Dry Jan? No, no, not that kind of dry January. The other one, that feeling of discomfort while having sex. That was the marketing campaign of Durex last January with one motto: “Ladies, let’s lube”. Although most people feel positively about lubricant, its usage isn’t fully normalised just yet.
While sexual discomfort is a familiar feeling for many people, few people talk about it and less than 50% of people actually do something about it. No, dryness down there is not only related to menopause. Thus a vast majority of people, especially women in intercourse with the opposite sex, actually put up with uncomfortable coitus even though nine out of ten people will tell you that sex with lubricant feels much better and is more likely to lead to orgasm(s). Durex and other brands through sex-positive campaigns, trying to reclaim the word moist for instance, have tried to destigmatise sexual discomfort while promoting the use of lubrification.
The stigma preventing women to raise their discomfort reflects once again how women’s needs or pleasure are secondary in sex. As if men involved with women should not use lubricant because otherwise they would be bad partners who were possibly unable to make their women aroused and wet enough, failing their masculine duties. It must be noted that sexual preferences are contextual and that in some regions people prefer a dryer or tighter vagina/anus. Nevertheless, sex without lubricant is more likely to cause vaginal/anal tearing and increases the risk of STDs and HIV transmission. In other words, lubricant can not only reduce health risks but also transform your sex life no matter your age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Yet, while lubricant should be for all genders and sexual preferences, brands and marketing strategies (just like the Durex one) tend to still advertise themselves in gendered ways. Brands like Maude that dropped a line of gender-neutral sex products with a minimalist design allow us to steer away from outdated and gendered narratives to a cornerstone of human experience found in drugstores, on billboards, or in the industry in general. Sex should be for everyone, inclusive, quality-oriented, and most importantly simple. There is no such thing as a lubricant for women or for men. It’s just lube. Sex should be comfortable and pleasurable for both partners, which is why lubricant should be advocated by both partners as well.
On the flip side, the practice of bareback sex or barebacking (i.e. sex without a condom, sometimes without lubricant as well) among men who have sex with men glamourised the non-usage of any sexual protection/facilitator, at times endangering the safety of the partners. If harm reduction strategies, such as seropositioning or PrEP, are not put in place, the practice may put all partners at an increased risk of contracting STDs or HIV. There is also an underlying assumption that one should ‘take it like a man’ (i.e. without condoms or lubricant) has been perpetuated by the pornography industry where very few videos actually show the use of lubricant during anal penetration, normalising these kinds of practices. And since neither cum nor spit are equivalent substituents, we must stop romanticising their utilisation in lieu of lubricant. Between water-based, oil-based, or water-based flavoured, it seems people already have enough to go nuts (no pun intended)!
All in all, have some fun or don’t – your call, but do not forget that sometimes, it’s better for it to be wetter!