Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Models of Sex.

When I was sixteen, my boyfriend Kevin brought me a vibrator.  (His mom had bought it, which... awwwwkward, but it was her well-intentioned effort to keep me from getting pregnant by her son. It didn't stop us having intercourse, but I didn't get pregnant so it all worked out in the end.)  The first time he used it, it was mind-blowing.  I'd never used a vibrator before, it happened to be an exceptionally powerful "back massager," and it was a goddamn revelation in sensation.  I came hard, immediately, and repeatedly.  I screamed and writhed and clutched his arm.

For about a minute.  Then he stopped.  He didn't look aroused.  He looked concerned.

"That was amazing!  Do it again!" I said, very happily.

"No," he said.  "I don't want to do any more of that."

Well okay then, that's certainly his decision to make.  We put the vibrator away and had a bunch of non-mechanically-assisted sex, which went fine.  When Kevin was about to leave for the night, I asked him to leave the vibrator behind, and he refused.  He told me he was going to throw it out.  I asked him, in roughly the tone of voice of a puppy that's just been told it can't go to Disneyland, why.

"I'm afraid it can pleasure you better than I can," he said.  So I couldn't have it.

Because I was sixteen, and meek, and naive, and did not have much power in the relationship, I said "oh okay," and then I burbled out a lot of nonsense about of course you pleasure me most of anything in the whole entire world, baby.  But even at sixteen and naive, I knew this was some bullshit.

What interests me now, at twenty-six (and still a bit meek but definitely not naive), is not that it was bullshit.  Telling me I'm not allowed to masturbate in certain ways because I might enjoy it more than The Mighty Penis is clear and obvious bullshit, now.  What interests me is why my boyfriend bought into that bullshit.

I believe it comes down to models.  There are many different ways to model sex, many answers to the questions "So, what exactly is sex? What is it for?"  I believe that once you know someone's answers to those questions, you can understand why their sexual choices make sense to them.

In the economic model, sex is a consumable good, produced by women and sold to men.  (And, in the nastiest implications of the model, sex can be "stolen" without losing value.)  In Thomas Macaulay Millar's performance model of sex, sex is like a cooperative musical performance, ephemeral and existing only in the moment of cooperation between performers.

I've seen people talk about sex in a maintenance model, in which sex is a task a women has to perform fairly regularly to keep her man contented in the relationship.  There's also an achievement model, in which the goal is to do the "naughtiest" or "sexiest" thing, regardless of whether you really like it or not--Cosmo espouses this a lot, and porn tends to encourage it.  And, famously, there's the competition model of sex, in which women are the mile-markers in a race men run against each other.

Or sex can be modeled as a cooperative sport, with the participants acting as teammates encouraging and challenging each other.  There's a communication model of sex, in which sex acts are a way for partners to express and strengthen their feelings for each other.  Personally, I tend toward almost a utilitarian model of sex, in which the goal is to work together to attain the greatest net pleasure.

Kevin's problem, I think, was that he had internalized a shitty macho-culture model of sex.  Going beyond "it's wrong to tell your girlfriend not to use a vibrator," why would it even make sense to tell your girlfriend not to use a vibrator?  In a utilitarian model of sex, it makes no sense--I gain fabulous pleasure, he experiences no harm to his body or his autonomy--this obviously ought to be a win-win, or at least a win-neutral, situation.

But in a competition model of sex, I was making him come in second place to a piece of plastic.  If he believed sex was about showing off his prowess, it was an embarrassment that his prowess couldn't compare to a machine--and it was as cruel and unfair as making a runner race against a motorcycle.

Because I believed that my pleasure was my pleasure, I thought the vibrator was harmless fun.  Because he believed that my pleasure was his measure as a man, he thought the vibrator would make him the loser in a race I didn't even know he was running.  It's no wonder he took it away.  He wasn't pointlessly depriving me of pleasure.  He was depriving me of pleasure because, in his model, he had to.

If I have a Grand Unified Theory Of Everything, it's this: I believe that people always do things that make sense to them.  Hard as it is to believe with all the hurting out there, almost nobody hurts others just to be a jerk.  So if you want to change human behavior on a grand scale, you can't tell people "stop being a jerk."  You have to dissect and then recreate their models of the world until being a jerk doesn't make sense.

[So here's the deal, scheduling-wise.  I'm going to try and have a post up every Tuesday night.  (Last week didn't go so well because Comcast accidentally cut off my cable for most of the week.)  Cosmocking is "extra", not one of the Tuesday posts, and I'll do other "extra" posts as time/inspiration allow.

Also, I just got this month's Cosmo, so that's coming up sometime this week, whee!]


  1. Also, insecurity. Who could be more insecure than an 18 year old guy?

    1. A 23-year-old guy. Yeahhhh.

      But "insecurity" doesn't explain, on its own, why having me not use a vibrator made him feel more secure. In another model, a guy might have insisted I use it, so he felt secure that I was sexually satisfied.

    2. Insecurity in his ability to pleasure me drove an ex to use a vibrator as a surrogate for all other sexual contact because it was a sure thing.

    3. If you can get off better with the vibrator, what is keeping you with him? (I was 18 once)

      I will admit, before Ironwoman goes away on a business trip, I feel more secure if I get to magic wand her before she goes. The difference between 18 year old me and 47 year old me is that I can manage my insecurities now on my own without involving others.

    4. "If you can get off better with the vibrator, what is keeping you with him?"

      I obviously can't say what was going on in MlleScarlet's relationship, but perhaps there were other, non-sexual aspects of the relationship that were good and made her want to stay? If that wasn't true in that relationship specifically, I'm sure it applies to some other relationships where the people are having similar issues with the use of vibrators.

    5. If you can get off better with the vibrator, what is keeping you with him? (I was 18 once)

      Wow, is this depressing. I didn't marry my husband for his dick. Relationships often involve more than sex. Jesus.

      And I say this as a semi-asexual guy.


    6. "The difference between 18 year old me and 47 year old me is that I can manage my insecurities now on my own without involving others."

      ...How the FUCK is occasionally indulging yourself with a vibrator "insecurity?"

      And you're 47? I was more mature about sex as an 18-year-old virgin than "why have a boyfriend if you own a vibrator?" I feel pretty down now.

    7. Laura, I read Ironman as saying that THINKING something along the lines of "I gotta give my woman The Ultimate Sexual Pleasure or else she's gonna leave me" is an insecurity thing that he nowadays keeps to himself, because he realises it's actually irrational.

    8. That's what I read him as saying, too.

    9. "If you can get off better with the vibrator, what is keeping you with him?"

      This should read "If you can get off better with the vibrator, what is keeping you having sex with him?"

      People are framing responses as "sex is not the only thing in a relationship", but for a lot of guys it's still important and from his point of view his side of the utilitarian pleasure system could be completely wiped out by the vibrator.

    10. If there's literally nothing that he can do for her that a vibrator can't, I wouldn't be surprised if she stopped having sex with him. However, most of us do enjoy fucking our partners on their own merits, regardless of what specific tasks particular devices might be good at.

    11. I'm puzzled by all this, too. It seems obvious to me (and maybe it's not, and it's just that this is how I'd have seen it at his age) that Kevin's rationale went like this:

      A: I want to have sex with my girlfriend as often and as well as I can. I want her to enjoy it partly because I like to give her pleasure, but also because I like to share that pleasure and I enjoy the pleasure she gives me when we have sex. With me so far?

      B: I like things that make my girlfriend want to have sex with me.

      C: My girlfriend enjoys this vibrator so much that she will probably want to have sex more, which is good, but if she decides that she prefers to use it on her own over having sex with me, then I don't benefit from her increased libido.

      D: Therefore, I don't like the vibrator.

      Now, there are a lot of problems with this, but it surprises me that so many people profess not even to understand that the concern exists. Take the whole question of whether his premises make sense out of the equation and simply ask yourself what Kevin was probably asking himself: If your lover would rather masturbate than have sex with you, is that good or bad from your perspective? If you desire your lover, how can that be anything but bad?

    12. Something Ironman's question brought up in my brain:

      Does anyone else find that their partner using a vibrator on them feels better than them using a vibrator on themself?

    13. ^Anon: HELL yeah.

      Sometimes, my body is being wonky and I know I won't orgasm unless I do it myself. Other times, I want a quick easy orgasm for tension relief (or I want to fantasize about someone who's not my partner, possibly while watching porn...) and thus would rather masturbate than have partnered sexytimes.

      At all other times, I prefer my partner to give me my orgasms. It's waaaaaaaaay more intense that way, whether it's with a toy or hands or tongue or whatever.

  2. Another model I've seen that might account for Kevin's reaction is the one wherein everyone has a fixed amount of libido, and therefore any sexual gratification you got on your own reduced the potential available with him.

    This seems to be the model behind the "no fap" movement; by avoiding masturbation, they feel they are more able to focus on their partners, if they have them, or sublimate their sex drive toward more productive endeavors.

    Personally, I think this is nonsense; while going without will make me feel more desperate, having sex doesn't reduce my sex drive (refractory periods notwithstanding), and desperation and horniness are pretty easy to distinguish.

    1. Not so with everyone. While I don't begrudge my husband for fapping daily, and in fact am gleeful that he does because it makes him happy, I quit masturbating almost a year ago. And I don't regret that decision at all. In fact, I feel WAY better about myself in that area.

    2. Interestingly, for some of us, it can actually be the opposite. In many cases, the more sex I have, the more sex I want. Might have something to do with hormones (I believe that having sex can increase testosterone levels, which in both men and women contributes to sex drive), or just that a recent memory of enjoyable sex will have you thinking about sex and feeling inclined to wanna do it again! again!, or who knows, some other factors/combination of factors.

      In my case, this is most noticeable with pleasurable partnered sex, but masturbation, too, tends to increase rather than decrease my sex drive. And conversely, a dry spell during which I don't masturbate (due to stress, lack of downtime, whatever) tends to decrease my libido, to the point where I've had to intentionally decide that, dammit, tonight I masturbate, just to get things started up again (and also to reap its manifold benefits, like better mood, stress reduction, etc.).

      So fixed amount of libido that can "run out" because someone "wastes" their sex energy on a vibrator is utterly untrue for at least some people.

    3. Neurite: That's been my experience as well.

      KP: I don't doubt that works for you and a lot of other people, but I'm skeptical of claims I've seen that its benefits are due to masturbation using up one's sex drive.

    4. And with the limited-libido premise, not using the vibrator starts to make sense in a utilitarian model.

    5. Yes, but people are all different. When I have sex with my wife, I want it again immediately (which isn't going to happen) and she wants sleep. The next day, my attitude is "That was so great, why would anyone not do it again today?"
      Hers is "That was so great that we're done with it for awhile. Maybe next time if it's boring we'll try again right away, but not when it's good."

  3. I also find it interesting that he saw the vibrator as a participant in the equation at all. People generally think of the tools they're using as an extension of themselves (it makes perfect sense to say "Bill cooked dinner last night", even though hopefully no part of Bill's body came into contact during the process). So why did he parse it as "This vibrator is giving my partner pleasure" instead of "I am giving my partner pleasure (using this vibrator)"?

    1. Because even though it was him using the vibrator that time, anyone else could have used it and got the same result. In his view he wasn't an active participant, like Bill cooking dinner. He was a passive vibrator-holder. Not particularly smart of him, of course: using a vibrator on a partner can be pretty creative. But like Cliff said in the article, it made sense in Kevin's model of the world.

    2. ...and even if the vibrator isn't used all that creatively, or if the hypothetical "anyone else" was as creative in their use, it still matters that it was he holding the vibrator. Presumably, the presence of a partner whom we love/have the hots for is a major factor in the enjoyment of any sex we are having with them, whatever method ends up being used to actually do the getting off (hands, tongue, dick, vibrator, etc.). So no, "anyone else" would not get the same results, because we wouldn't be as into "anyone else".

      But you are right, the "if you are getting off using a vibrator, then I am clearly superfluous" attitude is tragically widespread. My ex would get downright frustrated because some of his other partners were fond of bringing vibrators to bed with them and using them while having sex with him, because he felt that meant he might as well just leave, because they apparently would be just as happy alone. I eventually told him "did you ever consider that the fact that you are there, naked and making out with them, is what gets them so turned on they want to use the vibrator in the first place?"

    3. There's a difference between cooking rice in a skillet and using the rice cooker. (Today, in "When Analogies Fail", tune in to see...)

      Then again, a touch of dill makes the rice in the rice cooker get a pleasantly herb'd taste, clearly superior to non-herb'd rice, perhaps in much the same way that mutual masturbation with sexy makeouts is better than both people masturbating alone in separate rooms.

    4. Neurite: Some people honestly don't see sex as being between people. They see it as being between their genitals and the other person's genitals.

      So, if your genitals aren't involved, then she's somehow not getting off to you at all, even if she's screaming your name while she does it.

      I still don't understand how this idea is sustainable, myself.

    5. Well, even if he was indirectly having sex with the girl, that's what it was: indirectly. He wasn't getting pleasure out of it himself, at least physically. The worry about not getting any when the vibrator's doing the work seems reasonable to me, if it's a young man without that much knowledge about having sex increasing, not decreasing libido.

    6. Anonymous: Ah, I should have specified that they were using the vibrator during intercourse (PIV or anal) or while giving a blowjob... so not getting pleasure himself wasn't the problem. It was really more of an ego issue of feeling superfluous.

      Laura: Yep, though this may have to be expanded to "between their body parts and other people's body parts", because many of those same people will still feel plenty involved if it's mouths, or even hands, doing the job. It's when an non-body-part tool such as a vibrator gets added to the equation that they feel they are somehow no longer involved. Which is comprehensible on some level - it really is a categorical difference, in that the vibrator would still be the same vibrator if someone else held it, while someone else's hand/tongue/dick is not the same as their hand/tongue/dick. Except that, as I said, the same vibrator will mean something else if held by someone else - so while there is a bit of a new category involved, in that new category the partner is still not superfluous/replaceable.

    7. It's kind of weird, because it's not even like they'd have to break out of the achievement mindset altogether to accept the vibrator. Traditional masculinity involves a lot of love of tools and technology, and a lot of pride in having the best tools and using them most effectively. It wouldn't seem unusual for a traditionally-masculine guy to take pride in both the quality of his grill and his skill at grilling. Or the quality of his car and his skill at driving. Or the quality of his camera and his skill at photography. I can think of hundreds of similar examples. And yet, even though the vibrator is a tool that can be used with varying degrees of skill to make sex better, it's seen as a whole different category. (Not that it would be fun to have guys running around all "I am the master of using a vibrator on my partner, which makes me King of Sex and better than all other lovers!", but it would at least be logically consistent.)

    8. Just to be fair to Kevin, Cliff wrote: "I asked him to leave the vibrator behind"

      I think it's not hard to see where he got the idea that his presence and vibe using skills weren't totally essential for Cliff's enjoyment.

      Kevin's fear was that "I am giving Cliff pleasure (using this vibrator)" and "Cliff gives herself pleasure (using this vibrator)" yield the same net pleasure for Cliff.
      If you add in the limited libido fallancy it becomes a win-lose situation even in a utilitarian model.

    9. Neurite: That's one reason why I feel that the definition of sex as genital-genital is an unsustainable one. But it certainly does exist, because there are also people (even adult people!) who don't view oral, anal, frottage, or manual sex as being "real," because a penis is not inside a lower orifice.

  4. Luckily my boyfriend is full of awesome and follows the cooperative model. He doesn't care if I use toys for solo action, or if we bring them out when we're together.

  5. I remember when, in one of our early encounters way before we got married, my husband watched me with my rabbit-style vibe and said, mournfully, "men are obsolete." Despite you know, I'd had the vibe for years and yet was still there seeking him out, noo, somehow it made sense in his head that the vibe would replace him/men in general. Which is that kind of dim view of relationships - if they aren't the most sexually satisfying for whatever reason, moreso than anything else, there must not be any reason to be around that person at all.
    Luckily! He got over it, numerous examples of the vibe can be added, or not, to sexy times, and besides we do other stuff together (like.. eat food, or watch bad movies) and notice how I don't think you're obsolete? Still, that attitude is pervasive.

  6. i can understand this! i have been in the same place. at 19 my boyfriend did not want me to use my vibrator in front of him or during intercourse (i am extremely sensitive. don't like fingers on my clitoris because it hurts). at that point i could come from extensive, focused oral sex (think upwards of an hour) or from....dun dun....a vibrator. i wanted to come with him. but because he thought "you shouldn't need that if it feels good" i did not come during hetero intercourse (or with something besides a tongue or my own hands) until i was 23, with another person. good job pal. four for you. it's not about need, it's about wanting to have the most fun fucking i possibly can. why wouldn't anyone want that?

    YESSSS! *victory dance*
    I've been really upset about the lack of posting recently because this blog is incredible and it's actually helped me form some very good, important expectations and realities about sex (you don't even want to know what they were like before), and I'd miss it so.
    So, moving on, I don't really have too much to add, as I don't have too much experience with sex and relationships yet. But I completely agree with the post, so...yeah, that comment was mostly to express joy at your regular posting schedule. After you've gone through the archive five times, it loses its charm.

  8. This is a great post.

    It's funny that all of your sex models can also apply as relationship models to how people view relationships in general.

  9. I have an incredibly low libido, so my partner almost cries if I use a vibe solo, because he feels it detracts from our already very sporadic sexual interactions.

    1. Anonymous, that's interesting. My wife's libido is low, and I was thinking last week that it would be interesting to see whether masturbating on her own would increase it. I tend to think it would, but I don't know if that would have made sense to me at 16.
      At my age, I think one of the biggest differences in our libidos is frequency and amount of time I spend thinking about sex vs. the time she spends. There are a lot of factors behind that, obviously.

      I knew a woman once whose husband wouldn't touch her, but masturbated--and took ED medication to make that possible. She knew there were complex reasons why he would choose masturbation over sex with her, but it still broke her heart.

  10. Great post, and you raise some very valid issues; as do most of the comments so far.

    But I would like to chime in from another angle, too. Have you ever seen the look on the face of women when you tell them that a Fleshlight might feel more pleasurable than the "real thing"? That you get more pleasure from a handjob? That you'd like to use Mr Hitachi too, thank you very much? Sex isn't real unless you've cum inside her. Or, sometimes worse admittedly, the looks of other men when you mention that: "Man, you're wrong, nothing is as great as the mighty penis in the vagina!"

    While I'd be the last person to say that that can't be loads and hours of fun and bliss, the narrative we're caught in applies to all of us.

    There's also the point that people get way more creative designing sex toys for women then for men. Sex toys for men are not as appreciated and mostly considered "joke items" or poor substitutes. Women can buy a high quality vibrator with their head held up high - what look does the man earn who buys the equivalent? The best we can hope for is making good use of the toys build for women, too. While we are at the point were a higher and higher percentage of men will approve of/encourage the use of sex toys like Mr Hitachi, when was the last time that you heard of a woman saying "Take out that sexy toy and make yourself cum, honey" to her guy? Yes, I know it happens - but the percentage is even lower.

    Culture and society still has a long way to go.

    1. I've tried to use a vibrator on boyfriends (on the penis; I'm not going to go all SURPRISE BUTTSEX on anybody). They never reacted well.

      Yet somehow, each of us thinks it's cool to use hands and mouths. I'm not sure what the difference is, frankly. Pleasuring your partner is pleasuring your partner.

    2. Although I'd be fine with it my boyfriend is completely against the idea of using a fleshlight or anything similar. I think this is at least partly because of the stigma against sex toys designed for men you mention. Of course the name doesn't exactly help - 'fleshlight' does sound pretty gross and ridiculous.

    3. There isn't quite the shortage of sex toys for men that you imagine. Gay men have been enjoying toys for a really long time. The problem is a lot of straight men seem to get the idea that sex toys for men should be replacement vaginas like the fleshlight and ignore all the myriad of other toys out there.

    4. I'm a straight guy and I've never known that there are other types of sex toys for guys. Could you tell me what kind of other options are out there?

    5. I think Sheryl is talking about dildos and buttplugs--which straight men may like and gay men may not like, btw, anal play is not an orientation thing.

      And not liking anal play is not necessarily narrow-mindedness; it just doesn't feel good to some people.

    6. In addition to Cliff's remarks: even if you enjoy anal play (like I do), an anal toy isn't necessarily a substitute for a toy which stimulates the penis (Fleshlight, Tenga, and other "replacement vaginas").

      Nearly anything my GF and I do in bed can be enhanced by my trusty prostate vibrator, but when I want to masturbate I reach for the Fleshlight.

      Because I need stimulation of the head of my penis to orgasm. So I'm (also) interested in toys which stimulate my glans.

    7. Great point, Jay. I will admit that your scenario of "a Fleshlight feels more pleasurable to me than PIV with you" made me flinch for a second. So yup, women have plenty of stuff to unlearn also. (It's also interesting to me how tied to the partner's gender this may be, rather than our own gender - my current partner has female plumbing, and the idea that she may sometimes need Mr. Hitachi to get there never fazed me at all. Maybe it's the myth that "women are complicated" vs. "men are simple and easy to get off, so if I can't do it the straightforward traditional way, there must be something wrong with me"?)

      In my defense, when I dated a guy who had erectile issues (especially with condoms involved), and couldn't get off unless he pulled out at some point and finished himself with his hand, it never fazed me either. He was sorta inexperienced, had some insecurities to work through, and condoms can make things tricky for many guys anyways, so this struck me as a totally understandable thing and in no way a comment on me. (Plus, watching him finish himself off was kinda hot!) However, his reaction (complete amazement that I was okay with this and in fact encouraged him to masturbate, and taking a rather long time to trust my words and become comfortable with doing it) kinda made the point that this is, indeed, still rare, and that men get plenty static for how they can/prefer to/want to get off, too.

      And 100% agree that we need to destigmatize sex toys for guys, especially straight guys! If it's any consolation, the fact that women buying sex toys is more and more considered empowering and not cause for ridicule/disdain is quite new also, and a sign of recent massive change, so hopefully change in how this regarded for men is not far behind! Hopefully soon, a man buying a fleshlight will get no more raised eyebrows than a woman buying a vibrator. Sex toys for everyone!

    8. Out of curiosity, how does a fleshlight compare to using lube while masturbating? Seems to me I've heard of a couple of guys who'd never thought to use lube and were blown away (ahem) at how much better it felt. I suspect others think it's nice but not necessary, and some might prefer to do without for greater friction.

    9. Irene: Well, it's a totally different feeling. A fleshlight feels like total envelopment with a soft substance and manual masturbation feels like a hand on the dick.

      Or do you mean a "better/worse" comparison? Using a fleshlight and *nice* manual masturbation (lube, fingertips on the glans, massage of the frenulum) are different sensations, but for me about equally enjoyable.

      Both are lightyears ahead of "grabbing the shaft and jerking violently back and forth", but then again in my book a nice cup of hot cocoa is better than that...

    10. Both are lightyears ahead of "grabbing the shaft and jerking violently back and forth", but then again in my book a nice cup of hot cocoa is better than that...

      From what I've seen both men and women often have a frenzied "manual override NOW" mode that's quite different from regular masturbation. I can see how some people might get stuck in that mode (lack of private time, guilt, etc.) at an early age. Or it might seem as though that's what you ought to do when you're Really Excited, which might or might not actually be the case.

    11. A Fleshlight seems to me to be a much more straightforward substitute for another person than a vibrator is. I can think of nothing it can do that a partner can't except be available at all times, whereas vibrators vibrate and I don't. So I can see reacting to a partner using one with a modicum more consternation than reacting to a partner using a vibrator.

      And while I can think of ways a Fleshlight/Tenga/etc can be incorporated into partnered sex, I've never heard of anyone doing so, even in fiction.

      Have you ever seen the look on the face of women when you tell them that a Fleshlight might feel more pleasurable than the "real thing"? That you get more pleasure from a handjob? That you'd like to use Mr Hitachi too, thank you very much?

      How sex-positive are these women? Because the vibrator thing doesn't get a negative response from everyone whose partner has a vagina ::raises hand:: It stands to reason that different women would feel different ways about toys in any context.

    12. On a purely mechanical note, I have never found any pleasure from anything that vibrates a penis. It just doesn't do anything for me. If you've tried to use a vibrator on a man's penis and he didn't "react well," it may be that it wasn't pleasurable for him. If it had been, he might have reacted differently.

      Or he might not . . . it took my wife a long time to accept some kinds of stimulation that she liked, but thought she shouldn't.

    13. I bought Mr. ShifterCat a masturbation sleeve (not a Fleshlight; he specifically wanted to be able to add pressure using his hand) and encouraged him to use it. One reason was that I know varying one's technique is generally a good idea, but also I want him to have pleasure even when I'm not involved.

      I also got him some other toys to use, some of which vibrate.

      But then, I worked in a couple of sex shops...

    14. Can`t say anything about Fleshlight, but my Tenga Flip Air is my new best friend. Partnered sex is nice but I can only see my lover once a week at the best of times.

  11. I love this post! I love it so much I am going to be incredibly dull and talk about economics! Feel free to skip.

    I really like your "people do what makes sense to them" theory. I am an economist (Boo! Hiss!) and that is basically the premise to neoclassical economics (if you're interested I recommend looking up the Theory of Revealed Preference). Neoclassical economics has flaws, but as a methodology it has some useful insights too.

    As an economist who loves my subject, and who is actually researching relationships and households, the stuff that gets written about the "economic model" makes me really frustrated, because I think it adds to the idea that economics is only interested in people being selfish and fixated with money/wealth/getting-what-they can-and-let-everything-else-go-hang. There's also loads of great stuff looking at how people care about other people (either in general or about specific individuals) and what happens when people get together and try to produce something great together. All of your relationship models make sense within an economic context - using economic in its true sense, concerning how people make decisions and allocate resources (not just physical resources, but also effort and time, etc).

    Anyway, yes totally love this post (as per usual, your writing is amazing). Also I agree with Halfful that this translates fairly neatly to relationships in general.

    1. This! I'm an economist too, currently focused on behavioral economics and microeconomics ofcrime...and I am always bothered when the awful sex=commodity model is called economic model of sex cause it suggests that it is admitted by all economists when it is in fact quite marginal...but I didn't know how tophrase it without seemingto disagree with Cliff'spoint. It's an interesting post!

  12. I've come across the idea of different models of sex before when trying to talk to my housemates about how we approach our respective relationships. We concluded that my approach is something of a 'hobby' model - sex is something that I do in my free time with other enthusiasts. It involves developing particular skillsets, and trying to get better at things for the joy of improving - and these skillsets range from communication skills to knotwork. I'll read books and chat to other people about my hobby, and I tend to assume that everyone else who does it is also there because they enjoy it.

  13. I really enjoyed reading this entry. Thanks for taking the time to write it out and to share your thoughts.

  14. Huh. I'd never heard of the performance model of sex before, but I kinda like the sound of it! (I hate the name though. It makes it seem like there has to be an audience, somewhere, even though I'm not getting that at all from the actual description of the theory.) I feel like starting a fanlisting.

  15. if there's one thing I get frustrated with when I'm pleasuring myself it's the husband trying to get his hands into the mix as if to lay some sort of claim to my orgasm. He's insecure with the idea that I can get off without him involved.

    1. If he's not involved, why is he there, or why do you want him there? Why should he want to be there?

    2. I'll take a stab at this, Anon:

      If he's not involved, why is he there

      Sometimes a person wants to get off by themselves, even though they have a partner. (Do the people in your world seriously never masturbate when they're in a relationship? 'Cause that's not how it works for most people I know). And if one is cohabiting and one's living space is tiny, one can get caught in the act.

      why do you want him there?

      Sometimes, for whatever reason, you're having sexytimes with your partner and you just know that their ministrations aren't gonna "get you there" that day and you'll have to do it yourself - albeit with your naked partner there to cheerlead and inspire (my partner and I have both done cheerleading duty for each other).

      Why should he want to be there?

      So, if you and your partner were in the middle of amazing steamy sex and they murmured "Oh god this is so hot...I want you so much...let me just slip my hand down here because it's the only way I'll get off" you'd get up and storm out? Wow.

      K., I had a similar thing happen once...not with "getting his hands into the mix" (my partner knows he can't get me off on his own), but he happened across me having a quick wank to some porn and instead of passing on through the room or maybe lying on my other side and caressing me, he got in front of me and did an ostentatious strip-tease that dragged my attention away from the computer screen.

      Possibly he was just trying to help, but I got the distinct feeling that he was, as you so perfectly phrased it, "laying a claim to my orgasm." He's not usually the insecure type and has always encouraged me to watch porn if I want to, but I think seeing me do it gave him a little flare of jealousy.

    3. perversecowgirl,

      "... you're having sexytimes with your partner ..."
      "... if you and your partner were in the middle of amazing steamy sex ..."

      But in both of these scenarios "Now get your hands off me! My precious, my orgasm, is mine and mine alone!" would be... strange, wouldn't it?

      Because the way I see it if I'm having "sexytimes with my partner" or "amazing steamy sex," my partner has *something* to do with my orgasm, even if I also touch myself to push myself 'over the brink.'

    4. But in both of these scenarios "Now get your hands off me! My precious, my orgasm, is mine and mine alone!" would be... strange, wouldn't it?

      Sure, but when did anyone say that's what happened?

      I don't get all gollum about my orgasms, but if I told my partner "I'm not gonna be able to get there today unless I do it myself" and he then tried to take over at the last minute anyway (throwing me off and frustrating me in the process), seemingly because he just couldn't stand the idea of me being able to stimulate my own clitoris, I'd be annoyed. And I have slept with more than one guy who was like that, so that's the scenario I pictured when I read K's story.

      Of course, I can't know if I'm right unless K comes back and fills in more context. But I'd venture a guess that being insecure and wanting to GIVE ALL THE ORGASMS is a more common trait than your weird gollum thing, so I'm betting I have it more-or-less correct.

    5. "Sure, but when did anyone say that's what happened?"

      Um, "K" did, on September 12, 2012 5:46 PM, right here in this comment thread. I read that clearly as K pleasuring herself, with her husband in the room, but specifically NOT involved. So the question "why is he even there?" or better "why is SHE even there?" is totally justified. Sure, people masturbate even in a relationship. I certainly do. But when I get off by myself, I get off BY MYSELF. As in "in private". Not in front of my partner, and certainly not with expectations that my partner better keeps her hands off me.

    6. No point typing out another post when I can just re-quote my first one:

      Sometimes a person wants to get off by themselves, even though they have a partner...And if one is cohabiting and one's living space is tiny, one can get caught in the act.
      (Emphasis mine)

      It's not a complicated concept, I promise. I really don't get why everyone wants to jump through hoops to make K sound weird and unreasonable.

    7. May I step in with a third contentious point of view?

      You're BOTH jumping to your conclusions. One of you is working from the assumption that the husband and wife are in the same room, and then the wife begins to masturbate, but she doesn't want the husband to be involved at all. This makes no sense, it's true, unless they're playing some kind of "you'd better not, or I'll" game. And there's a hint that it might be what's going on, but no more evidence than that.

      The other is working from the assumption that the commenter is a reasonable person, so of course she didn't do the scenario above, but she was masturbating within arm's reach of her husband and yet telling him to keep his hands off, so . . . it was probably an accidental encounter where he "caught" her with her pants down, so to speak.

      Either of you *could* be right . . . or both . . . or neither. Neither of you have enough information to know with any certainty.

      Fair enough?

    8. Lots of people just don't particularly mind if their partner masturbates when they're going to sleep. To them it's about as weird as reading for a bit. That's what I pictured.

    9. I really don't get why everyone wants to jump through hoops to make K sound weird and unreasonable.

      Actually I think you and K are jumping though hoops to make your partners sound weird and unreasonable.

      If my partner stumbled upon me masturbating and involved herself, even if it would throw me off and would therefore not be welcome, I would still think that her motivation was to help me out and/or that she likes to do sexual acts with me.
      Because that fits with my general observations that my girlfriend likes me and thinks I'm hot.

      I would not jump to the conclusion that it's a nefarious ploy to "lay claim" on one of my orgasms, because that would presume a weird adversarial model of sex where "lay a claim on your orgasm" is even a meaningful construct.

    10. Uh, I've had my current sexual partner get himself off multiple times while I whispered in his ear. It's hot, actually, and there's no reason it can't be the other way around (not my thing, personally: I don't masturbate in front of people) for anyone who's into that.

  16. Fantastic post. My ex-husband was "in charge" of my dildo, and I actually lost it in the divorce. Okay, so we didn't have paperwork drawn up to say that he got custody, but I never knew where he kept it and I never found it after he moved out.

    Our sex life was pretty stressful, all the way around. You know, which is why he's the ex.

    1. Well, at least he kept control of you that way, so now he . . . um . . . oops. Maybe he'll handle that differently next time.

  17. The only way I can get my bf off is via intercourse. Handjobs and blowjobs don't work - he needs a level of stimulation and stamina that I (and all his previous partners, btw) have not been able to provide.

    I would love it if there was a toy that got him off! And I'd take credit for the toygasms because hey, if I'm holding the handle or whatever, that's me giving the pleasure. The toy is only a tool. My bf feels the same way when it comes to using toys on me.

    Sadly, my vibrators don't feel good to him. So I guess I'm stuck. But at least there are lots of toy-assisted orgasms for me.

    1. Would a Fleshlight or similar toy not work for your partner?

  18. Just to add my thanks for this great post. It was great finding out about the performance model, although I also dislike the name. For me masturbation is a separate thing, in the same way that eating a solitary chocolate bar is a different pleasure from making dinner to share with family and friends. Vibrators fit with masturbation for me, so it feels odd to bring them into partnered sex.

  19. I really appreciate the 'performance model' not only because I've always assumed that sex is a work of art produced co-operatively (and involves a lot of acting given I like dom-sub relationships) but also because it reminds me of a line of Wood Allen's from SLEEPER:

    SHE: Would you like to perform sex with me?
    ALLEN: What?
    SHE: Would you like to perform sex with me?
    ALLEN: Well, I don't feel up to a performance right now but I could use a little rehearsal!

    And at my age (58) anything I can use to increase her pleasure that doesn't require me to come is a plus. I only have so much sexual energy and I try to finish with my climax at the end of her having a lot of them.

    I never was a great sexual athlete, even in my teens. God bless the man who invented the vibrator (whoever he was)! I'd put him up for sainthood if I were Pope.

    I do agree about the awfulness of sex toys for men to penetrate, having tried a couple when I was having lonely times. They feel nothing like the real thing and are often quite uncomfortable to use. More research is needed!

  20. Doing what makes sense to them isn't the whole picture, you need to mix in people doing what they are familiar with - even when they hate it or it very much doesn't make sense. Doing something new can create overwhelming anxiety for a lot of people.

  21. Let me first say that I totally agree that Kevin's taking the vibrator away was a dick move and also creepily controlling. No argument here.

    But what I notice, both in the OP and in the comments, is a general attitude of "Why in the world would men react all butthurt when I orgasm faster and harder to a vibrator than to anything he could do with his body?", and the generally accepted answer to that seems to be "OMG PATRIARCHY".

    Not to go all "WHATABOUTTEHMENZ" here, but only a few commenters seem to even have considered that men, despite pressure from the prevalent culture, have actual, y'know, feelings. Feelings that are mostly dismissed with "GOD, why must they be so insecure?" Well, here's why:
    "I burbled out a lot of nonsense about of course you pleasure me most of anything in the whole entire world, baby. But even at sixteen and naive, I knew this was some bullshit."

    Like, why would anyone be hurt by being told that a battery-powered TOY gives their partner more sexual pleasure than they? How would you feel if your partner showed you that his fleshlight makes him orgasm faster and harder and better than you ever could?
    (If your answer is along the lines of "I would rejoice, for then we could skip the tiresome PIV and go straight for mutual toy sex", you didn't solve the problem; you only broke the analogy.)

    Disclaimer: Taking the vibrator away from a sixteen year-old (because she cannot just go and buy herself one of her own) is totally a case of OMG PATRIARCHY.

    1. "How would you feel if your partner showed you that his fleshlight makes him orgasm faster and harder and better than you ever could?"
      Speaking for myself? It'd sting. No doubt about that. But then (perhaps slowly and shakily) I'd learn to deal with it because I'd realise that our sexual relationship is (or should be) much more than him sticking his dick in me and coming as hard and fast as possible. I can't be replaced by a toy because I'm not a walking, talking fleshlight in the same way that a cis man is not a dildo on legs.*

      I know this topic hurts and can knock a person's self-esteem in a very real and powerful way. But personally speaking I will take those blows to my ego if it means that I can let go of some of the damaging sexual standards that, throughout my teens and early twenties, put me off seeking sex and companionship. Basically the idea that if I couldn't use my vagina alone to make a partner come rainbows and unicorns every.single.time then I was a failure made sex seem so stressful and (oddly) sort of isolating too.

      As much as it would be really seductive to be seen by a partner as /strictly/ the be all and the end all when it came to sex, it'd also put me on a pretty high, narrow and lonely pedestal. Sure I want to be valued, desired and the best lover I can be (!) and everyone has their deal-breakers when it comes to behaviour in intimate relationships. But if it gets to the point that I'm feeling deeply resentful and hurt if my partner finds sex toys (as well as my body) pleasurable then that turns me into the kind of person that a lover is afraid to approach and talk to honestly. It means I'm holding myself and them to an unfair, rigid and (yes!) patriarchal standard that hurts us both. And for what? A fleeting sense of superiority? The fantasy that my vagina was custom-made for all his sexing needs? IMO it's this standard that causes the bulk of this pain and confusion, not my partner liking toys. If he likes the battery powered toys too then this is just a fact and not something I think he should feel sorry for.

      I'm only beginning to question these assumptions and standards myself. It ain't easy and I'm not trying to dismiss the complex and varied feelings other individuals can go through in this situation. But you asked the question and well this is my perspective.

      (Thanks for writing this post Cliff btw! Love your blog.)

      *Wow, it actually felt... idk liberating to type that out.

    2. A vibrator does things I am literally incapable of doing, but I do things a vibrator is literally incapable of doing, so we're even. It's not a problem for me if the orgasms are better with the vibrator; it's a problem for me if she stops having sex with me.

      And sex is more than orgasms. And relationships can be more than sex.

      I don't see the collective condemnation of men in the post that you seem certain is there.

    3. To be fair to poor Kevin, he was a dumbass teenager at the moment that the snapshot in this post was taken. It's only a snapshot. We don't know how he changed over time, but we know that Cliff is not the same person she was back then. He surely changed, too, maybe dramatically for the better.

      It's a cliche, but I'd hate to be judged only by the many and varied moperies I committed as a teenager. Did you know mixing gasoline and dish soap really does make a fairly sticky napalm mixture? Did you know you can put out half a gallon of the stuff if it spills inside a garage?

    4. @Don, actually, Cliff mentioned somewhere that he was twenty-three. Creepy, if you ask me.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. @Anonymous,
      I second that. I tried writing something similar, but gave up. I'm glad somebody else wrote it better.
      Kudos to Cliff for both the sex models, but in particular, for shining a light on a rather interesting subject matter: mainly, male insecurity.
      Truth is, this is an area of the male psyche where they are in fact very vulnerable.
      I like the expression:
      "Womens' bodies are appreciated as ornaments, where mens' bodies are appreciated as instruments"
      (Try not to dissect that too heavily, I'm sure you could get offended by that if you tried)

      A teenaged boy, it's unanimously agreed, is the least well informed of any sexually active demographic on the needs of women. Also very important to mention, is that teenaged (and PLENTY of adult) males are incredibly insecure about their penises. It's not something that men get over easily, and it's incredibly easy to dismiss it as some "stupid male ego thing."
      @ Cliff:
      It's not at all the "almighty penis!!" It's the jealous, needy, insecure penis!! It's the "overly attached girlfriend" meme, manifest into a f**king body part.
      Women, the best way I can describe how it "feels" is like this: imagine every insecurity you've ever felt about anything, (yes, ALL of them) about looks, about personality, about social status, your laugh, your hair, your makeup.... about anything that might make youfeel shitty about yourself, were bundled into one place. And yes, an actual place on your body. Pick any spot. it doesn't matter.

      Now imagine when the time comes for that spot to shine, watching that one thing get eclipsed by a $19.88 purchase from f**king Wal-mart.

      Now, I want to point out that the purpose of this post is to give some emotional context. Because I too noticed that a lot of initial responses focussed on how "wrong" it is for the boyfriend to have done this, with little curiosity as to the "why" he did it.
      @many people and nobody in particular: please be mindful that you don't just shame people on emotional responses. Lord (almighty white, male god/jesus) knows that men in these forums are discouraged from shaming women on their emotional responses.

      Back @Cliff:
      That sucks that he took your vibe hun, it does. A more mature dude would have been cool with it probably, but a teenaged dude, like the one you described (teenaged, right?) will start to feel shitty that he has no tongue located on his penis.

    7. ***So I just learned that deleting a comment still means that you can see my former name "DJ" plastix. I am like. embarrassed...

    8. Wow, Plastix, that's fascinating. As a woman, I have no complicated feelings at all about my genitals. It's basically just like my toe or whatever. I certainly haven't been bombarded with messages since I was on the cusp of puberty that my vagina will only be good for fucking once, the very first time, and every subsequent time it will be substandard. Women never stress about having 'tight' vaginas. There's definitely no awful idea that a woman should compliment a man's sexual prowess by saying that his penis is so large that it physically hurts her when it's inside her vagina. I have never been exposed to the contradictory idea that I'm a failure if I can't easily push a child out of my vagina without painkillers, yet it should remain smaller than it was when I was a virgin. There's no such thing as vaginal tightening surgery and no women has ever had it! Women famously do not ever describe themselves or other women as being 'tight young things' and they never describe other women as being 'loose', and neither do men, because vaginas are neither important to women nor judged by men, ever.

      None of this matters when it comes to what sex toys my male partner is allowed to use! I'm allowed to feel disappointed, and I probably would, if I were told that the fleshlight gets him off better than I do. But I wouldn't expect him to pretend that it doesn't if it does, and I wouldn't ever stop him using it. Besides, pleasure from sex doesn't always come solely from the mechanical actions, so I'm not buying the whole 'I've been made redundant' thing. It's not the sex toys that are gendered, it's the reaction to your partner enjoying sex, and it's not because men and women feel differently about the sexual pleasure their bodies can give, not in this case.

      If men are vulnerable then it doesn't matter how vulnerable women are feeling about the same thing, women have to drop everything, including their own feelings, including their own sex toys, and tend to men? Yes, this is a bit 'what about the menz'.

    9. @ different Anon

      Whereupon my comments do you find it necessary to engage in a pissing contest between the genders?

      Reading through the comments responding to this blog post, I notice women either shame men for being so wrong, or attempt to empathize and don't quite get it.
      What I'm still hearing from you is you don't understand his reaction. Or, if you do, you immediately dismiss his reaction as 'wrong' based on a number of intellectualized paradigms.

      Emotions are NOT intellectual. They are the opposite of intellectual, in fact.

      So I tried to phrase it in a way which would simulate the experience. You'll never know what it is to be a man, or deal with that particular brand of insecurity. But if you employ some powers of empathy, maybe just maybe instead of seeing the "boyfriend" as "what an asshole" you could see: "oh, that's why that asshole did that."

      But the idea that because you have a wide array of other insecurities, that therefore the insecurities of males are no longer meaningful, well, frankly that's profoundly offensive, and needlessly dismissive.
      What brand of feminism legitimizes only the emotions of one gender?
      In your argument, you're contributing to a dichotomy where somebody needs to be right, and somebody needs to be wrong. It's like a pair of prisoners arguing who gets the top bunk of a cell, meanwhile it's completely possible for those prisoners to escape but for a small amount of cooperation.

      This particular post is 'about the menz' in that it deals literally with the male character in question. My attempt is to assist women in viewing him as a person, not a trope.

      So my point is this:
      To FEEL, is valid.
      You might not agree with the decisions that come about based on those feelings, you may think of those feelings as ill founded.

      But you can't change them. For one, because it refers to an anecdote which took place years ago, but also, because as I said, this is a particular part of the male condition which you will never have control over. You might as well understand it a little.

      If you'd rather throw up your dukes and say "fuck your plight! women have it worse," then, go for it. I don't know you, it's of no consequence to me.

    10. Feelings are not valid or invalid, they simply are. What Kevin did was not a feeling. I wouldn't even call it a decision. It was an action, an abusive action. That you, Plastix, seem determined to avoid saying that disturbs me.

      From what I can tell, you're arguing that insecure men be shown understanding and anything else is shaming them for their insecurities. That's not really true. I can understand what feelings Kevin might have felt that made taking the vibrator away seem like a good idea or even the only solution. I don't feel a shred of sympathy for him and it's not because women have it worse. I do not feel sympathy for him for two reasons. One, he was an adult acting out his insecurities on someone more vulnerable than himself. Two, he was not the one who would be hurt the most by his actions. I can see the argument that stewing in his own self destructive insecurities would be harmful but again, he's an adult and responsible for himself. He chose to let his insecurities do the talking. He chose to abuse her trust. That's a shameful thing.

      I apologize if I'm misreading you.

      -Anon with vaginismus who is really not amused by the "imagine all your insecurities in one bodypart" condescension

    11. @Anonymous
      *Sigh* from the top:

      What Kevin DID was seldom the topic of what I've been writing. In no way to I vouch for or condone his actions. What I explain is entirely the motivations for said actions.
      Just because I choose to try to explain his emotional place doesn't mean I'm arguing for the righteousness of his actions. Also, decision vs. action is splitting hairs; they're the same thing.

      We seem to see only the vulnerability and victimization of the author here. From that perspective I'm only seeing Kevin described as "antagonist," not "person who was vulnerable and hurt."
      You'll have to explain to me how his actions were abusive because I simply don't understand. He refrained from giving a gift. His abuse was choosing not to stimulate/enable the stimulation of a vagina. He didn't hit her, and he didn't verbally or mentally shame her. So, I'm not saying it wasn't abuse (I feel like I should underline that or something. I feel like everytime I say something people colour in between the lines and draw a scarecrow). I feel that merits explanation.

      Your second paragraph, is not my argument; so strictly speaking I agree with whatever it is you're arguing against; it's not me though. I refuse to subscribe to "ALL or NOTHING" lines of argument. I don't feel it's really necessary to gang up or pick teams for who's completely right or who's completely wrong. I don't see the utility in that.

      Your reasons for not feeling sympathy, baffle me. "He's an adult acting on his insecurities on somebody more vulnerable than himself,"
      That's a loaded assertion. Do you think he felt she was more vulnerable than himself? Because from my estimation, he felt overwhelmingly vulnerable.
      Secondly, he could easily have been the person hurt by his inactions. His inaction would have severely hurt his self-image. It probably would have hurt his feelings, and while this is subjective, I suspect it would have hurt his feelings more than the author who "just found out she didn't get to go to disneyland." Whether or not you recognize the legitimacy of this self image, seems to me the object of much debate. Such an image is why I wrote in such detail about this.

      You finish by again telling me he abused her, in this case her trust. Again. I know that he did wrong by her (I understand that much), but that word "abuse," he hurt her feelings. I get that. His feelings were also hurt. But his feelings are invisible behind the wrongness of his not giving that present he was supposed to give her. All I hear is "He's wrong." If a similar story were written with reversed gender roles, I really feel like women of this board would sympathize with the antagonist MUCH much more easily. And we have a word for that.

      Lastly, I apologize if you feel I've trivialized the issues women deal with with my "all in one bodypart" analogy. Such was not my intention, and if I wrote more rationally, not colloquially, the point would have been moreover to imagine the capacity for insecurity to be Absolute. Imagine an insecurity which couldn't possibly be greater. Women have enough insecurities, that I feel like that shouldn't be such a strange thing to imagine.
      Men have a hard time identifying with a lot of the feelings women go through. Feminist men are the types who endeavour to bridge that gap between genders. So whether or not you choose to see the reasoning behind his harmful decisions or not, is the decision whether or not you think such a thing should be mutual, or one way.
      I think it should go both ways is all.

    12. It's taking me a lot of effort to try to parse out what you're saying because there's a lot of contradiction. So this time I'm not sorry if I'm misreading you. You say you see where your choice of analogies could be considered dismissive in the same post you start off by sighing at me. I do not know how to interpret that. You say you're arguing against absolutes while using absolutes left and right. The ones that jump out at me are all men have penises, all men have penis insecurity, and all men have trouble understanding women's insecurities.

      This: " imagine every insecurity you've ever felt about anything, (yes, ALL of them) about looks, about personality, about social status, your laugh, your hair, your makeup.... about anything that might make youfeel shitty about yourself, were bundled into one place. And yes, an actual place on your body. Pick any spot. it doesn't matter."

      Is not at all the same thing as: "imagine the capacity for insecurity to be Absolute. Imagine an insecurity which couldn't possibly be greater."

      I thought the first one actually meant what it said when you doubled down on it after the previous anon rightly snarked it. I thought that if it had been hyperbole, you would have apologized for mistating your point in such an insulting way. Since I can't take it for granted that you understand what I'm talking about, let me clarify the difference. In the second, you are equating one of your inecurities with one of mine. In the first, you are telling me that all my insecurities add up to one of yours. The first belittles all of my insecurities by telling me that each is only a fraction of how you feel about your penis. Based on your words, I see you interpreting someone mocking that idea as saying that men's feelings don't matter. You seem to think I'm objecting because I see the first analogy as insensitive toward women who have medical things wrong with their bodies. That is not why I am offended. I am offended because your original claim implies that my worries about how many people see vaginal intercourse as the platonic ideal of couple sex and that if I do find someone I want to be with, they might see vaginal intercourse as a deal breaker and everything else that goes with that are all a fraction of not just your experience of penis insecurity but the experience of each and every man out there. There is no 'if' about this offending me. The way you treated the other woman who objected bothers me but I'm not going to speak for her.


    13. Most of the comments I've read here focused not so much on the male ego part but on the part where penis insecurity led guys to do things like not want to use vibrators in the bedroom or try to get involved in someone else's masturbation or in one case, taking away a vibrator in the divorce. Other comments include things that do not have to do with penis insecurity at all. I saw recommendations for toys. I saw a discussion on whether or not masturbation increases sex drive. I saw a couple discussions about relationship dynamics as they relate to how able he is to stimulate her the way she prefers and different definitions of sex. What I do not see is a multitude of comments saying that Kevin shouldn't be insecure about his manhood. I saw a couple like that and a few more on male insecurity in general but not that many. I'm not seeing what you're seeing so I'm not seeing why you think this is something that needs to be defended on this post. I agree that men have feelings and should not be shamed for that. I do not think an analysis of what Kevin might have been feeling should leave out that the actions he took were abusive.

      How were they abusive? To start with, he was a 23 year old having sex with a 16 year old. Given that you were just commenting on the content of the comments on this post, I'm sure you know that. Cliff said it in the first reply of the first thread. He was an adult having sex with someone who was not. He had lived more than third again as long as she had. He had years of being an adult to draw on for experience. He was probably having sex with a teenager instead of someone his own age because of insecurities, true. That does not make his decision to get romantically involved with a teenager a good one and it does not make his actions during that relationship acceptable. He was a predator. Most teenage pregnancies do not have a teenage father and the dynamic Cliff has described is why. Men that age who get involved with teenaged girls tend to do so because they are too insecure or too lazy to deal with women their own age. Teenaged girls easier to manipulate. Teenaged girls have less experience to draw on. Teenaged girls know less about what they like and want .

      From that dynamic, Kevin introduces her to a form of pleasure and takes it away. I argue that he gave her the gift when he used the vibrator on her. She got a chance to feel what it was like and to know that she wanted it. In my state, she was not old enough to go buy one for herself. He could go get another one when he wanted and she could not. He was the one who provided it and then he took it away. He didn't even take it away for his own use, he just took it away so she wouldn't have it. That's controlling behavior. It's an emotionally abusive action. After that happens, the younger one knows that she can only express her pleasure when he wants her to be pleased or she risks not experiencing it again. Since you like analogies: 'Imagine that I come over for dinner and I give you a cake. While we're eating dessert, you tell me it's the yummiest cake you've ever had. I get all quiet because I bought the cake instead of making it and I don't like the bar set that high. So I toss the rest of the cake. Now imagine that you have no way of getting your hands on that kind of cake for years.' That's more than just hurt feelings. That's emotional manipulation. Which is abusive.


    14. I don't know where you're getting the idea that people don't know what Kevin might have been feeling. His feelings are not invisible. Cliff spends at least a paragraph talking about them in the main post. He was an adult. By definition, he is not the vulnerable party. He may have had feelings of vulnerability but that is not the same thing as being in a position of relative vulnerability. They were not equals. That would not change if it were a woman preying on a boy.

      I understand the potential line of thought and emotion that could have led Kevin to act as he did. Cliff lays it out very clearly in the post itself. What I don't understand is why I should have any smpathy which is what you seem to be arguing for. He feels inadequate because a machine can give her a better orgasm than his penis, right? I don't see anyone confused on that point. As important as his feelings doubtlessly are to him, why should they be important to me? What's far more important to me is what he did. Saying that does not mean his motives are hidden from me. It's not that the wrongness is covering anything up, it's that the wrongness outweighs the other factors.

      Your repeated accusations of sexism feel like you're trying to score some kind of points. So women who've had men try to control their masturbation aren't sympathetic to men who try to control masturbation.... Is that really such a problem? Do you really think telling them that they can't control how he FEELS is going to change that? What should be mutual that isn't here? He's a person and entitled to his emotions. He's not entitled to never being criticized on his actions. At this point, you're being very unclear on what you hope to accomplish.

      -Unamused anon

    15. I don't really have anything to add to this conversation, except to say Unamused Anon with vaginismus, your response is really awesome. And I wish you had a blog, because I'd be curious to hear more about your thoughts and opinions on it.

      -Another Person With Vaginismus

    16. Anonymous, you're right about my lack of clarity, and upon rereading I will agree that in a handful of ways my words, such as the response to the other anon, were heavy-handed and callous. I would like to apologize to 'different anon,' as my response was expressed more crudely than I thought it was.

      Firstly, I sighed because in my follow-up to your answer, I felt the need to address all of the things you wrote. It's tiring to defend words you never said. You were inaccurately summarizing my argument. (post note, in responding to this I've probably spent 3 hours writing what was initially supposed to be "brief," I really, really hope this post is less contentious)

      I want to make it clear that I don't defend Kevin's actions, and I had also managed to overlook the brief comment in the beginning describing him unambiguously as 23. It was my impression he was a teenager.
      A large part of your post is describing the inherent wrongness of his dating a 16 year old. Age of consent in Canada is 16, so... in Canada, the idea is that Cliff made a legitimate decision to enter into a relationship with this man.
      I feel as though you're still kind of reaching, in the 'abusive' argument. Cliff would know if the man was manipulative or not; but two dots on a graph make a line, 3 or more make a trend. But we only have one dot. One incident. I feel like it's premature to draw from that impulsive action that it's abuse, or that he's abusive. It was mean, but no, your cake analogy still just sounds like the antagonist is being a dick, not actively causing harm; it assists me personally, in simply identifying with the "WTF? Why would you do that??" sentiment which is rather easy to identify with in the first place. The mental harm from being a control freak takes more than an isolated incident.
      I'm not trying to be dense here, I just don't see it. It's as though red flags are the same as indictments

      As for the contentious analogy I made, it was based from this. Women have many insecurities, about a great many things. Men, relative to women have few; but usually when they're young have one great insecurity. So for me to make that comparison, I didn't think that this should be mathematically dissected and inverted in such a way as to liken the insecurity of the penis as necessarily greater than anything you experience as a woman. I was trying to draw up a thought experiment whereby rather than feeling vulnerable about myriad things, imagine simply feeling an extraordinary vulnerability about basically just the one thing. (I know that's a gross simplification, but I'm trying to focus in on really just the one subject matter here. It's not an analogy which is intended as a model for how men view the world)
      Then, after the argument was surgically altered I changed it to "fuckit, just imagine the insecurity is as big as it can be"

      The part you describe offends you, is a convoluted sentence, and I'm not sure what you mean by "platonic ideal of couple sex." I can't respond to this in any meaningful capacity because I feel I'd misinterpret what you're saying.
      I'm trying to address all the things you've called me out on here, please excuse me if I miss any, I'm not trying to cherry pick things to discuss. You mention the many discussions around here, that I was wrong in my assertion that there was some kind of focal misandry going on. What I meant to express, even if I didn't succeed, are that descriptions about this isolated piece of the story, I find mostly contestable. And a few earlier ones by like LBT, and Laura outright shame the man or men in question for feeling a certain way, not EVEN for acting inappropriately.


    17. Lastly, if on accusations of sexism: or these "points" I'm apparently trying to score. Yes, because I'm trying to collect points and win a game!(?!)
      Simply put, my opinion is that if a similar story were gender-reversed, the response by feminists and other women would be infinitely more accommodating by virtue of the being able to draw upon their own experiences and motivations to justify actions they can identify with. Is it a problem that women aren't sympathetic to manipulative men? No. Is it a problem if women don't identify the motivations/legitimacy behind male feelings or the (poorly made) decisions associated with them? Yes. Absolutely it is.

      My attempt, however poorly executed was to draw out some kind of identifiable experience which would bridge the distance between the varying experiences in the genders of humanity.
      I think I made the analogy earlier of a pair of prisoners attempting to win the top bunk as opposed to collaborating to escape their imprisonment.
      It's my observation that women fail to grasp male emotion, just like men, (in my view) much more often don't grasp the nature of female emotions. Only in identifying these emotions when they come up, recognizing them and accepting where them such as they are, do we get to a place where we can approach a balance between the sexes.
      Perhaps if it were more easily identified, just as plainly as the initial responses said "well that doesn't make any fucking sense," what if it could have been immediately communicated to Kevin: "no, this doesn't threaten or affect my desire to be with you, or to experience you sexually. Now calm down, and fucking cuddle. By the way, this present fucking rules."

      Then everybody could eat cake.

    18. The general theme I take away from your responses is that, rather than dismiss abusive actions as simply born out of meanness or larger societal constructs, we should make an effort to understand what emotions or experiences motivated the actions in the first place so as to better resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the individuals involved. Correct me if I'm wrong.

      The problem with this is that it treads dangerously close to the notion that "men need to be 'fixed'". If you insist that men who exhibit abusive or controlling behavior really just need a patient and loving woman to understand them and indulge their feelings because they don't REALLY mean the degrading things they say to you, they are just insecure, or they didn't REALLY want to hit you, they just had a stressful day at work and couldn't put a lid on their frustration, it starts to sound suspiciously like absolving men of personal responsibility and self-awareness. To contradict your example, what if Kevin had taken a day to think about it, realized he was being selfish about denying Cliff something she clearly enjoyed, and brought the vibrator back with an explanation and apology? Kevin understands his own feelings without having to be hand-held by his much younger and less experienced partner. My ex was crippled with insecurities that were painfully obvious to anyone who knew him. Did this make it okay that he was manipulative, cruel, and controlling? Not at all. It did, however, make the relationship last much longer than it should have as I was overly concerned with being supportive of HIS emotional needs rather than my own.

      Of course it's essential for partners to understand and support each other, whether it's a man understanding a woman or vice versa. But I would much rather have a partner who accepts responsibility for their actions and yes, can verbalize when they are feeling insecure, instead of one who is reactionary and silent as to why. Women are not mind-readers, just as men can't guess at what women are thinking.

    19. UU: Thank you. I am considering getting a blog.

      Above Anon: Your second paragraph is exactly what I was trying to say.

      Plastix: Communication is hard. I'm not trying to deny that. After a certain point, I become more certain that the problem is not that people are misreading you but that your writing is not conveying what you mean. So I use phrases like "it feels like you're saying" and "what I get from this" to let you know how you are coming across. I am not a mind reader, your words are all I have to work with. Your words are not free of context. You are on a blog where Kevin has been mentioned before as an emotionally abusive ex who took advantage of someone much younger than himself. Specific behaviors including talking her into skipping school and sleeping on the floor. I don't expect you to know about the previous entries. I know about them because I found this blog a couple months ago, thought what Cliff had to say was interesting, and went on an archive binge. What I do expect is that when you say you see something in the comments, you know what's in the comments. Especially when it's right at the top.

      I'm not touching on the legality of Kevin being with Cliff. It's about the power disparity between them. She was not on the same level of experience. Any emotional fight between them is not going to be a fair fight because they are not equals. Kevin taking away the vibrator was not the act of one equal to another. As the previous anon said, he could have changed his mind and brought it back. Instead, he saw her having fun and took out his frustration on her. He gave her pleasure and then punished her for the sensations he caused. She was the inexperienced one and he gave her something she'd never felt before. She wanted to do it again which I can only see as a compliment. Even though that compliment hurt his feelings, he's the one who did something he knew he would hurt her. If you don't see this situation as abusive, you need to reconsider your definition of abuse. How does it not actively cause harm for the "cool, older guy" she's dating to tell her so unequivocally that her pleasure was unacceptable?


    20. UU: Thank you. I am considering getting a blog.

      Above Anon: Your second paragraph is exactly what I was trying to say.

      Plastix: Communication is hard. I'm not trying to deny that. After a certain point, I become more certain that the problem is not that people are misreading you but that your writing is not conveying what you mean. So I use phrases like "it feels like you're saying" and "what I get from this" to let you know how you are coming across. I am not a mind reader, your words are all I have to work with. Your words are not free of context. You are on a blog where Kevin has been mentioned before as an emotionally abusive ex who took advantage of someone much younger than himself. Specific behaviors including talking her into skipping school and sleeping on the floor. I don't expect you to know about the previous entries. I know about them because I found this blog a couple months ago, thought what Cliff had to say was interesting, and went on an archive binge. What I do expect is that when you say you see something in the comments, you know what's in the comments. Especially when it's right at the top.

      I'm not touching on the legality of Kevin being with Cliff. It's about the power disparity between them. She was not on the same level of experience. Any emotional fight between them is not going to be a fair fight because they are not equals. Kevin taking away the vibrator was not the act of one equal to another. As the previous anon said, he could have changed his mind and brought it back. Instead, he saw her having fun and took out his frustration on her. He gave her pleasure and then punished her for the sensations he caused. She was the inexperienced one and he gave her something she'd never felt before. She wanted to do it again which I can only see as a compliment. Even though that compliment hurt his feelings, he's the one who did something he knew he would hurt her. If you don't see this situation as abusive, you need to reconsider your definition of abuse. How does it not actively cause harm for the "cool, older guy" she's dating to tell her so unequivocally that her pleasure was unacceptable?


    21. "imagine simply feeling an extraordinary vulnerability about basically just the one thing" This is completely different from the previous two and about the only absolute I'll agree with is that no one thinks this way. I do on occasion, interact with men. Only every day or so. These men have the normal human range of insecurities. Some of them feel insecure about going bald, some feel insecure about their physique, most feel insecure in their social status, and I'm willing to buy that they all have insecurities about sex. Insulting a man's social status or the authority he perceives himself to have gets a big reaction within tolerances for individual variation. This leads me to believe that it is common for men to be insecure about those things. Which leads me to my next point.

      I'm reasonably certain that most of the women here have interacted with and observed men. I'm more than reasonably certain that any woman who owns a TV knows more than a little bit about male insecurities. Most shows focus more on men than women. Many movies spend more time on male characters than female ones. (Also white, cis, able bodied, etc) So women spend more time being exposed to male theory of mind than men spend being expose to female theory of mind. I admit the existence of women who do not understand men. I still disagree with your absolute that women do not understand men. All of my bosses are men and their bosses and over half my coworkers. If I could not extrapolate what their emotions might be, I would not be able to function in my place of work. It helps when I start from the assumption that everyone is an individual and not merely a subset of their gender.

      I don't see people wondering about why Kevin would be insecure. What I do see are comments wondering why Kevin would think it was ok to take the vibrator away in a mostly rhetorical way. The insecurity is fine, the action is not. Also, if a woman feels contempt for a man who can't handle the idea of a vibrator causing more pleasure than his body, then aren't her feelings just as valid as his insecurity?

      (clipboard error, sorry)

    22. Women hear constantly about men's feelings and insecurities from the media and the men in their lives. Sometimes women get tired of hearing about it. Telling women that you're trying to help them by repeating something they already know leaves me wondering why you think that will end well. It mostly comes across like you are getting petulant that women aren't more grateful for the insights you so graciously bestowed. My comment on the accusations of sexism follows from there. Your comments scan like you think women aren't getting it because we're disagreeing with you. We do get it. Tone is about more than word choice and sentence structure. Tone can be hard to read over the net but yours consistently scans as condescending. I feel like you're talking down to me because I disagree with you. The accusations of sexism feel an awful lot like you are trying to punish women who disagree with you by telling them they're the thing they're fighting against. I'm not a mind reader and intellectually I know there's a possibility that's not what you're doing. I am telling you this because if that is genuinely not what you mean, you should be aware.

      I can't speak for anyone else but I see no difference between a 23 year old woman treating a 16 year old boy that way and what Kevin did. It's abusive and predatory. After a certain point adults need to learn to live with disappointment because we all have physical limitations. Taking out insecurities about those limitations on partners is not ok. Especially ones who are much younger and less experienced.


    23. Firstly, I'd like to thank you for your tone. I don't normally write in open forums to be viewed and interpreted by an open-ended number of persons, mostly if I write it's an FB message or an E-mail to a specific person who would be able to interpret me with relative ease because they know and understand me already on a level. This medium is new to me, and while it wasn't my intention to be dismissive or rude, I certainly recognize how I have been. With regret.

      I like how you close your argument, it seems to me that expressing ones insecurities in a harmful way is the real problem at hand; and certainly I don't vouch for a grown-ass man not being able to deal with his much younger girlfriends' joy.

      Not having read the other blog posts, it seems a lot of my posts make a few presumptions, mostly, that this might have been a relatively normal relationship:
      So he's older. Lots of girls like older.
      So he's insecure, lots of guys are insecure. (In context, his insecurities are not normal.)

      I tend to believe most people to be relatively normal unless otherwise indicated. You have indicated otherwise. I said earlier red-flags aren't indictments, but multiple convictions, those are indeed a game-changer. In context, a cross-section of a pattern of abuse is what this is.

      In my estimation, an ordinary teenaged boy (which he isn't) could have done this, outside of a pattern of abuse. It would still be shitty, but I'd be reluctant to call that abuse so much as a mistake.
      For this to be the case however, the last part where he made the decision to literally dispense with the vibrator -without there being possibility for discussion, taking dominion like he did- would necessarily need to be omitted. And pardon me, I didn't give that proper credence. It's one thing to say it, it's quite another to do it.

      Simply put, there are some feelings which I earnestly believe to be gender distinct. For example, a man and a woman both have the capacity to be raped. In both cases it would be devastating in the absolute. I however also think that the woman and the man would experience the devastation very differently. I think that what a woman feels in this scenario would be all but inconceivable to a man, and while a man who's been sodomized would identify a great number of similarities, they wouldn't experience sameness.

      When I wrote my first response, what I observed was something I would liken to this disconnect. I made an analogy which should be familiar at this point. Obviously men don't think like that, on a day to day basis, this is likely because the description was intended for an isolated feeling. It's not a model of human behaviour.

      I think my mistake was trying to draw comparisons between the incomparable, and doing so insensitively.
      Here's an analogy, and it shouldn't offend anybody.
      Have you ever seen a man or boy get physically struck in the testicles? Seen him keel over, debilitated for several minutes, virtually unable to move?
      Emotionally, the insecurity provides a rather similar pain. And certainly not smaller in scale.
      I've known women to consider it as such (e.g. less than worthy of note). Among feminists, who constitute most of my friends, oddly enough. (I'm not trying to score points. I'm trying to demonstrate a disconnect)
      Certainly women can experience very similar insecurities. But certainly, they differ in the human psyche.

      It was my impression that some women who've commented on that had a reaction not unlike: "what a fucking baby! That shit doesn't even matter! Why would he take the vibe!?" It seemed like it didn't make sense to some, so I tried to provide emotional context.
      Now, Seeing as this is certainly an abusive relationship, whereas in most states the relationship itself would qualify as statuatory rape, I can understand a reluctance to care. It's like sympathy for a rapist who got kicked in the balls. Such a person deserves it, and apologies if I implied or otherwise.

    24. ....."Implied otherwise." is what I meant.

    25. Well UA, if you decide to get a blog. Feel free to come over my way. I'd love to check it out!

  22. I think it is real easy to say I would cope well with the scenario of male sex toys providing better orgasms than sex with a partner, when the chances of that happening are very remote. After all it's very easy to dismiss other peoples concerns when they are concerns you are unlikely to ever be faced with.
    It really saddens me that a ton of comments on this post boil down to male insecurities are illogical, therefore no sensible male should have them, therefore it is right to mock and dismiss them.
    Selfish or short sighted behaviour should not be excused, but I think most people would prefer is their own insecurities were addressed with some listening, and you know, talking, as opposed to dismissive eye rolling.

  23. This thread is re-reminding me of a conversation I had recently with a grrrlfriend. Namely that we both feel pretty bad for straight people sometimes. We're both queer identified, and as we've encountered queer sex (which admittedly may not be everyone's experience with it), there are a whole lot less hang ups about this stuff. There isn't the same myth of simultaneous orgasms being the "peak" of sex, or even the idea that both people need to be feeling equally intense sensations. It's perfectly normal for sex to be solely about one person getting off, (or just enjoying themselves), with the enjoyment for the other being in helping them achieve that, and I've *never* experienced a partner (or myself) who had jealousy or anxiety about sex toys.

    I think it's something about the fact that there are less ever-present models of queer sexuality than straight sexuality (and the straight models are almost all so very toxic), so we make them up according to what needs are getting met.

  24. I was very sexually inexperienced when I met and started dating my husband, (who had quite a bit more experience), we had been married probably two years when I suggested a vibrating dildo. I had never been able to masturbate to orgasm, and was curious if a vibrator would help.

    He was originally anxious about the idea, as he worried that I would prefer it to him, but we talked about it and at the end I explained that since I couldn't get myself off anytime I wanted and he could, it was only fair that I try to find some way to level the field. I was still very young, and felt it was only fair that I be able to continue to explore my sexuality- he could jump on board and have a great time helping me, or I could do it behind his back.

    I still can't masturbate to orgasm from clitoral stimulation 99% of the time, even with a vibrator, but we've tried out lots of things in the intervening years and he no longer worries that toys are a threat to him or our relationship. We found my particular hot button was anal stimulation, and he's been all over getting toys for that!

    (Plus he knows that I'm really lazy and unless I'm super horny I'd rather have sex than masturbate almost any time.)

  25. This reminds me of my ex. He would never have dared to deprive me of something I found pleasurable, but he complained about such things all the time, once saying he was jealous of the bathtub tap.

    It's a drain, really, when a dude wants to be the source of all your pleasure, and when he makes your pleasure all about his performance rather than, you know, about you, who's getting the pleasure (or pretending as the need may arise).

  26. OK, I left a bunch of comments that were reactions to other comments, but I originally came into comments to say this about the models of sex mentioned in the post:

    I tend toward a hybrid of the "communication" and "cooperative sport" models. I want sex to be something we do together, for fun, and I want it to bring us closer. I look at it as our play time. I don't want my wife to see it as "maintenance" but I know that she does and may have to see it that way.

    I understand why you find the "maintenance" model annoying, especially when it's coupled with sex roles where the woman is assumed to be the maintenance crew and the man needs the maintenance.

    But uncouple the sex roles, and consider the idea that in many relationships, there's an imbalance of libidos (and for some of us, it's severe) and it's hard to deny that there are many relationships where one person often has sex of one kind or another because they want to give the other pleasure and keep him/her happy. A couple of commenters have alluded to this, including a woman who said that lesbian relationships seemed to her to accept this idea more readily than straight ones. That would seem to imply that it happens in relationships where "maintainer" is not considered the "woman's role."

    We all do all kinds of things that serve no purpose but to make our partners or spouses happy or maintain that happiness. Sex is just another one . . . only it's not really that simple, is it?

  27. It is also a matter of perception guys are wired differently than women are in regards to orgasm, many men are 'done' after orgasm and tend to think that a woman should be as well; and if that were the case then by all means the "boyfriend's" reaction might have been justified, except it isn't and comparing masturbation (assisted or not) to the act of love making is very naive, but then what can one expect from a couple of inexperienced teenagers.

    1. Then I'm actually a man and my boyfriend actually a woman, because it's the other way around for us. And most of my former boyfriends were women, too...

      Or are those generalisations simply wrong and a typical cultural made-up thing so men don't HAVE to have after-sex cuddle and instead of "do not want" have a lame excuse like "it's biological"? I mean, that's easier than finding out what you want, what your partner want and not treat them as a kind of walking stereotype they have to fit into...

  28. I felt guilty reading this, and reading the comments, because I could imagine myself as the one taking away the vibrator. I know, I know, it's so *unenlightened* of me. I'm not proud, but I can relate to that guy.

    I recently had an experience where I went on a romantic trip with a partner, and we'd both expressed expectations about the crazy, kinky sex we were going to have all weekend, but when it came down to it, he just "didn't feel like it." I was devastated. Even if there was some outside reason why he didn't want to have sex, it still meant that I wasn't sexy enough, wasn't turning him on enough to overcome whatever the obstacle was.

    We'd had problems in the past when he'd lose his erection mid-intercourse, and explained it as "not feeling right" and "not stimulating the right spot." I took this to mean that there was something wrong with my vagina, or something I was doing that was turning him off. I can only imagine how I would have felt if he'd then turned to a fleshlight to finish himself off, making me feel even more inadequate.

    So, if it had been me bringing that toy into the equation like your first boyfriend did, I can imagine that I would want to take it home with me so that at the very least, that kind of pleasure would be associated with *me*, and not just the toy. I know somehow it's not quite right thinking, just like I know that my vagina isn't really inadequate, and my sexiness had nothing to do with my partner's lack of interest... but tell that to the little voice in my head who's been conditioned since childhood to base her self-worth on her sexual desirability.

  29. So I have a cat. He loves being petted. But you know what makes him meow with joy and fawn all over himself and jump right up on the couch and roll on his back to expose his belly? That's right...HIS GROOMING MITT. My hand could NEVER possibly give him the kind of pleasant stimulation of the grooming mitt- I just don't have the spiky massage thingies that the mitt has on it on my hand. And you know what? It doesn't honestly upset me that he purrs louder and is obviously in Kitty Heaven when I'm using it on him VS when I pet him with my hand.

    When my husband uses a massage instrument to give me a back massage, I don't go "oh, just leave that massager here, and I'll do it myself." Even using that massage instrument on myself (which is possible), doesn't cause the same result. Same thing with masturbation VS partner sex experiences. Masturbation is all about me edging or doing various things to get to orgasm. Sex is all about the mutual partnered experience, with orgasm as an added benefit. The bonding hormones I release when I am engaging in pleasurable activities with my partner are completely different than masturbation (with masturbation, I often just want to sleep afterwards, but after sex, I want to cuddle and talk all drunkenly in love and be a bit silly).

    Throughout my childhood, I masturbated by using pillows and firm soft things to rub my clit against and man did it feel good. Doesn't mean I prefer a pillow to an actual person I want to have sex with. Men seem to have no problem using their hands to get to orgasm, so why is using something like a pillow, a water faucet or a vibrator to orgasm so different? As far as I'm concerned, the divide isn't with toys, it's the context of sexual pleasure as being partnered/solo. If you are having solo sexual pleasure, that's basically saying "you are not included, partner person" and that can suck, especially if you're in the mood as well, and yet your partner just wants to sit in the corner and fap. But a lot of that is tied up in people being passive aggressive, and Not Wanting To Cause A Scene and also often, the whole "I'm masturbating instead of fucking you" situation is far more likely to be about something ELSE that is going wrong in the relationship. I remember when I was younger and I felt like I "had" to give sex to a boyfriend but I was mad at him, I'd have sex reverse-cowgirl because I didn't want to look at him, and I'd basically hyper stimulate him so he'd come really quickly and then just get off afterwards without touching him or making a sound. Needless to say, said boyfriend basically hated reverse cowgirl because of this. Of course, now that I'm older and tend to use my words instead of passive aggressive displays like this, I don't tend to have this sort of experience. But yeah, I think that especially in young relationships, that might be more prevalent.

    I think that the part that hurts isn't the toy- it's being neglected as a partner and having someone trot out that whole "well I'm just going to masturbate, even though you're right here and you've expressed interest in sexual play. I am REJECTING you while also making you feel like you can be replaced by something I can just do for myself." In a way, it's kind of like if I came over so we could cook and eat a delicious meal together and you instead insist on making a sandwich in front of me and eat it slowly while I'm sitting there starving. Sure, I can then make my own damn sandwich, but it's the act of blatantly trying to make the other person feel bad and disincluded that seems to be where the bad feelings come from in the first place.

  30. >>>it was an embarrassment that his prowess couldn't compare to a machine

    I'm pretty proud of my ability to do mental math quickly, but I can't compare to a machine. That's why we built machines after all.

    I'm a Sex Toy Transhumanist (minus the douchy Libertarian part). Give me more and better sex toy technology. Let's harness the Singularity for pleasure. My ego will deal. :)

  31. Highly relevant and very well written.
    But I have to wonder, do men spend as much time AND effort trying to understand women as women spend trying to understand men? With all the ways in which women are used as sexual objects or ego strokers in the bedroom, I am reluctant to put the man's reasons ONCE AGAIN up front and center and the woman's feelings and rights in second place. :-/