I would say that I’m a pretty open person. For anyone who bothers to read my weekly ramble, you probably know far too much about my mental health, my love life, and my menstrual cycle. It’s not just in writing that I am so open -- I talk about these personal things in person a little bit too much too.
However, until recently I had never spoken about my own sexual pleasure. Yes, I’ve talked about sex: who slept over, what we did, and what time they left in the morning. All of these things are acceptable. Common knowledge. But how I felt and what I wanted was something I just didn't feel comfortable disclosing.
I’ve tried to put my finger on what it is that has stopped me. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that as a society, the only biological reality we ever really consider is that of the opposite sex. I also don’t know whether it’s the fact that porn, with the small exception of the nascent growth of feminist porn, isn’t tailored towards me. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that fewer than one in five of us women orgasm from vaginal penetration...a fact that I think most men don’t really consider or even know.
In an ideal world I wanted this to be an article about exploring my own sexual pleasure and finding it, but sometimes the world makes your experiments into its own little comedy. Earlier this year, a few friends and I were hanging out in an apartment and the conversation gradually moved towards sex. At a point, one of them mentioned how great their vibrator was. I uncomfortably giggled, unsure why I was feeling so awkward.
We spoke about my discomfort that night and resolved that I, too, would get myself a vibrator to overcome the thorny feelings I had surrounding my own pleasure. It became a bit of an infatuation, exploring a plethora of websites to find the easiest to use, prettiest and best value vibrator. I called friends for their expertise, scrolled through pages whilst recruiting other friends to do so with me, and eventually found the one -- purple with ten modes of vibration from Simply Pleasure. It may have cost me seventy dollars but it was a cheap price to pay for what I was now anticipating as some much needed alone time.
However, it never came.
And neither did I.
I patiently waited two weeks, not getting much out of any hook up because all I wanted was my precious vibrator. On day fifteen, I had had enough. I called the company and asked where on earth it was.
“It’s on Central Campus,” the woman on the line responded.” We delivered it weeks ago with your name on the package.” For those fortunate enough not to know and live on Duke’s Central Campus, it’s a rather run down set of “apartments” reserved for young men and women willing to sacrifice their hygiene standards and sleep for loud pregames and even louder late nights. And someone there had my vibrator.
I don’t really know what the moral of the story is here. The fact that I never got my vibrator didn’t really help me explore and experiment at all. However, the fact that I now willingly tell this story to everyone I come across is something in itself. It’s a sign that I am no longer uncomfortable talking about the fact that I, like every woman, has sexual needs. These are conversations that aren’t just conversations we need to have but ones we should want to have. Needs or wants are nothing to be ashamed of. How we satisfy them is up to us, whether we need a vibrator or not. And to the young group of men who are probably wondering what that purple thing is that they now use as a doorstop, it’s mine.
By Sophia Parvizi-Wayne
Duke Student, leader of national campaign on mental health, Cross Country All-ACC, fashion alchemist, Huffington Post writer, and all-around world-runner.