Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2016: Part 1

I was dying to go to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. Since I found out about it last year, attending was on my to-do list. The Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s mission is to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. That’s a cause I can get on board with! Plus, a ton of industry folks were attending, including my beloved blogger community. Last year I watched everyone tweeting as they spent a weekend in sex-positive heaven, wishing that I’d found a sponsor to get there myself.

This year luck was on my side. I was fortunate enough to have a little money saved up, and when Harry and Mary found out that I couldn’t quite afford to go they were kind enough to pay for my registration. Then Lilly helped me connect with Ignite and I was over the moon! Without Ignite I would have had to choose between getting a room or eating something every day. Obviously, my experience was greatly improved by Ignite’s sponsorship, because I got to attend, sleep in a bed, AND eat!

On Friday I attended “Self-Publishing for Radicals” (#SFSPublish), “Navigating Social Media Practices for Adult Businesses” (#SFSMedia), and “Likes and Liberation” (#SFSLikes). That evening I partied at the Blogger PJ Party, hosted by our beloved SheVibe. Saturday’s schedule was “Eugenics: It’s Still a Thing” (#SFSEugenics), the Roundtable Lunch, and “The Monster Under the Bed” (#SFSMonster). I had originally planned to attend a couple more sessions, but life happened. I really enjoyed the sessions that I did attend.

I think that the session I learned the most in was “Eugenics: It’s Still a Thing.” Full disclosure: Erin Basler, who presented this seminar, was one of my bosses during my internship at The CSPH. That was a huge contributing factor in my decision to attend the seminar. Once the session started, I was shocked by what I learned. Previously, whenever someone asked me about eugenics (inevitably while playing Cards Against Humanity), I was like, “Nazis did it,” because I had no idea that it was a much of a thing in America, nor did I realize it was STILL a thing in America. And, believe it or not, the Nazi eugenics program was based on a blueprint for compulsory sterilization laws in the United States.

Over 30 states adopted compulsory sterilization laws, and many of those laws remain on the books today. In 1927 the Supreme Court affirmed states’ rights to forcibly sterilize the disabled. After World War II ended, eugenics “ended,” and instead states began implementing “eugenics-based practices,” which limit the reproductive decisions of marginalized groups like the disabled, people of color, cis women, the poor, and trans people. And don’t think that Europe was exempt from the horrors of eugenics-based practices after the fall of Nazi Germany; in addition to the 28 U.S. states that require it, 34 European nations require “medically-appropriate treatment” (including sterilization) for the government to recognize gender transition.

Eugenics: still a thing, and still super shitty. We cannot ignore eugenics and eugenics-based practices as reproductive justice issues. It’s not just the government – the non-profit industrial complex is complicit in contemporary eugenics.

To read more about what we learned regarding eugenics, check out the #SFSEugenics tweets.

“Self-Publishing for Radicals” was taught by Allison Moon (of Lunatic Fringe and Girl Sex 101 fame) and was an informative glimpse into the world of self-publishing: why people do it, what people need for it, and the pros and cons of it. Writing a book has been one of my goals since I was in middle school, so learning more about the world of self-publishing was really wonderful. That really isn’t the focus of my blog, so I won’t go into a lot of detail about the session, but if you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check out the #SFSPublishing tweets.

The social media panels were really interesting to me. #SFSMedia with Sandra, Metis, and JoEllen we learned a lot about the social media history of Shevibe and Tantus. When Shevibe started that had multiple Myspace accounts, one for each of their signature heroes. Can you imagine managing 6 social media profiles? Like, REALLY managing them? Engaging with people on each one, writing/drawing/photographing new content for each? That sounds exhausting. I can’t even handle having three Facebook accounts, and after managing The CSPH’s social media for about four months I can confirm that my head would explode.

In #SFSMedia we also talked a lot about social ethics and responsibility, making (and owning up to) mistakes, and social media self-care. Take breaks when you’re stressed out, and remember that you can block people. Block button, block button, block button. If you turn out your bathroom light and say it three times in front of a mirror, a troll appears and harasses you until you learn to use it. Or you could just post about social justice and sex, not use your block button, get overwhelmed, and surf off of the internet forever on a wave of dick pics and rape threats. But we don’t want that, because chances are that we like your face and your quality content.

#SFSLikes was a little bit more focused on activism and creating dialogues via social media. We talked about hashtags like #LubeGate and #TweetYourLube, which brought a topic that was somewhat obscure/taboo in the mainstream (personal lube for your ~personal parts~) into the spotlight and sparked lots of discussion about it. We also discussed how social media can be a great platform for minority activists, but that it can also reinstate social hierarchies – who has the time for social media? Who has access to social media? Who has the followers and engagement to bring about change? It was a very thoughtful presentation by Gwen Rosen.

My last session was #SFSMonster, the seminar about sex and depression taught by JoEllen Notte and Stephen Biggs. This session had a lot of audience participation, which resulted in a lot of resource-sharing and advice. I am not sure if Stephen and JoEllen got through all of their material because of the frequent interruptions, but the things they did say were very wise and impactful.

For starters, depression doesn’t always mean an end to sex. In JoEllen’s survey, she found that more people wanted MORE sex when they were depressed, rather than less. This hit home for me, because for a long time when my depression was very severe, sex was a high priority for me. Now I live medicated, with a consistent feeling of less-severe depression, my feelings are completely reversed.

Making conscious decisions about sex is important. If you’re not feeling up to sex, don’t force it. And speaking in terms of physical arousal, just because the bodily cues that you’re used to (an erection, vaginal lubrication) aren’t necessarily there doesn’t mean that you can’t have sex. In fact, depression messing with your body’s reactions just gives you an excuse to try new things. You might have to re-learn what acts are going to arouse you, or what acts will constitute “sex” for you – maybe vaginal intercourse isn’t my thing anymore, but my partner using a vibrator on me is. (I don’t know, I’d have to stop crying in bed long enough to try). It’s frustrating when our bodies won’t do what we used to do regularly, but the world of sex is vast, and there are always more things to try.

We talked a lot about coping, self-care, and support systems. Emotionally speaking, being open with your partner(s) about your capacity to do things, including support them emotionally at that moment, is a big deal. If your partner needs a shoulder to cry on, it can mean a lot to affirm their feelings and acknowledge that you care about them, but tell them you don’t have the energy to be wholly present and attentive. Many audience members confirmed that this makes them feel heard.

Stephen and JoEllen discussed how having separate social lives can help a romantic relationship a lot, because having a wide and varied support system means that the depressed person’s partner doesn’t feel the pressure of being the only person that their partner can rely on.

Another audience suggestion for people with depression (or other chronic illnesses) was saving a spoon for your partner at the end of the day. This is based on spoon theory, but if you don’t want to learn about the details of spoon theory then just think of it as “saving a little bit of energy” for your partner.

A lot of these suggestions were really thoughtful and valuable, and I appreciated a perspective on depression and relationships that took a step back from feelings and experiences and focused on resources and solutions. It was nice to get out of my own head for a while, and also very affirming to be in a space with people who live with similar mental and chronic illnesses.

In my next post about this year’s Sexual Freedom Summit I’m going to talk about the social aspects of the event. While you’re waiting for me to publish that, please consider checking out the site of my sole Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 2016 sponsor, Ignite. I had never heard of Ignite before Lilly connected me with them, but I am really impressed by their commitment to body-safe products, and I highly recommend considering them the next time you’re shopping for sex toys.

Ignite Pleasure Products Banner

If you’d like to see all my tweets from #SFS16, here’s a link to them!

Review of Showtime’s Submission

So I watched/livetweeted Showtime’s Submission under the hashtag #ShowtimeSubmission, and then I wrote over 1,000 words analyzing the power dynamics and how they were portrayed and they contrasted… but I didn’t finish it. And then I said, “This is not what I want to post about Submission.” At least… not right now. So here’s my basic review of Submission.

Content warning: sexual assault (largely by way of questionable consent).

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Submission Summary

Ashley leaves her shitty-in-bed asshole boyfriend and moves to a new town to live with her best friend Jules. Jules lives with her roommate Dylan (played by Skin Diamond, who is sexy as hell). Dylan is a submissive to Eliot, and brings him women to have sex with.

Eliot flogging Dylan - Showtime Submission

Ashley finds Dylan’s copy of a BDSM novel by Nolan Keats and is intrigued. She gets a job at the local coffee shop and sleeps with her boss (Raif) one night while they’re getting drunk together. Shortly thereafter Eliot notices Ashley at a party and Dylan tells Eliot that Ashley is off-limits. Eliot swoops in and saves the day while Raif is drunkenly trying to push himself on Ashley at the party.

After chasing Raif off, Eliot follows Ashley to her room, notices the book, and asks her about it. Eliot discloses to Ashley that he wrote the book, which intrigues her. He steals Ashley’s underwear after she leaves the room and makes the random chick that Dylan picks out for him wear the underwear that night while he sleeps with her.

To prove that he’s Nolan Keats, Eliot has a manuscript of the next Nolan Keats novel delivered to Ashley. He calls her and starts seducing her on the phone. Eliot begins ignoring Dylan, which Dylan hates. Dylan bugs Eliot to pay more attention to her, and Eliot eventually tells her to fuck off. Eliot kinkily fucks Ashley and lays claim to her.

Eliot and Ashley - Showtime Submission

Dylan steals video footage of Eliot fucking a bunch of different girls with her in his dungeon. She blackmails Eliot and makes him turn Ashley over to her for a night, and Dylan torments her. Ashley endures the torture. Dylan decides to move out of the house. As Ashley catches her leaving Dylan gives her the videos and tells her that Eliot isn’t Nolan Keats – he’s Keats’ copy editor.

Ashley is hurt and betrayed. She ignores Eliot, he shows up at her house, and she tells him to leave. Dylan shows up on Nolan Keats’ doorstep with her bags. The show ends.

There is other drama in the show about Jules’ relationship with her boss, but, frankly, I find it irrelevant to the main plot and only feel like discussing it in my extended power dynamic analysis.

What they did right

Eliot makes Ashley pick a safeword. Good! SAFEWORD GOOD. Although he does flog her while she’s deciding, and as someone from the “we don’t play until the safeword is set” school of thought I wasn’t a fan of that.

Eliot mummifies Ashley with saran wrap, which is something she is terrified of initially when she sees the saran wrap in his dungeon and he explains what you do with it. The kink play in this scene is surprisingly solid – Eliot takes it slow, he communicates with her, he gives her water. He’s very attentive.

The kink in Submission was nice to watch if you ignored all the fucked-up shit going on around it. The gear used was cool and authentic. Where can I get a web of chains for my dungeon?

Quotes I liked

“Most men think it’s just smut.”
“What’s wrong with smut?”

“Society wants us to believe that women are these pathetic little creatures that live and die by a man’s happiness.”

“My goal is to open you up, not shut you down. You will never have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

What they did wrong

Other than Skin Diamond and a random guy that she fucks, the entire cast is white. They’re also all thin, non-disabled people. But I expected that. Diversity is important, but here’s what pissed me off even more:

Ashlynn Yennie, who plays the main character, Ashley, said in an interview with The Daily Beast:

“I hope our show, Submission, can shatter that glass ceiling of false belief and show the world what it truly means to trust, communicate, and finally feel free to talk about what you want and don’t want sexually in a consensual and healthy way.”

Consensual? Healthy? Consent was portrayed VERY poorly in Submission. Raif makes a move on Ashley and has sex with her after she says, “No, we’re not doing this, because I’m drunk… and you’re kind of drunk.” At a party the next night a drunken Raif thrust himself upon Ashley, assuming that their single night of previous sexual interaction meant she consented to it again.

Dylan and Eliot’s relationship goes from a functional, consenting M/s scenario to a fucked-up trainwreck where Eliot never verbalizes the withdrawal of his consent and Dylan (who wears a collar that we assume is from Eliot), thinking he’s still into her, tops from the bottom. She says “I’m getting tired of you telling me no.” She misbehaves, seeking punishment. Finally she handcuffs herself to him and forces him to fish the key out of her vagina to escape. It was a painful disaster to watch. The show portrayed this scene as a minor inconvenience that didn’t faze Eliot and just pissed him off, but it was assault, and it was not cool. Then when Eliot tells Dylan to fuck off for good she (nonconsensually) blackmails him.

And finally, even though Eliot seems like sort-of-an-asshole-but-mostly-a-decent-guy because we see a few scenes where Eliot is an experienced dominant that focuses on consent and care, he also forces Ashley outside of her comfort zone (not in a good way) and manipulates her into subbing for Dylan so that Dylan won’t blab his secret to her. Ashley specifically tells him that she doesn’t want to be shared and that other people are a big NO for her, and Eliot shames her into it, telling her that it’s the ultimate act of trust and submission and that she has to explore and take risks to know what she wants. Consent-tastic! As someone who was coerced into sexual abuse as a child and has been manipulated with an almost identical narrative from my emotionally abusive fuckface ex, I felt so great about that scene!

And then the scene with Dylan was not… stellar. It would have been hot if Ashley had wanted to be there. “Tonight I’m not your roommate, I’m the bitch you answer to.” Like… YAAAAAS… if it’s enthusiastic and consensual. But it wasn’t. Is BDSM that you don’t really want to do but agree to because of coercion and stubbornness a type of sexual assault? My signs point to yes.

Conclusion

It was interesting. The kink and the food for thought re: power dynamics were enjoyable, but I did not find the plot especially inspired. Especially the way Dylan is cast aside by Eliot. It’s a sad trope that you see in a lot of popular BSDM media: a submissive (usually a woman) is collared by a dom (usually a man), then her dom loses interest in her and tosses her aside. It’s practically ancient – that’s how The Story of O ends (master claims sub, master demands sub bring him other subs, master ditches original sub). Endings in which the sub gets screwed over do not represent the lives of many real people in happy, long-term M/s relationships, but it’s a risk that exists, just like it does in vanilla dating.

Should you watch it?

If you want to see kinky softcore sex and don’t mind the show’s flaws and “meh” plot, sure. I usually enjoy livetweeting things, even if they’re mediocre, but I probably could have found better uses for my time, like painting my nails, findomming strangers on the internet, or writing reviews for vibrators that felt like a million butterflies fluttering over my vulva.

What I Want out of Showtime’s “Submission”

Showtime teased and intrigued many of us with its trailer for Submission, which airs tomorrow (May 12th). Even people I know who aren’t as into kink have expressed interest in it, which makes sense to me… after all, it’s about sex, and plenty of folks are probably kind of open to different kinds of sex acts that they have no desire to practice in real life. That’s the beauty of fantasy. I think a lot of vanilla people are going to watch Submission unless they outright hate kink/BDSM or find it triggering.

I’m definitely going to watch it. I want to see what it’s like. How will it shape up compared to the well-loved (and totally shitty, in my opinion) 50 Shades of Grey? Will it portray people practicing Risk-Aware Consensual Kink? Will there be negotiation? How heavy will the bondage and impact play be? What will the characters be like?

It’s so hard to get what I want from mainstream portrayals of BDSM. People are naturally complex. Some people come to the BDSM and kink community after trauma has happened and use it to work through/past those experiences and the marks they’ve left, and it’s unrealistic to pretend that everyone goes into a scene centered and emotionless. Trauma can play into a person’s kinky/sex life in a huge way, and that may or may not result in unethical or unsavory behavior. I feel like we should be able to have complex characters and explore their stories, and I feel like we should see them make mistakes, but we shouldn’t pretend that a troubled past is to blame for mistakes and shittiness. Some people are just shitty.

I want to see characters who may be flawed, but who learn from their experiences. But mainstream media so often does a disservice to the complexity of human beings in minority demographics, so those of us who see behind the BDSM stereotypes revile Christian Grey, and those of us who don’t understand abusive dynamics in relationships end up celebrating Christian Grey: a controlling, jealous, abusive asshole who hides behind a dominant persona because his mom didn’t love him enough or whatever. So many 50 Shades fans think Christian’s possessiveness is “romantic,” and that his rough childhood is what drew him to “sexual deviance,” and that it validates “why he is that way.”

I do not want to see a Christian Grey in Submission.

Here’s what I want to see in Submission: I want to see someone who didn’t come to BDSM solely because of a “fucked-up” past. I want to see someone who respects boundaries and doesn’t feel compelled to track their submissive’s every movement. I want to see a submissive enthusiastically explore what kink has to offer. Hell, maybe the submissive should be the one with more experience – that would certainly change the typical BDSM narrative dynamic. Real life BDSM isn’t The Story of O over and over again.

I don’t know what the psychological dynamics will be like, but what I’m seeing in the trailer is a cast that appears to be composed of white, skinny cisgender people. I want more than that! I would lap up a show with a diverse cast – people of color, people with disabilities, trans and nonbinary people, people with bodies bigger than size 4, 8, or even 12. I want to see a show where characters talk about power dynamics in the context of American racism, where handicapped-accessible dungeons exist, where gender is disregarded or actively fucked, and where fat bodies are celebrated.

I’m not under the illusion that I’ll get this from Submission, but I think an inclusive series or film with humanized BDSM that is deliberate, careful, and powerful would have a huge impact. Somebody get on that because it will make a difference for a whole lot of people. In the meantime, we’re seeing representation in erotica, and I’m thankful for authors like Xan West, who sees us – the minorities – and gives us a voice. If you’re interested in heavy, kinky, well-written erotica, you can check out my review for West’s recent story collection titled Show Yourself to Me, and if you’re into the sound of that then you should absolutely buy it to support West’s work.

6 Clickbait Articles From Sex Blogger World

We all know clickbait when we see it. It’s any vague headline that goads you into clicking it to read more details. It’s everything Upworthy has ever published. It’s every listicle EVER. But what if we had sex blogger clickbait? What if sex bloggers had our own Buzzfeed? (hehe, buzz… vibrators… get it?) Here’s exactly what that would look like:

5 SCARY FACTS ABOUT RIMMING

  1. It’s an asshole
  2. It’s an asshole
  3. It’s an asshole
  4. It’s an asshole
  5. Poop comes out of there
Author’s note: I am actually pro-analingus, but I encourage you to go about it as safely as you can! Safe sex can still be totally hot, and a dental dam (with some lube) is the perfect rimming accessory to make sure you don’t run afoul of any fecal bacteria, STIs, or exposure to blood.

3 PLACES YOUR PARENTS SHOULD HAVE HIDDEN THEIR VIBRATORS WHEN YOU LIVED AT HOME

  1. The side of the kitchen sink with dirty dishes (You would never have looked there)
  2. The laundry room (You would never have looked there either)
  3. Your room (Let’s be real, that room didn’t get cleaned until you left for college and they turned it into a home gym)

Tantus T-Rex dildo in front of laundry basket filled with socks

MAN REMOVES BUTT PLUG AND MAKES A SHOCKING DISCOVERY

Shit happens.

Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones frowning and shrugging

ONE WEIRD TRICK TO MAKE YOUR CISHET DUDEBRO TRY A DILDO

Google search result for "prostate massage"

HUSBAND MAKES DOE EYES AT WIFE’S NEW STRAP-ON (CUTE)

Screenshot from Pom Poko of a shirime (body with eye for an anus) coming out of a trash can and startling a woman.

Screenshot from Pom Poko

3 SEX TOYS YOU NEVER NOTICED IN YOUR FAVORITE DISNEY FILMS

Screenshot from the Disney animated film Snow White showing Grumpy the dwarf with his nose circled and a photo of the Tenga Iroha Sakura in the bottom right corner

Picture of Ariel from the Disney animated movie The Little Mermaid with her fist circled and a picture of the Belladonna's Bitch Fist sex toy in the corner

Photo of Herbie the love bug with an image of a screenshopped BS dildo

The Little Vagina That Couldn’t: A Depression Story

If you ever look at my website, you can tell when I’m not updating. You have eyes. Old posts linger. Your feed reader’s section for my website never has updates. You don’t get e-mails with new posts. It’s because of my mental health – specifically my depression.

When some of us (who shall remain nameless even though it’s our blog) are depressed, brushing our teeth is too hard. Taking a shower is too hard. Getting out of bed is a cruel joke, but eventually has to happen. So as you can imagine, writing is not my first priority when I’m depressed. But when I feel like this, do you know what’s even further behind writing? Sex. Sex with myself. Sex with other people. It’s all a disaster waiting to happen. I will cry if you try to have sex with me right now. It is an inevitability.

I just don’t want sex anymore. Which sucks because I still love sex as a topic and an abstract thing. I still love my dildos. I still love the sex educator/blogger/positive community. I love making my partner feel good and participating in intimate activities with him. But my body has zero interest in these things anymore, and it’s spreading to my mind. When I do say, “Gee, maybe I should masturbate to see if I still have genitals,” I just use a vibrator, remember that my genitals exist, and then just feel largely ambivalent about what I just did to myself. Actually, that’s a lie now. I am too dysfunctional/tired/lazy to charge my vibrators (don’t laugh at me). I have been masturbating with my hands for two months.

It’s so frustrating because I don’t know why. I know why I’m depressed (my brain chemistry blows), I know that my depression and/or medications are probably affecting my libido, but I have no real explanation for the loss of mental interest in my own sex life. My best theory is that my body being so disinterested and uncooperative has just deterred me from the whole rigmarole. Maybe I am so eager to avoid bawling every time someone tries to go down on me that I am just training myself to avoid the activity altogether.

I’m working with a therapist and seeing improvements in some areas of my life, but we’re not really focused on my sex life right now because I have a whole ball of other trauma/issues/anxieties to address before the luxury of my genital interactions. I mean, if I have to prioritize things I need to fix with my mental health care professionals I think the pecking order is:

  1. Addressing my executive dysfunction so I can take care of myself like a normal human instead of living like a feral child who is too lazy to even hunt for food and has resigned herself to living off whatever she can find that doesn’t need to be cooked. Like ants or crickets. Or slices of cheese rolled up in turkey. Or individually-wrapped chocolates. And forget utensils, because today I drank applesauce with a straw to avoid washing a spoon
  2. Eliminating or dealing with restlessness and other GAD symptoms
  3. Assorted coping skills
  4. Getting me driving again without having a panic attack at the very thought of it
  5. Leaving the house on my own
  6. Whatever is left
  7. Sex

It’s not that sex isn’t important, it’s just that being a functional person who can go to the grocery store is probably more important. My husband understands, so it’s not like my relationship is under stress because I’m not masturbating or letting him go down on me. In fact, my relationship is great.

Don’t worry. I still have notes from older toys that I can write reviews for. And maybe one day I’ll get a hankering to use a dildo! So there’s writing to be done, I just need to be capable of doing it, and I’m working on that. After all, I’m writing this. Gold star for me!

Sex & Mischief Flogger and Collar from Sportsheets

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve begun a review relationship with Sportsheets, because there’s nothing that motivates me to get back into the bedroom more than godawfully kinky shenanigans. This month they sent me the Sex & Mischief Red Leash & Collar set and the Sex & Mischief Red & Black Striped Flogger.

CollarA black and white photo of a woman posing in a collar with the leash in her mouth

I was disappointed by the collar because it didn’t fit my neck. It fit my husband’s neck, but there was no way it was getting around mine. Strangely, even though Sportsheets provides the length of the leash in their product listing, they don’t say anything about the length of the collar. I guess that a long leash is more important than a collar that fits…? I don’t know, come on Sportsheets, fix that shit. Like the last collar I tried, this collar is pretty tall to keep your head up and restrict your movement. (Maybe it wouldn’t for people with longer necks?)

The product itself isn’t bad, it’s kind of plush, which is a step above the last collar I tried. In fact, I’d say that overall this collar gives the sense of being a little better-quality than Toyjoy collar from my last post. Sportsheet’s collar is thicker, more flexible, and it looks nicer in the front.

The collar fastens with studs that work like buttons. It’s weird, but not entirely unmanageable. The fastening method definitely looks better than your standard buckle that you find on most collars, because it’s not clunky at all… in fact, it’s kind of stylish. The biggest problem with the stud-buttons is that they may be harder to fasten or unfasten for people who have trouble executing fine motor skills with their hands.

Sex & Mischief Red and Black Collar with leash

Ruling on the collar: If you’ve got a neck on the thinner side of average, this collar should fit you. I can’t speak for how it feels on the neck, so I can’t give you any information about extended wear. It’s not the worst collar I’ve ever owned, but it’s also not the best. The best was an $80+ fur-lined collar made of real leather, and is an entirely different beast than anything you’ll find from the Sex & Mischief line. Sportsheets’ aim with the Sex & Mischief line seems to be bringing affordable kink into the bedroom with prices that are non-threatening to beginners in the BDSM scene. The materials don’t feel quite as cheap as you’d expect a $12 collar to, and the red color is nice. You’re paying pretty much entirely for the collar, because the leash is the equivalent of a $1 strip of nylon (I think it’s nylon?) that you can get as a dog leash from a dollar store.

FloggerA black and white photo of a woman posing with the Sex & Mischief flogger in her mouth

We had a lot of fun with the flogger. It’s faux leather, and the red and black color scheme is nice. As much as I would love to have a cute pink flogger, the red and black appeals to the classic goth part of me and it looks awesome in my bedroom, because we have red walls.

It’s a 32-inch flogger, so you have to be careful not to flog yourself in the back when you’re rearing back to hit your partner. Or maybe you’ll do that on purpose, if you’re into pain too. It’s up to you. Or maybe I’m handling the long flogger the wrong way and there’s some secret to not flogging yourself in the back that I have yet to discover. I am by no means an expert. Learning to use a flogger properly has been an adventure and I’m still practicing. The finer points of maneuvering a long flogger have escaped me, so most of my strikes are still kind of half-assed, leading my husband to prompt me with lines like, “You swish and flick it, it’s levio-SAH not levio-suhhhh!” and, “Now hit me like I’ve been bad! Hit me like I took away all of your sex toys!”

Sidenote: It’s really hard to flog someone when you’re laughing too hard to stand up straight.

Anyway, the Sex & Mischief flogger hurts so good on the receiving end. It’s mostly a sting-y sort of flogger, I don’t feel like the materials and length are right to get a very thuddy flogging out of it. It’s definitely the most effective flogger in my collection; I have three, and the other two are short.

Long faux-leather flogger with red and black handle

Ruling on the flogger: I like it a lot. I don’t have much to compare it to, but if you’re just getting into being flogged, I think it’s a very nice toy to start with. It’s only $14 in the Sportsheets shop, so it won’t break the bank if you don’t like it. Neither of us flogged the other person hard or long enough to leave distinct marks on the skin, so I can’t give you much input on how those will look. I encourage you to try to discover that on your own. You can do anything you put your mind to. Go forth and beat the shit out of a consenting partner.

Thank you, Sportsheets, for providing me with these toys in exchange for an honest review!

$40 Bondage for Beginners? Toyjoy Amazing Bondage Sex Toy Kit

I like to review toy kits because they have a lot to offer people who are new to the scene. Bondage kits carry a few different things, and that allows you to get the basic concept of their use down before you go and spend $80 on a hand-knotted leather flogger. Generally kits don’t bring anything too exquisite to the table in terms of quality, but they do allow you the opportunity to see what you like. With that in mind, when Bondage Bunnies DMed me offering me an opportunity to review one of the products they carried, I chose the Toyjoy Amazing Bondage Sex Toy Kit because it appeared to have the most options, and at £27 (roughly $40 USD) it seemed like a pretty affordable way to sample some offerings from BDSM-land.

Toyjoy bondage kit with flogger, wrist cuffs, ball gag, nipple clamps, collar, leash, blindfold, and rope.

Collar, Cuffs, and Leash

The collar isn’t very long – it doesn’t fit around my neck enough to clasp without being pulled very tightly. It fits my husband just fine, though. It would really be convenient if Bondage Bunnies had listed the length of the collar in the product description. I haven’t measured my neck, but if a product description told me that a collar was a certain length I would make it a point to do that before I spent money on the product.

The collar is also very tall, which isn’t great for people with short necks (like me), but I recognize that tall collars do have a purpose – forcing the wearer to look up, keep their neck straight, and usually look straight ahead. It’s just not ideal for extended wear, and personally I hate having my head movement restricted like that. I’m more of a 24/7 collar sort of person.

The leash is a leather-look leash. It functions. Not sure what else to say about a leash – in a $40 kit no one expects a diamond-studded leash. I haven’t completely stress tested it, so I’m not sure how hard you have to pull on it to break it.

The wrist cuffs have a decent amount of length to them. They fit okay around my wrists, which are somewhat thick. They come with D-rings and some little clasps that allow you to hook the cuffs together. They’re not the most comfortable cuffs I’ve ever worn, but as far as starter cuffs go, you could probably do worse. They at least have the benefit of being relatively sturdy.

The material of the collar and cuffs is the same. It’s obviously not real leather, but there’s not really any information about what it actually is. It feels like plastic and is supposed to be easy to clean by just wiping it down when you’re done.

Gag

The ball gag is also plastic, and has breathing holes in it, which is great. My first ball gag did not have breathing holes, and while I find the sight of a solid rubber ball to be more aesthetically pleasing, a ball with holes is safer, ensuring that your partner can easily breathe through their mouth. You just have to ignore the fact that it looks like you’ve crammed a wiffle ball into their piehole.

I also noticed that unlike my rubber ball gag, this ball felt quite large. Uncomfortably large, in fact. I can fit my fist in my mouth, but wearing this gag for just a few minutes made my jaw ache. Depending on the kind of bondage you’re into, this is either a good thing or a bad thing. If you prefer an underlying sense of discomfort because you feel that drives the scene, then this is great for you. If you want your submissive to be comfortable (what kind of hippie nonsense is that?) then this gag isn’t ideal unless they have a pretty big mouth.

Nipple Clamps

The nipple clamps were kind of hard to review, because my nipples are pierced, and it’s hard to wear them. They’re rubber-tipped tweezer clamps and I don’t know if y’all know this, but when you have a barbell through your nipple, putting a clamp on it is just about impossible. I don’t have enough nipple to clamp the tissue in front of the barbell but if I clamp behind the barbell it feels like it’s going to squeeze the jewelry out. With that in mind, I can’t give you a good sense of what the clamps are like. They come with little purple bells, though, so if you’re into that…

Blindfold

Not much to say about the blindfold. It blocks light as decently as most other blindfolds in a similar style. It’s not entirely cloth, so it isn’t particularly flexible.

Rope

The rope that the kit comes with seems decent, but I’m not a rope connoisseur so I don’t know what it’s made out of or how it compares to high-quality rope. It hasn’t come apart on me yet, so I count that as a relative success. It’s black and not scratchy. I’m also not entirely sure how long it is in inches, but there’s definitely enough of it to do some basic wrist/ankle binding.

Flogger

And finally the little flogger. It’s not a terrible piece, but I wouldn’t say it’s something to write home about. I think that shorter floggers like this are a lot easier to use when you’re learning how to hit with a flogger, because the ones with longer tails are more unwieldy. The quality was passable – it didn’t fall apart, but I’m not awed by the materials. The strips are lightweight. It’s a little sting-y at best and provides a bit of a thump since it’s shorter, but the sensations aren’t overwhelming. I don’t feel like the tails are solid enough to induce a severe sting. If you’re a bondage beginner (the target demographic for this kit, in my mind) then it’s worth trying if you don’t know what kind of flogging pain you prefer. Just know that flogging can feel different depending on how a flogger is made, so if you don’t like this one, you might like a different kind.

Unnecessary Decoration

This kit also comes with a small army of fake rose petals, which I had to dig through to get out all the products and later found lying all over my living room because the box wasn’t sealed completely and came apart when it fell off the couch. I suggest you take out all the pieces of the kit that you want and trash the fake petals immediately unless something about sad red fabric scraps turns your partner on. I did not find cleaning them up to be a sensual experience (0 out of 10 stars) and only recommend it if you’re into domestic servitude.

Conclusion

All in all, the quality was about what I expected. I didn’t think I was going to get supple leather cuffs lined with luxurious fur at that price point. The kit is pretty utilitarian, although it’s not ugly by any stretch. I really loved the look of the collar and was very intrigued by the fastening mechanism, but I was so disappointed that it didn’t fit me without choking me out. So obviously the collar is no bueno if you’re fat, but the cuffs did fit my wrists, so some of us living large can probably enjoy that aspect of the kit.

It you (or your partner[s]) have thin necks that the collar will fit around and you’re looking to dip a toe into the world of bondage but don’t want to commit a lot of money to individual items of varying quality, then I would recommend this kit. If you buy it and find that you like bondage, then you’ll have a small variety of items to use while you build your toy collection. If you don’t like it, you only spent $40 to try out several bondage staples and won’t feel bad about wasting a lot of money. I wouldn’t recommend it if you already have most of the items in the kit or you have particularly discerning tastes about the quality of your toys.

If you’re interested, you can get the Toyjoy Amazing Bondage Sex Toy Kit from Bondage Bunnies! They’re located in the UK, but they take USD and ship to the U.S. as well! Thanks, Bunnies, for sending me this kit in exchange for an honest review!

Show Yourself to Me by Xan West

I don’t read a lot of erotica anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I like erotica okay. I’m going to be reviewing a couple erotic novels in the near future. I can masturbate to the written word. But for the most part, erotica usually feels like it’s missing something for me. I can get on Literotica and read some short stories, but they always seem to lack body, depth, characterization, and passion. With that deficit in mind I was thrilled when I started reading Xan West’s Show Yourself to Me.


Book cover for Show Yourself to MeShow Yourself to Me
is a book of queer kink erotica that goes above and beyond what I’ve been conditioned to expect from erotica. I agreed to review it because I’ve read some of West’s blog posts about writing diverse characters in erotic stories, so I expected inclusivity, but nothing could have prepared me for this book, because it is so damn good.

West’s characters are gritty and empowered – they fill up the page, and feel real on a visceral level. Over the course of just a few pages I can go from being introduced to a new character to feeling like I actually know them. I know this seems like a strange thing to say – after all, when you’re reading a novel it can take the span of the entire book for that level of characterization to occur – but West’s descriptions are rich, and they really give me a sense of what makes each character tick.

The scenes are beautiful, and many of the stories talk about BDSM as more than just play, addressing the transformative aspects of it as well. BDSM is a way that many people explore their limits and identities, work through trauma, and strive to become better, and West’s stories demonstrate this. The stories are sexy and engaging, and they don’t feel detached or clinical at all. They are dark (but not in a morbid way) and heavy, and I love that.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with light ‘n fluffy BDSM or tales that only focus on the outer sensations, but that just isn’t what Show Yourself to Me is. The stories are deep and the play is intense. Heavy sadism, rough body play, and edge play are regularly featured throughout the book.

West does the reader the courtesy of including a content guide section after the table of contents, so the reader has forewarning of which stories include potential triggers such as trauma, knife play, humiliation, or consensual nonconsent. If you find that certain types of play may trigger you or simply aren’t to your taste, I urge you to use the content guide. On the other hand, if you’re specifically in the mood to read about blood play, the content guide will tell you which stories are up your alley.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the diversity in writing. West’s writing introduces you to disabled, fat, and transgender people. There are people of color (PoC) in the stories, and they acknowledge some of the baggage that surrounds PoC and BDSM play. Part of what makes the characters feel so real is that acknowledgement of the different people who participate in BDSM: people of different ethnicities, people of a larger size, people with canes and scooters, people using neutral pronouns, people who embrace stone sexuality. Instead of being as vague as possible, West specifically mentions the things that make characters part of minority groups so you don’t automatically assume everyone is white, cis, able-bodied, and thin… and that is beautiful.

I also learned a lot about different areas of kink from this book. Until I read this book I had never been exposed to certain BDSM cultures and fetishes like leather, Daddy/boy, or rough body play. Reading about these subcultures and kinks was fascinating, and really gave me insight into the appeal of some things that I’d never considered before. If you like these things, then this book is definitely for you, but if you’ve never given them any thought and would like to then this book is a great place to start thinking.

My favorite stories were The Tender Sweet Young Thing (which you can read here!), Falling For Essex, How He Likes It, Facing the Dark (you can read Xan’s backstory for it here), and Ready. You can view the Table of Contents for Show Yourself to Me and read little excerpts from the stories in this post on Xan’s blog.

I highly recommend Show Yourself to Me for kinky queers that love the written word. You can get eBook or print copies from Go Deeper Press and you can buy the book on Amazon. You can read more thoughts from Xan West at https://xanwest.wordpress.com/.

Book Description:

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.

Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.

Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.

Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.

This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

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Here Kitty Kitty

I don’t review a lot of porn. I think lots of bloggers agree that porn reviews are harder to write than some toy reviews. Normally I just don’t even know where to start… but things are different with Here Kitty Kitty.

The first thing I noticed was that Kitty Stryker is my porn aesthetic; this became apparent when the film opened on her masturbating in a pink wig and tiara, and my certainty of it increased with every scene – a different hair color, different jewelry. Kitty ears, eyeliner, and sparkles. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “I want to be like Kitty when I grow up.”

Magic Wand Original, Pink Wig, Tiara, Cat Ear Headband all arranged in different squares in a picture reading "Kitty Stryker Starter Pack"

The first partnered scene is a strap-on scenario with April Flores. I watched, enraptured, as these two beauties did all kinds of sexy stuff. The communication and consent was great. “You’re so pretty, I just want to hurt you a little bit,” April whispered. “Can I choke you?” Yes. With an attitude like that, you can smack me around any day, April. Call me.

Here Kitty Kitty.Still006Hotter still was when Kitty asked, “Do you like circles more, or back and forth?” while playing with April’s clit. It’s such a simple thing, but it was great to see porn performers talking about what they liked! In lots of porn you don’t see much negotiation about what kind of stimulation the performers want. I liked this. It was great knowing that April was actually enjoying what was being done to her.

That’s something that I find that lots of queer porn brings to the table: genuine enjoyment. Sure, I could pull up Pornhub and find some guy ramming his dick into a quivering hole over and over again, but there’s no sense of connection in that. I have yet to see mainstream porn where the performers communicate beyond, “Harder, harder!” and, “Open that ass up for me.” Eventually it starts to feel kind of joyless.

 

I felt the okittycinnpposite of joyless during the next scene with Cinnamon Maxxine. Cinnamon wears a glove (yay, safe sex!) and expertly works Stryker over with their hand and a Hitachi. There are lots of scenes in Here Kitty Kitty where you envy Kitty’s role in the scene, but this is one of the best.  In this scene Kitty squirts, and it’s because Cinnamon clearly knows their way around a vulva.

 

MVI_5980.Still001Miss Quin is the thinnest participant in the film, and it’s always pleasing for me to see a person of size with someone smaller. If you’re fat, you probably understand how nerve-wracking it initially feels to be with a smaller partner, so it was great to see a size difference like this represented in pornography. Quin and Kitty exchange oral sex, use a wand vibe, and scissor. I was totally thrilled by the scissoring. I have never seen tribbing with a larger person involved – usually your standard tribbing participant in porn is a very thin woman with a specific type of vagina. This scene was a breath of fresh air.

 

MVI_9577.Still002The finale is described as a “boy/boy/girl” threesome between Kitty, Ruckus, and Kitty’s real-life partner Ned Would. The first half of the scene was very focused on Kitty, and I wondered if we’d ever get to see Ruckus and Ned fuck. The answer is yes. You do get to see that, and it is super hot. The highlights of the scene are Kitty’s creampie, Ned getting fucked by Ruckus, Ruckus jerking off two dicks with one hand (what sorcery is this?), and Ruckus cumming in Ned’s mouth.

Kitty mentioned that she thinks the bi male scene turned off the mainstream porn press, and she’s probably right, but that is a serious fucking travesty. This scene is amazing. Something that helped me enjoy it more was reading about how Kitty planned it out on Pinterest… because if Pinterest was made for anything other than making you feel like shit for being bad at crafts, then this is it.

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.09.12 AM

I highly recommend Here Kitty Kitty for people looking for a little bit more body diversity in their porn, and for equal-opportunity fuckers who want to see people with vaginas with other people with vaginas, people with vaginas with people with penises, and people with penises with other people with penises. You can get it here for $30.00, and it is well worth the price tag! Alternatively you can enter this awesome giveaway for a download of the video, a signed copy of Hard Femme, and some limited-edition Ban This Sick Filth stickers – just hurry, it’s ending in a few days!

Thanks so much to TroubleFilms for sending me a copy of Here Kitty Kitty in exchange for an honest review!