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Sex Toys for Women

Separating Marketing from Meaning in Sex Toys for Women

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Updated July 10, 2011

The category of sex toys for women is a bit of a misdirection on the part of retailers and marketers. It's true that there are sex toys for women, insofar as there are many sex toys that women can use and enjoy. But sex toys aren't usually made for specific categories of people. Most sex toys can be used by anyone on any part of the body. Some sex toys are made for specific body parts (for example a penis ring or nipple clamps) and other sex toys are made for specific sexual activities, but even these toys can be used in different ways by people with very different bodies.

It can be easy to forget that not all women have the same body parts. We may assume that when we talk about women's bodies we mean a body with breasts, a clitoris, a vulva and vagina. But this isn't always true (the same goes for men's bodies). When we compartmentalize sex toys by the sex or gender of the user, everyone loses, because the truth is that any woman might love almost any kind of sex toy, and the same is true for all other genders.

With that caveat in mind, let's consider some of the main categories of products that are marketed as sex toys for women, which means, in the minds of sex toy marketers, sex toys that are designed for people with a vagina and a clitoris.

Vibrators

Vibrators can be used by all genders, but here are the vibrators that would be considered to be made for women, because they are designed specifically for clitoral stimulation, vaginal penetration, or both.

Because women have a wide range of preferences in terms of clitoral stimulation a good clitoral vibrator will be variable speed, and allow the user to easily manipulate where the vibrator is touching and how much pressure is applied. Some clitoral vibrators come with straps and can be worn on the body. They rest just above the clitoris and the straps are often designed to allow for penetration play at the same time.

A vibrator suitable for vaginal penetration should be of a material that's safe to use internally, relatively smooth and seamless, and easy to clean properly. Some vibrators that are safe for vaginal penetration may also be safe for anal penetration, but not all of them. Far more women use vibrators for clitoral stimulation than penetration. A notable exception to this is women who like a particular kind of internal stimulation, g spot stimulation.

G spot vibrators may sound like they are designed for a specific body part, but are probably better understood as being designed for a particular kind of stimulation. G spot vibrators are usually firm and have a curve which makes it easier to stimulate the front wall of the vagina from the inside. Some women find this kind of stimulation highly pleasurable and report that orgasms feel different when they stimulate this area. Other women don't.

Finally there are vibrators called dual action vibrators which are designed to provide simultaneous clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration. The rabbit vibrator is by far the best known of the dual action vibrators. Rabbit vibrators, like other dual action vibes, have a main shaft that vibrates or rotates, and a second part that branches off from the base, and is meant to provide clitoral stimulation at the same time.

Dildos and Strap Ons

Unlike vibrators, dildos have no motor in the and don't "do" anything other than what the user makes them do. The pleasure that most women experience using dildos comes from the feeling of penetration, fullness, the weight of the dildo, as well as the experience of making a dildo part of your own body and using it to penetrate a partner. Dildos that come with a flared base can be used in strap on harnesses, an increasingly popular kind of sex toy for women. The beauty of a dildo and harness is that, unlike those who are born with a penis already attached, you can choose your size, shape, and even color, to suit your mood or your partner. Double dildos are designed to allow penetration at either end of the toy, and may be used by women with a partner or on their own for simultaneous anal and vaginal penetration.

Anal Sex Toys

Any toy that is going to be inserted anally should have a wide flared base (to prevent it from slipping up into the rectum), be completely seamless and smooth, and be made of a material that is easy to clean and won't break. Anal sex toys are rarely designed specifically for women's bodies but many women do enjoy using sex toys for anal stimulation, and some women report having orgasms and intense sexual pleasure from anal penetration. Whether this is because of indirect clitoral or g spot stimulation is unknown, but it shouldn't matter. Despite the myths and norms that say anal sex is only for gay men, or that women only have anal sex when a male partner asks for it, the truth is that some women enjoy it, and sex toys toys are a great way to discover if it's a kind of play you'd like.

Nipple Clamps

Nipple clamps, which are sensation toys designed to fit on the nipple and create an intense feeling of pressure and desired pain, are often thought of as sex toys for women. But really they're sex toys for anyone with nipples. For the uninitiated, experiencing intense sensation or pain that you want, that you choose to have, and that you can control, is very different than the pain of a headache, or stubbing your toe. There is a wide range of styles of nipple clamps, each offering a different way of playing and a different resulting sensation.

BDSM/Power Play Toys

This category of sex toys for women covers a lot of ground, from restraints and blindfolds to floggers, whips, feathers, riding crops, and complete furniture set ups. What all these toys have in common is that they are tools that let you explore different sensations and expressions of consensual power exchange. Some people might include harnesses and clothing in this category, and for those, it could be said that some products are designed specifically for women, but for the most part, BDSM sex toys are not made with a particular body in mind. What's most important, when choosing a BDSM or power play sex toy is getting something that you can easily use, that feels comfortable on your skin, and that fits properly.

Lubricants

Don't forget the lube. You may think of lubricant as more of an add-on, like extra batteries, or fries. But lube is a sex toy just as much as the dildo or vibrator you want to use it with. Indeed, lube is essential for safe and fun play with many other sex toys, and it also adds an extra element of sensation to any penetrative sex play. Perhaps more than any other sex toy, lubricants are heavily marketed by sex and gender (so there are lubes for women and lubes for men, girly lubes and macho lubes, etc…) Most of this is just marketing and should be ignored. One exception to this is that many lubricants are developed with the ph balance of the vagina in mind. In addition to this, women that are prone to yeast infections, women wanting to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, and women who are trying to get pregnant should all choose a lubricant to suit their needs.
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