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Lube Is Not the Enemy

Sometimes a friction-reducing sexual aid is just a friction-reducing sexual aid.

by Katie Way
08 October 2019, 9:20am

Photo by Megan Madden via Getty Images

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Personal lubricant does not, intuitively, feel like a controversial topic. What is there to discuss, really, about a semi-viscous substance designed to reduce friction during “human sex acts” (per the so-specific-it’s-a-little-weird Wikipedia definition)? But for a big chunk of the general population, the very existence of lube is a matter that’s ripe for Discourse. More bluntly: What’s with all the hang-ups that straight people seem to have about lube?

Recently, one blistering hot lube take on Twitter set off a particularly high volume of pushback: the “unpopular opinion” that lube exists primarily for the benefit of sexually lazy guys who “don’t give a shit about their partner’s level of arousal.” Pro-lube Twitter users (my words, not theirs, but still!) were quick to point out a number of fairly obvious reasons that this isn’t true. There’s the whole existence of anal sex, for starters, which can be extremely painful sans storebought lubricant. Others may have issues with lubrication for medical reasons—like menopause, hormonal imbalances, or side effects from a prescription medication like antidepressants or birth control—that don’t correlate with how turned on they are during a hookup. Then there are the implications that all women have vaginas, and that natural lubrication is a sexual green light. (They don’t, and it’s not.) All in all, a sticky mess!

But “lube is anti-feminist” isn’t the only wack opinion floating around the internet about personal lube. Posts about insecure boyfriends threatened by the “artificial” nature of lube are a Reddit mainstay (duh) and advice columns combating anti-lube bias abound. And the articles about how to spice up the lube application process, what straight men actually think about using lube, or how often you “should” use it all speak to a well of cultural anxiety around getting and staying wet that is decidedly unsexy. Taking your partner’s bodily excretions too personally is a recipe for a lot of hard feelings—and definitely not in the hot way.

It’s also worth noting that these concerns feel confined to the realm of cisgender, heterosexual encounters. Maybe it’s just not on my straight woman radar, but I don’t see queer folks experiencing the same level of lube-related hand-wringing, at least not when it comes to sexual prowess. Instead of shaming people for suggesting lube as a sexual solution, let’s skip straight to the main event (get it?) and talk shop about what’s the best kind of lube to buy, whether organic lube is worth it, or how weed-infused lube actually works.

As long as there are still misconceptions about the nature of arousal, it’s worth learning more about lube, even if it feels a little basic. It’s really just a liquid that, ideally, makes sex more pleasurable. Using it is perfectly normal and has nothing to do with sexual skill level or strength of your attraction to a partner. And remember: there’s really no point in policing whatever it takes to make someone’s consensual sex life as well-oiled as possible.

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