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.

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!