buckles for easy release.

Leveling UpIf you already use toys, you can always up your game by trying new toys or experimenting with how you use your current ones. As technology creeps ever more into all areas of our lives, there are also toys with tech. Vibrators and sleeves that you can control with an app on your phone!

In conclusion of this succinct recounting of the wonders of toys, they are an asset, a boon, a pleasure—not a replacement.

*Please do not use vegetables. Thanks!

Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com.

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