August 27, 2008
What’s The Right Age To Get Your First Sex Toy?

I got my first vibrator when I was seventeen. It was pink, glittery, and penis shaped — and really, nothing to write home about. But it was still my first vibrator. I bought it at Babeland, took it home… and thus began my love affair with marital aids.

On some level, seventeen seems a little old to be discovering the joys of enhanced self love — but actually, it was technically too young. In my home state of New York, eighteen is the minimum age for sex toy purchases — and in other places, it goes as high as twenty-one.

Given our country’s stand on teen pregnancy (we hate it) and teen sex (not too fond of that one, either), it boggles my mind that we’re similarly opposed to teen masturbation. After all, teenagers are walking balls of hormones, full of vim, vigor, and sexual energy (mostly the latter): if we don’t want them to have sex, surely masturbation is an excellent way for them to deal with all those unwholesome urges.

But there’s more to it than that. For young people — and especially for young women — masturbation is an excellent way to learn about one’s body and sexual response, a way to discover what you like (and what gets you off) before you explore with a partner. Throw in a dildo or vibrator, and well — let’s just say it’s advanced exploration.

So given all of that, I’m tempted to say that girls should be given vibrators as soon as they hit high school age — or maybe even before (puberty rite of passage, anyone?). After all, what better way to celebrate emerging womanhood than with a big heaping helping of self love?

Of course, it’s not quite that simple: there’s that pesky little matter of state law, which complicates things a bit. But why are we so opposed to teens having vibes and dildos — and really, is it so bad for teens to know some electronic love? When would you recommend that a person get their first sex toy? Hey, inquiring minds want to know.

[Photo by bergius]

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  • BitchBuzz says :

    I think I bought first vibrator when I was 18. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that I was an adult and could buy one until one of my (more experienced) friends was like, “Hey! Let’s go get vibrators! I can’t believe you don’t have one.”

    This was in the middle of suburbia, so we had to drive to some skanky-ass sex shop to buy them, too. Was really awkward simply because everyone there looked at us weird because we were two little teeny boppers in an unsavoury part of town.

    When I moved over to the UK I was pleasantly surprised that you can buy vibrators in shops like Anne Summers that are located in shopping centers and malls. (You know, right next Carlton Cards…)

  • Wendy Blackheart says :

    I bought my first vibrator at 14. It was a crappy little thing from Spencers Gifts in the mall, but it did its job, for a while, lol.

    After that broke, I went to a local porn shop with a friend who was 18, to get toys and movies, and since then, I’ve kept buying ‘em.

    I tried to buy my youngest sister a vibrator (she was 16 at the time). We were in Babeland together, and I was picking out a new dick, and offered to buy her anything she wanted. She actually turned the offer down.

    Remember those period kits? The ones you can order when you’re getting your first period? It comes with a little book about mestruation, and a bunch of different pads and tampons? Yeah, I think they should also come with a pocket rocket, a copy of “My Secret Garden” by Nancy Friday, and at least one book specifically mastrubation, preferably by Betty Dodgsen. And everyone should get ‘em when they’re 12.

  • Karen Rayne says :

    The problem, Lux, is that our society does not just dislike teenagers having sex because it may produce babies or spread disease - they dislike teenagers, particularly girls, having sex because it acknowledges the the teenager as a sexual being. And follow that train of thought to this point: Teenage girls masturbating acknowledges them as sexual beings too. Maybe even more than just sex - because that might have been at the prompting of a boy. Masturbation is purely about the young woman’s own sexual desires, which we’re scared shirtless about.

    As to when a young woman should receive her first vibrator? Well, the problem with going too young is that it might just scare her off masturbation entirely. In general, I would probably suggest when she turns sixteen.

    However, with the caveat that some girls will put them to good use younger. Girls who are particularly vocal or active about their sexuality could probably use one much younger.

  • Adolescent Sexuality by D… says :

    [...] the right age for a vibrator? How about a masturbation sleeve? Lux Alptraum of Boinkology wrote this post this morning: I got my first vibrator when I was seventeen. It was pink, glittery, and penis shaped [...]

  • Lux Alptraum says :


    Well put. I was being a tiny bit tongue in cheek, of course.

  • Xorn Smith says :

    After reading this, I had this great idea. At our next Town Council Meeting, I was going to propose a non-binding resolution that vibrators be the gift of choice to an adolescent girl when she makes her Bat Mitzvah or Holy Confirmation. Why not connect the spiritual rites of passage with a sexual one?

    Then I remembered my community is apt to burn me at the stake. Oh well.

  • Wendy Blackheart says :

    Man, I could have used a vibrator at my communion. It might have gotten me thrown out of there, and I sooo I didn’t want to be there…

  • Arianna says :

    Karen: Very, very well said.

    I got my first vibrator on my 18th birthday, but when I was 17, I bought a shitty drugstore back massage that somehow managed to get me off AND waste many batteries!

    I’m so pissed about sex negativity, especially towards teenage girls, that sometimes I can’t even make rational arguments against it. I feel like I can’t do jack to help fix it because it seems like that if anyone says anything about it in public, why, they must be some kind of pervert! God forbid a teenage girl enjoys or even POSSESSES sexuality, that’s freakin BLASPHEMOUS! Who was that woman in the Bush administration who got fired for suggesting masturbation as a good alternative to intercourse for teens? Was she in the HHS?

    I’m sorry if I’m getting a little bit passionate, but this seriously irks me.

  • Alexa says :

    Dr. Rayne is absolutely right - this has more to do with fear of sex in general, *especially* female sexuality. The people who propose laws against sex toys are invariably older white males, interestingly enough.

    And Arianna, that was Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the Surgeon General under President Clinton (not Bush) who was forced to resign for publicly advocating masturbation as an alternative to intercourse. So even when you speak truthfully you’re subject to being booted out and criticized for even acknoledging that teens are sexual beings.

    I think any girl who wants to buy a sex toy should be able to, regardless of their age.

  • al oof says :

    i think the age for your first sex toy is whenever you want one. i also get really really angry about sex negativity, but luckily i am not around it too much.

    my first sex toy was a big abstract blue jelly vibe. it was ok. i still have it because i am a pack rat, but i haven’t used it in 10 years. i was 19, but i wasn’t so old because of sex negativity, i just didn’t think i needed one. i actually bought it more for penetration (i was dumb! it wasn’t really good for that) because once i’d had intercourse (also at 19) i realized how much i liked it. prior to intercourse, nothing had really ever been in my vagina, though i’d been clitorally masturbating for my whole life. when i was a kid, some of my elaborate all day sex play fantasies (you know what i’m talking about) involved sex machines, but still it didn’t occur to me that i might want one in real life. so naive!

    oh, and my first vibe was also from babeland.

  • Venus Muffinpants says :

    I also think that the right age is when you feel you want / need one.

    I was long a clitoral kinda gal, still am to be honest, and I never felt the need for penetration while masturbating when I was a teenager. I love my toys now, though. And if I had felt that way 10 yrs ago I would have had a hard time trying to get a vibrator I think. Which is why I used home “things”. I guess many other teen girls do just the same.

    I offered my little sister (17 at the time) last year to order her something from the net. She didnt want anything though maybe she was just embarrassed.

  • BOINKOLOGY | This Week In… says :

    [...] always remember your first sex toy. When did you get [...]

  • Stacie Adams says :

    The proper age is hard to say, but a lot of women have sex really young, but some don’t. My mom used to say, “if you are old enough to ask, you are old enough to know.” That’s a great rule of thumb, so I would set a young woman up with tools and techniques at the first sign of interest in sex.

    I was having sex at 14 (raised in the South) but didn’t have my first sex toy till I was 21! I didn’t learn how to properly use them till many years later. Moral of the story…give young women a hitachi, and have them watch Female Ejaculation - The Workshop.

    If I had learned at 14 how to properly pleasure myself those asshole guys that took advantage of me so young wouldn’t have had a chance. It’s a shame we can’t just be honest with young women. Why is it ok to sell them suggestive clothing in department stores, but not vibrators?

    The truth is, I am better at pleasing myself now than any man ever could be. This is true for most women I know that have learned. Knowledge is power and when hormones are raging, masturbation is the safest sex. It should be mentioned in schools as a way of avoiding STD’s and unwanted pregnancy, but also as an education in anatomy. Ironically, it’s the most likely way anyone could honor their abstinence promise, once they start feeling a strong sex drive emerge.

  • Alexa says :

    “If I had learned at 14 how to properly pleasure myself those asshole guys that took advantage of me so young wouldn’t have had a chance. It’s a shame we can’t just be honest with young women. Why is it ok to sell them suggestive clothing in department stores, but not vibrators?”

    Abso-fucking-lutely right on. If this country would treat sexuality in a rational, mature manner, there’s no telling how many problems we’d prevent.

  • jademade says :

    well… its hard to put a number on it, some girls just arnt ready, and some are. i got mine when i was 15 and it worked. my friend didnt even know they exsisted untill she was 17.But the girl will know when she wants one if we teach them about mastrabtion

  • Fritz says :

    Walgreen’s sells vibrators now (tasteful packaging, but not much ambiguity about what they’re for), so maybe they’re getting more accessible for the under-18 crowd.

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Lux Alptraum
Monica Shores