As the anniversary of my past marriage comes to a close, I find myself feeling the need to write about women’s sexual health.
It started a few weeks ago, when I realized that the sex toy my ex-husband bought for us years prior, didn’t just need new batteries, it was dying. Oh no! How was I going to get another one of these? Should I use Amazon? Then, the purchase would ever haunt me in my Amazon Prime purchase history. What if the box that arrives is not as inconspicuous as I would like? Will my neighbors know what I’m buying? No, I definitely need to go to the store for this one.
At first I was in denial. I thought I might be able to eek out the last bit of power from my dying vibrator. Eventually, I had to come to terms with some fears and old mental programming that was now standing in the way of me caring for myself.
I remembered the words spoken to me by a previous therapist. She asked me to consider, when my own daughter becomes of age, would I want her to feel that she should have sex with someone even if she doesn’t want to, because she believed self-stimulation was wrong. We were discussing my own question about the morality and health of self-stimulation, versus unhealthy choices I had made in the past.
As I remembered that talk, I wondered where my shame around this issue came from. I feel completely fine and free when it comes to sex in marriage and outside of marriage. I even felt comfortable and open to the idea of same sex and group sex. I don’t bat an eye at the mention of men masturbating to naked images, but the idea of a single woman (me) masturbating seemed disgraceful, like I must be a loser. “Why do I feel this way?” I wondered.
I did some soul searching. I dealt with my demons, and released the religious Cool-Aid I drank in the past. I checked with Google, and according to Web MD, self-stimulation is healthy for women and recommended for increased sexual and emotional health.
Armed with my new beliefs and a few crystals, I got in the car and headed to Walgreens. I must admit, I had more butterflies in my stomach than I’ve had in a long time. I made sure to bring in my own bag, so I didn’t have to endure the embarrassment of having my sexual health products sit on the counter while I paid, and the people behind me watched.
But first, I had to get to the isle. I’m not gonna lie, I almost chickened out a couple of times. I nervously did an extra lap around the store, and finally stood in front of the lubricating gel selection. I was surprised that all of the sex toy paraphernalia was sold out. I was slightly relived and also disappointed.
I got stuck in the isle because people kept walking by me. I didn’t want to just grab it right in of them. Then, a family, with a mother, father and toddler son, came and stood next to me, and wouldn’t leave. The mom went looking in another isle, but the dad and son remained. I stood there staring down at the Monistat 7 collection, too embarrassed to grab the Astroglide until they walked away. When I finally got to the checkout line, no one else was around, phew! The checker was totally cool, he didn’t make me feel weird at all. In fact, he joked that he was gonna charge me double because I brought in a Target bag into Wallgreens. He made me laugh, and that broke the tension.
Back in my car, it was on to Target. I wasn’t gonna give up now. At Target, they had exactly what I wanted. But, the lines were long and crowded. I went to what looked like a shorter line, and then I saw the golden lights of self-checkout. (Ahhhh.) I felt like the heavens had parted. Within three minutes, I was back in my car without anyone even noticing what I bought.
I was proud of myself. I felt like a real woman. I was officially not a kid. I had the guts and confidence to walk into Target and buy myself a vibrator for my sexual and emotional health.
Sadly, when I got home and opened the box, I found an empty ripped plastic bag inside. Someone, who probably didn’t want to go through the social stigma of buying it, had stolen it.