Sex-negativity is a slippery slope (and lubrication is our BFF).

Some of you may have read former MMA superstar and champion Ronda Rousey talk sex advice with Maxim magazine yesterday. When asked about what men “should” (which is an iffy word to use when talking about other people’s lives, and particularly sexual lives, in general) never do in bed, she said that one of the things was adding lube. She said using lube is lazy. 

In my journey so far as a sexuality educator to various populations, I have heard variations of this thought, usually along the lines of lube being unnecessary if you “do things right”. So I decided to share some thoughts on lube and sex and why #lubeislove.

I think it is fair to assume that Rousey was coming from a particular place with particular assumptions. I would take a wild guess and say that she was thinking about cisgender, heterosexual couples having penis-in-vagina (PiV for short) sex. So let’s start with that. There are plenty of situations, conditions, illnesses and medications (to name some contexts) which can make natural vaginal lubrication difficult, insufficient or impossible. Cancer, anti-depressants, age and just your garden-variety sunny-day dehydration are a few of the things that come to mind as factors that can influence one’s need for additional lube. Saying that these women – and other vulva-owners – are being lazy is dismissive of their situation, putting the blame on them for their very normal natural processes, and shaming them for needing/wanting some slippery assistance.

“Sliding” out of the vagina and into other very common, equally-legit types of sex, the anus, nipples, as well as most of the human body don’t produce natural lubrication. Anal sex, solo sex with toys, “rough” sex, and many other types of sex that I do not have time to fully explore (right now, anyway) may require or at least greatly benefit from artificial lubrication. Not using some, or shaming those who do, is not only insensitive and ignorant, it is also dangerous.

Let’s do some best/worst case scenario analysis of lube, yeah? The worst consequence I can think of (you can correct me if I’m wrong) of having too much lube is to have too much lube inside an external (or “male”) condom and having it slide off. Which can be really bad, yes, and one should try not to have that happen. I’m having a tough time thinking of any other negative thing. Maybe having your hands so full of lube that you accidentally drop your magic wand and your orgasm is stopped mid-way? I would say that’s pretty manageable.
Possible and probable consequences of not having enough lube, however are pain, chafing, tearing (and infections that can be more easily transmitted as a consequence of these tears), bleeding, a condom breaking. Not to mention a negative sexual experience, which can influence our psychological health as well as our relationship with our body and/or partners. These are sad-to-possibly-disastrous outcomes that can be easily helped with a few drops of magic.

Needless (but apparently still very needed) to say, sex (of any kind) is had by more people than “vanilla” (non-kinky) heterosexual cisgender young able-bodied people into PiV sex. 

I will repeat myself on this: There are so many situations, contexts, bodies and activities in which extra lubrication may be wanted or needed, and in calling men lazy for bringing lube into the equation, she (or anyone holding similar views, because Rousey is not alone in her opinion, unfortunately) is assigning blame. Natural lubrication is a chemical thing, and chemicals know nothing about blame. You can do everything “right” (whatever that means for you) and still need or want lube. Men can absolutely use listening to their partners, and everyone could use taking as much time as they need in everything they do with regards to sex, but using lube is not losing manhood points, or failing as a man, or being a lousy partner, or being lazy.
There is another problem that I see in Rousey’s ‘advice’, but this is not her fault at all. The importance of pleasure is not talked about enough in most mainstream media (sex advice columns and magazines included), in general. Even when one does not *need* lube, it can make many activities more fun and pleasurable and smoother for people using it.

The way I talk about lube and other sex toys and aids when I talk to (particularly straight) young people is that I don’t *need* chocolate, for example, but I still love it and it makes me super happy and that’s why I eat it. Sex is not about the “bare” (I cannot help the pun) minimum, or “just enough”. Sex can be so much more than that, and many people could benefit from asking “what can be done to make the sex I am having even better?” That’s not lazy, like Rousey suggests. It is the exact opposite of lazy, actually. It is striving for the best you can get out of the experience of sex – whatever that means for you – and your partner.

I obviously agree that everyone can take as much time as they and their partner need, and I relate to Rousey’s sentiment and intention on that wholeheartedly, but lube is not a substitute for that, and is not meant as such. What would be lazy, if anything, would be not having frank conversations with your partner about what they really want and what (if anything) is missing from their sexual experience. Including lube.

 

We no longer live in a time where the only lube we had besides what our bodies produce was olive oil or mashed yams. We have silicon-based lube (which is long-lasting, water-resistant and usually silky, but bad to use with silicon toys) and water-based lube (lasts less and is not the best for anal but can also be super smooth and can be used with any toy) and oil-based lubes (which are a no-no if you are going to use a condom but are pretty good in most other ways). There are flavored lubes and scented ones and heat-enhancing ones and tingly ones. There are some that are creamy, others are silky, others feel like the “real thing”, and others are more of a gel. We have them vegan and glycerin-free and enhanced with vitamins and others that are supposed to make your vag high. There is literally so much to be explored, if one wants to. I never want to shame people for not using or trying or wanting lube, but shaming people for trying it and calling its usage lazy seems like such an odd, inaccurate, sex-negative thing to do.

 

The main thing in this whole situation that I see as lazy is ignoring and failing to research all that is out there on how lube can potentially make your sex life better and instead making snap judgments, missing out on the fantastic world of lubrication.

The one where I talk about why I talk about toys.

“Why do you talk about sex toys so much?” I have heard this question in some form or another more times than I’ve cared to answer it, but I will. Again. [I won’t even address for now the slut-shamey tone this question is often accompanied by. Or rather, the “are you a perv or something?” question behind it. Because DUH, goes without saying.] Now. My first instinct is to answer: “Because I can.” I know my shit decently well, for one. I also try to flutter about in social circles in which I am safe and accepted enough regardless, or at least in spite of, talking nonstop about brands and materials and how to clean them properly and “that new adorable thing that just came out”. Not every social circle or situation makes me feel equally safe and okay with talking about sex toys, of course *insert mental image of me putting the Leaf line as centerpieces for Christmas dinner*, but I know how to filter, most of the time. But really, why are you asking me that question? You’re probably asking because you’re not used to hearing much about sex toys, except for jokes and hush-hush anecdotes of friends going into sex shops and looking at dildos (because every sex toy is a dildo, DUH). You’re probably even less used to a woman talking so freely about sex. And there is part of your answer. I talk about sex toys because people joke about them out of shame-y feelings, out of guilt for being actually interested underneath that nervous laughter.I talk about them, too, because a lot of people want to and yet most people don’t. You might also associate sexuality education with some powerpoint presentation featuring pictures of genital warts, or at the very least a silver-bullet Cosmo article by an “expert” who is there to tell you the single best tecnhique to please your person. That’s another reason. I talk about sex toys because pleasure should be a part of conversations about health and a part of sex as much (or more, I would argue) as STI prevention & contraception. Sexuality education often fails to acknowledge or discuss the most common sense thing about sex, which is that IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.  I talk about sex in general because there is no silver bullet to pleasure, we have to find it ourselves, and what better way than to play and flick around stuff? I talk about toys because they can help people have more fun, alone or with others. They can help with body image, with technique, with confidence, with dysfunctions, with disability, with intimacy, with libido. Hell, they can even help those teenagers that some adults SO want to deter from having sex “too young” by giving them a fun gadget to hump instead of each other. I also talk about sex toys because sometimes someone has to. People often don’t know about all the possibilities, the variety of aides and positioning devices and applications for them, or where to get them, or how to distinguish safe from unsafe toys, or how to clean & store them. And people often don’t know these things because we won’t talk about them. We are scared to ask, or don’t know who to go to, or even what to ask. Not only that though. It isn’t even about the toys. They’re often expensive and sometimes tricky to get (if you live with and depend on your parents for money, for example) and some people don’t like them. All of these things are legit and I don’t just talk about my undying platonic love for the Stronic to make you all want to run to your local (please, buy local) sex shop and spend a third of your month’s rent on a pulsating product of sexy wizardry. I like bringing up stuff that is good to say but people feel uneasy or shame-y or guilty about. I like helping provide the space for conversations about toys, sure, but more importantly about pleasure, about ways to make our (sex) lives better, about what works and doesn’t work for us and why. I have had a woman tell me that after I brought up anal beads in a random conversation – that’s how I make friends at parties – , her girlfriend told her she would like to give butt play a shot. That’s awesome! Communication – and having the tools and the will and the space for it – is awesome. Like Megan says, our hands are our free, first sex toys that Jimi gave us, and they are wonderful. We don’t NEED sex toys (but then again, I also don’t NEED Nutella, but want it most days anyway), but we do need better communication skills and tools. We need to be able to say the words for things. We need better sexuality education, we need more conversations about pleasure and how important it is. We need to talk about shame in order to be able to deconstruct it. Why do some people still think that sex toys are just for pervs, or for single women (thanks a lot, Carrie Bradshaw)? Or that they replace your partner? Or that strap-ons are just for lesbians, or that butt play is not for straight men? Or that BDSM is for “dysfunctional people”? Or that there are no toys for penises? Or that certain bodies can’t have certain kinds of sex? Or that porn is just for men? I know I am getting into a lot of questions (and a lot of inaccurate ideas), but they all come from the same problem: we are not talking about these things enough.

So tell me, why AREN’T we talking about sex toys enough?

Do you have a question about sexuality? Where to find particular information/how-to guides/porn/ toys/ workshops? About feminism, gender, sex-positivity? Ask here on the comments and I will try my best to answer! Or ask me on my Tumblr! (Or if you know me and feel comfortable, ask me on Facebook or in person. I love talking about sex toys, hence this entire blog post.)  

OH HEI HERE ARE SOME (NOT ALL) ONLINE STORES THAT ARE SEX-POSI AND FANTASTIC: Canada: Ohhh Canada, Joy Toyz, DNA Toys, Good for Her, Come As You Are The US: Smitten Kitten, Good VibesBabeland Mexico: Erotika Lovestore *I don’t feel comfortable recommending stores from other places but if you have a strong recommendation for your country, let me know and I will check it out & add it.