With Valentine’s upon us, many will be given traditional gifts, like chocolates, roses, dinner even a small box from Tiffany’s. But Cupid’s checklist of seasonal goodies is expanding to reflect the times. Including in it, vibrators.
The vibrator has come a long way. No longer perceived as a tool to till the garden or something that buzzes as loud as a Vitamix, it now possesses a pedestrian existence travelling from a time where its connotations would be associated with somewhat deviant or desperate behaviour. All perceptions birthed out of an antiquated notion of shame and a puritanical vision. No more. Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart and others are getting on the bandwagon to sell these products and why not. Viagra has become as ordinary as Smarties. National fashion magazines feature sleek and attractive vibrators nonchalantly in their accessory section alongside the trending shade of lipstick for spring and followed by one-pot vegetarian dinners.
Add men to this intimate equation, and you’ve got comedy. Most will walk into a sex toy shop much the same way they walk into Canadian Tire – on a mission like they’re looking for a drill bit. They’re in and out in five minutes flat. They see something they think will do the job; they’ll pick it up, pay cash and walk out. Generally speaking, men tend to be quick in the area of retail acquisitions. They are enthusiastic at the idea of gifting their partner a vibrator and are not at all threatened knowing it will make for more intense lovemaking. If that doesn’t tick the right box on Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what does. “They don’t care how much it costs and whatever the store suggests they’ll run with.” this according to the manager of ‘Good For Her,’ a woman’s sex toy shop on Harbord Street in Toronto, that is more of a high-end boutique than a department store. With an extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful staff, they operate in a lovely space designed predominantly for women, around the concept of intimate and great sex. Who doesn’t want that? Unlike Canadian Tire, ‘Good For Her’ offers a huge array of workshops for people of all genders and specific ones for couples, even those who are on the hunt for the ever elusive G-spot. The one location that I suspect Mapquest and Waze will never find. I don’t know why men believe they can just come across it. It’s not marked like a drive-through at Tim Horton’s. It’s more a Jacques Cousteau destination where one must dive deep to explore the location of the hidden treasure.
These last-minute customers typically come in the day of, be it Valentines, Christmas Eve, an anniversary or birthday and in a panic asking as to what it is they should buy and what’s the best thing? They want to get something special for their partner to make her feel sexy because she doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes the men do research, and sometimes they want to be told what’s the best toy. Unlike men, women take a lot more time to choose something. They come in, ask questions, hum and haw, invite their friends and ask what they think. They’ll question whether they should spend the extra $20.00 for this toy or that. They’ll purchase for themselves as well for their partner, thoughtfully and conscientiously and they pay attention to details like picking up a tube of lube.
As we age, with sleep apnea machines peppering bedrooms, diminishing libidos on both sides and a good nights sleep ranking as good as or better than sex, there is more than enough room to experiment by bringing sex toys into the bedroom. We’re not dead yet. Sex is about having fun. Whether you’re an empty nester or not, with a willing partner you can experiment using this new opportunity for not only pleasure but deeper intimacy.
Who would have figured that the vibrator and the coffee machine are similar these days in that they are appliances that do a job? So advanced are they, that both can be hooked up to an iPod or iPad. I’m not sure if anyone at a board meeting would dare to turn it on, but I suspect it depends on the tone of the meeting and how dull it is, this would undoubtedly make it exciting. It would also give mediations a different complexion. In 2008, half of all American women had used vibrators, and the market has grown exponentially since. It’s big business with a slew of product to choose from. Women are embracing the idea that great sex isn’t just about their partner’s pleasure but theirs as well.
Coming from a strict Catholic upbringing, my mother struggled to talk to me about my menstrual cycle never mind sex. The myths and superstitions alone brought her such discomfort that the ‘sex talk’ could never happen. The poor woman greeted me the day after my wedding night and discretely tucked two aspirin in the palm of my hand. Confused I deciphered her cryptic messaging as being about pain management attributed to my devirginization from the previous evening. I couldn’t bear to tell her, it was a nice Irish Catholic boy from years prior. She was consumed by preconceived hangups, which were shared by her community of women that was common at the time.
Today, Tupperware conversations are replaced with discussions on sex toys. Back then, the thought of a device that was battery operated and could heighten the pleasure in a bedroom would have caused one to whip out the rosary as it was inconceivable. Sex was about procreation not focused on enjoyment. Those days are long gone. Removed from the repressed environment many grew up around, women today have a healthy, loving and fun perspective around their sexuality. Sex toys may not have shown up in a Jane Austen novel, but they’re in plain sight in Fifty Shades of Grey in the same way condiments are on restaurant tables.
With sex toys comes the topic of porn for women. Having their partner vacuum the house, prepare dinner, or do laundry is a huge turn on for the ladies. There are so many ways to turn on women, and so few of them remotely resemble what men believe them to be. A girlfriend shared with me that if her husband could only get his underwear in the hamper instead of on, around or hanging off of it, she’d do him right there.
Today younger women with contemporary mothers are being versed on exploring their sexuality and do not depend on a partner to do that for them. Figuring out what they enjoy and sharing that with their partner — teaching them to take charge of their sexuality and introducing them to vibrators. The other side of the coin is someone who is in their seventies doing it for the same reasons, many widowed, some divorced or separated, — discovering that they can still have physical pleasure in their lives exploring their sexuality again. You only have to look as far as Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in ‘Grace and Frankie.’ For those with partners, the toys don’t eliminate men in the equation, in fact, the opposite. It provides them with the power to make it more intimate and exciting.
There’s a willingness with middle-aged women to finally let go of the idea of negative body images, releasing scars from past relationships and trauma, including abuse to finally be comfortable at this age to speak to their wishes. This shift in perception can lead to deeper intimacy with her partner or herself.
Women of all orientations and ages especially those in their fifties and sixties are looking for their first or tenth vibrator to spice things up and are desiring these accessories. Men benefit from it while empty nesters are looking to spice up their sex life and get their relationship back on track.
At our age, it’s all about having fun on the trek to the ‘sexy time mountain.’ Once there, it’s ‘Hello Magic Kingdom.’
To quote the great Marvin Gaye, “Let’s get it on.” Happy Valentines Day!