DISCLAIMER: Before you read on, this article contains reference to a topic that applies only to adults. I really have tried to be discreet as possible in handling the topic, but reader discretion is advised.
I've been doing my research, and the average price of a vibrator is about £30.
Yes, I'm aware that's one hell of an opening sentence, and I apologise to those of you who are reading this while eating. But I have been doing a little thinking about substitution, and how far people will go to simulate or replace the feelings and emotions gained from a romantic relationship.
Vibrators. They're everywhere now, and with the advent of female empowerment it's no longer considered sordid and shameful to own one. Adverts for them pop up everywhere: from on the Tube to the back of girls magazines. On the High Street, Ann Summers is the closest you'll get to a brand; in some branches men are not even allowed in without the company of a woman. With the sheer pink floors, patterned walls and staff-led demonstrations, pretty much everything is aimed at the modern woman. And as for the products themselves...yes, surprise-surprise, I have been into an Ann Summers thank you very much, and I have unashamedly had a look at the vibrators. And while I was surprised on my first visit that nobody gave me a filthy look or accused me of being a 'wanton hussy', I was even more surprised at the variation.
You get ones you can use in the bath, ones filled with ball-bearings (don't ask me how or why), ones that connect to your iPod. There are ones that throb, thrust, gyrate and wiggle. Ones made of latex, glass, or that strange material that's exactly like those kids' toys that you lob at windows and they crawl down in a horrible gelatinous fashion (think I'll stay away from them, thanks.) And if for example you happen to live with other people, you can get some that don't even LOOK like vibrators. Good Lord, and I find it hard enough to choose a colour of nail polish...
Moving away from the specifics of this topic (washing our hands first) and onto others, I also found a small following dedicated to "cybering". It's another risque topic; is it real sex if you make a slimmer, pink-haired pixellated version of yourself and then frolic on a virtual sofa? Is it cheating on your partner if you do this within a relationship? Have you actually had sex on an emotional basis? If cheating is in the mind as well as physical, then more people are cheats than first thought. If 'pretending' to sleep with a physical manifestation of someone makes you feel the same as the act of physical sex would, why should it be treated any differently? I'm not going into my views this time - my thoughts on the topic of cheating are firmly set, thanks - but I guess its as stimulating (pardon the pun) as letting a battery-powered entity do all the work.
Besides vibrators or online role play, there's alcohol (for the relaxing qualities), chocolate (for the endorphines), mindless spending (for the thrill)...but then I personally have used all of these things to counteract other feelings, like a bad day at work or a bereavement. At the end of the day, you can't really hug a bottle of Jack Daniel's without looking desperate. A bar of Galaxy won't tell you when you look nice. And a bank statement won't put its arm around you. A vibrator may make your eyes roll back into your head, but there's no point asking the thing "Was it good for you?"
Sorry folks, but while there may be a substitute for sex, there's no substitute for love.