My Vulgar Peculiarities: How I Came to Love My Vibrator

The first time I saw Madonna’s “Justify My Love” music video, I was only about 6 or 7 years old. It was playing on a late night music video show on MTV, and because I always had minimal supervision, I saw the whole music video without interruption, or fear of my parents finding out. I watched in awe and discomfort, instantly intrigued by the vivid images and movements between Madonna and the dancers, caressing and groping each other in each scene. I was too young to understand the complexity of these images, but looking back on this memory, I know that particular moment was the first time I became sexually excited.

Soon afterwards, I became a huge Madonna and Janet Jackson fan. Growing up in the ’90s with the constant blatant and subtle messaging around body image and sexuality in mainstream media, I learned all I knew about heterosexual love and sex appeal from what I saw on television. Without the media, I would have no knowledge of what intimacy looked like (or supposed to look like in terms of the dominant heterosexual relationship caricature) or even the functional aspect of sex. Really, I’m not kidding.

I grew up in a semi-strict Catholic household. And by semi-strict I mean, sex was a phenomenon I knew existed, but within the context of reproduction. Sex was an activity that was always regarded as what adults do when they’re ready to have babies. There was nothing in our very few discussions (specifically, only one discussion) with my mother, that explicitly talked about the pleasure in having sex, either with a partner or with ourselves. Having multiple partners at a time, or polyamorous relationships, wasn’t even something that entered into my consciousness until late in my teenage years. Relationships were always explained by my mother within the confines of a strict monogamous portrait.

So I watched, or rather, consumed all I could in mainstream media, magazines, and through my peers, everything that involved sex and sexuality. I wanted to know all there was to know that I knew I wouldn’t be able to obtain at home. However, in this pursuit of information, the words of my mother haunted me, telling me that God watched me all. the. time.

As a teenager with raging hormones living in a Catholic household, I felt ashamed at my excessive need to watch porn or want sex as much as I did. I believed for the longest time that I must have been a sex addict. No one could possibly want sex this much and be a healthy person. It was an ongoing cycle for many years; I’d find ultimate pleasure in sex with multiple partners (or having a ton of sex with whomever I was in a monogamous relationship with), and then I’d feel guilty about my conquests immediately afterwards. The prevailing conservative attitudes of my mother’s Catholic teachings, never seemed to leave my awareness entirely.

Then one day, my boyfriend during that time bought me a vibrator. 

Again, vibrators, dildos, and masturbation, were not topics of conversation in my family, so I had no idea that these existed until I was introduced to them through peers. When my boyfriend gave me the vibrator, I felt squeamish at first. There were moments during foreplay when he would ask me to play with myself and I always felt too shy and ultimately, not empowered to do it. If I couldn’t insert my fingers in me, how the heck was I planning to put this object in me, AND enjoy it? With several sessions of coaxing, coaching, and trust building, he convinced me to use it when he wasn’t around. I gathered the courage to try it out after school one day, watched porn that I kept hidden in a private folder on my laptop, and similar to the scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin, I tried to set the mood. But unlike what Steve Carell’s character experienced and led him to watch reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, I enjoyed the activity so much, I experienced my first self-made orgasm. Vibrators have been my faithful servants ever since!

I share this story not only because May is National Masturbation Month, but also because of my recent newfound confidence in my sexuality. Along with the awareness and controlling of my anxiety, I also have a better understanding of my body, what feels good during sex, and what my limits are. I also am more educated on media portrayals of romantic versus sexual relationships, what’s realistic, and what types of relationship dynamics aren’t being demonstrated in the mainstream media. Though I’m not having sex with multiple partners anymore because I’m content with being in a monogamous relationship, I’m getting better at communicating my wants and needs to my partner for a better pleasurable experience. I still sometimes struggle with ridding myself of the shame and guilt I developed through my adolescent years, but I’m at least happy that it’s not at the forefront of my thoughts anymore when I engage in self-love or sex with my partner.

So in honor of National Masturbation Month, please go celebrate by indulging in the pleasures of self-love! Or if you don’t have a device to get you going, check out one of my favorite sex shops in Portland, an environmentally conscious sex shop that sells amazing products called As You Like It!

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Luann

Feminist, Pinay, coffee lover, boba aficionado and pop culture enthusiast. Current graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies. Dwelling in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon but always California dreaming. You can also read more of her articles at browngirldecolonized.com

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