Do men use sex toys?
In this week's sex positivity column Anouszka answers questions about sex toys and hymens - do you have anything you want her to answer?
I have a fairly new boyfriend and we were talking about what we’re into sexually, and he talked about sex toys as if I should know all about them. Should I know all about them? I didn’t really realise men use them, but I just glossed over it because I didn’t want to look stupid!
I absolutely get the desire to protect yourself so you don’t look like a complete and utter idiot. There’s a strange myth that people, men especially, are just supposed to know about sex. No questions asked. I have all the info I need in my head – and penis – already thank you so much.
Admitting ignorance about a particular sex thing doesn’t make you any less good at the (no doubt mind-blowing) stuff you do know. It isn’t a weakness, and it doesn’t make you look stupid. It makes you curious. It’s an exciting opportunity to explore and learn more than you already do.
So no, you shouldn’t necessarily know about sex toys. Mainstream conversations about women using them are definitely louder than those about the pleasure they can bring men. Cut yourself some slack.
Strap in and I’ll give you a quick crash course.
I suspect a cheap and seedy fleshlight is what many men see when they hear ‘male sex toy’, but there are brands that are seriously investing, and invested, in your pleasure. Lawyer turned sex toy maker Brian Sloan points out that ‘innovative men’s products tend to be high tech and take years of development.’ When it comes to sex toys for penises, it can pay to pay a bit more for that expertise. Sloan’s Autoblow A.I. uses artificial intelligence to replicate the real life movements that occur during blowjobs.
TENGA’s Flip Zero EV is not dissimilar. Rumbling vibrations are sent up and down, in and out, and round about the penis via what I can only describe as a masturbatory obstacle course inside the electronic sleeve.
If you want something that’s more conducive to partnered sex, you can’t go wrong with a classic cock ring. They range from simple stretchy bands, to ball-encompassing constructions with a million and one vibrating bells and whistles.
Let’s not forget though that humans do have other body parts besides the penis. I’ve waxed lyrical about the joys of the prostate and the perineum before, and they have their own treasure trove of toys too.
A prostate massager with a curved shaft for simultaneous internal and external stimulation will lead to explosive orgasms. Play around with vibrating butt plugs and beads, and don’t underestimate the power of a simple bullet vibrator around the perineum and anus. Just please, please, make sure that anything you intend to use for anal has a flared base so it has no chance of disappearing inside you forever.
Are you au fait with nipple play? Your boyfriend could well have been talking about sex aids like nipple clamps, spanking paddles, or hand cuffs, which all explore surrender and control. You might not necessarily think of things like feathers or scarves as toys, but playing with different materials with different weights, textures, or temperatures can be an incredible full sensory experience.
The great thing about toys is that you can incorporate them into your sex life however you feel most comfortable. Now that your boyfriend – clearly quite the aficionado – has communicated his love of them to you, he could show you which ones he likes most. You can use them on him to enhance his experience (my favourite sex toy! My man using it on me! Mind is about to explode! Etc etc), or he might be wanting to give you that pleasure. Alternatively you could try some on your own first, and indeed never necessarily use them together. Of course, like any other sex act, they might just not be your bag, and that’s fine too!
I was with my girlfriend and a load of her girl mates and one of them made some off the cuff comment about how ridiculous it is that people still think the hymen needs to break before you can have sex. Does it not?! I always thought that was why girls often bleed when they first have sex because it hadn’t been broken by a tampon or something like that before? Didn’t want to say anything at the time because she seemed so annoyed about it that I didn’t want her to have a go at me!
Aha, another member of the smile and nod brigade. The above spiel about embracing being inquisitive applies to you too my friend. But again, I appreciate that sitting in your confused silence and vowing to Google and/or slide into my DMs later is often more socially comfortable than speaking up in the moment.
Your girlfriend’s mate is right. But I’m actually super impressed by her knowledge because it’s not what we’re being taught in biology lessons or in cultural stories.
The hymen, so we’re told, is a membrane covering the entire vaginal opening. A chastity seal, if you will. Bleeding when it breaks is used as proof of virginity. Throughout history bed sheets have been checked by invested parties the morning after a marriage. Blood confirms that the hymen has been pierced for the first time. To this day belief in this narrative costs women all over the world their ‘honour’, and sometimes their lives.
Plot twist. The hymen isn’t the piece of cling film stretched across the vagina that you imagine. It’s more like a doughnut, or a hair scrunchie – folds of mucus membrane that encircle the vaginal opening like a ring. Much like every other part of a human body, there’s no ‘normal’ hymen. Some are smooth, others might be wrinkled or look more like a fringe. Some have a clear hole in the middle, others might have strands stretched across from one side to the other.
None of these characteristics are a mark of sexual activity. The hymen is just a hangover from our embryonic existence and has no real purpose. Kind of like male nipples.
When something enters the vagina – a tampon, fingers, a penis, a toy – the membrane stretches along with the rest of the vaginal canal. The vagina is a pretty cool muscle like that. The likelihood of bleeding depends on how elastic this ring of membrane is. For many women it’s more than elastic enough for everything to go down (up?) without a hitch, but like any other part of the body it can bleed if irritated or torn.
Basically – shock horror – we’re all different. Some people with vaginas will bleed a bit sometimes. Others won’t. But most importantly – and I will say this again for the people at the back – the hymen is not an indicator of sexual activity. It’s not something that needs to be ‘broken’ or kept ‘intact’.
What are you confused, curious, or concerned about? Ask me a question in the comments below or on my Instagram page, and I’ll do my best to answer in my next column!
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