Though covered by every news source from the New York Times to KCRA Sacremento, the arrival of vibrators to the Family Planning aisle of various drugstores still finds me ecstatic. Thus—here I return, Blogland (and Babeland), to chronicle this important change happening amongst what feels like a war on reproductive policy.
A girl's first vibrator is like her first cell phone: socially liberating, battery-powered, and, of course, a bit private. To many young women unsure of how to masturbate—let's face it, our anatomy is a little confusing!--that vibrator opens up doors to a sexuality previously unknown. As female masturbation instruction pioneer Betty Dodson says while recounting her first vibrator experience in the '60s, “It used to take me 20-30 minutes to come...[but with the vibrator] it is like 'woah,' and of course, I have an orgasm, and another one and another one... Women say, 'oh well I could never use one of those i'd get addicted!' Yeah, do it get addicted. Its not fattening, it isnt illegal, it doesn’t cost much, and after you buy it its good for as long as the motor—well, these things last much longer than a relationship.”
In other words, a vibrator makes clitoral pleasure easy; for me and many other women, vibrators taught us how to orgasm and how to be comfortable orgasming in front of a partner.
But what to do when you are under eighteen, can't risk an internet order on mommy's credit card or even stoop, or are fearful to walk in the only sex shop downtown that's covered in fluorescent lights flashing “LIVE NUDES”? A vibrator box manhandled by post-glory-hole truck drivers just doesn't seem to sit well on a nightstand next to Their Eyes Were Watching God...
Enter Rite-Aid; Walgreens; CVS; even our local Duane Reade. Trusted contraception companies such as Trojan, Durex, and Lifestyles are now placing $20-$40 vibrators models on drugstore shelves, under product names like the “Allure,” “A:muse,” and “Tri-Phoria.” The development, endorsed by both doctors and influential entrepreneurs in the sex industry such as Babeland's own Rachel Venning, brings liberation as well as fear to everyday shoppers. Though spokeswoman Vivika Vergara refers to the products as “tasteful, responsible merchandising,” in a “comfortable setting,” sources like Newsweek dub drugstore-priced personal sex devices the “Red Light Special.” All in all, however, controversy surrounding this development has oddly been at a minimum. I guess even the men pouring their pockets into anti-Planned Parenthood bills respect the toys that keep their wives happy after a long day at work. Who could blame 'em? Marketed by Trojan (below) for masturbation as well as fun with a partner, Betty Dodson's words ring true: “yeah, do get addicted.”