Thursday, April 19, 2007

Peter: "We don't need vibrators; we need lovers"

I love it when readers post comments here, or write me emails with their thoughts. Sometimes what they tell me is so provocative that I ask their permission to excerpt their email here, as I've done here. Peter, who attracted big reactions from his previous email about women not on HRT not wanting sex, has written this time out of concern that women are reaching for their vibrators instead of seeking out a lover. He writes:

I have noticed a trend that leaves me feeling a little sad, and yes, this is a criticism. The last response to what I wrote was advice from someone about a vibrator. I know the recipient was in her seventies and was a good target for that sort of advice, but it followed a pattern. I've felt a little unsettled at the preponderance of this.

I'd like to think we are all enlightened enough to not feel shame at admitting we get ourselves off more than we get off on someone else. So do we really need another tool to do this? I'm no square by any means, but I think porn is sad. And is that vibrator you recommend really the perfect lover?

We don't need vibrators; we need lovers. The problem is not orgasm; the problem is a loving connection. We are all social beings. We all suffer from the torture of social isolation, even those with spouses.

We need to break down the barriers that keep us from each other.

I need to clarify something -- much as I love and recommend sex toys for enhancing arousal, particularly when declining hormones make orgasm more difficult, I have never called a vibrator a "perfect lover"! I don't call it a lover at all. I would never trade the intimacy of a lover's touch for any amount of electric buzzing!

But realize this, also -- many women my age -- especially in more sexually conservative geographical areas -- don't know that sex-toy-assisted stimulation might bring back the response that they can't recapture on their own, with or without a lover. That's a separate issue from what you're saying, Peter, but I think it's important to include it.

Do we need ardent, sensitive lovers more than sex toys? Oh yes. Do we all have ardent, sensitive lovers? From what my readers tell me, unfortunately, no.

When I read comments and emails from both women and men who wish for a loving partner, I wish I could hold a mixer of my single readers!

2 comments:

  1. Readers of other sexual persuasions will have to forgive my hetero female slant in this comment.

    "I have noticed a trend that leaves me feeling a little sad, and yes, this is a criticism. The last response to what I wrote was advice from someone about a vibrator. I know the recipient was in her seventies and was a good target for that sort of advice, but it followed a pattern. I've felt a little unsettled at the preponderance of this."

    My advice was actually about sex toys in general, not just vibrators. What I was suggesting was first of all that sex for one is still sex. No one who can self pleasure can say they don’t have a sex life, they do. Also self pleasuring is a good way to get back into dating if that’s what one wants. A person who is already experiencing sexual pleasure has an easier time finding a partner. For one thing sexual pleasure and orgasms make a person more attractive. Also this removes some of the pressure in a new relationship; the new partner isn't put in the position of having to make up for all the goodies that have been missing for maybe a long time.

    I know women in their 70’s who are still very attractive. Do you mean that someone is her 70’s is a good target for my advice because she may not be attractive anymore? Or that 70 somethings simply might not know about sex toys? Do you assume that a 70 something person won’t have dating opportunities?


    "I'd like to think we are all enlightened enough to not feel shame at admitting we get ourselves off more than we get off on someone else. So do we really need another tool to do this? I'm no square by any means, but I think porn is sad. And is that vibrator you recommend really the perfect lover?"

    I for one have no shame in saying that I pleasure myself often and enjoy it lots. Sometimes I use vibrators, sometimes other devices, and sometimes I just do it the old fashioned way with my hands. I also enjoy erotica -- a term like better than “porn.”. I view sex with myself not as a poor substitute for “real sex” but rather as part of a healthy sex life.

    Even of I had all the partner sex I wanted, I would still self pleasure. I delight in the variety of erotic experiences that keep unfolding for me, with lovers, with myself. One is not necessarily better than the other, they’re just different. It’s not an either/or thing. They’re not mutually exclusive. Both are good.

    Humans have been using tools for about a million years. What is wrong with using a tool for self pleasuring? I checked out the eroscillator website and it looks like that baby rocks, but I wouldn’t confuse it with the perfect lover, or any lover.


    "We don't need vibrators; we need lovers. The problem is not orgasm; the problem is a loving connection. We are all social beings. We all suffer from the torture of social isolation, even those with spouses."

    Well speaking about some people I know, they don’t need either vibrators or lovers. Some people aren’t at all interested in sex and that’s fine, it’s their choice. These folks may have other kinds of loving connections in their lives.

    For those who are into sex, most would generally prefer to have sex with a lover, and one problem is indeed orgasm. Because to be frank, lots of men are pretty clueless about what constitutes good orgasmic sex for women. (Please note that I’m not necessarily including Peter in that group.) Some women are even clueless about this. I think in general women have worked a lot harder on learning how to pleasure men than men have worked to learn how to pleasure women. (Readers please not that I live in Alabama not California.) What we need to do is get past our shame in admitting that we ALL have more to learn. Human sexual potential is, I suspect, more vast than any of us realize.

    Does the fact that I’m so into playing with my toys mean that I don’t enjoy being with my lovers, that when I don’t have a lover I don’t look for one? Certainly not. But are good lovers who are interested in me with whom I have chemistry all around me in abundance? No they’re not. Like many women, many people period, I sometimes wait a long time between sexual encounters, and sometimes wait for a long time to find a good lover. Thank goodness for the sex toys and self pleasuring. Thank goodness for my healthy attitude about them.

    A while back I was actually involved in a flirtation with a guy who got me oh so hot, and we never got together for what turned out to be good reasons, but I had a great time letting the intense chemistry take me to new heights of ecstasy, learning more about my sexual self in the process. He’s my friend now and I’ll always cherish him for this.

    Certainly humans have problems making and keeping loving connections, especially sexual ones. This is exacerbated by modern life, but human sexuality has always been -- and probably will continue to be -- one of our most difficult challenges regardless of age, sexual orientation, or gender.

    Speaking personally I don’t suffer from social isolation, I "suffer" from having at present not one but two men in my life who for various reasons don’t have sex with me as often as I would like. The loving connections are there, enough sexual energy and time on their part is not. My guys are both older, and I’m nuts about them, so I’m patient. My being so okay with self pleasuring helps us all.

    What has been missing from my life is a woman friend my own age who is also experiencing a sexual awakening, someone to talk to about this. But recently I’ve begun a friendship with a lady I’ve known for a while who is in a similar place, and we’ve been having a great time comparing notes and encouraging each other.

    If my friend and I were hanging out and talking face to face with Peter, and he told us we didn’t need vibrators but instead needed lovers, we’d get really pissed at him. We might be tempted to think that he fits the “pattern” of men who are jealous of women’s sex toys. We might be tempted to verbally whoop his ass, being the feisty southern girls we are. The sometimes painful fact is that both of us want a lover who is there for us much more often, and neither of us has that. Not for lack of looking and trying while we instead while away the hours with our vibrators. And the anger we would feel about Peter’s attitude would for sure be a barrier to one of us maybe getting more interested in him.


    "We need to break down the barriers that keep us from each other."

    Yes we do. I would like to hear more details from Peter and other men. What are these barriers? What do we do instead of letting them be there?

    We’re not going to stop insisting that we as women be treated as people too. We would really appreciate it if some people would stop putting us into simplistic categories and insisting that we all follow typical patterns and instead treat us as the individuals we are. We’re not giving up our sex toys either, even if guys would do something else we’d appreciate: continue learning to be better lovers. These things men will have to learn to live with, just as we have learned to live with things we can’t change about men. But I think it would be most productive to have more dialogue about this.

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  2. I really want to emphasize that I’m not dissing and dismissing men by saying that lots of men could learn to be better at sex. For one thing this is often also true of women. To me there’s a lot to sex and always more to learn. (And isn’t learning new things supposed to help keep our older minds in good working order?)

    A big part of Joan's message is that for older women sex is about lots more than just intercourse and playing with pussy. I think that could be true for women at any age. Sometimes there’s nothing like lying on the sofa with your lover, just touching and kissing. Letting the chemistry flow. (anyone remember high school?) I agree with Joan that two hours of sex doesn’t need to be an athletic marathon, although that too can be fun in the right circumstances.

    I also ask readers to please keep in mind that I’m writing from a state about to enact a law making it illegal to sell “anatomically correct” sex toys. (The appeals have all been turned down.) Lots of women here are outraged at this.

    If a man we didn’t know walked up to my friend and I and told us “we don’t need vibrators we need lovers” we would be hearing this kinda southern macho thing which really pushes our buttons what with the sex toy law and all. Like “hey you girls don’t need sex toys, you need a good man.” In a perverse way this is also what the legislature is telling us, well that and they don’t approve of pleasure for its own sake. I don’t think that’s exactly the message intended by the post, but maybe readers will understand why I responded as I did.

    My much younger friends, who have a lot of stuff figured out already for being in their 20’s, would simply say that there isn’t a conflict between one kind of sex and another. They can coexist.

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