Tag Archives: dildographer

Why Don’t We Have More Strip Clubs For Women?

Two weeks ago my friends and I spent 45 dollars to watch semi-naked men clad in firefighter outfits awkwardly gyrate to Bon Jovi songs at the Ho Chunk Casino in Baraboo, Wisconsin. While watching the “blokes” from Thunder From Down Under tear off various pieces of clothing, I was by turns revolted, disturbed, and amused but never aroused. And I thought to myself, Women deserve better strippers than this. 

Envision a theatrical production concocted by a not-particularly imaginative 5-year-old and performed by intoxicated WWE wrestlers, and you’ll get the idea. Each vignette featured a new theme in an attempt to cover a wide variety of stereotypical female fantasies. So we got to see gangsters and Roman soldiers and cowboys, who, after some choreographed combat, stripped down to thongs and showed their sculpted buttocks to the crowd.  The closest we came to seeing a penis was when we glimpsed the side of the bare shaft and testicles of Alex, a mid-30s, steroid-filled Australian stripper.

Then it started to get interesting. They’d bring overweight 40-something women on stage for lap dances, guiding the women’s thick hands inside their thongs. They’d simulate cunnilingus and intercourse on the deliriously happy women. They’d jog into the audience as women grabbed at their crotches with a fierceness usually reserved for plucking bulk condiments from Costco’s shelves. Clearly, the audience loved them. Continue reading

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Why We Should Question Marriage

 

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Richard Burton Elizabeth Taylor

 

matrimonialism (noun): the ideology that embraces marriage as a cultural norm.

Cultural institutions, especially ones as deeply revered as marriage, are rarely challenged. Marriage is thought of as inherently good. When someone announces that they’re getting married, we never tell them not to. But we should. We could save a lot of lives that way (and lose a lot of friends). We never ask them why in the hell they’re marrying the toothless lumberjack they met at Middleton Sports Bowl; we never let it slip that perhaps they can do better than the obese schoolteacher whose hobbies include paint-by-number and video golf. We don’t say anything because it’s not the person that they’re marrying that we’re celebrating. It’s the institution itself. And that’s the problem. Marriage is considered a social good. Even if the people getting (or staying) married don’t love each other or stopped loving each other three decades ago.

American culture is overflowing with matrimonialism in every form of media. Think of the bridal magazines, the New York Times Sunday wedding pages and that apex of matrimonialism: eHarmony, whose website touts: “On average, 542 people get married every day in the United States because of eHarmony; that accounts for nearly 5% of new U.S. marriages.” Side note: I’m guessing that eHarmony accounts for an even higher percentage of divorces.

To clarify, marriage isn’t inherently bad. It’s our uncritical celebration of marriage as a category that’s a problem. While our cultural contract allows us (and in some cases even requires us) to criticize and question the single about their lack of a partner, we can’t ask similar questions to marrieds. Turn the usual questions on their heads and you’ll see what I mean. There’s nothing unacceptable about asking a single person why she’s not in a relationship.  But if a woman tells you that she’s been married for 25 years, you’re not allowed to interrogate her. You’re supposed to effusively congratulate her. You can’t ask her: “Why have you spent the last quarter-century with that man?” or “Do you ever wish that you’d never gotten married?” Continue reading

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Halloween Genital Candy Spectacular

Pictured is my sexual-candy smorgasbord.

Capitalistic societies have their problems. They’re rife with income inequality, workers rights are routinely ignored, and the jobs worth doing are the ones that pay the least. But there’s something beautiful about capitalism: money motivates people to create the most bizarre and amazingly unnecessary products. The prospect of making money fuels the imagination. And our imagination is fueled by our most basic instincts (drives for sex and food). That’s why we see so many sexual sales pitches for hamburgers, chocolate, and Italian subs. (All of which my students showed me during their presentation on sexualized advertising.They know me well).

But there’s another, less remarked upon way to incorporate the themes of sex and food and that’s by creating food that’s shaped like sexual and excretory organs. Although sexual sales pitches for food have a better track record than food shaped like sex organs—which is why Hershey’s calls their candies Kisses and not Tits—genital-shaped candies do exist. So, in the spirit of Halloween, I’m surveying the genital candy universe. I’m even testing some of it out. Although no major candy company produces sex-organ-shaped candies, the fact that they exist and are purchased in large enough quantities to justify being mass manufactured, shows that they have earned a place in the dank basement of consumer culture.

Why do genitals spur this particular type of creativity? It’s because they’re so frequently eaten. Think of the verbs we use to describe oral sex. They’re very similar to the verbs we use to describe eating candy: suck, blow, lick, eat, devour.  So it feels like a natural fit. Continue reading

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Do Sex Toys Infantilize Women?

I Rub My Duckie Kitty

Is this a sex toy or a children’s toy?

Sex toy. The very name implies a childish device, something that doesn’t take sexuality seriously. While in theory this is fine, in practice the toy-ness of the devices sometimes ends up flowing through the design in a way that implies that female sexuality is infantile and frivolous.

It’s not that I want all sex toys to be realistic looking. In fact, one of the appealing things about sex toys is that they represent the cleaning up of the genitals. They’re not marred tangly pubic hair, pendulous droopy testicles, or uneven textures. But it’s worth examining why we have so many cloyingly designed genital stimulators. There is something decidedly un-erotic about many of the female sex toys on the market. It’s as if sex toy companies were focus-group testing  themes on elementary school-aged girls. Why else would we have sex toys in the shape of seahorses, kitty cats, butterflies, roses, and cupcakes?

Take the Big Teaze Toys’ I Rub My Duckie, which is, as its name implies, a rubber duck-shaped vibrator (pictured above in the Furry Hoodie Kitty version). More akin to a Polly Pocket doll than to a dildo, the I Rub My Duckie comes in a variety of personalities, including Bondage Fashionista, Sweetheart, and Pirate. Most of these come with matching removable accessories, including a feather boa for the Paris and Sweetheart ducks and a fuzzy hat for the Furry Hoodie Kitty, unfortunate accessories for devices that routinely get slathered in female sexual juices. (In all fairness, the boas and hats are removable.) With its Swarovski crystals and hard plastic exterior, the design of the I Rub My Duckie has very little to do with sexual pleasure, and everything to do with play. It’s all toy and no sex. Continue reading

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The History of Sex Toy Humor

The Delighter

Sketch of “The Delighter.” (Circa 1920s) From the National Museum of American History Archives Center Business Americana Collection

For as long as sex toys have been around, we’ve been laughing at them. But why we think they’re funny is difficult to explain. If you asked a group of people to explain why they laugh at dildos, you’d be met with blank stares. (Or you’d be forcibly removed from your family reunion. Don’t ask).

In an attempt to understand the mechanics behind sex-toy humor, I recently read Gershon Legman’s Rationale of the Dirty Joke. In the book, Legman argues that one of the functions of humor is that it allows us to discuss taboo subjects in polite society. We can joke about sex in venues where we can’t talk seriously about it because the humor “absorbs and controls… by means of laughter, the great anxiety that both teller and listener feel in connection with certain culturally determined themes.” Following this logic, we joke about sex toys because it’s the only way that our society allows us to discuss them without facing societal repercussions.

One of the earliest records of dildo humor  is from the Greek poet Herodas, who was writing in the 3rd Century BC.  In a bawdy sketch titled Mime , a woman (Metro) is asking her friend (Koritto) where she bought her dildo. Koritto responds to Metro’s question with a rhapsodic description of her sex toys: When I saw them, my eyes swam at the sight—men don’t have such firm pricks! Not only that, but its smoothness is sleep, and its straps are like wool, not leather. As is typical of much dildo comedy throughout history, the humor is related to men’s fears of penile inadequacy, a fear that given a choice, women would prefer the smooth, perpetually hard dildo to the flawed and fallible penises of their partners. Continue reading

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Why Aren’t Women Bragging About The Size of Their Clitorises?

My Clitoris; Mike Litoris

Image from startedafire.blogspot.com

With all the vagina power rhetoric being bandied about, you’d think that women would be taking pride in their large clitorises. But the opposite is happening. Women in the U.S. are actually shrinking the size of their clitorises via barbaric practices like clitoral reduction surgery. And although the majority of large-clitorised women aren’t resorting to surgery, they also aren’t bragging about the impressive size of their lady penises.

Women usually get genital cosmetic surgery–which in addition to clitoral reduction, includes labiaplasty, hymen restoration, clitoral hood removal, and g-spot enhancement–for the same reason they get breast enlargements: they think that a change in their physical appearance will improve their emotional state. However, according to Virginia Braun’s 2010 article  about female genital cosmetic surgery in the Journal of Women’s Health, “Despite some surgeon claims of drastic transformations of psychological, emotional, and sexual life associated with the surgery, little reliable evidence of such effects exists.”

You need only to turn to the websites of the doctors who perform the procedure to determine that clitoral reduction surgery is all about reducing the shame that large-clitorised women feel. Here’s plastic surgeon Dr. Gary Alter’s explanation for why women bestowed with big clitorises should get them reduced:

“These women are usually very embarrassed, both in and out of clothing and when sexually aroused.” Continue reading

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Ask the Dildographer

While guiltily not working on my dissertation on Labor Day, I decided to traipse down to the bookstore and pick up a few sex advice books and magazines, a few of which contained sex toy history in them. So I ended up technically working on Labor Day, after all, which calmed my bat-shit crazy mind. Some of what I found in these books was enlightening (I learned a new fellatio technique, for example), some was disheartening (no, author of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, your boyfriend or husband isn’t gay if he enjoys being pegged. He’s straighter than Mitt Romney on a ski slope.), and some was essential basic anatomy that I never learned (ie. where the frenulum is).

But what these books made me realize is that people crave very basic information about sexuality and that this information is in short supply (the entire sex advice section would’ve fit on my coffee table).  The recent popularity of 50 Shades of Grey demonstrates that when the market for sex advice literature isn’t satisfied, readers will simply transform their smut into sex-advice manuals. The only problem with employing 50 Shades as a sex manual it is that it encourages the use of dangerous hardware-bought sex toys like zip ties and ropes. I don’t fault E.L. James because she didn’t intend for 50 Shades to be used as an instruction manual. But now that women are using it that way, it’s important that they apply the central message of the story to their lives–that people in love can and should have taboo-busting rough sex and not just make vanilla love to each other while pumpkin-scented candles flicker in the background–without reenacting the sex scenes using the possibly dangerous tools mentioned in the story.

I figured that I’m as good a person as any to offer this type of sex-toy advice, so I’ve decided to start a recurring Ask the Dildographer feature. Ask me anything sex-related (not just sex-toy related), no matter how bizarre or taboo you think that it is. Chances are that I’ve either tried it, thought about trying it, or read about someone who has tried it. All question-writers will remain anonymous. Send all your emails to askthedildographer@gmail.com Continue reading

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Let’s Give Female Masturbation a New Name

I love masturbating T-shirtJack off. Choke the chicken. Beat the meat. Spank the monkey. The rich vocabulary to describe male masturbation is directly related to our acceptance and even celebration of it. Women’s masturbation is less accepted, so the terminology used to describe it suffers as a result. If you asked a random person on the street to name euphemisms for female masturbation, they’d probably fail to name even one. I’ve read that Jill off is a female-specific term, but I’ve never actually heard anybody use it.  Since I spend a large portion of my life writing and speaking about female masturbation, I am routinely frustrated by the dearth of terms to describe it. (As you’ll note from this paragraph, I’ve always resorted to using the cumbersome phrase female masturbation).

Before we investigate alternative terms for female masturbation, it’s instructive to delve into masturbate itself. Masturbate most likely derives from the Latin manus (hand) and stupare (to defile), according to the OED. Its origins reveal that it once was a pejorative term, as many terms for masturbation are today. Etymology aside, masturbate is simply too cumbersome and unwieldy to form the basis of the go-to term for female self-pleasuring. Masturbate doesn’t so much as roll off the tongue as it does tumble in a cascade of inelegant syllables.

Not surprisingly, the Ancient Greeks had a few terms for female masturbation, one of which was clitorize, according to Rod L. Evans’ Sex-i-con Evans says that clitorize derives from the Greek kleitoris, whose etymology is uncertain but the OED says that it may derive from a Greek word meaning to shut. First-century Greek physician Rufus of Ephesus defined clitorize as “the lascivious touching” of the clitoris. In Latin there was maritate, meaning “to manipulate one’s vulva by hand; of females, to masturbate.”  It was derived from “maritus (husband), with the suggestion that one’s hand is acting as a husband,” according to Evans. Although I love the idea of having a hand husband, but I can’t imagine myself employing the word maritate in my daily life. Continue reading

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What is a Sex Toy?

Wahl 2-speed all-body massager

Is this a sex toy or a therapeutic massager? How do we make this distinction?

It seems ridiculous to ask this question, nearly a year into writing my blog and my dissertation. But it’s an important one because what is and is not a sex toy is not readily apparent. Sure, you could confidently state that the devices sold on a sex-toy site like Good Vibrations, are in fact instruments that are designed to stimulate the genitals. But not all sex toys are sold in sex toy stores. Nor are all massagers that are marketed to “relieve pain and fatigue,” actually used for back massage.

So how do we judge whether something is a sex toy or a therapeutic device? Do we accept a company’s marketing claims at face value? Or do we factor in how the consumer actually uses the device?  Take the Wahl Two-Speed All Body Massager  for example. Wahl makes vague claims that the massager: “Increases circulation,” “Relieves aches and muscle pain,” and works well for “facial” and “deep tissue” massage. But nothing indicates that the massager provides women with incredible orgasms. You have to look to Amazon.com’s product reviews to find that information:

“Best. Thing. Ever. No clue how it does at massaging sore muscles, but as a vibrator it’s definitely in my top 3. Most of the time the low setting is perfect, but for an extra little something there’s a way to hold it so you can flip it to high right before you have a orgasm [sic] and I have to say it’s better than anything else I’ve experienced. A definite must for anyone.”- Anonymous

Not all of the reviews are like this, of course. But enough of the reviews are like this that there should be no doubt in any consumer’s mind that the Wahl provides an amazing clitoral massage. Continue reading

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How We Should Write About Sex

If only more academics followed Stacia Kane’s advice.
Image from staciakane.com

Most sex writing is terrible. Most scholarly sex writing is even worse. It’s a problem that stems from the unimaginative academic universe, a world that indoctrinates grad students out of creative prose, that Scientologizes away all sense of originality so that all papers sound as if they could have been written by the same chunky, black glasses-wearing, latte-sipping, theorist-name-dropping late 20s humanities Ph.D.  Academic writing is the antithesis of sexy. It’s dry and clinical, jargon-filled and plodding.  Reading it is like decoding a text whose message, when revealed, is frequently not worth the effort. Even if it is worth the effort, it’s still a frustrating endeavor. Writing about sex needs to be wet and messy and passionate and dirty. Academics have even managed to sanitize the word body, to jargonize it, to make it the opposite of what the body is, a flatulent, oozing, prickly thing that brings us sloppy, messy joy.

Sex writing needs to evolve away from a clinical, Kinseyian style. Since he was writing in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Kinsey’s clinical style made sense. It was appropriate. It was a way to give sex studies legitimacy. But we’re over a half a century beyond that. Even though the sex-studies stigma still exists, that doesn’t mean that we have to be overly scientific to the point of impenetrability in response. Stigmas about sexuality will always exist. Scholars shouldn’t respond to criticism by making their work innocuous and boring. Instead, they should fight critics with provocative prose full of stimulating ideas. Here’s a 3-step plan to improve academic sex writing.

First, academics need to stop pretending that they don’t have sex. Why is there an insistence that to be an intellectual means that you have risen above the corporeal? In the words of Us Weekly: Academics are just like us! They watch porn, masturbate, and have sex just like the rest of the rabble. They don’t copulate while wearing a monocle and a top hat. They don’t bring test tubes and statistical software to their assignations. They fuck. But for some reason intellectuals like to write about sex as if it’s something that happens to other people. Continue reading

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