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!

Vote for Kinkly’s Sex Superheroes 2015

sugarcunt-darkened-twitter

You know how great I am?
How much you love me?
Now is the time to tell other people about that by voting for me in Kinkly’s Sex Superheroes contest! Just follow the link and click the big vote button! If you like my blog, please consider doing this. You can vote for any number of blogs, so once you’ve voted for me, you can vote for the rest of your favorites, too! I humbly suggest giving some votes to the folks on my blogroll, because they all run excellent sites.

It’s been four years since I started blogging and I love that people have stuck with me, even after I was out of the game for so long. Thanks for all your support, folks!

The Impact of Mental Illness on my Sex Life

Lots of people have taken the time to start and contribute to the conversation about depression and sex. Crista and JoEllen are two big names in the realm of sex and depression. Crista founded #OrgasmQuest and received national attention for it, and JoEllen is writing a book called, “The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression & The Conversations We Aren’t Having”. Just last week they ran a panel at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit called “The Monster Under The Bed: Starting the Conversation About Sex and Depression“. With that in mind, they’ve pretty extensively covered depression and sex a lot more adequately than I ever will.

Back in 2012 Epiphora wrote about losing two weeks of her sex life to Zoloft, a common prescription for anxiety and depression.

Girly Juice has written about her anxiety a few times, most notably some very good advice about anxiety and dating.

Lorax of Sex wrote about why they sometimes don’t write because of living with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and compulsive disorders.

Sarah wrote about stopping SSRIs how it has affected her life.

I have bipolar 2, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia, and I can pinpoint the ways that each of them has affected my relationship with my sex life.

I have been party to both major depressive episodes and bipolar depression. When I was majorly depressed, I usually had no interest in sex, because I had no interest in anything that didn’t involve sleeping or crying. With bipolar depression (which I’m medicated for), my desire for sex is almost nonexistent, and what I do sexually tends to reflect that. If I masturbate, I do it as quickly and as uncomplicatedly as possible, and it’s usually out of habit. This go around I haven’t masturbated in over a month and a half. I have so little interest in masturbation right now that I can’t even bring myself to do it. Mentally I am so unprepared for sex that when my husband tries to initiate it, I’ll have a go at participating to see if I fall into the mood, but usually the attempt comes to an abrupt halt because I start crying. When I’m having depressed sex my mind isn’t in it, and it makes me feel vulnerable and defective.

I find myself almost exclusively depressed as a bipolar person. My hypomanic phases are terribly infrequent, which is a shame because I’m convinced that my hypomania is how non-mentally-ill people feel all the time, other than the decreased need to sleep and mildly impaired judgment. I feel sexually motivated and powerful when I’m hypomanic. I masturbate with a wide range of tools when I’m hypomanic. I want to have sex with more edge play when I’m hypomanic. I thought polyamory was a good idea when I was hypomanic, only to find that I was too exhausted and had no interest in maintaining multiple relationships once I came down.

My anxiety disorder comes into play in sex, too. If I’m having a particularly anxious day, I’ll have a hard time focusing on sex. I’ll become unexpectedly and irrationally insecure, and worry about weird things, like how my orgasm face looks, or what if I say the wrong name. The latter worry is the strangest, because it’s not like I fantasize about other people during sex – it’s just a fear I’ve always had about having sex. I’ll be hyper-aware of my body size and too afraid of hurting my partner to really enjoy intercourse. On the whole, anxiety makes me entirely too tense to have sex. Some people fuck to unwind, but the very idea of fucking will just wind me up more.

My agoraphobia seems like a strange thing to include here, but it really does affect my sex life. Lately I’ve noticed that, even in a depressive state, I’m able to get aroused when I’m not staying in my own home. An unwillingness to leave the house and inability to go anywhere alone has made my world quite small. All of my stress, worries, and emotions live at home. It’s my escape from the horrors of the outside world, but since it’s where I am 24/7 it’s where I face all of my internal horrors. I don’t get much in the way of housework, hobbies, self-care, or even work-work done at home, and the tasks I’ve procrastinated on loom over me no matter what room I’m in. My home is the nexus of my stress. I am starting to think that I can’t fuck in the nexus of my stress… and frankly, I don’t know what to do about it.

I don’t know how much of my ruined sex drive is the result of my mental illnesses and how much can be attributed to the medications treating them, but I need the medication, so I can’t quit my pills just to salvage my sex life. I miss desiring sex. I miss the intimacy and joy of having sex with my partner. I miss the fun of using my toy collection and testing new products. I don’t have the money to see a therapist, so I’m left to sort it out on my own, and it’s not working. How can I get my sex life back on track?

Casual Ableism: The Conversation We Need to Have

(TW: ableist language, discussion of ableism)

There comes a time in every company’s lifespan where they make an advertising mistake. For SheVibe, that was recently, when they ran a sale with “Crazy Edna” as the mascot. This drew the ire of Mary, who made a series of tweets regarding the incident. I will only quote a select few here, so if you’d like to read them you’ll have to go through her old tweets.

This advertising campaign was in no way intended to be offensive – it’s a reference to Crazy Eddie, an electronics franchise founded in 1971 that popped up in the Northeastern United States. The problem is that Crazy Eddie’s name and slogan (“His prices are INSANE!”) were ableist. This post is somewhat long and discusses ableist language, including its historical context, common usage, role in marginalizing women and the mentally ill, and perspectives regarding the reclamation of the word. At the end I will further discuss the situation with SheVibe and what they did to rectify the situation. (more…)

Sex in Someone Else’s House

There is a very real possibility that my husband and I will be moving in with my parents soon. Not permanently, but probably for at least a year while we finish renovating our house so we can put it on the market, and while we look for a home down in their town.

In lots of ways, it’ll be great. It’ll be a cheap living situation while we’re still paying the bills associated with the home we currently own, my husband will have a better job in the area, and I’ll finally be near my family, which is really important to me. In other ways it is not stellar: I am worried about having sex in someone else’s house.

Photo of a key holeMake no mistake, I did the nasty when I lived with my parents. I masturbated (and usually had phone sex) every night when I lived at home. When my boyfriend (at the time) moved in, we had sex regularly. But I also lived on a different floor of the house and could hear people coming down the steps. The new house is only one floor, and although the room we’re going to occupy is on the other side of the house from my parents’ room, it doesn’t have a locking door.

Naturally, this means I’m going to have a talk with my mother about the importance of knocking, and in doing so I’m probably implying that I’m going to do the nasty in her house. It’s funny that I’m so open with them about my blog and the fact that I have sex, but when it comes to the admission that I would do it in their house I turn bright red and it’s the last conversation that I want to have. I can think of 20 things I’d rather do before I tell my parents that I want privacy so I can diddle myself (or my husband).

Why do I have this weird aversion to having sex in my parents’ home? Maybe it has to do with the fact that I didn’t grow up in this house, so I don’t have a room that was “my room,” where my privacy was respected. Maybe it’s because, as an adult, I feel more like a guest than a resident. Maybe it just has to do with the fact that most people think sex is shameful, and while my parents and I can joke about sex (or a lack thereof) all day long, that just feels very different from saying, “Hey, I’m probably going to bone someone in your house.”

I’m sure that for some of you there’s a thrill to it, like the taboo or the possibility of getting caught makes it hot. I say more power to you. I’m just not sure when I’m going to be able to muster the will to have sex in a house where my parents are just 30 feet away. How do you do it?