The other day, my dear friend — let’s call her Lex — pressed me with an unprompted question via Instagram direct message.
I wrote back: “So long as they are cleaned in boiling water, use away!”
Lex responded: “That would be a good article to write. Ha.”
I felt that oh-so-familiar gust of inspiration blow over my oh-so-bored bones. This topic is something I deep dive into fairly often with my close friends, but I decided it was time to dig a little deeper. So the next day, I adhered my very serious journalism cap onto my head and decided to embark on a digital media classic: the Instagram survey.
Over two thousand women participated in my little survey, which boasted results that surprised me.
I wasn’t remotely surprised that most lesbians get rid of their sex toys. I was surprised that the results were so damn close.
I’ve been a sex and dating writer for six intense years, with the majority of my focus directed toward the Sapphic angle of said subject. In my personal life and in my studies, I’ve found that most lesbians seem to be vehemently against reusing sex toys with a new partner.
Three individuals that I interviewed post-survey seemed to find the memories attached to their sex toys to be the most harrowing aspect of sex toy recycling.
“Terrible for the environment, but those things carry too many memories. You’d have to have a strong heart!”
“Too many memories! I don’t want flashbacks with my ex when I’m having sex.”
“You can’t boil away the memories.”
I mean, I can’t say I don’t understand the psychology behind why so many queer women are anti-sex-toy reuse, even though it does have hefty economic repercussions (and they call us cheap. Hiss). Objects (for some) retain memories. We lesbians often have intimate, penetrative sex with our toys. We have emotional sex with our toys. We have angry sex with our toys. We have love sex with our toys. If you’re cut from the sentimental cloth, the dildo you used with your last partner could very well remind you of some of the most intense experiences you two shared together. Just glancing at the toy you used with your former lover could render you a weeping mess. Taking it out of its respective drawer, boiling it, and then reusing it with another person? Now that’s just sacrilegious.
Three different lesbians seemed to be focused on something I think about a lot: energy.
“We need new sex toys. I’m not bringing old energy into my new relationship.”
“It’s bad energy to reuse sex toys.”
“I don’t want to transmit the dark energy from my toxic ex to anyone else.”
Energy. Energy is a different beast than memory. A memory is tangible. You can see it in your mind’s eye. You can write down a memory. You can share a memory with your friends and enemies alike. You can relive a memory if you’re really determined.
Energy is harder to describe; it’s more elusive. It’s not something you can see, it’s a feeling. It’s that moment you step into a hotel room and shiver. This place has bad energy. You can’t pinpoint why the hairs on your arms stood up, you can only observe that they did. Energy is physical — you feel it in your bones.
If your ex had bad energy or merely strong energy, it’s natural to feel like your precious dildo absorbed some of that energy. When you touch your old dildo, you might feel your ex’s energy, and you don’t necessarily want to feel your ex’s energy when trying to have sex with someone new.
But can you clear an object of energy? I’m not talking about basic cleanliness, because most of us have been in the game long enough to know how to properly clean a dildo (if you don’t, no shame! Kindly click here for an in-depth tutorial) so it’s rid of germs, but how does one free a dildo of bad juju?
I suppose one could sage a dildo. Though I don’t know how I would feel if I smelled sage on a dildo whilst having sex with someone new? I think I would recognize the smell immediately, because I’m a woo-woo lesbian who regularly holds saging ceremonies in her home, and I’d get in my head about it. Why did she sage the strap-on? I would ask myself repeatedly. The smell of sage would definitely pull me out of the heat of the moment.
If you’re a lesbian who is worried about a dildo’s energy, you’re probably a lesbian who is worried about saging a dildo for fear that another woo-woo like me will call you out on it.
So maybe that explains why energy-sensitive lesbians opt to toss their sex toys into the trash?
But what about the 41 percent who said they reuse their sex toys? 41 percent teeters close to 50 percent, which is half. We shall not ignore the ample 41 percent!
“If I changed sex toys for every new relationship, I’d be broke!”
“It’s not that deep. I have a lot of sex. Clean them and move on. Most of the time it’s just going inside me anyway.”
“It’s not even about the money, I’m just lazy.”
“I don’t give the sex toy that much power.”
These are some of the responses I garnered when asking women to share with me why they chose to reuse their sex toys. To be honest, I agree with the women in the minority here, as I too am part of the 41 percent who is completely content to bring an old dildo into a new relationship. Could it be attributed to laziness or a lack of sentiment?
I wholly agree with the woman who said she doesn’t give sex toys that kind of power. In fact, boiling a sex toy in hot water feels sort of therapeutic and ritualistic to me. It feels like a fresh start. It’s not dissimilar to sending off my clothes to the dry-cleaner. They come back pressed, new-looking, and free of the pheromones an ex might have deposited onto my favorite dresses and skirts. Or a nice, exfoliating shower. The kind that leaves your skin young and raw and untarnished by another person’s touch. If a new lover touches my skin, I am not reminded of my ex, who also touched my skin, because my skin is mine.
My dildo is mine. And so long as something belongs to me, I am in charge of its energy. If I declare the dildo’s energy to be positive, it’s positive. If I declare it negative, it’s negative. If I declare it neutral, it’s neutral. In fact, part of the getting over an ex process for me is to reclaim what’s mine. And whatever is in my possession has good energy. It’s a choice I make, because clearly, I’m a perfect Princess.
Herein lies the problem: I never seem to date people who feel like I do, which means I’m always being dragged into sex shops to pick out a new sparkly dildo because they refuse to use my used ones.
That’s fun. Shopping is always fun. Plus, I like to support my local feminist sex shops. I’m not a monster!
So if you’re looking for a thesis, there is no thesis. The results are the results. Yes, all lesbians feel differently about sex toys. Yawn. Yes, it’s okay that we feel differently about our sex toys. Double yawn. Yes, there is no right way to feel. Triple yawn. I don’t need to spell this shit out for you. You get it.
So just keep doing you, babe. Unless you’re doing someone else. Har. Har.