2015, the Year of the Strap-on

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It's a shin-jo. Photo: Comedy Central

If 2014 was the year of female-centric sex on TV, 2015 is shaping up a little differently. There's still an emphasis on women, only now it includes not just who and how they're banging, but with what. Welcome to the year of the strap-on. Buckle up. [This article contains images that are definitely not safe for traditional workplace environments. It also contains extremely mild, not-at-all-ruinous spoilers for one moment on one episode of season three of Orange Is the New Black.]

It's not that 2015 is the first time there have been strap-ons on TV. That honor goes to I Love Lucy — no, I kid, my research suggests it was an episode of HBO's '90s documentary series Real Sex. And pegging has appeared here and there, though generally as a reference or allusion, and less frequently as an onscreen sex act. But compared to sex scenes of yore, the strap-on scenes of 2015 are notable for their de-sensationalizing of one of the ways people have sex with one another.

Not that it's not erotic — it is, and is often framed as such. It's that the use of a strap-on is treated as a given. Take this scene from the first episode of Netflix's Sense8: Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and her girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman) are having thrilling, headache-curing sex. I'm no prude, but even I was surprised to see a dildo splash on the ground. Brava.

It's their special Pride-themed phallus. Photo: Netflix

On the more matter-of-fact side of things, this season of Orange Is the New Black finally gets into a little bit of Big Boo's backstory, and we see her girlfriend and her engage in strap-on penetrative sex, too.

Get it, Boo! Photo: Netflix

Earlier this year, TV brought us some hetero strap-on use on Broad City. Even as Abbi initially balks at her crush Jeremy's request to be pegged, Ilana finds the request thrilling, a brilliant opportunity. (Abbi would get to be "a pegasus!") Later in the episode, things go awry not because of the act itself, but because of what Jeremy thinks is Abbi's dismissiveness with regard to his artisanally hewn dildo. She insists she's not judging his desire to be pegged, which backfires (though her claim seems largely legitimate). If anything, she's judging herself, her own trepidation, because she wants badly to be perceived as knowledgeably sexy, even if pegging is not on her personal wish list.

2015 didn't invent strap-on sex on TV, but these shows are perfecting it, even just by depicting it in frank or funny or sexy ways, rather than as a sign of deviance. (Unlike the new season of True Detective, which includes a treasure chest of dildos and Fleshlights as an embodiment of what's perceived as profound perversion.) There was a time not that long ago when Sex and the City's discussions of vibrators was a little bit scandalous, and handled with some fanfare. Now Inside Amy Schumer has the climactic switchblade moment of 1957's 12 Angry Men reimagined with waggly dildos. This is what progress looks like: normalizing and contextualizing what for lots people — especially women-people — is a pretty ordinary form of sexual expression.