I asked a favourite young companion a simple question a few nights ago. If you dropped dead tomorrow, I asked, what would you be most worried people would find in your house?
She laughed about that. Not anything silly, she said. Not the sex toys. She just shrugged about that. She was, she told me, an upper-middle-class, educated white girl in the year 2016. Of course she had sex toys. All girls like her did, everyone knew it, and no one would think anything about it. The vibrators (the USB-connected Lelo models), the dildos, the anal beads and penetrators--- she was wasn't the least worried about having those found by family or friends clearing out her rooms. After all, she'd never worried or been the least bit fazed when customs agents or theTSA found her travel vibrators. She just gave them a cool, grey-blue, posh girl's stare and went on her way.
What she'd be worried people would find would be her notebooks and journals. She pours her heart and secrets out onto paper, and she has a locked box filled with them. Those are the things she'd worry about. That's why she burned a lot of her teen years journals, too. She wouldn't want her family and friends knowing about her teen Bad Girl adventures, for all the obvious reasons--- starting very young, doing risky things, having bad things happen, having encounters with her parents' (mostly married) friends, sex with some of her father's employees, sex with friends' boyfriends or girlfriends. And because of her emotional issues from those days, things that she may be more worried about than who she was having sex with. She didn't want her family knowing how she felt about them when she was fifteen or sixteen, or that she'd done things deliberately to defy them and their beliefs and values.
She and I are total opposites about the question. I kept notebooks when I was young, and I've diligently kept paper journals since the middle of the 1990s. But I was trained to always look to archives and documents. I believe in the idea of History, in the idea of a life preserved in archives. Everything must be documented and preserved--- I spent most of my years at university and grad school being taught that, and I believe in it. I wouldn't be ashamed of anything I'd actually written down, not if I told it as a well-crafted story. I have the historian's kind of vanity, the idea that someday, someone somewhere would go through my journals and notebooks and find small bits of data that could be useful social history. I'm male, too. Having people know I'd had encounters in risky places or with unexpected girls would count in my favor. But all that only applies to things written down, to documents. Not to anything tangible.
What I'm saying is that I'd panic at the idea of people finding any hypothetical cache of sex toys. Not the riding whips or the riding crops, mind you. Those I'm rather proud of. They go with my reputation, with the self I've constructed since my early teens, with the interests I've clearly made part of my life. I could have riding crops found; that wouldn't change anything anyone things of me. But I could never have sex toys found. I've said it before, and I'll reiterate it here. There are no sex toys as such that a male can own that will allow him to keep his self-respect and social standing.
Vibrators and dildos for girls are associated with empowerment, self-discovery, sex. Things like Fleshlights or dildos or prostate massagers or inflatable dolls for males are associated with failure, creepiness, derision. I think the Arbitrary Social Rules are very clear on that. Male masturbation is regarded as a clear sign of social and sexual failure. Haven't we talked about that before? If you're found with sex toys in your nightstand drawer, the people finding them will hold you in contempt.
Part of that is something predicated on how porn is structured these days. If a girl has a collection of dildos, people will think about sex, about how hot it would've been to see her use them. If a straight male is found with dildos, he'll be tagged as closeted gay. If a gay male is found with dildos, he'll be mocked for being too much a loser to find a partner. Sex toys are an invitation to think of a girl as highly sexed, but an invitation to think of males as sexual failures.
The fact is, I told my friend, I don't care what you read about in my journals so long as you think I'm a good writer and have a good eye. What I'd be afraid of is being thought a sexual failure and sexually contemptible. My paper journals are neatly archived and dated. I'd never hide them. But I'd never have a cache of sex toys because I would have to hide them, because I'd agonize over what people would think about me if they found them.
And that, I think, is extremely sad.