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Does Your Gran Have a Vibrator? Sex Talk Across the generations

Updated: Feb 28




Tabitha Rayne, Ruby Glow inventor, talks sex education and empowerment across the generations.


Something that has bothered me for a while is how closed the discussion of sex seems to be across generations. Lucky for me my mum was very sex positive and even talked about engaging your pelvic floor for better sex to me as young as 7 or 8. She took lovers and was very open about the delights of intimacy and orgasmic bliss.


There was one area she was very prudish about—masturbation. She seemed to view it with disgust, if she mentioned it at all. I remember her telling me how upset she felt that her boyfriend didn’t want to have sex one night but she’d later caught him masturbating in the shower. She almost behaved as this was some sort of betrayal.


As a lifelong self-lover I was confused. I don’t see solo sex as any sort of betrayal and I also know that sometimes you just need the quick release of orgasm but might not feel in the mood for sex.


I wondered if my mum ever masturbated but I never plucked up the courage to ask her before she died (check your breasts). She’d once caught me wriggling about in my bed giving myself my nightly dose of relaxation and said in a shocked voice, ‘what on earth are you up to?’ I must have been pre-high school age and it made me feel very ashamed.


I now realise that it was a missed opportunity to have an open and frank chat, just as we would normally have had about other kinds of sex. It seemed that for my sex positive, pleasure loving mum, solo sex was a taboo too far. And I believe that is absolutely down to women and girls never being taught about their right to own their own sexual pleasure, or being told about it all all!


I really want to know why she didn’t either do it, or simply didn’t talk about it. Where did that shame come from? But now I can’t ask her.


I still had my gran to talk to. She was widowed in her 60s and as far as I know she didn’t ever take a lover—she died last year at the age of 93. She had always been by my side cheering me on through all my erotic writing and sex toy inventing adventures, rarely going deeper than, ‘I don’t know where you get your ideas, you’re a dirty beast!’



"Dirty beast!"

There were many occasions I was on the brink of asking if she gave herself orgasms, but I have the feeling she never had an orgasm her whole life. Obviously this is fine if she was asexual or had absolutely no desire to touch herself, but what if it was because of never having sex education, or even talking about it? Or being made to feel ashamed.


One day while watching a rather saucy TV show, there was a blowjob scene with the woman going down on a fella and feasting as if it was the most delicious snack. My gran turned her head in disgust and declared in a thick Scottish accent, ‘In yer mooth? In yer MOOTH? It’s bad enough where it’s supposed to go!’


Which, obviously was hilarious, but made me feel sad: ‘bad enough where it’s supposed to go’.


I could have said, oh come on, you must have had fun times with papa, surely? But I didn’t. I could have asked if she missed sex, if she would like me to find something to help her with orgasms… But I didn’t. I couldn’t make the words come out.


After a wellbeing event I’d attended and given a talk about the joys and benefits of releasing oxytocin through orgasms, self-pleasure and masturbation, I took along a small bullet vibrator to my gran’s house. I thought, bloody hell, if I can talk to a room full of strangers about the joys of self-love, surely to god I can get over myself and talk to my gran.

I showed her the bullet and turned it on, telling her if she just held it on her magic button, she’d soon know all about why I loved my job.


She just laughed and told me to put it away. She forever called my Ruby Glow, my ‘fanny thing’. (Note—a fanny is a vulva in the UK!)


I made sure to show her how to turn the bullet vibe on so at least she could try it when I was away if she wanted to.


The next week I found out from one of her carers that she’d been asking each of them how she was to apply the ‘lipstick’ her thoughtful granddaughter had bought her.

They laughed and said ‘Mrs R, I don’t think that’s a lipstick!’ to which my gran would innocently reply, ‘Oh, is it not?’


My gran knew full well. I’m hoping she did try it out but I’ll never know. Again, I was too shy to ask and now it’s too late.


But it got me thinking about how we neglect older people’s sexuality. I know several widows who must have enjoyed a lovely sex life when their partners were alive but what if they are too shy to ask now? And I also know many older people are not online and cannot share in this glorious abundance of sexuality, sensuality and education that is now at our finger tips.

We are all, especially in this business, so open about sex and pleasure that I guess it can be easy to forget that for some people, it just isn’t mentioned. Especially older generations who had limited access to any sort of sexual education.


This was recently highlighted to me by a couple who reached out and told this story of discovering the joy of sex in their 80s.


I guess the question is—are we addressing our older people’s right and need to sensuality and sexual pleasure?


Would you ask your gran if she has a good enough vibrator? Or your papa if he needs a Fleshlight or Tenga egg? Isn’t it time we did?


Tabitha's new erotic short story collection, Drenched, is now available.


#OrgasmsForAll

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