It’s Time to Start Taking Pride in Self-Pleasure, and TENGA Wants to Help

The time to start taking pride in self-pleasure is past overdue, and TENGA picked no better time to begin than Pride. For too long have items that promote anything remotely sexually pleasurable been put in the back shelves. TENGA is even meeting store owners halfway by marketing the containers so cutely – totally innocent. 

In order to bring sexuality to the forefront, the adult toy company hosted an intimate TENGA Talks panel, moderated by Sexologist Shan Boodram, at the Box last Wednesday to talk about, well, masturbation.  It consisted of Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate, Zach Stafford; Social Sexologist at the Kinsey Institute,Justin J. Lehmiller; CEO of Future of Sex Podcast, Bryony Cole; Lifestyle Editor of Bustle, Michelle Toglia; and Sex Educator at SHAG, Dirty Lola.

Jamie Valentino

Any radical conservative in the building probably left early on with Stafford’s reminder, “Queer is the future, and it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.”

And what is more gay than proudly taking pleasure in sex? And that doesn’t imply that straight people don’t enjoy intercourse, because most, if not all, mammalian species are scientifically designed to. The LGBTQ community is just more likely to be less shy about it than their counterparts. 

Pride season is a reminder of how liberating it can be to let go of prejudice and toxic assumptions. Heteresexuals haven’t just discriminated against gays. Beginning with the lie that if a girl has sex early on, then she is a slut – they’ve unsconsciously discrimated between themselves. 

What is discrimination than forming an opinion over someone based on one fact?

So it comes as no surprise, like new shoes or apartment renovations, sex toys are not quite as a popular dinner table discussion in America. Best put by Lehmiller, “Sex in general is taboo, so a sex toy that helps enhance that is taboo.”

Fifty percent of marriages wouldn’t be ending in divorce if sexual norms were working. The Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage back in 2015 will help this statistic because queer people have lower rates of divorce. 

One common difference? While most straight couples treat monogamy like the burden that comes with any serious relationship, gays are more likely to ask each other: “Hey, is it cool if I occasionally sleep with other people?” 

Affairs and unwarranted jealousy don’t break up heterosexual couples – a lack of communication does. The former two would not create so much drama if people expressed their needs, specifically desires, more honestly. Polyamory has been celebrated by gay couples, without sacrificing romance. 

“It’s time to reimagine the rules. Because it’s not working,” said Stafford. “Learn from us.”

The benefits of a healthy sex life reach beyond a romantic partnership. 

“If you’re an employee, you should want your boss to be having great sex,” said Lehmiller. “If you’re an employer, you should be wanting your employee to be having great sex.” 

Happy boss. Happy employee. Happy, sexy life. 

Basically, I shou… everybody should be having amazing sex. Dirty Lola even had advice for gentlemen with inhibition, like not dismissing vibrators as a ‘women’s toy’ because it can be used to stimulate their own genitalia. 

So next time they walk into a sex shop and ask, “Where is the men’s section?” 

She answered it with what every gay already knows: “This whole store is for you, if you want it to be. And you don’t even have to tell your girlfriend.” 

Self pleasure can be as personal or public (only in conversation, please) as each individual desires it to be. 

The panel inspired the audience to a point that, towards the end of the night, I noticed my friend message her lover: The conversation is about sex toys right now. Should I bring something over…

About author


Colombian-born columnist, Jamie Valentino is the Editor-at-Large at POP Style TV. His columns and interviews have been published in Google Arts & Culture, W42ST Magazine, LUXE Magazine, VULKAN, The Queer Review, ArtSugar & more. In his free time, he dabbles with fiction and short stories, which have been published in Across the Margin and Statement of Record. Instagram: @Jamie_Valentino
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