How Do I Write? Pt. 2: Reviewing Advice

In the last How Do I Write post I talked about general writing advice. Today I’m going to drop some truth bombs about sex toy reviewing. Some people don’t understand how I can write about sex toys and what they can do to start writing about them too. Lots of people have written about starting as a sex blogger, and you can find some links to other very valuable posts about this topic at the bottom of this post. Here’s my advice.

Don’t Put a Ton of Product Specs in Your Review

I think it’s easy to fall victim to this when you’re a new blogger. I know I did. You see other bloggers who write PARAGRAPHS about the packaging, all the measurements, the wattage, and just about everything else that you can find on a good product listing on a vendor website. They do not usually do this with commentary, they do it in a strictly informative manner that I do not find appealing. Sure, this is based on my opinion, but I have yet to meet anyone that was dying to read more than a sentence about a plastic bag or standard clamshell packaging.

All you’re doing is padding your review. If your toy came in particularly repugnant or difficult packaging, sure, say a few words. If said packaging gave you more trouble than the toy is worth, fine, tell that story. It might be funny, and people love to laugh at your struggles – I once wrote a review that focused almost entirely around how I couldn’t get a bullet out of a butt plug.

If you want to say how big something is, that’s fine, but I don’t want to read the exact information from the description on the product page in your review unless it actually has some relevance to what you’re about to say. If that butt plug has a 4″ diameter just say that and move on, or at least inject some personality into it and tell me that it made you feel mighty or your ass wept with fear or something. Talk about how you feel about that stuff.

Do you know what’s relevant? How strong the vibrations are, what speeds/patterns are useful and enjoyable, ease of use and general accessibility, and how it feels. That’s what product specs don’t tell you. That’s why we read reviews. Everything else is filler, and repeating boring product specs is filler that most of us secretly hate.

A picture from Hyperbole and a Half of a crudely drawn girl with a broom pumping her fist in the air, her eyes wide and mouth open while she yells. The caption says, "Write ALL the things!"Except the fucking product specs.

Your Review Doesn’t Have to be Smut

I’m sure there might be a market for this, but many of us don’t read reviews to read erotica. We might not like erotica, or we might prefer to keep those our erotica reading separate from our sex toy reviewing. If you want to write your reviews with explicit descriptions, then that’s fine! That can be your thing! But most of us do not, and your reviews don’t have to be, “I slid the Ina up and down my moist slit and rubbed it on my clit, moaning as warmth spread through my belly.” Most of us do not write like that and you don’t have to either unless you want to.

Don’t Apologize For Your Opinions About a Product

Sometimes you’re going to have unpopular opinions and you’re not going to like a product. You don’t need to grovel when you disagree with other people. We’re not going to form a mob and hunt you down if you don’t like the Eroscillator. I’d rather read a blatant, unapologetic, honest review that hated a toy I love than read something that spends four paragraphs saying, “Now I know this isn’t what everyone else feels like, and I’m sorry for this, and I wish I liked it, but…” No. If your genitals didn’t enjoy it then your genitals didn’t enjoy it. Limit yourself to one apology if you absolutely must apologize, finish writing your review, and move on.

And finally, relevant to what I just said is this:

Be Honest About Yourself and Your Reviews

Everyone says this, and we all mean it. You’re only hurting yourself if you’re not honest. How long do you want to keep writing a blog that’s based on lying to yourself and others? You can only keep telling yourself and us that you just loo-ooo-ooove everything about jelly toys for so long. “These chemical burns are the perfect accessory for a hot date!” “This melted in my bedside table but the strings of goop are great for tickling my taint!” “Pipedream makes high-quality, respectable products!” Quit it. You’re ruining the ethics of the sex blog industry and your inability to call it like you see it just convinces the Big Four (Pipedream, Topco, Doc Johnson, Cal Exotics) that they can get away with making toys out of cancerous garbage and no one will call them on it. We deserve better.

BONUS! A little bit of free SEO advice:

Keywords are a thing. Use keywords like a human being would use them in casual conversation instead of peppering keywords into a sentence about keywords. Keywords are super important but you want your keywords to come out feeling natural otherwise keywords are annoying. Keyword stuffing is when you use your keywords unnaturally and not only will people hate your keyword stuffing they will also hate you and your keywords.
Focus keyword: keywords.
Shitpost level: over 9,000.
See how annoying that was? Google isn’t impressed by it, either, and you want Google to like you. This post is probably on the Google robot shitlist right now and I did this for your benefit, people.

Using Keywords Appropriately

Try to use your keyword in your title, your post URL, and your meta description. Put it in your tags. Use it in a header tag – your H1 tag, if possible. Try to get it within the first 200 words of your page. These are appropriate places to use a keyword without pissing anyone off. You can use them a few more times in your content, but make sure they occur in a way that feels natural and aren’t all smushed in there consecutively. Find some synonyms or something.

With that said, keywords aren’t nearly as important as they used to be, and they aren’t going to catapult you to the #1 slot of the search engine results. Create good, in-depth content around your keyword, content that will make people want to link back to your site (which will help your search engine ranking too).

Will Ferrell from Anchorman on a blue background. It reads: "Content. It's kind of a big deal."

Other Resources

Like I said above, other (more established) bloggers have also written about how to get into the sex blogging business.

Ace in the Hole

SEO for Sex Bloggers

Dangerous Lilly

Five Things Every Sex Toy Reviewer Should Know

Ethics in Blogging

Your Crappy Writing Skills Turn Me Off

Why I Write – and Respect – Negative Sex Toy Reviews

Blogging 202: Taking Your Site to the Next Level

Lilly has many more posts in her Sex Blogger Education category, so you should just check them all out.

Epiphora

Beginner’s Guide to Sex Toy Reviewing and Blogging

15 Rules For Writing a Sex Toy Review That Doesn’t Royally Suck

In Conclusion…

Follow my advice and the advice of the seasoned bloggers. Do or do not, there is no try. If you do, your writing will improve. If you do not, I probably won’t read your blog regularly. I can’t promise that you’ll never get traffic, but I can promise that you will get more if your blog doesn’t suck.

How Do I Write? Pt. 1: Writing Advice from Sugarcunt

It’s going to make me sound full of myself, but I hear less blunt variations of this question semi-regularly. Sometimes they’re just asking in passing. Sometimes they genuinely want pointers. Sometimes I critique reviews (when asked to do so). Today I’m going to impart a little bit of my writing knowledge to you. If you already know all this: great! Good job! Asspats all around! But if you don’t, maybe you’ll learn something. This is one out of two posts about how to write in a way that people will want to read.

Write About What You Want

If you’re writing a sex blog it doesn’t have to be about toy reviews, or ONLY toy reviews. It doesn’t have to include erotica. Or if you want to write erotica you don’t have to write educational posts. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean that you should. And more importantly, don’t let a fear of judgment keep you from writing whatever you want. It’s your blog. You do you. If you write it they will come. Other platitudes go here. If you want to write about sucking whipped cream out of an asshole then do it. Someone will inevitably google that and will find your website.

Have a Point

Please know what you’re about to write. If you want to vent or ramble or navel-gaze then warn us that you’re about to do so, otherwise, have a point. Make an outline if you must. If you really want to make sure that we’re with you, introduce your point at the beginning of your post, flesh it out in the middle, and remind us of what the point was in your conclusion.

I know just as well as anyone how easy it is to sit down and brain dump everything into one place. It’s fine to do that just to get words on the page, but don’t publish that entire ramble. You might have two or three separate blog posts’ worth of points in there, so you’re shortchanging yourself, and you’re also screwing us over because we probably don’t want to read 3,000 words of aimless babbling, and anyone who slogs through it in search of a hidden gem of knowledge is going to resent you when it’s not there.

Actor Steve Carrell's character from Anchorman, a business-nerdy-looking white guy with large glasses and a smooth hair cut, has his mouth open and is yelling with a serious expression on his face. Caption reads, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M WRITING ABOUT" in all capital letters.

Be Yourself

Don’t try to be like the other bloggers. There are hundreds (is that an overestimate? I don’t think so. thousands, maybe. this is the internet) of sex bloggers. It’s certainly okay if you’re similar to another blogger, but don’t feel like your writing will suffer if you’re not. You don’t have to be poly to impart great wisdom about overcoming jealousy. You don’t need to be kinky to write hot sex scenes. You don’t have to like anal to be a respectable toy reviewer.

We don’t need another carbon copy of one of us on the scene. What we want is fresh blood with a fresh voice.

Find Your Voice

Figure out who you are as a writer and then put yourself on the page. Are you a smartass? Demonstrate it. Are you a nurturer? Write constructive, helpful posts. Once you’ve found your voice, use it. Make your writing a reflection of yourself. Let us see who you are, and talk about yourself and how you feel. Do this before you try to build your audience, because if they come to you expecting something you did once and you don’t keep doing it, they’re not going to keep reading. Do you really want to go through the trouble of building a readership more than once?

Most people don’t go to sex blogs to read thirty cold, unfeeling, strictly informative posts. We want to get to know the person behind the blog. You can do this without giving away sensitive information like your real name. In fact, you could stick your real name on a blog and if you don’t develop your voice then we won’t have learned anything about you.

Frowning green anthropomorphized fish from Spongebob Squarepants with the text, "Doing creative writing and I'm a cynical cunt."

Don’t Try to Force Your Jokes

We all make jokes that fall flat sometimes. If your jokes aren’t coming with relative ease then you need to slow your roll; don’t try to force them out. Maybe this post isn’t going to be the funniest thing on your blog, and that’s okay. There’s always the next post. Good posts don’t have to be funny. Hell, maybe funny isn’t your thing. Good news: it doesn’t have to be. Plenty of blogs are read because they’re informative or interesting, and most of them don’t focus on being humor blogs.

Edit Your Work

If you want to take your writing from good to great (or poor to passable), edit your work. Write it all out, and then edit it. (You will have a bad time if you try to edit while you’re writing. I do it all the time and I need to stop because I end up with strange orphaned sentences.) Proofread your writing before you post. If you have time, take a break before proofreading, then come back and do it. Read it out loud to make sure you catch errors. Read it backwards. Once you’ve proofread it once do it again just to be sure your corrections make sense. Once you’ve posted your piece read it again and edit it if you catch an error.

Don’t be redundant. Don’t cram your writing full of unnecessary adjectives. Learn grammar and use it correctly. Your computer comes with spellcheck – do not ignore it. Nothing turns me off more than a review that clearly has not felt the loving embrace of spell check. I will stop reading anything that has a lot of spelling and grammar errors that distract me from the content. It could be the most interesting story in the world and I would still sooner chuck my laptop out the window than finish reading it.

A photo of Gordon Ramsey telling someone off. It reads, "You've used so many adjectives people will think Stephanie Meyer wrote it."

 

That’s it for my general advice! Stay tuned, because in the next How Do I Write post I’m going to give you tips specific to sex toy reviewing.

Woodhull SFS17: Crowdfund Queer PoC and Trans Blogger Attendance!

I’m SUPER pumped about going to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit ’17 (a.k.a. SFS17)! Shevibe was kind enough to sponsor my registration and room costs, so I’m definitely attending and I can’t wait to see everyone there. This blog post isn’t about how much I’m freaking out about attending, though – it’s about getting other bloggers there too!

Image reads, "Help trans bloggers get to SFS 17! Woodhull is matching funds raised by Sugarcunt to bring trans bloggers to this year's summit! Check out woodhullfoundation.org for more details!" The image background appears to be notebook paper, and other than the text the image features Sugarcunt's logo ("CUNT" spelled out in rainbow sex toy silhouettes) and the Woodhull Foundation's logo.

I started a fundraiser in May to help bring transgender bloggers to Sexual Freedom Summit ’17! Two of my favorite bloggers, Insert Trans Here and Taylor J. Mace of Feisty Fox Films, are the intended beneficiaries. Newer bloggers tend to have a lot more difficulty securing sponsorships than more established members of the community, so I wanted to ensure that they would both be able to attend without having to find sponsors for the full cost (which can be tricky no matter how experienced you are). We’ve raised over 50% of our goal thanks to an AMAZING outpouring of community support, and now the Woodhull Foundation is matching up to $750 in donations! If we meet our goal in donations, Woodhull’s matching will make it possible for me to help other trans bloggers attend, so please donate and share widely. If you have already donated, thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts.

Image is a green, square-patterned background with the Twitter profile photos of PinkLotusBud, TheNotice, and MakeupAndSin, which depict them in 2 photos and a drawing. The text reads, "Help bring bloggers of color to Woodhull 2017!"

My most recent fundraiser launched today, and is dedicated to bringing 3 bloggers of color to SFS17! Victoria of Pretty Pink Lotus Bud, Rae of The Notice, and Carly of Dildo or DilDon’t — will be attending this year, but need some extra financial support to make it to the summit. This goal is larger than my goal for the trans fundraiser, and we have less time to reach it. Sex bloggers of color are vastly outnumbered by white bloggers in our community, so share and donate to help these bloggers bond with their community and improve the Summit with their feedback!

Dangerous Lilly has helped me reach out to retailers about matching donations for this fundraiser while I move, and she got not one, but TWO retailers to match donations, AND one is offering donation incentives!

Image of five Come As You Are-branded handkerchiefs overlaid atop one another, green, black, red, blue, and pink, on a green, square-patterned background. The text reads, "Donors get at CAYA hanky or tote and 30% off in the CAYA online store! Come As You Are is matching donations! Donate now!"

Come As You Are Co-Op is offering donors who contribute $25 or more 30% off in their online store and their choice between a Come As You Are hanky or tote! They’re also matching up to $800 in new donations, so please donate if you haven’t already.

Image features three multicolored Swarovski crystals on a green square-patterned background and reads: "Thank you Crystal Delights! Crystal Delights is matching $250 in donations to bring bloggers of color to #SFS17. Donate now!"

Crystal Delights matched $250 in donations! I have consistently been impressed with Crystal Delights’ commitment to charity in the past, and was so thrilled to have their support here.

Please keep sharing this to help us meet our goal in time to get these bloggers to the Summit!

If you’re interested in attending Sexual Freedom Summit ’17, check out this post by Lilly where she discusses some options to get yourself there, such as blogger scholarships and free registrations. Be sure you read her description of the Digital Content Creator Meet and Greet, as well, and RSVP if you can come! We want to meet you, skill share, and network!

Weird Amazon Products Reviewed As Sex Toys 2

Hello friends. After reading my Weird Amazon Products Reviewed As Sex Toys post, perhaps, during your idle moments sometime in the last few weeks, you have heard a faint noise in the distance. As soon as you notice it, it ceases. It haunts your dreams, a ghostly yodeling that pierces through the noise and fog of daily life. The yodeling pickle haunts you… and this week, it is bringing friends: Nicholas Cage and Mary & Carrie Contrary.

Pup-A-Razzi Silver Screen Starlet Dog Costume

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for the Pup-A-Razzi Silver Screen Starlet Dog Costume. The product photo shows a bulldog in a white dress and blonde with with a ridiculous span of human cleavage above the dress' bustline.

Mary: “WHY?! That’s… NOT where a dog’s boobs go…”

Carrie: “I feel sad for Marilyn Monroe. This is where her legacy has left us. I don’t have much more to say about this… I just feel sad about where we’ve come as a society, to think this is appropriate.”

Perhaps you are uncomfortable at the first glimpse of this totally stacked dog’s out-of-this-world bazongas. Do not bow to your lizard-brain’s unenlightened impulses. Raise your consciousness to a higher plane where you can appreciate the subtle curve of her bosom, the way the light bounces off her platinum curls. Her name is Marilyn Bone-roe, we’re in love, and YOU CAN’T CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE, MOM AND DAD. We’re eloping tomorrow.

A photoshopped picture of two people in black outfits standing together with arms around one another. The person on the viewer's left has a bulldog's head photoshopped onto their neck, and a blonde wig on the bulldog. The person on the right has Sugarcunt's head photoshopped onto it.Anyway, we’re in love.

Evil Unicorn Face Mask
Screenshot of an Amazon product listing for an evil unicorn mask. The product photo is a person wearing a menacing black unicorn mask with red eyes.

Carrie: “In Soviet Russia, dark Ixian hunts YOU.”

Mary: “My favorite part is the red eyes.”

Carrie: “Honestly, I like that horn, because with it I can pierce the reality between Amazon and my nightmares and go back and forth between the two at will.”

Sugar: “That doesn’t sound like a desirable trait to me…”

Carrie: “Well that’s the best part, I didn’t say it was actually great.”

I feel like this evil unicorn mask is a lot more menacing than those rubber horse masks (which you can also buy at Amazon if you feel like you need a complete collection), and I think that works in its favor. Now I can finally live out my evil anthropomorphic unicorn pursuit, take-down, and capture fantasies. I will plunge my evil, rainbow unicorn horsecock into my prey, and I’m pretty sure I can find some body-safe glitter to ejaculate all over their back.

10/10, will probably actually buy just in case somebody wants to do this.

Gift of Nothing

 

Screenshot of an Amazon Listing for the Gift of Nothing. The product image is an empty plastic ball about the size of a medium Christmas tree ornament that is completely empty.

 Carrie: “This reminds me of nothing.net, where you could buy nothing and they’d ship it to you, or a t-shirt with nothing on it.”

Mary: “I’m loving the Q & A.”

Carrie: [reading from the Q & A] “How long will this stay nothing? Like, does it stay nothing as long as it’s in the packaging, or does it stay nothing after you’ve removed the package?”

Mary: “It really is nothing. Who would pay for that?”

Carrie: [reading a review] “I love the idea but did not get the product that was pictured…”

The perfect toy for break up sex. Get the foreplay started at dinner – give them the gift of nothing in pretty wrapping paper. Tell them they can’t unwrap it until you’re back at their place. Once you’re back, they unwrap it and you tell them it’s all the fucks you gave about the relationship, you argue, you break up, and then you have one last shag for the road, and you got it in style.

Flair Hair

Screenshot of the Amazon product page for Flair Hair. The product image shows that Flair Hair is a visor with a built-in spiky wig. The Flair Hair in the picture is a camo visor with dark blonde hair that has frosted tips.

Your very own portal back to the late 1990s so you can fuck that one dude from that one boy band that you first got horny watching. Alternately, this is perfect for your Broad City sexual cosplay needs, because it is pure, unadulterated Kirk Steele.

Screencap of Ilana from Broad City staring, open-mouthed, at her computer screen. You can't see what's on-screen.

Mary: *DEEP SIGH*

Carrie: “So… … are you buying the hedge pig and it comes with the visor, or are you buying visor and it comes with the hedge pig?”

Sugar: “If you’re lucky they’ll both come.”

Carrie: “Oh good, they have it in camo so then you can’t see either of them.”

Mary: “Take this, put it in your bag, you’d have a douchebag in a bag.”

Carrie: “Is it scratchy like a poorly-made wig, or smooth on the inside like a hat? I do like the camo option, though… because then you’d never find this horrific thing. You’d set it down on a nightstand or something and then it would disappear! And your life would be better for it.”

Mary: “I feel like a bunch of old, white, bald guys are going to buy this.”

Carrie: “I give it a 4/10… MIGHT could shag again, if I could find it. Especially if it’s camo.”

Nicholas Cage Pillow

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for a pillow with a black and white picture of Nicholas Cage on it. In the picture, Nicholas is shirtless and reclined on a bed covered in leopard-print sheets.

Me: “Tell me what you think. Tell me what this means to you?”

Mary: “OH GOD WHY?”

Carrie: “I needed something to correct a longer-than-four hour erection. The leopard print in that is a nice touch, though?”

Mary: “…b…but why?”

Carrie: “I feel as though the background would be better if it had pictures of Nic Cage on it as well.”

When I saw this I literally yelled, “WOW!” This is a real gem. Have you had trouble setting the mood lately? Can’t seem to “get your groove back?” This is the pillow for you. Look at that luxurious leopard-print. The artistic way the shadows play across Nic’s corded greyscale biceps. His penetrating stare. His chest bath mat. With this pillow in the room, you won’t need to steal the Declaration of Independence to gain access to your partner’s national treasure. This pillow is the secret pick-up artists won’t tell you. You’re welcome.

 

Thank you, Amazon. Thank you for your tireless efforts in bringing us… whatever this shit is.

Non-Monogamy For Snowflakes

In 2015 my wife and I decided to experiment with non-monogamy. Through a series of comical and confounding miscommunications, we both labeled ourselves polyamorous and found ourselves back on OKCupid. If you’ve read any of my posts about online dating before, I’m sure you can anticipate how much I was dreading this. Putting yourself out there on any dating site for the first time can be intimidating when you don’t know what to expect, but once you DO know what to expect it’s intimidating for a different reason. Have you ever had a dog that freaks out whenever you tell them it’s time to go to the vet? My brain is that dog, and dating websites are the vet, except it’s debatable whether the vet will help me in any way.

Here’s something I didn’t count on: it was way harder to find a partner in my area on OKCupid as a married polyamorous person than as a single person. We weren’t unicorn-hunting, it was just super difficult to find non-monogamous people. Since we live in a rural town in the mountains of North Carolina, it’s also a lot harder to find queer and kinky folks in general, and your dating pool shrinks significantly if you’re only looking for non-monogamous people in those categories.

Another thing that sucked was that it also fostered a weird competitive undercurrent in our relationship. I don’t think either of us was consciously thinking in competitive terms, but my wife wasn’t getting as many messages as I was, and it seemed difficult for that not to discourage her. Whether we liked it or not, the mean parts of her brain compared our numbers. I knew this was because she was presenting male on a dating website.

If you appear female on a dating website, you’ll get a barrage of messages from horny dudes whether you’re married or not. They’re not usually polyamorous, they’re usually assholes who are just looking for no-strings-attached sex. (NSA sex isn’t why they’re assholes.) This actually ruins the chances for perfectly decent male-presenting humans, because this is a driving force that governs how we interact with messages and other people in general. When I considered myself monogamous, I would have been skeptical of a married man messaging me and saying he wanted to hook up or date, so I have a firsthand understanding of how wary someone might be when they get an OKCupid message from a married person.

When this happened, we didn’t know much about dating websites geared toward non-monogamous or kinky folks, like Swingtowns. In recent years more businesses like this are becoming publicly visible, and that’s a total relief. No longer will non-monogamous people have to spend hours straining monogamous people out of their dating pool!

We ended up adopting a different relationship structure a few months later, and part of what helped us make the decision to change it was how incredibly fucking stressful trying to meet people online was. There is a certain degree of time and effort involved in actively hunting for new partners that can be exhausting, especially when you’re fishing in the wrong pond. The other part of our decision was that we weren’t particularly romantically available to others, which wasn’t going to make meeting people any easier. Now I interpret us as being more monogam-ish than monogamous or polyamorous. This arrangement works for our relationship so much better than feeling like we have to commit to one label or the other and much more accurately describes the flexibility and intentions of our agreement.

If you’re discussing opening your relationship for the first time, consider talking more about what the experiences and flexibility you desire are before you try to label it. There is no one-size-fits-all style of non-monogamy – each relationship is like a snowflake: unique, complex, nuanced, and beautiful.

 

This post was sponsored, but all opinions and experiences shared are my own.

Seed: What You Shouldn’t Call Your Semen If We Fuck

Photo of a line of baby plants in pots silhouetted in a windowPhoto credit: Gratisography

This week on Twitter there has been some casual discussion about words that we use for penile ejaculate. One of my top three most hated words for semen is “seed.”

This is purely about me (although I know other people have a similar mindset), but I am repulsed by the idea of myself bearing children. I do not want children, and I refuse to go through the pain and toil of pregnancy and birth. It’s totally fine for other folks – not repulsive at all! But the idea of doing it myself sounds like a personal nightmare. It makes my skin crawl.

With that in mind, the word “seed” squicks me out. With the constant barrage of political and social anti-choice rhetoric that essentially reduces AFAB humans and their bodies to an Easy-Bake Oven, sexually interacting with people who use the word “seed” to describe their semen when they’re with me makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. I’m not potting soil. I do not exist to grow things. And I do not want to be pregnant. Some people have impregnation fetishes, and that’s fine, but that’s a hard limit for me. My baggage renders me unable to sexualize my impregnation. Calling it that makes me feel like a broodmare and conjures up my fear of pregnancy – two huge turn-offs for me.

I wrote this handy poem to all my present and future partners who want to use this word with me:

If you must call it your “seed,” I do not want to do the deed.
I do not want a seed in me – I do not want it, let me be!
I do not want it in a car, I do not want it in a bar.
I do not want it on a boat, I do not want it – sink or float!
I do not want it in my ass, I do not want it on the grass.
I do not want it in my mouth, I do not want it north or south
I do not want your seed, I plead. I do not want us both to breed!
Dear, if you care for my desire, release your seed into a fire.
If you want us both to fuck, don’t call it seed – you’ll have good luck!

Weird Amazon Products Reviewed as Sex Toys

 In addition to counterfeit sex toys, Amazon also sells a treasure trove of weird shit. I wanted to share some of these weird items with you, but, in a stroke of genius, decided that what my readers really wanted to read was a series of reviews of these items. You’re welcome. What is it like when a sex toy reviewer reviews items that aren’t sex toys? Pretty boring, actually. What is it like when a sex blogger reviews weird items that aren’t sex toys as if they were intended to be sexual aides? Way more interesting.

Just to clarify: I did not actually purchase these products and try to fuck them. These are totally hypothetical reviews based on actual products that I found on Amazon. I do not recommend trying to fuck yourself or anyone else with these products and cannot be held liable for what happens if you do.

The Purrfect DVD

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for the Purrfect DVDWhile this DVD did bring me pleasure, it was not sexual pleasure. Instead, it will bring you bundles of warm fuzzies and squeals. However, your pets may watch it with rapt attention. Amazon’s all-seeing eye has anticipated this and has cleverly left an ad for a cat sex toy on this page. “Lick! Your Cat Brush.” Leave your cats alone in the room with this playing for a while if you think they’ve been extra good. Or give them a taste of their own medicine and stare at them judgmentally while they do their thing.

Yodelling Pickle

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for the Yodelling Pickle

This item had my attention at first sight. $10.99 for:

• Hours of mindless entertainment
• Batteries included
• Great gift for the person who has everything except a yodeling pickle

Sign me the fuck up!

As sex bloggers, it can sometimes be exasperating to receive sex toys that take batteries but the companies who shipped them didn’t include them. This Yodelling Pickle includes batteries that will power “hours of mindless entertainment.”

And the product copy is exquisite:

“Are you sick and tired of trying to teach your pickles to yodel? Pickles can be so stubborn. At last, the yodeling pickle you’ve been waiting for. With a mere press of a button (yes, it has a button) this little pickle will yodel its heart out. You’ll think you’re in the Swiss Alps listening to a yodeling pickle.”

I’ll give my replies in order: “Yes. Painfully! Finally. Just one press? Was this trip to the Alps all-expenses-paid?”

So we have snazzy marketing, batteries, and, frankly, this definitely could be insertable. However, there are some prime vag gunk chokepoints that I have concerns about. Let’s go to Sugar’s Vagina for the play-by-play.

“Well Sugar, we’re not feeling good about the Yodelling Pickle’s defense. Clearly it could be inserted, but frankly, those speaker holes are an accident just waiting to happen. If moisture gets in those holes, we could short out the yodelling unit, or worse, get battery water on ourselves. Now, the other side of the pickle is a better contender, but that seam around the button is a doozy, and it WILL retain vag gunk.”

But, with that said, how often are you going to hear your vagina yodel if you DON’T buy this and fuck it? Probably never.

 

Inflatable Evil Unicorn Horn for Cats

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for the Evil Unicorn Horn for Cats

Over the course of this post, I discovered that a huge chunk of weird shit on Amazon is devoted to cats. This does not come as a surprise to me because cats are our overlords, and we also made the internet out of them. The short copy here highlights that it also works for domesticated raccoons, but much like Mallary Ortberg, I, too, am highly displeased by mashed-down smallbears.

I do not recommend this as a sex toy. I certainly won’t use it while it is attached to my cat, because 1) I don’t like having animals near my genitals and 2) I have a mild cat allergy and do not like having hives on my genitals either. And it’s vinyl. And inflatable. I have a “nothing that smells like a shower curtain goes inside my body” policy, and I highly recommend it for anyone else who wants to insert inanimate objects into their orifices.

If you really want to fuck a unicorn horn and don’t care about your crotch smelling like a brand new shower curtain from Wal-Mart, I suggest getting this human-sized one, strapping it to your partner’s head, and riding off into the sunset.

Bacon Bandages

Screenshot of the Amazon page for die-cut adhesive bandages that look like bacon

It seems like every year, something else comes out that makes me think, “Have we taken the bacon craze too far?” Personal care: Bacon lube, bacon dental floss, bacon toothpicks, bacon soap, bacon toilet paper. Apparel: Bacon tiesbacon belts, and bacon shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I think bacon and facon are both fucking delicious, but… I don’t know about this, y’all. I’m starting to get sick of companies trying to get rich off my love of bacon. It makes me feel used. Bacon band-aids do not taste like bacon, so why would I want them? I guess bacon-themed products are to some people what sex toy company swag is to me.

I don’t push band-aids in my orifices, and I won’t be pushing bacon band-aids in there either. Too floppy. And there’s something about a moist band-aid that I find unappealing, even if it hasn’t been used to cover a wound. I guess you could use some band-aids in medical play. Or maybe keep the band-aids in your kink emergency kit; maybe the fact that they are raggedy-edged bacon strips will distract your partner from the fact that they’re hurt enough to warrant a band-aid. Or, if your bacon budget is astronomical and you love bacon so much that you want to fuck it, buy a shitton of these and just cover your partner in them from head to toe – then you, too, can have the experience of fucking both Super Meat Boy and Bandage Girl at the same time.

A Million Random Digits with
100,000 Normal Deviates

Screenshot of the Amazon listing for the book A Million Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates

You all know I’ve reviewed erotica in the past. This is, by far, the worst erotica I could ever read. Except for that one time that I masturbated while someone whispered Pi to the 20th decimal to me [these reviews are hypothetical but the masturbating to Pi story is true], numbers do not turn me on. I do not like math. In the social work program at my former university, every time a professor made a math mistake and someone pointed it out, they’d say, “And that’s why I got a job in social work instead of math.” Same. And now I am a writer. I like letters – NOT numbers.

Trying to masturbate to this sucks. Seeing numbers made me think of paying bills, and nothing makes my vagina drier than thinking about how I’m going to die in debt. Also, getting lube all over your book makes it way more difficult to read.
0/5 stars, do not recommend.

Would you like to see me write more of these? If so, please leave a comment, share it with your friends, and let me know!

The “Male Birth Control” Injection Trial Demonstrates Inequality

I’m sure that you’ve heard about the contraceptive injection for people with penises – or, as it is called in the headlines, “the male birth control,” “the male pill,” or “the male contraceptive injection.” I put all of these names in quotation marks because I wanted to make this distinction up front: this is being called “male birth control,” but I fully acknowledge that some men do not have penises and testicles, and not all people with penises or testicles are male.

In places where the reproductive organs are directly pertinent to the discussion and I am not quoting specific language that other people have used, I will try to make it entirely clear which reproductive organs are being discussed. I will use this language because genitals do not indicate gender, and because broadly generalizing all people with uteruses as women and all people with testicles as men is cissexist. Intersex, trans, and nonbinary people exist, and are also regularly harmed by sexist oppression and the medical community, but point of this post is to address the double standard inherent in the existing dichotomy that western culture has distilled gender down to based on sexual organs.

A 320-participant trial of a contraceptive injection for testicle-owners (all identified as men in the study) was halted when 20 of them dropped out because of the side effects. According to the Chicago Tribune, one participant did commit suicide, but the researchers ruled that the suicide was unrelated to the injection. So other than the dead person, these 20 people with penises decided that they didn’t want to endure depression, muscle pain, mood swings, acne and changes to their libido. Even though 75% of the participants said they would use this contraceptive in the future, the researchers stopped the entire trial because the injection DID reduce sperm count, but “the unfavorable side effects may outweigh any further findings.”

Those reactions to the contraceptive injection for penis-owners are just a few extremely common side effects (among many others) that uterus-owners are encouraged to endure for the sake of preventing pregnancy. In addition to those potential side effects as well as cramps, sore breasts, headaches, migraines, weight gain, heavy and painful periods, no periods at all, and bleeding every single day, people with uteruses who choose to take the pill must also accept the well-documented risks of deep-vein thrombosis, stroke, and cervical and/or breast cancer.

No one is saying that the people who dropped out had to stay in the trial. Most of us who are criticizing the abrupt end of the trial are just saying that halting the entire trial because of those side effects is completely unjust when compared to how people who are perceived as women are treated by the medical community. All of these side effects of the birth control pill for people with uteruses are usually deemed “minor” by doctors who prescribe the pill, and were acceptable enough that the hormonal birth control pill was approved by the FDA in the 60s, and dozens of variations of it remain on the shelves today. Doctors say that “the benefits outweigh the risks.”

So in a world where the onus of preventing pregnancy is very often placed on the partner with the uterus, they have more hormonal contraceptive options than people with penises, but are also denied basic autonomy in regard to tubal ligation and hysterectomies. Many doctors in the US refuse to sterilize patients who could be impregnated until they’ve either already had at least one child or have reached a certain age (I’ve heard anywhere from 30 or beyond, depending on the whim of the doctor). The other contraception options aren’t all great either, which means the pill is sometimes the best choice for a lot of people. Doctors will hand hormonal birth control pills out like candy, and not all doctors tell patients about the side effects and mortality rate. Is the fact that a person taking the combined pill has a small chance of dying is just a pesky footnote to the medical community? To put it in short with gendered terms: the chance for a woman to die is an “acceptable risk” to medical professionals, but the trial for the men had to be stopped because of depression and mood swings – two known symptoms of existing hormonal birth control that patients with uteruses have been encouraged to tolerate for literally half a century.

Yaz and Yasmin, two hormonal birth control pills for people with uteruses, were advertised as more effective for reducing unwanted hormonal birth control symptoms, and their side effects were severely downplayed. That’s not opinion – that’s actually what the FDA ruled after a bunch of lawsuits were filed against Bayer, the company responsible for Yaz. The FDA made Bayer change their ads to be more transparent about the risks, and though Bayer eventually changed the commercials, they still weren’t disclosing enough information about the risks. Three years after the FDA’s warning about the commercials, an FDA document acknowledged that studies raised questions about the safety of Yaz and its related contraceptives. In 2008 the FDA put a more serious warning label about the risk on the packaging. Over 10,000 patients have filed lawsuits related to Yaz against Bayer.

The progestin in Yaz/Yasmin, drospirenone, is the ingredient that is specifically linked to the increased risk of harm. Birth control pills with drospirenone are no more effective at preventing pregnancy than the other options on the market. In 2012 the FDA announced that they acknowledged there was a higher risk of blood clots linked to drospirenone, but they said the benefits outweighed the risk and Yaz would not be removed from the market… even though there are loads of alternative birth control pills that do not contain drospirenone. In addition to Yaz, there are 7 other hormonal birth control pills on the market that contain drospirenone: Beyaz, Safyral, Gianvi, Loryna, Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah. Gianvi and Beyaz are also manufactured by Bayer.

The reason I mention Yaz is that when people with uteruses are involved, the benefits always seem to outweigh the risks. There is no shortage of birth control pill brands on the market, almost all considered equally effective at preventing pregnancy, but doctors are still prescribing Yaz, and the FDA still permits it to be sold. Yet when researchers start testing a hormonal birth control option “for men” they STOP THE TRIAL because “unfavorable side effects may outweigh any further findings.” In fact, a direct quote that the co-author of the research paper gave to The Independent stated:

“Although the injections were effective in reducing the rate of pregnancy, the combination of hormones needs to be studied more to consider a good balance between efficacy and safety.”

I’m sure that most of us agree that people with any configuration of reproductive organs deserve effective and safe contraception options, but the only symptoms of this injection that made themselves apparent during the study were symptoms that were considered acceptable risks for people with uteruses.

If this double standard doesn’t stand out enough on its own, consider the cultural context: studies have shown that men and women are treated differently in medical settings, particularly those involving diagnoses of severity and pain management. The research paper The Girl Who Cried Pain cites multiple studies that demonstrate this. One study coined the term “Yentyl Syndrome” – women are less likely to be treated as aggressively [as a male patient would be] until they “prove that they are as sick as male patients.” Men are more likely to be given narcotic painkillers, while women are often given sedatives, indicating that perhaps they are perceived as anxious instead of “in pain.” In a 1994 study of over 1,000 cancer patients, they found that women were significantly less likely to have their pain adequately managed than the men were; the ratio is 1:5.

In an online survey of over 2,400 women living with chronic pain, 75% (1,732 of them) said that their doctor has told them: “You’ll have to learn to live with your pain.” If you’re interested, you can read a collection of anecdotes along this line that were gathered from the write-in portion of the survey.

People with uteruses are not taken seriously in the medical community. We’re always told that we’re exaggerating, that we’re just anxious, that we can’t be sick because we don’t LOOK sick, or that our medical conditions can’t be solved. Got a uterus? Doctors and the FDA think that when it comes to oral hormonal birth control, “the benefit outweighs the risk.” Got a penis? The trial for your hormonal birth control option ended because “the unfavorable side effects may outweigh any further findings.”

From where I’m standing, a desire to protect people with penises from unpleasantness coupled with the willingness to put people with uteruses through painful and potentially lethal side effects is not health justice. It is not equity to shield the privileged from the same side effects that the oppressed have been resigned to for decades, especially when doing so continues to place the burden of hormonal contraception on the oppressed.

We need to push for equality and an overall higher standard of care in the medical field, especially as it pertains to people who are already marginalized. The first step to doing this is acknowledging the imbalance of power and the violence inherent in the system. The next step is action.

 

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 they 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.