There are a lot of ways that bloggers can be unethical. Mind you, ethics don’t always equal human kindness/respect for others. You can be a snarky, grumpy shit-stirrer but still be ethical. You can be sweet as pie on the outside and be unethical.
Ethics in Sex Toy Reviewing
One aspect pertaining to sex bloggers, particularly those who review sex toys, has been taken care of for us by the Feds. I’m quite certain that we were not their target “audience” but it is good to know when someone has been given something in exchange for a review. Notice I just said “a review”. The fine print always claims “an honest review” but I have known bloggers who admitted to giving sugar-coated reviews just because they somehow felt obligated one way or another to not say something unkind about the product. I’ve also heard of the occasional supplier of sex toys to reviewers who specifically asks that, if you don’t like the toy, you don’t post a negative review of it.
Luckily I’ve never worked with that company, or any company that might ask that. My prompt and concise answer would be “Um, no. Would you like your item back?” I feel strongly that as a sex toy reviewer, it’s my duty to consumers (which I once was) to provide a very honest review. If I didn’t like it, I’m going to say so. Notice I don’t say that I feel it’s my duty to rip to shreds a company or a toy. I only do that if something is particularly awful on 9 levels and is my last straw with a manufacturer. I’m sure to get some argument here, saying that our “duty” is to help out the company that provided us with the toy. To which I say “If I was told to give an honest review, then I owe nothing but my honest opinion. The company is still getting it’s SEO links and that’s probably what they care more about.”
Ethics and Begging
Often times the sex blogger community can feel like family. We have our mushy moments, our bickering, the black sheeps, the golden child, the elders, the babies and basically all the nuances of a big family. So when one of our own is in trouble, sometimes we can feel compelled to help. Or, more accurately, occasionally the bloggers feel compelled to ask. And that’s something I can’t get behind. At one time I did. I’ve both flat-out donated a little to a blogger in need and donated to another’s fundraiser for themselves. Both times I’ve regretted it eventually, after learning things about the person (and the money) that made me feel like a fool for thinking the best of people.
Call me jaded but – your life problems are not my concern. I might genuinely feel for someone and wish them the best, hope that they find a way to get the money and get out of the trouble they’re in but I can’t help but think that it’s a little bit egotistical to ask for big sums of money from your peers and readers to aid in a situation that you ultimately created. Disagree? Tell me why. Go for it.
An unobtrusive Paypal donate button? Go for it. Reminding readers that buying their sex toys from your links gives you a commission? Fine. They’re buying something for themselves and not paying you money directly or paying more for an item just to give you money. If those methods fail then surely there is a more ethical (or less slimy) way to get the money you need. No?
Ethics and Spam
There’s two sides of this and two guilty sites that I want to call out as examples. It’s few and far between, but it’s still unethical and just plain wrong.
Long ago and far away, Bondage Radio had a really funny article on their site. In order to comment, you were forced to register. So I registered and since they were forum-based at the time, it was a forum registration. At first, my emails from them were unobtrusive. Scant. And then something changed. I was getting slammed with new post digests and updates if they sneezed. THEN they added a sex toy store front. And suddenly, the email spam was beyond slammed and into true spam territory. Worse? They came from a “no-reply” email account and there is NEVER an unsubscribe link. Not on one single email. I somehow got through to the sex toy store owners (not BR) and they fixed the spam for that. But it still hasn’t stopped BR from emailing me. I’ve tried their admin email. I’ve tried the site. I’ve gone into the settings for my account in the forum and unchecked everything but that’s all related to forum posts and messages, not their blog posts. I’ve emailed quite literally every. single. person. that I can find and have begged and threatened to be removed. I mark it as Spam in Gmail and yet it still gets through half the time because it’s sent directly to me! I can’t even begin to fully convey how pissed off and frustrated I am by BR.
Another, much more mild, occurrence came from a blogger who’s site is something called Edith’s Diary or whatnot. All of a sudden I started to get these emails to my blog address that are basically a newsletter from her about her newest post. Every time she posted. I figured at first that it was because of e[lust]. She’d submitted one time and was included but then played dumb and stopped responding to my emails when I tried explaining that she was obligated to re-post the digest. When I continued to get her emails, I wrote her back and told her to stop and that I never signed up to get these and it was unethical of her. No surprise, I never heard back but at least the emails stopped.
There’s lots of ways to get readers. So many ways. Ethical ways. These above blogs are not going about it in an ethical way.
Ethics and Information
Freedom of speech. There’s no law out there saying that you have to write true shit. The internet is full of bullshit artists, trumped up claims, and outright lies. How many times has Adam Sandler died now? But I’m not talking about the rest of the internet, I’m talking about blogging and sex blogging. For the first time ever I had to turn to my jury and confirm my gut feeling that a “site” (I feel dirty even calling it something official) that submitted articles to e[lust] just didn’t belong. I’ve turned places down before for being blatant commercial sites, but this wasn’t blatant. On the surface it appears like many other multi-other blogs, or blogs that fashion their theme to look like a magazine style. But underneath the skin, when you read the articles, you see the grime. These couple of sites were refused because of their content and that’s something I’ve never done before.
I don’t dare call myself a sex educator because I don’t have a degree or formal training. But I’d like to think I contribute to sex positive education occasionally, as do a number of other bloggers who participate in e[lust]. And this site, and their articles filled with tips, tricks and “education” felt….hinky. Poor grammar, disjointed paragraphs, a little Cosmo Flair and some info touted as “the right way” that I knew flat-out wasn’t.Is it unethical for them to write and post these articles? What do you think?
Was I unethical in not including them? I don’t judge based on content as a general rule. If you have a piece of erotica I find shitty or an Op-Ed piece I find revolting, or a boring PR-ish post that I find stupid I’m not going to leave it out of e[lust]. That’s not how it works. But I guess there always can be special circumstances and I’d like to strive for e[lust] being a little bit higher class than Sugasm sometimes was in later months.
Speak your mind! Have you encountered unethical blogging/bloggers? Do you disagree with my opinions above?