Disclaimer: Before you read this article, I want to be up front about using gender labels. The reasons being: A) The taboo stems from the lack of understanding of the female body specifically
B) Research and expert anecdotes indicate this predominantely effects heterosexual couples
C) It's written from a cis-gendered straight female perspective
But this article is about feminism - and feminism is the pursuit of equality so it's worth reiterating that lube is for, and should be used by, everyone. If you have any comments please write to (firstname.lastname@example.org) - we're here to listen and learn.
The female body is underserved.
Routine cervical screenings use technology created in the 1840s .
Medical trials in America weren’t mandated to include women until 1993 .
And there is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women .
As such the vagina continues to be one of our world’s greatest mysteries.
In fact, a global study proved that 73% of women are still confused about what a vulva is. This study was conducted in 2019 .
This lack of understanding is no doubt a result of the suppression of female sexuality. While this suppression occurs at all levels of society, perhaps it’s greatest failing is sex education, where it’s very existence should be to do the opposite. For girls sex education revolves around periods, STIs and putting a condom on a banana. For boys, it’s the same - minus the periods. It’s a lesson in how to prevent the physical ‘outcomes’ of sex, not a lesson it how to enjoy it (which I’m pretty sure is the reason why most of us do it).
It’s not surprising then that taboos are enduring. One that’s particularly damaging, both in terms of its physical repercussions and impact on self esteem, is vaginal dryness. There are two common misconceptions at play here: first - that a woman’s arousal is quantified by her vaginal secretion (wetness to you and me) alone and second, that this wetness only depreciates as a result of getting older, specifically of being menopausal - a result of decrease in estrogen. When in reality a woman's natural lubrication can be impacted by a whole host of things, like stress, medication or even the soap they use. But, a result of these misconceptions a woman that owns lube (especially one that is under menopausal age) can be perceived as broken or just not that into their partner.
I’m here to tell you that this is all kinds of wrong - and risks harming your sex life.
The shame that shrouds lube is hurting both parties. It risks making the woman feel paralysed to talk about it - that it’s inclusion will signify defeat and that her body is somehow failing. And it risks making the man feeling incapable - for being unable to ‘succeed’ in making his partner wet.
Interestingly this shame isn’t evident in the gay community. One study has proven that the majority of gay men (75%) surveyed used lube during the majority of sexual encounters , in comparison to only 20% of women that had used it (during a sexual encounter within the past 30 days) . By making lube the mark of a female malfunction it’s negatively impacting straight couples - as sex and intimacy coach, DeAnn Cope explains, “one of the most common things I see are heterosexual couples who just need lube” .
Samatha Evans, owner of online sex toy company - Jo Divine - echoes this sentiment, having found that the product customers say makes sex better is lubricant . Unsurprisingly women find sex more enjoyable when using lube - it reduces unwanted friction (which can lead to vaginal tearing), but these benefits extend to men too. Lubrication can intensify male pleasure and help erections last longer.
We need to stop thinking of lube as a solution to a problem and start thinking of it as the ultimate enabler of pleasure. Buying lube is a feminist act: it doesn’t mean skipping foreplay but making it even better. Owning lube is not something to be ashamed of. Make it a part of your sexual repertoire and thank me later.