This article is a sponsored collaboration between LELO and PAPER

For the longest time, sex was more about the act than the orgasm. It’s a toxic but extremely common mindset amongst people with vaginas, informed by a lifetime of societal shaming and the idea that male partners take precedence. And as something that was continually reinforced while I was just beginning to explore my sexuality, it took years for me to advocate for myself and my own sexual needs, both in terms of pleasure and my reproductive health.

In fact, I remember being so embarrassed about experiencing sexual pleasure that I had to work up the courage to masturbate — let alone use a toy. But when I did, it turned out to be a life-changing experience that eventually helped me become who I am today: Someone who’s unashamed to talk about sex, the benefits of self-pleasure and the tools that make both of these things so much better, including the IDA Wave, an app-controlled vibrator.

The makers of some of my favorite bedside staples, LELO definitely hit the nail on the head when it said the IDA Wave “never disappoints.” With a titillating array of vibrational patterns and a flexible design that allows for the perfect fit, it’s versatile, unintimidating and extremely easy to use, making it “ideal for sexual awakening on your terms.” And that’s especially true if you’ve never tried a toy that simultaneously stimulates the clitoris and G-spot, which creates a deliciously toe-curling orgasm that feels so good, you begin to wonder why you were always told it was bad.

But while masturbation has the amazing ability to kickstart a sexual journey and explore your body, it’s still just the starting point. After all, patriarchal norms have long made phallocentric pleasure the default, leading to a sociocultural status quo where control is exerted via stigma and silence. And for most of us, this is the first type of sexual experience we have, all of which is made worse by a lack of education, overt shaming and sexual health resources — particularly when it comes to partnered sex.

In my case, my formative experiences taught me to be self-conscious and sacrifice my own pleasure. Most of this can be attributed to my first boyfriend, whose concern for my sexual wellness started and ended with making sure I was on the pill. Because like most teenage boys, he was selfish and entitled, which, combined with a superiority complex, meant I was the scapegoat for many of his own insecurities.

“It smells weird down there,” he’d say when I had a yeast infection. Or: “I don’t need any help” when I showed him an article about the benefits of a vibrator, adding that if I needed a toy, it was because there was “something wrong” with me. Not knowing any better, I struggled with shame and guilt, suffering in silence for the next few years until we finally broke up and an older friend gave me a vibrator.

However, my shame was so deeply ingrained that it took many years to really expand my sexual horizons and get to the point where I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about masturbation or climaxing during sex. But even when I was able to talk about the latter on an intellectual level, it was still difficult to advocate for my orgasm, because all I could hear in my head was the derision in my first boyfriend’s voice when he said it was “my fault” I needed more.

Thankfully, I’ve had much better partners since then, ones who make me feel empowered and comfortable enough to ask for what I need, even if it’s just driving me to the OB-GYN or taking care of me when I get a UTI. Not only that, but they are also partners secure enough in their masculinity that they’re excited to use something like an app-controlled vibrator and always volunteer to help because they view it as another form of intimacy and care. And, as a result, I no longer feel any shame in speaking up and pulling out my IDA Wave, which I’ve always recommended as the best tool for starting your sexual journey with confidence and power. With big Black Friday discounts just around the corner, there’s no better time to show yourself the self-love you’ve always deserved by giving yourself the ultimate gift of an incredible orgasm.

Photos courtesy of LELO

Sign Up For The Morning PAPER