My Sex Toy Dilemma
By Kit Stubbs, Ph.D.
It was the early 2000’s when I bought my first vibrator in college, at a dark, sketchy-feeling shop called, “Sex World in Minneapolis.” Before then, I would use my hands to reach orgasm. But, the new toy was fun for something different; it couldn't really compare to my own hands. I can't pinpoint what it was, exactly, but I had the feeling that coming using my hands was better, somehow. Maybe...more real? More natural? More pure?
Over the next few years, I used that vibrator from time to time before buyingmy first rabbit bullet vibe at a lovely feminist sex shop in Torontoon my honeymoon. The new toy really blew my mind. It helped me have more intense orgasms and more quickly than I could using my hands. I started using the rabbit more and my hands less, until I started developing complicated feelings about the toy. Was I cheating, somehow? Was I a worse person because I didn't use my hands as much?
After I wore out that rabbit vibrator, I bought another one. I bought extra parts too, so I'd never be without a backup in case this one broke. And while I was using it to have great orgasms, I kept wondering: Was I becoming dependent on this toy? What if I could never have an orgasm again without using it?
As these questions kept me wondering, a few years later I started having major health problems: chronic fatigue and chronic pain in my upper back, shoulders, and elbows. It took about a year to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. By this point, using my hands to climax was basically impossible. My arms were too tired, and they'd start to hurt before I could get myself very far.
As much as I liked using the rabbit and continued to enjoy both partnered sex and masturbation, a part of me was also living in a hole of guilt and shame. My body was broken, and I was stuck using this toy. I knew I’d most likely wouldn't be able to use my hands to reach orgasm ever again.
More years passed and I started connecting with the my local queer kink community.. I met amazing people who self-identified as fat, crip, or both. I watched friends play together with all kinds of toys and devices using whatever modifications they needed to have fun. I watched fatshonistas wearing bright, bold colors as they proudly held the space they deserved.
Being a part of that community, I finally realized: I was tired of feeling so guilty about using my vibrator during playtime. Giving myself crap about it was just exhausting! So I decided I wanted to let that go: I tried to enjoy pleasure however I could and accepted whatever tools I used to get there.
I still sometimes miss being able to use my hands to reach orgasm, but I'm learning to judge myself less. I'm unlearning the unhelpful notion that "not using toys makes you a 'better' person" and am letting go of attaching any kind of moral judgment to using toys. I'm grateful for this change in perspective and feel honored to have this opportunity to share my experience.