Queer Your Tech With Masturbation: Happy Playtime

Welcome to the thirty-third installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

Header by Rory Midhani

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Okay, okay. I know I spent the entire month of May talking about masturbation. But I’m never finished with masturbation, and masturbation isn’t finished with us (ever) and now there’s an app. That’s right! There’s literally an app for that. Happy Playtime by designer Tina Gong will be an HTML5 game compatible with both computers and touch screen devices that will teach you how to masturbate. The goal is to take the stigma out of masturbation for women:

Unfortunately for many women, there has been a cultural stigma that blocks access to self-stimulation. HAPPYPLAYTIME is here to eliminate this barrier as much as possible. By talking openly and lightheartedly about female masturbation, we are taking the first step to becoming truly sexually liberated.

Happy Playtime will basically have tutorials for getting off. But hold your clitori, it’s not live yet. It’s still in development but you can sign up for notifications so you can be one of the first people using it.

Happy Playtime Screenshot

I have weird feelings about this app? Because the feelings are a mixture of very strong positive feelings and very huge questions.

I love that people are talking about masturbating. Love love love it, because it’s super healthy to masturbate and half of the sex questions I field can be solved with a good ole wank. I love that people out there are seeing how guilty and shameful some women feel about masturbating, or that some women don’t really know where to start; that’s a huge problem, and a fixable one.

Happy Playtime screenshot 2

I also really like that they acknowledge that this app does not have the research resources to make this app apply to trans * women, though they do not deny that trans * women are also women who also masturbate. In fact, they point to a zine that’s more equipped to handle those questions. What I don’t like is the super girly vibe that is this site, because not everyone who has a vagina is a woman. But not everything can be everything to everyone and this site is clearly designed for cisgender women and they say so. I get it – you only have the resources and experience to address one facet of this problem well instead of multiple facets of the issue not as well. That is totes valid.

I guess my real huge eyebrow raise comes from the idea that all vulvas work the same. I can’t wait to see how the app handles it – do they say these are just the basics and in the end you’re going to develop a technique all your own? I think I’d be more solid on the app if their current website and promotional material reflected that a little bit more. Not all masturbating looks the same at all.

I also think infantalizing the clitoris is a little weird? Let’s be real here, that clitoris looks like a baby. And also it looks like this and I can’t unsee it:

WILL MY CLIT START SINGING TO ME, TOO?! via Photo Image Gallery

WILL MY CLIT START SINGING TO ME, TOO?! via Photo Image Gallery

 

There are other apps for masturbation (not in Apple’s app store, of course), but I’m excited about this app because of the kind of attention it’s getting. You know I’m always down to talk masturbation and I’m always double always down to talk tech and masturbation, and if nothing else this app will have started a valuable conversation.


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Geekery Editor for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

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21 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Love this. I hope the developer presents her app at one of the NY Tech Meetups. (If she already has then I definitely missed out.)

  2. Thumb up 0

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    I wonder if they added the bit about ‘cisgender’ after the (frankly silly) reaction of some people to the twitter crap about the Penny Arcade guy.

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      Anna Anthropy and I had a conversation with her over Twitter about it (in which I suggested the zine “Fucking Trans Women”) and afterwards she told us she had added the disclaimer, so it might have been because of that. They seem like a nice person who just wasn’t informed about trans stuff.

      Here’s the conversation:

      https://twitter.com/happyplaytime/status/343167679445753856

      I don’t really see how the reaction to Gabe (the Penny Arcade guy) was silly. He got mad at Kotaku for pointing out that trans women exist. And then he got really transphobic when people criticized him for it, saying that he thinks genitals determine gender no matter what and that our names aren’t real. And he wouldn’t listen to any of the trans women (Natalie Reed, etc.) trying to have a reasoned conversation with him about, instead deciding to focus on the one or two outliers giving him death threats and using them to generalize trans women as a demographic! Then he said that he had a trans friend who was fine with it and whatever. And then he found another trans woman (who is considering detransitioning and seems vulnerable) who was okay with what he was saying and used her to legitimize his bigotry. And all this time he’s been tweeting this to almost 100,000 followers. It’s not a little, silly thing. It’s something that can translate into real life consequences for me and other trans women.

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        No… from what i can see, yes he said some stupid stuff, but he then posted a bunch of messages between him and a trans person who had worked for PA. All of those seemed fine, he didn;t get it but i feel like we can’t really expect people to get it and if they’re not encountering trans people on a regular basis they won’t be able to get it. As long as he goes with the ‘refer by presentation’ thing he said, i personally can’t see much problem.

        Also it’s hard to deny the rational people can very, very easily be drowned out by the fact you get god damn death threats.

        $20,000 has also been donated by him tho the trevor project now, jut to show he just didn’t get it and is sorry.

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    I kinda think the vulva image is cute (although, yes, hyper-feminine). I know so many cisgirls that are revolted at the idea of looking at or being intimate with a vulva (including their own) – like they won’t touch themselves without a vibrator because “it’s gross”. I think presenting the vulva in a charming manner will help enforce the idea that female genitalia isn’t inherently disgusting or ugly.

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    I think this is really important, and especially that it’s targeted at cis women, because I think cis women are the one group that are socialized NOT to masturbate, that their genitalia is dirty and gross and bad (hence, cunt being something bad you call people), etc. We’re not supposed to be sexual outside of having a penis inside of us. On the flipside, it’s just sort of assumed that people with penises masturbate, “because it’s how their minds/bodies are built”, so most things involving masturbation are targeted at them.
    Idk. I think this is important, all of it.

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        I’m seeing the anthropomorphic flowers, but I was thinking more along the lines of Fantasia than Alice in Wonderland:

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          Well, since it’s the Dance of the Sugar Plum by Tchaikovsky, they anthropomorphisized the flowers to look like traditional Russian (elite) women. Yours makes more sense than the matryoshka doll…hmmm…

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    Interesting idea, but the baby thing is creeping me out. Also, I’m not sure this is something that can be taught. Everyone’s body is a little different, and responds to stimulation differently – you have to figure out what works for you, and I think that’s mostly trial and error.

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    I could have used that when I was just figuring things out! It’s sad, really, lots of my friends don’t even know how to masturbate or even there own anatomy! Great idea.

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    There is a website that goes pretty in depth about the ins and outs of masturbation for cis women, but I can’t remember what it’s called. I think the app is an intriguing idea, but it doesn’t look like a baby to me, it looks like one of those Russian Dolls that have other dolls inside of it to me. (I can’t remember what they’re called)

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    This type of thing seems really important for everyone with a vagina.

    Which you know, does actually include some trans women. It is kind of weird that some people who claim to be advocates for trans women not be careful enough to avoid claiming otherwise.

    This really is something about genitalia and using cis and trans language in either direction seems like an unfortunate choice by all involved.

    It is a game about vaginas. And that’s rad.

    It doesn’t need to be more complex than that.

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    re: “I guess my real huge eyebrow raise comes from the idea that all vulvas work the same.”

    There are certain anatomical characteristics that the vast majority of cisgender women share–areas of the anatomy where there are a lot of nerve endings where touch stimulation triggers certain physical responses. To that extent, we could say that all vulvas work the same. It’s not like in 26% of women, stimulating the clitoris induces insulin production or is interpreted by the brain as being a hot sensation on your right thumb. (Of course, the reaction to the physical stimulus can be modulated by psychological factors, but I don’t think this website/app is attempting to cleanse women of years of religious/societal/familial/personal guilt/shame/anger/anhedonia, etc.)

    This is an app for women who don’t know what they’re doing down there. If you’re learning something new, you don’t want to be told, “There’s actually lots of different ways to do this; some women don’t use this method at all, others need to combine it with something else, blah blah blah.” When you’re a beginner, you want basic instructions. Refinements, alternative methods, shortcuts, and optimisations can come later on, when you can master basics (or just masturbate).

    Strangely enough, I was thinking about programming when writing that last paragraph.

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    Hmmm… something tells me that a phone app about female masturbation, featuring a cute vagina character, isn’t meant to be in-depth. I think should just be re-named “cis-girl wanking 101”.

    But seriously, this is awesome. I know some cis girls who have NEVER HAD AN ORGASM!! It’s a thing here in Japan, lots of girls just aren’t taught to be sexual – at all. I’m totally going to spread the word..

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