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Lube Stigma Part One

Are You Ever Embarrassed to Use Lube?

While carrying out my usual sex toy research, I came across several articles on how to introduce sex toys and lube into your relationship.  In all honesty, my first reaction was surprise.  Yes, I am aware that sexuality in our society is still shrouded in secrecy, darkness, and shame, and so introducing a vibrator or dildo—let alone anal beads, nipple clamps, or ball gags—into the bedroom is still sometimes a scary first step to take into a relationship.  But lube?  I really had no idea that there was any stigma about that! In my personal universe, lube is essential, the wetter the better, and you can never use too much.  NOT using lube, on the other hand, can oftentimes lead to uncomfortable and/or painful sex.  How many women are enduring discomfort and pain during sex because they're reluctant to use lube?! This was one of those times that I, yet again, was reminded that living in a sex-positive community was not necessarily the norm. So, I decided to do some research and engage in some introspection to understand lube stigma a little better, and also be honest with myself about my own deeply held beliefs that may have been influenced by this stigma as well.

Biases Around Natural Female Lubrication

Throughout my many erotic adventures, I have had sex with a few women who have proudly proclaimed that they don't need lube.  Many times I would take this at face value.  Some of those times, though, it felt as if they were flashing me a badge of honor.  I had always assumed this to mean that they are offering proof of how turned on they are.   Either for my benefit—to reassure me of what a great lover I was, or for their own benefit—a mark of how sexually healthy they are, a sort of female "virility."  On the same hand, I have had sex with a couple of men who would ask, as I'm reaching out for a squirt of lube, if I really "needed" to use that.  (I have had sex with a significant number of people, so overall, these are really a small percentage of my encounters!).  To top that all off, I myself, during those times when I'm exceptionally wet, have told sexual partners that I don't need any lube as if I was reassuring them how turned-on I was.  Of course many women are very abundant with natural lube.  I'm just pointing out underlying assumptions or judgments that are often associated with natural lubrication.

Really, all of this makes sense because, generally speaking, in Europe and in the U.S., natural vaginal lubrication during sex is thought of very positively.  In fact, many people who have sex with women, think of a "wet pussy" as a prize ... again, a badge of honor.  Because of this bias, there is oftentimes shame surrounding the use of lube during sex.  People equate less natural lube with not being sufficiently aroused.  This leads to self-doubt about personal sexual health and/or fear that our partner will think they are not doing the trick for us.  This bias is unique to the Western world.

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her milling around her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique.

More by Ally Booker

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