Image shows four cartoon characters in a lineup representing the four partners of SheVibe with the caption "This July SheVibe is Celebrating 8 Years of Wreaking Havoc!"Talk about a celebration. I had to make a dedicated post for all of this awesomeness, rather than just relegating it to the Sales & Deals page!

My much beloved and adored friends over at SheVibe are 8 years old, and they know how to party.

All this month you can get awesome prizes- yes, they’re celebrating their anniversary by giving YOU prizes:

SheVibe Bucks in amounts ranging from $10-$100 placed in random orders!

Double bucks for their Review Project- where you get $6 instead of $3 for each review you post to their site for this month!

They’re stashing thank-you gifts in random orders all month long!

Did I also mention that they’re doing a lot of box art? haven’t even gotten box art and I’m friends with the people at SheVibe- but now maybe you’ll get a chance to have some of your own unique SheVibe artwork!

SheVibe has a lot of awesome stuff and now’s your chance to get something a little or a lot extra with your order. If you want any suggestions please email me- I’m offering free sex toy consultations* all month long if you’re looking at SheVibe’s shop, in order to celebrate along with them!

What’s a sex toy consultation, you may wonder- as a sex educator and a sex toy reviewer, I have tons of knowledge and information stored up in my noggin. I spent more than a year and a half honing my abilities suggesting products to customers at the adult store where I worked, taking into consideration their needs, sensitivities, and desires. The adult product industry is a big and complex one, with thousands of products, many of them not so great for your body whether the materials may be toxic, porous, or the design just isn’t well thought out. A Sex Toy Consultation is where I send you a series of questions and then talk with you- in person if you’re in the Philadelphia area and wish it, or via Skype, Google Hangouts, over the Phone, or via email- about what you know, what you’re interested in learning, and what sorts of products and accessories you’re interested in. I then give you recommendations tailored to your needs, desires, and budget with information about each product and interesting ways to use them. Sound fun? It definitely can be! Get in touch [here] to set up your free consultation and I’ll help you find something awesome at SheVibe so you can take part in the festivities!

Image shows what looks like monopoly money with the text "We're Stashing $10-$100 SheVibe Bucks in random orders thru July!" Image shows Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly Escaping from the cage with a bag of cash and the text "Double Deal Reviews! Write Your Review! Submit a product review via the SheVibe Review Project and receive $6 instead of $3!" Image shows a she vibe box with handrawn cowgirl and the text "We're Doing Lots of Box Art! All month long we'll be surprising customers with our popular box art! (we promise, G Rated only!)." Image shows Rich Uncle Pennybags next to the SheVibe logo with the text "Thank you for celebrating SheVibe's 8th Anniversary! Here's a little something extra to enjoy!" - you might get a little something or a lotta something extra in your order this month!

 

*Something that will soon be coming for realzies to the site, but I’m offering it early because of my love of SheVibe and because I can do what I want.

Hermaphroditus,-Lady-Lever-Art-GalleryYou might have noticed in one of my articles or reviews that I shy away from using binary- she and he- pronouns at pretty much every turn, unless I’m talking about a specific individual whom I know identifies with those pronouns. I also go to extreme lengths not to gender people’s body parts, often in awkwardly worded ways since all of the graceful ways our language has developed to talk about body parts are incredibly gendered.

This is, partially, because I identify as a non-binary trans person- meaning that I do not relate to the binary genders of male and female. This is something I have known intrinsically since childhood, despite not having the words to express it to myself or others. That lack of comprehension throughout my life caused innumerable instances of confusion and pain as I tried to navigate something that was, at every turn, portrayed as “black and white” or “one or the other”- even if you’re not what we think you are based on your sex, there is only one other option you can turn to.

“Some readers may question why we have focused on ‘three’ entities. Why not four or five or myriad other categories of sex and gender? The presence of only two categories- the dyad- creates an inherent relationship of potential conflict, that is, inevitable oppositionality (the anthropologist Gregory Bateson once referred to this structural relationship as ‘symmetrical schismogenesis’). When, however, a third category or class is introduced, a new dynamic enters between the dyadic agents or entities, as Simmel’s classic essay on the ‘triad’ points out: ‘The dyad represents both the first social synthesis and unification, and the first separation and antithesis. The appearance of a third party indicates transition, conciliation, and abandonment of absolute contrast.’ The code of ‘thirdness’ should not be taken literally to mean that in all times and places there are only three categories possible in human classification…the third is emblematic of other possible combinations that transcend dimorphism.” –Gilbert Herdt in the Introduction of Third Sex, Third Gender

What I’ve learned through research and through interacting with other people like myself is that this isn’t true, and it hasn’t been true throughout human history. There have been masculine women like Joan d’Arc, there have been feminine men like Rebecca and her Daughters, there have been people that transit between the different genders like the Eunuchs of Byzantium, and there have been a whole array of people living the lives of different sexes and social genders in Native societies across the world- often suffering the deadly prejudice of European settlers, who proudly documented their disgust and killing of innocent people they didn’t understand. Throughout history, people traveling outside of the binary, whether going from one end to another or someplace completely different, have been treated by their societies as individuals gifted with great power, often treated as emissaries between the two genders (like Byzantiums Eunuchs) or even as an emissary to the spirit world. Cross-dressing has often been taken up by people trying to create change, like Rebecca and her Daughters. If you’re interested in reading more about these histories, I’d recommend reading Third Sex, Third Gender, edited by Gilbert Herdt, and Trans Gender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg. The first is more academic than the second, which is more about personal history and the discovery that they were not alone.

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Above is the 1594 engraving by Theodor de Bry depicting the conquistador Balboa having Two Spirited native people eaten alive by dogs.

But what does all of this have to do with sex education, you might wonder- why the insistence on neutrality when talking to other people about their bodies?

Because of my personal belief that gender is determined by the individual and not necessarily by the genitalia one is born with (and what are we to think of the many intersex people, who are often born and “corrected” to the nearest binary sex immediately after birth, commonly without the knowledge of the parents? What about chromosomal sex, which is not as binary as we have been lead to believe by middle school biology lessons?)- and with that belief, there is no way I can conscientiously use binary terminology in my writing and classes. Despite that limitation, I know that language and how we talk about things is important.

If I know that men can have vulvas, and that women can have penises, and that some people have neither or both, I cannot without great internal conflict assume the gender of the people possessing body parts I may be talking about or recommending products for.

Regardless of all that, it still isn’t the easiest way to do things; it’s come to a point where I balk at use of binary gender everywhere because of my own nonbinarism and that of others. It’s hard to compose a coherent and simple sentence and I’ll often find myself sitting for many minutes or staring at the ceiling before bed wondering the best way to word something that would be very straightforward in binary terms, because that is the language we were taught to write and think in.

There is a lot of work being done by people outside the binary everywhere to change this- the Latin@s, the people who have gotten universities in England to recognize Mx. as a non-binary prefix, and many more small victories across the world. I also recognize that there’s a lot of work to be done, especially after attending the recent Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and witnessing the shortage of workshops tailored to non-binary people, and what few I was able to attend were attended, for the most part, by masculine-of-center non-binary people.

My determination to be as non-binary as possible in my writing and workshops is necessary because of personal reasons, but also for political reasons. Though it may be small, it is a step closer to gaining exposure for non-binarism, and a small but mighty gesture to non-binary people who deserve sex education just as much as people who exist in the binary do.

Using non-binary terminology when talking about body parts and sex doesn’t harm non-binary people, but using binarist language in the same setting can be incredibly harmful to non-binary people by erasing and trivializing their existence.

dc8c7fb2756511e2957722000a1f9a39_7I made an awesome discovery the other day when pondering the issue of harnessing large and oddly shaped dildos, like the ones Bad Dragon makes.

I remember when I first got my medium size, medium density Bad Dragon Breeder- I was taken with its beauty and immediately felt the urge to strap it on and show off my dragon cock. This, unfortunately, was a huge mistake.

The process of trying to squeeze a toy like the breeder- which you can see from the photos, has a strangely shaped base with a small neck below a bulb in the shaft- into an o-ring of any kind, even with a little stretch, is a production. It took minutes of pulling, grunting, and making frustrated squeaks and sighs (what, you don’t squeak when you’re upset?) before I finally got it into place and, very pleased with myself, wrestled my SpareParts Joque into place and strutted around yelling for anyone who would listen to look at my dragon cock. Yes, this is a real thing I did- no judgment.

The issue after I was done strutting around like a cock, wearing my cock, was getting the dildo out of the goddamn harness. Don’t get me wrong, I love the SpareParts Joque and it definitely wasn’t at fault- this would have happened no matter what kind of o-ring I used. It took longer, with more frustration and upset noises and possibly even some gnawing on the harness (If you think this is weird, think about trying to open a particularly stubborn bottle of water. I don’t think I’m the only one that eventually gives in to using my teeth in my frustrated attempts to open it), and the concern that I was actually going to rip the very stretchy dildo in the process. Thankfully, I extracted it without any such issue- but I never repeated the attempt….

…. Until the other day when I stubbornly put my mind, almost a year and a half after the incident accounted above, to the issue of harnessing the power of big, unwieldy dildos. The goal is a tantalizing one, with the same accomplishment I imagine someone must feel when breaking a horse to allow a rider- an act of domination over large, disobedient, and powerful dildos.

The solution I came up with was a deceptively simple one. My friends at Tantus make a super stretchy silicone cock ring- it’s great in so many ways, but upon first glance you wouldn’t imagine using it in an o-ring harness, where you usually use a hard rubber or metal ring. However, the stretchy ring opens to allow all the unusual bumps and girth of my Breeder, and then hugs close against its thin neck. It is then no problem to stretch the ring and accommodate the snaps of your favorite o-ring harness (I really like the Aslan Simple Harness, personally!), which you can strap close to your body in order to subdue your preference unwilling beastly dildo.

This solution isn’t perfect- if you pull your straps too tight and the snaps aren’t particularly firm, they could come open. However, this is the closest you can come to taming large and oddly shaped dildos in my experience and I wanted to share it in the spirit of #strapweek. You can check out
some amazing pictures of people wearing their strapons under the hashtag #straponselfie.

Anal Eaze: Never, Ever

7361-1You should never, ever, ever use Anal Eaze or other such products. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Anal Eaze is a cherry flavored cream or gel that is used to numb the anal sphincter to make anal sex “easier.” Anal Eaze relies on two ideas to sell as often as it does: the idea that anal sex hurts, and the idea that even though you think it’s going to hurt you should suck it up and deal with it, you big sissy.

When I worked in retail, I dealt with innumerable customers that wanted to “go through” anal sex because they felt like their partner wanted it, or had even been pressured into it by their partners. This is presumably for a few reasons- the idea that they could ejaculate inside of their partner without risking pregnancy1 and because of the taboo nature of the act― because of the common misconception that anal sex hurts, it is considered a sort of accomplishment to convince your partner to subject themselves to it. Though I could easily go into an examination of how harmful and unfortunately prevalent this sort of thinking is, I’ll spare you.

Want to Learn more? Try these books:

  • Jack Morin’s Anal Pleasure and Health is one of the most thorough books, covering everything from recovering from the shame commonly felt about our back ends to how to access it in a pleasurable way.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Anal Pleasure for Women by Tristan Taormino is another great book that is targeted specifically to people socialized as female, who have an equal stigmatization to anal penetration as people socialized as male, but quite different. This book targets those very specific insecurities and stigmas and helps alleviate them.
  • Ever wanted to try the gender-bending role-reversing fun of pegging? The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Pegging by Violet Blue is the only book I know of dealing exclusively with this taboo act. 
  • Charlie Glickman’s Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure is much like Anal Pleasure and Health, but with a more targeted mission of helping people with prostates- and their partners- find and stimulate them in all the right ways. 

The fact of the matter is that, anal sex? It shouldn’t hurt. It even has a great potential to be outright pleasurable in ways you couldn’t imagine- but it can take research, trial and error, and more than one successful try to get there. The reason for this is that unlocking any pleasure zone you’re unacquainted with can take a couple attempts before your nerve endings get over the “what’s going on?!” signals and get firmly into the “oh. I remember this. This is nice!” territory, and because the anal sphincters have taken it upon themselves to make sure you don’t have anal sex if you’re not into it.

Or, you can try these movies, which show you how it’s done in a fun and sexy way:

The anal sphincters are two donut-shaped bands of muscle stacked on top of each other. If you press your finger against the anus2 you can feel the first one, which is right on the surface, and if you’re able to slowly press beyond- slow and steady is key, don’t try to force yourself in- you’re able to feel the second. The first sphincter is controlled consciously- you can tense and relax it at will. The second, however, is subconscious like breathing or your heartbeat. If you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, having a bad day, or really just not into anything penetrating you, it will know and it will clamp shut.

Worried about cleanliness? These are for you:

  • Gloves make you more at ease- a common stigma about anal play is that it’s messy, and although this is not normally true, having a barrier can help ease the anxiety. Wearing gloves can also help reduce the chances of damaging delicate anal tissues and creates a more frictionless surface. I linked to nitrile gloves so you don’t have to worry about allergies. They’re also great for some light- or heavy- medical-themed play.
  • Enemas are another great way to ease anxiety about cleanliness. Although going to the bathroom within a couple hours before your sexual encounter should clear anything out, there can still be some traces left behind. An enema is used to shoot water into the rectum and rinse it out, and it can also feel pretty good. One reusable option is the silicone Booty Blaster, a sleek, unthreatening, and easily sterilizable option that’s great for beginners. If you want to get more intense, you can try the StreemMaster Shower Enema Kit which has a silicone bucket that attaches to a standard shower head and silicone hose, an two nozzles as well as adjustable pressure and a system which means it won’t suddenly change pressures on you. This is a great alternative to systems that hook up to the actual shower nozzle, as it is easier to set up, take down, and can be boiled for sterilization. Many people fetishize enema use, and the book Intimate Invasions explores this taboo act, exploring the exciting foreplay opportunities as well as discussing safety and psychology. 
  • Another grew invention for any kind of sex is the throw- a waterproof blanket that can go underneath you during intercourse of any sort and keeps bodily fluids from reaching your carpet, mattress, couch… wherever you lay it down. After your play is over, you can pop it in the wash and it’ll come out good as new. Check out the H2OHHH Blanket for all your throe needs.   
  • Dental Dams - Latex and Non Latexare a thin sheet of latex or nitrile that can be flavored which are a great way to get comfortable going tongue-to-ass.  

The attempts to lay siege to this near-impenetrable fortress are what results in painful tears in the anal sphincter and rectum that can take time to heal, and this is where the idea that anal sex is painful comes from: because people do not take the time to warm up with smaller objects (one finger, two finger, three finger, four), who are only doing it because their partner wants them to and not because they’re into it, and who are not in a calm and clear state of mind try to have anal sex anyway, even though their body is saying slow down! or I’m not ready for this or even no, no, No, NO!

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The CSPH made this great sticker/shirt to remind you that everyone has an anus and we can all get pleasure from them! You can buy this in shirt form by clicking on the image.

Which brings us to a big point that applies to any of your sexual escapades: if you’re not feeling it― even if you like the idea, want to try it, and even if you’ve done it before― listen to your body!

With all of the shame and stigma surrounding sex and sexuality, it’s no wonder we shut down our receptors during sex. In the process of trying to shut out all that shame we shut out all feelings, and we lose touch with our body. We forget that sex is about having fun.

How Anal Eaze comes into this equation is that as a numbing agent, people use it to even further distance themselves from their body and the shame they associate with their sexuality. Anal Eaze is the ultimate expression of this shame-driven disconnect that plagues so many people’s sexual experience.

It’s bad for reasons well beyond that, though- numbing means you have even less control over your sphincters and are unable to feel anything. Not feeling anything sucks from a pleasure point of view, but can also be dangerous with these very delicate tissues: not being able to feel any pain means you can’t tell your partner when to slow down or stop, which can mean worse tearing and damage done. Using the Eaze also makes people think they don’t have to use a lubricant. PSA: Anal Eaze is not lube and you need lube for any sort of anal play or penetration. Besides the fact that lube enhances pretty much any sexual encounter, the rectum doesn’t supply its own slippery stuff. If you’re just starting out? Get some lube!

Lube I recommend for your anal forays:

  • A Great water based lubricant is Sliquid Sassyno harmful glycerin or paragons and only natural ingredients. 
  • Silicone is great because it lasts a looooong time. It’s the lubricant most commonly found in condoms as it doesn’t dry up and keeps the latex from getting brittle; it’s great for anal play because of this- you don’t need as much as water based lube because it doesn’t dry up, and it stays thin and slick for a long time. You can even use it in the shower! However, you do need soap and water to clean it off, or it’ll be around for a good long time. My favorite silicone is Uberlube
  • Oil based lube is tricky because it can cause micro tears in condoms, eventually leading to them breaking, and is not vagina safe unless it’s plant based (though I’ve never been able to get a straight answer on this, I’ve never had any problems. If you use oil based lube of any sort vaginally and get a bacterial infection or UTI, I’d suggest discontinuing use), but it’s really luxurious and long lasting. A great plant oil based lube is Coconu

(click here to learn more about lube, but remember: oil and latex condoms don’t mix, silicone lube and silicone toys generally don’t mix!)

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The ingenious Anal Safety Snails of the Oh Joy Sex Toy comic, are a great visual representation of things for anal beginners: go as slow as you can go! This is great both because your butt needs you to take your time and because you should savor the sensations! Click the image above to get this awesome shirt- it glows in the dark!

There are also a large variety of “anal relaxing” sprays or gels, and depending on the ingredients used they may just have a less numbing effect, or they may actually help with muscle relaxation― but either way, I highly highly recommend skipping them. You deserve to take the time to learn about a kind of pleasure that is unlike any other, and in the process learn to work with and communicate with your body to achieve an awesome goal: unlocking a new way to feel good and play with yourself or your partner(s).

The takeaway? Ditch the Anal Eaze, don’t do what you’re not ready to do, and learn about something if you want to try it, but never have before― the payoff is worth it.

  1. of course, not considering the possible risk of STI transmission and given this was a couple that is capable of conception []
  2. if you’re worried about cleanliness, go to the bathroom beforehand and use an enema if you want to be squeaky clean- the fact of the matter is that there is almost never any fecal matter present in the rectum after you’ve relieved yourself, unless you’re having digestive problems- wear a glove, and put down an old towel and do not forget lube! []

For Shame.

The following blog post is about my personal experiences growing up with shame, and it outlines feelings of shame, guilt, and mentions―though it does not detail― rape, assault, and abuse. This is a heavy article, and I totally understand if you’re not up to reading it. If you do read it, please feel free to contact me and talk about your own experiences. I’m no therapist, but talking with someone that understands and doing our best to better one another’s experience through understanding, skillsharing, and swapping information is a great thing.

The mental and physical loss― the aching, tragic, and excruciating loss― acquired when brought up in a society based on shame is incalculable. In my own experience, I have lost so much due to this shame― guidance from my mother, guidance in any sort of proper sex education, my own sense of self, healthy relations with self and with others, and my sense of worth. I have lost, and my life will be a constant struggle to retain what I have and gain what has been swept away by ignorance, by a social structure that tells me I am not worth anything if I am not constantly seeking the approval of a theoretical “opposite” sex, by violence.

Reflecting upon my life, however, I feel more than this loss; I feel anger. I am disappointed. I am frustrated that I did not have the tools to teach myself what I know now, before all the damage was done.

I look back upon a young child that tried very hard to fit into a gender assigned to them that just did not fit; a five year old that determined to have pink everything because that was what they were told they should want.

I recall a preteen that was frustrated by their slow-to-develop body, who was scared because boys didn’t seem interested. Who felt outcast. Who looked in fashion magazines and designed grand outfits that they knew would never fit them right, knew they could not make. Who blindly went through the motions they thought were correct, feeling nothing.

There was a teenager who was disappointed that they were not harassed by boys and thought the lack of harassment meant that there was something wrong with them. The same teenager who rejected everything associated with their assigned gender and decided to become “one of the boys” because that was the only alternative they knew.

There is the person who, I their late teens and early 20s, was molded, used, raped, assaulted, and manipulated by people they thought loved them and people they thought were their friends.

The opportunities that have been lost, the wounds that have been incurred- physical, emotional, and mental- cannot be counted. Despite a burgeoning knowledge of sex, sexuality, gender, and relationships, there is still a gap that is hard, seemingly impossible, to bridge.

These wounds run deep and wide, but a continuing pursuit of knowledge and a willingness to suck it up and ram into mental walls until they shatter are the only hope there is. There are days, weeks, and even months where the energy it takes to face that task are nowhere to be found― there is only enough energy to put on a smiling face, turn up the mental static, and just get through. These are times when it is impossible to interact with my own body, impossible to connect with my loved ones. All that can be done is curl up into myself and slowly, laboriously, I breathe.

Even when the energy is there and I am capable of intimacy, my body is held at arm’s length. It is as though the lines of communication between body and soul have been cut, and I am left with nothing but distorted echoes where there should be the heart wrenching soaring of a symphony. While I am able to scrape together what I can to feel some sort of closeness and pleasure, it is so fragmented that I can’t help but be painfully aware that it’s incomplete.

I have no answers but one: had I any sort of comprehensive sex education that included a sex positive, pleasure based, and unbiased look at sex, sexuality, and gender starting at a young age― this would not have happened. It would at least have not been nearly this bad, a mere roadblock in comparison to the great wall in front of me. I’m left trying to piece it together and figure it out in order to have some semblance of a healthy relationship with my body, gender, and sexuality while knowing that sadly, many don’t even realize that that state of disarray and incompleteness isn’t normal. There are many that allow the puzzle that is their self be scattered all over, out of reach, under the stove and in the couch cushions.

I have felt from the start of my sex educational that while I am busy fitting my pieces back together, it is also my job to help others approach and embark on the same journey. Together we can heal. Together, we can create a better future free of shame. Time has been lost, but it’s never too late.

The Cost of Free Content: Scarleteen, a Case Study

One of the most celebrated aspects of the internet is the fact that you can find pretty much anything you could want to find for free. You can find information, community, media, opportunity and more if you know where to look and when. Those of us who have come of age with the internet have become accustomed to being able to plug some words into a search engine and get millions of results, ranging from trash to gold. Despite the closing down of various torrent sites and black markets online, we all know where and how to find movies, books, magazines, and music online- whether offered for free by the creators or traded anonymously in the dark corners of the web.

What this has led to is an expectation― an entitlement― to free content. It has bred a culture where if you are able to find something amazing for a low price, often arguably lower than the worth of the product, you’d prefer to go with something “good enough” if it’s free.

While I agree with the virtue and use of knowledge and content spread freely for the enjoyment of all, I also recognize and agonizingly relate to the fact that good content cannot be sustained on nothing in a society run by capital. Good content cannot come from nowhere, and it is cruel to expect content creators to slave over something amazing for your enrichment and enjoyment completely at their own expense. Yet often, the anonymity of the internet and disconnection from the creators themselves―as well as the sheer overabundance of free content at all levels of quality― has fed and nourished this expectation.

One such example of this is Scarleteen. This amazing resource has been up and running since 1998, there to support and educate youth with education covering all facets of sexuality from a sex positive, LGBTQ friendly standpoint.

We have all heard of the commonality of abstinence only sex education and the issues this poses in the form of shame and widespread misinformation and misunderstanding― often, the option considered better than this is a reproduction focused, fear-based sex education, which is better than nothing but still leaves young people at a disadvantage. A sex education that is comprehensive and includes information on pleasure, sexuality, and gender from a sex positive standpoint is almost completely unheard of, although there have been calls for ‘better’ and more comprehensive sex education as research has unearthed the harm caused by abstinence only and abstinence ‘plus’ sex education.

When sex education is inaccessible, the best and easiest way to get information to young people looking for answers is via the internet―and Scarleteen has filled that gap with articles, SMS and instant message support, message boards, and advice columns. They have done all of this at cost- without being able to pay a fair wage to employees, without being able to give fair compensation to contributors as often as they’d like, relying on volunteers they’d prefer to pay for their time.

“The state of all quality sexuality education remains in crisis. And it’s not just about the neverending argument about if people are providing comprehensive, factual education or not: it’s about anyone having the ability to even have a place and a means with which to provide that education in the first place and also sustain themselves in the most basic ways. For all any of us hear people arguing or fighting for the kinds of sex ed they want, or they want for young people, we rarely, if ever, seem to hear anyone even consider who is going to pay for it. If good sexuality education is something people earnestly want — not just something they want to give lip service to — it’s got to be something everyone actively pitches in to support. If it’s something you want right now, or in at least the next couple of decades, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.” ― “May 2014: Scarleteen Strikes (Or, With Your Help, We Don’t)”

It is unrealistic to expect Scarleteen to continue providing amazing services with no compensation― efforts like that of Scarleteen take time, effort, and resources to keep going and often have little support from anyone outside of those that use their services and consume their content.

When Scarleteen’s once-a-year big fundraising event merely broke even with the cost of the fundraiser itself, they knew they had to highlight their plight and let people know their reality. Their plan was to, as of May 1st, have the site run at the level that could be realistically afforded with the amount of money regularly generated by the site― which would leave them essentially shut down, with none of their services  running and no new content being produced. They would have had enough money to keep the site up and have one employee on social media to cover the strike.

Thankfully, Scarleteen was able to raise enough awareness of their situation to not only reach the initial goal set by their fundraiser before the May 1st strike, but to also have the help of a generous donor who is willing to match the amount they are able to raise by the 1st, up to $10,000― a goal which they are, as of this writing, only a couple hundred dollars away from. Despite this awesome breakthrough, Scarleteen is far from not needing any help― as a non-profit, they need continued support in order to run. No matter how much they raise, they will need more money to continue running.

Despite the success in this round for Scarleteen, the fight is far from over for them― and it is certainly ongoing for countless other creators of content online, myself included. This May 1st, consider where you get your content from, how you benefit from it, and try to compensate the creators as best you can.

You can read more about Scarleteen [here].

LIMITEDEX for a limited time only!

One thing you’ll see mentioned in a lot of reviews of sex toys― mine included― is the colors the product comes in. You might wonder why we care so much about the color of our sex toys, and in part it is because we see and own so many different sex toys that we can’t help but noticing that they’re all pink and purple― if you’re lucky, robin’s egg blue gets thrown in.

There are two things I’m going to point out about this:

  1. Part of the reason there are so few color options is that it is expensive to make a product in a lot of different colors, and if a company were to make a product with a lot of different color options, some would not sell as well as others. However, it should be noted that when a company only goes with one color option, it’s usually pink. The only reason I can ascertain behind that choice is “girls like pink, right?” It should also be noted that toys catered to a “male” audience are generally black, red/maroon, or royal blue/navy. There is clearly some idea that some colors (pastels) are girly, and some colors are manly― and this idea is sexist, plain and simple.
  2. It is important to be able to express oneself with their sex toys. Gender, presentation, and sexuality cannot be boiled down to “blue for boys and pink for girls”- they’re much more nuanced and individual than that. Maybe I want to peg someone with a glittery rainbow cock, and maybe someone really wants a pink prostate massager. Assuming the color of sex toy someone will want based on narrow definitions of gender just isn’t cool.

Though I certainly plan on elucidating further on my thoughts of gender and sex toys colors (I’m even gathering some data on the subject to research) I wanted to bring this up because my friends at Tantus are doing a limited run of awesomely colored (teal! Neon green! Sparkly, swirly silver!) sex toys. These new designs are targeted to the g spot and p spot, come in a few different sizes and are only offered in these colors while supplies last, and you’re lucky enough to find them on sale through the end of the month.

It is incredibly rare that you see these kinds of colors of sex toys, so I highly recommend scooping one up if it catches your eye- while they last!

Want to get your hands on sex toys in colors you will generally never see and show that yes, cool colors can sell? Click on the image above and use code LIMITEDEX at checkout, and you’ll be doing us all (but especially yourself) a favor.

Get Out Your Wash Boards! Why I love GladRags Reusable Pads

Last month, I lost my diva cup. It was a devastating experience― but still hoping to find it1, I took the opportunity to get myself some reusable pads from GladRags to try out.

As you may know, I’m a huge supporter of reusable menstrual products. I’ve interviewed the CEO of GladRags, Tracy Puhl, on the dangers of disposables and I’ve repeatedly shown my love of the diva cup both on and off the blog. As someone who is chemically sensitive, this is an important thing for me, but the fact of the matter is that disposables have been proven to be dangerous for everyone―disposable tampons and pads can cause severe drying which is damaging to the vaginal environment and vulval health, and they often include dangerous chemicals like dioxin and bleach as well as scents that can cause irritation in the best of cases.

Whatever your choice is, whether a reusable pad, menstrual cup, or a sea sponge tampon, you’re doing good not only for the environment, but also for yourself. Seriously, just think about how many pads and tampons you use per menstruation. Now consider where they all go, and that they’re generally made up of plastics which won’t degrade anytime soon.

GladRags suggests having six of their reusable pads to use per cycle- I bought a box of three, and with some thriftiness, I’ve been able to make it work. If you don’t want to hand wash your pads after each use or have a heavy flow, you’d probably be better off going with their suggestion. I’d also suggest getting more if you spend a lot of time at work, out and about, or traveling- though it isn’t too much of a hassle to wash them when you’re out, it can take time and you need to let them dry if you want to have enough. If you have a light-medium flow like I do, and don’t mind washing after each use? You should be good with the three pack.

I also have personally found, in terms of cleaning, that I’m fine just rinsing them out thoroughly in the sink and hanging them somewhere to dry before using again- though they do end up a little “crispier” drying like this, it doesn’t bother even my sensitive skin. I have too few pads to wash them in laundry between uses- though I will, if there’s a load going in. GladRags also sells a variety of cleaning helpers- a bucket, where you can soak your pads while waiting to wash2 as well as wet/dry bags to help you carry your clean and used pads when traveling or just out or at work. I’m definitely interested in these myself, and it’ll be an investment in the longevity of my pads and make it that much easier to use them.

In terms of use, they’re really simple and effective. They each come with two inserts- you can use the winged pad3 by itself as a pantiliner in between periods or during really light flow days, use one insert on low-medium flow days, and two on medium-high flow days or during extended wear.

Personally, I’ve been able to use a pad with two inserts for 6+ hours on my normal flow days, which are medium-heavy. During the beginning of my period, which is the heaviest part for me, I’ll usually go through one every 4-5 hours- though today is the first day I’m bleeding and I went 9 hours before changing to a new pad. I’d say that these are on par with disposables, but often last longer because they’re more comfortable, stay dry longer, and seemingly hold more.

Would I recommend them? Definitely. I still prefer a menstrual cup― I’ve come to hate the feeling of moisture on the outside of my body after getting used to my diva cup, and I’m not accustomed to the bulk of a pad throughout the day. That said, I find these less bulky and more comfortable than even my old standby, Naturacare organic cotton pads. Although I’ll definitely invest in a new menstrual cup when I can, I’m happy to have these for the beginning of my period, when my pelvic floor aches to terribly and my cervix is so sensitive that pulling out a cup- even with breaking the seal- makes me want to cry. I’ll also be more than happy to invest in an awesome wet/dry bag, the soaking bucket, and one of the awesome washes GladRags carries for their pads.

Don’t be surprised if, at some point in the near future, you find me with a washboard happily scrubbing the blood out of my pads.

What are you waiting for? Grab some of your own reusables, cleaning, and storage supplies here, and get an additional 5% off just by clicking my link!

  1. I have yet to do so []
  2. you can also get an enzyme based cleaner to put in here, which helps keep them from staining while being safe for the environment []
  3. it attaches with a snap closure around your panties []
The things they’re cooking up these days… my review of The RevelBody Sonic Vibrator.

Innovation within the sex toy industry is infrequent and often doesn’t result in anything too spectacular1, but we take what we can get. This is why I was both hopeful and cautious when the RevelBody came onto the scene: crowd funded projects to create any new electronics have to make a lot of claims in order to get the funding they need to move forward, and claims were definitely made in this instance. Despite an enduring skepticism of any product that says it’s better than the competition, I was intrigued by the promise of technology that was never-before-seen in the world of sex toys: a sonic powered motor.

The revel body sits in it's charging dock on a cutting board, surrounded by a pastry bag filled with ravioli filling, a knife, mushrooms, and raw asparagus.

The Revel Body featuring the Cona piston.

Science!

Traditional vibrators get their buzz from a rotational motor that has a weight on one end- this is why a small, round vibrator like the we-vibe tango spins if you turn it on and rest it in your palm. A sonic motor, however, uses electricity to create a magnetic field that alternates at varying frequencies.  The RevelBody is a tennis ball sized sphere with a hole through it where a piston magnetizes into place. The alternating magnetic field of the sonic motor causes this piston to move back and forth rapidly, creating a movement something like vibration, but not quite.

The version 1 of the RevelBody, which was sent to me by RevelBody at SheVibe’s recommendation, has two power buttons- (+) and (-) – which control the frequency of the pulses. Because of this, pressing the (+) button actually weakened the perceived intensity of the vibration. The lower the frequency, the more apparent the pulses were. Because this was confusing to many users, Revel has updated to a version 2 that only has one power button. Since I do not have a v2 to compare with my v1, I cannot say how different the 10 settings are from my version to the updated one- but the higher the frequency on my product, the weaker and whinier the ‘vibrations’ are, while the lowest settings feel like the piston is ramming into you. The middle frequencies are the sweet spot for me, because they’re thuddier without feeling like the RevelBody is an opposing army trying to lay siege to my clitoris. The highest frequencies are more like a fly buzzing around irritatingly than anything else.

The claim that Revel makes of having a larger range of frequencies than it’s competitors- because each ‘speed’ is just the piston being pulsated by bursts of electricity at different frequencies- is absolutely true. But that doesn’t necessarily make it better; the difference in the actual movement of the piston in the revel body means these frequencies don’t translate in the same way as a traditional rotational motor. What you end up with is barely noticeable buzzing at the higher frequencies, something akin to the vibration we’re used to in the middle2, and what can only be described as button jamming in the lower frequencies.

The revel body is held with a mesh spoon above boiling water. It's hot pink piston features a bunch of tiny nubs that look almost like a brush made of silicone.

The revel body with the Fawn piston.

Performance

What this means for actual use is that ¾ of the settings are essentially useless for most people3, end of story. The vibrations put out by the few more pleasurable settings in the middle can be achieved and even bested by traditional vibrators that are considerably cheaper than the $189 price tag on the Revel Body. Because of this, I can’t really recommend it to someone unless they’re really set on sonic technology.

There are also a lot of caveats that come with the functionality of this product. People who have metal implants and especially people with pacemakers should not use a product with strong magnets like those inside the Revel Body. Though they claim it to be travel safe, you have to pay extra for a traveling case and shouldn’t keep it near electronics or credit cards, lest the magnets swipe any magnetic data stored on them. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with long nails- pushing the piston out could break them. It’s not recommended for people with pubic hair or fleshy labia, as the piston can grab and pull, pinch, or epilate. The shape does not lend itself well to people with ‘innie’ or concealed clitorises that are difficult to access… unless you buy one of the additional pistons at $19 each, which may or may not work for you. There are too many extra considerations when thinking about buying this product. Personally, I think it would be much simpler to buy a good quality product like my favored We Vibe Touch, or products that Revel claimed the Body was better than- such as the Eroscillator or Mona 2- which may reach fewer frequencies than the Revel Body- but the frequencies they do reach are better, more pleasurable, and the quality of the vibration is far superior.

I almost feel that the nature of the sonic motor- using a piston and moving it back and forth to create ‘vibration’- may not be capable of producing these quality vibrations I speak of, though I admit that it may be possible. I just don’t see it in this first version of the RevelBody.

The revel body is seen from above on a plate with cream sauce, ravioli, and roasted asparagus.

The Revel Body with the regular piston it comes with.

Post Script. 

I should never feel like I cannot or should not express an honest opinion about a product. My job as I see it is multifaceted: I give an honest review for the benefit of readers, retailers, and manufacturers alike.

A reader benefits because an honest review, in my eyes, should give them the information they need to know whether or not a product is something they should invest in- even a negative review should hold information that will assist the reader in discerning whether or not a product is something they would enjoy or not. I may not like something, but a reader may decide otherwise for themselves based on what I have to say; everyone likes something different.

Retailers benefit because they can get a variety of opinions on a product before they carry it or if they already do carry it. Reviews give retailers a variety of experienced opinions and sharing a positive review can increase sales of a product. If the retailer is an affiliate company of the reviewer, they may garner sales from that.

Manufacturers benefit from honest feedback of people who make it their business to know the industry inside and out from a firsthand perspective. Many good reviewers have worked with manufacturers, in retail stores, and regularly interact with the industry in a multitude of ways. Having a handful of honest opinions from a variety of reviewers with different backgrounds and personal needs helps manufacturers discern what they might have to work on or what they’re doing right so they can steer their business in a positive direction. Reviews also gain recognition for products. This should be a win-win situation.

The way the CEO of this company has conducted themselves did not make me feel comfortable writing an honest review, and that should never be the case. Harassment, threats of legal action, public bashing in comments and on social media, and fishy faux personas harassing reviewers on twitter clearly because of their review of the RevelBody do not make for a safe environment in which to be honest- and honesty should be what we all strive for.

In the end, I wrote this review because honesty is important to me as a sex educator and as a reviewer. I want people to have fun with their sex toys and sexuality. I want to help my readers make informed decisions about the products they buy and the companies they support.

Though I wanted more than anything to be able to support innovation and change within the sex toy industry, I’ll have to find another company to use never-before-seen technology. I am given some solace knowing that RevelBody is not the only company producing sex toys- and that as long as people enjoy sex, there will be innovation in the sex toy industry.

Thank you to SheVibe for recommending Revel send me this product to review in return for my honest opinion. You can get the Revel at the discounted price of $129 on their website, and they’re having a sale- while supplies last- on the pistons and travel case!

  1. see my review of the iGino []
  2. because a traditional vibrator does move back and forth in a sense, just not in the same range as the revel body because of how it works []
  3. I say this only because I know there may be someone out there who would like the highest or lowest frequencies- everyone is different and everyone likes something different- but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people will not get anything out of these high and low settings, and I can say this with confidence because most nerve endings won’t get much out of feeling like there is a fly buzzing on them, or feeling like someone is repeatedly pressing a button at regular intervals. I am confident in my appraisal as someone who has not only used a lot of different kinds of vibrators, but also as someone that has worked one on one with customers at an adult store. []
Valentine’s Day: Sales, Suggestions, and a Gift Wrapping Idea!

Ah, Valentine’s Day. I remember what it was like to work in an adult store around valentine’s day; mostly, I remember the people running around trying to get together gifts last minute. This year, if you’re looking for something for your sweetie, cut down on the hassle and shop online- I’ve brought together sales, suggestions, and a gift wrapping idea so you’re not left in the cold. Not into the mushy stuff, a romantic, or flying solo this year? Nothing wrong with taking advantage of these awesome sales for yourself- or just treating yourself to some fun things! Sometimes, the romance should be all about you. I’ll be keeping this page updated with sales, so keep an eye out!

 

VDay-Stefani-Special-CrashPad-X2014

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TANTUSVDAYTantus’ February sale covers all dual density silicone O2 toys- just use code IHEARTYOU at checkout to get 30% off! Click the image above- and don’t forget the awesome deals going on in the Grab Bag and Closeout sections! 

vdaycandy1. Lelo Gigi 2. Tantus C-Ring 3. We Vibe Tango 4. We Vibe Salsa 5. Key by Jopen Comet G 6. Uberlube Samples 7. Tantus Pro-Touch 8. Glyde Condoms in Slimfit and Flavored (Strawberry) Candy purchased from Shane’s Confectionary, here in Philadelphia! I’d highly recommend them and their counterpart, Franklin Fountain, for all your vintage confection desires!

One really great way to wrap up the gifts you got for your sweetie(s) is to disguise it as a candy box: whether you buy a candy box already filled with candy or go to a craft store and get an empty one like I did, you can find a variety of sizes that should accommodate most anything, unless you’re getting a spreader bar or sex furniture. If you buy a box with candy already in it, just take out the candy and any trays inside of it and fill it up however you want- and eat the extra candy (duh). You can wash and charge anything before putting it in the box so it’s ready to go, and keep any manuals in an envelope to give the person(s) you’re giving the presents to later. I mocked up a few ideas, but feel free to go wild personalizing the box you put together!

vdaymoss1. Pure Plug 2. Crystal Delights Small Frosted Plug 3. Nobessence Seduction 4. Sliquid Organics Natural Water Based Lube 5. Laid Norway D.1 Norwegian Moonstone Dildo 

Massage Must-Haves 

seagrapeweekendseagrapetravelmassage-escaped0ffb30af54c20d2c36e5289e8078bd7_ra,w403,h403_pa,w403,h403

vdayropenumbers1. Nitrile Gloves 2. Aneros Helix Syn 3. Crystal Delights Colors Against Cancer Melanoma Studded Dildo 4. Uberlube 5. Je Joue Mimi 6. Whartenberg Wheel 7. Tantus Fantasy Gag 8. Tantus Plunge Paddle/Dildo combo.

Rope in box and behind the box courtesy of Kink Shoppe- their house conditioned and dyed hemp and house conditioned tossa jute. They have a large selection of ropes made from hemp, linen, and a few varietals of jute, and can do custom orders with the color and length of your choice. Get in touch with them [here].

Spank You Very Much

41u0dNnRVvL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_41zz4797LkL._SL230_Thwack-paddle-feature-large-RGBgirls-dont-cryspank-me-babySPANKING-SET

vdayrose1. Lelo Mona 2 2. We Vibe 4 3. Nobessence Fling 4. Pure Wand (it’s hiding in the roses, but it’s there!) 5. Tenga Egg 

Looking for Something Else? Live Outside the US? Check this out: 

Are you shopping in Canada? I’ve got an awesome sex positive cooperative you should be looking at right now. They’ve got a lot of the products mentioned above, and more.

Shopping Internationally? You should be talking to my friends at Lovehoney.

Looking for some sexy lingerie? Right now, my favorite is the Kiss Me Deadly line, which is carried by Lovehoney. You can get HommeMystere, a line of femme lingerie made specifically for bodies assigned male at birth (wide shoulders, small/no breasts, penises) from Early to Bed

Vegan? Here are some options from SheBop and SheVibe.

All in all, the dreaded Vday doesn’t have to be intimidating. Feel free to contact me via email or my tumblr ask if you want specialized suggestions or have any questions.

What's more convenient than having my blog posts- reviews, articles, and giveaways- go directly to your email?

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