Everyone’s mad about an Instagram photo of kids playing with their mom’s vibrator

Gasp! Think of the children. 

 

EJ Dickson

IRL

Published Nov 14, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 5:07 am CDT

Warning: This article contains topics that may be NSFW.

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Earlier this week, an Instagram photo of blogger Jenna Andersen’s children playing with her vibrator went viral.

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According to Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory, the Instagram photo was inspired by Andersen’s 4-year-old son and 21-month-old daughter finding her Hitachi Magic Wand in her drawer. Assuming it was a robot, they used it to play what they called “the robot massager game.”

Amused, Andersen snapped the picture and posted it on her Instagram earlier this week. Almost immediately, she was met with a slew of pearl-clutching commenters calling the photo inappropriate and accusing Andersen of exploiting her children. Then the photo was picked up by the blog Get Off My Internets, where it was once again attacked by commenters.

“Documentation for the origin of Eye Herpes,” one commenter wrote, spawning a never-ending thread debating the origins of the ocular herpes virus. Others called it a “disgusting overshare,” and accused Andersen of using her children to garner pageviews.

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While there’s certainly an argument to be made against parental oversharing on sites like Facebook and Instagram, or even parents using their children as props in a bid for Internet virality, the vast majority of the commenters seemed to be targeting Andersen for letting her kids play with what was supposed to be an item of sexual pleasure—i.e., a vibrator. A handful of them appeared to be slut-shaming Andersen for owning a vibrator in the first place, with one woman commenting on “how big and stretched out [Andersen’s] vag must be” from the Hitachi Magic Wand massager. (For the record, the Hitachi is intended to be used for clitoral stimulation, and not internally.)

But as Clark-Flory points out, it’s far from uncommon for children to find their parents’ sex toys and adopt different uses for it, as they would with pretty much any other foreign object they might encounter. As one parent whose child found her sex toy wrote, “he thought my rabbit [vibrator] was a laser gun.” And while one parenting expert consulted for Clark-Flory’s piece said it might not be a good idea for kids to play with their parents’ sex toys for hygienic reasons, overall Andersen’s photo “is fine—it’s funny, but it’s funny because we adults know all the uses for her fancy massager.”

The question of whether parents should be posting photos of their kids on social media is certainly worth examining. But considering how relatively innocuous Andersen’s photo is, and how unlikely it is that very young children like hers will understand the intended function of a sex toy, the Internet’s angry response says less about whether it’s appropriate for children to be “exploited” on the Internet, and more about our complex feelings about women experiencing sexual pleasure in the first place.

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H/T Salon | Photo by Kris Krug/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Nov 14, 2014, 5:53 pm CST