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The Ben Wa Debate

Note to the uninitiated: Ben Wa Balls are gold-plated solid metal balls, slightly larger than a child's marbles. They are sold by the pair and are intended for vaginal insertion. Triotone Balls are a variation on the theme: metal ball bearings are enclosed within hollow plastic balls tied together with a string. (Neither of these products is intended for anal use.) Rumor has it in some circles that they roll around inside causing a high degree of sexual arousal.

The question is, do Ben Was work?

The argument against (contributed by a Good Vibes Staffer):

NO! Ben Wa Balls are bunk.

Ben Was are the most successful and outrageous piece of hype ever to emerge out of the sex toy business. They don't provide anyone with an orgasm or even a big thrill, but they can cause a lot of humiliation if you don't know the score.

Supposedly Ben Was are placed in the vagina like a tampon, and then while you walk to the store or attend your aerobics class, they bubble away inside you producing multiple orgasms. Nonsense! Ben Was are not like Mexican jumping beans. Women's vaginas envelop the balls quite securely, and you would have to leap up and down like a house on fire to get them to move around at all. On the other hand, whenever a Ben Wa wearer sneezes, or has a good laugh, the balls will pop out of her vagina. So first the unsuspecting customer thinks she's a sexual failure because she can't feel a thing, and then when she blows her nose at a dinner party, the balls will come rolling down her leg like miniature bowling balls. Who needs the aggravation?

The argument for (contributed by a Dr. Cynthia Jayne of Philadelphia, PA):

YES! Zen and the Art of Ben Was.

It is true that Ben Was have enjoyed a mystique that may result in disappointment for women who expect shock waves of ecstasy when trying them for the first time. In defense of Ben Was, it should be pointed out that the culture of their origin prizes the subtle and understated, not the neon flashing blaze of quick excitement. So it is with Ben Was.

Use of Ben Was teaches attention to subtle sensation in the vagina. Our culture reinforces what can be termed "vaginal neglect." While the prevailing model of female responsiveness has focused on our marvelous clitorises, we women are actually blessed with two sexual zones. Presently, women are taught to perceive their vaginas as either birth canals or as reception rooms for penises. Both of these perceptions involve us in fairly social events which require the presence of another person.

The use of penis-like objects for vaginal stimulation (by self or others) only serves to reinforce this deplorably limited state of affairs. In addition, the use of tampons, handy though they are, reinforces our notion that the vagina is insensitive. Optimal use of tampons only teaches us to ignore or disregard subtle sensations in the vagina.

Thus, it is not at all surprising that Ben Was are not wildly popular. After all, they are not strictly the penis-like object that we have been taught will do wonderful things for our vaginas. In fact, some of the sensations are akin to the twinges created by tampons, twinges we have been accustomed to disregard. However, Ben Was present an opportunity for us to experience our vaginas in a very different way, independent of reproduction and penile penetration. In a way, Ben Was are uniquely feminine, essentially self-sufficient; they offer a sensitizing experience that can be extremely therapeutic. Patience is necessary, but the results can carry a woman beyond the limits of her sexuality taught in this culture.