Why using lube can help you become a better feminist

Lifestyles_Aloe_Personal_Lubricant_4_5_g_400My feminism is definitely an intersectional one. I discuss feminist issues as a way to educate, (un)learn, and dissect current cultural understandings of gender. Included in this is an acceptance of sex and sexuality as an endless realm of transformative possibility and opportunity for pleasure. I’ve always said: it’s not feminist if it doesn’t get you off. But so much of what we (Americans) think about sex is caught in limited, male-dominated, and frankly, fictional perceptions of how our bodies should work (because… porn). Our incompetent approach to sex education has done nothing to address one of the most widespread misconceptions, and consequences have been dire. But today I am willing to go where few feminists have gone in examining this important and widely-felt issue through a critical feminist lens. Today I am going to share the truth about lube!

Last year, K. Michelle shared something on national television that many women won’t even admit to their best friend, gynecologist, or diary. She was experiencing problems with her vagina lubricating (without the assistance of whiskey). In other words, she couldn’t get “wet.” She was concerned–and most of the viewing public agreed–that her affectionately named “hot pocket” was broken. Naturally, “wet pussy” has been uplifted as one of the necessary components of a satisfying sexual experience for straight, cis men. But the notion that vaginas should always be wet is another way of suggesting that women’s bodies should be constantly available and ready for sexual consumption, specifically penetration. Because out here in the wild west, sex just happens. 

More importantly, because of this myth that a normal vagina always gets wet on cue, lube has really gotten a bad reputation. Pushed to fringes of our sexual consciousness, so many people view these amazing concoctions as only necessary when having anal sex or doing something especially adventurous, like double penetration or nuru body slides. This simply isn’t true! Lube is great for so many reasons. It adds another sensation that can enhance pleasure, even if you are already wet. It also improves the function of condoms, especially latex ones which can dry out the wettest of vajayjays. It can also provide taste, heating, cooling, and tingling sensations that all work to make sex more pleasurable. And better sex = more relevant feminism. This very scientific formula is the reason why using lube makes you a better feminist.

But before you begin your own journey to equality with the power of lubricant in your pocket, you should know about the different kinds out there…

Water-based lubricants are the most commonly used lubricants. They come in different forms including: liquid, jelly, and lotion-like. Because they are water-soluble, they can absorb into the skin and could require a second (or third) serving for longer romps. Pro tip: when this happens, you can also spritz the affected area with water to reactivate the lube. My favorite water-based lubes are Just Like Me by Pure Romance, Pink Water, and of course some good ol’ fashion Target brand Up & Up Water-based Liquid Personal Lubricant.

Next up are silicone-based lubes. These are not water-soluble so you don’t have to worry about being sticky. They are also a must-have for pool, hot tub, and shower sex because the water won’t wash it away. Do not use silicone-based lube with sex toys made of silicone because the material can and will dissolve. And that sucks! I try not to use silicone-based lubes because in my experience, they can cause irritation (it burns!) after a while. But I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Wet brand.

And last but not least, oil-based lube. Oil-based lube is not safe to use with latex or rubber. But it lasts a good long while. I’ve never used on oil-based lubricant, but word on the street is that coconut oil is a great natural choice.

So there you have it. Now get out there, take control of your sexual experiences, use lube, and be a better feminist!

Avatar Image Sesali is a former sex toy distributor, party host, and product educator.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/alex1987/ Alex

    I have a question… i don’t know where I got this idea from, perhaps reading somewhere, but is there such a thing as “too much lube”, as in: you use lube so many times that the natural lubrication simply stops and you will always need it?

  • http://feministing.com/members/avital509/ Avital

    Yay for lube, and yay for non-stigmatized conversations about lube! Here are a couple more pointers from a professional sex educator.

    If people are concerned about the ingredients of their lubes (since there is no FDA for sex toys and accessories, sadly) or prone to yeast infections/irritation, look for lubes that are glycerin and paraben-free. Glycerin is a sugar derivative, and sugar feeds yeast. No fun. Parabens are a tricky ingredient; there are some studies suggesting that parabens are an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen in the body, plus it can give lube a plastic-y taste. I like to avoid it. For my water based lubes I look for something that has minimal ingredients that are plant based and organic. Sliquid does a great job and I also love Babelube.

    Silicone lube is hypoallergenic so if it’s pure silicone then it should be totally body safe and not causing irritation. Some lubes are hybrids or have other additives. If anyone wants to use a silicone toy with a silicone lube, putting a latex barrier (a condom, glove, or dam) around the toy will let you use the lube safely. And even though silicone is not a naturally derived product it’s body safe and safe for ingestion. Otherwise, I’d be long gone by now.

    I never recommend oil for anything other than external massage (handjobs, tittyfucking etc) because hey, oil and water don’t mix and we are water based people. So even though coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and is naturally derived it can be hard for the body to shed. Some people have luck with it and that’s great but generally I would steer folk away from it. Just because it’s safe (and delicious) for the mouth doesn’t mean it should go in other orifices!

    Also, a personal note to say that lube is great for oral sex as well! Mouths are not endless geysers either! Thank you so much for posting this!

  • http://feministing.com/members/feministfromtoronto/ K

    I’m not sure if I agree with this. While using lube should be promoted because it encourages sex-positivity and pleasurable sex, it shouldn’t be a prerequisite for being a “better” feminist. If anything, using lube just reinforces the central importance of penetrative sex, which is anti-feminist, if anything.

    • honeybee

      Not at all – lube isn’t just used for “penetrative” sex. E.g., we use it regularly just for finger play.

  • http://feministing.com/members/pomegranate/ pomegranate

    Yes! This! Can some women make enough to go all night long? Sure. All women? No. Can I? Hell no. And guys seem to take it as a personal challenge to get me “wet enough”. I know my own junk! Yes, if we’re really patient I can make just barely enough, but I’m not that patient most of the time! Let’s just lube it up and go, yo!

  • http://feministing.com/members/searahd/ searah deysach

    Great piece! Lube can seriously changes one’s life and I love that you are framing this as a feminist act!

    I’d just like to add that sensitive folks with vaginas might avoid lubes with glycerin as they can be irritating to the skin. There are a lot of glycerin-free lubes out there that are slick & gentle on the body.

    Another ingredient that is present in a lot of water-based lubes is parabens.. so if you are avoiding those in your other cosmetics, check the label of your lube too!

    Some silicone lubes can be used with silicone toys! Just do a patch test first! (as silicone lubes and silicone toys have gotten better, we have found that they can work together!)

    Also Oil-based lubes that are NOT made of coconut oil can be bad for vaginas and they can encourage bacteria growth so we recommend keeping oil for hand jobs on penises!

    (sorry, I am just passionate about lube!)

  • http://feministing.com/members/blondeintokyo/ Heidi

    Well, I don’t use lube because I just happen to be one of those women who doesn’t need it. Does that make me a bad feminist? Or does the fact that I use vibrators and masturbate frequently make up for the fact that I don’t use lube, so it all gets evened out? I mean, how are we counting points here, because I really need someone else to tell me what makes me a good feminist. ;)

  • http://feministing.com/members/marlene/ Marlene

    A few problems here:

    Oil based lube is spiffy in an open system (anal) but in an environment where there is no normal transport function (like a vagina) oil based lubricants can entrap bacteria leading to vaginal infections. Silicone oils are marginal in this regard, so many people find that they are acceptable for vaginal use. Oil based lubricants break down condoms, not only increasing the risk of breakage, but also promoting micro-breaks that may not be immediately obvious. Silicone oils are compatible with latex condoms, but still carry the other risks associated with oil-based lubes for vaginal use. Some folks tolerate oil based lubricants for vaginal use, but many people can have significant complications and infections. Bodies are different. Just because some people use a particular kind of lube with success, does not mean it is a good general recommendation.

    Other things left out: discussion of glycerin, glycerol, sugars, and parabens as they can relate to irritation and the potential for facilitating yeast infections. Mention of spermicides sometimes included in lubricants that can be an iffy proposition because of their detergent action on cells should probably also get a mention.

    The linked article (word on the street) is a piece of iffy reliability that furthers myths about “natural” ingredients versus “synthetic” chemicals. It also treats osmolarity as a single issue separate from lubricity (the two factors interrelate in the question of micro-scale tissue damage).

    Perhaps rather than claiming to go “where few feminists have gone”, a little more research in to the previous work by actually technically proficient authorities in the well-established arena of sex-positive feminism (which is NOT the bullshit notion that fucking swinger dudes will save the world, but that “sex and sexuality [are] an endless realm of transformative possibility” as you state). Betty Dodson, Carol Queen, Joani Blank, Charlie Glickman, etc, etc…