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O.RIGINALS

Vibrators

The Quickie

The beauty of vibrators lies in the enormous variety of speeds and vibrations from which you can choose from.

Vibrator use has been positively correlated to increased body confidence and sexual self-esteem, as well as to several aspects of sexual function.

In the 1970s, feminist adult toy retailers in San Francisco started what is known as the feminist sex toy revolution. Today, there are countless online and brick and mortar spaces to buy the sex toy of your dreams.

If you’re curious about vibrators but have no idea where to start, O.school can help you figure it out!

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Why Vibrators?

Vibrator use is not only pleasurable, it’s good for you too! According to a recent study, their use was positively related to several aspects of sexual function, including desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and overall function. 53 percent of women and 45 percent of men ages 18-60 have already incorporated vibrators into their sex lives at some point. If you’re curious what all the buzz is about or how to pick the right toy, read on!

Some folks might not want any assistance feeling pleasure, others might want a hand — or a toy — to help them out. Enter the vibrator: an excellent way to improve your sexual experience. Unlike dildos, which don’t move and are designed for internal use, vibrators are designed for internal and external use. Using an internal motor, vibrators heighten the intensity of your physical sensations, offering waves of pleasure and making out-of-this-world orgasms. All bodies, regardless of gender, can enjoy them alone or with a partner.

I didn’t begin enjoying sex until I started masturbating...now I give Rabbit vibrators to all my girlfriends. – Eva Longoria, actress

What's your pleasure?

Vibrators come in a stunning variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. And each toy can be used in a variety of ways, so it’s important to find the one that vibes with you. And remember, you can have more than one.

Some vibrators work through internal stimulation when inserted into the vagina. Other vibrators work through clitoral stimulation when used externally against the vulva and clitoris. Anal vibrators, distinguished by their flared base for safety, are inserted into the anus. Though most toys can be used alone or with a partner, some are designed intentionally for partnered play.

External vibrator for the vulva and clitoris
Internal vibrator for the vagina and g-spot
Some vibrators are designed for both internal and external stimulation

The beauty of vibrators lies in the enormous variety of speeds and vibrations from which you can choose from. Some are deep and rumbly, some are light and buzzy, and some even replicate a sucking sensation. There are vibrators that can be controlled through an app on your phone, and vibrators that can sync up to your playlist of choice. No matter what your pleasure is, there’s a vibe for that.

Some folks prefer a phallic shape for their sex toys. Others like sleek designs that feel like works of art. You can even find discrete ones that look just like normal jewelry or a lipstick tube.  The same variety goes for color: whether pink, purple, black, rainbow, or flesh-colored, the sex toy industry has got you covered.

Health Benefits

Using a vibrator can not only contribute to enhanced pleasure during sex, but to your overall health. A survey of over 3,000 people found that vibrator users with vulvas were significantly more likely to have had a gynecological exam during the past year, and to have performed genital self-examination during the previous month. Vibrator users with penises were also more likely to engage in testicular self-examination. In addition, vibrator use is also correlated with increased body confidence and sexual self-esteem. In short, there are endless upsides to introducing a vibrator into your solo or partnered sexual play.

The History of Vibrators

Vibrators have been part of the human sexual experience for over a century. The first vibrating sexual aid was invented in the late 19th century by medical professionals in Europe. At the time, “hysteria” was a common catch all diagnosis for women who were perceived to be anxious, depressed, or sexual in a way that didn’t fit society’s standards. The so-called “cure” for hysteria was forced masturbation by a medical professional, and that’s where the vibrator came in. Does this sound traumatic and non-consensual? Many felt it was. But by the 20th century, hysteria was acknowledged as the biased, unscientific diagnosis we now know it to be, and vibrators began to be used as personal sexual aids.

By the 1960s and 1970s, the burgeoning feminist movement raised awareness about the importance of sexual pleasure for women and helped women — and folks of all gender identities — to reclaim vibrator use for their own personal pleasure. Retailers like Eve’s Garden in New York City and Good Vibrations in San Francisco started the feminist sex toy revolution in the 1970s, and their groundbreaking ethos and business models spread across the country in the following decades in chains like Babeland (now owned by Good Vibrations).

Today, there are countless online and brick and mortar spaces to buy the sex toy of your dreams. A recent survey by retailer Adam and Eve confirmed that vibrators are still ranked as the most popular sex toy to purchase. If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of vibrators and happen to be in San Francisco, we recommend a tour of the Antique Vibrator Museum by sexologist Dr. Carol Queen.

Sex and the City took vibrators out of the shadows. – Dr. Carol Queen, Sexologist

Vibrators In Pop Culture

Sex toys are still taboo in many parts of the world. In fact, it’s still illegal in Alabama to sell sex toys, and in Georgia, it’s easier to buy a gun than a vibrator. However, over the past few decades, vibrators have finally made it up from the underground and into the mainstream. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Eva Longoria have spilled the juicy details about their own vibrator use, and shows like Sex and the City, Grace and Frankie, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Insecure have represented buzzy sex toys as normal, healthy parts of the sexual experience.

It’s really real that they should be called toys -- they’re for playing and exploring and finding out what’s possible, and what we like! – Dr. Carol Queen, Sexologist

How To Find The Vibrator That’s Right For You

If you’re curious about vibrators but have no idea where to start, O.school is here to walk you through the process. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Are you a vibrator beginner, expert, or somewhere in the middle?

If you’ve never bought a vibrator before, you may not want to go for the most expensive and advanced sex toy in the store. Instead, consider starting with something more approachable — and that won’t break the bank. If you’re closer to a sex toy connoisseur, however, there are always new and improved, next-level vibrators and accessories for you to try out.

Do you like internal stimulation, external stimulation, or both?

There are some vibrating toys that focus exclusively on internal pleasure zones like the G-spot, some that focus exclusively on external pleasure zones like the clitoris, and some that can do all of the above. Because over 70% of people with a clitoris need or prefer clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm, the only way to really know which one you like is by experimenting by yourself or with a partner. If you like both clitoris and G-spots stimulation, there are plenty of multi-tasking toys to tickle your fancy. You can use a vibrator externally on the anus, where there are a lot of nerve endings. There are also internal anal vibrators, but they are only safe if it has a base to keep it from slipping and sliding all the way in.

What kind of vibrations do you like? And do you like your vibe to span a large area or do you want it to pinpoint your favorite spot?

When it comes to the breadth and depth of vibrations, people have a range of preferences. Some folks like to be rolling in the deep, and others just want to pick up on good surface vibrations. What’s much too strong for one person could be just right for another. And, the larger the area of the vibe that comes into contact with the body, the more diffused the sensation will be. That’s why toys like Wand vibrators are so strong and yet so beloved by many: As Good Vibrations’ sexologist Carol Queen likes to say, since the head is so large, it brings all the nerve endings to the party. She also encourages folks to imagine a finger directly on the clitoris versus a palm over the whole vulva. If you have a strong preference for either, that might guide you in choosing the right vibrator for you!

Do you care what your sex toys look like?

There are literally thousands of different vibe aesthetics ranging from skinny and rainbow to long and metallic to bulky and curvaceous. Do you want something discrete that looks like a necklace or lipstick tube? Or do you want a piece of art that you can leave out on your nightstand? It’s all up to you.

Do you want to use your sex toys alone, with a partner, or both?

If your partner wants to use a sex toy with you, that means they want to experience more pleasure together. People of all genders can really dig vibration, and whether or not a toy is couples-focused, any sex toy can be enjoyed by just about any couple. However, vibrators that are specifically designed for couples can take teasing and pleasing to a whole new level.

Conclusion

O.school believes sexual pleasure is a human right, and that everyone deserves equal access to pleasure. Experimenting with sex toys without shame or stigma is an important part of cultivating a better sex life and better sexual self-esteem. Combining consent, communication, and desire with a sex toy of your choosing can be a powerful way to connect with yourself or a partner. And because many folks have historically been denied access to information about their bodies and have been told to suppress their desires, advocating for your own orgasm and your own pleasure is an important part of building a Pleasure Culture.

Myths and facts

Setting the record straight.

Myth

If you ask to use a vibrator in bed with your partner, it means they don’t know how to satisfy you.

Fact

Using a sex toy has nothing to do with the sexual skill level of your partner. Everyone likes different sensations, and some folks prefer to enjoy their partner as well as a sex toy to maximize their sexual experience. There is no finite amount of pleasure you can have, you have a lot of nerve endings down there. Using a toy taps into that potential for pleasure and builds off your existing sensations.

Myth

Using a vibrator will desensitize you to pleasure.

Fact

There is no scientific evidence that vibrators can cause permanent loss of sensation in the genital area. Using a vibrator can only enhance your pleasure and offer you orgasm quality and quantity that you may not be able to achieve otherwise!

Myth

Vibrators are only for single people.

Fact

Vibrators are for anyone who wants to intensify their solo or partnered sex. O.school wants to remove stigma and shame from sex toy use and build a “pleasure culture” where everyone feels comfortable advocating for their own desires.

Perspectives

At O.school, we know that few things are one-size-fits-all. Read on for insights from Pleasure Professionals and other experts:

Christina Cerqueira

Director of Digital Media, O.school

"If you’re not having sex with a partner, there is nothing wrong with getting it on with a vibrator. If you’re not paying for condoms, you might as well invest in a real nice one."

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Eva Sweeney

Disability Rights Advocate

"Buy inexpensive ones at first because you might have to try different ones and you don’t want to buy a expensive vibrator and not use it."

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Vibrator Shopping 101
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Vibrator Shopping 101

Everything from clit vibes to G-spot vibes with Gigi Engle!

Video transcript

In order to find the right vibrator, you need to know what feels good, so here are a few questions to start.

Number one, are you a vibrator beginner, expert, or somewhere in between? If you've never purchased a vibrator before, maybe you should start with something a little more approachable and something that won't break the bank. Remember, you can always upgrade later. Number two, do you like internal stimulation, external stimulation, or both? There are some toys out there that focus exclusively on external pleasure zones like the clitoris. There are other toys that focus exclusively on internal pleasure zones, like the G-spot. And there's some that do all of the above. Number three is a two-parter. Do you like a deep, wide rumbling vibration, or do you like quick, fuzzy bright vibrations? And do you want your vibe to span a large area, or do you want it to pinpoint your favorite spot? Number four, do you care what your sex toy looks like? There are literally thousands of different vibe aesthetics: discreet, rainbow, smooth, ridged, nubby, phallic, yonic, or your favorite emoji. Number five. Do you want to use your sex toys alone, with a partner, or both? If your partner wants to use a sex toy with you, that means they want to experience more pleasure together.

Sex toys are nothing to be ashamed of. People of all genders might really dig vibration. For today's homework, we recommend going out and buying a vibrator that seems fun for you and trying it out, either by yourself or with a partner.

References

“Vibrator Use Common, Linked to Sexual Health,” Science Daly, 2009.

“IU Researchers Find Vibrators to be Common, Linked to Sexual Health,” Indiana University, 2009.

“20 Sex Toys You And Your Partner Will Actually Use,” Buzzfeed, 2016.

“Prevalence and Characteristics of Vibrator Use By Women in the United States,” Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2009.

Vibrator Nation, Lynn Comella, 2017.

Antique Vibrator Museum

“14 Outdated Sex Laws That Need To Change This Year,” Mic, 2016.