Traditionally, a lot of the things in this post have been included in my Best & Worst Sex Toys lists but I decided that for 2016, I had a lot to say just about sex toys, and sex toy companies. But also that I had a lot to say about the year in general. I wanted to not be afraid that I was “being too wordy”. You know, in many ways, this hasn’t been a good year. For the country, the world, and even for personal reasons. It certainly hasn’t been my personal worst year but…it’s definitely one for the charts. I hope for a better 2017 personally but have deep fears about the next 4 years overall. This post officially closes the book on 2016 and welcomes 2017. I’m looking to 2017 as some sort of arbitrary reset button that I hope will make things better, somehow. Ridiculous, perhaps, but I’ll take what I can get.
Now, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that being ranked as the #1 sex blog on Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superheros list for 2016 would make me happy, right? Not so much. It came with a lot of strange guilt, mixed feelings, and unease. I still feel uneasy about the whole thing if I’m honest. I’m going to start working on a new sort of un-ranked directory in January, to get exposure to folks without relying on competition.
I also hit the #2 spot on Molly’s Top 100 list, which didn’t make me feel as oogly as Kinkly’s list. Perhaps it’s because I know how she ranks, and it’s not a popularity contest and has strict, laid-out guidelines. Whereas the Kinkly ranking blurb talked only about my reviews, which I don’t think are the absolute best in the business, Molly looks at everything and her words made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
AND Kate named me as one of her 5 Sex-Savvy Superheroes.
I’ve peaked. It’s all downhill from here, folks.
Stuff I Wrote
A few really big projects finally saw the light of day this year – what I’ve dubbed the Great Glass Post which talks about cheap glass, how to test your own items, and what to avoid. Also, the Big Lube Guide which is constantly being updated. A long-time project, the Jar of Horrors, had its own little “where are they now” post showing photos over the years. The Jar turned 3 this year.
Some research posts I really enjoyed doing included the post about clear silicone vs clear TPR, and a post discussing if there’s any point to putting a condom on your sex toy. I ranted about sex toy copycats and counterfeits and raved about the powerful, rumbling g-spot vibrator options we finally have. After screaming about a really shitty Amazon-only sex toy brand, I wrote a guide on how to report that dodgy sex toy you bought from Amazon before you decided to stick with reputable shops.
I wrote a post about my mantra, “Never Shut Up” about how so many bloggers so often put on their activist hats and how damn important it is that we keep on talking – and condemning unsafe sex toys and lubes. “When we continually reassure our readers that their pleasure is important, their bodies matter and that yes they need to care about the materials of their sex toys and the ingredients of their lubes we are validating that these items are important.” I also wrote about my mental health and how it has affected my libido, and how that has affected my being a sex blogger.
This year I started reviewing sex toys that are truly new to the industry. They’re so different that I don’t even know what to call them. They’re not a vibrator, really. And definitely not a dildo. They don’t fit in with any existing category. I’m talking about the Womanizer and everything the original model spawned. Writing the review for the Womanizer W100, by the way, was hard. It’s perhaps the most difficult review I’ve ever written because I couldn’t really understand why it was working for me, and who it would work for. Perhaps the most surprising thing: it’s become my preferred clitoral stimulator. Well, the Womanizer PRO40, technically, but really any of the ones I’ve tried are the first thing I’ll reach for now above everything else in my arsenal – yes, even more than the We-Vibe Tango. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.
Stuff Other Folks Wrote
Many fellow bloggers wrote important, insightful, and powerful posts this year. JoEllen’s Surviving a Bully (When You’re 35) spoke to a lot of us. Kate’s “I’m a Good Girl” piece really hit home for me; I identify less with kink these days but I’m a “good girl” through and through. Lorax of Sex got their hands on the awful Lelo Hex condom and showed us what happens when you poke it with a needle – and more importantly educated folks on why this is so bad. Sarah wrote two posts I couldn’t choose between – her post on why she calls companies out is close to my heart just as much as her post “Fat People Aren’t Your Goddamn Punchline“.
Molly bravely agreed to review a truly heinous dildo – you know those reusable heating devices that contain liquid and you click a metal disc inside to solidify the liquid and make it warm? Yeah someone thought that making a dildo like that would be a good idea. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Lunabelle wrote up a guide to buying decent sex toys from Etsy, because too many questionable items are on that site like antler dildos and wax-covered clay dildos. Erika talked to us about arousal nonconcordance, a term I wasn’t familiar with but is super important to understand. And Rose is writing about sex from a chronic illness perspective, which needs to be talked about more in general. So many people deal with various types of chronic pain, disability, and more and yet we’re still sexual beings! Who knew!
Finally, Epiphora wrote about the importance of her name. As someone who has also chosen their own blogger name and will never use her legal name in this context, I love the post. For a while there, Lilly was more like my alter-ego but in recent years I’ve come to realize that “Lilly” is just as much who I am, if not moreso, than the parts of me you don’t see or read about. As Lilly I’m more outspoken and making a small difference in the world. And, like Piph, I seemed to have chosen a name that shouldn’t be hard to spell correctly but people fuck it up all the time and insist on calling me the flower.
Good Things, Good People, and Changes
I wrote a whole post about my time at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit, but I feel like I can’t say enough good about it. It’s just that good for me – so much so that even when a moment or two wasn’t perfect, the overall lasting effect and memories are golden. They’re protected and shining, and keeping me going some days. It was easily the highlight of my year and I’m already making plans for SFS17, including working on a session proposal with a few other bloggers.
In my 8 years here I’ve worked with/for a lot of companies and a lot of affiliate managers. I’ve had the privilege of being more picky about who I work with this past year, who I link to, who I recommend. It doesn’t take much for me to tell a company “no”, or stop working with them. You’ll be noticing a lack of Lovehoney links soon (and the ones here don’t work). While I realize that it’s hard to compare other companies to the bright light of Shevibe, Lovehoney just hasn’t excited me. Sure, customers love their kinda ridiculous returns policy, but I’m on the fence about a lot of things. When bloggers found out that we would suddenly have to change every affiliate link and then accept a much lower percentage for our efforts, it felt like the sign I’d been waiting for. I’ve been doing this too long to force myself into anything that doesn’t make me happy. I’m on the lookout for other decent UK companies that carry the brands I endorse.
And all of that is also to say: Every retailer that disappoints me makes me put Shevibe (and Smitten Kitten, Early to Bed, Come As You Are) up on their pedestal a little higher. Every industry idiot who turns their social media management over to a disgruntled teenage boy sporting the “no fat chicks” snapback and “no homo” t-shirt makes me run to Shevibe like a kid hiding behind their parent’s legs. We’ve had so many incidents this year alone with Companies Behaving Badly on social media; it’s exhausting.
And even though my well-intentioned blog post probably ended up making everything worse, I hold such deep regard for the bloggers I am lucky enough to consider friends. The Blog Squad bands together, fighting for truth and justice in this shady industry.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
I’ve tried to think of Blog Goals for 2017; things to do better, things to start anew and you know what? I can’t. Every time I ask folks what they want, they want more of posts like this and this. And while those are great, getting that information is sometimes damn hard. I’ve been trying for years now to get insider info on the metals used for our sex toys, but it’s tough. I would love to find a way to help you know if that affordable stainless steel sex toy is made of a truly body-safe alloy. I’ve mentioned it on Twitter but I’d like to get some sex toys with my name on them – can I take it a step further and see if I can get one from every major body-safe material? That might be taking it too far!
I’m happy, for the most part, with the way my site looks. My header image has never been better – which hey, tick off another goal! I’m so in love with the image SheVibe came up with and I have a feeling this is my forever banner. I feel like the site is easy to navigate. And now that I work 40 hours a week it’s proving harder and harder to get out a post a week. I’ll keep trying my best to put out content as often as I’m able. I looked back at the goals I’d set for 2016 and I think I accomplished most of them, blog-wise. I finished the Glass post and the Big Lube Guide. I didn’t get to the Library page. I didn’t really end up doing more videos; I grew to hate the way I looked and sounded and just kept trying to make a video but would delete it every time. I committed to focusing on reviewing even more affordable sex toys, and I think I did okay – Doc Johnson Truskyn, the Blush vibrator, the Boom Olive vibrator, the boring Jazzie, the awful Jimmyjane Intro line, a few random things to avoid, and a Jopen vibe. I’m definitely going to keep reviewing the lower-cost sex toys.
The 2016 goals I failed to meet were the personal goals. I haven’t lost weight. I haven’t exercised much. We didn’t get the garden started. I did, though, escape that horrible, soul-sucking job – albeit replaced it with one that leaves me with much less time to devote to the blog and all that is periphery to that. Frankly, I’m afraid to set any personal goals given my rate of failure on those in 2016. I will be hitting a milestone birthday in 2017 which I am… not ready for. I’m not ready to be that age. Age is but a number, most say, but there is a real stigma against women post-40.
The Lubies that I talked about here are still happening, albeit more tentatively, and slowly. The in-fighting caused a lot of folks to lose momentum and hope, I think, and it will take a small army to get this to happen.
I’m always open to suggestions, though, so please leave them if you have them! I’d love to know what YOU want to see more of here and what would make my blog even better.