Tara Michaela (she/her) is a black, queer sex educator based in New York. Her work focuses on how injustice manifests in sexual interactions, specifically racism. She also explores how stigma keeps us all from being our best selves, pleasure as a form of liberation, and how we can close the orgasm gap. She uses her social media platforms and written pieces to connect with her community on these issues. You can find more of her work on her website www.taramichaela.com, Patreon or her Instagram @tara.michaela.
My first vibrator was one my high school boyfriend stole and gifted me for my birthday. And even though I had no say in the one he chose, and would absolutely never promote theft, I’m also grateful for that moment because it opened up a world of pleasure for me. I would go on to start my own, expansive vibrator collection. And now, having tried over 30 vibrators, and knowing which ones helped me learn the most about what I like, I feel equipped to tell you which I would’ve bought first if I could go back and do it over again.
Bullet Vibrators are known for being beginner picks. For one, it’s about as simple of a concept as a vibrator can have: a small silicone rod that vibrates. Because they are simple in design, they are also often cheaper than other vibes. These factors, simplicity and price, as well as their small size, make bullets the perfect first vibrator. And though you can move these tiny toys anywhere along your body (erogenous zones, the rim of the anus, etc), they’re intended to be clitoral toys. If you’re a vulva owner who is new to self pleasure, and aren’t sure what part of your body you want to stimulate, the clitoris is a good first guess. The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings, and twice as many people orgasm through clitoral stimulation than with g-spot stimulation alone. If you do enjoy vaginal penetration, the bullet is also small enough to be held between your fingers during penetrative, partnered sex.
If you’re a vulva-owner who’s not quite sure where your g-spot is, try looking for a vibrator with the word “flexible” in the title. Penetrative toys with bodies you can bend with your hands allow you to explore; to bend until you hit the spot that feels best (probably the spongy tissue, about two inches up on the stomach side of the vaginal canal that we call the “g-spot”). Getting to know which angle and placement feels good for you provides crucial information you can use for your next toy purchase.
Now you’ve heard about beginner clitoral toys, as well as beginner g-spot toys, but what if you have NO IDEA which you’d prefer? Well, dual stim vibes do it all! Dual stimulation vibrators are those with both a penetrative end and a smaller end meant for clitoral stimulation. They can certainly look intimidating, but they’re not, especially when you realize that you can use them however feels best. If you want to insert the larger end fully into your vaginal canal, press the smaller end on your clitoris, and get both ends to vibrate, go for it. If you want to be more creative though, you could also partially insert the toy, or use the larger end only on your clitoris, or penetrate but only have one end vibrate and not the other, the list goes on!
This new type of toy is all the rave. Rather than vibrate, these toys push waves of air directly onto the clitoris. I’d recommend everyone try this toy, novice or veteran, but the reason these may be particularly ideal for beginners is because of how gentle they can be. Rather than something physically hard rubbing against the clitoris, it’s just air. On the lower settings this can be a nice way to ease into adding more pressure, and on the higher settings these air toys can give the rumbliest of vibrators a run for their money.
For penis owners, a nice, neutrally colored stroker/sleeve might be less intimidating than the stereotype of a penis toy: “fleshlights”, “pocket pussys” or any other anatomical replica. Sleeves create a warmth and softness, enclosing on the penis in a way that a hand simply can’t. With most, your hand is still in control of the grip and the speed, so you’ll be somewhat familiar with the sensation. When picking the one for you, maybe avoid the vibration for now until you can establish whether this is a type of toy you like. And don’t forget the lube!
Sometimes, it can be hard to make it all slowwwww downnnnnn. This is especially true if you’re in an already established self pleasure routine; in the pattern of thinking you can just set aside 5 minutes to “rub one out”. By positioning a cock ring an inch or so from the base of your penis (and balls if you like), you can prolong your pleasure and your erection. Some people with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation swear by these as a health tool as well. Once again, you might want to hold off on choosing a vibrating cock ring until you know whether or not you enjoy them at all. A simple, silicone cock ring (and again, some lube) and you should be good to go!