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Fucking with Feministing: Dildo Extravaganza! Part 1, Dildos 101

Welcome back to another installment of Fucking with Feministing! This is Feministing’s sex advice column where we answer questions from you.

I’m Sesali and I’ll be your resident sexpert with the help of our friends at the Center for Sex & Culture (CSC) who have partnered with us to make sure that we have ‘smart’ and ‘safe’ with our sexy. We’re looking forward to helping you stay informed (and hopefully have some great sex, because my feminism wouldn’t be complete without it). Send your questions to sesali@feministing.com and we’ll pick a question to talk about here. Questions will remain anonymous. We’re so glad that you’re Fucking with Feministing!

Q: I’m about to buy my first strap-on and I have some questions. What should I know about buying one? Experimenting with it? Harnesses? Etc?

NOTE: Because the wonderful world of dildos is so vast, we have decided to answer this question in a series of posts. And because dildos are indeed wonderful, we’ve decided to name this series the ‘Dildo Extravaganza.’ So strap in (or in this case, strap on) and take notes!

I have to admit, I don’t think there is a better team out there to tackle this subject. Carol Queen has 25 years of experience at Good Vibrations and her new book, The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone<, includes a wealth of information on dildos. Marlene is also not only an expert, but designer of dildos. And as for me? Let’s just say that my expertise is in how NOT to use… or store… or clean dildos. In this introductory post, we’ll be going over some general information about dildos.

Here is Carol on Getting Started with Dildos:

Dildos are not for everyone: not everybody likes insertive sex. You don’t have to like it, either—it’s one lovely option among many erotic things. But if you find yourself hunting for that one shampoo bottle when you masturbate, measure it and go shopping! Or if you don’t already include insertion, except maybe your fingers, use the old-school Good Vibrations method, developed in the ‘70s: Get a few zucchinis of varying sizes (I’d go organic if I were you), wash them well, trim those scratchy stems and ends, and party down. Then choose your favorite and measure it! The trick here is not to just pick the last one because you have gotten more and more turned on as you play. Use some discernment, as you are going to use these measurements to select a friend for life! (Or until it breaks… Or some future girlfriend steals it, damn her.) Zucchini bread recipe you use afterwards is optional.

Bigger is not always better. If you like it large, you probably already know this about yourself. If not, work up to it, or never go there in the first place. Lots of people like it smaller, so you be the judge. Many people who use dildos care WAY more about girth than length. Make sure you‘ve measured your favorite zuke around its circumference, not just its length. Hint: The greater the circumference, the better an idea it is to have some lube handy.

Dildos are obviously great for both penetrative and frictive masturbation. But it’s worth adding that if you’re into penetration, dildos are a great addition to sex with a partner as well. For example, if the shape or size of your partner’s penis (or whatever they like to call their penetrative organ) does not suit you, you can use a dildo to guarantee that you’re experiencing sensations that are pleasurable to you. Or you can use a reasonably sized dildo to explore anal. Double penetration? It’s just a dildo away (make sure you check out our column on anal sex beforehand and use lube anytime there’s butt play). And using a dildo manually during cunnilingus has been the best thing to happen to my orgasm since that ‘corporate CEO gangbang pays off my student loans’ fantasy.

Design

With most things sex-related, variety and adaptability are key. So after you get your sizing right, there are some things to consider. For example, what aesthetic are you going for? If you’re interested in a realistic dildo, I have several friends who swear by Mr. Dependable. Made by Pure Romance, this dildo is sculpted in the shape of a 6 inch penis, veins and all. He also comes with a suction cup for hands free play. Mr. Dependable is purple, taking away some of his realism but there are other lifelike dildos that feature skin-like textures and a diversity of complexions. Penis replicas not for you? Carol reminds us:

If you’re all “ewww dick” then there will be many non-representational dildos for you to select instead. (Although we do, at the Center for Sex & Culture and Feministing, encourage you to respect other people’s body parts; there is no need to engage with them personally if you don’t feel like it.)

Here are some other helpful nuances.

Most silicone dildos, and many others too, have a slight or very prominent curve. Part of the reason is G-spot (or prostate) stimulation; you won’t get much of that from a ramrod-straight toy. The other part is that those seem to be the most pleasing to the most people, partly because the curve may be less likely to directly contact the cervix; some cervix-owners do NOT like that feeling, though I have it on good authority that some definitely do. Since the cervix protrudes a bit into the vaginal canal, a curve may help the dildo slide next to, and not straight at, the cervix.

Should you get the kind with lil’ love bumps all over it? Or a prominent head or some other comparable round end? Or just smooth all the way? Really, there is no answer that will be right for everyone—as with all sex toys (and all things sexual), your mileage may vary. Prominent or bulbous ends may add G-spot value. Lots of texture may be lovely or frankly somewhat irritating. The more texture-y, the more aroused you’d better be before commencing, and the more lube might be a good idea to add to the party.

Some dildos are equipped with a hollow to hold a vibrator, and hence can vibrate. Vibrators are often made in a shape that is insertable, and if you do that, I guess vibrators can be dildos, too; especially if you don’t bother to turn the vibrator on! Vibration is optional; some really like it, some barely notice it.

See, there is obviously a dildo for everyone. Right now my favorite is a ridged glass number (which was cause for alarm from Marlene. More to come on that in the next edition). Before that, it was a 9 inch, waterproof, handheld one with a built in adjustable vibrator that I named Bizzy Bone.

Obviously, this is a lot of information to take in, dildos have a rich history and are continuously evolving and updated to meet our sexual needs. If you are considering a dildo to use with a partner, keep an open line of communication to evaluate what both of your needs are. It might very be that the dildo you like may not be the same one they like. There is nothing wrong with having multiple dildos on deck. Once you have a sense of what textures and shapes might work for you, check back to read Pt. 2 where we’ll talk about different materials and dildo care.

Thanks for checking out Fucking with Feministing! Send all of your sexy, salacious questions to sesali@feministing.com and maybe your question will be featured!

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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