Category Archives: Sex Topics

Tips for using sex toys & avoiding (vaginal) infections

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I don’t have any medical training. I am someone with a vagina who uses lots of sex toys and used to have a problem with yeast infections, speaking from my own experience as well as things I’ve learned over the years from reading about sex toys and vaginal health and talking to others about it. The tips I’ve laid out are for prevention, not treatment, so go to the doctor if you need to!

There are what seems like about a million factors than can contribute to getting a vaginal infection. The vagina has a delicate pH balance, and anything that upsets that can cause an overgrowth of yeast or bad bacteria. You’re more likely to get yeast infections around menstruation, if you use hormonal birth control, if you wear tight clothing/non-cotton underwear, among other things. Add sex toys to the mix, and you can potentially open yourself to the possibility of infection. Don’t worry though–you can use sex toys safely if you take some precautions. Most of these tips are focused around the vagina, but #1 & 2 apply to butts/mouths as well.

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Safe sex toy materials/natural lubes

1. Avoid using porous sex toys (especially in orifices.)

There are a lot of unsafe sex toys on the market that are incredibly porous, meaning they have tiny holes in their material that can harbor harmful bacteria and potentially spread infections and STIs. These sex toys will never be truly clean, even after what seems like a thorough washing. In addition to potentially harboring bacteria or mold, porous toys often leach out phthalates and other harmful chemicals over time, which can cause itching, burning, and other bad reactions that you don’t want to subject your genitals to.

Although it’s best to avoid these materials completely, it’s especially important for internal use toys. While they still can’t be sterilized and could present issues, using porous toys for external use, such as penis masturbators, cock rings, or clitoral vibes might not be as big a deal for some people. Still, proceed with caution. You can use condoms or other barriers to prevent spreading bacteria, but it’s unclear whether barriers will really protect you from phthalates and harmful chemicals. Porous toys should not be shared with partners who aren’t fluid bonded, as they can spread infections. Avoid jelly sex toys like the plague, and also stay away from PVC, rubber, TPR, TPE, elastomer, or basically anything that isn’t listed in the following paragraph whenever possible, especially for internal use.

Are you starting to fear for your safety now? Don’t worry, there are lots of safe, non-porous sex toy options: glass, stainless steel, 100% silicone, sealed wood, ceramic, and hard plastic. When these toy are cleaned thoroughly, they are truly clean. Just be sure to wash them properly (see #2.) If you want to learn more about toxic/unsafe toys, there’s tons of info on this page.

2. Wash Your Toys Properly

If you’re using a non-porous toy, then once you give it a good cleaning, it’s truly clean and safe to use again and potentially even share. There are a few different options for toy cleaning. You can wipe down/wash your toy with soap and warm water or use a 10% bleach/90%water solution. If you’re washing a toy with a lot of texture or a vibrator with buttons etc., use an old toothbrush to get in all of the crevices of the toy. If your toy doesn’t have an attached motor and is made of silicone, you can also boil it it or run it through your dishwasher cycle (no detergent.) You can potentially boil/dish-wash glass or metal too, but take care as both retain temperature and can also scratch or chip if not handled carefully.

Wash your toys before you use them, and make sure you rinse them thoroughly. You should also wash your toys after you use them when possible, and it’s a good idea to do it as soon as you can, so that lube and body fluids don’t get crusted to your toys.Sliquid Sunset

3. Use the Right Lube

Even if you’re using safe, non-porous toy materials, you can still potentially get yeast infections if you’re using the wrong lube. A lot of drugstore, “mainstream” lubricants contain glycerin, which is irritating to a lot of people.  Look for lubes that say glycerin free, and check the ingredients. There are also other ingredients in a lot of lubes than can be irritating, so if you’re sensitive, I recommend using a natural, hypoallergenic lube with few ingredients–my favorite brand is Sliquid.

4. Keep Butt Germs Away from Your Vagina

Anal play is awesome, but anuses have bacteria that can be harmful to the vulva/vagina and can cause vaginal or urinary tract infections. If you’re using a toy and want to switch from butt to vulva or vaginal stimulation, put a condom over it. Or, have a condom on the toy when you’re using it anally, and then take it off when you switch to vaginal. This goes for fingers/hands/tongues/pensises as well (use gloves, condoms, or dental damns, etc.)

5. Practice Good Vaginal Health

While using the wrong sex toys/lube can cause yeast infections, they may be caused by many other factors as well. There are a lot of other things you can do for good general vaginal health.Wearing cotton panties and loose clothing is a good idea, especially if you tend to have problems with yeast infections. I’ve also personally found probiotics to be helpful. Other things you can do for vaginal health: stay hydrated, eat healthy foods, make sure your/other people’s hands are clean before they go near your vagina, pee after sex, practice safer sex, and go in for check-ups and STI tests. Also, don’t douche or use feminine sprays or deodorants. Douching is not only unnecessary, it’s very harsh and can throw off the vagina’s natural bacterial balance and pH level. An external rinse is really all you need, and you can use a hypoallergenic, low pH soap externally if you want. In addition to avoiding lubricants and other products with glycerin, anything with sugar should not be introduced to the vagina–as Molly mentioned in her comment, lollipops shaped like cocks can be fun for photos etc. but should never be inserted, and this goes for other candy/syrups etc.

As I said before, I’m not a doctor or health professional. All of these tips are for prevention, not treatment, and this isn’t all encompassing. Did you know you that semen can actually through off your vaginal pH balance as well? So can certain medications and underlying health problems. If you already have an infection or reoccurring infections, go see to a doctor.

*Products pictured: Mona 2, Atomic Rose Plug/Crystal Twist, Buck, Tango, Juice, Pure Wand, Comet Wand, Sliquid Oceanics & Sassy

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Diana J Torres- Vagaculation Workshop

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I didn’t really know what to expect from queer, anarcha-feminist activist and performance artist Diana J Torres’ Vagaculation1 workshop at Forbidden Fruit Thursday night. Or rather, I kind of just expected it to be a class on techniques on how to ejaculate, but it was so much more than that–it was full of real talk about the social and political reasons why women (or people who have a vagina) don’t ejaculate.

Diana began by telling us her story–she’s always been an ejaculator, leaving a “lake on the bed.”  For years she thought she was peeing every time she had great sex, but something clicked for her after a time when she noticed a white ring around the puddle she’d left.

She had a feeling that she wasn’t peeing during sex but didn’t know what was happening, so Diana turned to science to try to figure out what was going on with her body, where she found bullshit and sexist ignorance at every turn. At the University of Barcelona, she found scientific diagrams of female anatomy with white space where the female prostate should be. Medical descriptions undermined women’s pleasure, calling the vulva a “secondary characteristic” and the clitoris an “incidental organ” (are you fucking kidding?)

I’d rather have my head cut off than my clit, she said in response to that.

Basically, women’s anatomy that isn’t related to reproduction or hetero sex is undermined or ignored within medicine and ignorance reigns. So much so, that in Spain and Mexico, if you go to a gyno and explain that you think you’re peeing during sex (ejaculating), that they’ll send you to a urologist, and then they’ll remove your prostate to “fix the problem.” Girls as young as 18 have come to Diana’s workshops and have told her about this happening to them. I know that cunt ejaculation is still very taboo, but I had no idea this was happening–it’s beyond infuriating!

pennysblog_vagaculationworkshop3You may have noticed by now that I haven’t referred to the “g-spot” so far in this post, and there’s a reason for that. Another thing Diana talked about was what she considers the conspiracy or war against the (female) prostate. She explained that she thinks that Gräfenberg (the man who “discovered” the g-spot) couldn’t just come out and say that women have prostates because of his era, but that everything he discovered pointed to what he found (the g-spot) as being a prostate very similar to men’s prostates.

From that point on, according to Torres, the idea of the g-spot and especially its relation to orgasm was a money making ploy to get people to buy books and products about how to find the g-spot, while at the same time keeping women from actually knowing their bodies. Many of the books about finding the g-spot were aimed at men, as if women can’t find it themselves. In her opinion, the word g-spot is overly femme and misleading because in reality it’s a prostate, and there’s no reason not to call it that.2 She explained that women can get prostate cancer, but that by the time it’s caught it’s often spread and is classified as vaginal cancer, and that the prostate isn’t a gendered thing–there aren’t a lot of differences between male and female prostates.

pennysblog_vagaculationworkshop2Her ideas were reinforced by research of other cultures that mention female ejaculation as completely normal. Aristotle, Hypocrates, and Galenus all mentioned cunt ejaculation and the term sperm wasn’t gendered because they didn’t know yet that sperm are only present in male ejaculation. Female ejaculation is also part of a ritual in matriarchal socities called “kachapati” in Uganda, wherein older women teach young women to ejaculate as part of a rite of passage.

So if ejaculation was seen in history as a normal part of women’s sexuality (and is considered normal in some other cultures), what happened? Our western cultures and oppressive religion happened (namely, Catholicism.)

After talking about the ways in which female ejaculation has been systematically ignored, or worse, vilified as something that only whores do, Torres went on to explain how we can GET REVENGE (aka take back our sexuality) by:

-Knowing out bodies better than science does. Mistrust science always.

-Make up for lost time by practicing.

-Spread the word! You don’t have to tell everyone you meet on the street about cunt ejaculation (though that sounds kind of amazing to me.) Tell everyone you care about.

She also shared tips on how to start ejaculating (or become ok with it if there is shame associated with it):

It’s NOT pee. Repeat this like a mantra. She suggests cumming onto a black sheet so that you can see a white ring around it after it dries as she did, or ejaculating into a container to see that it’s not yellow.

Even though I ejaculate, and I know it’s not pee, I still stick my nose in my come almost every time, just to smell it and remind myself. I’ve also blotted the wetness with toilet paper to check its color. She also suggests checking your pee color right after sex, because if you don’t expel ejaculate, retrograde ejaculation happens and it ends up in the bladder, often changing the color of your pee to white.

-Get over the women are “clean” and their pleasure is “discreet” lies. LIES. LIES. LIES.

-Techniques: Relax right before orgasm instead of contracting, which is usually our reflex. If you do start to ejaculate, push to keep it going. You can’t contract and push at the same time, so if you push, you’ll stop your contracting. She also suggests using fingers (and putting your shoulder into it when your hand gets tired) though personally dildos work better for me. Either way, you can’t usually ejaculate when you have anything big inside of you, so it’ll have to come out at some point.

-Be patient.

-Protect your mattress. Get a plastic mattress cover (or if you want to be fancy, a Throe–I don’t know what I would do without mine!) This is actually a health issue, as fungus can grow on a wet mattress and cause health problems.

-Tell partners ahead of time that you might ejaculate. This can serve as a filter for good lovers and will help avoid people who may have unintentionally (or intentionally) negative responses when surprised by vagaculation.

Although her workshop was very different from the one Deborah Sundahl hosted here in Austin a few years ago, the core theme I took away from both of them was the same–that the reasons women don’t ejaculate are mainly psychological.

What does this mean for us though? It’s definitely not as simple as, “Oh, ok, I’ve been told that women are meant to be clean and proper, and that’s BS so I’ll just start ejaculating now!” As Diana said–you’re not going to erase centuries of oppression in one workshop (or one attempt.) It takes time and effort. And it may never happen, and that’s fine. Not being able to ejaculate doesn’t make you any less of a “real women” or a “real feminist.” You aren’t missing mind blowing orgasms if you don’t ejaculate (in fact, ejaculation isn’t even necessarily connected to orgasms at all.)

pennysblog_vagaculationworkshop1Another thing I found incredibly interesting during the class was that Diana told us about how once she tried to stop her ejaculation by putting her finger over her urethra, and she still ejaculated. So she looked into it more and discovered there are actually other holes besides the urethra that expel ejaculate–the Skene’s ducts.

This led to an interesting discussion that I started on Twitter. She said you can see the ducts if you pull the labia taught and shine a light directly in front of it. I have yet to see them on my vulva (I need a magnifying mirror stat!) but I am definitely going to explore this.

I could go on and on about the workshop. It was extremely thought provoking, and Diana was in your face and intense and at times hilarious. At first I wondered if I should share the things I learned in this workshop on my blog…since we did pay ($10 which was well worth it) to go to her workshop.

But that is the opposite of what her workshop was about. It was about fighting ignorance and spreading knowledge and breaking through the patriarchal bullshit and owning our sexuality. It was about explaining that the g-spot/prostate isn’t something you need to spend money to find or something mysterious you have to go mining in your vagina for.

And on the flip side–this is by no means an all inclusive explanation of her workshop. I took copious notes, but there was an energy in the class that I can’t explain by just describing her points. I may write more about some of the things she talked about in greater depth because there was so much to think about, and if anyone has questions or thoughts, I’d love to chat.

If you’re in Austin, Diana’s doing two more events this weekend, one tonight (Porno Terrorismo) and one on Sunday (Muestra marrana.) And if you ever get a chance to go to one of her workshops, GO. Just trust me. Also, she’s coming out with a book soon, so I can’t wait to read that.

*Thanks for hosting this awesome workshop Forbidden Fruit!


  1. I love the name vagaculation, btw. Vagaculation. Vagaculation. 

  2. I’m not condemning the term g-spot, but it’s definitely something worth thinking about. 

Vampire Themed Sex Toys

pennysblog_buffyholywaterlubeDo you have a thing for creatures of the night? There’s just something about their strength, blood lust, and pointy teeth isn’t there? Or maybe you’re a vampire who wants to incorporate slayer-play into your sexual routine? Do you crave the warm touch of a human but you’re too embarrassed to admit it or afraid of rejection? Maybe you’re just lonely? Well you’re in luck!

Recently I saw someone on Twitter looking for a sex toy “stake” for some x-rated Buffy play, and if you know me, then you know I am a huge BTVS/Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood fan, and the topic of Buff/vampire fantasy play and toys has definitely crossed my mind before (pun intended.) I make sure to have my Hitachi out before I watch Smashed, and my favorite threesome fantasy features Angel and Spike (or Eric & Bill!), but I’d also do pretty much any combo of any of the characters on Buffy or Angel (Buffy+Spike, Willow+Tara, Xander+Anya, Cordy+Angel, Willow+Fred, Wesley+Gunn, Willow+Vamp Willow…I think you see where I’m going with this.)

So after some diligent patrolling of the Inter-webs for vampire themed sex toys, I’ve compiled this list for all of the vampire/slayer/Buffy/Sookie/Twilight/Anne Rice peeps out there. This also serves as an ongoing wishlist of mine…someday there will be some epic sex toy photos atop Buffy the board game. Without further ado, here it is:

The Ultimate List of Vampire Themed Sex Toys:

Vamp Penis

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Oh Tantus, as if I didn’t love you enough already, you actually created a dildo that caters to vampire obsessed fans like me. I’m pretty sure the Vamp was created with Twilighters in mind, but Spike is who I’ll picture when this glorious toy is in my vagina. If the Vamp’s shape isn’t exactly what you’re looking for but you still want a vamp cock, any of the realistic Tantus dildos (Adam, Mark, etc.) or Vixen dildos (BuckMustang, Maverick, etc.) can pass for vamp (or human.) Also, for all of the Dracula followers out there, Fleshlight makes a Drac dildo that will put you under his thrall.

Vamp Orifices

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If a life-like vamp mouth or vagina is what you seek, Fleshlight has you covered with their Succu DryDrac, & Count Cockula masturbators. With these realistic toys, you can have safe vampire sex without the threat of death or unwanted siring. And vamps who crave a warm touch, there are tons of human orifices of all kinds for your enjoyment!

Stake Dildos

intrigue If you’re going to fight vampires, you need a stake, and if you’re going to pull off some really hot X-rated Buffy scenes, you need a stake dildo. If you’re a vampire, these are perfect for acting out dangerous fantasies without the real threat of turning to dust. My top pick is the Intrigue because it looks a lot like Mr. Pointy, but the Delve could definitely pass for your typical straight stake also.

Crucifix Dildos

JesusSteelMed Equal parts funny, offensive, and creepy, the Jackhammer Jesus is definitely a toy Buffy would keep in her weapons chest if the show were XXX. While cross dildos are perfect for slayer fantasies, vamps beware–crosses are only ideal for true masochists and should be used with caution.

Holy Water Lube

HolyWaterFrontMed Another must have in any x-rated weapons chest: Holy water lube. Yep, it’s real peeps! And since it’s not actually blessed, vamps can use it for sexy, pain-free fantasies too! (I’d recommend doing a patch test though, just in case.)

Temperature Play

glasscock Vamps and humans alike can enjoy fantasies of each others’ company by incorporating temperature play into their sex play. Glass & metal are the best materials, but silicone can work as well. Just dip the toy in a bowl full of warm or cold water, and you’re good to go. Warming and cooling lubes can also help you get that cold-as-ice vamp or warm human touch you desire.

Vamp Kink

vampiregloves If you want to play out rough vampire sex fantasies, replicate the thrill of being bitten, held captive, or almost staked etc., you’ll need some kinky toys. Vampire gloves are a natural choice, as are handcuffs and other restraints and impact toys. Remember, if you’re pretending to capture someone as dangerous as say, Angelus, you’ll need something heavy duty!

Vamp Porn

buffy-xxx-dvd Though I haven’t watched any yet (Spuffy scenes are enough to send me off), there is quite a bit of vampire porn out there, such as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer XXX Porn Parody, Buffy the Vampire Layer, This Ain’t Dracula XXX, other Dracula titles, Twilight porn, Tru– An XXX Parody and other general vampire porn. Nothing could ever be hotter than James Marsters though. Nothing.

*Vampire friends & fans, if you have any other ideas, if I missed something, or you just want to share your fave fantasies, please comment!*

 

CatalystCon Part 2: Erotic Sensation, Feminist Porn, the “Ass Panel,” and More

Introduction to The Anatomy of Erotic Sensation (#cconerotic)

Robert Lawrence & Carol Queen 

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One of the themes that kept coming up during each panel I attended at Catalyst was that I need to keep learning more. During Introduction to The Anatomy of Erotic Sensation, Robert Lawrence and Carol Queen talked about the many forms of touch, and I realized that I don’t actually know a lot about the biology behind sensations. Did you know that when you talk about a body part (sexual or not), that it actually gets warmer? Or that vibration & cold are similar sensations, and that if you hold either for too long, they cause numbness? How about the terms proprioception or interoception? In general, the study of sexual sensation is new and not very expansive. We still don’t know much. But as Carol Queen said, we can each become an expert of our own experience through exploration, and as Robert Lawrence suggested, we can learn and do our homework (take a biology or chemistry class, or read about Receptor Theory, Field Theory, Summation, etc.)

The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe (#cconfemporn)

Tristan Toarmino, Constance Penley, April Flores, Sinnamon Love, Danny Wylde, and Jane Ward

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The Politics of Producing Pleasure: Feminist Porn in Industry and Academe was incredibly thought provoking and interesting. I especially appreciated it when Jane Ward admitted that she watches sexist porn, but does so in feminist ways (for example, she enjoys bukkake porn, but pictures herself as one of the men ejaculation on the kneeling woman), and that viewing stigmatized porn allows her to move into her darkest and most frightening places. I identified with this because I enjoy reading about/watching dark sex scenes (for example gang-bang/rape fantasies), and although it can be hard to admit that I like it, I think it’s important to be honest about what turns us on, even if it’s “transgressive” and to examine why we enjoy it.

The “Ass Panel”: The Ins and Out of Anal Pleasure (#cconass)

Ruby Ryder, CT Schenk, Tom Stewart, Charlie Glickman

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The ass panel was the fullest (pun-intended) panel at Catalyst. The discussion covered both the physical and emotional benefits of exploring prostate/anal play as well as the stigmas associated with it and how we can work to break through them. I loved Charlie Glickman’s answer to the initial question: what should we tell men about why they should explore erotic anal stimulation?—because it feels good. Some people can experience hours and hours of prostate pleasure, so why not give it a try? Ruby Ryder also talked about the emotional benefits of reversing the typical gender roles through pegging, and the greater understanding, compassion, and intimacy it creates. One of my favorite moments in the panel was when CT Schenk from Aneros admitted that after customers kept asking him if he’d tried their products (he hadn’t) he realized that he too had misconceptions about prostate pleasure, and that he’s moved past them.

Tristan Taormino’s Sex Eduactor Bootcamps I&II (#cconbootcamp)

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Before the trip, a few people asked me what I was going to learn in Tristan Taormino’s Bootcamp classes, and my honest answer was, “I don’t really know, but I do know that whatever Tristan has to say is probably worth it!” And I can now say it definitely was. Her courses covered everything from education and skills to marketing, branding, and networking, and although 6 hours’ worth of practical business advice would normally leave me half-asleep, Tristan made it engaging, inspiring, and at times, hilarious!  If you’re considering her classes in the future, I highly recommend them.

Building a Career Talking About Sex  (#cconcareer)

Lauren Marie Fleming (aka Queerie Bradshaw)

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During Building a Career Talking About Sex, Lauren Marie Fleming gave out advice on how to actually make money while taking into account all of the particular challenges that people in the sex-industry face. I learned a lot in her panel, such as how to create a pricing scale, how to boost my credibility (read, pod-casts, watch more porn!), how to market myself depending on the situation, and more. Though most of it was business oriented, the most inspiring part of the session for me was when Lauren talked about how she is currently making sacrifices to focus on her writing truth right now: personal grief and how it has affected her.

The 5 Biggest Myths About Sex and Aging (#cconage)

Joan Price

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The panel that moved me the most during Catalyst was The 5 Biggest Myths About Sex and Aging (#cconage) with Joan Price. I won’t go into it in depth here since I am writing a separate piece about how it affected me, but to summarize it was incredibly informative, touching, and inspiring!

Don’t forget to check out CatalystCon Part 1 (Dildos, dildos, dildos) if you haven’t already!

Dildology and Safe Sex Toys

During the three years I worked at a sex toy store, I did my best to help customers pick out body safe products, but it wasn’t easy. Some customers stared at the rows and rows of toys and asked me, “Why are there so many choices? How many styles of vibrators could you possibly need?” I told them that it’s not just the design that’s important in a sex toy, it’s the material(s). I explained the difference between porous and non-porous toys, stressing the importance of choosing something like silicone or glass for safe, hygienic use. Often they would nod at me attentively (although some could care less), and then inquire, “Well which ones are good then?”

This question was harder for me to answer. I usually emphasized Lelos, since they were some of the few toys we sold that I felt confident were actually pure silicone. But not everyone can afford a Lelo, and so I showed them the alternatives, which I was less sure about. I pointed out the ones that I had handled before that felt like silicone and didn’t have a rubbery smell. But we had so many toys, and whether or not they actually seemed to be pure silicone didn’t only vary by manufacturer or brand, they varied within manufacturers and brands as well.

One day I helped a woman who wanted a rabbit, and after I explained the importance of silicone, she said of course she wanted a silicone rabbit then because who wants a toy you can’t properly clean and sterilize? The nicer Lelo and Jopen options seemed a bit expensive to her at first, so I pulled the only other “silicone” rabbit off of the wall, some Cal Exotics one with beads, and when I opened the box, it smelled like chemicals. I didn’t work on commission and would never lie about a product, so I told her that I doubted it was actually silicone.

“But the box says it is, right?” She looked horrified when I told her that sex toys aren’t regulated, so there’s no way of knowing for sure, and that silicone shouldn’t have a funky smell.

To make things worse, the smelly Cal Exotics “silicone” rabbit wasn’t cheap either. Eventually she decided on the Lelo Ina, after admitting she’d been considering splurging on it anyways.

Unfortunately, this story didn’t always have such a happy ending. Although I was always honest and open about sex toy materials, I sold lots of questionable toys, and to my own disgust jelly toys that were even labeled as such. While I honestly don’t understand why someone would buy one even after I warned them that it could leak phthalates and chemicals into their body, ultimately it was their choice. They knew what they were buying, they were warned, and they still bought it.

While obviously the fact that companies even sell dangerous products is a huge problem, the problem gets even stickier when toys that are made of unsafe or porous materials are labeled as safe or pure silicone. Do you know what your sex toys are made of?  You may think you own a silicone toy, but you can’t really be sure, since there is absolutely no regulation on the listing of materials on sex toy packaging. Some companies like Tantus and Lelo have strong reputations for being trustworthy when it comes to materials and business practices, but the industry is still unregulated.

This dilemma is dangerous for many reasons.

The first and perhaps the most severe is in the case of people who are allergic to latex, rubber, or some of the chemicals that could possibly be in a sex toy. It’s like this: say you’re allergic to dairy, and you buy a muffin mix labeled as dairy free, when it actually isn’t. You could become horribly sick. The same goes for sex toys. If you’re highly allergic to latex and you buy a toy labeled as a silicone that actually contains latex, you could have a serious allergic reaction.

But I don’t have a latex allergy, you may think, so why should I care? Because anyone who uses  jelly or other unsafe sex toy materials can experience headaches, pain, burning, swelling, and even possibly chemical poisoning from phthalates as well as other irritating chemicals. Even if you aren’t very sensitive and show no signs of irritation, studies still show that exposure to phthalates can damage organs and possibly even cause cancer.

It is also vital to know if your toy is truly non-porous silicone if you want to safely share a toy with multiple partners. If you purchase a toy labeled as silicone that actually isn’t, you may think you can sterilize it, but you really can’t, and you could in fact spread bodily fluids or infections to partners.

Lastly, mislabeling toys isn’t only unethical because it could be hazardous to your health, it’s false advertisement. Would you want to pay gold prices for something that’s really copper? There is a huge difference in quality between silicone and rubber or silicone rubber mixes. Not only is silicone safer and more hygienic, it is also more durable and can last a very long time if taken care of properly. Rubber toys, on the other hand, can easily bend, break, change colors, and even melt into something resembling a blob from outer space.

Sex bloggers and educators have long known about safe materials and the misleading labels on sex toys, and many have tried using flame tests on toys to determine their actual composition. But it has recently come to light that flame tests aren’t always accurate. So the only way to know for sure what a toy is made of it to send it off to a lab to be scientifically tested. But this is expensive, and if we want an accurate database of verified safe sex toys and brands, we have to rally together.

This is where Dildology comes in. Started by Crista Anne, XVO, and Dangerous Lilly, Dildology is a new non-profit organization that will purchase sex toys at random from retailers, send them to a lab to be tested, and share and promote the results on their page and Wiki.

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You may wonder why Dildology has decided to take things into their own hands, instead of pushing for government regulation. Here’s why, in Dangerous Lilly’s words:

“We can cry out for the industry to be regulated by our government, but really what will that get us? A higher priced dildo. A “luxury sex toy” that costs double what they do now, and their current costs are already prohibitive to many. Sex toys that take twice as long in development resulting in fewer, quality new sex toys being introduced to the market every year. When you bring the FDA to the party, you get mountains of paperwork, costly fees and annual 3-4 week-long audits to retain your FDA classifications. The better solution just might be to let the industry self-regulate, but with a little help from a neutral party.”

So, now that you’re all riled up, as I hope you are, here’s what you can do to help start a revolutionary change in the sex toy industry:

~Please donate to Dildology. (If you’re wondering if I’ve donated, yes, my broke ass has somehow shelled out $50, and I can’t wait to proudly wear my Dildology t-shirt when they reach their goal.) In addition to the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing you helped changed the word one sex toy verification at a time, there are also various incentives for donating such as coupon codes and Dildology merchandise.

~Read the other blog carnival posts for more information about the necessity and potential of the organization.

~Spread the word about them on Twitter and Facebook, and vote for them on Offbeatr.

Dildology stands on their own, unaffiliated and unbiased. Dilgology won’t accept advertising money or toys straight from manufacturers to prevent conflicts of interests and to ensure accurate results. The majority of donations will go towards product testing, with the rest going to fundraising merchandise and incentives, and equipment for experiments and the development of educational resources.

I hope that someday soon, the sex toy industry will undergo a huge positive change,  and people will be able to confidently purchase safe sex toys, thanks to Dildology and quality demanding consumers. Let’s do this people! 🙂

 

To shave or not to shave?

BushPhoto of me by Steve DeMent Photography

Lately, I am all about bushes. I like the way mine looks, I like how they look on others, and I like the idea of them in general. Sexually, I love the way it captures my scent, and I enjoy having it played with and tugged on. I also like that it’s lower maintenance, and I often twirl it around absentmindedly, as if it were a beard. It makes me feel sexual, feminine, wild, natural, and free.

I must admit though, that my love of bushes is only a recent development. Up until last year, I was completely bare ever since I was 16, with the exception of a few days of stubble or letting it grow long enough to wax it all off. I never even thought to try a bush until Jake suggested that I grow one out to see how it looks. Although it felt a little weird at first, I liked the way it looked, if anything because it was so different, but also for the reasons I mentioned above. And now that a bush or at least some sort of style of hair has been my norm for about a year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my previous (mostly negative) attitudes toward pubic hair and why I always felt the need to shave before.

Some of the main theories explaining the popularity of going bare and brazilian waxing in the US are porn and Playboy, bathing suits and bikinis, wanting a “clean” look, an obsession with  trying to look young, or pressure from men who supposedly have little girl fetishes.

While I can see how porn can cause pressure to look a certain way, in my case it wasn’t a factor in my decision to start shaving, since at that time I didn’t watch porn or read adult magazines.  My early shaving days began with not wanting anything to show in a bathing suit, and I started with just my bikini line. For awhile this was enough, until I had my first steamy, semi-sexual make-out session with my boyfriend. We didn’t actually “go very far,” but when his hands roamed down over my panties, I remember thinking that I didn’t want him to see my hair, and I shaved it all off shortly after.

As far as the pressure to look young, that didn’t affect my early attitudes either, as I always wanted to look older, not younger, and I associated waxing with being mature. However, I did associate hairlessness with femininity starting at a very early age. I started shaving my armpits as soon as I started getting hair there in 4th grade because my girlfriend Jessica did, and she was one of those girls who was so outgoing, sure of herself, and “cool,” Shortly after, I began shaving my legs in 5th grade, after watching my babysitter’s teenage daughter sitting by the TV with a bowl of water, a razor, and some shaving cream. Looking back, starting to shave at age 9 or 10 seems very young (and most of my friends didn’t shave yet at the time), but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the norm now, as young girls seem to look more and more “mature” at a young age nowadays.

Once I began removing my pubic hair in High School, the idea that shaving or waxing, not bushes, was the way to look sexy was reinforced by my friends, as well as my cool college student nanny, who told me about how she paid a lot and went to many sessions to go get laser hair removal. She was one of my biggest role models at the time, and I never really thought to question why hair was something women needed to remove so badly; it all just seemed normal and the thing to do. I also remember seeing my Mom’s huge, untamed bush, and thinking that it was weird, and that she must not care about looking “sexy.” We didn’t really discuss sexuality openly since I was raised Catholic, so I never thought to ask her about pubic hair, what was normal or not, or anything like that.

In my case, going bare was a result of a mix of things but mainly the idea that shaving was feminine and sexy and the influence from friends or women I looked up to. I can only imagine the pressure for young girls in today’s society to shave, since now they have the added ease of access to porn, as well as the examples of pop culture, like Sex and the City and celebrities who promote Brazilian waxing. Although I think whether or not you shave should be up to you, I don’t think this pressure to look a certain way or to feel the need to shave to be sexy is healthy or natural. Another big issue is pressure solely from partners, which isn’t positive or healthy either if it’s not what you want.

So, what is the solution then? I know for me and many others it’s talking and thinking critically about society’s beauty standards, such as pressure to shave, as well as celebrating pubic hair by growing bushes and showing them off proudly in erotic photos. There has also been a resurgence of bushes and pubic styles in some porn as well as in fetish scenes, and many people think bushes are cool and “retro” looking now. I think this new variety and deviation from the standard is awesome, and I wonder if having a bush may even soon be the norm again. Trends come and go though, and I hope that women will take away the idea of self acceptance and choosing whatever is comfortable for them from this movement, rather than the idea of growing a bush just to be cool, to be different, or because someone on TV or their favorite porn start did it.

For others though, the answer to battling societal pressure to shave is to judge and vilify shaving and women who do it. I’ve heard a lot of comments that feminists don’t wax (or shouldn’t), that women only shave to satisfy their partner’s unhealthy obsession with looking pre-pubescent, and that shaving it all is gross and unnatural. I often hear bush comments at Bedpost Confessions, such as “I don’t shave because I don’t feel the need to look like a 12 year old girl.” This whole attitude really bothers me.

I understand that many women feel pressure to remove hair and that it may be “feminist” to have a bush instead, but pushing women to look any certain way isn’t helping, it’s just doing the same thing that patriarchal society is: telling people what they should or shouldn’t do to their bodies. It’s also presumptuous to judge people by their grooming habits and assume they’re doing it for certain reasons like to satisfy partners or to look like porn stars. Everyone has different sexual preferences, and if you think going bare is gross because it looks child-like, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t assume that everyone who shaves does it for that reason, and there’s no need for judging, condescending comments towards others’ personal choices.

For example, what about men who shave? Are they doing it because of societal, patriarchal pressure? Maybe some are, but many people do it because they like the clean, smooth feel and aesthetic. It is important to point out that shaving isn’t actually “cleaner” and can cause ingrown hair, infections, and may even make you more vulnerable to STIs, but still, my point is that many people do it for themselves, not to satisfy a partner or look like a porn star, and you should do whatever feels comfortable for you. Of course I do think it’s imperative to think critically about your own attitudes though and how they may be influenced by society, but ultimately it’s your personal decision and preference.

As free as I feel to have a huge, wild bush now, I will probably shave it all off again at some point. I like the way my vulva looks and feels in all sorts of ways now, with a bush, with a strip, bare, whatever; it’s just another hairstyle. And if I do shave it all off again, it’s definitely not going to be because my boyfriend is pressuring me to do so or to look young, it will be because I want to.

The most crucial thing to me in the topic of pubic hair (as well as other sexual and personal choices) is acceptance of diversity. I think it’s awesome to celebrate bushes and natural styles, but more importantly I think everyone should celebrate whatever option they chose and the personal power to do so. Open discussion of sexuality and societal pressure is critical, especially among teens and young adults, but I think we should stress that any choice is fine, not that you shouldn’t shave because it’s just subscribing to the norm, or that you should because it’s “sexier” or better.

Personally, I think all styles can be sexy, and I like this comment that Jake said when I asked him about his preference: “I don’t care if there’s hair or not, I’m just excited to see a vulva!”

TMI Tuesday: Fantasy Anyone?

Spoiler Alert: If you watch American Horror Story or Dexter and haven’t seen episodes from the latest seasons, you may want to skip this post or at least question #3.

1. Do you think that acting out a fantasy can sometimes cause damage to a relationship?

I’m sure it could, if someone involved isn’t comfortable with the fantasy or how it’s played out, but I think that can be avoided with open and honest communication before, during, and after acting out the fantasy. For me, fantasies are a fun and important way to keep things sexy and exciting.

2. Some couples role play their fantasies rather than introducing another person into the relationship to live out their fantasies. Do you think that this is an acceptable substitute?

Sure, why not? It all depends on how the people involved feel about it. I can see why some people would rather stick to role play and why others would rather have the real thing, and personally I’m open to both.

3. Is there a particular movie or TV series or character from a movie or TV series that you fantasize about?

Lately I’ve been fantasizing a lot about dark characters, specifically Kit/Tate from American Horror Story and Dexter Morgan. The Kit and Grace sex scene in Asylum drove me absolutely crazy.  I love the idea of lusting after someone dark, and the danger involved in not knowing if they are a brutal killer or not. I also love scenes in movies/TV shows when the lovers accept each other no matter what their partner has done, and when Grace says, “I don’t care what you are,” right before they fuck…so hot! In Dexter’s case, when Hannah has sex with him right after he was going to kill her? Again, fucking hot! Tate’s character and appeal is more complicated, but I think it boils down to the fact that I think the idea of someone who is so evil yet still capable of love is a turn on as well. Oh yea, and Evan Peters completely covered in latex? That may have something to do with it…

4. Apart from the obvious things like child abuse, are there some things that are ‘off limits’ for a fantasy e.g. incest fantasies, age play, rape fantasies. Why/ why not?

No, not really. I think it’s fine to fantasize about whatever you want, especially because you can’t really control your thoughts/fantasies. You can control actions though, and I certainly have limits as far as what I’ll actually do.

5. What is the most taboo thing you have ever fantasized about doing?

Rape fantasies are probably some of the most taboo ones that I have. Also, fucking serial killers/dangerous men/dead people(as in ghosts, not corpses)/aliens/ beasts/the “devil,” to name a few…

6. Tell us about a fantasy that you have that you don’t ever see yourself actually acting out. Why do you think you will never act it out?

I can’t think of a fantasy I have that I wouldn’t even think of acting out at the moment.

7. Have you ever pretended the person you were having sex with was someone else without telling them?

Not that I can recall.

8. Have you ever tried to make a fantasy a reality only to have it fail miserably? What happened?

I’ve had some situations when I’ve tried to act out a fantasy, and it didn’t happen exactly how I wanted, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying anything has failed miserably.

Bonus: Tell us about your most cherished fantasy. Did you ever live it out? Please give us all the juicy details because that is the kind of people we are.

Honestly I have a lot of different fantasies, and I’m not sure which is my most cherished. I definitely have more fantasies that I haven’t lived out yet than ones that I have, but that’s mostly because I’m constantly coming up with new ones…

Vintage Spanking Postcards

In addition to discovering some interesting surreal, dark, and playful paintings at the Museum of Erotica in Barcelona, I also enjoyed viewing their collection of vintage erotic postcards. The description of the postcards said they’re from 1900 to the end of World War I, but unfortunately it didn’t give any details as to where each postcard came from specifically. There was a range of genres of erotic postcards, from glamour photos of single women showing only their breasts, to explicit ones portraying group sex and “sex toys,” to spanking scenes like these, which were some of my favorites:

The first postcard makes me imagine a sort of confessional/discipline scene, and the second seems to be a group public humiliation/spanking…what do you think?

 

Deborah Sundahl’s Class and Thoughts on Female Ejaculation

Ever since I gushed all over my bed for the first time, I’ve hoped I would get a chance to meet the head cheerleader of my squirting escapades. And no I’m not talking about myself, or even my wonderful boyfriend, or the Seymore Butts porn stars with expert squirting skills that we watched together. I’m talking about Deborah Sundahl, the woman who quietly encouraged my g-spot exploration from behind the pages of her amazing book, Female Ejaculation and the G-Spot.

Lucky for me, Deborah came to Austin last week to teach some classes, and as soon as I found out I bought 2 tickets*. When the day rolled around neither Jake or I knew what to expect, and I admit I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn’t a huge fountain in the front of the class, or women pen in hand ready to take notes on the subject (besides me of course) or  really anything other than what you would expect— a room with folding chairs, 20 or so students (both singles and couples), a Powerpoint presentation, and of course Deborah, a lovely woman in a flowered dress smiling behind glasses as she discussed the often (unnecessarily) taboo topic of female ejaculation.

The presentation itself was basically a condensed version of her book, starting with an overview of the history of ejaculation and then moving into the anatomy of the g-spot. As she explained facts about the female prostate, like that it has a vine like shape and emits ejaculate, the class was mainly silent and not many participated in discussion. But after showing a short video of an up-close shot of a woman’s g-spot and ejaculate trickling out, the discussion began to flow as well, and more people chimed in with their questions and experiences. One woman could ejaculate already but hadn’t experienced a g-spot orgasm, and another may have squirted but thought it could have been pee.  A man sitting next to me wanted to know if ejaculate is different from other vaginal lubrication, and another wondered if having ejaculation as a goal could lead to performance anxiety for women.

As people began to talk more, some of their questions reflected the various reasons why women don’t ejaculate or have g-spot orgasms. For many, it’s a lack of knowledge. Before she started the video, the TV screen was frozen on a close up of the woman’s vagina, and when she asked if anyone could see her g-spot, only 4 people had raised their hands, two of which were Jake and I. After the video action, everyone saw it; it was there the whole time, yet most people couldn’t identify it at first. Deborah also explained that due to its location there’s no way you cannot stimulate the g-spot during penetration, so the issue of women who can’t find or feel their g-spot is usually a problem of awareness (it certainly was for me at first.) For many women, ejaculation often suffers a similar fate, either going unnoticed as extra wetness or negatively noticed as pee or some unknown substance. Once we know about the g-spot, where it’s located, and how it looks and feels when stimulated, we’re one huge step closer to ejaculation and g-spot pleasure.

As far as my own ejaculation journey, the most crucial point I learned from Deborah’s teachings is that “letting go” is the biggest obstacle to female ejaculation. When I say “letting go” I mean fully allowing ourselves to be in the moment, and letting go of fear during sex, the fear of peeing, the fear of laughing, farting, screaming, whatever.  Although I didn’t decide to “let go” and immediately go squirt the night I finished her book (it took some time and exploration), reading her book definitely gave me an encouraging push in the right direction. It happens naturally for some women, but I feel that something was blocking me from ejaculating, and the book, as well as my efforts, my boyfriend, and some sex toys helped to remove.

Although I had already read about most of the topics that Deborah talked about in her class, I still enjoyed the classroom atmosphere, observing how others approached the topic, and meeting and talking to Deborah. Even though I can ejaculate now, I know I’m not done with my exploration of female ejaculation, both with my own experiences with it as well as learning about and hopefully encouraging other women’s. It seems so strange, especially after discovering my own innate ability to ejaculate, that female ejaculation is something that so many people still don’t know about. I only found out about it a few years ago while I was organizing porn when I worked at a sex shop and came across a film titled “Young Squirters 8” or something along those lines.

From talking to many people about sex both at the sex shop as well as in my personal life, I’ve discovered that female ejaculation isn’t something most people talk about openly. And if they do talk about it, I often get the impression that they think it’s something weird, even gross, or at the least something that’s more of a novelty for porn than for all women to experience. I hope to change that. Even if it’s just by telling other people about my own experiences (I’ve told more than I can count already) and by sharing my stories on this blog. I’ve discovered that ejaculating is a beautiful, satisfying, empowering part of my body and my sexuality, and I hope other women who haven’t already will discover that as well. Or at the very least I hope they learn what it is and know that it’s completely natural and acceptable.  So whatever your situation with female ejaculation, I encourage you to think about it, talk about it, and write about it. And hopefully soon female ejaculation won’t be seen as a novelty or as something weird but instead recognized as what it truly is— a natural, amazing, and powerful part of our sexuality.

*I bought tickets to her co-ed lecture class; she also had an all day women only hands on Feminine Flow workshop, which unfortunately I couldn’t attend as I had another event that day.

My Abstinence Only “Sex Education”

Fortunately, I’ve blocked a lot of the mess of hormonal and confusing memories from my clumsy junior high years. But I do remember some things from that chaotic period, like baggy t-shirts, clunky Doc Martins, unreturned crushes, my shy personality, hating school and especially gym class, and wondering about the most fascinating topic ever: sex. In 7th grade, I had a best friend who was already exploring, and I listened curiously to her captivating stories about the hand job in the local movie theatre and a naughty encounter on her family cruise. Although the most I had done at that age was kiss, I often thought and fantasized about sex, and when we had to attend a “sex education” class at school I was instantly interested.

Unfortunately, since I grew up in Texas, this “sex education” class wasn’t actually sex education, but instead an abstinence only course promoting “purity” and waiting for marriage. The speakers were a married, Christian couple, and the man told us about how he had pledged to stay a virgin until he was married. He had even written a letter to his future wife (whom he hadn’t met at the time) listing the reasons why he was waiting for her. When he eventually did get married, he read this letter to his wife and then later to our assembly of impressionable preteens. While some students were touched or moved by this (I guess?), I was irritated. The whole idea was obviously and unapologetically Christian, and even though I was Christian (more specifically- raised Catholic and hadn’t quite rebelled yet), I remember thinking, what if not everyone believes this? What if I do want to have sex before I’m married? The presentation was strictly heterosexual, conservative, and Christian, completely ignoring LGBTQ youth or anyone with opposing religious or moral views.  It was so one sided that it seems ridiculous and offensive now that I think back on it.

Besides preaching their “worth the wait” arguments, the speakers also told us that birth control is bad for your health and that STDs are a dangerous and unavoidable threat to anyone who isn’t abstinent. They also told us how “humiliating” it would be for a girl to have meaningless sex with a guy and later see him at school. They focused on the possibly damaging emotional aspects of teen sex, mainly discussing negative female emotions. They used scare tactics, and they didn’t give us any practical, factual information about safe sex or sexuality.  The speakers also explicitly said that anything involving “deep kissing or more” was considered sexual activity and should be saved for marriage. At the end of the presentation, they had students sign abstinence pledges. Although I was undecided at the time, I didn’t sign, because even at that age I knew this wasn’t the kind of program I wanted to support.

After the presentation, I remember wondering what my friend sitting next to me was thinking, since she already had sexual encounters, and the whole talk was about how sexual exploration before marriage was dangerous and impure. I remember wanting to say something comforting to her but not knowing what to say. I felt confused, annoyed, and intimidated by the guilt tactics they used on us. While the program didn’t scare me enough to keep me (or anyone I knew) from eventually having sex before marriage, it definitely left me with some feelings of alienation and discomfort surrounding sex for awhile, something that was unnecessary and emotionally harmful.

Looking back, it seems so obvious how unhealthy and one sided our “sex education” class in junior high actually was. While abstinence is a legitimate option for some teens, the fact is that many teenagers and preteens do have sex before marriage, and they need to know how to do so safely. Not only did our abstinence only education deprive us of any useful knowledge about how to have safe sex, prevent pregnancy and STDs, or deal with emotional issues and questions, but it also depicted sex as dirty and demeaning, proclaimed religious beliefs as “facts” and “education,” and condemned anything outside of the Christian, heterosexual norm as unsafe, impure, and unacceptable.

Although my junior high experience was more than a decade ago, Texas still pushes abstinence only sex education in schools and refuses federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs. Texas also has the 4th highest pregnancy rate in the US. Although I could argue the ineffectiveness of abstinence only education with more statistics, I won’t. My point here isn’t whether or not abstinence education works, it’s that abstinence only “sex education” is a narrow, overtly prejudice view of sexuality that was and is still presented as fact to many students, including myself. And what does this abstinence only “sex education” really teach us? Sexual shame and intolerance.