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Pandemic Pastimes
5 min

39 easy steps for buying your first vibrator in the middle of a pandemic

As a feminist and former gender studies academic, it took a global crisis for me to buy my first vibrator. Here’s how I assembled the nerve (and self-love) to do it

With the recent novel coronavirus outbreak, you may be feeling uneasy or nervous about the sudden changes in your life—which might include seeing your body in the mirror a bit more than you’d like. You’re not alone, as countless other households are going through similar difficulties. If you’ve never done it before, purchasing a vibrator and coming to terms with your body may feel like a daunting task, especially in the middle of the current global pandemic. However,  you’ll find it’s actually quite simple to do if you follow these 39 simple steps.

  1. First, you must grow up in a conservative small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, where sex is an expletive and masturbation is a curse that causes hair to grow on the back of your hands.
  2. As a middle schooler, read sad girl coming-of-age teen lit about girls discovering their bodies and eventually discover your own.
  3. When you turn 14, discover trashy romance novels hidden in the back left corner of the local library. When you check them out, do not make eye contact with the librarian. Begin to masturbate like scratching an itch—quick, effective and almost non-sexually.
  4. Consume media that tells you that, no matter what, you can always look better by losing weight.
  5. Learn to ride the roller coaster that is the crash diet: Lose weight, regain it, then lose it again. Develop what your mother calls a “complicated” relationship with your body.
  6. In college, rebel against your small town and move to a different, slightly more liberal college town 45 minutes away. Start a gender studies degree, don a “proud feminist” T-shirt and cultivate an arsenal of Judith Butler quotes.
  7. Give lectures to friends in bar bathrooms, dorm rooms and outside sex shops.You should all love your bodies! Everyone deserves to have good orgasms,” you inform them. Your two semesters of History of Female Sexuality classes make you the ultimate authority on sex and self-love.
  8. Ignore your feelings about your own body, which continue to fall somewhere between disgust and general apathy. With help from your classes and a greater awareness of the fatphobia that has entrenched your life, you are on the cusp of understanding that you have a problem.
  9. Avoid vibrators and sex toys. Tell yourself that you don’t need them, that your hands work fine, that it’s not a big deal, that it’s fine, you’re fine.
  10. Have sex. Often. When a friend asks you about your sexuality, take on a breezy tone and say something like, “I just like to kiss everyone, and that’s it.”
  11. Attend rallies advocating for women’s rights. With the complete confidence that being 20 years old provides, offer sermons on the importance of porn that empowers, which you just learned about in class. Sometimes, give tips on washing vibrators after every use, quoting Cosmo articles instead of experience.
  12. Quit the crash diets, quit going to the gym, call it a form of self-love but know it is really just self-avoidance—which is, admittedly, better than self-hate.
  13. Graduate college, join the workforce, continue to live close to your hometown. Stay busy. Scratch the itch when you need to. Go in and out of relationships, flings, one-night stands. The movement becomes a mechanical motion to lead you to a practical release of tension. To buy a vibrator feels like getting a luxury item for a hobby you don’t commit much time to.
  14. Spend years like this.
  15. Eventually grow restless, and move 1,020 miles away from the mountains you grew up in to the swamps of New Orleans for grad school. Live alone. One day, a global pandemic hits your city like an ocean wave crashing against a shore.
  16. At first, panic because everyone is panicking, and because it feels like the only thing you can do. Fill your online shopping cart with essentials: toilet paper, jasmine rice, a Prince record.
  17. Cook twice a day because there are no open restaurants. Rearrange your apartment to make a space you actually want to spend time in since there are no other places to go. Eventually, it will dawn on you that this self-reliance is empowering in a way you have never really felt before. Your body will feel strong and able. Find something that resembles confidence in that.
  18.  Remember that you are worth doing things for.
  19. When you masturbate, find yourself missing sex, the intimacy of it, the way it feels to be wanted.
  20. Decide to want yourself. Make the decision to invest in that wanting.
  21. Open your laptop. Because you are still a little embarrassed, pull up an incognito page. Google “types of vibrators.”
  22. It’s not sexy to start with price matching, so first watch the rabbit scene from Sex and the City to get into the right mindset.
  23. There are so many questions you have never considered before that you now must answer. Draw upon those old Cosmo articles.
  24. Decide: Do you want silicone or rubber? Flesh coloured or purple? Do you want something that vaguely resembles a microphone? Rechargeable or battery operated? Should you get one with a remote to use with your partner? Penetrative or clit stimulator? Discreet packaging?
  25. Ask yourself why so many vibrator ads show it bursting out of splashing water, like a majestic purple silicone dolphin.
  26. Make a mental note to research sex toy advertising history later.
  27. Instead of having something with a cool, catchy, animal-themed name, eventually pick Amazon best-seller “G Spot Finger Vibrator, Personal Vibrator Clitoris Massager Sex Toy for Couples with Nine Powerful Vibration Textured Head for Intense Stimulation, Waterproof Wireless Remote Rechargeable.”
  28. Let it sit in your cart for a few days. Add things, take things out, save it for later. The internet offers no pressure, no cashier waiting, no strangers wandering. You can browse the cyber space sex shop for as long as you want.
  29. Read about the importance of self-care.
  30. Masturbate.
  31. Have a vision of your hands broken.
  32. Masturbate again.
  33. Go sit in your backyard. The wind—the only thing that has touched you in what feels like an eternity—will lightly brush across the small of your back and the sun will turn your skin warm.
  34. A Sex and the City rerun comes on late at night. Close your eyes and press “place your order.”
  35. When it arrives, let it sit in the shipping box for a day. When you cut open its cardboard shell, take stock of the advertised discreet packaging, which is really just a black box inside a black velvet pouch.
  36. Take it out. Remind yourself it is a toy; remind yourself this is fun.
  37. Lecture yourself in the mirror. Tell your reflection, “We should all love our bodies. We all deserve to have good orgasms.”
  38. Discover that you were right all along—and that sometimes good orgasms happen on vibration setting number five while using the remote control for pulsing.
  39. Later, look directly at yourself naked and appreciate the shape you have taken on, now, as a woman that owns a vibrator. Eventually you will recount this story, and a friend will ask why it took so long. Answer something like, “Well, you know, I figured being alone during a pandemic was a perfect time to invest in something that’ll last a while.”

It’s that easy, folks! Just remember to keep calm, wear a mask if you have to go outside, and always clean your new vibrator after every use.