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All the Things Women Use as a Sex Toy Before They Get a Sex Toy

And sometimes even after

We’ve been using dildos for 3,000 years, made out of everything from stone, leather, ivory and wood to fruits, veggies and other phallic objects. Greek men once gifted their wives dildos when they went off to war so they wouldn’t go crazy missing them (or, presumably, stray).

But just because nowadays you can pick one up at an Urban Outfitters made out of silicone (or another approved material) doesn’t mean we should assume every gal who can get her hands on a proper dildo would. We especially shouldn’t assume that using, say, a cucumber isn’t still a common go-to, particularly as young women figure out their own preferences sexually and experiment with what feels good.

But when I mentioned to my colleagues that Lush Cosmetics has released a bath bomb in the shape of the eggplant emoji as a winky nod in advance of Valentine’s Day, advertising that “just the tip” fizzes faster than the rest

…and that, as such, warnings have been issued to women to not stick the thing up your vag like a dildo…

…it was clear we still don’t really talk enough about, or fully realize, how female sexuality develops. And I’ll tell you: It develops, in part by rubbing, humping various things and by inserting whatever you can get in there to see how it feels to fuck. Yes, when you’re a virgin, but even sometimes after! Horny and alone and desperate to figure out what will get you off? Suddenly every mildly dick-shaped device is a potential lover.

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Look around: Your house is full of secret sex toys you had no idea could be getting your woman off when you’re at work, from electric razors to toothbrushes to Sharpies to candlesticks to, ahem, that N64 controller with rumble pack. Trust me: Women know how to use tools.

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“Isn’t that a myth, like American Pie?” a male colleague asked when I mentioned that women have been known to try putting all sorts of things up in the ol’ heave-ho before they can get a proper vibrator/dildo situation in their lives.

::blushes:: Uh…no? (And for what it’s worth, I’ve heard plenty of stories of things men try sticking their dicks into when they’re lonely or bored — leather chair crevices, anyone?)

I can’t speak for everyone, and I would never presume to know what all women do. I’m sure some women have never dared think of penetrating themselves with a hairbrush handle, but all it takes is a quick turn around the internet where surveys and individual accounts back up my position.

Like this roundup that mentions a woman who can sit on a beer can and the author once making a dildo out of ice.

Here are the opening lines from an LA Weekly piece about budget masturbation and perfectly good substitutes girls can use to get off when times are lean:

Years ago I remember hearing a story about a girl I grew up with fucking herself with a cucumber. That tale always stuck with me until I stuck one in me. This was back in my pre-intercourse days so it wasn’t as romantic an experience as I imagined it would be, but it got the job done.

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The author goes on to list a dizzying array of items one can substitute for a traditional vibrator or traditional penis, including pens, the skinnier end of a beer or wine bottle, a curling iron (turned off, Jesus!) and a turkey baster.

Hell, even Good Vibes, a vibrator company that sells its own vibrators and dildos, recommends that women try out the right size and shape dildo they’ll want by selecting a cucumber from a grocery store and slipping it in:

  1. Take a trip to your local produce store or back yard if you grow cucumbers (or, if you prefer, zucchinis).

  2. Select a few cucumbers of different sizes to give you some choices.

  3. If your cucumber isn’t organic it’s a good idea to either peel the cucumber or wash it well and cover with a condom, since waxes and pesticides should stay outside the body.

  4. You might want to warm it slightly in the microwave, especially if it’s been in the fridge.

  5. If the cucumber is too big, shave it down until it fits comfortably. You could even carve it to give you a nice G-spot curve or a head.

  6. Once you’ve found the right width and length, whip out that measuring tape.

There are a lot of precautions you should take before inserting anything into yourself. Make sure it can’t shatter or break off, and that it’s clean, and that you slip a condom over it so it protects you from any bacteria that could mess with your vaginal flora. You don’t want to injure yourself, cut yourself, infect yourself or lose anything up there. Generally, this is not a super-safe thing to do, this whole sticking-things-that-aren’t-safe-up-you deal. This is why many many sex-positive experts recommend giving girls vibrators.

And yet, can you blame us? To be clear, horniness doesn’t produce the greatest clarity of mind. Which is why bananas, hammer handles, baseball bats (yikes!) and even a TV remote make the lists of homemade dildos that can get the job done in a pinch. As the author of the above list makes clear at OMG Kinky, “When you’re broke and horny, you have to compromise and get creative.”

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But we don’t even have to be broke. We might just be teenage girls exploring our sexuality before anyone talks to us about it. We might be in a repressive culture that shames women for having any sexual feelings and lust while simultaneously sexualizing our bodies to such a degree that “teen” is one of the most popular porn categories.

In other words, at an age where we’re being portrayed as extremely desirable for the sexual purposes of others, we might not even be able to make ourselves cum yet.

Weird, huh?

Real, actual teenage girls aren’t being given any messages that it’s okay to be horny and lust-filled and to pursue pleasure on their own terms. As we’ve written about before, it’s not that they don’t think about sex and want to have sex and share the same curiosity about sex that boys do. It’s that they have no real cultural backup to do so — no movies celebrating those impulses, unless they’re cautionary tales warning against it. And we rarely have family encouragement. Not that boys are set up with a special masturbation den (other than their bedroom) and a cheering section. It’s just accepted that boys beating off is what they will do and what they should do. But what about girls? You make do.

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If you’re a 14-year-old girl living at home with parents who haven’t really discussed sex, and whose main concern is that you don’t get knocked up, what are the odds you’ll get your hands on a vibrator or a dildo? If the entire cultural imperative is to keep teenage girls virginal and pure, what’s the likelihood your mother will buy you your first dick substitute so you become intimately acquainted?

This is why women hump vibrating washing machines, pillows and anything we can rub their clitorises against until we figure out how to get ourselves off.

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As the owner of a clitoris, I will tell you that of course I now realize women can use their fingers to get themselves off, and yet, the motion that leads to completion was never as intuitive to me as stroking a dick seemed to be. Is it actually harder, or have I just been convinced it is? Certainly no one ever demonstrated clitoral stimulation in any media I came across, not even as a funny hand-motion joke, like we do for jackin’ it.

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Of course, nowadays, it’d be easier, assuming it were affordable, for a teen to get her hands on a vibrator or dildo online or at any mall kiosk and hide it from the ’rents, because vibrators are like Juuls now — there are secret vibrators disguised as everything from a tube of lipstick to a rubber duckie.

We’ve relaxed a bit societally, too, and at least some grown women can own a drawer full of sex toys without a disapproving glance from a male partner. But I also known some men (particularly older generations) are still very threatened by them.

So for those women, and any other girl who needs the release, I point toward the utility drawer. And the kitchen. And the garage. And the bathroom.

My younger self sighed with some jealousy when I came across the knowledge that there are now numerous apps that vibrate effectively for clitoral stimulation, which means that even a 12-year-old figuring herself out has better options than most of us did if she’s already got a phone.

But of course, that’s not a dildo, and I wouldn’t suggest inserting a cell phone — not in today’s giant sizes — as a girl’s first experimental penetrative device. Especially when there are some leeks in the fridge.