Readers tell Tracy Quan: You don't have to choose between a man and a vibrator.

Published December 5, 2003 8:01PM (EST)

[Read "Ask Tracy."]

Your advice does not take into account the myriad of women's experiences. Many women just can not get off properly on partner stimulation alone, especially if we are talking about penetrative sex. Oral sex does it for a lot of people, but for some of us, it's just too soft to be anything more than a fun, enjoyable activity.

It was near impossible for me to orgasm with my partners before I encountered the almighty vibrator. One can have a very enthusiastic partnered sex life and get off with a vibrator. Using a vibrator on a lover, or putting it between the two of you, may be a better suggestion than having her cut it out of her life completely.

There needn't be a war between ones partner and vibrator: join forces and you will conquer the partner orgasm.

-- Heather

I love my man, and I love my vibrator. More, though, I love using the vibrator with my man in attendance. Tracy left this very important point out. Women who love their vibrators do not necessarily dismiss the sexual desire for their mates. Very often, the vibrator becomes a tool (the triad -- finger, tongue, vibrator) by which an open-minded couple can bring the gal to climax together. Tracey's advice made use of the vibrator seem like an aberrant behavior pattern, as opposed to a mere tool.

-- Jen R

I stumbled upon today's debut Ask Tracy column just moments after getting my email notice to renew my Salon subscription. What I read really made me wonder if I should try to kick the daily Salon habit.

Unlike some of the readers who complained about having an ex-prostitute pen a sex column, I thought it might be a cool new twist to the usual sex columns -- which I typically enjoy. However, Tracy's response today regarding "vibrator addiction" totally rubbed me the wrong way (no pun intended?). This business about "machine takeover" and "self-abuse" with a vibrator is total garbage that panders to that Maxim magazine male fantasy where women are mysterious and scary (yet oh, so, nice to look at in lingerie!) Hey, if you can ply them with "adoring messages" on their voicemail, you just might get into their pants.

Thank God my boyfriend appreciates that sex toys are just another ingredient in that great sexual salad. Sometimes sex isn't all about in and out/ejaculation. And, sometimes, a gal needs a damn good orgasm without a lot of trouble (obviously Tracy's never used the Magic Wand, or she wouldn't dare even suggest "renouncing" a vibrator). But I wouldn't blame the damn thing, because obviously there's more to the issue than just a sex toy. Writing it all off as "vibrator addiction" sort of puts the responsibility on this poor gal and makes us overlook other possibilities.

I dunno, this Ask Tracy just felt very unfriendly (and unimpressive and uninspiring) to me as a woman. You might as well include a graphic of Tracy propped up on satin pillows in a canopy bed, her hair in Chrissy Snow-like pony tails, giggling "gosh, hee-hee" with a pen suggestively tucked in her lips -- just like we'd see in FHM.

Certainly my beloved Cary Tennis wouldn't be threatened by a vibrator!

-- Mary Potts

In your last column (the one about vibrator addiction), you mentioned that it "a sure sign of vibrator-takeover syndrome is the woman with 10 functioning fingers who never brings herself to orgasm manually," as though every woman with fingers is or should be capable of bringing herself to orgasm manually. And when I say "capable," I don't mean "knows how." I work in a sexual health clinic where women (and men) are taught to masturbate with their fingers, and the one thing I know for sure is that not everybody can get off that way, no matter their technique, no matter their desire. For many people, it simply does not work that way.

I'd compare it to toe-sucking. For some people (like me), one toe in a lover's mouth sends them over the edge in two seconds flat. For others, it does nothing at all sexual, and for others still, it's an enormous turn-off, one that they would never in a million years orgasm from, even if it was "done right."

So why the focus on "natural" masturbation over "artificial"? I agree that masturbation is an extremely important part of anyone's sex life, helping one know what they like, relieve stress, demonstrate things to a lover, etc., but there is no "wrong" way to do it, just as there is no "better" way to do it (excepting, of course, instances in which someone else is involved and not consenting), and that when it gets in the way of sex and sexual pleasure with one's partner, there's a problem. But my question to you is this: Why is there elitism in masturbation habits (not just in your column, but in many sexual pleasure-related sites and groups I've run into)? Why not just promote the "if it feels good, do it" mindset?

-- Bree

By Salon Staff

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