Jun 222016
 

Last week, the 15th, was technically my blog anniversary but I felt that bitching about Lelo and Charlie Sheen took some priority.

I started out this calendar year doing things different. I tried to vow to write something every week. Every month I’m giving away gift cards to my RSS subscribers. I’ve mostly posted every week, although sometimes I’ve missed. When I started 2016 out I really thought that my 8th year would be a bigger deal to me, that I would know for sure where I stand.  I wrote on my 5-year blog anniversary that it was my 800th post; I checked in to see where I was at for year 8 and was confused at first to see I was only at 837 posts.

But then I looked at the private posts section and found 140-some posts that I’d taken away – the trying-too-hard “sexy” photos, the erotica that was written mostly for someone else. At the time I hid those posts I was starting to divulge the blog to a few people in real life and I didn’t want them to see the photos or read those words. I also thought I couldn’t be taken as seriously if I had those posts up. Seriously by who? I don’t know anymore. But it doesn’t matter. The girl who wrote those words and posted those pictures doesn’t live here anymore. I’m a full-time dildo-burner and toy-critic, heavy in my “sex toy activism” and, yes, SJW posts. I’ll go ahead and claim that label. I don’t see why it’s a bad thing.

I found it interesting to look back at blog anniversary posts over the last few years. At year 3 I was deeply depressed after having moved to a new state the month prior. I didn’t expect the move to be bad, in fact, I’d looked forward to it. But the change and isolation was tough. Year 4 I just apparently ignored the blog anniversary, with nary a mention.  At 5 years I was dealing with some personal stuff and thought I was going to have to quit blogging. I was planning a slow fade-out but after 9 months the situation changed and my time freed up. My attitude changed. And my blog continued to change. Year 6? Big fucking change. I was lighter, I was happier, I was back. I was sure of myself, my blog and grateful. Year 7 I mused on the fact that all of my friends now are friends I have through blogging. You guys GET ME. I LOVE YOU, MAN.

It’s now officially 8 years. At least I’m not breaking tradition by forgoing a blog anniversary giveaway! I just don’t have time for the prep and the stress and the things one must do over the course of a big blow-out giveaway. I’ve opted for the kinder, gentler thing this year which is reward those who read me. Fear not, there’s a giveaway or 10 every month now in blogger land. They’ve become so commonplace! I could start an “In MY day” story but oh, you already know I’m an ole fogey so I don’t need to confirm that, now do I? If I make it to 10 years then I will do something major, I promise. But right now I’m getting used to working full time for the first time in 5 years (and in a job where I cannot be on social media and my blog all time, go figure) and it’s killing my scheduling and my writing! But hey, I’ve done some writing things this year that I’m a little proud of:

For now though, I am literally counting down the days until the Sexual Freedom Summit of 2016. It will be the Best Thing Of The Year.  AND I haven’t yet gone a whole month without a post, so that’s good. Year 8 is still lookin good. I don’t have plans for anything big and groundbreaking the remainder of the year so I will take suggestions!

 

We’ve come a long way, baby….

 Posted by at 9:02 pm
Jun 152016
 

A telling conversation on Twitter about Lelo's feelings on our anger about partnering with Sheen for the Lelo Hex. When asked why they are working with someone who has assaulted women, Lelo responds by saying they are not endorsing his past, that this is about promoting condom usage and preventing STIs. How many new sex toys has Lelo put out in the last 3 years that have made reviewers wonder “Did they even test this on a human first?”. But hey, prototyping, that would be the smart way to go. It also costs money, so Lelo is going to avoid that. Instead, they’re going to continue to make products that are often more miss than hit; they’re going to hype them up and add gimmicks like scent or music-responsive capabilities. They’re going to angle for that celeb market that Jimmyjane tried to corner years ago with their Little Platinum and Little Gold vibrators – they’ve started offering 24K gold plated versions of their half-assed sex toys. They’ve made offensive ad campaigns but nothing has angered the sex-positive, feminist community (and, arguably, well beyond) like their Lelo Hex condom.

FYI: The links to other articles are worth full reads. I couldn’t make umpteen quotes from them all so trust me on this one: You want to read these.

Why? Because they chose to use a celebrity who has been charged with domestic abuse on partners time and time again. Sarah chronicles this well, starting off with this gem:

If you only know Charlie Sheen as a man of negligible talent whose body composition is probably 13% cocaine, you might not be familiar with the night he spent in jail after assaulting his then-wife, Brooke Mueller. This was in 2009. He was charged with felony menacing, third-degree assault, and “mischief”. He was released on $8,000 bond. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault as part of a plea bargain and never set foot in jail for this crime again.

The comments have been furious and plenty on social media. I gathered up just a very small fraction of the best tweets about the Lelo Hex debacle; it should give you a pretty good idea of the flaws people are finding with their decision to partner with Charlie Sheen AND their condom design which makes it pretty imperceptible that there’s a hole/break. Just what we all want, right?

Lelo’s response has been to basically not give any fucks about the haters and just continue on sticking their heads in the sand. As written in the New York Times

Steve Thomson, LELO’s chief marketing officer, said in an email that Mr. Sheen was “the perfect choice for LELO, a tragic reflection of the current situation in sexual health of today, but more importantly, a symbol of change with the strength and the courage to confront key issues head on.”

And that is really the heart of the problem, and my primary reason for putting them on my Blacklist. They give NO fucks about their retailers, the sex educators, the bloggers, and their customers. Don’t believe me? This comment on my post that details all of my grievances with Lelo over the years is from someone in the industry who needs to remain anonymous:

I think the thing that upsets me the most is that Lelo – or at least the individual(s) at Lelo that are in charge of creating the most recent rounds of campaigns – simply don’t care.

I don’t say that as a ‘they obviously don’t care as they’d be back tracking if they did’. I say that as someone who is acquainted with at least one individual who orchestrates these decisions, as far back as the Pino shitstorm. I watched their personal Twitter account and their interactions with their peers who were asking them WTF they were thinking. They were proud of it. They *are* proud of their Hex work, and have made that abundantly clear.

They. Don’t. Care.

Publicity is publicity to them – negative doesn’t matter. They referred to sex bloggers and educators who were rightfully questioning their decisions as ‘whiney SJWs’. Our opinions mean zero to them – and in fact, the more we tweet, the more they can say they’re the hottest topics of conversation.

They feel they are too big to fall, too trenched in the industry to lose out. The more attention, the better even if it’s folks throwing out their Lelo toys in mass droves and swearing off never working with them again.

They. Don’t. Care.

I am not supporting the Lelo Hex. As Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo aptly put it: “Safe sex is important, and everyone should wear a condom. It just doesn’t have to be this one.” I am not supporting Lelo. I’ve spent 2 years actively trying to recommend other brands to people instead of Lelo, but some items are just (unfortunately) better than the competition. Not many, but a few. However, every single review I have published for them will link to this post. Every extraordinarily reluctant and infrequent recommendation will come with this post as a warning. I am done reviewing their products; if you are a reader and want to know MY opinion on their new items….sorry. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.

2r6ft54

One more choice quote that I have to pull; from Menegus’ article at Gizmodo, linked above: [the Lelo demonstrator/employee?] also insisted on showing me that, once fully unrolled, the HEX has the word “respect” printed in some sort of latex bas relief at its base. “Respect, what?” I asked, genuinely unsure of the message’s implications. “Respect the man who wears it,” was his impromptu answer. 

Further reading: 

Molly’s Daily Kiss – Is it just a big Con dom?

Ninja Sexology- Hex no, Lelo

The CSPH – Video: Why The CSPH Store No longer stocks Lelo

A small sampling of the many people on Twitter who proclaimed outrage and/or boycotting promises when the announcement came out.

The comments to my Tumblr post show even more people boycotting Lelo – this goes beyond educators and bloggers

The Smitten Kitten: Writing about why they won’t be stocking Lelo products

Educator Jill McDevitt with her thoughts about Lelo, and her boycott

Cara Sutra: When a Condom Fails

UK shop Sh! writes about their feelings on the launch party and the choice of Charlie Sheen as the rep

Horny Geek Girl, another blogger boycotting Lelo

The Daily Beast: Charlie Sheen’s Lelo Condom gets the shaft from sex bloggers

Because this whole thing needs a theme song:

 Posted by at 6:46 pm
Jun 122016
 

Good Clean Love Almost Naked Personal LubricantI’ve never been one to really review lubes, but ever since The Great Lubecation of 2015 sprouted my Big Lube Guide and a sparked activism for non-irritating body-safe lubes, I’ve begun collecting some of the better brands to find some water-based lubes to love. My previous favorites have been coconut oil and hybrid lubes, specifically Sliquid Silk, for their longevity and ability to still play nice with all of my toys. But water-based lubes deserve love, too, and Good Clean Love Almost Naked gets my love.

What I Don’t Like

I’ll say this early and get it out of the way: there’s only one thing I dislike about Good Clean Love Almost Naked lube – that they don’t make an anal-friendly version with a higher pH. Thing 27 I learned last year is that water-based lubes need to consider pH and what’s good for the vagina isn’t always good for the ass. A lube that has a pH that is too low will potentially feel irritating and may sting/burn. A normal pH range for the vagina is anywhere from 3.5-7, which the butt ranks in at 6. Higher vaginal pH can be associated with lower estrogen levels (and infection, but not always). I’d recommend starting off with the 1.5oz tube first to see how your body reacts.

When I look at the GCL site I see a lot of reviews saying how it “burns half the time” – this is possibly because your vaginal pH changes with your cycle, and they are using it during a time in their cycle when their pH is up around a 6 or 7, perhaps. Again, this is why I wish GCL would make a higher-pH version because then those that love it half the time could love it all the time by having one for their variances throughout the month. If you want to find out if the pH factor is an issue, consider testing your own pH at various times of the month to get a better idea of lube compatibility.  Of course, this isn’t the only reason it could cause a burning for some people, but I’ll discuss that in the Ingredients section. I’m going to continue to hunt for a higher-pH thick lube for those who need it!

Why I’m a Fan of Good Clean Love Almost Naked

First, I like it because it’s thick. If you’re looking for a thick gel personal lubricant, this is it. I really hate runny lubes where I can feel something running between my ass cheeks – it’s distracting and odd to me. Good Clean Love Almost Naked stays where it should – my vulva, and my dildo. I can squirt some on and not worry at all that it’s going to drip off before I can even get the dildo inside of me.  When I took the photo below, the lube had been squirted on the dildo a half hour prior, and then carried outside and posed for a few photos. It didn’t really run until the wind knocked the dildo over – then it was more like “displaced” versus dripping.

Image shows a dollop of thick clear gel clinging to a light purple dildo

Second, I like the scent and taste. It’s warm. I realize that’s an odd way to describe a scent and taste, but that’s my brain, folks. It’s vanilla, but barely. Although they do make a Cinnamon Vanilla version, the Good Clean Love Almost Naked has a little something there. The taste is subtle and not lingering, but the scent lingers on my hand if I don’t wash it off (like when I tested it on the back of my hand). Some people have noted that the scent lingers even after a washing. I have chemicals sensitivities but the odor of this lube isn’t strong enough to bother me in the least. I only smell it if I bring my hand up to my nose. 

When it begins to dry (absorb into your skin) it doesn’t get sticky. At all. A little saliva reactivated it really well though, even when I’d let it completely dry. I’m really loving this lube!

The Details

Good Clean Love Almost Naked is one of the few lubes out there where we know the osmolality number – GCL is 269, and vaginal mucus is 280. It’s about as iso-osmotic as we’re likely to find in a lube. In case you need a refresher on osmolality, here’s my bizarre way of explaining it, taken from the Big Lube Guide page:

We’ve got three situations – the best is if the lube is iso-osmotic – meaning your cells and the lube sit there next to each other, happy, making each other better. They’re content. If the osmolality is low, i.e. hypo-osmotic, then the lube is like my Italian best friend’s mom – eat, eat! It’s feeding the cells too much water, and at some point they will burst. When does this matter the most? If you’re trying to conceive. Hypo-osmotic lubes would kill the lil swimmers. The most common situation is when the osmolality is high, i.e. hyper-osmotic. It’s the vampire situation – the lube comes in all charming at first and things seem okay. The lube feels really slippery, which is great! But it’s slippery because it’s drinking the moisture from your cells. When they have no more to give, they are dead and dry. The outer layer of cells will slough off and leave your mucus lining very vulnerable, like standing in a snowstorm without winter gear. STI transmission can increase and at-risk people are at greater risk for infections – this is the same group of people who need to use more lube than the average person. Diabetics, those with a compromised immune system, those undergoing treatment for cancer, etc. If your partner has Herpes, you’re doing everything you can to avoid transmission – consider the lube, as well. Stick to iso-osmotic lubes.

There’s more to love! (But wait! There’s More!).  Info provided by GCL, as displayed on SheVibe:

Good Clean Love organic personal lubricants enhance your love making naturally. They can help to reduce vaginal dryness and improve vaginal wetness. Our natural and organic personal lubricants are 100% vegan, paraben, glycerin and petrochemical free.

  • Reduces vaginal dryness, increases vaginal wetness- naturally!
  • No parabens, no glycerin, no silicone, no petrochemicals.
  • 100% Natural and Organic ingredients
  • Safe for latex, toys, and use throughout pregnancy
  • Protects and moisturizes sensitive tissues
  • Works with the body to simulate natural lubrication
  • 100% Edible and Cruelty-free
  • Recommended by healthcare professionals and sex therapists nationwide

Ingredients

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Xanthan Gum, Agar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors

Aloe is very soothing, but some people are allergic to it, so that will suck. Some people are sensitive to Citric Acid which is often found in lubes that need a natural preservative. Both of these ingredients can cause a burning sensation, so if you have known sensitivities and allergies, give it a test first – just a little dollop and try it just before a bath or shower in case it does burn and you need to rinse it away quickly. Good Clean Love says that this lube is edible, of course, but I would want to lick up a big glob of it – it’s too thick. But I don’t foresee a situation where my mouth is going to be on genitals so soon after applying that much lube.

Off Label Use

One day I washed my cloth pads in a new detergent, not thinking a whole lot of it, until the next time I wore one I got the itchies. Life was pretty uncomfortable for a day until I was reminded that Good Clean Love Almost Naked has a high aloe content, and aloe is pretty awesome for irritations. It really calmed things down so that I could tolerate the irritation.

 

Just like there’s no one single perfect sex toy, no “best” that works for everyone, there’s no one best personal lube either. I really love Good Clean Love but I understand it’s not going to be everyone’s favorite. While I am baffled by the few on-site reviews I’ve seen calling it “runny” or “sticky”, I can only assume theirs went bad? Maybe they reviewed a different product than the one they owned? All I know is that is GCL is super thick and really lovely for me. If it sounds like something that would work for you, you can find it at Shevibe (who carries the most GCL products), Smitten Kitten, or Amazon – but use caution with Amazon. Make sure the “freshness seal” is in place (both the one over the cap and the foil bit you have to peel off after removing the cap).

 

 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Jun 062016
 

Review Round-up: 4 Affordable Sex Toys to Maybe AvoidIn my never-ending quest to locate affordable sex toys made from body-safe materials that aren’t terrible I often end up finding a lot of crap. The following four affordable sex toys aren’t worthy of a full review but each one has some issues. I really only hate one of these items. The others are just okay, with some flaws in marketing (do these companies understand the vacuum capabilities of the butt??) and odd designs.

Closet Collection Ellie G Ribbed Bendable

This is my first time trying something from the Closet Collection brand and I think it’ll be my last. I don’t know how much SheVibe would have sold this for, but it’s not yet (or ever?) on their site. Other websites seem to be selling it for no less than $60 which is fucking atrocious. I mean really, seriously what-in-the-actual-fuck ridiculous. This is Picobong-level bullshit pricing. Before I looked up the average retail price on the Closet Collection Ellie G I had it pegged at about $35, maaaaybe $40. It’s battery-powered, it has a cheap metallic-coated plastic handle and when you bend it, it just feels cheap inside. It has one button for its 10 functions (only 3 speeds) and is noisy as hell. The vibrations aren’t the buzziest I’ve felt, but they’re not all that powerful or anything I’d ever call rumbly. The gimmick is that it bends in the middle up to a 90-degree angle. Sadly it doesn’t STAY bent like that. As you get it inserted and start to thrust, it begins to straighten out. I also had to screw the cap on just-so so that it would work. Too tight and it wouldn’t even turn on. The ribs feel like they’re scraping my vaginal wall; like maybe I should take it with me to my next pap smear – it’s that scrapey.

EllieGBendable

I’d heard some rumors that the material was a bit suspect – it felt weird, and smelled bad. When I first opened it, it did smell quite “fragrant” but that dissipated in a few days. The silicone is silky and dust-resistant, but there’s no oily residue. After I was sure that I never want to use this piece of crap again, I dissected it and flame-tested it. So it’s silicone; at least it has that going for it.

Sinclair Institute Select Onyx P-Spot Wand

First I have to tell you this: I don’t really feel comfortable telling you that this is anal safe. I mean yeah, the Njoy Pure Wand is anal safe and I think was first designed for prostate massage, but what is the deciding factor on baseless butt toys? Will something with a certain degree of a curve not get sucked up inside the rectum? Does it have to be of a certain length? Do the balls on each end of the Pure Wand acts as stoppers? I just don’t know.

I reviewed this as a G-spot dildo. They already have a G-spot dildo, but the sizes and styles are so similar that I figured it didn’t matter which I chose. The G-Spot version is 6″ in length, supposedly, and 1.25″ width whereas the Onyx P-spot dildo is 5.75″ in length and 1″ wide. I’ve seen reviews of the G-Spot dildo calling it “tiny”; 1.25″ isn’t super tiny in my book, but 6″ is on the shorter end for some people. However with glass there is always a quarter inch leniency in size, it seems because even if they don’t anneal it properly, it’s still “made by hand”.  I feel like the Onxy P-Spot is just too short for prostate play for most people, unless your prostate is located more closely to the anus and you’re pretty flexible. As a G-spot toy it was nice enough – I like that curve and it reminds me of the Pure Wand. But I’d rather it be longer. Bex has the Crystal G-Spot wand and when I visited them last year I did a polariscope test – surprisingly, there were no rainbows. There’s some stress, to be sure, but it’s not awful. And given the under-$35 price range for these, if you are looking for something small and slender then this could be a decent glass option for those with a G-spot. But for prostates? Avoid.

SinclairInstituteCrystalG  SinclairInstituteOnyx

I’m also undecided of the safety of the “etching”. You can definitely feel the etching; whether it’s etching or a decal, I can’t say for sure. I tried to scrape it off, but it wasn’t coming off. I don’t think it’s something that would bother anyone unless they’re sensitive. It’s better than Pipedream but I still have some reservations here.

Cloud 9 Silicone Pro Plug Small

So I wanted a Cloud 9 item just to see if it’s really silicone. They have a dildo that is under $25, for pete’s sake! And a lot of anal toys with that controversial “ring-pull” base. And a “double-sided” plug which is either bizarre or brilliant depending on how you look at it. But anal safe? Eeehhhhhh I don’t know about that!

Oh my god, do not use their anal toys unless you definitely have a finger completely through the ring-pull, up to your third knuckle. The ring-pull is made of silicone. Stretchy silicone. What’s even more bizarre is that because they insisted on having this fucking “cloud” design going, the stretchy silicone ring is fairly thin in one part. Thin enough that when I stretch it, I become concerned and it’s shown signs of wear. But silicone is more hardy than rubber so fingers crossed it’ll be fine. If your fingers aren’t too large, then it won’t be uncomfortable to wear; it could be potentially used with success if it’s on your thumb or finger while manually stimulating someone’s clit. The plug could then go in their butt or vag. It could be something interesting to use on yourself in this manner, possibly? I only have the small plug just because I wanted to flame test, so it did nothing for me but hey, maybe a bigger plug could?

Cloud9Plug1  Cloud9Plug2

Sadly Cloud 9 has a set of silicone beads that could be nice, if they didn’t have that elastic ring pull. Then there’s the vibrating plug which, thanks to the bullet, leaves no room for it to go on your finger like a ring which means….don’t you dare put this in your ass. If it’s not on your finger….goodbye butt toy. The silicone is very silky and dust-resistant, though. So there’s that. And yes, it passed the flame test but wow….so little thought went into anal safety here.

Packer Gear Kisser Silicone 6″ Suction Cup G-Spot Dildo

I think I dislike this one the least. But my god can we cut down on the long-ass names? This new line from CalExotics caught my eye because it’s affordable silicone1. Why is it called “Packer Gear”? Well they do carry a cloth gender-neutral packing harness2 but these black silicone dildos are not what I’d call “packer friendly”.  The base is a firm suction cup. The bottom portion is fairly firm and unyielding. The thinner mid portion has bend and give, naturally, because it’s thinner. But these aren’t dildos to pack with. I don’t see it working out well, at all. The Kisser is actually a nice-feeling dildo, and I like that head (although it’s not very thick) for g-spot play. But packer, it ain’t. I’ve also felt stronger suction cups.

What they ARE though, are affordable silicone suction-cup dildos. My gripe? In the center of the suction cup is circle of silicone. The suction cup on top looks to be all one piece in regards to the dildo portion – there’s nothing that leads me to think that the suction cup and dildo were two separately made pieces. When I bent the suction cup around I heard this crunching sound, like dried glue being dislodged. Then I could see, when the suction cup was flattened a bit, a gap around that circle. Great place to trap fluids. I tried to pry that circle off, and couldn’t.  Then I got more curious so I cut it open. I wasn’t really surprised to see that in order to make such an affordable silicone dildo, they had to stuff it. Except for the plug being able to trap fluids, there’s no way this is going to fall apart on you. You would never get fluids inside to the stuffing, because of how they made the plug portion – the wider part goes into a groove inside the suction cup which is why I couldn’t pry it out until I cut it open.

PackerGear1 PackerGear2 PackerGear3

Some people may have a problem with this. The silicone3 surrounding the stuffing is thick and seamless. Unless you hacked this thing open you would never come into contact with the stuffing and I truly don’t believe the stuffing could ever come in contact with fluids. I don’t have a problem with how this is made, for the most part; just don’t futz around and be rough with the base in a way that’ll dislodge that glue around the edges like I did.  Yes, some folks take issue with the wording in cases like this: “pure silicone”. “But it’s not ‘pure’ silicone, it has stuffing!” Look at it this way: When you see a silicone vibrator marketed as pure silicone, do you say “But it’s not ‘pure’ silicone, there’s electronics and hard plastic inside!” No? When they’re saying it like this, it’s just a marketing thing, and it’s harmless. It’s probably a holdover from the days when they used to claim that a “silicone blend” was a thing.  In this case the stuffing isn’t something that could potentially ruin the dildo and unless you hack it open you’d never know. If this is necessary to produce truly affordable silicone dildos then I don’t have a problem with it, so long as the design is done well.

 

Thanks to SheVibe for sending me these items to try, dissect, burn and bend, in exchange for my unbiased reviews.

  1. Only the black dildos are silicone. They make packies, but they’re TPR
  2. Under $30!
  3. Yep, passed a flame test