• Indi Brummelen

A book club, but make it sex toys

*note: names have been changed

Like Luke Skywalker wielding his trusty lightsaber, I can count on feeling empowered when I hear (and feel) the welcoming buzz of my vibrator powering on. But despite how much I enjoy the blood-pumping adrenaline that comes with it, I didn’t always feel the same liberation that revolves around sex toys as I do now.

Like many women, I initially felt shame in even entertaining buying a sex toy. I used to sink into myself whenever I saw one of those late-night telly advertisements in which women prance around in their lingerie, waving around rabbit-eared vibrators. Hell, I still cringe when a raunchy sex scene comes on while I’m in the same room as my parents. The idea that vibrators and alike were taboo, was a hump (pardon the pun) that I needed to get over.

Enter Abbie Chatfield: the former Bachelor and I’m a Celebrity star was my foray into sex toys, with her ever-present sex positivity on social media giving me the push I needed to take control of my self-pleasure. She praised the Vush Empress - or “Sucky Sucky”, as she lovingly calls it after its oral sex simulations - claiming it allows her multiple orgasms daily. (She has since released her own g-spot vibrator in collaboration with Vush, which sold out in a matter of days).

So, after weeks of umm-ing and ahh-ing I hit add to cart, but the shame was still prevalent enough that I had it delivered to my boyfriend’s house, because God forbid my family see it and start asking questions.

For three days I waited in anticipation of its arrival and before long I was knee-deep in nerves: Was I going to decrease my clitoral sensitivity from over-stimulation? Was sex ever going to feel the same again without using a vibrator to get off? Where should I hide it - sock drawer or bedside table?

I put Vush’s best-selling clitoral vacuum stimulator to the test as soon as I smuggled it into my room like it was contraband. I started at level one, which was a dull setting that did nothing for me. The same could be said for level two, three, four and five. I didn’t find my satisfaction until I pumped my new Empress up to the highest level - eight - and that’s when I truly saw stars.

It felt amazing. I felt in control. Whatever stress was weighing me down melted away and I finally felt like I could let go. If only men came installed with the same buttons as a sex toy, in which case “slow down, faster now, right there” would easily translate into punching up the speed two notches and setting the vibrations to a throbbing pattern.

I’m deemed to be the most sexually “adventurous” out of my friends, for the sole reason that I’m the only one within my friendship group to have had sex, so by default and for experimental purposes, I was the first to purchase a vibrator. After trialling it (again and again and again), I sent the link to my girlfriends in a group chat alongside a glowing review, and very slowly, our friendship group built up our own arsenal of sex toys, and in turn, a greater appreciation and sense of importance for sexual wellness.

Understandably, some were more hesitant than others; my high school best friend *Hannah cringed at the thought of buying a sex toy, let alone having one delivered to her house and run the risk of somebody discovering it. Her face turned as pink as the brand new vibrator that I handed her one evening, because now she had no choice but to give it a whirl.

“I just orgasmed so hard, I farted,” a message from Hannah pinged, not even two hours after it landed in her possession. I wish I could tell you I'm joking, but it just proves that when I say sex toys allow you to let go, they really allow you to let go.

More rave reviews quickly came rolling in from my friends and soon it felt like we’d started our own erotic book club, but instead of novels and wine, it was all g-spot stimulators and lube.

With social distancing in place and countless couples separated by harsh border lockdowns in 2020, touch-starved individuals turned to sex toys, many for the first time, to get their fix. In a survey from sexual wellness brand Lovehoney, new data shows that 50 per cent of Aussies became more sexually adventurous during lockdown, with 30 per cent of those buying sex toys during the lockdown period.

Their resident Sex and Relationship Expert, Chantelle Otten said that while overall sexual activity had fallen, "it [was] positive to see that Aussies [were] looking after their sexual wellness during [lockdown]".

But while it's all good and well that we're embracing sex toys now more than ever (Global Industry Analysts cites that the global sex toy market was estimated at AUD$31.6 billion at the height of the pandemic), there is still an inherent stigma that roadblocks women from feeling totally comfortable in talking about, and engaging in, self-pleasure. In an interview with BeautyCrew, Chatfield didn't hesitate to blame stigma surrounding women's self-pleasure on the patriarchy, stating that men are "scared" that women won't be as dependant on them if sex toys give women "more power in their lives".

“Also liberated women are ‘scary’ women to men who are small men. It’s also just the preconceived idea that sex is dirty and it’s not,” she said.

I wish I could say that introducing vibrators to my friends instantly eradicated all shame and embarrassment when it comes to the subject of masturbation and sexual wellness, but it hasn't. While we're comfortable talking about orgasms and vibrators and oral sex (oh my!) within our inner circle, my friends still turn white at the thought of anybody else hearing about what does (and doesn't) happen behind our closed doors.

I'm sure you can imagine their reaction to me writing this article for everyone to see.

For too long sex toys have been seen as tacky or promiscuous, and still remain the butt of many jokes. So, while consent is on the table to be taught in schools, maybe sliding in a lesson or two about sexual wellness could do everyone a world of good.