Vibrating bike seats and the female orgasm

My newsfeed on Facebook was abuzz yesterday (pun intended, sorry)  with talk of a vibrating bike seat cover.

See Vibrating bicycle seat ought to make bikes more popular and Happy Ride Vibrating Bicycle Seat.

“The Happy Ride, made by Sexshop365 (which sounds like a terrible OKCupid username but is a British adult toy store), is a bicycle seat that vibrates while you pedal around. The controls are hidden in a discreet pocket in the back, so you can adjust it to your preferred level of stimulation, from “oooooh, this guy might door me, how titillating” to “OH GOD THE LIGHT’S TURNING RED, HANG ON, I’M COMINNNNNG.” (Incidentally, PLEASE wear your helmet. Let’s all practice safe bike sex.)”

I’m good with orgasms and sex toys but the bike seat -sex toy combo seems like a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea.

Obviously there are practical worries. Don’t try this out in a fast moving paceline or in city traffic. But also I don’t think it’s as sex positive as it first seems. I actually think it reflects anxiety about women’s athleticism and women’s bodies, particularly in the context of a sport that requires women to have something between our legs. It must be that we are enjoying it, so here, enjoy it even more.

To put this in a historical context, see Bike seats, speed, and sexual depravity

Writing about doctors reaction to women on bikes in the 1800s, Ellen Gruber Garvey says:

“In an outpouring of numerous articles in medical journals, physicians went into extensive and virtually prurient detail about ways the bicycle saddle might produce sexual stimulation: The saddle can be tilted in every bicycle as desired…. In this way a girl… could, by carrying the front peak or pommel high, or by relaxing the stretched leather in order to let it form a deep, hammock-like concavity which would fit itself snugly over the entire vulva and reach up in front, bring about constant friction over the clitoris and labia. This pressure would be much increased by stooping forward, and the warmth generated from vigorous exercise might further increase the feeling. This physician reported the case of an “overwrought, emaciated girl of fifteen whose saddle was arranged so that the front pommel rode upward at an angle of about 35 degrees, who stooped forward noticeably in riding, and whose actions … strongly suggested … the indulgence of masturbation.” Although the patient is evidently worn to a frazzle by her fevered indulgence, the imagery of this physician’s first passage seems to reflect concern that female masturbation is a kind of indolence or relinquishment of vigilance: the leather is “relaxed”; the vulva rests in that signal article of Victorian leisure furniture, a hammock.”

Okay, so then they were concerned that women might be using bikes to masturbate. Now sex toy manufacturers want to help women reach sexual satisfaction on a bicycle. Is the world a better place?

No, actually, or at least not much, because the association of bikes with female orgasm is still lingering around. Then they were bad, now they’re good, but still the association of women, bikes, and orgasms hangs on.  I mean, biking for an orgasm makes much more sense than riding for fitness, speed, or practical transportation. Not.

I kind of wish they go back to bugging women who rode horses…..

Joke deleted as insensitive to women riders. See comment below. It’s tiresome all round. No woman, whatever her physical activity of choice, needs it.

About Sam B

Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist!

11 thoughts on “Vibrating bike seats and the female orgasm

  1. Tracy I says:

    Great post. Besides sounding downright dangerous, the whole idea seems more like something that plays to straight men’s fears and fantasies about women and sex and bicycles (as you say, there is real discomfort around activities where women have something between their legs). Like really? I want to masturbate, gee, I think I’ll hop on my bike and go around the block a couple of times. Yeah sure. Unless I have a bicycle fetish (which I won’t discount as something someone might have) there are easier ways.

    • Sam B says:

      Agreed with you about bike porn and fetishes. It’s complicated. Mostly it’s by men for men, featuring scantily clad women on bikes. You like beautiful women? You like beautiful bikes? Here’s the combo! Kind of like gorgeous women draped over sports cars.

      One fun and funny exception is Bike Smut. A film festival of radical pleasure

      “Bike Smut is a collection of short erotic films made by inspired cyclists from all over the world. It is creative, clever, funny, and aware! The Bike Smut Film Festival is now in its 7th year and has never been just a single person’s vision, rather, a coalition of the horny work together to bring this synthesis of transportation and sexuality to life.”

  2. Tracy I says:

    P.s. love the pic

  3. longviewhill says:

    I’m with Tracy on this. It seems more about hype than anything. It says a lot more about a subset of men with particular fascinations then anything to do with what women might actually want.

  4. Craig Burgess says:

    I once knew a woman who had orgasms semi-regularly when riding the subway. She told me she’d cover her face with her book when it was happening. I think her primary use of the TTC was for transportation, however. The orgasms were simply fringe benefits.

  5. Eliza says:

    I thought this was a great post until your horseback riding comment. Now I’m angry!

    We competitive riders get these types of sex-related comments all the time and we hate them.

    We are athletes just like everyone else – please don’t dump on us or write us off, as I feel your final sentence did!

  6. musesicksic says:

    This is so absurd. I think it comes from the sexualizing attitude our culture has to female bodies– people are so uncomfortable with women’s bodies doing things that are patently not sexual that they go out of their way to sexualized them so that all is again right with the world (read:comfortable). This happens with everything from breast-feeding to cycling…. women really can’t win.

    • musesicksic says:

      I really wish you could edit comments. That should read “go out of their way to sexualize them”…

      Also, if we could edit, I would go back and edit that horrendous run-on sentence. Alas!

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