Women Writers and Their Sex Toys
11th Nov 2013
There’s a fairly extensive back catalogue of male writers’ mentions and descriptions of the use of sex toys – Shakespeare refers to ‘dildos’ in A Winter’s Tale and Aristophanes’ women in Lysistrata bewail the absence of an ‘eight inch gadget’ whilst withholding sex from their husbands – but there’s a surprising lack of transparency about women writers engaging with this.
We’ve picked out examples that illustrate the sheer breadth of women writers’ knowledge, as well as exploring a number of different sexual scenarios!
“When it was adjusted, she looked like a delicate boy endowed by nature with the most monstrous prick that ever was seen.”
In 1897 School Life in Paris was published. Blanche, away at finishing school, writes letters to her cousin Ethel about her new school and the exploits that she gets up to as a member of the ‘Lesbian Society’.
Throughout the novel she’s introduced to cunnilingus as well as to four dildos of varying sizes, climaxing with ‘The Giant’ which the girls fill with liquid to produce fake ejaculation.
There were a number of novels written around this time, attributed to women, which are just as preoccupied with the use of dildos as their male counterparts.
“Imbedded in the layers of leather, directly opposite the lock, was a snugly fitting metal ring, which hallowed one to get a grip on the bracelet, if one wanted to attach it, for both collar and bracelets fit the arms and neck so snugly – although not so tight as to be the least painful – that it was impossible to slip any bond inside.”
Possibly the one of the most divisive stories in erotica, Anne Descolos claimed to have written The Story of O in response to her lover’s comment that no woman could write in the style of the Marquis de Sade.
In the 1954 novel, the collar becomes the very emblem of O’s submission and the narrative as a whole makes for very uncomfortable reading, in no small part to the fact that it exposes the fact that there is an all-consuming sexuality at the centre of most of us.
Arguably not so much a sex ‘toy’ as something that’s used during sex, we’ve included the collar here in the same breath as handcuffs, ropes and all other bondage paraphernalia. For other bondage exploits, try out Anne Rice’s 1983 classic The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty.
And who doesn’t like a sprinkling of magic with their orgasms?The Vibrator
“My feet are very hot—dancing on hot coals—and down—down there—cold and hot to the touch—my heart is racing—”
The origins of the vibrator have often been attributed – by those clearly not in the know – to Sex in the City, however they were actually invented in the late 1890s as a cure for ‘hysteria’. The only downside to doctors being aware of conditions like depression is that they seem a lot less willing to prescribe orgasms…
In The Next Room: Or The Vibrator Play, Sarah Ruhl explores the beginnings of this, with a play that focuses on the sexual fulfilment and epiphanies of its female characters.
Vibrators are not, of course, all about pleasing others. Eden Bradley often has her female lead characters (such as in The Lovers or Forbidden Fruit) use their own vibrators in private masturbation scenes that reveal their psyche to us.
“He used the tip like a feather, searching me all over for ticklish spots, until he ended tweaking my clit upward with it, not quite hard enough… I moaned.”
Immortalised in Fifty Shades of Grey, some consider whips to be on the more spectrum of sex toys, however, as this extract from Cecilia Tan’s Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords indicates, its inclusion in stories can be as much about building tension than just being used to strip someone’s back.
A note to the fantasy/sci-fi geeks amongst you, Tan’s erotica is often set within a science-fiction/fantasy world, which means that the BDSM aspects of her short stories and novels often need to be taken within a different context to the usual. Plus there’s magic. And who doesn’t like a sprinkling of magic with their orgasms?
What books have you read that have a sex scene including a sex toy? And how do you feel about the inclusion of sex toys in literature?
Image via bored_now