Columns Sep 12, 2012 at 4:00 am

Relative Values

Comments

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 :-)
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)?
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.
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.
211
Mydriasis, I know we agree on that. I was just reiterating my perspective on the main topic.
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.
213
@211

Oh, word. :)
Just checking!
214
@209, what slut shaming?
215
@ Erica,

I think she was commenting on my reference to it.
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.
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.
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.
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)."
220
@Eirene

In fairness, that was meant to be wry.
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?
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.)
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."

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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. :-)
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).
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?…
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.
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.
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.
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.
239
@238

Sorry, what?
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
252
CIGGG, get an electronic cigarette. they come in flavours and won't give you cancer.
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.
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…
255
@auntie grizelda: "Shouts and Murmurs" is the title of all New Yorker humor pieces. They're frequently satire.
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.
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.
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.
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??" ?
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.
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.
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! :)
264
Having a wonderful day, indeed :-) . May you forever have the same :-) . Thank You :-) .
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. :-) ;-)
266
Desperate for feet - craigslist!!!
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.
268
@265 lol - yes!
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!!!!
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!
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! :-)
273
@272, re: @268: Oh my GOD------?!?!? A burger dildo!!! LOL!!!
Boy, that gives a whole new meaning to "meat"!
Wherrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre's the BEEF?
274
One more thing----is anyone else just a little spooked by the red dick in the Smitten Kitten ad?

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