girly-girl post-feminist problems

Masculinity and Sex Toys… My first ever NSFW post!

Ok, since I write under a pseudonym, I feel reasonably safe talking about something that is a little taboo, and perhaps a little sexual in nature. I need to preface this post in two ways. First, my perspective is not necessarily produced by my own experiences. Rather, since I have a slew of open-minded, loud mouthed lady friends, consider this post to be based on my informal ethnographic research on these wonderful women. Second, this post is 100% heteronormative, and I am fully of aware of that.


So, I want to talk about vibrators. Specifically, I would like to ruminate about the relationship between vibrators and masculinity in heterosexual sex encounters.  As a feminist (which I am, btw), I have an interesting relationship with them. It is pretty much general knowledge (thanks in part to the 2011 film, “Hysteria”) that vibrators were used to treat ladies’ sexual “dysfunctions”, in a very problematic, patriarchal and medicalized manner. Nonetheless, many women today have grown fond of these little devices.  While many of them use them solo, they are also used in dyadic sexual encounters, in the role of what could be considered a ‘little helper’.   I would argue that the inclusion of these little guys has given way to a classification of straight dudes that goes something like this:

*stereotypes and generalizations to follow


  1. The guy who gets threatened

This guy genuinely feels usurped or slighted by the vibrator’s sexy cameo.  When he looks at this little piece of plastic (or rubber, or metal, or whatever), he genuinely feels that he isn’t enough for his female partner, and that she is undermining him when invites little ‘Justin Beaver’ out for an evening.


This ‘type’ of dude is also likely to be ripe for Freudian analysis, believing that the penis is sacred, and must be revered as such. A vibrator will be considered sacrilege, especially when used in the presence of perfectly good penis.


Needless to say, he also might be likely to exhibit irrational signs of jealousy in other contexts, like bars and such social settings, where the threat of other presumed penises (they’re usually not overtly visible in social settings, so they are presumed) is present.


  1. The guy who gets lazy


Very different than the guy who feels threatened, and maybe a little possessive over his partner when a toy emerges during a sex sesh, this guy gets excited. But, his excitement isn’t about the possibility creatively using a sex aid, and exploring new fun things in bed.  He’s excited because he feels that the vibrator absolves him from any responsibility for female pleasure during both foreplay, and the ‘main’ event.


He doesn’t perceive this object to be something that can aid him in having some creative fun with his lady, he sees it as his replacement, and he’s happy about it.  No longer does he have to develop his sexual repertoire, because now they have robots to do that sort of thing.


He might not exhibit jealousy in other social situations, but he probably won’t rub your back without being asked, or enjoy intellectually stimulating conversations with you either. He’d probably prefer to watch an entire season of something on Netflix next to you on the couch. And that can actually prove to be a pretty relaxing evening.

  1. The guy who just gets *it*


In this little typology of het guys and sex toys, I would encourage you to see him as your favourite.  The presence of a sex toy doesn’t make him jealous, and it doesn’t make him lazy.  Rather, he sees the vibrator as his junior partner in the bedroom. He wants to see how his gal uses it, and is anxious to come up with new strategies. He takes sex seriously, yet is also playful. While he might enjoy the addition of a new assistant, this doesn’t stop him from being dynamic and innovative in the bedroom.


You may also find that this guy multifaceted and is curious and open minded about the world. He’ll probably be open to trying any type of food, and adventurous when it comes to your social life.


I post this realizing that this typology is not perfect. But, the point I’m trying to make, if any at all, is that our politics follow us into the bedroom, and they follow us out of the bedroom. I think that the way that het men interact with sex toys has the potential to reveal thing about his personality in terms of how he views the world, and his partner. Think about it!

That was a little Cosmo-esque, admittedly.



education sociology

Sociology is a discipline with a messy face

“That’s not fair” is one of the first concepts that toddlers learn and use to make sense of their worlds. Perhaps this is proof that a sense of justice is in some way ‘natural’. I normally would be extremely reluctant to claim that any human behavior is ‘natural’ (that’s the job of evolutionary psychologists), but in this case I feel comfortable making such a statement, because that’s what I would like to believe. Sure, the Hobbesians among us might see this tendancy as an indication of selfishness, but I’m content framing it as an innate inclination towards valuing justice.

For many of us, we carry this sense of fairness throughout the our life course. Sociologists (try to) turn it into a career. This certainly describes me.

My soap boxing got more intense in my teens.  I started seeing a lack of fairness everywhere. Sometimes I would feel that I wasn’t being treated fairly, and other times I would see that another human or animal was not getting their fair share. Eventually, I began to notice that it wasn’t just individuals who weren’t treated justly, it was groups and categories of people.

Meanwhile, I was not the best student. I didn’t find much enjoyment in my classes. Math was a joke. I was remotely interested in some aspects of History. My grades were barely good enough to get me into University. The only time I enjoyed school was when we were covering topics that focused on social issues. Whenever I had a choice in terms of school projects, I would write about prostitution, or the role of American First ladies in American politics.

After high school, I ended up at wonderful University. My decision to do so was pretty much based on where my boyfriend at the time attended school. I planned to obtain what I saw as a token 3 year BA. Then I ended up in an Intro Sociology class.  Over the course of the next few months, I was given the tools to see, critique, and make sense of the social inequality. My random observations and emotions began to come together in a cohesive discourse. It was validating not just because my grades were good, but I discovered that the commentary going through my teenage head actually had a name. For years I had been a sociologist, and I didn’t even know it.

My relationship with the discipline/perspective has not always been easy. There have been some great memories, but we also had some difficult times. We even broke up for awhile.  Sociology hasn’t always been fair to me. Sometimes it isolated me from my friends and family. Other times. Currently, we are facing another challenge in our long, passionate and tumultuous relationship; in September, I am no longer going to be teaching at the college where I work.

I remember that intro course that I took many years ago. The first thing that my professor said to us was “Sociology is a discipline with a messy face”. Over a decade later when I had my very own class, I opened with the exact same line, just as I had fantasized that I would.  I’m not exactly sure where I will end up now, but I know I’ll be “committing sociology”.

– DS


Sociology as a Liminal Space

*** I wrote this in 2009 during one of our (Sociology and I) most difficult times.


Mr. Giant, I’m ready to jump off your shoulder.
The view is mundane, now that I’m older.
I want to crawl back into Plato’s cave.
No need for chains, because I’ll behave.
I’ll stand still and face the wall…
I’ll happily ignore the philosopher’s call.

I’ll trade you my apathy for some ignorance…
if you’ll kindly help me get off this fence.