Sex Panther: Get to Know Yourself


Editor’s note: Throughout the semester you’ll be reading articles from Middlebury students of different identities and experiences on all things sex and relationships.

I have a confession, sex kittens. I, the one and only Sex Panther, knower of all things sex, did not purchase my first sex toy until I reached the ripe old age of 20. I know. I KNOW. Commence the boo-ing and throwing of rotten vegetables. 

But I also feel like my own experience is not too out of the ordinary; I grew up in a conservative household (surprise, Mom, I’m a sex columnist now!) and felt disconnected from my body. I didn’t like to look at myself naked; I would run from my closet to my shower to avoid catching a glimpse of my prepubescent nakedness in the mirror. The culture was very much one of shame, of “don’t ask don’t tell” and of pushing down any hints of sexuality until you are of Proper Dating Age, and even then sex was supposed to wait till marriage. 

When that little glimmer of sexual awakening first began, I was afraid of my own body. I felt dirty touching myself. Throughout high school, I felt this immense shame and disgust for my own body every time I masturbated. It took a lot of self-motivated body-positive, sex-positive education on social platforms that I didn’t have access to at home. 

I was dead-set on procuring a vibrator. There were so many options to choose from, though, I didn’t know where to start. Rabbits, bullets, dildos, the intimidating holy grail magic wand, eggs, clitoral and g-spot vibrators abounded. But I finally had a single room and was tired of being too nervous to flick my clit while living with a roommate. So biting the bullet (pun intended) and buying my first silicone vibe from an Amazon account I created specifically for the purpose felt exhilarating. And terrifying. And really, really, really good. 

Buying my first sex toy opened up my eyes to a world free of shame and full of pleasure. I originally hid it in my drawer. But then I thought, “fork it, why should I be ashamed of a piece of hot pink silicone that vibrates in my ‘vag’?” Keeping your sex toys out on the desk can be a great conversation starter. I refuse to actively hide my growing collection of sex toys as if it is something to be ashamed of; leaving them on my bedside table not only reminded myself of how sensual I could be in my own body but also as a reminder to my hookups that if they didn’t get the job done, I could do it myself. 

Because when I started embracing my sex toys as part of the toolkit I used to maintain my own health, everything changed. Of course, not everyone who has sex may be able to or want to use sex toys as part of their experience, and that is perfectly fine too! And people who don’t have sex may have more expert knowledge than you or I could ever know. That’s what is so great about sex toys– they give you the agency to say how fast, how slow, how hard or soft or any number of variables in between fit your comfort and pleasure levels. Exploring on my own, I discovered things I liked, things I didn’t like and some things that felt weird but not like, weird weird, maybe a good weird, ya know? And that is vital knowledge to have of your own embodied desires if you plan on having sex with yourself especially, but also with others. Toys helped me gain the confidence and vocabulary to demand the best for myself and to stop accepting terrible hookups and start accepting mind-blowing sex with myself completely on my own terms. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take a quick study break with some (non-silicone) lube and my favorite vibrator. Writing is exhausting. 


Sex Panther

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Sex Panther: Get to Know Yourself