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Relative Values

September 12, 2012

I want to buy my 14-year-old niece a dildo, some lube, and an age-appropriate book about sex. (Can you recommend one?) I have her mother's permission, but I wanted to double- check on whether there are legal issues I should be concerned about. (I live in Oregon.) Do you think it would be inappropriate for me to cross that boundary with my niece? I figure it would be less awkward to get these items from me than from her mother, and I would include a thoughtful letter on love, sex, and life with the promise that I will never bring the "gift" up, but that I will always be happy to talk if she wants to. Any other advice on how to handle it appropriately would be appreciated.

Wanted Toys Too

P.S. I am motivated to do this due to my own teenage experience of not wanting a penis to be the first thing of substance put in my vagina. I had to resort to a plastic banana, no lube. Ouch!

"Your niece is lucky to have a mom and an aunt who are invested in her sexual well-being," says Jennifer Pritchett, the owner of Smitten Kitten, a sex-toy shop in Minneapolis and a frequent Savage Love guest expert. "She's also lucky to live in a time when sexual health information geared toward young adults is readily available."

And why shouldn't penetration toys be readily available to your niece? All any 14-year-old boy who wants to experiment with penetration—for his own pleasure, to build up his confidence in advance of partnered sex—has to do is make a fist. Girls who are curious about penetration shouldn't have to resort to plastic bananas.

Pritchett recommends that you get your niece a copy of Heather Corinna's book S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College, which is terrific, and that you make sure your niece knows about www .scarleteen.com, an amazing, comprehensive, and sex-positive independent sex-ed website.

"Share these resources with her," says Pritchett, "but do not write an awkward letter! All you are going to do is communicate your own insecurities about the 'gift,' and trust me, she's got enough weird cultural hang-ups about sex and pleasure to deal with! It's admirable that you want to save her from the plastic banana, but be careful not to inadvertently project your own sexual choices onto her experience."

Pritchett also suggests that instead of selecting a sex toy for your niece, WTT, you take your niece to a sex-toy shop so that she can make her own selection—because, hey, what could be awkward about that? "If you really want to empower her to make her own decisions about her body," says Pritchett, "take her to an education-based shop like She Bop (www.sheboptheshop.com) in Portland where their trained sex educators can help her figure out what she might like to try."

If your niece would like to go sex-toy shopping with you—and that's a big if—you'll need to call She Bop in advance and make an after-hours appointment. "We are an 18-plus shop," says Jeneen Doumitt, co-owner of She Bop, "but we have made special arrangements in the past for younger teens. We would need to get written consent from the legal parent or guardian, and the parent or guardian would have to accompany them."

There is also the option of going on their website and shopping together with your niece, or you could send your niece to any number of female-sex-positive websites, and she can pick the toys she wants you to buy—no letter from parent or guardian required, no embarrassing small talk.


I have a fetish for sweaty, smelly, stinky female feet, but I don't know how to approach strange women and ask them to fulfill my wishes. It sucks that the only way to maybe get what I want is to hire an escort or go to one of those foot parties that are always held in huge cities hundreds of miles away from where I live. How can I realize my dreams in the small hick town where I live? Any suggestions?

Desperate For Feet

Sorry, DFF, but you're just gonna have to move to a big city (or travel to one) to realize your dreams of sweaty, smelly, stinky female feet. And if your dreams revolve around servicing the feet of more than one loving, indulgent woman, then you're gonna have to pay nice ladies to make your dreams come true. Approaching strange women in hick towns or big cities and asking them to indulge your fetish isn't going to get you anywhere other than on a sex-offender registry.

I recently found out my husband once responded to an online ad from some guy seeking to give blowjobs to other men. He actually went to the guy's apartment but chickened out after meeting him. This was 10 years ago, long before we were even dating, and it was during an extremely long (five-year) dry spell for him. I don't know whether I'm turned on or creeped out by this, but I am definitely having a reaction to the secret he shared with me. Can you help me make heads or tails of all this? Should I be worried he'll end up getting rest-stop blowjobs one day?

All Mixed Up

During an extremely long (four-year) dry spell of my own, AMU, I responded more than once to offline offers of blowjobs from girls. I was horny, I was desperate, and my powers of concentration were such that I could close my eyes and pretend—and I'm really dating myself here—that Bo Duke was blowing me.

Desperate men do desperate things, AMU, and just as my teenage/closeted desperation drove me into the arms, beds, and mouths of some nice young women, similarly desperate straight guys have been known to accept blowjobs from gay or bi dudes. And just as the concentrate-on-Bo-Duke blowjobs I got from girls back in the '80s didn't make me straight, the concentrate-on-Sofia-Vergara blowjobs straight guys get from dudes today don't make them gay.

It's possible, of course, that your husband will wind up getting rest-stop blowjobs one day—anything is possible—but that one time he almost got a blowjob from another dude doesn't make rest-stop blowjobs any more or less likely. (I'm assuming your husband is telling the truth about not going through with it.) And as your being turned on by the thought of the husband getting a blowjob from another man doesn't make those rest-stop blowjobs any likelier either, AMU, I think you should go ahead and let yourself be turned on by the idea.


After 20 years of boring vanilla-ness with my ex-husband, I'm tickled pink to be with a GGG guy who's into some fun stuff and encourages me to explore. The problem: One of his kinks is a smoking fetish, and I don't smoke cigarettes. Inhaling is a big part of the excitement for him, but I cough if I inhale, which ruins the mood. Any advice for ways to be GGG with this kink?

Cigarette Inhaling GGGirl

There are limits to being GGG—self-harm being one of them. Give him permission to explore this particular fetish with someone stupid enough to smoke. If he pouts, CIGGG, remind him who inhales his dick.


Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

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Comments (274) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Honestly, to LW -- this would creep the living shit out of me. I don't doubt your intentions are good, but I ask you to reconsider this.
Posted by AQ on September 11, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
2
Sorry, that was intended for LW 1.
Posted by AQ on September 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
3
Has CIGGG tried herbal cigarettes? It's what actors use in live performances, to stay on the right side of health codes. If you've ever smoked anything, you should be able to smoke an herbal.
Posted by Howlin' Jed on September 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
4
@1 that letter was originally signed, "Giggity Giggity."
Posted by Howlin' Jed on September 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM · Report this
5
A word for WTT: No. An age-appropriate book with advice is one thing, but have some boundaries and leave it at that.
Posted by bad idea on September 11, 2012 at 6:01 PM · Report this
mydriasis 6
Can someone explain to me why a fist is a valid analogue for a vagina but a finger (or two, or three, whatever floats your boat) isn't a valid analogue for a penis? Dan's mentioned many times how young women who can't (or don't) buy dildos have 'no way to experiment with penetration' (or something like that) without having to resort to phallic fruit (or vegetables, or homefills) and it's always confused me.

What's the deal?
Posted by mydriasis on September 11, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
7
@1 Re WTT: This would have creeped the living shit out of me, too. I mean, I think I still wouldn't be over it now. Ick ick ick ick ick.

Scarleteen is great. I will trust the book is great. You drop off the book with a post-it along the lines of "Want you to have a decent resource. Also recommend scarleteen.com. Just want you to have reliable info I couldn't get at your age."

Carrying it on into "... and when I was your age I was suuuuuper curious about penetration! BUT not with a penis. I wanted it to be something notapenis. It was an unlubed banana--are you picturing that? Ha! So here, THIS is exactly what I fantasized about at 14! You will love it! Here, I marked the pages in the book for you..." is just really wrong. This seems to fall from "parents give advice about sex and respect and boundaries" well over onto the side "Kids who want to explore sex should do so with people their age, not with adults who are eager to show them the ropes."

Posted by IPJ on September 11, 2012 at 6:10 PM · Report this
8
Why not try a local woman that plays sports DFF? If you want a gf who has stinky sweaty feet that might be a good place start.
Posted by alyssa0987 on September 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
9
To DFF: I'm not saying you should just approach any girl wearing a pair of TOMS shoes, but in my experience those get you seriously stinky, sweaty feet.
Posted by Cindy24 on September 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM · Report this
10
Dan's advice to the first letter threw me, since he's been harsh in the past on parents being overinvolved in speculating about their kids' sexuality rather than providing guidance, boundaries, and privacy. I'm guessing it's a girl thing and he figures maybe women wish our moms and aunts had taken us sex toy shopping? (I'm guessing minimum 80% on GOD NO.)

My raises an excellent point. If you would let a boy experiment with masturbation without first buying him a fleshlight, girls could be allowed the same 'start with the basics' approach. Especially since penetration is not the be all end all of masturbation for a lot of women: maybe the girl could work her preferences out gradually on her own rather than being guided by her alarmingly eager aunt?
Posted by IPJ on September 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
11
First comment here; I would have been HORRIFIED if my aunt/mom/older cousin/any of my older family members had done something like that for me when I was a teenager. Comment #7 was right on; a copy of the book w/a sticky note would be the furthest that I think WTT should go. Frankly anything more than that would just be creepy and horrifying and relationship-damaging. As #7 said, if an aunt of mine had bought me sex toys in my teens, I would probably still be slightly traumatized by the whole thing.
Posted by rlu on September 11, 2012 at 7:05 PM · Report this
12
I agree with 6 and 10. A finger or two is a lot more like a penis than a fist is like a vagina! And as far as avoiding all the awkwardness of an after-hours sex shop visit with your aunt, why not just get her a gift card? Even amazon.com sells sex toys now so it's not like it has to be too obvious or embarrassing.

And to girl who doesn't want to smoke, maybe try an electric cigarette? You can get them with no nicotine and a flavor you might like. I once unexpectedly got super turned on by a girl smoking one of those in bed, and I can't stand regular cigarettes!
Posted by jack chandelier on September 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
13
DEAR GOD SERIOUSLY DO NOT TAKE YOUR NIECE SHOPPING. That's crossing a major line, embarrassment-wise and also just privacy-wise. Get the girl a book, but leave the rest to her. I'm a super-liberal 20-something female, but if I'd been shopping at a sex store or even online at age 14, I would have been exposed to a lot of things/images I wasn't ready for. Go with the age-appropriate book. If she's living in a sex-positive household and has access to information, she'll figure out the masturbation thing on her own just fine. Trust me.
Posted by ASF43453 on September 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM · Report this
14
@6: Honestly? Because fingers aren't nearly big enough to approximate a dick. Nevermind that it's difficult to get a similar kind of thrusting when the angle is so awkward. While I tried fingers plenty of times as a teenager, it wasn't until I got a boyfriend and saw his dick that I realized that my own fingers were minuscule in comparison with what I'd eventually want to put in there.
Posted by alguna_rubia on September 11, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
15
@6, reach factor? I have a very long torso, making self penetration with my fingers more awkward than enjoyable. Part of my enjoyment of penetrative playtime is the otherness of it; when it's your fingers you feel the penetration as both the penetrator and the penetratee.

I think this is the type of Auntie that every girl should have. Although at 14, I would have rather had a vibrator.
Posted by catballou on September 11, 2012 at 7:52 PM · Report this
16
I am going to buck the crowd. The momentary awkwardness of knowing that a relative had noticed that I was maturing would have been far outweighed by having access to sex toys long before I did. I'm really unclear how this is so significantly worse than your mom buying you your first "grownup underwear".

There are so many ways to do this privately now that just weren't the case back in the day. Like give the girl a catalog and a card saying that if she wants anything from it, to email you the item numbers and you'll order them for her. (Having already shared a few good resources so she has clue one, of course.)

But yeah, DON'T tell her about the banana.
Posted by KDru on September 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM · Report this
17
I made it clear to my daughter from maybe about 14 on that if she ever wanted something from a toy store, we would arrange a way for her to get it -- one that didn't involve me. I figured one of her cousins (both female, both about a decade older) would be a good choice, but when the time came (her 17th birthday), I discussed the options, told her that amazon has good reviews, and let her borrow my credit card. She went to Babeland's website (or so she said) for most of her research and her purchase.

I have no idea what she bought; when the box showed up, she skittered off to her bedroom with it and hasn't mentioned it since, nor do I expect her to.

As a teenager, I thought fingers (and the ubiquitous shower head) were fine for external stimulation, but fingers IMHO just didn't cut it for penetration. I still feel the same way as a middle-aged mom. Besides, what I was really curious about back then was what sex (by which of course I meant PIV sex) would feel like, and for that a dildo is the obvious choice. I would have loved the opportunity to discreetly acquire one of my own.

An aside: one of my proudest parental moments was when, after a marathon podcast-listening session, she told me that Dan said some of the same things that her dad and I had told her. I got _something_ right. :D
Posted by MaGc on September 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
Robin8 18
I am sorry, but if I had received such "gifts" from my aunt when I was 14, my first and only response would have been: EW.
Posted by Robin8 http://shutyoureverlovingpiehole.wordpress.com on September 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM · Report this
19
I agree, the proposed gift is creepy. The book is fine (make sure she gets it in private, stick it under her pillow, wrapped, with a note to only open it alone), and a reference to a Scaleteen is fine. But if you want her to have access to sex toys, buy her a gift card to a reputable website. Then she can shop - or not - on her own terms, in private.
Posted by Ms. D on September 11, 2012 at 9:27 PM · Report this
20
@ everyone commenting on letter 1: I wrote it, and I am curious about any more thoughts people have on this. Dan edited it (adding grammatical errors in the process) - I had originally asked about buying her a vibrator as well. I wanted to know if it was a bad idea, since I've heard women can become "dependent" on them, and maybe I shouldn't set my niece on that path at such a young age? But I don't know if this is just anti-female pleasure bullshit. Thoughts anyone?

I also said I was planning to get her Our Bodies, Ourselves. Anyone recommend this over the book Pritchett recommended or vice versa? I just wanted to go with the classic, but if this other book is better...

And OF COURSE I am NOT going to relay the banana story to her!!!!! For brevity's sake, I didn't want to give Dan a play by play on what I am going to say, which would basically be, "Here's a book and some websites you might find informative. The items you may or may not want to use now, two years from now, or ever. It is up to you. If you ever want to talk about anything, I am always available." I still want to write her that letter - maybe letter is the wrong word, more like note - because I don't plan to be there with her when she opens this gift (and I sure as hell ain't taking her shopping! Maybe I'll throw the offer into her note along with her beginner's pack, but I don't think she'll have any idea what she wants anyways - I'm thinking a small, least-resembling-a-penis silicone dildo and a simple vibrator). I'm trying to make this the least embarrassing possible. I might even just give it to her anonymously (which would mean leaving out the "I'm always here to talk" bit, which she'll probably never take me up on anyways).

Any thoughts? I agree with everyone's comments on penetration: I started with fingers, of course, but I wanted to explore more "sex-like" penetration on my own before having another person present. And for me, fingers left A LOT to be desired. Maybe it runs in the family.
More...
Posted by WTT on September 11, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
21
I agree with the above commenter who said that, in a word, her response to a gift like the one proposed in letter #1 would be HORRIFIED. If my aunt had given me a sex toy at fourteen, I would have been INCREDIBLY mortified, and unable to look her in the eye for at least a couple of months. Besides that, I would never have been able to use the toy without thinking about the unconscionably awkward circumstances under which I obtained it, meaning I would've ended up in the trash. Please, please, WTT, for both your sakes and the sake of your relationship, come up with another gift idea for your niece.
Posted by Ailey on September 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
artdyke 22
Buy the girl a vibrator - simple, effective, and almost everyone loves them.
Posted by artdyke on September 11, 2012 at 10:47 PM · Report this
23
Don't buy your niece a sex toy (how would this come across if you were an uncle?). Get her a book, that will also probably list websites, but do not make assumptions about what she wants needs or likes. If she's fourteen she also already knows how to use the internet, and definitely doesn't need her aunt taking her to a sex shop. Totally mortifying and creepy. I agree that there's no way I would have been able to use a dildo a family member bought be at that age (I threw away books and articles from good intentioned parents in embarrassment at that age).
Posted by wth on September 11, 2012 at 10:49 PM · Report this
24
@12: Spot on, getting an e-cig is the answer. Looks and feels just like smoking, without smoke or nicotine.
Posted by ex smoker on September 11, 2012 at 11:00 PM · Report this
25
WTT@20 "I might even just give it to her anonymously"

No, then she'll think some stalker is after her. Just give her books and a gift card to Amazon and let her figure out herself what she wants to buy.

Are you closer in age to your niece or her mother? If you're close in age to your niece and she talks to you about sex, then you might be able to go shopping with her. Possibly.
Posted by EricaP on September 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM · Report this
26
@20 Our Bodies Ourselves always seemed kind of... not geared towards teens. I'd get her the book Dan recommended or the Guide to Getting It On or something. Honestly you don't need to feel so concerned about your niece's imaginary need to be penetrated. She could just as easily want the first thing inside her to be a dick. She's perfectly capable of getting a hold of sex toys on her own, especially just dick shaped things (every girl has a hairbrush, no?, or can afford a cucumber if that desperate?), and an Amazon gift card is a good idea as she can spend it on other things if she doesn't want a rubber dick or a vibrator. Lots of people prefer fingers to tools. So so so creepy to have an uninvited adult to buy you shit like that at that age, or really any age. If she had asked you to, sure! She didn't. Butt out. She is not you at her age.
Posted by gnot on September 11, 2012 at 11:33 PM · Report this
27
And that note, written verbatim? No. She will definitely never talk to you about anything after that. You are being way too angsty about this and the note makes that obvious. It sounds like she isn't voluntarily talking to you about sex now, which means she doesn't want to talk to you about sex, so respect that. The present of the book itself shows her that she can if she wants to. You can offer to drive her to Planned Parenthood when/if she needs it if you think her mom can't handle that or that she won't ask her mom.

Maybe..

"You're growing up fast and here's some things you are probably going to need to know. If you ever need any help with anything, rides to Planned Parenthood, advice, whatever, I'm there for you."
Posted by gnot on September 11, 2012 at 11:48 PM · Report this
28
And by the way, she can get "back massagers" Pocket Rockets at Walgreens, there are ads on TV for Trojans vibrator line which are carried next to the tampons at the grocery store, she knows what they are and it's easy to get them, buying embarrassing things at stores is part of growing up. Sex toys are much more normalized then they were when you were growing up.
Posted by gnot on September 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM · Report this
29
WTT leaves out a key data point: Does the niece already ask WTT about sex? If yes, the letter and advice makes more sense.

If no, then standard polite behavior applies: Don't give sex advice to and don't buy sex toys for people who don't talk to you about sex.

Age is also a factor here. A sex toy from your sibling can be funny. A sex toy from your parent is creepy. A sex toy from your aunt can go one way or the other depending on the nature of the relationship which is heavily determined by age.

In a remaining area of gender inequality, a sex toy from your uncle is ALWAYS creepy.
Posted by biggie on September 12, 2012 at 12:22 AM · Report this
30
Give the sweet auntie a break. Her intentions are good, and she was smart to ask Dan for help navigating the specific details.

And of course, the comment thread will contain a few good ideas too. The 'ew, gross, don't do it' reactions seem immature and sex-negative to me, so I hope WTO doesn't take them to heart. Even if WTO's niece is herself immature and sex-negative, a dose of grownup candor that respects her boundaries (which a note and a gift card would do) might be just as helpful as whatever sex toy she ultimately selects.

Posted by Functional Atheist on September 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM · Report this
31
Oops. WTT, not WTO.

Peace.
Posted by Functional Atheist on September 12, 2012 at 12:35 AM · Report this
32
Goodness, there are some strong reactions to WTT here!

WTT, you know your niece and your relationship with her well enough to decide whether or not this is a good idea. I noticed you weren't asking permission AND her mother has given you her blessing, so don't let everyone project their own hang ups on you. If you're certain that the time and your relationship is right, go for it.

I'd suggest the book Dan suggested over OBOS. I wouldn't suggest a gift card, as she might not know where to start. The brief note sounds fine. Something non-threatening, like a non-penis shaped slimline vibrator sounds excellent. No, vibrators aren't addictive, in my strictly anecdotal experience.

I was 14 in 1997 and EVEN THEN there was a ton of pressure to have sex and a large group of peers who has already done so. If you're completely certain that you're not going to scar her for life, addressing a big part of the penetration curiosity now could potentially improve her odds of avoiding the far more confusing and dangerous "awkward and uneducated 14 year old sex" experience.
Posted by dinernighthawk on September 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM · Report this
33
@30:
I don't agree that it is sex-negative to suggest that a 14 yo might first explore her body and masturbate with her fingers before getting a dildo or vibrator.

And the equivalent to a fist for a teenage boy are fingers for a teenage girl. Some will need something else, but they can still get that one or two years later when they figure out that even the ways they enjoy most to touch themselves aren't enough for them.

But a good book, aimed at teenagers, is a good thing to give a niece- please without awkward letters. I will probably give my oldest niece the updated version of a great sex ed book I devoured when I was 16. And I will give it to her in person, and tell her that I liked it in my youth, and that I hope she will like it as well.
Posted by migrationist on September 12, 2012 at 4:02 AM · Report this
34
WTT-- Noooo! The book is fine. The toys are not. If there's anything we learn in this column it's that there's tons of variation in the way we each grow into our sexuality and what we like. (We also learn that Dan has a horrible time putting himself in the place of teenage girls.) A toy, even a well-meant one, carries with it the implication that she ought to be using it, not the implication that she might use it if and when she feels comfortable with it.

Migrationist-- What's the title of the book you liked?
Posted by Crinoline on September 12, 2012 at 4:21 AM · Report this
35
@20: One book--not a library's worth--with maybe the Amazon gift card. (Which could be used on a book she chooses, a toy, or a nice copy of His Dark Materials to read while trying to pretend none of the adults in her life are thinking about her being penetrated by anything.) Leave it up to her.

As 23 notes, you are assuming your teenage curiosities and desires and such must be hers. Hers might be completely different.

@30: It's possible to be sex positive and not want to discuss one's sex life and fantasies and desires with any number of people. For most kids, high on the list of people they don't want to talk to about specific sex acts and exactly how they like them and how they'd perform them would be any adult with power over them.
Posted by IPJ on September 12, 2012 at 6:01 AM · Report this
36
One more vote for a much more hands-off approach to the 14-year-old than Dan described. Maybe a book and a gift-certificate, both well-wrapped, that she can open in private. Do not mark pages in the book, do not make gift suggestions. I experienced an information vacuum from my mother, interspersed with a couple of TMI revelations, and I did not appreciate either. If my aunt had over-shared I would never have been able to look her in the face again.

Is it part of DFF's fetish that he smell the feet of women he doesn't know? I would think he could just start a relationship with a woman and tell her that he's got a stinky feet fetish. Why isn't Dan reminding him how much worse it could be? He isn't into poop, dead bodies, drastic body modification, 24/7 infantilization...even small towns must have women who are willing to let their guy smell their feet.
Posted by SAH on September 12, 2012 at 6:12 AM · Report this
37
You guys are forgetting something. You want this girl to get what she wants in the company of people her own age, or online alone? I'd agree, but she CAN'T. Even online you have to at least pretend to be eighteen and over.

I think the book gift should come first, but perhaps the note can include the offer of loaning her your credit card when she's ready.

I really have to wonder if all this negativity would have accompanied a story from an older relative who is concerned about a nephew.
Posted by KDru on September 12, 2012 at 6:14 AM · Report this
38
I find it hilariously ironic, the thought of a city full of (mostly straight) teenaged boys who would absolutely kill for offers of blowjobs from girls, and here was young, supergay Dan getting all the head.
Posted by Velvetbabe on September 12, 2012 at 6:36 AM · Report this
39
I know I'm Paranoid Pearl, but I kinda smell the James O'Keefe brigade in the first letter. Dear Prudence received a similar-but-two-steps-more-distubing one recently, and I just think they were both calibrated a smidge too carefully.
Posted by Neffs on September 12, 2012 at 6:51 AM · Report this
40
I think it all depends on the relationship the girl has with the Aunt. If the Aunt feels comfortable giving such gifts then I think she should. Sure, it might be a bit awkward but still better getting socks.

As for the fingers as a women with short arms and a long torso, I'd have to bend myself into an unconformable position to really get them in. Even then they wouldn't go that deep and my fingers are thin and short. When I first started masturbating I used markers (the end with out the cap...) but even then, that isn't really that great. A nice dildo is much better and easier to manage.
Posted by Brand on September 12, 2012 at 6:55 AM · Report this
41
@37: Yes, if the aunt or uncle wanted to direct their young nephew to scarleteen (which you do not need to be 18 to read) and give him a good reference book and a gift card to Amazon, people would nod along. A selection of vibrators and lube, with a note about how you would have loved one of these--guys can enjoy being penetrated too!!!!--and advice on how to use it, would be a terrible, terrible idea.

Pretending to be 18 when ordering from Amazon is not exactly an insurmountable barrier in life.
Posted by IPJ on September 12, 2012 at 7:00 AM · Report this
42
Oh good, now I know what to get my niece when she turns 14. Ha! I don't think so.
Posted by wayne on September 12, 2012 at 7:42 AM · Report this
43
@37:
If an aunt or uncle suggested getting a flesh-light for a nephew, I'd be similarly taken back.

@Crinoline:
It's in German, so won't be of much help, probably. In case you do understand German: Günther Amendt, Das Sex-Buch, ISBN 3-499-19945-9
Posted by migrationist on September 12, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
nocutename 44
For those who don't read unregistered letters, all those so far have been non-trollish, legitimately worth reading. #20 is from WTT herself.

I'd add mine to the chorus of voices saying don't buy your niece a toy. At 14 she will be embarrassed and that embarrassment will override everything else. Unless, as someone else has pointed out, you are very young, much younger than your sister, and close enough in age to your niece to feel more like a peer/cousin. I'd say if you're over 23, you're too old to pull that off, but it depends on the relationship you two have had her entire life.

I think that positioning yourself as the adult to whom she can tell anything or of whom she can ask anything is a great idea, and presumably you already have a very close relationship. I think you should occasionally bring up mildly sexual topics in a general way to let her know that you aren't freaked out by discussions. Make it known that a lot of people confide in you because you're so non-judgmental--but don't appear to be asking her to tell you all.

"Our Bodies, Ourselves" is a great book, but the last time I read it, the focus wasn't on sex as much as a lot of other things. But I haven't read it in a long time, and most likely it has changed a lot over the years. When I was a teen (in the Mesozoic Era), it was the only game in town, but it wasn't what I wanted. I think scarleteen is a great resource, and the book that was recommended sounds good, too.

She can and will find what works for her. Even if she uses a plastic banana without lube, it won't kill her. But you could let that story slip, as a funny one, so she gets two or three points:
1) Don't use plastic things with presumably sharp pointy parts.
2) Lube. Use lube.
3) Other people have inserted non-penis things into themselves (she may have already done this) and they're no real indicator of how a real-life penis feels (neither, really, are dildos, wielded by oneself). Just because a girl may not enjoy the feel of the first penis-substitute she chooses, doesn't mean she won't enjoy the real thing.
4) There are dildos for sale out there. One can shop online and pretend to be 18 (this is made easier by the fact that it sounds like her mother would not pester her about what is in the box from Amazon or Babeland or Smitten Kitten, etc.)

I think a vibrator is a better tool for orgasm than a dildo, but I remember having a lot of curiosity (and some fear) about what a penis would feel like at 14. All my sexual fantasies also revolved around penetration and I felt this great ache to be filled. I agree that fingers aren't the same. They are shorter and skinnier, and move differently than a penis, and for many of us, are difficult to get where we want them to be, if they're our own. Fingers are probably best deployed on the clit, and I'm sure your niece either has or will figure that out on her own. I used unlubed cucumbers or carrots (carrots proved too skinny and pointy to be what I wanted), and I survived just fine. I file it away under "growing up."

More...
Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 8:07 AM · Report this
45
Dan,
Would you have wanted your uncle to take you to the sex shop store? Yeah, we don't want our aunties to so much....and I'm a little skeeved out by how into it you got without even a hint of salt present.

Gawd, it's so fun to bitch at the advice columnist, feels like we're in high school. hahaha. Dan does all this work and we all weigh in with our comments, sheesh.

Regardless of the relationship, I echo the other posters. If niece is trusted enough to read a book about sex & get the info, niece should be trusted enough to shop online w/ a giftcard w/ a maybe a note that says, "start small."

Posted by Ms.11 on September 12, 2012 at 8:11 AM · Report this
46
@20, the WTT letter writer, you sound so reasonable! I think your note is perfect. And the starter kit sounds great too. Glad to hear you aren't planning on taking her shopping! lol. Kinda echoes Dan's bad advi -- ohhhh, it was just a plug for a good sex shop. I get it now. :)

Regarding the vibrator, I dunno if you can get dependent, but if you masturbate the same way every time, you kinda can rely just on that stimulation to get you off. So, maybe just start w/ the dildo?

Posted by Ms.11 on September 12, 2012 at 8:18 AM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 47
@ WTT

IMO (and from memory), OBOS was a terrific and revolutionary resource when it first came out and was hugged to the collective hippy/feminist bosom. I was in my early 20s when I picked it up. So I probably would recommend a more age-relatable book instead. And definitely Scarleteen as a resource. Depending on where your niece lives and considering how much resistance there is to offering teens reliable information on their OWN sexuality in school, the accompanying note could say something like "to give you the facts where health ed hasn't".

OTOH, so much NO to offering to buy her a toy and definitely NO to going shopping with her. Even if you were in your early 20s (because, in some families, the aunt could be the same age or younger than the niece), that's still a major gap in development and crossing a relational boundary. Please do NOT include a gift card or ANY type of toy, well-intentioned as it may be. Why? Well, you're making assumptions of her sexual maturity. She may be maturing physically but that doesn't necessarily mean she's ready to be OUT about it. You may not have all (or ANY of) the facts of her sexual orientation or proclivities. [Just as a reference, I matured physically at 10, but wasn't emotionally ready to think about sex as it pertained to me until around 15. Growing up in a sex-negative, ignorance-positive household really did a number on me. However, I did have an adult library card at 10 and certainly used it to its fullest (borrowing adult-themed novels).]

It's terrific that you're wanting to give her as much affirming support and information as possible, but I'd recommend not stepping on her toes or anywhere within her personal boundaries.
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on September 12, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
48
I am a female nearly 21, and personally I would have loved having the means of getting a dildo/vibrator at that age. I did receive books from my step mom (even though i'd had preferred if they were from my biological mom), and I did read them! They offered to be there to talk which I'd never have taken, but the books were great. I may have felt uncomfortable receiving it(I always thought I couldn't look on the web because someone would find it, and freak). Do what you feel is best, but leave out the banana lol
Posted by Jives on September 12, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
49
I'm fifty five and have had two children, and I'm *still* not all that interested in a dildo. At fourteen I would have been permanently squicked out. A vibrator, now.....

Yes to the book, yes to referencing some good websites, even yes to a gift card to a sex toy online shop. No to the dildo and lube. Really, no.
Posted by agony on September 12, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
John Horstman 50
So, I gather from the comments that a lot of people have a tendency to sexualize ANY conversation about sex, and thus find the idea of discussing sex (or sex toys) with a parent creepy. Not everyone dose this, guys (if we did, we wouldn't be able to have academic disciplines that dealt with human sexuality, as every class would turn into an orgy or be so awkward that nothing could be discussed; I assure you this is not what my classes are). Buying your kid a sex toy doesn't strike me as radically different from buying your kid condoms (buying a supply ze can access if necessary). You're all projecting your hang-ups onto a complete stranger, one whom presumably her mother and aunt know far better than you. The teen MAY share your hang-ups, but I'm going to default to assuming Mom and Auntie have a better idea of what's going to go over well than random strangers on the internet. (I should acknowledge that many comments were simply saying what the authors would feel in that place, which is not projection.)

Also, go donate money to Scarleteen. They pick up the slack left both by sex-phobic school districts and parents who are mortified at the idea of discussing sex (including masturbation, which may well and probably should include talking about sex toys) with their children. But, if you help fund the constantly-underfunded organization, you can sleep well knowing that you'll be able to pass the buck with respect to your own children if you wish to do so.
Posted by John Horstman on September 12, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
51
The admonition of moving to a bigger city would be better of framed as advice and not an absolute necessity. When I was 22 and living in Alabama I peed on a guy a year or two younger while he very gratefully jerked off in a bathtub. No big cities, there!

While a city increases your chances, you don't need them. If you can't find the others out there on your own (such as we found each other), there are things like craigslist where you can anonymously state your interests and others can respond.

Also, a foot thing is so mild as far as these things tend to go, I don't think it would be especially disasterous (beyond risking inducing some giggles) to bring it up to people he had already gone on a few dates with. While the threshold for winding up on the sex offender registry is notoriously low, it's not going to happen for mentioning that you like feet on your 3rd date.
Posted by sweet g on September 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
singing cynic 52
Man, I am really glad that my feminist dyke friends (who were my age & younger) bought me a vibe for my 16th birthday and I didn't have to get one from my aunt with a weird letter.
Posted by singing cynic on September 12, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
53
WTT, boundaries please. You are likely to cause lifelong trauma to this poor girl, not to mention that you are likely to creep out her parents and other relatives as well. (I wouldn't blame a parent who banned contact with such a creepy relative.) As a boy, I would certainly have wanted nothing further to do with an uncle who bought me a sex toy.

Your unusual obsession with your niece's sexuality seems really unhealthy. In particular, the argument that she won't have anything to experiment with if you don't buy her a dildo rings false. I mean, how difficult can it be for her to get hold of a cucumber, for god's sake.
Posted by cockyballsup on September 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
54
My first thought about Auntie is "ewww...OMG no!!" My daughter is 14. I have no idea if she is interested in inserting anyting inside herself. Seems to me that at 14, most girls are just beginning to explore their sexuality and their bodies - many haven't even been kissed yet, and basic finger/clitoral masterbation (maybe w/help of a shower head) would be enough to start. I think buying a toy is something personal, not something one should receive as a gift. If she wants to use an implement, she can - same as a boy can use a fist/donut/bagel/whatever. Not rocket science. I don't think most dads/uncles would be buying blow up dolls for their sons to experiment with, so why the need to buy a really kinda young girl-(middle school/just starting high school) something? Book, note, info on websites, "I'm here to help" - all fine - but back off on getting in her personal space. She'll proabably look at it thinking "Oh G-d, what if she asks me if I've used it and liked it?!" Orgasms should never be on the discussion table between a teen and a relative. Side note - penetration has never done it for me - feels completely like nothing, no matter the size of the penetrator. Clitoral stimulation, via vibrator or shower head or fingers is the only thing that works for me!
Posted by bookaday on September 12, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
55
Agree with someone upthread: anything you're doing to yourself is rather unlike something being done to you by someone else.

@30: Condoms imply you think they are considering having sex. Toys imply you think they are missing out on this particular variation out of the 1000s of possible things and so you're going to help initiate them, expecting them to use and enjoy your own preferred toy. The latter gets creepily mini-me.

Also, there is a big difference between the niece generating the discussion with her 23 year old hipster aunt with whom she can discuss anything--in which case the letter would be quite different--and an adult in authority over a child deciding that they should start discussing the details of specific sex acts the adult enjoys and thinks the child would too. There's a reason Dan thanked his dad for never sitting him down and explaining how to perform oral sex on someone.
Posted by IPJ on September 12, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
56
30 s.b. 50
Posted by IPJ on September 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM · Report this
57
My mother and step-father gave me a dildo at 15, so I guess I’m qualified to discuss this. They bought me a giant, orange, “life-like” (complete with testicle and veins), seven-inch model that vibrated. And some soft-core porn. No lube (that really would have REALLY helped). I had two problems:

1) The thing was enormous and hideous. Particularly without lube, my virginal parts were just not going to accommodate it. Especially since, as I didn’t have any information, I just laid down and tried to ram the thing inside of me without and warm up.

2) I didn’t realize the vibrator could be held on my clit. I’m not sure I knew what my clit was.

Was I embarrassed? Yes. Was a permanently traumatized? No. Does it make a fun story to tell now that I am in my thirties? Oh, yes. Just don’t underestimate the degree of teenage ignorance. If you don’t give your niece instructions, she probably isn’t going to figure it out on her own. I thought that sex was a very dry, painful experience for the next two years.
Posted by Prof L on September 12, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
58
@51: While I realize letters are edited, the fact that it didn't occur to him that there might be methods of finding a sex partner other than fetish parties or just cold asking strangers on the street sounded like there's a lot more going on than just feet.
Posted by IPJ on September 12, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
59
It's interesting that Mr Savage focuses on whether it went farther than AMU's husband admits. The point would seem to be that his not being comfortable telling the whole truth about this one incident might coincide with a tendency to be deceptive in general. But it seems at least possible that going through with such an experience and finding it unsatisfactory might make one less likely to repeat the experiment than if one had declined it but continued to wonder what it might have been like.

Also, encouraging her turn-on reaction may be one thing, but it could end up being one of those things best kept to herself. She does not mention her husband's view of the aborted encounter now that it is well in the past. If he wants to keep that door locked, chained and nailed shut, while she has plenty of turn-ons without encouraging herself to go there, then encouragement even to herself alone might not be the kindest path. I shall choose not to speculate farther in this regard as to various possibilities.

Economy of words presumably accounts for considering that the desperation mention adequately covers the idea that someone with a satisfactory sex life is less likely than someone in a years-long dry spell to seek out unpreferred partners.

What I wish would date Mr Savage's history for me is not so much who had celebrated status at the time but that it was apparently so normal to have unilateral-service encounters. The progress against such a general expectation has been slower than one would have liked. At least one might hope that now there would be a discussion about possible reciprocation, even if the offerer in question had no desire to receive. (Comparing the two types of unpreferred encounters could be quite interesting, as each evokes considerable potential ick, but the ick is vastly different in nature. Unfortunately, my digestion is too far off today to let me follow this line as far as it might reward reflection.)
More...
Posted by vennominon on September 12, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
60
In response to WTT and the comments about it: I know that it's not very common yet to have a teenage girl's mom or other close relative buy her toys to further her sex education, but saying things like, "Fingers should be enough until she's older and can buy her own toy" sounds kind of close to "She'll learn all she needs to on her wedding night." Dan's posted TONS of letters of kids using all kinds of unsafe, unclean inanimate objects to experiment with penetration. Not everyone does it (I didn't start masturbating until I was 17, and even then, penetration squicked me out) but if she's got a good relationship with her aunt and with her mom, temporary embarrassment seems a small price to pay for safe penetration play, some education most teens don't get, and a really awesome story to tell her friends when she's older. Maybe give her the option of buying a toy rather than buying it for her if you're worried about her feeling pressured to use it. But i'm betting embarrassed or not, curiosity will get the better of her eventually.

In response to CIG, electronic cigarettes or E-cigs are pretty cool little doodads that don't use any nicotine (or they can in small amounts if you're using them to quit) and aren't dangerous or unhealthy to smoke inside. You can even get yummy flavors like vanilla or bubblegum for the smoke.

Posted by Allek on September 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
61
LW1: I have a pretty cool uncle, and if he had given me a fleshlight when I was 14, I would have freaked out something fierce. We're talking completely mortified.

The advice of a good book and an Amazon gift card are spot on. That way, she can use it on something else if she's a late bloomer.

LW2: Even in rural areas, there is probably a kinky group within a workable distance from you. We kinksters are everywhere! Look for localish munches and start meeting people.

LW3: He's not gay or even bi. If he was, he'd have accepted the blowjob without thinking twice. At most, he's a bit "hetroflexible", and there's nothing wrong with that. And you don't need to worry. He's not going to leave you for a dude because he once, a decade ago, almost got blown by one.

LW4: Another option is a hookah with flavored tobacco. The smoke is filtered through water, so it is very easy on your lungs. It's still tobacco, so obviously you're not going to want to do this every night, but once in a blue moon isn't gonna give you cancer.
Posted by lorcha on September 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
62
LW1 is ultra creepy aunt. AT 14 my vejayjay was tiny and finger sized, and that is all that should be inserted their. Little girls should be dreaming of kissing and petting, not penetration. The whole thing smacks of grooming. Auntie should watch out, even if it is veiled in the guise of 'eductation' it is inapproriate at 14. Ask any little girl that has been given a sex ed by 'that creepy uncle'. Just because Auntie is woman doesn't make it any less inappropraite.
Posted by jojo on September 12, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
63
CIGGG: Hookah might be a good alternative, if his fetish doesn't specifically deal with cigarettes. The smoke passes through water, which cools it and eliminates a lot of the harshness. It comes in fun flavors, and there are a lot of varieties of shisha that don't contain tobacco (I've smoked shishas made of tea leaves and sugar cane) if you have health concerns. If you're interested, hookah-shisha.com is an excellent website, with both a shop and a hookah education blog.
Posted by Jupiter on September 12, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
64
Sounds like WTT is trying too hard to be the 'cool' aunt, the one that's hip with all the kids. I'm sure if your niece feels close enough to you and wants advice, she'll ask for it.
Posted by daledog on September 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
65
People have mentioned the embarassment factor of auntie giving the 14 yr old a toy. I didn't see where anyone mentioned that in this day and age there could be other ramifications for WTT. Girl tells friend that creepy aunt gave her a dildo, friend tells mom, friend's mom overreacts, etc. - a story that would not be far fetched if it were a creepy uncle. People who are not a child's parents have to be careful in their interactions with said children, regardless of their good intentions or perceived permission received from the parents.
Posted by WestSeven on September 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
66
@WTT/commenter #20:

If you AND your niece's mother are both okay with this gift idea, then you sound like the kind of family where communication is open enough that your niece won't be "creeped out." She might feel awkward, but this isn't going to traumatize her.

Before I saw your comment, I was going to suggest what you seem to be contemplating: two toys, one designed for penetration, and a smaller vibrator designed for clitoral stimulation only. Definitely throw in some quality lube, as well as condoms for her to practice with if her mother approves. I say condoms not only for her future safe sex life, but because they are often handy for safe use of toys and/or keeping toys clean. I don't think it's necessary to take her online shopping. She may have no idea what she wants at this stage, so I would advise choosing a couple of basic toys for her to get her started. If she's curious about more options, an offer to help her explore it in the future is sufficient.

Speaking of safe sex, a book that includes information on STIs, pregnancy prevention, what to expect at her first gyno visit, etc. would be great. I'm all for reading material on the pleasures of sex, but when I was a teenager the information I sought out the most was the medical stuff. Unlike masturbation, that's something a girl can't really learn on her own. My parents were too reticent to talk about it, and my school didn't teach it, so I mostly relied on Seventeen magazine (which was actually useful in those days).
Posted by Skipper Jo on September 12, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
67
Also, turning your niece loose with a credit card or gift card isn't a good idea unless you also provide her with information about what kind of sex toys are safe and healthy. Dan's had a lot of guest experts talk about toys that are made with harmful chemicals, and you wouldn't want your niece to be exposed to that.
Posted by Skipper Jo on September 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this
68
I cannot smoke anything at all without coughing. I can however hold smoke in my mouth after pulling it off a cigarette convincingly enough that people don't realize I didn't inhale. I simply hold it in my mouth and part my lips like it is gone (not taking enough smoke to have it escape is key here.)

It can be done! (It is quite another story as to why I would do this at all and only when I am smashed on tequila...) lol :D
Posted by subwlf on September 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this
69
#68 if you're hammered on tequila, how can you be so sure that you're fooling anybody?
Posted by lorcha on September 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
70
I'm LW4...while the kinkster and I have since broken up (turns out he also has something of a fetish for driving drunk), I'm still grateful for all the advice.

Alas, the electronic cigarettes didn't do it for him - not realistic enough.

Regarding the "herbal cigarettes" suggestion from @3...just in case I meet another such...what are these and where can one find them? I'm assuming this isn't just code for THC, which also didn't satisfy the kink.
Posted by Firefly on September 12, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
71
I'm going to add my voice to the few who aren't totally horrified by WTT. When I was a teenager, I asked my mom to get me a vibrator. I didn't know what "sex-positive" was at the time, but my mother is the complete opposite of sex-positive. So she never bought me anything (not even a Magic Wand!) and never brought it up again, and I was too embarrassed to ask a second time. And the only sex shops in the area were 18-and-over so I couldn't go by myself (and didn't have an older aunt/cousin to take me). Promoting healthy sexuality is always a good thing, but I agree with the other commenters that maybe an Amazon/Babeland gift card is the way to go. I wish I'd had an aunt like you, WTT!
Posted by vibe lover on September 12, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
72
I let my kids read _Our Bodies, Ourselves_ as soon as they were old enough to begin to comprehend it (which was a lot younger than 14). We also had various books aimed more at preteens and teens. I have mixed feelings about the Heather Corinna book but generally think it's pretty good.

It always seems weird to me that boys supposedly start masturbating immediately on puberty and girls supposedly put it off so long, when in my actual experience girls are far more likely to start before puberty than boys -- I was ten, and of the friends I've been able to talk to such things about, most had started at ten to twelve*. (I realize both things could well be true, given a bimodal distribution of when girls most often start masturbating.) Incidentally, according to Emily Nagoski, the majority of women do NOT use penetration, and it's even less common in those who still have a significant vaginal corona.

I don't really get why people are pushing sex products on teenagers, who have so much going for them in the way of hormones anyway. I'm not against teenagers having access to vibrators and such, but I can't see the point of assuming that they're going to need them. Some kids, honestly, still aren't that good at keeping their stuff clean or private at fourteen -- I'm blessed if I want to see my kid's dildo sitting next to zir alarm clock, or worse, on the floor of a messy room, and I'd worry about infections.

*Now that I think about it, I did get a certain amount of well-meaning advice about masturbation in my mid-teens, by which time I was a bit puzzled that anyone thought I would need such a thing.
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
73
#70 you can go to any tobacco store and buy herbal cigarettes. And no, they are not marijuana. They're just various dried plant matter that are ground up to look like tobacco cigarettes.

For what it's worth, herbal cigarettes are roughly as bad for you as tobacco cigarettes, but they contain no nicotine, so they won't cause nicotine addiction. Any time you burn something and breathe the smoke into your lungs, it's going to be bad for you. It doesn't really matter what you're burning.
Posted by lorcha on September 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
74
Sweet Jesus. I cannot imagine having been approached by a relative and given a dildo at AGE FOURTEEN. I truly think that would have scarred me for life. Now, a nice nonjudgmental talk, and a good book, would have been great. Do that.

Posted by Merry Christmas, Auntie Dildo on September 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
75
@WTT: I'm with whoever said to give her a gift card and say "start small". I bought my first vibe when I was 17, and it was a rabbit... and it was too big for me, so I just used the ears most of the time. Yeah, it would've been totally awkward to receive something like that from most of my aunts, but then, they're MY aunts. Also, my mom eventually discovered the packaging and we had a completely awkward but totally hilarious conversation about it. It's really not permanently traumatizing to talk to your teen about sex. They might be mortified, but if you go on after that conversation like nothing is different, they'll get over it.
Posted by alguna_rubia on September 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM · Report this
76
WTT, here's the problem. I would not, at 14 or at any other age, want to play with any toy that I knew an aunt/parental figure had touched, seen, chosen, or even thought about.

Your family may be all groovy and open and cool like that, but any sex toy you give her/enable her to buy necessarily projects your presence into her play.

Besides, I don't know how well you know her, but there are so many unknowns to take into account about buying a toy for someone. Maybe she was abused as a kid. Maybe she identifies as male and hasn't come out yet. Maybe she's a lesbian and hasn't come out yet. Maybe she's a furry and is secretly eyeing baddragon.com. Maybe she ALREADY has a dildo. Maybe she's been having sex for a year already. All of these things are things she may not have shared with you and which would make a huge different in knowing how to approach buying a sex toy with/for her.

I say back off and let her figure her shit out.
Posted by mentor on September 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
77
As a once 14 year old girl I can tell you that I could not (still can't) bring myself to climax with my fingers. I tried (and have tried again)! Lots of gals need more clitoral stimulation. I finally orgasmed with my first boyfriend while having sex.. oral or penetrative I can't remember.. and it was years later that I bought my own vibrator and was finally able to climax all on my own. What a revelation! woo hoo!

That being said I would definitely go the book and gift card route. It's embarrassing enough being 14 without your mom and aunt knowing what kind of dildo you use.
Posted by eattheapple on September 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
78
Allek@60: saying things like, "Fingers should be enough until she's older and can buy her own toy" sounds kind of close to "She'll learn all she needs to on her wedding night."

Actually I don't think so, given that I would say the same thing about a guy, as mydriasis pointed out early in the thread, and no one thinks they're being treated like late-Victorian brides because people assume they use their hands.

I think I learned a lot more about my actual anatomy and response because I *could* feel it with my fingers and wasn't depending on an inanimate object in between me and me. That seems like a valuable stage to go through, even if you later decide you like toys better. Plus, to me, fingers feeling a vulva/vagina is just as much of a turn-on as the v/v feeling the fingers.
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
79
@6, a lot of women have small hands with short fingers. Also, fingers can't vibrate nearly as fast as a vibrator.
Posted by Diagoras on September 12, 2012 at 12:51 PM · Report this
80
@20 WTT

Um, I'm not totally comfortable with the idea of a sex toy either. But that's ME, and if you and your sister know your niece well enough to know that this gift would be welcome, clearly that's your call.
However, Savage Love readers are a pretty open, forward thinking, sex-positive bunch, so I think the collective consensus should at least give you pause while you reconsider.

Personally, I have two main reasons for saying no: I'm with the ~this sex toy will always make me think of the aunt who gave it to me, even when I'm using it~ crowd, so that's one of my main concerns. The other concerns is that I've never been into penetrative toys. I love my pocket rocket vibe, it's discreet and doesn't look like a sex toy, which is a big plus. I think you might consider the fact that your niece may be like some of us, and not into the dildo idea like you are. (Sure, she might be like you and several others on this board too. But why give her the unspoken msg about what she should/shouldn't be doing?)

I really think that a sex toy gift should come ~after~ a sex conversation that she can come to you with questions, and she shows clear interest. AFTER. And maybe an offer to a place like She Bop, where the nice saleswoman can suss out the girl, while you stand out of earshot if you don't want to be directly involved.

Good luck! And thanks for being a sex+ aunt :)
Posted by dccc on September 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
81
One of the issues could be that if the 14 year old doesn't have access to a *safe* sex toy (like a dildo) she may end up putting other things in her vagina that aren't so safe (or clean) and could risk damage.

I know that as when I was a young, completely inexperienced (stupid)girl, I was so curious about penetration that I put many things inside my vagina that as an adult I look back on in horror. I could have seriously injured myself, or ended up in the hospital to get something removed.(for reference, this started when I was 12)

Trust me, the potential embarrassment of an awkward conversation with my aunt would have been far better than the potential embarrassment that could have been caused by having to ask my mom to go to the hospital because I lost a household object in my hoo-haw.

Go for the toy.
Posted by Pro-toy on September 12, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
82
Only thing I STRONGLY disagree with : a fist is NOTHING like a vagina. Women shouldn't talk about things they don't know anything about.
Posted by rocknrolla on September 12, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
83
@79:
Exactly, fingers don't vibrate. And a lot of women don't need vibration to come.

@Eirene:
I started masturbating a lot earlier than 10. My brother as well. I remember both of us masturbating when sharing our bedroom (which we did until I was 7). Maybe it is orgasming from masturbation what you mean? Or maybe we were just early starters.
One of my three nieces has been masturbating since she had been able to touch her vulva. Her sisters watched her do it and tried to copy- but it didn't do anything for them.
Posted by migrationist on September 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
84
First letter: Personally, at 14, I would have found this sort of interest from a relative incredibly inappropriate and scarring. Hopefully this aunt knows her niece a little better, but I think just the sex-positive book (would suffice/be awkward enough. And this may just be my biases talking (I don't do the vaginal penetration thing) but to me a vibe is far superior and less invasive as a beginner's toy.
Posted by UtterEast on September 12, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
85
migrationist: yeah, I know there are guys who start before puberty. It's just not nearly as common as among girls at that age as far as I know. (I don't mean just feeling around -- all boys do that from babyhood as far as I know -- but focused stimulation.) Ejaculation doesn't happen until somewhere during puberty, but orgasm can happen at any age AFAIK.
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
86
@82, it was Dan (a man) who said boys can experiment with penetration by using their hands. And he didn't compare a closed fist to a vagina (or an asshole). The point is that boys can use their hands to safely simulate the feeling of having their dicks in an enclosed space. It's a bit more of a challenge for girls, and no hand can remotely recreate the proportions of a dick.

I actually think fingers aren't a bad way for girls to start experimenting with penetration, and you can simulate some (far from all) of the sensations of intercourse with your fingers. But toys are vastly better.
Posted by Skipper Jo on September 12, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
nocutename 87
WTT, if you're still reading:
None of us here know the relationship you have with your niece and/or anything about her. Only you know what the background--if any--is to this letter.

So I understand that if the niece has confided in you that she wishes she had a trusted and cool adult helping her with acquiring the correct implements for first time penetrative masturbation, you should ignore all of us saying "don't buy your 14-year-old niece a dildo."

But if a similar conversation hasn't happened, you might want to consider these points:

Why are you doing this?

Is it because you are remembering yourself at 14? If so, you may be projecting a lot onto your niece. She may not be interested in penetration, or she may already have figured it out.

Is it because you wish you had had a supportive adult/family member, helping you navigate your way through emerging sexuality? If so, remember that there are many more ways of being supportive than by taking the lead like this. Support means buoying up, not dragging after.

Is it because you like the idea of being the "cool aunt?" Because what seems cool to you may seem just weird and embarrassing and too-over-involved to her.

Finally, I think you should remember that the point of a gift, if it is given with love, is because you want to make the recipient happy. Many of us are made uncomfortable with the idea of our relatives knowing anything about our sex lives, particularly our masturbatory lives. So no matter how much she might, on some level, benefit from this gift, it might make her extremely uncomfortable. That discomfort may ease as she gets older, but it could take a long time--time that she could be using asking you for advice about sexual matters, if she wasn't freaked out and wondering why you cared so VERY much about what she is or isn't putting in her vagina.

I think it's one thing to bemoan the sexually repressed and repressive culture we live in and another to force our ideas for a better way on young teens that are products of that culture. I have two daughters. As each one first began menstruation, I wished I could celebrate that rite of passage with a party, inviting older girls and women of all ages saying, "Welcome to womanhood. We are your sisters--we will offer advice, consolation, support." But I knew I couldn't do that--both of my 12-year-olds would have curled up and died of embarrassment.

Bottom line, WTT, just be the best aunt you can, and follow your niece's lead. Make it clear that nothing she can ever say would upset or embarrass you; make sure she knows you are sex-positive; continue the warm, loving, supportive relationship I'm sure you already have with her. Tell a story about helping a friend acquire a sex toy; make it obvious that you think most women have them and that they are useful. If one day (but I doubt that day will occur when she's 14) she asks you to help her acquire a sex toy, you can ask her how she wants to go about doing this.
More...
Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
88
On thinking it over I want to stress again that she might very well still have a significant vaginal corona (hymen) to deal with. I don't know what that's like, but I've had friends who had problems using tampons as late as 19 or 20, so there's a whole spectrum of possibilities there. Plus she might have weird feelings about breaking it herself.
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
nocutename 89
Lastly, to the fingers-vs-dildo-vs-vibrator issue as well as the related "will-she-be-too-dependent-on-a-vibrator-if-that's-how-she-first-starts-masturbating" issue:

Many of us can't orgasm from fingers alone. The human body isn't capable of the rpm I need on my clit to come, though another human body can give me a G-spot orgasm, and that's something a vibrator can't. If I had had a vibrator to masturbate with as a teen, it might have made a big difference in my life.

Then again, it might not have, because it turns out that I can only orgasm by using a particular type/style of vibrator, so neither the magic bullet-type pocket vibe, nor a wand-style "massager" would have have helped me at all. But I don't know what happens if you're a girl who's capable of having orgasms from digital manipulation and you never try that before getting used to the much more powerful sensations a vibrator can produce. Maybe it is analogous to the "death grip syndrome Dan has talked about in relation to male masturbation.

The point is, anther person wouldn't be in the position to know what is needed without some very frank conversation. You'd have to know whether your young would-be recipient has tried masturbating without a vibrator, and if so, has she been able to orgasm. Then, if not, you'd probably need to know if she had just started trying, in which case she might just need a bit more practice/time, or whether she'd made a good-faith effort to come and hadn't been able to --all this to avoid a CREATING dependency on a vibrator to come, which might not even be the case. Maybe if you can come with fingers, you can come with fingers, even if your started with a vibrator. And if there is a dependency on a vibrator to orgasm, that dependency may have nothing whatsoever to do with a conditioned or "trained" response; it could be a preexisting condition.

And THEN, if it is determined that a vibrator is a good idea and won't render her incapable of achieving orgasm with digital stimulation, the appropriate vibrator needs to be found. This involves a sometimes lengthy period of trial and error, or an exquisitely in-depth knowledge of one's own anatomy and sexual response--all of which is a lot more than your average 14-year-old girl can supply.

I'd love to be able to help a young girl I loved through this stuff, but some things just have to be figured out on one's own.

More...
Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
90
@78- I don't think you're wrong about the value of your own hand or not relying on a toy. I'm very much the same way personally.

The way that I think those two statements are similar is both of them are saying "this should be enough" but for a whole lot of people, it isn't. You can tell a teen, don't use inanimate objects to experiment, wait till you're 18 to buy toys, but that doesn't mean they'll listen. Just like you can tell a teen don't have sex till after marriage and they won't necessarily listen. For a lot of kids, sex becomes a significant need and curiosity way before the age of 18.

The whole reason the aunt wants to offer this option to her niece is because of her own experience, that out of desperation for wanting to experiment with penetration, she had to resort to something uncomfortable, unsafe, and embarrassing. She doesn't want that to happen to her niece.

What I do think the aunt should do is lay it out as an option rather than a forced gift. This girl might not want a dildo, or might not want one now. But knowing that she's got the option when she's 16 or 17 and that hair brushes and bananas are not the only way might be a comfort, however embarrassing it is.
Posted by Allek on September 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM · Report this
nocutename 91
@81: If by "hoo-haw," you meant your vagina, you can stop worrying that you could have lost something there and need to go to the hospital.
As I always tell my students: "the vagina is a cul-de-sac; the anus is a freeway."
Unless you were poking chopsticks up through your cervix, you were probably going to be okay.

I assume you didn't use any knives.
Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
92
Dude.

If I was not ALREADY discussing sex with my aunt, and she gave me that kind of crap, especially putting it under my pillow, I'd start freaking out terrified she was trying to groom me for hot lesbian incest sex, probably sob hysterically to my BFF because I'd be afraid to tell my parents, and my BFF would probably freak to her mom, who would then call CPS.

Just fucking NO. Do not buy her a thing. Mention sscarleteen and (if you absolutely must) that if she wants something you'll happily provide a cc number for some website up to X amount. Say it in person so she can see you're not perving.
Posted by wendykh on September 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
93
@88 - I agree - seems like if she was inserting something and broke her hymen (or caused herself pain because of a thick barrier and small opening) and then there was blood - that could really throw her for a loop (and she'll be freaking out thinking she is no longer a virgin, etc.). Overall, I think 14 is too young (most of the time) to start w/toys, etc. For thousands of years, humans have found a way to get themselves off, and I have no doubt that if the niece has been horny, she has figured out masterbating w/o a helpful (?) aunt! Toys and other things can come later, w/sexual maturity.
Posted by bookaday on September 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
94
@91 Maybe your anus is a freeway, mine is more of a winding country road.
Posted by DJSauvage on September 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
95
WTT, your situation reminds me a little bit of Edina on Absolutely Fabulous, although you don't sound like the 5-star narcissist that she is. But she sees her daughter's burgeoning sexuality as something that she entitled to be part of, and it seems like you're doing a little bit of the same. By all means, get the kid a book, but leave it at that. The rest of it is none of your business, and your well-intentioned attempts at guidance will only attach even more expectations to sex. You get her a dildo and some lube--what if she doesn't want them? What if she uses them and doesn't like them? What if she can't forget the fact that her aunt thinks about her sex life in such detail? Leave her alone; if she's brought up in a sex-positive family, it shouldn't be too hard for her to figure it out for herself.
Posted by chicago girl on September 12, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
96
WTT, please do not let the hangups of some of these commenters sway you from providing your niece with resources. You buying her a gift certificate or even a toy would definitely not "traumatize" her. Sure, she might be a little embarrassed, but what doesn't embarrass teenagers? As someone who was once a 14 year old girl (I'm 29 now) and who has worked with teenagers as a family therapist, I will tell you that it is better to just be honest and caring then to stay silent or let your own nervousness prevent you from talking directly with them. They want to learn about sex (maybe their first choice isn't from an aunt or a parent) but they will go looking for information, and a scientifically accurate yet easy to read book is much better than random google searches.

I definitely recommend the S.E.X. book mentioned in the column or a book called "Sex: A Book for Teens" by Nikol Hasler, which is good for ages 14+. Both books are straightforward and use some humor, which I think appeals to teens more than OBOS would.

Giving one or both of those books with a note mentioning www.scarleteen.com would be great as well as giving either a small sex toy or an online resource for sex toys. I definitely do not recommend Amazon for sex toys though. Their selection includes a lot of toys that are made out of low-quality material that can be harmful to the body. Additionally, they are not an authorized seller of sex toys, so what they have isn't covered under warranties and may even be used. Ewwww. I'd recommend sheboptheshop.com (mentioned in the column) because all of their toys are body safe and they specialize in education. Maybe something simple like the Bgood vibrator on their website or something fun and smaller like the Spring vibe from Fun Factory.

If I had gotten a toy from my aunt when I was 14 I would have been embarrassed, yes, but also excited to try it and happy someone in my family wasn't a prude and would be there for me if I had any questions or problems.
More...
Posted by mugglepdx on September 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
97
@85, yes, I started masturbating at or possibly even before the age of two, and I couldn't get enough of it. Given the pleasure I got from this, it always used to surprise me that not everyone did this. As you note, it is certainly possible for prepubescent boys to have orgasms, and because at that stage of course they cannot ejaculate, they can just keep on and have as many orgasms as they want.
Posted by cockyballsup on September 12, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
98
She's 14, she apparently has grown up in an atmosphere where sex is a healthy natural thing she is expected to be curious about.

I can guarantee you she's already figured out manual play on her own.

BUT unless she asked her aunt for help with acquiring a toy, I don't see a non awkward solution happening. If she did ask, then I would go with the prepaid gift card to good vibrations or some such and let her explore on her own.

If she didn't ask directly but has been asking questions in that area, I would suggest the book, given discretely, and a few choice websites.

Let her set the pace and the speed of her education, too much too soon is just as bad as never enough. If she feels comfortable she'll ask all her questions in her own time, if she doesn't feel comfortable she'll never ask and she'll be ashamed to do independent research.

I think it is inappropriate to just hand her a vibrator, un-requested. Finding out how things work and what works for you is an individual experience and she may be curious about certain types of stimuli she would never feel comfortable asking about to an aunt or her mother. So even if she did feel comfortable enough to request advice or assistance in acquiring one, do the gift card let her pick her own and for pete's sake don't make a big thing about it. It's just sex, everyone does it... don't throw her an embarrassing "Now you are a woman" party or send her a card about it.

Making any sort of big deal about it is going to make it uncomfortable, even if the big deal is meant to be a positive thing.

Also an argument could be made that penetration is not the be all end all of sex, so why a dildo? she'll have more fun with a vibe. And if you make a big deal about how beautiful and wonderful becoming a woman is and how "special" this is, she will be both disappointing and disappointed when she actually gets in bed with another human being and finds out sex doesn't actually make people love you or make unicorns fly out of anyone's ass.

It's just sex, everyone does it, it's fun, it can occasionally make little people, But it's not going to make a relationship solid, lasting or indeed still exist in the morning. It's not the foundation. So no matter what you end up getting her, make sure she is spending some energy becoming a well rounded person, that someone will eventually want to spend a significant portion of time with. Make sure she grows up smart and strong and healthy. Make sure she knows how to love and care for herself. This stuff is all more important to her future happiness than her "cool aunt" getting her a dildo.
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Posted by anney on September 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
99
She's 14, she apparently has grown up in an atmosphere where sex is a healthy natural thing she is expected to be curious about.

I can guarantee you she's already figured out manual play on her own.

BUT unless she asked her aunt for help with acquiring a toy, I don't see a non awkward solution happening. If she did ask, then I would go with the prepaid gift card to good vibrations or some such and let her explore on her own.

If she didn't ask directly but has been asking questions in that area, I would suggest the book, given discretely, and a few choice websites.

Let her set the pace and the speed of her education, too much too soon is just as bad as never enough. If she feels comfortable she'll ask all her questions in her own time, if she doesn't feel comfortable she'll never ask and she'll be ashamed to do independent research.

I think it is inappropriate to just hand her a vibrator, un-requested. Finding out how things work and what works for you is an individual experience and she may be curious about certain types of stimuli she would never feel comfortable asking about to an aunt or her mother. So even if she did feel comfortable enough to request advice or assistance in acquiring one, do the gift card let her pick her own and for pete's sake don't make a big thing about it. It's just sex, everyone does it... don't throw her an embarrassing "Now you are a woman" party or send her a card about it.

Making any sort of big deal about it is going to make it uncomfortable, even if the big deal is meant to be a positive thing.

Also an argument could be made that penetration is not the be all end all of sex, so why a dildo? she'll have more fun with a vibe. And if you make a big deal about how beautiful and wonderful becoming a woman is and how "special" this is, she will be both disappointing and disappointed when she actually gets in bed with another human being and finds out sex doesn't actually make people love you or make unicorns fly out of anyone's ass.

It's just sex, everyone does it, it's fun, it can occasionally make little people, But it's not going to make a relationship solid, lasting or indeed still exist in the morning. It's not the foundation. So no matter what you end up getting her, make sure she is spending some energy becoming a well rounded person, that someone will eventually want to spend a significant portion of time with. Make sure she grows up smart and strong and healthy. Make sure she knows how to love and care for herself. This stuff is all more important to her future happiness than her "cool aunt" getting her a dildo.
More...
Posted by anney on September 12, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
100
You can tell a teen, don't use inanimate objects to experiment, wait till you're 18 to buy toys, but that doesn't mean they'll listen.

Yes, well, good thing I never suggested telling a teen that, then, isn't it? I simply said there's no reason to assume they need toys straight off the bat. Part of sex-positivity is letting people figure out their OWN needs rather than shunting them into a path you assume is right. The books mentioned will have plenty of information about toys (commercial or improvised), toy safety, and masturbation styles. Let her figure it out from there.
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
101
I started masturbating when I was 10 years old. By 14, I would have really loved to get a vibrator. It would have saved me a lot of soreness as I was often doing it 2-3 times a day and fingers (sometimes towels for more friction) made me raw at times. A vibrator would have made it much much more enjoyable.

WTT, if you have a good relationship with your niece, I say go for it. It may cause minor mortification, but speaking from my point of view, a minor amount of weirdness would be totally worth actually having a vibrator on hand at that age.
Posted by Elvishswimmer on September 12, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
102
@Elvishswimmer: would lube have helped? I remember natural lubrication being more erratic for me then than it was later in my teens (not that it can't be erratic at any age). (and yeah, I meant erratic, though erotic kinda works too)
Posted by Eirene on September 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
103
kl;
Posted by stpaulgal on September 12, 2012 at 4:17 PM · Report this
104
Allow me to chime in on the side of those folks begging LW1 not to be dissuaded by the negative comments. I am a 24-year-old female and I think the proposed plan sounds bloody perfect!

Personally I was an extreme late-bloomer. At 14 I would have had absolutely zero interest in a vibe or didlo. I would have been mortified at the very thought of receiving such a gift. But in X number of years when I was finally ready, having something in a shoebox in the back of my closet would have made the early days much less fraught.
Posted by stpaulgal on September 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
105
@WTT I had(and still have)a very strong sex drive. I grew up in a very conservative, roman-catholic household. Sex was NEVER discussed-and (especially as a female child) was supposed to be taboo. I can honestly say that if I had had a vibrator (fingers never did anything for me-my first solo orgasm was w a vibrator-at 30!!!) I would not have had sex @ the age of 15. I do not regret having the sex-but it would have been nice to have had an alternative. I applaud you for trying to educate, and support your niece in this way. She is lucky to have you, and a sex-positive mother! Don't listen to the naysayers! A small vibrator, the book Dan recommended, and a brief note are the way to go. Unless she is super advanced, even shopping online might be somewhat overwhelming. If she is embarrassed she will stick the box in the back of the closet until she is ready for it. At least she will have it-and not need to go looking elsewhere. And when she does open it? You will be the best Aunt on the planet! For sure!
Posted by dropandroll on September 12, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
106
I'm glad I don't have that person as an aunt. Imagine you turn 14 and you are told "it's time to start masturbating like an adult, honey!" Ugh. If you need to be that gross, at least wait a couple of years, seriously. I don't get how this is some kind of equality issue, we don't give young boys flesh lights.

When I was a teenager my mom got me all sorts of sex positive books. That was bad enough, I can't imagine how weirded out I would be if she had bought me sex toys.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 12, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
mydriasis 107
@ IPJ

I agree with pretty much everything you've said on the subject. Hear hear!

@ Eirene

"I think I learned a lot more about my actual anatomy and response because I *could* feel it with my fingers and wasn't depending on an inanimate object in between me and me. That seems like a valuable stage to go through, even if you later decide you like toys better."

Agreed. I think of sex toys as sort of a detached way to approach your own sexuality - so the idea that people who don't use them are uptight, it's like, really?

Guys! I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay.

I don't remember how old I was when I started, which means I was quite young and never used either method. How about that. When I was about 10 my mom gave me a pretty straightforward book, more of a 'puberty' book than a 'sex' book, but they're related of course. You know, I forget how I learned the rest...

Anyway I turned out just fine.
Posted by mydriasis on September 12, 2012 at 7:12 PM · Report this
mydriasis 108
OH and one other thing

"So, I gather from the comments that a lot of people have a tendency to sexualize ANY conversation about sex, and thus find the idea of discussing sex (or sex toys) with a parent creepy. Not everyone dose this, guys (if we did, we wouldn't be able to have academic disciplines that dealt with human sexuality, as every class would turn into an orgy or be so awkward that nothing could be discussed; I assure you this is not what my classes are."

Okay really though? I'mma guess you don't have children or deal with them very much. True fact about tweens - they often DO have a difficult time seperating the two. And at that age, talking about sex with certain people (who those people are may vary) will feel "creepy" to them. Some of us care about honouring those feelings and respecting the boundaries of young people even if they seem silly or immature to you.

If you ever have a daughter I urge you to hold off from having detailed sexual conversations with her, and I think most women here would suggest the same.
Posted by mydriasis on September 12, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
nocutename 109
@108: Thank you, mydriasis; I had forgotten about this.

@50 (John Horstman): I have one word for you: context. Another, nuance, might also be useful.

There is a world of difference between college students taking a class on human sexuality, which is either an elective or a requirement for a major, which means they WANT to be there, and a 14-year-old girl, whose aunt has taken it upon herself, based on a less-than-stellar experience said aunt had as a teen, to talk about the 14-year-old's masturbation habits, techniques, and tools.

It's not that we all "sexualize any conversation about sex" here, but in this case, the lw isn't talking about having a theoretical, academic, abstract conversation; she's talking about her specific niece's specific masturbatory life--with said niece, who happens to be at an age at which it's damn hard to talk about one's own sexual experience.

You strike me as having perhaps more intellectual than actual interactions with young teen girls.

And your comparison of an aunt's offering to help go dildo shopping with the dispensation of condoms is also a bad one.

Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 8:23 PM · Report this
110
LW1: Jesus christ, Jennifer Prichett actually advises liberated Aunt to take 14yr old niece for a private shopping experience, just the 2 of them and a bunch of strangers/clerks at a sex toy store after hours so the girl can pick out her very own dildo with everybody, including auntie, watching. Great advice. That will absolutely not be awkward or invasive at all. "oh, which one are you gonna get, honey, are you sure the size is right? And don't you think you need something that stimulates your clit at the same time? No, no, take a good looong look at ALL of them before you decide, and just ask if you need to know anything, anything at all, about how to use it on yourself, and I'll tell you how to get a good orgasm." She's 14!! Not 18. Not 20. Not even 16.
I also find it interesting that the letter contains no mention of the girl herself, her character, what kind of person she is, how she might feel about herself, or any indication of how she might react to an intervention like this. No mention of her at all, except as the object of Auntie's charity project. I find it unsettling. I think we need to be careful to respect young people's boundaries and not oversexualize or impose a fake kind of liberation based in our own personal issues. Everywhere young girls look today they are told through images and cultural messages that they need to act and look like pornstars in order to be of value. Sometimes that message is disguised as being 'liberated'. But if Mom and Auntie themselves are women who are truly resolved and at peace with their sexuality and history the girl will feel safe to get guidance in her own time and on HER terms. And it should be no other way. Her terms. a private dildo shoping experience will not do this for her. A soft, safe place to land, that also shows true respect for her and her right to choose the pace and experiences of her sexual history, will.
More...
Posted by sentient on September 12, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Report this
111
Oh, wow...I am wondering if I can even relate anymore...?
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 12, 2012 at 8:47 PM · Report this
112
There's a lot of talk about how WTT's proposed action was "creepy". Maybe it is... but why? I don't see why it is intrinsically creepy for discussions of sex to span generations, as evidenced perhaps by the fact that it's a cultural rift: the creepiness is much greater in the USA than in most countries.

I think Pritchett nailed it here:

"but do not write an awkward letter! All you are going to do is communicate your own insecurities about the 'gift,' and trust me, she's got enough weird cultural hang-ups about sex and pleasure to deal with!"

So I give you a choice: discuss sex openly and be creepy, or do it covertly and communicate that sexual things should not be discussed between generations. I can't swear it's the best choice or even possible for everyone, but I'd far prefer to err on the side of showing that open communication is possible. Yes, it means pushing on a boundary, but that's a big part of what education is: pushing (gently!!!) on (stupid) boundaries.
Posted by something on September 12, 2012 at 8:52 PM · Report this
nocutename 113
@112: It's not creepy for a discussion of sex to span generations; I talk about sex with my children all the time. I answer every question honestly an completely, and offer my opinion or advice about sex in a general way.

What seems "creepy" to some commenters and might be disturbing or embarrassing to the lw's niece, is the idea that the aunt wants to get a dildo for her niece, either by shopping with her or for her. Not all of us find this creepy; it strikes me as well-meaning, but overly-intrusive, as well as based on a lot of assumptions about what the niece wants or isn't getting that are derived from the aunt's own experiences as a young teen.

It's entirely possible to "discuss sex openly" without being creepy, which is what I and several others do in real life and have suggested to WTT.
You have created a false dichotomy. And please stop phrasing this as an example of American prudishness about all matters sexual. I'm sure that there are many other cultures where an aunt's desire to buy a dildo for her 14-year-old niece would be seen as inappropriate or tone-deaf.
Posted by nocutename on September 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM · Report this
persimmon 114
I echo everyone's sentiment about herbal cigarettes. Seriously. There's your solution.
Also, anyone who thinks a girl's own set of fingers is an adequate phallus has clearly never tried fingering themselves. I can cram all five fingers in, but it's about as satisfying as making a sandwich and then staring at it.
Posted by persimmon on September 12, 2012 at 10:04 PM · Report this
115
It depends on her relationship with the niece. If she and her niece are buddies who discuss feelings and stuff, it may not be creepy for her to buy a personal item as a present. However, if they have a typical aunt-niece relationship, this is very creepy. I would be creeped out if any of my aunts of uncles bought me a sex toy, they aren't my friends, they are relatives I rarely see or talk to. It would seem like they are hitting on me.

110 has a good point. The LW made no mention of what the personality of the girl is like. That is quite an important detail to leave out. All the LW said is they got the mother's permission, as if that is all that matters.

This situation is also potentially creepy because the 14 year old is having the sexual expectations of somebody else forced upon them. What if she prefers her hands to the dildo? Will she think there is something wrong with her? People often feel guilty about not liking gifts, imagine how much worse that situation can be when the gift is a sex toy and the recipient is an impressionable adolescent.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM · Report this
116
@112, this is not a "stupid" boundary. Sex is a personal matter that not everyone is interested in discussing. There are reasons to not want to discuss sex other than prudery and stupidity. Your goal of pushing a boundary for the sake of pushing it is absurd. The only good reason to push a boundary is if you are trying to establish deeper communication, not because you hate the concept of having boundaries.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 12, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
117
@114 my fingers are more than enough for me. Sticking inanimate objects in there just makes it more difficult. Maybe it would be different if I had a vibrator.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM · Report this
118
Desperate for Feet.

You could get a girlfriend. The real question is why does the woman have to be a stranger? I have the same fetish as you, and after a few months of dating my girlfriend I told her about it. Well, first it was just about the foot fetish...the smell part came later. Was it difficult and embarrassing? Sure. She didn't know what to think at first, but now she's cool with it and indulges me because it makes me happy.
Posted by cheaptricksareforkids on September 12, 2012 at 11:31 PM · Report this
119
Our bodies, ourselves is a fantastic book suggestion and it's comprehensive enough about women's health to last her a very long time and satisfy her curiosity about lots of things besides sex. Definite yes to that one, and kudos to you for wanting to give your niece proper accurate information.
Posted by krissf on September 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM · Report this
120
Yes, give her a gift-certificate for a good online boutique. Say nothing.
Posted by slt_savagefan on September 13, 2012 at 1:12 AM · Report this
121
Let me turn the discussion around from what's creepy to give a 14 year old girl to what's appropriate. I'd say:

1. Dry medical information on where babies come from, how they get there, how menstruation fits in, what adult male and female bodies look like, basic information about men's anatomy including penises and hard-ons. Preferably this information would be in a context of other basic info on the human body including the circulation of the blood and how food is digested and eliminated.

2. A general attitude about sex that it should be pleasurable and that if it's not pleasurable something is the matter.

3. Information that if something is the matter, help is available, maybe in the form of a discussion with the well-meaning aunt, or from treatment from the right doctor.

4. Information that despite some of what she might hear from friends or the media or public schools, the definition of normal and perfectly O.K. is a lot bigger than she might think at first. I wouldn't go into any detail on kinks or fantasies.

5. Direction on where more information might be found. Webpages, scarleteen, books. Plus guidance on not believing everything since there's a lot of mis-information out there too.

And that's it. Toys or even gift certificates are too much like pushing in one direction and a direction that the 14 year old might not feel ready for or might want to explore on her own. You might tell her that toy stores exist, but that's all she needs to know for now. A suggestion that you'd like to buy her something from the store is creepy.
Posted by Crinoline on September 13, 2012 at 5:12 AM · Report this
122
I find Auntie creepy. She shows way too much interest in the girl's specific sex acts - to the point of sounding like a prospective lover. No teen needs that kind of "help" - kids are entirely capable of solitary self-discovery. Offering to talk is one thing. Giving the girl a carefully selected object to stick in her vagina? Creepy.
Posted by Servilia on September 13, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
123
I cannot believe this website, this post, and all these comments exist. Well done America - you never fail to surprise me.
Posted by BarracudaScott on September 13, 2012 at 6:22 AM · Report this
124
@20 Why do you want to get her a dildo again? What would be the problem with her waiting until age 18 to buy one for herself?
Posted by TheLastComment on September 13, 2012 at 7:41 AM · Report this
125
@118, "now she's cool with it and indulges me because it makes me happy"...

...and because I've learned how to arouse and delight her in bed as well. Turn about is fair play.

Right?
Posted by EricaP on September 13, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
126
@125
"...and because I've learned how to arouse and delight her in bed as well. Turn about is fair play.

Right?"

Well, of course. I'm not an asshole or selfish lover. The fact that she's been cool about my stuff makes me want to please her even more.
Posted by cheaptricksareforkids on September 13, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
127
So, let me see if I'm correct in reading this article: smelly feet fetish + small town = sex offender, but overzealous aunt + sex toy gift + 14 year old girl = healthy sexual maturation.

Mr. Savage, if I were one of your relatives, would you appreciate it if I were to openly offer a butt plug and a pillow book to your son on the eve of his 14th birthday? Or would you kick me in the 'nads, call the cops, and banish me from your life forever?

I don't know - maybe you would love it. But if it were my kid, I'd blast that offending motherfucker into the stratosphere, hoping he lands on a kiddie-diddling Catholic priest on his way down.

Yes, you're not me. And I'm not a relative. And, of course, how do I know DJ doesn't already have the items of which I spoke? I get that. But I think many, many people would agree with my sentiment: you want to fist? Great. Have a knuckle sandwich!
Posted by wow. just wow. on September 13, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
128
FYI, they sell simple vibes just about everywhere these days and you don't have to be 18 to buy one either. I got my first one with my Mom's full consent one day at the mall at Spencer's if I recall correctly. I was like 15 I think. My Dad would have had a cow at the very idea but my Mom was cool. She got it, better I got my orgasms via a vibe than a boy and risk a teen pregnancy.

I'd get her the book and a smaller traditional vibe and I would not blush at all doing it. This kid sounds like she has a cool auntie and a great parent who is open to her exploring her sexuality in a safe way. Good for her. Better at 14 that she has a vibe or a dildo than a real live boy. Real live boys can get you pregnant. :)
Posted by Itsa on September 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
129
I'm straight, but when I was 14, I experimented with my girlfriends. A lot of girls did. Also, this is really gross, but my mom had a massager that I found and used to use. Maybe her mom can leave something lying around where she can find it.

I don't think it's necessary to give your niece anything. If she's horny, she'll find ways to pleasure herself. They make vibrating toothbrushes that she could easily buy. It's not about being anti-female pleasure, and the fact that you're concerned about that makes me wonder if this isn't more about yourself and your own needs to see yourself as some kind of "cool, pro-sex, feminist auntie."

I'd be willing to bet that most teens probably don't want their relatives thinking about them and their sex lives. Most teens would probably be mortified by this, as they are mortified by everything.
Posted by Where there's a will.... on September 13, 2012 at 12:33 PM · Report this
130
Doesn't anyone think Myd's admonishment to her questioner about the number of children she'd had ironic?
Posted by Hunter78 on September 13, 2012 at 3:35 PM · Report this
mydriasis 131
"I'mma guess you don't have children or deal with them very much. "
Posted by mydriasis on September 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
132
I was 7 when I started in with the shower head and was using things like candles by the time I was 13. Not because of abuse or anyone else inspiring me. Just because it felt good. So I don't at all get it when people act like 14yo girls are delicate flowers who can't be really damn horny of their own accord. Or as though penetration is inappropriate. Nothing safe that one does with one's own body for pleasure is inappropriate.

It's also funny that people are saying she should experiment with her fingers first and get to know her body. How the heck do you know she hasn't been doing that for half a decade already?
Posted by Hyacinth on September 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM · Report this
mydriasis 133
@132

I agree with your first paragraph. When I was 14 I was doing plenty, although I've always favoured the partnered side of things.

Secondly, everyone's different. I was super comfortable with my body at that age but I have a friend who didn't masturbate until she was 16 (if you can believe it). I can't speak for others who mentioned it, but people were seeming to suggest that using a toy was the only acceptable and/or sex positive way to masturbate. Which I think is absurd.
Posted by mydriasis on September 13, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
134
@132: We don't. We just figure exactly what she does with her fingers of electric toothbrush or showerhead is the sort of conversation she very likely doesn't want to have with her aunt.

Unless the child has already initiated such conversations, which it doesn't sound like is true *in this case*. For an adult to initiate those conversations (What are you doing masturbation wise? Tried this? How bout this? This? Let me tell you what I LOVED at your age...) strikes a lot of us as either deeply embarrassing or downright incest grooming freaky. Privacy matters to teens and tweens, and it's not like zero info about sex is the only alternative to oversharing.

From most of the personal recollections, it seems what would have helped was a good book or website (that would mention lubrication, getting warmed up first, the huge variety of toys that do different things if you want to experiment in that direction and how to do so safely) combined with a trusted adult willing to buy you something *at your initiation* like 128's mom.
Posted by IPJ on September 13, 2012 at 6:57 PM · Report this
mydriasis 135
@ IJP

I think (hope) she was referring more to people who posted things like this:

"AT 14 my vejayjay was tiny and finger sized, and that is all that should be inserted their. Little girls should be dreaming of kissing and petting, not penetration."

As if 14 is a "little girl". Um, lawd.
Posted by mydriasis on September 13, 2012 at 7:58 PM · Report this
136
My daughter is 9 now but when she gets older I will purchase an age appropriate book about sex for her. I wish someone would have done that for me when I was a teen. I have a very open relationship with my daughter and I teach her the correct anatomical terms for reproductive organs. She calls a penis a penis not a wee-wee and a vagina is a vagina not a hoo-hoo. If she asks about something she gets a straight forward, honest answer. She asked how babies are created and born and she was told how an egg is released, sperm meets egg and egg adheres to the uterine wall. She then asked how does the sperm get from the guy to the egg and was told honetly how PIV sex is accomplished. I honestly wish someone would have taught me the same things but my dad just pretended I was still 2 and sex didn't exist and my mother is an opiate addict and couldn't stay awake long enough to talk about anything. My step parents weren't any better. People need to not be so timid and embarrassed about sex and talk openly with there children (or nieces/nephews if the parents are incapable). Teen pregnancy rates would drop drastically if people put their insecurities aside and talk OPENLY AND HONESTLY with children/teenagers. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and maybe even a bit embarrassing but it has to be done!
Posted by butterflyrose83 on September 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM · Report this
137
I completely agree about being open and honest with youths (male and/or female) re' sex (and birth and death and global climate change and other inevitable aspects of LIFE as they do/will know it).

But gifting a dildo? EWWWWW!

Being an open, honest Aunt/Mother does NOT, in my opinion or experience, include coaching the youngster in masturbation techniques. I managed QUITE well on my own, thanks, and so will she.

ANY adult broaching the subject directly at 14 would have sent me into a fatal EEEEEEWWWWWWW spiral from which I doubt I would ever have recovered!

General book on healthy sex delivered discretely and without comment? Great!

Frank, age approrpriate discussions from birth onward about sex, relationships, her body/his body, safer sex and birth control? ABSOLUTELY!

Gift-wrapped dildo (who even says she is INTO penetration with a big fake dick, anyway? I never was, all my heterosexuality aside) or bonding trip to a sex-toy store....no. Please, God, NO!

I don't want to live in a world in which elders and youths compare masturbation practices in graphic detail...call me old fashioned.

Thin about it; in this forum, it is routinely assumed that the mastubation practices of ADULTS are PRIVATE and to be respected as such (whether they are beating off to porn or fantasizing about gremlins or whatever). But suddenly, because it's a "kid", HER privacy is fair game? WTF?

I THINK you can rest assured she's discovered her vagina and clit and other parts by 14. If not, the book should really help. No need for YOU to get otherwise involved. (Eewww).

Posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen on September 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
138
WTT: another yea vote for the gift certificate. And instead of a
letter why not reprint this column and enclose it? That should signal your good intentions as well as introducing your niece to Savage Love, if she isn't already a fan.
Posted by logos on September 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM · Report this
139
WTT: another yea vote for the gift certificate. And instead of a
letter why not reprint this column and enclose it? That should signal your good intentions as well as introducing your niece to Savage Love, if she isn't already a fan.
Posted by logos on September 13, 2012 at 10:29 PM · Report this
140
@135

Yeah, that's exactly the sort of thing I was referring to. As to whether or not the girl has at all hinted at wanting help buying stuff, I have no idea, but I'm super annoyed by adults who actually go so far as to think it's inappropriate for young people to be interested in doing whatever safe things they want to do to get off.
Posted by Hyacinth on September 14, 2012 at 6:52 AM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 141
Another thought re WTT: Does anyone else get a weird sense that the mother AND the aunt may be discussing the 14-year old because, though her body is maturing, she may not have shown any OVERT interest in sex? Darn these letters that are edited down to omit useful information.

It's too bad there's not a greater emphasis on parents having a go-to library corner in the house where perhaps supportive materials can be kept - just as schools were keeping copies of the print IGBP. Which I believe is also a good thing for every home to have, regarding bullying, no matter what the kid's orientation may be.
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on September 14, 2012 at 7:11 AM · Report this
142
@133 When I was a toddler, I used to rub myself on my favorite blanket. My older sibs made fun of me, and I stopped when I got to grade school. I didn't try again until I was 17 and had a friend who said it was fun; I didn't orgasm until I was 19 and discovered Penthouse Forum. (I discovered alt.sex.bondage the same year, but couldn't masturbate in the computer lab, and couldn't face printing out porn on the communal printer.) But I don't think it harmed me to miss a few years of possible orgasms.

Like most of the others, I lean toward providing information and money, rather than particular toys -- I mean, anal play with inappropriate toys is much more dangerous than vaginal play, but is anyone suggesting that one give one's teenager a butt-plug? Stick to the facts; let them choose their own toys on their own.
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
143
@134 We just figure exactly what she does with her fingers of electric toothbrush or showerhead is the sort of conversation she very likely doesn't want to have with her aunt.

Well, the aunt doesn't want to have that conversation with her, either! I don't know if you read #20 (WTT wrote back in), but WTT clearly does not want a face-to-face on this, and does not want to trade specifics with her niece (unless her niece reaches out to her with questions).

Men: If you've ever wondered if your penis is big enough, never fear! From what I see on this thread, most women are apparently happy with finger-sized penetration... Not me, though. I wanted the kind of toy WTT is thinking about from a young age, and I would've been delighted to get a gift card to buy my own. (A slender dildo and a simple bullet vibrator would've been unexpected but welcome gifts, too.)

When you expect men to use their hands, it's because men can simulate the penis-envelopment of intercourse with their hands and orgasm from it. As far as I'm aware, most women can't simulate the vagina-penetration of sex with their hands and orgasm from it. I know I can't. I can bring myself to orgasm with my fingers on my clit, but I've never been able to bring myself to orgasm by using my fingers or hand as a penetrative device. That's where the inequality lies: Men can get an approximation of sex (with their hands) that's very rough, but that's nonetheless good enough to reach orgasm, but women cannot.

(That's part of why, in our culture, it's considered creepy for men to have toys--by many people, of many ages, unfortunately--so I understand why a Fleshlight would creep a nephew out. But a slender, non-anatomical-looking dildo shouldn't creep a teenage girl out.)

Giving a young woman a dildo is not pushing a specific or abnormal kind of sex-play on her. Almost all women like penetration, to some extent. WTT is just making sure that her niece has a safe, adequate alternative to using a penis. Just like the safe, adequate alternative to vaginas that men are born with at the ends of their arms.

Honestly, I'm shocked that so many people on this thread think that A) slender, neutral-looking dildos are creepy to teenage girls, B) 14 is too young to want a penetrative toy, and/or C) older females in one's family should not enable the younger women to obtain safe penetrative toys.
More...
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
144
To those saying, "Teenagers don't need that kind of help!" Just reading this comment thread, it's clear that some do. And it's entirely possible for a teenage girl, desperate to simulate penetration, to put something unsafe inside herself. Why is it not okay to get her a gift card or a small, discreet toy?

It's not sending some kind of message. It's not saying, "You shouldn't use your fingers." It's just giving her an alternative she can't (or, at least, probably can't) yet acquire herself.

And I think the intent will be clear, especially if the aunt includes a brief note to the effect of, "I know you're growing up. I just want you to be safe! If you ever need help with anything, please feel free to ask me." The niece might feel a little awkward, but it will be crystal-fricking-clear that the aunt's not "pushing" anything or hitting on her or whatever the heck some people think she'll think. It's a dildo. It's mainstream. It's not furry handcuffs with a butt-plug and a whip.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 9:26 AM · Report this
145
butterflyrose83@136: nine is in no way too early for a first book on the basics. She may not be hitting the beginning of puberty early, but some of her classmates surely will be. And kids don't always remember the details of those talks as clearly as we would like them to -- reinforcing them with a book is good practice, I think.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 9:26 AM · Report this
146
@142 anal play with inappropriate toys is much more dangerous than vaginal play, but is anyone suggesting that one give one's teenager a butt-plug?

That's different. Most young women are curious about vaginal penetration. They know that's what intercourse typically is, and they want to know what it feels like. Far fewer young people experiment with penetrative butt-play. (Mostly, because it's not something they're as likely to see or hear about.) Giving someone a butt-plug, then, would be the equivalent of suggesting a particular, less-common kind of sex-play. Giving a young woman a dildo (to simulate mainstream, vanilla sex) is not.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 9:32 AM · Report this
147
@SilverChimera:

See, that's why I think the aunt shouldn't buy a sex toy: every woman commenting here who went into detail on her masturbation habits described something else. My mode of operation is apparently quite the opposite to yours: my fingers on my clit don't do anything for me. My fingers in my vagina just press the base of my hand perfectly against my clit for me to come.

Her aunt giving her a dildo (esp. if the aunt doesn't talk to her about the present) suggests that she SHOULD masturbate with a dildo.

I disagree about your assumptions on people on this thread. A) I don't think teenage girls find dildos creepy, but dildo-giving aunts are something different. B) 14 year olds are like 20 or 30 year olds: some want penetrative toys, others don't. No-one likes one forced upon oneself. C) Older females in a family should enable younger women to obtain safe toys but only if the younger ones indicate wanting them!
Posted by migrationist on September 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM · Report this
148
@144 you're fighting a straw man when you say "Why is it not okay to get her a gift card." No one said a gift card is inappropriate.

I think we all agree that providing a book and gift card is appropriate.

I think we all agree that helping one's child (or niece) lube up and insert a dildo is inappropriate.

You seem to think that providing a dildo is more like providing a book. Most of us are saying we find it too much like helping the child insert the dildo. Too intimate, and therefore inappropriate.
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM · Report this
149
@146 "Far fewer young people experiment with penetrative butt-play."

Not sure why you think so. Are there studies on this? Personally, I never insert anything during masturbation. I don't pretend to know what "most" young women want, except that I think they want privacy, knowledge and control -- hence a book and a gift card.
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
150
@SilverChimera:
My above comment was re your comment @143.

This is @144:
""... If you ever need help with anything, please feel free to ask me.""
Together with a sex toy, that note would really sound creepy!
Posted by migrationist on September 14, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
151
SilverChimera, way to frame any argument against buying a 14 year old a dildo in the most derogatory way possible.

If I was given a dildo as a teenager I certainly would think there was something wrong with me if I did not want to use it. I would also be too ashamed to talk about it, no matter how sex positive my household was. Creating the perfect environment cannot alter somebodies personality, some people are just prone to insecurity. I think people who are not prone to this have trouble understanding those who are, and assume there is something unnatural about being shy.

I find it really weird that you are implying that anal play, sadomasochism, and clitoral stimulation are somehow less natural than penetration. Please do not raise your children to think that penetrative sex is the absolute best sex and most natural form of masturbation. It's not fair to people who have other preferences.

What are progressives of the future going to do once buying minors dildos becomes too mainstream? Are you going to buy your daughters male hookers, and tell your sons not to feel left out because a hand is pretty much like a vagina anyway? If women were not capable of getting pregnant, would you guys care so much about trying to use dildos to distract women from sex?
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
152
As far as I'm aware, most women can't simulate the vagina-penetration of sex with their hands and orgasm from it.

Given that the majority of women can't come from PIV alone anyway (and those who can are more likely to be those who find coming pretty easy almost any old way -- yeah, I know there are exceptions), why would that necessarily matter?

Penetration with fingers is different than PIV, true, and for a lot of us works better (shallower, varying width, easier to hit the G-spot and to do simultaneous clitoral pressure or friction). In any case, as I said before, the majority of women don't masturbate with penetration anyway (sexuality professor Emily Nagoski quotes a study saying only around 10% do -- personally I think that number's on the low side, but I do think it's a minority).

And sorry to keep harping on this, but Dan always seems to ignore the possibility of a vaginal corona being any problem. In a 14-year-old*, AFAIK, it's unlikely to be sufficiently estrogenized to just stretch or fold out of the way. Why would people expect first-time dildo use at 14 to be any easier (just mechanically speaking) than the average first-time PIV at 14?

*We're assuming she's not sexually active or already practicing serious penetration, as otherwise this would all be a moot point.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
153
It's a dildo. It's mainstream. It's not furry handcuffs with a butt-plug and a whip.

FWIW, among typical het vanilla non-Savage-reading folks, dildos are in fact far, far less mainstream than vibrators. I don't mean no one uses them, but they're much less mentionable. I would expect even among today's teenagers that gossip about "did you know she has a DILDO?" would be a lot more potentially damaging than "did you know she has a VIBRATOR?" (It depends on where she lives and her school, of course.)

None of that means I am anti-dildo or think the girl shouldn't have one at all. But that's the cultural context at present.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this
154
@151 I find it really weird that you are implying that anal play, sadomasochism, and clitoral stimulation are somehow less natural than penetration

I'd love to see where you think I implied that. What I said was that those aspects of sexuality are less mainstream, ergo a 14-year-old is less likely to be exposed to those ideas, and thus, less likely to become curious about them and start experimenting with unsafe objects in an attempt to experience those things. Vaginal penetration, on the other hand, is taught in many schools. "The male inserts the penis into the vaginal canal..." If you've heard of any middle or high school classes teaching about sadomasochism and anal play, please do enlighten me.

Please do not raise your children to think that penetrative sex is the absolute best sex and most natural form of masturbation. It's not fair to people who have other preferences.

In return, I would beg you to please not project your shame and insecurities on your own children, and thereby deny them access to books and sex toys that might help them discover for themselves through experimentation what their preferences are. I have no idea why you think someone would feel "guilty" or "forced" (as you say @115) by the act of receiving a gift, but please don't project that on your own children. I know you said you thought it was a bad thing that your mom gave you sex positive books (@106), but please don't raise your children in ignorance.

Giving young adults more safe options--especially mainstream ones--is not any creepier, suggestive, or intimate than giving them condoms. If you give your teenage girl condoms, it's not saying, "Hey, you better start having sex!" It's not saying, "It's not okay if you like girls!" It's saying, "Hey, I know lots of people your age have intercourse. I want you to have safe options if you do." It's not intimate. It's not personal. It's a fairly default assumption. If she doesn't want sex--or doesn't want sex with boys--giving her condoms isn't "pressuring" her to have sex. And giving her a nondescript dildo isn't pressuring her to do anything, either.
More...
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM · Report this
155
@153 FWIW, among typical het vanilla non-Savage-reading folks, dildos are in fact far, far less mainstream than vibrators. I don't mean no one uses them, but they're much less mentionable.

I don't do a lot of sex-toy shopping (only because the best ones are always so expensive, sadly!) and I don't pay attention to most girly shows and movies, but didn't Sex & The City popularize the "Rabbit"? Isn't that a vibrating dildo?

People might not be comfortable with the word "dildo," but it's still a fairly standard toy.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
156
(I would Google the Rabbit, but I'm at work... I would add that dildos were the first sex-toys my sister and I wanted for ourselves. But perhaps we're not representative.)

@152 I agree that that might be an issue, and a large or medium dildo would likely be problematic, but I would think a slender dildo + lube would largely get around that. But perhaps not. The first dildo my sister bought herself, she wasn't able to use. (She literally could not force it in.) If the girl just can't use it, no harm done.

However, I would imagine that whichever "sex ed" book her aunt bought would (hopefully) explain about one's hymen and whatnot, and the trickiness of first penetration. So, the girl would likely not draw any harmful or confused conclusions, if she did have problems. And again, no harm done.

Buying her a sex toy--or giving her access to buy one--is giving her options. Whatever toy she gets might not be the best option for her, but that's what she'll learn by experimenting with it. A toy isn't going to "close off" any route of experimentation or "force" her down any path. It does nothing more than open some doors for her. Where she goes from there is up to her.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
nocutename 157
Well now. I *was* a teenage girl (maybe closer to 15 than 14) who was interested in penetration. I did want to know what a penis felt like. Alas, I had no adult to give me a gift card so I could buy a dildo and satisfy both my curiosity and urges.
So what did I do?

I used candles. I used carrots. I used cucumbers.

Somehow, I grew up unscathed, even without dildo-guidance. I figured it out. Just as I'm sure that WTT's niece and every other penetratively-curious 13-18-year old will do. She doesn't need someone to procure or help her procure a commercially-manufactured dildo. And just because she doesn't get one doesn't mean that she will forgo sexual pleasure or be surrounded by an environment that is sexually repressive.

Not all dildos look like realistic penises. There's nothing a silicone or glass or metal dildo can do that a hairbrush handle or a cucumber can't. A dildo manufactured for that purpose isn't necessarily any more hygienic than any other cylindrical tool by virtue of its intended use, nor is it less potentially harmful.

On a seemingly-unrelated note, there is a concern that American children are becoming less competent to navigate adult life, because their helicopter parents insist on mediating their every experience. I think this is just the furthest example of such behavior and thus an outcome to be expected. But if adults--no matter how well-meaning--back off, children will rediscover (or discover) resourcefulness. There is almost no motivator as strong as sexual desire and curiosity.


Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
158
SilverChimera, did you really mean (I don't think you did) to say that clitoral stimulation wasn't mainstream? Because if so, God help us all!

If I were fourteen and an adult brought me a pre-approved sex toy, with the clear implication that it would do wonders for someone my age, and I couldn't even get the damn thing in, I would think there was something WRONG with me. So I don't think there's any assurance that there would be "no harm done." If I'd bought it myself, then I would be much more likely to interpret the situation as having bought the wrong thing, or a bad product, or whatever. I might still think I'd been stupid for doing that (because that's how insecure fourteen-year-olds are), but that's a lot better than thinking there's something wrong with your sexuality or sex organs.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
nocutename 159
I think that the reason that vibrators may be more "mentionable" in mainstream society is that many of them can be disguised or passed off as something else. The wand-styles are called "massagers," and are sold in drugstores, with a picture of a man or woman using one to soothe aching neck muscles. Bullet-styles or pocket vibes don't look explicitly sexual: some are designed to not be overt sex toys and many are pretty unobtrusive.

Whereas dildos, especially those made to look like human penises (with or without rabbitty things attached near the base and protruding off of it), are unambiguously sexual, and could mistaken for nothing else. Many are larger and thicker than an average human penis, and some are much larger and girthier.

Such toys' use is unmistakable. This can have the effect of making people uncomfortable (particularly if the user is young, as some of these comments, even here on this sex-positive site have shown).
Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
160
DFF

You can't just go up to women and ask them if you could worship their feet. At least 95% of women think it's disgusting and perverted and will strongly refuse (or even call the cops). Your odds are greatly improved by using the fetish dating sites or Craigslist on the internet and advertising for exactly what you want. The only replies you get will be from those few women willing to accommodate you. And stay away from foot parties - you don't want to be slobbering on feet that other men have been slobbering on all night.
Posted by mrivera on September 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
161
@157, I agree totally. I used bananas covered in plastic wrap. I also had a hair brush with a handle that was conveniently dildo shaped, and easy to clean. I also learned more than enough about sex and masturbation from the internet. My parents told me it was normal to masturbate, but they did not give me any other information, nor did I need it. They gave me some books but I did not think they were very helpful, mostly condescending nonsense like "all breast shapes are normal" and "don't have sex unless you are ready for it."

@154 I don't know how old you are, but I don't think you know what my generation is like. I grew up using the internet and I was exposed to a wide variety of perversions before the age of 14. Dan Savage's son grew up watching South Park from a young age, and he described that as his son's sex education. The reason I think you are implying that clitoral stimination, bdsm, and anal stimulation are less natural is because you keep talking about penetration as if it is a lot more acceptable than other forms of sexual pleasure. I don't think it is, there is absolutely nothing non-mainstream about using the clit to masturbate. Because of what is on tv these days, kids may know what a dominatrix is before they know about PIV.

I don't think it is a bad thing that my Mom gave me books. I suppose I used the word bad, but I did not mean it in that way. I meant it was embarrassing. It didn't damage me or anything, I was just slightly self conscious about all of the concern society has for my sexuality, and annoyed by all of the adults who assume I have never heard of condoms. The good thing about that was, it exposed me to a wide variety of viewpoints, some of which contradicted each other. I didn't mention this before but my mom also bought a waterproof vibrating thing and several times reminded me that we had one. She said it was for back pain but I suspected she was trying to get me to use a sex toy. She grew up in a sexually repressive environment and I felt like she was working out her issues on me.

I totally understand why you think a dildo is not pressuring, but no matter what arguments you make, many teenage girls would see it differently. That is not my opinion, it's a fact about how people work. People have different personalities and different people react differently to the same things.

A condom is not comparable to a dildo, because a condom is merely a safety precaution. A dildo is meant for sexual pleasure. Different objects, different purposes. Again, we don't give boys flesh lights, why all of the concern for female orgasms? You describe dildos as safe, but what is so dangerous about non-dildo masturbation? I suppose you mean it is safe compared to sex, but sex is not especially dangerous.
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Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
162
For the last letter, I suggest getting one of those cigarette rolling machines that uses cigarette papers with filters, some papers with included filters, and then roll cigarettes with cannabis instead of tobacco. They'll look like tobacco cigarettes, so you can fulfil your guy's fetish without inhaling any of those addictive, cancer-causing chemicals.
Posted by truthspeaker on September 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM · Report this
163
SilverChimera, did you really mean (I don't think you did) to say that clitoral stimulation wasn't mainstream? Because if so, God help us all!

I don't mean to say it's uncommon or even "not mainstream," really. But vaginal penetration is what's taught in school in the "reproductive health" classes. Vaginal penetration is also the most common sexual activity vaguely alluded to in PG-13 books and movies (and even R-rated ones). Young women who are not explicitly reading something sex-positive about female masturbation (and/or female sexual pleasure in general) may not encounter the idea of clitoral stimulation for years after puberty. On the other hand, any young woman who's had even the driest, most basic sex-ed class knows that this goes in there.

Is this really a revolutionary idea that I'm proposing? That more young people know about (and thus think to explore, at least initially) vaginal penetration and PIV intercourse (and its analogues) than other types of sex-play?
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
mydriasis 164
@ Erica

I agree

@ cute

Thanks for sharing! I was honestly more interested in what SEX was like than what putting a foreign object in my body was like. I've never felt a need to have an inanimate object penetrate me and I never have (medical contexts and tampons aside). I guess I understand the curiousity but I guess I was interested in the whole package and not interested in settling for just one part. I've alwyays seen partnered sex as lightyears away from masturbation and not comparable in any way.
Posted by mydriasis on September 14, 2012 at 1:15 PM · Report this
165
@161Again, we don't give boys flesh lights, why all of the concern for female orgasms?

First, as I've said before--and as surely everyone knows--young men have a lot more success reaching orgasm without sex toys (or the help of books, advice, etc.) than young women do.

Second... Actually, I wish that young men and young women *both* had good access to sex toys and sex education. If my first boyfriend had used a Fleshlight as a young man, instead of learning to come by rubbing himself with a sort of sideways motion, perhaps he wouldn't struggle so much to come via intercourse as an adult. Not everyone figures out a healthy and efficient masturbatory technique as a kid. And, as Dan has pointed out before, bad masturbatory techniques can "train" your body out of reaching orgasm from the sensations of intercourse, decreasing your sexual satisfaction as an adult.

As far as people being dismissive of the idea that young women might hurt themselves while using a "creative" penetrative tool: There are plenty of ways you could hurt yourself. The most common is probably mild tearing of the internal tissues, but I'd guess the second most common is infections from makeshift lubes. If a girl finds out that her brother's been sneaking mayonnaise for his "me time" activities, she may think it's a good choice for her, as well, and not consider the difference between putting a food product on you and putting a food product in you.

If you can prevent that with a gift card and a book, why wouldn't you? (I would personally go a step further and just give her the "basics kit" her aunt's thinking about, but I think everyone should be able to agree on the gift card & book.)
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
166
@161 I don't know how old you are, but I don't think you know what my generation is like. I grew up using the internet and I was exposed to a wide variety of perversions before the age of 14. Dan Savage's son grew up watching South Park from a young age, and he described that as his son's sex education.

Actually, I'm 25. I grew up on the Northeast coast with working-class, Democratic parents who weren't particularly religious. I happened to be exposed to sex at a young age via reading adult sci-fi & fantasy novels (I remember being surprised in the 9th grade to discover that my classmates didn't know what a ménages à trois was). But my parents didn't let me run free on the Internet or watch whatever I wanted on TV.

Even today, not all parents let their kids run free on the Internet and watch whatever they want on TV. In poorer parts of the country, not all the kids even have Internet in their homes (as I found out by living in some of those parts of the country a while back).

And in conservative parts of the country, especially, not all young adults are taught anything sexual by the adults around them except for the basic baby-making process.

So, yes, I do believe that, even today, the "old standard" of PIV is the most well-known among young teens. I'm glad the country is becoming more sexually open and progressive, but the basic "penis in vagina" narrative is still the most common by far.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 1:44 PM · Report this
167
Young women who are not explicitly reading something sex-positive about female masturbation (and/or female sexual pleasure in general) may not encounter the idea of clitoral stimulation for years after puberty.

The women I've heard of in that situation generally didn't learn that women masturbated AT ALL until they were grown up, or nearly so. But honestly, pretty much all the books I ran across in the 1970s that touched on (sorry) women's masturbation habits whatsoever mentioned clitoral stimulation. Surely it's even easier to find that information now?

And you're forgetting about the rubbing or grinding back and forth that many small girls do from baby- or toddlerhood on, whether to orgasm or no -- they discover the source of pleasure long before they have any idea that it might be related to sexual intercourse. As in one of Judy Blume's books, "I have this special place and when I rub it I get a very nice feeling. I don't know what it's called or if anyone else has it but when I have trouble falling asleep, touching my special place helps a lot."
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
168
@167 I'm not 100% sure why we're arguing about this? I wasn't trying to say that women don't discover their clitorises occasionally, like men discover their penises. I'm just saying that, PIV being the most mainstream kind of sex, a toy that simulates PIV is not suggestive of some kind of fringe or niche sexual activity. It doesn't imply any kind of particular interest or inappropriate curiosity on the part of the aunt. It's one of the defaults.

Because PIV is the most basic, common practice, I can't believe that a slender, nondescript dildo is controversial or creepy when given to a younger but post-pubescent female family member by an older family member of the same gender. A dildo is one of the two standard types of female masturbatory toys. We're not talking about a weird, bright orange, thick, veiny monstrosity (such as one commenter described). We're talking something slender, smooth, and generally non-threatening. A starter kit. The basics. Nothing exotic.

I'm just surprised to hear that people wouldn't give a daughter or niece the basics unless she mustered up the courage to ask for it. You'd buy her tampons to put in there when that time came. Why not treat her sexual maturity with equal matter-of-factness? Buying her tampons doesn't mean making her feel guilty or awkward if she finds them uncomfortable and would rather use pads. And buying her a dildo can be handled with equal grace.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
169
I think that the reason that vibrators may be more "mentionable" in mainstream society is that many of them can be disguised or passed off as something else.

Yeah, but that's not mentioning them. I'm talking about actually saying the word out loud in a conversation that isn't specifically a very personal conversation about sex habits (by personal I don't just mean mentioning sex habits at all, but telling stories that are an effort to tell). I can't think of any of my vanilla-ish friends who would be much thrown by my mentioning vibrators in passing as a very common sex toy (and I'm sure this has often happened). Most of them are probably nearly as outspoken as I am on the subject. But I can't remember any of those friends ever mentioning dildos, and I would have to pick just the right moment to, say, tell a funny story about one.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
170
I think it is quite unusual for parents to limit the internet use of adolescents. If I had those sort of parents, I certainly would have found my way onto the internet anyway. None of my friends were ignorant about sex, either.

You don't have to watch especially adult stuff on TV to be exposed to sex. South Park is pretty mainstream, and even The Simpsons is pretty risque these days. Family Guy even more so. Dan Savage has a show on MTV.

In my opinion, you don't have to be exposed to these ideas in order to have an interest in them. The clit is much easier to access and use than the vagina, at least for me. I'm still skeptical about teenagers being more curious about penetration, but I guess nobody has done any studies on this.

Yes, I can agree on the gift card and book being okay.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
171
@163 as quoted in 167: I find that romance novels (i.e. porn designed for women, which teenage girls can easily access in all sorts of ways) focus quite a bit on clitoral stimulation. And that the first couple of makeout or coitus interruptus scenes would involve orgasm through clitoral stimulation. PIV sex happens later in the book. No masturbation, but plenty of indication that the key to pleasure is some skillful fingers between the legs. Sometimes a penis gets involved later on, but the finger part is not skipped even then. Or clitoral stimulation during penetration.

So while I expect someone who has had access to only the barest basics at, say, 12, to only know about PIV, those people don't have relatives eager to give them dildos. The ones who are curious enough to seek out some sexy books will have absorbed that clitoral stimulation is where it's at.

@141: I also wondered if mom and aunt were discussing this because the girl showed no interest. Or at least, to her mom and aunt she showed no interest. Which could mean she isn't very interested yet, or that they are not the people with whom she wants to chat about it. But as you say, there could have been 3 paragraphs on it that got edited out.
Posted by IPJ on September 14, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
172
I think there's a really simple answer to #LW1. If you already have the kind of relationship with your niece where you two are like buddies and talk about sex, just ask her if she's ever used a vibrator, and if she hasn't, offer to buy her one.

But if you don't have that sort of relationship and she hasn't been speaking to you about this stuff, by all means, don't just surprise her with a vibrator! That would be mortifying. You should start by broaching the subject of sex with her first and be perceptive enough to determine whether she's comfortable discussing this kind of thing with you before getting any more involved.
Posted by virginia mason on September 14, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
mydriasis 173
@ IPJ

"clitoral stimulation is where it's at"

woah woah woah, let's not get carried away. :p
Posted by mydriasis on September 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
174
@20
I did this (and I'm not signing my name to it for the reasons below).
My "niece" is not actually related to me, she's my best friend's daughter. I talked with my friend about it first when the daughter was 15 and my friend said it was too soon. I went ahead and did it (small (AAA-battery) curved-end vibrator, rechargable batteries, and lube) shortly after niece's 16th. It is illegal in my state to even buy sex toys for those under 18, let alone go shopping with them. I didn't know about the book or an appropriate website, but my niece is fairly internet savvy so I assumed that would take care of itself.

My reasoning: Condoms are imperfect for birth control and for STI prevention. Masturbation is safe. Adding another person to a young teen's sexuality increases complexity immensely. I believe that a person should only be sexual with someone else after learning personal preferences alone.

I haven't read all of the comments yet (167!!!), but I will. And the book will go to my niece's younger sister who is now 15, some time in the next several months.
Posted by incorrigable aunt on September 14, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
175
incorrigible aunt @174
Did you get permission from her mother when the girl was 16? Or did you just go ahead?
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
176
a toy that simulates PIV is not suggestive of some kind of fringe or niche sexual activity

It was, very recently, and I think there's a lot of leftover squick still around. I suspect said squick was originally connected to the homophobic horror stories in old sex advice books about (1) the awful things homosexual men stuff up their butts and have to go to the emergency room to get removed, and (2) the antics of lesbians with artificial penises. (You may be asking how the latter qualifies as a horror story. Good question.)
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
177
@171 It depends on the book.

In any case, not all young women read. The larger point was that, as long as all sex ed classes teach that this goes in there and not all sex ed classes teach about clitoral stimulation, knowledge of the role of vaginal penetration during sex will be more widespread than knowledge of the role of the clitoris.

My point was never to question the niece's sexual knowledge (on this point or any other). My point (as I elaborated in 168) was that, if you accept that PIV is a very standard, vanilla kind of sex, with many cultural allusions to it, then you can hardly suggest that dildos are some kind of unusual sexual device that the niece probably doesn't even want. Dildos simulate PIV. Thus, they are one of the two major default sex-toys.

The aunt actually wants to get her both a very small, basic dildo and a small vibrator. (You can read more from the aunt if you'll look at comment #20--she wrote back in.) Nothing crazy. Nothing that suggests an inappropriate curiosity or interest on the aunt's part. She wants to get her niece the two standard female masturbatory toys.

nocutename says, @87, "[Y]ou may be projecting a lot onto your niece. She may not be interested in penetration."

How is it projecting to think that a young woman might masturbate either with either clitoral stimulation or vaginal penetration? That's not "projecting." Those are the two standards. I don't know any female who didn't start with one of those two.

nocutename goes on, "Many of us are made uncomfortable with the idea of our relatives knowing anything about our sex lives, particularly our masturbatory lives."

I don't see how the gift of a very basic dildo and vibrator implies any real level of "knowledge" about someone's masturbatory habits. Again, the two basic ways for a female to masturbate are clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration. All of us can guess, without even knowing this girl, that she does at least one of the two, if she masturbates at all. But we don't know. And the aunt won't "know," even if she gives this gift. For all she knows, the girl will shove it in the closet. It's not like she plans to ever ask about it.

If a dildo implies "knowledge" of you masturbatory life, then a parental gift of condoms implies "knowledge" of your sex life. But those gifts don't have to imply that. (And they certainly don't imply any special or intimate knowledge, beyond what anyone might guess.) They can be a "I don't know, and you don't need to tell me, but have this and be safe" kind of thing. And I don't see why they shouldn't be.
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Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
178
@173: I meant in terms of what your typical romance novel, of the type available at the library, would indicate she might find pleasurable. It's definitely not "Whip out a dick or dicklike object, climb on, and go."

Posted by IPJ on September 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
179
@176 It was, very recently, and I think there's a lot of leftover squick still around

Well, the more people who treat dildos and vibrators matter-of-factly, the more likely they are to lose the last of that "squick" factor.

The way I see it, at worst the niece goes, "Whoa, my aunt is way too progressive," is embarrassed, and sticks the whole kit in a closet. At best, she appreciates the gift, it gives her a much-needed outlet for her desires, and it keeps her away from A) sex she might not be prepared for yet and B) painful makeshift sex-toys and possibly infection-causing makeshift lubes.

I think the aunt would know if her niece were too immature, sex-negative, or whatever to handle this gift. But even if she misjudges a little, I can't see this being a scarring-for-life kind of event. The aunt wants to help. I think she should go for it.
Posted by SilverChimera on September 14, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
180
I think Virginia's answer has been the best so far. It's so dependent on the relationship those two have.

Those of you who would simply ban such a gift can join the rest of the ayatollahs.
Posted by Hunter78 on September 14, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
181
177 "if you accept that PIV is a very standard, vanilla kind of sex, with many cultural allusions to it,"

But oddly it is not. If I watch, say, Castle with my kids (and I do), they will see references to sex trafficking, to hookers, to bondage, to S and M clubs, to safe words, to strippers, to foot fetishes, to phone sex lines, to various costume and role play scenarios. What they will not see is the suggestion that any of the male characters have a penis, or where they might put that penis.

As others have pointed out, the "rubbing between the legs feels pleasurable" thing is something virtually all young girls stumble on for themselves. And if you poll down the people posting, dildos are NOT the standard thing that everyone wants. They may be what you want. They may be what Auntie wants. There is no reason to assume they are what the niece wants.

As I think Erica noted upthread: you give her one at your initiative and not hers, she can't even get it in, you think she'll shrug and set it for a few years hence and not feel like she Did It Wrong? That is not the default assumption most of us would have gone for at 14.
Posted by IPJ on September 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
182
Well, the more people who treat dildos and vibrators matter-of-factly, the more likely they are to lose the last of that "squick" factor.

Sure, ultimately. But when you're looking at a question like "What makes a tactful gift for a sensitive adolescent girl?", you ignore the currently prevalent culture at your peril, as you may inadvertently be reinforcing a squick. I don't know what subculture she may live in, so I'm making recommendations based on what I consider most likely.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 4:19 PM · Report this
183
@181, not me, that was Eirene @158. Me, I don't think it will ruin the kid's life, but I think a dildo-gift is creepy and would have driven a wedge between me and my "helpful" relative. People who choose to give a young relative a dildo should evaluate how confident they are about the teen's reaction to such a gift.

If you find yourself wondering (as WTT did in her letter): "Do you think it would be inappropriate for me to cross that boundary with my niece?" Then, yes, it is likely to feel inappropriate to the niece.
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 4:27 PM · Report this
mydriasis 184
@ chimera

I'd disagree that the one you mentioned is the worst case scenario.

I'd say the worst case scenario is that a 14 year old girl interprets a sexual gift as a sexual overture. You think that sub par masturbation will impact her developing sexuality? I think that anxiety that her aunt will act more agressively on this presumed attraction would do more damage than that. But hey, that's just me.
Posted by mydriasis on September 14, 2012 at 4:51 PM · Report this
185
@mydriasis, I agree. Though I don't think that's the most likely scenario in this case, it's a perfectly possible one and would be pretty bad. I remember going through similar worries when a teacher of mine jokingly recommended a particular book to me. It turned out to be an error of judgment and not a come-on, thank goodness. From a different teacher I would have been far less sure. In any case the dithering was no fun.
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 5:13 PM · Report this
186
@184: Not just you. I mean, cocky ballsup, whom I think we can accuse of not being repressed with Victorian standards, put this solidly in the "relative is an incestuous creep ick" zone.

(On another note, I appreciate your voice here in terms of how a penetrative gift to an adolescent might still be way too creepy, even to someone who, as an experienced adult, likes penetration more than other forms of stimulation.)

Nocute, agreed on letting kids show some initiative and resourcefulness. Much better training for later in life.

Following off something mydriasis said upthread, about partnered sex being very different from masturbation: I'm surprised at how often the sentiment "If she gets orgasms from a vibe, she won't want to bother with boys and so can't get pregnant" comes up. (Does it work for teenage lesbians, that possession of a vibe causes them not to fool around with girls?) I don't think the only reason teenage girls bother with teenage boys is that they've heard you can get orgasms that way.
Posted by IPJ on September 14, 2012 at 6:09 PM · Report this
187
I'm one who did put off having sex until I had some reasonable expectation of having sex that was more fun than masturbation (which took a while). But I'm not all that typical. I think the greater point is to be able to release sexual tension to the point of being, like, a functional person. I have NO IDEA how anyone gets through the teen years without being able to masturbate. The people who don't start until 25 or whatever -- how does that even happen? (I know, I know, people are different. It's just hard to wrap my head around.)
Posted by Eirene on September 14, 2012 at 6:21 PM · Report this
188
@187, must be a difference in hormone balance or something. As a teen I didn't feel any need to masturbate, just a desire to know what the fuss was all about. As an adult, I more often masturbate as a tool to get to sleep easily than because I feel a drive to orgasm for its own sake. I think I must have less testosterone than you do, because it's hard for me to wrap my head around not feeling functional without orgasm. (For me it's caffeine that makes me feel functional.)
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
nocutename 189
I agree with mydriasis that having partnered sex is totally different than masturbation, and to be honest, I don't think I would have been anywhere near being ready on many levels for partnered sex when I was 14, but considering that I was a still-unkissed 14-year-old girl, who had never, ever had a boy show the slightest bit of interest in me (and still was at 15 . . . and at 16 . . . and at 17), masturbation was as close as I was going to get. Not every young teen girl is ready for or able to come by partnered sex. But they can still have a vibrant solo sex life.

We don't all share the same backgrounds; unlike Eirene, I have never still to this day, experienced sexual tension as something that MUST be relieved or I can't be functional, even though I love sex and masturbate every chance I get, too.

When I was a 14-year-old girl (I'm almost 50 now), I was mostly very curious about what "sex" felt like--by which I meant what having a penis inside me felt like, as well as being vaguely horny with the expectation that filling the empty ache inside me would give me an orgasm. It didn't, and after a few unfulfilling attempts with homemade dildos, I stopped trying to masturbate until--yes, Eirene, I was 26 or 27 years old and had been married several years. And that proved no good, either.

In fact, learning to be orgasmic took a long time: I was 38 the first time, and I still can't orgasm in any other way but with my very specific kind of vibrator and in one position. That doesn't mean I didn't have an avid interest in sex nor a whole heap of sexual partners.

People have different physiological responses. That's part of what I meant by not projecting your own onto your niece. BTW, when I said that, I was referring to the specific assumption on WTT's part that her niece would be interested in penetration; I was, but I know that a lot of girls aren't.
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Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
190
@187 It's really hard for me to wrap my head around too. One somebody told me they did not even know where there clit was until their 20s, I couldn't help but respond less than tactfully, something like "HOW could you now know that?!" She was far from conservative also, and she had a few boyfriends. I just don't get it, the presence of this thing has always been obvious to me.

@186 This is speculation but I think if anything, a sex toy will make somebody a lot more interested in sex, not less. And as you pointed out very few people would get a boyfriend just to know what it feels like in the vagina.

When I was a teenager I was extremely sensitive to people being condescending to me and talking down to me, and somebody trying to get me into sex toys to keep me away from boys would definitely fall under that category.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
nocutename 191
I have to say, I'm getting rather irritated with the whole "I can't believe that a 20 year-old woman wouldn't know how to masturbate/wouldn't even know where her clit is/ wasn't having regular orgasms" line that's going on around here. People are different. The fact that many women don't start orgasming or masturbating until their mid-twenties is well-documented. When you all say those things, you're not doing much to make those Slog readers who might not have had the easy time you've had reaching orgasm feel less like freaks than they already might.

When I was 29, I'd already had a book published. What if I said something like, "I can't believe all these women who haven't been published; don't they feel stupid?!"

The superior attitude isn't helpful.
Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
mydriasis 192
@187

If you mean PIV sex then count me in the same group. I vetted the guy I lost my virginity to (through other non-PIV activities) and was definitely rewarded for "waiting" (I was 16, but I had been sexually active for several years so it was a conscious and deliberate "waiting" even if I wasn't notably old when I did it).

@188

Haha, yeah diversity is interesting. I'm a morning person so the "I need my coffee" crowd has always perplexed me. On the other hand, maxing out my dry-spell tolerance (say three weeks or so) renders me unrecognizable.

@189

My personal experience (partnered "sex" at 14, enjoyed PIV sex from the beginning, able to orgasm fairly easily from penetration alone, etc) is worlds apart from yours. But! I totally agree with you. People are are different and I think it's best to keep that in mind, always. Ironically, if I had've instead absorbed the "romance novel"/ladyporn info of what the average woman likes I would have felt a LOT weirder about myself. Instead I encountered guys who had likely been taught by porn that women were like me - and thus I never felt like my sexuality was unusual. (Except the intensity level). Obviously the opposite is true for most women. The answer is to make sure both men and women understand how diverse sexuality is - or at least understand THAT it is diverse.
Posted by mydriasis on September 14, 2012 at 7:28 PM · Report this
mydriasis 193
@191

The idea that someone could go that far into their adulthood without having any curiousity about their sexuality (enough to google an anatomical picture and/or get out a mirror) concerns me. But (and I can only speak for myself) it's not about judging those people. It's about wondering why it's so commonplace. If I said something like "20% of people who grow up in X place are illiterate, I'm shocked". It's not about being down on someone because they're at a disadvantage or judging them, everyone who knows how to read is literate because the circumstances were right for them.

And I do believe literacy is more of an accurate analogy (for understanding one's own basic anatomy) than publishing a book. Don't you? Publishing a book is an elite skill in a specific area. Being able to read and write coherently is a basic skill - when it is sorely lacking in a notable chunk of the population, it's reasonable to be concerned.*

That being said, I'll try to make it clearer in the future that I don't judge people who wait that long.

*People who are asexual are a horse of a different colour.
Posted by mydriasis on September 14, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
194
@191 I know people are different and I was not trying to imply that there is something wrong with females who are oblivious to masturbation. I was just trying to tell my own story of bafflement, sorry of that comes across as superior. I don't feel very inclined to write a PSA about diversity on all of my posts, so please just pretend you see a disclaimer about everybody being different every time I type from now on.

Has it occurred to you that the way my body works might have made me feel like a freak at times, and it helps me to talk about myself on the internet? Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 7:40 PM · Report this
nocutename 195
Mydriasis, it's actually not you I was referring to in my comment @ 191 (though I do think that you don't quite understand what people who have such radically different experiences go through), so much as it was Eirene and TheLastCommennt, who said things like "have NO IDEA how anyone gets through the teen years without being able to masturbate. The people who don't start until 25 or whatever -- how does that even happen? (I know, I know, people are different. It's just hard to wrap my head around.) (@187)" and "It's really hard for me to wrap my head around too. One somebody told me they did not even know where there clit was until their 20s, I couldn't help but respond less than tactfully, something like "HOW could you now know that?!" She was far from conservative also, and she had a few boyfriends. I just don't get it, the presence of this thing has always been obvious to me. (@190)."

I actually chose my book publishing analogy deliberately, and think it is apt, because to a lot of women, especially very young ones, the ability to orgasm at will and to feel comfortable with your own body and its sexual response IS an elite experience not everyone can achieve, and it does no good whatsoever to have others make announcements of stunned disbelief that you can't do something--NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU'D LIKE TO--that they take so for granted.

You compare a level of sexual knowledge with basic literacy, and certainly that's a goal. But neither you nor me nor any of the rest of us know the specific obstacles that any individual faces and the assumptions that people are making are insulting. For example, you say @193: "The idea that someone could go that far into their adulthood without having any curiousity about their sexuality (enough to google an anatomical picture and/or get out a mirror) concerns me." But how do you know that a woman who can't find her own clit has no curiosity? How do you know she hasn't googled an anatomical picture? Speaking for myself, who came of age in the era before the Internet, I had seen diagrams, but most of my clitoral tissue is internal until I am incredibly aroused, which I wasn't able to do for myself at 14 or even 17 (I find that I put a high premium on linguistic and psychological cues, and I didn't even know what turned me on at that age), and so what I saw when I took a mirror out wasn't the same thing as what the diagram shows. I was literally unable to locate my clitoris, though believe me, I was plenty curious, and did the 1970s-era equivalent of googling.

And that's just my experience. There are girls whose backgrounds inhibit them from acting on their curiosity, because they feel a sense of shame at having those feelings. There are girls who don't have access to the kind of private exploration necessary to conduct that kind of research.

What I would like is for those women whose bodies conformed to what gets presented as "normal," or who orgasmed easily at the first attempt, or for whom feedback from potential sexual partners was positive at an early age, to be grateful for their good fortune, rather than to make sweeping statements guaranteed to send the 16-year-old Savage Love reader who hasn't that kind of positive experience FOR WHATEVER REASON into a spiral of shame or self-doubt. @194, TheLastComment says that she also felt like a freak at times; it would be nice, therefore, for her not to say that she is disinclined to "write a PSA about diversity" on all her posts. But she needn't write a PSA about diversity; all she needs to do is NOT say: "I couldn't help but respond less than tactfully, something like "HOW could you now know that?!"

Maybe all of you could just say, "Boy am I lucky," and acknowledge that your experience is no more normal than mine was. Or even that there is no such thing as "normal."
More...
Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 9:31 PM · Report this
196
@191/193, I think part of nocutename's point about your point about the woman who didn't know where her clit was is that it's not like clits are just there, like words on the page, for us to read.

God only knows what the "clit" is, and how far down it goes. My clit isn't particularly interesting to me unless my brain is already halfway to orgasm. So it would be pointless to ask me why I hadn't started masturbating earlier... Until I learned that other people thought it felt good, I didn't see any more point to rubbing that part of my anatomy than rubbing my inner knee. Does that help explain matters at all?
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 9:40 PM · Report this
197
I wrote 196 before reading 195, otherwise I would just have said: "Yes, this."
Posted by EricaP on September 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM · Report this
198
"But she needn't write a PSA about diversity; all she needs to do is NOT say: "I couldn't help but respond less than tactfully, something like "HOW could you now know that?!"

I don't really get what is wrong with what I wrote here. I admitted I was not tactful, my reaction to the person was a knee-jerk, stupid reaction. I thought saying I am not tactful was an indication that I disapprove of my own behavior... guess I was wrong.

I never said anything about normality or luckiness. That is all stuff that you projected onto my post, so don't tell me I said something wrong about what is normal.

I could argue that those of you who did not experience arousal in your teens are the lucky ones. You didn't feel things you felt weird about discussing. I'm not some kind of evil privileged oppressor because my experience was different than yours.

I guarantee you I would have found my clit without the internet. I can feel it without groping for it, it often reminds me that it is there. Women experience erections also, and I can feel that.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Report this
nocutename 199
@198:
I'm sorry, TheLastComment. I did to you what I accused others of doing: projected my attitude that you must be lucky onto you.
My wish is for all of us to recognize that there is no "normal," and for all of us to recognize that at times, many, if not most young people have felt like freaks. I apologize for not empathizing with what have been a very confusing adolescence.

Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
nocutename 200
That should have read "what must have been a very confusing adolescence."
Posted by nocutename on September 14, 2012 at 10:36 PM · Report this
201
Thanks
Posted by TheLastComment on September 14, 2012 at 10:52 PM · Report this
202
#188 EricaP
"As an adult, I more often masturbate as a tool to get to sleep easily than because I feel a drive to orgasm for its own sake."

I told my wife that I am always available to help you go to sleep. Whatever you want babe, a quickie, cuddling, anything. And even if I'm asleep, wake me up. She's happy, even if the anything is nothing at all.
Posted by Amos101 on September 15, 2012 at 6:38 AM · Report this
203
On the subject of Our Bodies Ourselves-- As far as I'm concerned, the real beauty of OBO for teenage girls was the format in which you had many voices talking about a subject which drove the point home that there are many ways to be normal. (I'm talking about the 2nd edition with the green and white cover.) The book embodied what I was suggesting in my earlier post: dry medical facts, a general feeling that sex should be pleasurable and that help is available if it's not. The later New Our Bodies Ourselves came out when the original authors were older and the medical part became unmanageable. You're simply not going to be able to write a comprehensive text for the lay reader that covers every medical condition known to Woman.

There was also Changing Bodies Changing Lives for teenagers. I'd recommend it, though I'm sure lots of it is dated.

Back to the original question. I've seen some number of comments from women who say that they wouldn't have minded a dildo for a gift when they were 14. (That surprised me. I learn something new every day.) But is there really anyone who got a dildo and/or vibrator who says it was better than a book with the general hint that such things are available?

I'm still stuck on the idea that there can be any gift given without the implication that it's to be used. If I give a friend a dress in her size, I'm suggesting that she'd look good in it and she should wear it. I'm not just making a general suggestion about wearing clothes. If she normally wears burlap sacks and I give her something sparkly and revealing, you can't escape the message that I'm telling her to wear something sparkly and revealing.

If I give you food, I want you to eat it. If I give you a book, I want you to read it. I realize you might not hang the picture I give you up in your living room, but I want you to consider doing so. It's not just for you to have in case you grow into the desire to hang it up some day.

How could a 14 year old get a dildo and vibrator and not think that her aunt was thinking that she ought to try them?
More...
Posted by Crinoline on September 15, 2012 at 6:46 AM · Report this
mydriasis 204
@ nocute

1. Literacy is an elite skill in some parts of the world. My point is, the goal of making literacy the norm is a reasonable goal (it's quite common in societies that are conducive to that goal) whereas making the majority of the population published authors is somewhat absurd (in my mind).

2. There are MANY reasons why a woman would not be familiar with her own body - societally induced shame being a major one. Just like horrible educational systems, banning girls from going to school, extreme poverty, etc are reasons why literacy rates are low in some parts of the world. My point was, most of these reasons aren't good things.

3. Why are you assuming I don't feel lucky? Of course I do. I thought my post quite heavily suggested that. I also feel lucky to have access to clean water, education, healthcare, etc. Me suggesting that these things should be as universal as possible does not mean I don't think I'm lucky.

4. Finally, I tried to look, but did I ever characterize myself as "normal"? I didn't use the word lucky but I thought it was heavily implied that I was lucky I engaged in my 14 year old sexuality with males rather than with female-geared media because I didn't feel like I was weird (but likely would have otherwise). I think that heavily implies:

a. I dodged a 'women like x, y and z, and I don't. what the fucking fuck??' bullet.
b. I'm NOT the norm since my preferences are the opposite of 80% of women.

Finally, thank you to TheLastComment. I agree that I find it disturbing that people are implying that it's all rainbows and roses being a highly sexual teenage girl. It isn't. I had never heard the word "slut shaming" until a year or two ago, but I lived that shit in highschool. I put myself in extremely risky situations in pursuit of sexual gratification. If I'm lucky, it's lucky that nothing tragic ever happened to me. I could just as easily say "how lucky for you to not have another incessant need to meet at your own peril".
More...
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 7:09 AM · Report this
mydriasis 205
@ Crinoline - I agree completely.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 7:13 AM · Report this
206
@198 "I could argue that those of you who did not experience arousal in your teens are the lucky ones."
@204 "I could just as easily say "how lucky for you to not have another incessant need to meet at your own peril."

Sure - that seems reasonable. Each adolescence has its own difficulties, but, yeah, I'm not unhappy that I was a slow starter sexually. (Though it's probably correlated with being less able to orgasm, so on balance one may be happier in life with a more responsive body. Hard to say...)

All I'm trying to say is that if you don't know much about a particular teen girl's sexuality, then you can't assume dildos and vibes will be well received.
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 8:39 AM · Report this
207
Amos101 @202 The best sleep aid for me is for my husband to talk about his work day in great detail. Though most nights he'd rather eat me out :-)
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 8:42 AM · Report this
208
I don't think the gift card idea is creepy. I do think a toy would be creepy. But a suggestion of a couple of websites to shop at(Smitten Kitten?) would be helpful, especially considering all the talk on the Podcast about chemically safe sex toys. You don't want the girl playing with a jelly toy that will leech plastic bits into her private bits. A brief post-it encouraging her to educate herself about SAFE sex toys would come off less creepily. And why has no one else mentioned pre-paid VISA cards (the aunt could just write down the info she would need with it)?
Posted by Mary5757 on September 15, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
209
To be totally honest I am a 24 year old virgin so I can't relate to the slut shaming stuff. I was always more aware of my sexuality than a lot of people though. I never knew how to react to conversations some people have that prove how oblivious they were. For example I had a friend who said "do you think it is unusual to have TEENAGE DREAMS?" It took me a long time to figure out what the hell she was trying to say, and I felt weird that she would need to use dumb euphemisms for sexual dreams, and that she thought it might somehow be abnormal. I ended up internalizing some of societies shame and I was never really honest with myself about my desires until my 20s, which is when I started reading Savage Love.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 15, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
mydriasis 210
@ Erica

Wait, what?
I was saying from post one that a dildo/vibe is an inappropriate* gift, remember?

On balance I'm happy with my sexuality. It's not uncommon that teenage curses become adult blessings and vice-versa. That's why I said "I could say" and not "I believe". ;)

*Unless the aunt has exceedingly strong evidence that the neice would appreciate the gift and understand the spirit it was given in.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
211
Mydriasis, I know we agree on that. I was just reiterating my perspective on the main topic.
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
mydriasis 212
Also one other thought.

When I say "I have never understood x" - it's meant as an expression of curiousity, not dismissal. It's an invitation for people who have experienced x to tell me about their experiences if they're so inclined. I'm sorry if it comes off another way, and I can't speak for others who do mean it in another way, but if I wanted to be dismissive I would say more like "I could/would/will never understand x" or "I have no interest in understanding x".

I understand if people find it offensive and I'll try to make sure I'm clear about my intentions in the future. I would also suggest trying to give me and others the benefit of the doubt if at all possible. Next time someone says "I have never understood women who didn't masturbate until they were out of college" I encourage you to consider the possibility they'd LIKE to understand it, and want to know more. And not just the possibility that they thing that behaviour is freakish and weird.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
mydriasis 213
@211

Oh, word. :)
Just checking!
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this
214
@209, what slut shaming?
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this
mydriasis 215
@ Erica,

I think she was commenting on my reference to it.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
216
Seconding what mydriasis has said and adding my own apologies. Now that I think about it, I suppose people could complete "I have NO IDEA how anyone gets through the teen years without ..." in many different ways, according to their experience of coping mechanisms. And of course the stress wasn't all sexual, either, by any means.

EricaP: it's not like clits are just there, like words on the page, for us to read.

Okay, that's an anatomical difference that I hadn't expected. Mine is just like the textbooks say, a bump under a hood, a shaft that feels rather like a tendon, etc. http://www.realadultsex.com/content/how-… is completely congruent with my experience.
Posted by Eirene on September 15, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
mydriasis 217
"Seconding what mydriasis has said and adding my own apologies. Now that I think about it, I suppose people could complete "I have NO IDEA how anyone gets through the teen years without ..." in many different ways, according to their experience of coping mechanisms. "

Haha! Well put!

See also: fried chicken
See also: cocaine
See also: rock and roll music
See also: books
See also: a big city nearby

I laid the coping mechanisms on thick in my younger years.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
218
Ms Driasis reminds me of when Rumpole, about to be evicted for living in chambers after a quarrel with Hilda, takes temporary refuge with Phyllida Erskine Brown and family, where his consumption of small cigars and substantial fried breakfasts meshes poorly with the family's selection of muesli. Tristan says pointedly, "I don't understand why people have to smoke," to which Rumpole replies, "I don't understand why people have to suck gobstoppers." But this falls wide of the mark, being met with, "I never suck gobstoppers; they're bad for your teeth!"

I will just mention that, "I've never been able to understand X," seems at least to imply more openness to being informed than, "I've never understood X," but that could very well just be the context in which I've usually heard the phrases. Fortunately, being short of time, I must dash rather than typing something long that would likely bore people, but Ms Cute might be able to guess some of what I could have said this week but didn't and won't.
Posted by vennominon on September 15, 2012 at 1:14 PM · Report this
219
Actually mydriasis didn't use the "I've never understood" expression until the post where she analyzed that usage, as far as I can tell after some scanning and ctrl-F-ing. I was the one who came the closest to saying anything like that, I think, though I didn't use those exact words. But it's a long thread and I could have missed something.

The problematic thing mydriasis said originally was "I have a friend who didn't masturbate until she was 16 (if you can believe it)."
Posted by Eirene on September 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
mydriasis 220
@Eirene

In fairness, that was meant to be wry.
Posted by mydriasis on September 15, 2012 at 1:35 PM · Report this
221
@215 thanks!
@216, your link goes to an article emphasizing how hard it sometimes is to find the clit. Doesn't that support the point that many young woman may not yet understand their own sexual responses, through no fault or close-mindedness of their own?
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
222
(@Eirene, didn't mean to suggest you were calling women close-minded if they can't find their clit or don't see what it's good for.)
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 6:11 PM · Report this
223
@216, your link goes to an article emphasizing how hard it sometimes is to find the clit. Doesn't that support the point that many young woman may not yet understand their own sexual responses, through no fault or close-mindedness of their own?

I don't read the article that way at all. Seems to me it pretty much presupposes that the owner of the clitoris in question is already quite familiar with its location.

"Years ago someone finally showed me a very reliable way to find someone else’s clitoris if you’re too shy to ask her to show you..."

"...I figured it was probably pretty obvious to people with clitorises of their own but I figured it wouldn't hurt to bring it up for those who don't."

Posted by Eirene on September 15, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
224
I am not sure why so many commenters are sure that -- at 14 -- she has already figured out how to bring herself to an orgasm. I didn't have my first one until I was in my 20s, and that was accidental (thank you, O inventer of detachable shower heads). I genuinely thought that the heightened pleasure I had experienced during sex WAS an orgasm. I had no idea. And I'm not stupid, either. I just didn't know. Don't assume so much based on your own experience.
Posted by Sarah in Olympia on September 15, 2012 at 7:30 PM · Report this
225
@223, Okay, but if a clit is not a visible piece of tissue that anyone can see, and requires "finding", then doesn't it make sense that women who have never orgasmed also might not know much about their clits? I mean, no one would write an article explaining how to find a guy's penis or the balls...
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM · Report this
226
if a clit is not a visible piece of tissue that anyone can see

But it IS, usually. The hood and glans are typically quite visible. Figleaf's post is NOT about finding the clitoris visually AT ALL, only by touch. And of course when someone else is looking for it they don't get feedback from the place being touched, as the woman would from touching herself.
Posted by Eirene on September 15, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
227
Dear Auntie her Sex Advice Columnist,
Please give me your contact info so that I can call Child Protective Services.
Just kidding/sort of not kidding.
To say that I'm skeeved out and now questioning the experts that Dan Savage uses for his column would be an understatement, but for the moment let's focus on the question at hand. Sex advice and intimate discussions about body parts, masturbation and use of dildos and bananas are the kind of discussions you have with willing participants. As an adult, I can shut down a conversation that makes me uncomfortable, and I can say no to a trip to a sex store, and I can positively assert who I choose to explore my sexuality with. I'm probably not going to choose my mother or her sister, even if all they want is for me to maximize my orgasm potential because they love me very much. This young girl may not be able to say no. She may not feel comfortable turning down such gifts and advice, or she may feel pressure, or she may feel stripped of her privacy or worse, of her dignity.
Am I saying that a 14-year-old is a "delicate flower" who should be kept in ignorance? No, I'm saying that if the niece is up for such discussions then SHE will bring it up and if she's close to her auntie and they are talking about sex, SHE will ask questions and when auntie mentions her favorite sex toy store maybe an invitation to join in will be requested. But, if that's not what is happening, then gift a good body/sex book, maybe casually mention a sex positive website, and then butt the hell out.
Posted by Notthestranger on September 15, 2012 at 8:26 PM · Report this
228
Dear Auntie her Sex Advice Columnist,
Please give me your contact info so that I can call Child Protective Services.
Just kidding/sort of not kidding.
To say that I'm skeeved out and now questioning the experts that Dan Savage uses for his column would be an understatement, but for the moment let's focus on the question at hand. Sex advice and intimate discussions about body parts, masturbation and use of dildos and bananas are the kind of discussions you have with willing participants. As an adult, I can shut down a conversation that makes me uncomfortable, and I can say no to a trip to a sex store, and I can positively assert who I choose to explore my sexuality with. I'm probably not going to choose my mother or her sister, even if all they want is for me to maximize my orgasm potential because they love me very much. This young girl may not be able to say no. She may not feel comfortable turning down such gifts and advice, or she may feel pressure, or she may feel stripped of her privacy or worse, of her dignity.
Am I saying that a 14-year-old is a "delicate flower" who should be kept in ignorance? No, I'm saying that if the niece is up for such discussions then SHE will bring it up and if she's close to her auntie and they are talking about sex, SHE will ask questions and when auntie mentions her favorite sex toy store maybe an invitation to join in will be requested. But, if that's not what is happening, then gift a good body/sex book, maybe casually mention a sex positive website, and then butt the hell out.
Posted by Notthestranger on September 15, 2012 at 8:28 PM · Report this
229
". I'm trying to make this the least embarrassing possible."

Then--unless your niece actually asks you to get her a sex toy--give her the book privately, and an Amazon gift card, and call it good.
Posted by GrammarQueen on September 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM · Report this
230
@226, until I learned (at 17) from a friend that I was supposed to masturbate, I didn't ever touch my clit or any part of my vulva except to wipe or insert a tampon. I also didn't ever look at myself down there in a mirror. If you're not driven by horniness (and I still don't get very horny), there's just not that much reason to explore. I think I spent my time exploring the inside of my nose instead. :-)
Posted by EricaP on September 15, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
231
@230: I was probably confusing your experience with nocutename's, described at 195, where she was actively trying to locate the clitoris and couldn't (which does seem to me to be anatomically unusual).

I should think an awful lot of little girls are curious about what little boys look like and then think gee, I don't really know what I look like, either. My brother and I used to bathe together, which may have prompted general curiosity, dunno. But certainly I got out a mirror at a pretty young age, and again the first time I read something that described the mechanics of sex (which was when I was nine or ten, and it did include a detailed description of the clitoris, though no pictures).
Posted by Eirene on September 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM · Report this
232
Dear WTT,
If you're still reading the comments: I think your intentions are good, but your approach might not give you the result you're after.

When my siblings were in high school and I lived far away, I sent them a copy of Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, which was the teenage version of OBOS, and the best book on the market at the time. I heard later that they all read it -- one of them openly, and two of them secretly. I didn't offer to discuss it with them, but I felt sending the book also sent the message that I would talk to them if they wanted to talk. [I didn't even find out that they'd read the book until my sisters were in their twenties]

And I think that's enough. I would give a book to her (wrapped or in an envelope) and just say "I read a book like this when I was your age, and I found it helpful."

A young adult librarian can help you figure out what's the best book on the market today, or you can look through them in the library and see which ones you like best. Most of them will have web sites listed in the book.

Your niece is growing up in an environment where there is a lot more information available about sex and sexuality, but good quality information is always helpful.

You want to help her experience be better than yours, which is admirable. You can't assume your needs are hers, though. She could be lesbian, or asexual, or not ready to think about sex just yet. Letting her control how she uses the information and who she asks for help is a way of respecting her -- and having good healthy self respect will help her in the wide world of dating and sex as she grows into it.

Buy the book. Say one sentence about it. Or say two -- "I remember being confused about a lot of things when I was your age. You know you can always talk to your Mom or me if you need help figuring stuff out." Don't wait for a response.

Then leave the subject strictly alone unless she brings it up. Teens want to think they know things already, and they want to figure things out themselves.

Good luck.

Other good web sites:
Medline Plus:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/teens…

Internet Public Library:
http://www.ipl.org/IPLBrowse/GetSubject?…
More...
Posted by 8808 on September 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM · Report this
233
Just curious, don't young people use the internet to get sex information? Parents of young teens: Do you know if your children have been exposed to porn? Do you as parents ever listen to the lyrics to popular songs or music videos?

Young teens may know a lot more than you think.
Posted by Amos101 on September 16, 2012 at 1:56 AM · Report this
234
She may already have a box full of improvised toys.
Posted by Hunter78 on September 16, 2012 at 5:22 AM · Report this
235
Many conservatives oppose gays marrying "in defense of marriage."

They don't show the same fervor against prenups. Prenups ultimately transform marriage into a limited live-with agreement.
Posted by Hunter78 on September 16, 2012 at 5:51 AM · Report this
mydriasis 236
@ Erica/Eirene

Okay, I got the mirror out at a young age, but even if I didn't get it out from curiousity, I definitely got it out the first time I had to use a tampon which was a total struggle.

This is what I was talking about earlier about curiousity about one's own body. I'm a very curious person and the idea of going so long without knowing what a (somewhat salient) part of my body looks like would not be something I'd want to do. Erica, if I may ask were you not sexually active before 17? The idea that other people have seen a part of my own body that I couldn't pick out of a lineup would deeply disturb me. I can't place why, but... there you have it.

@Amos101

Hi, I came of age after the internet was mainstream. I never looked up porn (but I just wasn't really interested). I still got most of my information from books that I had been given (more reliable than the internet in my mind) but I definitely looked into STIs on the internet. I think if teenagers feel confident they can hide their browsing history they might, but if they're more computer illiterate (like me) they might hold off on such a tracable research method.

As for teens knowing more than you think? I think they know more than adults think when it comes to sex acts, kink, etc. I knew what 'spit or swallow' referred to when I was 10. But I also think they know less than adults think when it comes to the 'dry medical stuff'. A recent study showed a disturbing percentage of highschool students think there's a cure for AIDS, for example.
Posted by mydriasis on September 16, 2012 at 5:54 AM · Report this
237
228-Notthestranger-- Thanks for saying what we've all been saying strongly enough.

More on Our Bodies Ourselves-- The book meant so much to me. I read parts of it over and over every time I was laid up in bed with cramps. There wasn't much that could be done about cramps in my teenage years, but I felt so connected and not-alone just having the book.

In college, I gave it to a man I was dating. I felt certain he'd understand more about all those indescribable feelings I was trying to express, everything about growing in joy. All he got from it was that men oppressed women and now women were excluding men. He saw the whole book as a put-down. Nice guy, but boy am I glad I broke it off with him.
Posted by Crinoline on September 16, 2012 at 6:56 AM · Report this
238
I've reread my comment in 237. No sarcasm was meant. That's sincere thanks meaning that 228 gave the same message but said it with more strength than the rest of us did.

236-My-- There's something that can't be measured about what teenagers know. That's the strength of emotions, passion, how it's going to FEEL. I was pretty good on dry medical. I had no idea what passionate love was. Nothing could have prepared me, and I read a lot. I still ended up with the conviction that no one had ever felt like I did even as I knew that couldn't be the case. I recommend the feeling.
Posted by Crinoline on September 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM · Report this
mydriasis 239
@238

Sorry, what?
Posted by mydriasis on September 16, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
240
@236, at that point I'd had make-out sessions, but only above the waist. When I was 17, my senior year in high school, a lot changed (I started giving blow jobs, and was fingered), but I didn't figure out how to have orgasms until I was 19, and didn't have intercourse until I was 20. (I refused oral sex on me until my mid-twenties, because at 17 I was assaulted that way.)
Posted by EricaP on September 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
241
To WTT. NO NO NO. Please do nothing of the kind, do NOT interfere in your niece's sexuality, for one thing 14 is barely past menarche and just getting used to puberty is hard enough. Reading through these posts it's clear a few people wanted more information on sex but you have to understand that the damage to those of us who are more sensitive and insecure is huge.

My stepmom showed me Our Bodies Ourselves and I was horrified and confused by much of it. Pictures of women bleeding and dead on a floor from a botched abortion is not age appropriate. She also had a conversation about how she liked to masturbate and how I should try. I had already been masturbating my whole life and had no intention of every telling her anything about it.

She was trying to be progressive but it was awkward, awful and I still cringe at those attempts she made. There was far better, more ample and less awkward information at school and from the media. Kids talk to each other about sex and it should be that way. Leave the information for someone else. Please please please put this idea out of your head, leave her sexuality up to this very modern progressive world, you live in Oregon for the love of God.

Dan should have asked a psychologist to answer this question, not a sex shop owner, of course she would recommend ways of getting around legality. I am 33 and I masturbate every day and have never used a dildo in my life, nor do I care if I ever do. If I want one it is an adult, private and sexual act to do it for oneself. The ONLY person who should get you a sex toy is your lover or a friend as a joke.

I've never been so disgusted by any other Savage love advice as this one, if he had left off after the suggestion of the book would have been fine, but the other suggestions are ridiculous. As someone who has felt violated by over nurturing women in my life, emotional projection needs to be acknowledged. It may not be as bad as outright molestation, but sending a penetrative object to a young girl is just wrong, period.

PLEASE DON'T.
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Posted by CDN on September 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
242
239-- I seem to be the queen of unclear today. I was just spinning off on the subject of what teenagers know or don't know. It wasn't a direct agreement or argument with anything you'd said.
Posted by Crinoline on September 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
243
@241 Thank you for sticking up for the sensitive and insecure people. I'm sick of some people acting like the only reason anybody could possibly feel insecure is because of prudishness. It just so happens that not all of us have confident, extroverted personalities. Trying to change somebodies personality is no different than trying to turn someone straight. It's too bad this message is hidden, everyone should read it, especially pro-dildoers.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 16, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
244
"I'm thinking a small, least-resembling-a-penis silicone dildo and a simple vibrator). I'm trying to make this the least embarrassing possible."

This is from 20 the WTT's response and expansion on the letter. The fact that you wrote this means your embarassment is affecting the extensive thought you've put into buying not just one but two objects.

What everyone seems to be missing in this is the fact that sexual relationships are going to be far more complicated and require more effort that sex itself, especially masturbation. Bare bones medical and anatomical exploration don't matter to the heart, and it is matters of the heart where it is far more appropriate for adults to speak with adolescents about. Knowing how to negotiate with sexual partners about their boundaries for sex should be the primary concern of parents or aunts.

For WTT and other pro-dildoers (nice one) they seem to think masturbation with toys as a cure for sex with boys and thus a cure for unwanted pregnancy. Most people have sexual relationships for more than just getting off.

For me, my attraction to small objects is far less than that towards men, with real penises. The fact that sex with a penis was a more unpleasant idea than plastic objects for WTT is a totally personal preference.

The more I read the posts the more I see absolutely different, strange unique and diverse first experiences with sex and masturbation. If that has not yet occured to WTT that the use of sex toys is not only NOT universal, it can be an actual huge turn OFF. Especially insecure adolescents can be blindsided and horrified at such an offer. It is NOT a normal thing. Those who have had such sex toys bought for them are generally those who asked for it or who received it from parents. Letting another person into the mix just seems ridiculous.
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Posted by ORL on September 16, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
245
A part of me knows that I shouldn’t bother responding to this out-of-control internet version of telephone, but a part of me can’t help it. To everyone who gave thoughtful, rational, polite advice, whether or not you agreed with my beliefs, thank you. I’ve taken it into consideration and modified my POA. To everyone who suggested I am “grooming” my niece, obsessed with “penetrating” her, “projecting” myself on to her, “creepy” for wanting to discuss her masturbatory habits with her (?!), in danger of “scarring/traumatizing her for LIFE,” should have CPS called on me, or “suspicious” for not sharing the details her personal life in a nationally syndicated column and online forum...I guess we have slightly different worldviews. Somehow, my sister found all these aspersions of my character and intent infinitely funnier than I managed to. And calling me “Auntie” like I’m some kind of British B-horror movie character? How old are you, 14?

To those who think I need to consider how sensitive, disinterested in sex, and easily mortified my niece might be (like you all were, apparently; talk about projection!) – I know my niece very well. She’s not. And because I know her well, I think I know the best way to handle this with her; it isn’t some kind of reflection on my own insecurities or shame. It isn’t necessarily how *I* would have wanted it handled when I was her age. I’m a different type of person. I never suggested that having toys might delay her partnered sexuality, either – the opposite argument could be made just as easily.

And people project things all the time – it’s not automatically an evil thing to want to provide someone young in your life with something you wished you’d had as a kid. Plenty who accused me of “projecting” went on to bless the book idea because THEY would have benefited from one as a teen. I recognized there was a possibility, though, that this was a bad idea, which is why I asked about ethical implications. Believe it or not, I’m not some kind of overzealous, ham-fisted, desperate-to-be-cool-with-the-young-folk inhuman monster. I’m thoughtful enough to write a letter and ask for advice, which I had also hoped would be answered with the guidance of a bona fide child expert (which is why I most appreciated the advice of poster 96, who claims to be a family therapist).

Also, I think everyone got a little too hung up on The Banana Incident, so I will explain. I mainly shared that story for humorous purposes, and go figure – while crucial parts of my letter were edited out, that part stayed (and I understand why – Savage Love is equal parts entertainment and serious advice, of course). That experience was not the be all, end all of why I want to do this. I’m not going to share all of those reasons and all of the ways that my niece fits the profile of someone who MIGHT benefit from and almost surely will NOT be horribly traumatized by this type of “boundary violation” (all you armchair psychoanalysts need to cool it with the buzzwords). I know I'm already providing enough fuel for the fire here.

Lastly, did you all grow up in Roman Catholic households or something? They’re SEX TOYS. Not a big deal, at least not in my culture. I’m not going to gift wrap them, make her open them in front of the whole family, shout “you’re a woman now!”, give her a personal demonstration on how to use them, and then call her a week later for a follow-up report.

One thing I’ve learned: I have a new sympathy for Dan Savage if this is the kind of shit he deals with every week. I know I brought it ALLLLL on myself and the internet is not a kind place, but Jiminy Christmas...it’s judgmental, whiny, narrow-minded, sanctimonious, I’ve-had-too-much-therapy-and-now-my-head-is-permanently-stuck-up-my-ass people like y’all that give liberals a bad name. Luckily, my niece isn’t as thinned skinned as a lot of you seem to be or she’d have some hard knocks ahead of her.

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Posted by WTT bitches on September 16, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
246
@245: You did use the word "boundary" yourself, you know. Hardly fair to jump on people for saying "yes, boundaries" and such when you ASKED if it would be inappropriate to cross that boundary!
Posted by Eirene on September 16, 2012 at 7:09 PM · Report this
247
245- In other words, you've decided to ignore the 30 people who believe giving a dildo to a 14 year old is a bad idea and believe the one person who says it's fine. You're ignoring the people who have given their reasons for believing the gift would be a bad idea and going with the one who says she's a family therapist. I'm a family therapist too, and I still think it's a bad idea.

Which culture is it that thinks that sex toys are no big deal? In this culture, is it also no big deal for adult relatives to give sex toys to 14 year olds? I've heard of cultures where it's no big deal for 14 year olds to be forced into arranged marriages with 40 year old men, but I haven't heard of the one where sex toys are no big deal. Please let me know where this is. I'm genuinely curious.
Posted by Crinoline on September 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
248
WTT at first I was planning to congratulate you for taking factors into account that many of us accused you of not taking into account and maybe apologize for any presumptuousness I might have displayed during this debate, and then I got to the end of the letter where indulged in name-calling. I know it must suck to be accused of being a sex offender and everything, but what in the world do you expect? We don’t know you personally. You think we are whiny yet you are the one complaining about being featured on the most popular sex column ever, seeking out contrary opinions, and receiving far more advice than anyone else featured in last weeks column got.

When I read your letter I filled in the blanks left by my lack of knowledge of your unique youness with imaginings of myself at 14 getting presents by my own dumbass aunt. I imagine others did the same thing. My aunt tried to steal my fucking gameboy when I was a child. I get that you are probably an intelligent well-adjusted person and all, but I tend not to just assume that about people on the internet, especially in discussions about things like parenting practices and masturbation.

Maybe all of this namby-pamby therapy liberalism crap does not apply to you personally, but other people read these columns, and some of those people might have similar but different situations, and some of those people may take Savage's advice as gospel without taking the particulars of their situation into account. So, I think it is worth saying that everybody is different and some people may react with more negative feelings to a surprise dildo than others might. Dildo gifts are not a universal social practice or anything, it's not like shaking hands where everybody is expect to react in the exact same manner.

I have already said this many times but I am getting really tired of people dismissing the possibility of kids getting embarrassed and traumatized as some sort of nutty Republican fantasy. I know that Savage attracts a lot of readers who are totally bold, confident, and well-adjusted in their sexuality, but FYI not every single person on Earth experience their life as some kind of utopia in which all sex is wonderful and all of their relatives are not creepy morons.

What I dislike the most about it is, people like you accuse people like us of being smug and superior, yet people like you always seem regard themselves as normal people and everyone with any sort of sexual issue is a freak not worthy of consideration. It’s aggravating.

That is enough of the stupid dildo vs non-dildo personality conflict though. The important thing is it seems as if this 14 year old dildo receiver is well equipped to receive this highly controversial dildo, and I am genuinely glad to know that. Seriously. Hooray for today's youth and all of the dildos they will receive and hopefully not regard as threats of rape.
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Posted by TheLastComment on September 16, 2012 at 8:38 PM · Report this
249
By the way, WTT, you never answered my question... I can't help but be curious about the answer. WHY ARE YOU BUYING HER A DILDO? I'll accept that she will probably not be traumatized by the dildo and all, but still... WHY? Why would it be a bad idea for her to wait until 18 to get a dildo for herself? Why is it better to get a dildo from an aunt than a mother? So confused.
Posted by TheLastComment on September 16, 2012 at 8:43 PM · Report this
250
245
It seems like you missed the message. I had a stepmom with a very similar attitude and information as you, and I'm saying it freaked me out.

That is great if your niece is confident and open to share enough with you that getting a sex toy for her seems like the most normal thing to do. Many posters mentioned the missing information on your niece and her personality make it difficult to say how appropriate advice is.

I fail to see how, as you say, that you're living in a very liberal, progressive culture, there would be any need for you to make a move like this at all. People who know how to use the internet, as it seems this next generation does, can find their own sex toy. Are you really confident she wants non-penis shaped toys just as you happened to?

If you actually do it please let us at least know how it goes. There were a significant enough minority of women who posted on here who would have loved one at the age, it just happens to be far less than those of us who cringe at the thought of an adult relative doing something like that at a sensitive stage. The creep factor of what you asked about is way too big for a bunch of total strangers posting with limited information to ignore.
Posted by CDN on September 16, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
251
@245
"because I know her well, I think I know the best way to handle this with her"

Glad to hear that you have a plan and you're confident she will appreciate the gift. If you decide to come back and let us know how it went, I'm sure many people would be interested.
Posted by EricaP on September 16, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
yookah 252
CIGGG, get an electronic cigarette. they come in flavours and won't give you cancer.
Posted by yookah on September 16, 2012 at 9:03 PM · Report this
253
Okay, Dan and everybody who's even remotely interested: I KNOW I'm the reigning queen of "Juuuuuuust a Little Off Topic", but what the FUCK is up with the "Women Who Aren't Subservient Baby Machines Aren't American" bullshit lately (see "Shouts and Murmurs", 09/17/2012, TheNewYorker.com)??

I'm 48, pre-menopausal, and loopy as a loon without chocolate, so who cares whether or not I ever have a truckload of kids, right? Is the U.S hellbound in becoming a terminally misogynous police-state?
EricaP, mydriasis, Crinoline, Eirene,...? What's your take? If Jenny Allen's submitted article was supposed to be a joke, then I find it in very poor taste for those of us gals who, for whatever our reason(s), chose to remain childless, and I know I'm not the only one out there.
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 16, 2012 at 11:21 PM · Report this
254
@253, Jenny Allen is making fun of Ann Romney...Note the article's tongue-in-cheek attitude: "The boys still send their underpants home to be ironed, and I FedEx sanitary napkins to the girls when they forget their periods, but otherwise they are independent adults, and a credit to their country."

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2012/09/1…
Posted by EricaP on September 16, 2012 at 11:55 PM · Report this
nocutename 255
@auntie grizelda: "Shouts and Murmurs" is the title of all New Yorker humor pieces. They're frequently satire.
Posted by nocutename on September 17, 2012 at 12:38 AM · Report this
mydriasis 256
@ Griz

Oui, it's definitely mocking our societies deification of moms. I found it pretty funny. Of course the not-funny part is how true it is (that this kind of belief is commonplace). So I can understand why it would be an upsetting read for you, satire or no.

Personally, there are few people I hold in higher regard than people who make a conscious choice not to reproduce especially if that choice is due to the awareness that they would not make fit parents.
Posted by mydriasis on September 17, 2012 at 5:23 AM · Report this
257
Let's accept for a moment the notion that there are 14 year olds out there for whom a dildo might an appropriate gift. What signs would we look for in that young teen to distinguish her from the teens who would be horrified to receive such a thing? After all, there's no one single age at which children are deemed okay to stay home by themselves without a babysitter. You look for signs that they're making good decisions, aren't afraid, and will be fine. What would we look for in a teen that would say she's ready for a dildo? WTT, you've told us about yourself in your signature that you wanted toys too, but you've told us nothing about your niece. Tell us, so we can understand better.
Posted by Crinoline on September 17, 2012 at 5:41 AM · Report this
258
@auntie grizelda, it is supposed to be satire, but I don't find it to be especially good satire. Actually, most of the time I am disappointed by what passes for humor in the Shouts and Murmurs column. Maybe it is cultural (I don't often find so-called British humor funny either), but I almost always find myself asking how it is possible that, given the class of magazine they are, they couldn't do better than that.
Posted by cockyballsup on September 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
259
Getting your niece a dildo is a sure-fire way to ruin a good relationship. No kid wants this. Her sexuality is private, and it's none of your business. She doesn't want to "become a woman" on a stage, and she sure as hell doesn't want YOU thinking about her sexuality. If she opens the door, then you'll know she's ready. Until then, let it be HER thing.
Posted by portland scribe on September 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
260
EricaP, mydriasis, nocutename, and cockyballsup,

Thank you all for posting. In retrospect (why is it after the fact for me so often? Must be the hormone imbalance! Not enough chocolate, lately--I apologize), I realized AFTER emailing an angry letter to TheNewYorker Magazine that Jenny Allen's entry for this week's "Shouts and Murmurs" was supposed to be a satire. What makes me particularly nervous about such material aimed to poke fun is that religious nuts, Republicans, and shamefully ignorant misogynist pigs like my ex tend to take that shit law-enforcing county mounty seriously.
Note well taken. From now on, I will skip the "Shouts and Murmurs" column in the future.

I wonder if I'll get repercussions from TheNewYorker editors for asking "Who is Jenny Allen, and why do I feel like beating her up until she barfs up a son??" ?
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 17, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
nocutename 261
@260:
All in a day's . . .
You know, cockyballsup says he doesn't think it's particularly good satire, but I think if it fools people (and rest assured, if it fooled you, then it fooled others), then it's pretty decent satire. After all, satire points out the inherent absurdity of an existing situation by distorting or exaggerating it just the tiniest bit.
Posted by nocutename on September 17, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Report this
262
"Getting your niece a dildo is a sure-fire way to ruin a good relationship. No kid wants this. Her sexuality is private".

it is also nascent, and it's hers.
Posted by barfuss on September 17, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
263
RED ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!! To the "concerned Aunt"...your question alarmed me. I would have been traumatized and MORTIFIED beyond articulation, to have ANY adult treat my budding sexual curiosity in such an invasive way. OMG! A dildo??? I think, respectively...as I hope you are a caring and concerned Aunt, rather an adult than getting a voyeuristic thrill from your niece...because that would be indicative of incestuous, child predator sort of behavior. I'm fully grown myself, and would laugh if a good friend gave me a dildo...but OW! No, thanks. I prefer a good old fashioned electronic device..or better yet a combo of the device and the "real thing." My BF is WAY better than anything I could ever buy!!! This question freaked me out, I confess....and the matter of fact way it was replied to, also gave me concern. Keeping in mind, I'm new to this site as of TODAY!!!!! PLEASE AUNTIE DEAREST, Stay out of your niece's not-old-enough sexuality. The internet wasn't around when you were a kid, I'm guessing but it is today. She can get any information she needs from her friends or online. But if you are just concerned...just let her know, as I do with my beautiful 5 year old niece, that her Auntie is there for her if she ever wants to talk about ANYTHING and that she can feel safe with asking you whatever you want...and keep it just between the two of you...so she can have an adult she can ask anything to! I have an Aunt I adore (I adore them all!) but she is closer to me than the rest, because she makes such an effort to always be there for me! She makes me laugh so much! I can't imagine my life without her. She's like a second mom! So good luck, I didn't mean to come on too strongly, if you are just a very involved Aunt. If that's the case I apologize for being a bit rough. But if you are like me, you'll understand how terrifying the world can be for children...and all of us! Have a wonderful day everyone! :)
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Posted by sxysavvybbgirl on September 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM · Report this
264
Having a wonderful day, indeed :-) . May you forever have the same :-) . Thank You :-) .
Posted by The Gospel As Intimated By Jimi! :-) on September 18, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
265
Slightly off-topic, but is anyone else ever get weirded out looking at something that looks like raw hamburger shaped into a phallis? I know it's a sex toy and all of that, but it looks kinda gross. How 'bout an advert for Ben Wa Balls instead or something? ;-D LOL! Cheers. :-) ;-)
Posted by True Love Lives At Electric Ladyland ;) . +~+ on September 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
266
Desperate for feet - craigslist!!!
Posted by Maryln on September 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
267
About this weeks podcast, please don't have her on again...or at least next time don't let her drink so much coffee before the interview Dan.
Posted by chrischrischris on September 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
268
@265 lol - yes!
Posted by EricaP on September 18, 2012 at 4:34 PM · Report this
269
Time to escape from Auntyville!
Posted by Hunter78 on September 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM · Report this
270
I grew up in a libral household. But, I was shy about sex topics when I was fourteen. I knew about toys, materbation, etc. But, there was no way that I would have been ready for my own toy at that age. The aunt has to be extreemely careful about imposing her own experiences on her niece. If I received a vibrator and lube at fourteen, it would have scared me, and tainted my idea about sex in general. I was simply too emotionally immature for that kind of thing at that age. And so is this person's niece. So what if this person had her first sexual experience with an outside object at fourteen. It doesn't mean her niece is going through the same thing. I want to tell her to stop pushing her own values and experiences about sex on this fourteen year old girl. It's none of her business. Let the girl have her privacy. She could still be embarassed to buy her own tampons for God sake!!!!
Posted by lovelyone on September 18, 2012 at 6:35 PM · Report this
271
@261 nocutename: Thank you for making another excellent point! I forgot about the exaggerations that make satire the quirky art that it is.
Well, Jenny, wherever you are, you certainly did fool me. Congrats!
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
272
@ 268, EricaP: LOL! It Does! It looks like someone took five lbs. of hamburger and made a cock and sack out of it. Who knows? Maybe the hamburger dildo is a thing of the future! Do you want onions, lettuce and tomato with that, or would you just like it dry? LOL! Cheers On EricaP! See you 'round! :-)
Posted by Living Love At Electric Ladyland;) on September 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
273
@272, re: @268: Oh my GOD------?!?!? A burger dildo!!! LOL!!!
Boy, that gives a whole new meaning to "meat"!
Wherrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre's the BEEF?
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Report this
274
One more thing----is anyone else just a little spooked by the red dick in the Smitten Kitten ad?
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM · Report this

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