Apr. 25, 2014

Strap on, strap off: Make the most of your toys

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September 12, 2013

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Not every relationship involves a penis — lesbian relationships, for instance, where both sides are equipped with vaginas — and not every relationship needs a dick. However, even in a relationship where a dick is already present, a willing partner could sometimes appreciate a little extra packaging down under. Some lesbians like penetration; some guys dig pegging; and sometimes medical circumstances could be eased with a bit of help. Fortunately, you don’t have to wish on a magic lamp, get expensive surgery, or have a potentially awkward threesome to get what you want. Modern technology has you covered: behold, the strap-on dildo!

A strap-on is essentially a fake penis that can be attached to a harness and worn around a partner’s waist. After all the straps have been tightened and the doodads adjusted, the strap-on can be used to penetrate the other consenting participant. Some strap-ons even pleasure the wearer with belts or extensions that press up against the clit or anus.

Strap-ons are an ideal sex toy for those who have coitus sans cock, but still enjoy penetration, as well as for men who appreciate pegging, which is generally defined as the act of a woman anally penetrating a man. However, before purchasing a strap-on or introducing one into your sex life, make sure to discuss it with your partner. Surprises are fun, but communication is key to ensuring that no lines are crossed and both parties have a good time.

I know that strap-ons are an exciting subject, but before you run off to consult some sketchy website, let’s get a few more basics down. Strap-ons come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, textures, attachments, materials and colors. Harnesses themselves are an entirely different matter and usually have to be purchased separately, unless you’re looking into buying a starter kit.

First, let’s get into the actual dildo portion. For the sake of brevity, I’ll only cover the four most common types of dildos. The standard dildo is about six inches or longer. It can be slightly curved and tapered to provide a stronger sensation with deeper penetration. G-spot or prostate dildos, on the other hand, have a sharper curve and are designed to apply pressure to a woman’s g-spot or a man’s prostate.

Vibrating dildos are battery-powered with a little extra kick, in that they vibrate, as their name implies. However, vibration can be too much for some and can lead to over-stimulation or temporary numbing. A good way to test a vibrator’s strength is to turn it on and press it against your nose. If it tickles too badly, put it back and try another. Don’t be afraid to experiment — after all, if the vibrating isn’t enjoyable, a flick of a switch will turn it off and revert it to a standard dildo.

Textured dildos are designed with knots, ripples, edges, bumps and various other textured shapes to provide more pleasure. Like with vibrating dildos, some textures are not for everyone and can lead to too much friction and other unpleasant sensations. Using extra lube can sometimes ease the friction.

Finally, realistic dildos are the most anatomically correct. They have a slight, natural curve, are flesh-colored, and end with a bulb head, similar to real penises. Higher quality ones will have textured veins running down their length to provide a little extra stimulation.

There are three main types of harnesses: two-strap, three-strap and clothing-integrated. Two-strap harnesses are similar in design to a thong or g-string; one strap wraps around the wearer’s waist to secure the dildo while a second strap goes between the legs to provide more support. However, the two-strap harness can rub uncomfortably against the wearer’s genitals and, in extreme cases, cause friction burn. The three-strap harness is the standard harness; one strap connects around the wearer’s waist, like the two-strap, and two more straps wrap around each thigh. This design leaves the genitals uncovered and thus is typically more comfortable and provides more support than the two-strap. Lastly, clothing-integrated harnesses are clothing items with built-in harnesses. They are often designed to appear as lingerie, which can be desirable over the bare straps of other harnesses.

Now that you’re envisioning a dildo and a harness separately, let’s put them together. An O-ring is the standard method of attachment. An O-ring is an opening in the front of the harness where the base of the dildo is placed. They are typically made of cloth, leather, steel or rubber. Steel or rubber O-rings are higher quality than leather and provide a better fit and more support. Leather and cloth can stretch and often fail to properly secure the dildo’s base. Poorly fitted O-rings can cause the dildo to droop or twist in place.

Less common methods include double penetration and strapless strap-ons, both of which are horribly oxymoronic. Double penetration dildos can be used without a harness and are instead meant to penetrate both partners at once. Consequently, one or both partners must have strong internal muscles to keep the dildo from slipping out. Attaching a double penetration dildo to a harness can provide more support and stability. Strapless strap-ons are designed with a knot or bulb on one end, which is inserted into the penetrating partner and held in place by internal muscles. They are often more comfortable than double penetration dildos, but strong muscles and practice are still required to keep the dildo in proper form.

Now that you’re up to speed on strap-on basics, feel free to browse those sketchy websites in search of a toy that meets your needs. Or better yet, put on some pants and run to the nearest adult toy store which, admittedly, might be more of a marathon here in Williamsburg.

Kalyn H is a Behind Closed Doors columnist and knows the importance of some extra packaging. 

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