My last post generated quite a lot of comment and some challenges of my assumptions, so I thought I'd write this to go into more detail on the thinking behind each of them. I should probably add that while I tried to make my description of each character appropriate and plausible, I wasn't really trying to produce a definitive fanonical statement or anything here. I mean, i've even contradicted myself in my own fic about these people before now.
So, here we go with an item-by-item breakdown. Accusations that I've thought about this far too much
are true will be put aside. :-)
Willow came home from school the afternoon of her 13th birthday to find lying on her pillow a gift-wrapped vibrator, a packet of batteries and a textbook on the psychosexual development of the adolescent, thoughtfully bookmarked at page 78. She was of course utterly mortified and hid the toy far away in the darkest recesses of her underwear drawer. She read the book, though. And after eight days of trying not to think about it, intellectual curiosity and rampant teenage hormones got the better of her, and she dug the toy out again. Now as an adult she keeps a bottle of lube in her bedside cabinet alongside several different vibrators and thinks the whole thing is no big deal.
>> I did get criticism that just-turned-13 is a little young for this. In fact, I originally wrote 14th birthday, and dropped it a year on the assumption that Willow would have already hit puberty at 12, and besides, some awkwardness was the whole point. I can imagine Sheila Rosenberg, who may be not wholly unlike her daughter in terms of personality, preparing herself through extensive advance research for Willow's teenage years. If the textbook says that adolescents normally begin masturbating between the years of 13 and 15, then Sheila would make sure that her gift wasn't too late, because she wouldn't want Willow's developmental progress to be interrupted.
>> The reference to Willow's bedside cabinet is actually from a fic I'm writing, and is what sparked off this whole thing in the first place. (In short, I needed a bottle of lube available for the fic and had to decide who'd be most likely to provide it. Plus, the older version of Willow who's perfectly unembarrassed at asking Satsu what Buffy is like in bed also seems unlikely to be bothered by telling another character that yes, she has some.)
Buffy had thought about it before, but always found the idea of buying a vibrator far too embarrassing: she'd rather face a dozen vampires than walk into a sex-shop. It wasn't until she was at college and discovered that even Willow of all people already owned one that she reconsidered. (We'll draw a discreet veil over exactly how she made that discovery; suffice to say it involved Buffy arriving back from patrol an hour earlier than she'd said she would.) Willow helpfully showed her how to order one online... but ironically, once she got it Buffy discovered she preferred just using her hand anyway. (The fact that Slayers have supernatural stamina, enviable suppleness and the ability, when needed, to move their fingers faster than the human eye can follow might have something to do with that.)
>> Buffy in early season 4 was an only child who'd had a bedroom to herself all her teenage years, and suddenly found herself having to share... which I imagine was really awkward and frustrating for her. Especially given the whole "hungry and horny" aspect of being the Slayer. The discovery that Willow - who's far more practical in certain ways - was taking advantage of the nights she went out on patrol leaving Willow with their room all to herself for several hours would, I think, freak her out. She'd be simultaneously "God, how could you? In our room?!" and "Why on earth didn't I think of that myself?!". Of course all this time Willow had been pointedly telling Buffy things like "I'm going to the library and won't be back until after ten" assuming Buffy would take the hint, but Buffy never had...
Anya owns a vast selection of sex toys of all conceivable shapes and sizes, bought from a variety of catalogues and websites. She uses them enthusiastically and with inventiveness on both herself and Xander any chance she gets. Xander has learned to anticipate the arrival of the mailman with both excitement and dread.
>> I don't think this one needs much more elaboration: it just seems totally obvious that Anya "Yes, we've enjoyed spanking" Jenkins would do this.
Xander: see above. Truth be told, he rather enjoys Anya's constant search for new experiences... although he did draw the line when she bought one of those latex forming kits that allow you to take a mould of your partner's penis and turn it into a dildo. The idea of potentially coming home to find his disembodied dick lying on the duvet was just too much for him.
>> These kits do really exist, apparently. (You understand I'm not talking from first-hand knowledge here.) But then there was that episode of 'Coupling' when one of Patrick's ex-girlfirends not only took the mould, but sold it to a vibrator manufacturer... I'm not sure if Anya would go that far. On the one hand, it would be profitable; on the other, it means thousands of other women would enjoy something she thinks of as for her alone.
Cordelia used $200 of her Christmas money one year to buy a Petit Ami stainless steel vibrator. After moving to LA she tried selling it on E-Bay; the highest offer was $35 until she rewrote the ad to mention that the toy was pre-used, and in the end she sold it for enough to pay her rent for a month.
>> I did research here, consisting of going to Janesguide and finding the most expensive vibrator for sale that had a classy rather than cutesy brand name. Which I suspect is similar to what Cordelia herself did. Of course, Cordy can also have a very practical streak mixed with a certain cynicism about the world, hence her perfect willingness to sell her used vibe to a total pervert if it would get her more money. I'm not sure that eBay will actually allow auctions of such items, but this is the Buffyverse version of them we're talking about here.
Oz owns two buttplugs and a set of anal beads. He never once mentioned them to Willow, though - not because he was embarrassed (Oz doesn't do embarrassed) but because he thought they would freak her out too much.
>> That's Oz: deeper than he lets on, sweet and considerate of Willlow's feelings, and also arrogantly taking decisions on her behalf without ever bothering to consult her or discuss them with her. Not wholly unlike Willow herself in the later seasons, in fact: maybe he was a bad influence on her?
Angelus regarded the entire world as his sex toy. Once he got his soul, he didn't masturbate again for one hundred years.
>> I did have an alternative concept for Angelus involving a Prince Albert that Darla once persuaded him to have fitted, but it was far too repulsive to fit with the tone of the other ideas... :-) And like I said to BGF, souled-Angel has your stereotypical Catholic guilt dialled up to 11. Post-Buffy, I think he relaxed a little, though...
Spike likes to fetishise over possessions of his lovers, girlfriends or objects of unrequited lust. If you want to know why Miss Edith wears a blindfold, it's because Drusilla got jealous over the idea that the doll would see Spike naked.
Oh, and also? The Buffybot. Enough said.
>> My first version of this simply said "Spike: the Buffybot" but then I remembered the Buffy-shrine he built in Season 5 and the rest followed. The idea of why Drusilla blindfolded her dolls came in a flash of inspiration: it's perfect Dru-logic that she'd be excited by the idea of Spike wanking over her dolls (corrupting innocence is sexy if you're a vampire) but furiously jealous at the idea that the dolls would be able to watch him doing it.
Giles owns a small collection of Mayfairs and Men Onlys from the 1970s, which he keeps behind a 17th century treatise on swordsmanship in his study. He doesn't actually look at them very often because he has every page memorised.
>> Yes, the link to swordsmanship and "handling weapons" was a deliberate innuendo... and the implication (based on his conversations with Jenny) is that Giles would be uncomfortable with any form of electronic media, preferring good old-fashioned paper and ink.
Wesley once bought a blow-up doll from a catalogue, but it sprang a leak and deflated rather suddenly and painfully when he tried using it. That was before he moved to LA and became cool, of course.
>> For those who can't envision what I have in mind here when I say 'painfully' (or whose minds blocked it out); if you're lying on top of a big flesh-coloured person-shaped balloon that suddenly deflates, you'll promptly fall down to the bed below. And if a particular part of your anatomy happened to be, um, pointing downwards at the time, well, all your weight would suddenly land on the end of it. Which I imagine might be quite painful. :-) We know from S1 of 'Angel' that Wesley has a habit of buying odd things from catalogues (like Thighmasters) and of course he was a total klutz back then too. Anyone who attempts to see his failure with the doll as foreshadowing of Lilah's death and Fred's death clearly has an overactive and twisted imagination.
Faith doesn't masturbate. No, seriously. When she gets the itch, there's always some guy willing to scratch it for her. The dumb ones will even pay for drinks and buy her presents for the privilege of getting fucked over. Of course, she'd angrily deny it if you suggested she was too screwed up and self-loathing to be able to relax and enjoy playing with herself. But the first time Faith ever got herself off? Was in a prison cell, awaiting trial.
>> I'm not sure it's really true in my own personal canon that Faith never masturbated until after she turned onto the path to redemption. It does feel realistic to me that she'd have serious hang-ups about it, though, that anyone who only saw her casual approach to sex would never suspect. Oh, and in answer to BGF: Faith in 'Who Are You?' was literally a whole different person; it wouldn't be surprising if she felt free then to do things she'd never really done before.
Tara has never used a vibrator, although she has let Willow use one on her to see what it was like.
>> This was intended as an 'aww, how sweet' moment. I do sometimes toy with the idea that Tara was a lot more raunchy and earthy than her surface persona would indicate, but only ever let Willow see that side of her - but I didn't want to take it too far. And besides, I can imagine Tara feeling that a big, buzzing lump of plastic was far too unsubtle and unnatural for her to be comfortable with.
Dawn borrowed Willow's computer one day to find that she'd "accidentally forgotten" to clear her browser cache, and there was an online sex shop in her 'back' button. (Coincidentally, it was the same one Willow had introduced Buffy to a few years earlier). Dawn spent the next few days hurrying down to the front door each morning before Buffy got there - not that she was embarrassed about her purchase as such, she was just certain her sister would totally freak out and perhaps even confiscate the toy.
>> It wasn't "accidental" at all, of course; that was Willow giving Dawn the chance to pretend that she doesn't know that Willow knows, even though Dawn is well aware that Willow knows she knows she knows. You know? Willow is playing her Disreputable Auntie role to the full. You'll notice that I had her introduce no fewer than three of the other female characters to the wonders of vibrators here: Willow's an enabler. :-)
Riley enjoys a cold shower every morning.
>> There was possibly an element of humorous exaggeration in there, but I wanted to end on a funny note. Besides, this is disciplined regimental soldier Riley who always obeys orders here, not the Riley who had his eyes opened by Buffy to some of the realities of the world.
I was slightly embarrassed, at reading nothorse's additional suggestions, to realise I'd missed out Joyce. I mean: single woman, divorcee, having trouble getting back into the dating scene? Buffy, of course, would never in a million years suspect her mother of indulging in such things, and would be traumatised and horrified to find out she did; but as someone closer to Joyce's age than Buffy's I really ought to have known better. :-) (Buffy is also convinced that her mother doesn't have the slightest clue that she herself masturbates, and takes elaborate precautions to stop her from ever finding out. Willow at the same age is casually letting her mother know when to add new batteries to the weekly shopping list.)
And since I was concentrating on main-cast characters I left her out, but for the record: Kennedy's first sexual experience with another girl involved a hairbrush handle at the age of 16, and she did some experimentation afterwards on her own too, but on the whole she prefers using her hand. She's got no problem with borrowing Willow's sex toys though if she fancies some variety. She even persuaded Willow to buy a strap-on harness for them, which Willow had always been opposed to on ideological grounds before.
On a final, more general note: according to Kinsey, 92% of men and 62% of women masturbate at some point in their life. The male figure doesn't sound too unreasonable to me: there will always be some people who find the concept distasteful, morally wrong or simply uninteresting. The female statistics always struck me as far too low *g* - although I'm aware that far more girls than boys were brought up to believe that "down there" is disgusting and dirty and you shouldn't touch it, and such attitudes may have been far more common back in the 50s. Anyway, the relevance of this is that I wanted to have at least some of the Scoobies not play with themselves on a regular basis. Unfortunately for them, Faith and Riley got themselves volunteered.
On a similar note, I wasn't entirely sure how many of them would actually own or use sex toys. I've seen one statistic that a million vibrators are sold in Britain each year; given that there are about 20 million adult women in the country that's not an awfully high percentage, especially factoring in the ones who own several and the men who buy them too. But I'm sure I've seen figures that in the US the proportion is much higher. Even so, I suspect that statistically, I've given the Scoobies more sex toys than a group of their demographic composition would own in real life (not even counting Anya's collection). But this is fanfiction, and we all know how hypersexualised that tends to be. :-)