I think we all know that dildos (and other sex toys) are generally pretty kick-ass. They can provide amazing, squirty orgasms and aid in fantasies, they come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, and they’re super fun to photograph. But dildos can also do a lot of other things, like potentially make you money (reviews!) or poison your orifices, both of which I learned more about at CatalystCon West.
Will Write for Dildos: How and Why Companies and Reviewers Should Work Together (#cconreview)
I suspected that Will Write for Dildos would not only be informative but also entertaining, and I was right. In the panel, Epiphora and Lorax dished out some expert advice, complete with their signature sarcasm and wit, and they even did an impromtu rock, paper, scissors over who would answer my question!
During the panel, Epiphora explained that reviews should be entertaining, well-written, informative, honest, and not sound like an ad or a boring list of specs. Some other pro-tips Piph and Lorax shared: never agree to someone who asks to “proofread” or pre-screen your review, don’t review for companies without an affiliate program, and be clear, concise, and professional in emails with partners. They also discussed what they’re looking for from manufacturers and retailers, such as trust, availability, communication, patience, and mutual support.
From the manufacturer perspective, Jenna shared what Tantus looks for from reviewers, like diversity, honest feedback, and commitment to sexual health values. Though respected bloggers often champion the importance of honesty in reviews, it was refreshing to hear that manufacturers like Tantus value sincere opinions as well, so that they know which products are working and which could use improvement, etc. Krista from Lovehoney also spoke about the importance of professionalism during communication and honesty in reviews, but also fairness, for example thinking about who a product might or might not work for, not just whether it’s your new favorite.
Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates with Metis Black (#ccontoxic)
Another panel I found particularly important for my blog was Toxic Toys: Beyond Phthalates (#ccontoxic) with Metis Black from Tantus. I’ve known for quite a while now that phthalates (plasticizers added to PVC to soften it) are dangerous, and that since there is absolutely no regulation of sex toy materials, often toys are misleading labeled as silicone when they actually contain other materials. I was worried before, but after this panel I am all out horrified. Apparently there are lots of other dangerous chemicals, chemicals that could strip off paint or that should be labeled as radioactive, in sex toys as well, and not just jelly toys, but also others that we normally consider safe, such as hard plastic or glass. Some glass toys that are made in China contain mercury and lead and can have tiny fissures that we can’t see.
Some other important things I learned in the #ccontoxic panel were that the novelty label on toys doesn’t mean anything if it’s implied for sexual use in a store, that raw silicone costs 3x as much as TPR (hence the steeper prices), Triclosan (the ingredient in most anti-bacterial soaps) is questionable as well, and that there is no proof that using condoms over jelly/other toxic toys will protect you (many have found it only delays reactions.)
Getting depressed just reading this? Luckily there is hope in Cali. Prop 65, which calls for clear and reasonable warning for reproductive toxicity and could mean a big WARNING label on toxic toys, as well as in organizations such as Dildology and informed manufacturers, retailers, bloggers, and consumers. We need to continue to learn more, spread the word, and only buy quality toys from manufacturers that actually oversee production.
Stay tuned for CatalystCon Part 2, which will be up soon!