Straight Men, Please Stop Your Useless Fingering

To the surprise of many, just jabbing around down there is not an effective way to get off a person with a clitoris. So please, stop using your fingers as temporary dick surrogates and try these methods instead.

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Sep 28 2017, 6:42pm

Photo courtesy of the author. 

While attending one of the six million weddings that took place on a field last weekend, my friend spotted an attractive man to pursue. A few glasses of wine and some irrelevant conversations later, the two strangers were fooling around, hands a-flutter under the white-clothed table. "He stuck a finger up there," she told me. "I barely even felt it; I think I moved him to stop. One finger! Also, he never followed me back on Instagram."

Everyone experiences vagina-ownership differently, but a lone finger resting in there is … not arousing for me, nor is it for many people I spoke with for this article. In fact, the consensus seemed to be this: Without a clitoral element and/or the use of multiple fingers, the act of fingering is a waste—just another thing straight men do to feel useful. To be clear: The act is phenomenal when penetration and clitoral stimulation are perfectly balanced. One queer woman tells me, "They lean on one another. All clit with no penetration gets old and sort of lacking, but all penetration with no clit is also really bad." (She also says she would never refer to this as fingering, but just as fucking.)

"Fingering will never make me orgasm, nor does it even really feel like anything," my friend added, defining the act as fingers going in and out. "Something substantial like a penis feels amazing when there is also clitoral stimulation, but a solo finger up your vagina is like ... a finger up your nose? But that probably has more sensory feeling." (I'm reminded of soaking, the alleged Mormon sex act I've been obsessed with for years, in which teens who want to preserve their purity engineered a way to get as close to sex as possible without crossing the arbitrary line of an in-and-out motion: The young man inserts his penis into the young woman and "soaks" it there, both parties lying motionless.)

Another woman agreed that fingering without clitoral stimulation is a somewhat low-impact sex act for grown people. "I love external stimulation, but once you've already had sex in your life, I don't really understand the point of fingering," she said. "At that point I would rather just have a penis inside me, you know? I guess it's fine for teens learning to do sex things, but it does nothing for me as an adult."

For the neither-party-has-a-penis partners I spoke with, fingering seems more like a delicate art form that coordinates with oral or product stimulation, never strictly a pregame or endgame. Perhaps people without penises have the good sense to imagine and adore penis-free sex, letting their fingers engage in different motions entirely, while it seems that straight men often use their fingers as temporary dick surrogates.

So what makes fingering good? Because it can be good, especially in situations where vaginal sex isn't possible, like the wooden dance floor at one of those field weddings. I spoke with sex therapists, friends, and a bunch of men I wanted an excuse to say "heyyy" to about their tips and tricks for making fingering pleasurable. I also tested some products that promise to elevate the experience, including a vibrating device you put on your fingers. Fingering can, in fact, feel better than a finger in your nose. Here's how to make it work.

Don't you dare forget about the clitoris

If you think fingering is just the systematic jamming in and out of a finger, you shouldn't be allowed to have fingers. Obviously, there's a delicate balance to be found between insertion and clitoral stimulation; all too often, the clitoris is forgotten as the owner of the hand simply tries to mimic the motion a penis would make, all but ignoring one of the most important pleasure centers.

"I love the amount of men who think the point of it is just to stick their fingers inside of you," one woman told me. "Fingering has the potential to be great but it never will be because men are terrible at it."

There are ways to not be terrible at it. Obviously, incorporate some engagement with the clitoris, but be delicate. "Try to avoid going directly for the clitoris on your first touch," said Fine. "This can be super uncomfortable. Make sure your partner is warmed up, first." Fine suggests trying to cultivate "an erotic state of mind" before any fingering begins. "Start by teasing! Build up to it. Touch them over their underwear until they are thrusting their hips wanting more."

One straight man I spoke with—who estimated he would get "4.2 stars on Sex Yelp"—insisted that musicians, specifically drummers and bassists, are best at navigating the act. "If you want that A1 finger game, know that drummers have limb independence, and bassists have the two-finger rhythm," he said.

Make your hand half-machine

At the recent Sex Expo in Brooklyn, I encountered a product called Fin from the women-run sex toy company Dame Products. The vibrating, ring-like toy attaches comfortably to your fingers, allowing you or your partner to control what's going on in and around your vagina, eliminating the impulse to mindlessly jab.

"Partners want to be engaged with using the toy, and sometimes vulva-owners really love being able to move the toy around with their hands," said Alexandra Fine, founder and CEO of Dame Products. "We didn't think the existing options for finger vibrators were sufficient, so we did a ton of research and ultimately developed a finger vibrator that's meant to be an extension of the hand: augmenting touch in a seamless and intuitive way."

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I fingered myself, so to speak, with the product, and it felt incredible—with full control, I could go back and forth between external and internal stimulation, as well as three vibration speeds. Next time I let a man lay his hands in me, the condition will be that he has to wear one of these.

Warm up your fingers, I'm begging you

You don't want a finger (or cluster of fingers) to shock you during an erotic situation—rather, the contact should surprise and delight. Therefore, it's imperative to ensure you're not defrosting chicken breasts or gripping a Go-Gurt immediately prior to inserting your fingers into someone's warm body.

"Have your fingers at room temperature or slightly warmer, unless your partner is into the cold sensation," said Fine. "This can help your partner feel more comfortable and prevent against shocking them. Oh, and don't leave your fingernails too long, or you could accidentally scratch your partner."

For the love of all that is holy, use lube

Everyone reading this should be using lube ten times more than they do. Adding moisture is one of the most effective, and lowest effort, ways to make masturbation, sex, and foreplay feel better. (If you can get your hands on it, enhance the experience even further with weed lube.)

Speaking of lubrication, one man I spoke to says he incorporates fingering into oral sex. I want to live in an America where that is the norm.