Carol Queen addresses NYT article on Pelvic Pain


To the Editor:


Your article on Stanford doctors’ David Wise and Rodney Anderson’s invention to treat pelvic pain in men is a useful introduction to an issue that is discussed all too rarely; we hear a good deal more about this issue in women (especially here at female-friendly sexuality resource shop Good Vibrations, where women frequently come to us describing sexual issues stemming from pelvic floor pain)— but of course pelvic floor dysfunction isn’t a problem for women alone. However, the doctors have mis-remembered some elements from their mid-1990s visit to Good Vibrations. The S-curved prostate massager they saw is called the Crystal Wand, and it is not made of glass, but of clear Lucite. It was designed specifically for pelvic health maintenance and when we began to sell it in the mid-1990s, it was a rather big deal that we were a sex toy store and not a clinic. Our colleagues at UCSF Medical Center (University of California at San Francisco) mention the Crystal Wand even now on their informational page about treating pelvic pain. It mystifies me a little that Drs. Wise and Anderson consider it to be unsafe; it would take some doing to lose a 10-inch S-curved item. (While not an impossible feat, the person would have to be pretty motivated.) Plenty of people do need to have things removed at the ER, generally household items that probably seemed like a good idea at the time; we spend a fair amount of energy on the sales floor discussing safety, and have never heard of a case of the Crystal Wand posing a danger. If we did, we’d certainly not carry it.


Dr. Wise’s wry recollection that they were the only guys in the store with ties and no tattoos is a great ’90s flashback. It’s certainly not that way today, especially not in our two newest stores, in Palo Alto near the Stanford campus and in the San Francisco Financial District. In fact, we notice that some of the guys with tattoos are now wearing ties, and, I suppose, vice versa.


In spite of Dr. Wise’s feelings that wand use “is not very good for a marriage,” we talk to plenty of couples who are happy to use toys and sexual products together, for pleasure and for health. Some of them are looking specifically for resources that support anal play; the doctors may not be familiar with the explicit sex-ed film Bend Over Boyfriend, but our customers are, and made it the top-selling movie at Good Vibrations in the 1990s.


All best–

Carol Queen, PhD

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at

You may also like...