Lilly

Nov 292016
 

img_20161129_110321Recently I posted an article calling out Tracy’s Dog for being a shady, shady brand. This isn’t the first time I’ve purposely purchased a sex toy from Amazon suspecting bad results (see also: Glass safety post, Silica Gel post) but it’s the first time I took a leap of faith and committed to filing a report with Amazon. I was happy enough with the results of my chat, and saw a glimmer of hope for cleaning up Amazon. If more folks would file reports, and go beyond just leaving a 1-star customer review, we might be able to slowly whittle away at all of the counterfeit products and the incorrect material claims1. The most effective options are ones for those who have purchased the offending item from Amazon, but even non-customers can do a few things. Here are all the various ways we can start to clean up Amazon:

File an A-to-Z Protection Claim

There’s talk of this “A-to-Z” guarantee protection, and so I looked into it. I quickly hit a snag when I followed these directions:

To file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim on an eligible order:

  • Go to Your Orders.
  • Locate your order in the list and click Get help with order.
  • Select a reason code to describe your issue.
  • Select Request refund through A-to-z Guarantee.
  • Enter the required information and select Submit

Well, I didn’t see the “Get help with order” button on the order I needed to report. I saw it on a couple of other, more recent orders. My order definitely fit in the 90-days timeframe. You might see it if you try to contact the seller, though (but I never have on any order, so I’m not sure why a few showed the link and most don’t) – and you should, to see if you can get your money back. I found no way to contact the seller on my order – perhaps because it was outside of the Amazon 30-day returns? I don’t know. But the A-to-Z thing didn’t pan out. So…Now what?

Live Chat

I went to “Contact Us“. You start by choosing the order you want to report. Then in section 2 you select an issue. I selected “Problem with the order” and then “Wrong item or not as expected”. When Chat opened, I explained the situation at hand: The seller’s ad copy in their listing says silicone, the box says silicone, but it’s not silicone. They didn’t ask me to prove it; they didn’t ask me how I knew. I chose to tell them about my blog and a little about the flame test method. I could have also linked to the post where we talk about the flashlight test on clear TPR and silicone, but I didn’t need to.  They confirmed they were filing a report for me, and told me that if more customers give similar feedback, they’ll investigate the seller. 

I’ve always received good help from Amazon’s live chat, but sometimes it’s been clear that there’s been a bit of a language barrier. In the case of reporting the Tracy’s Dog vibrator, I could tell that the person I was speaking with understood the situation perfectly (and in fact asked me more about everything; she was a med student, too) and I didn’t need to further explain my links, my materials testing, etc. She appreciated the links I gave her though, and thanked me for doing research before contacting them. If others out there ever want to report this particular brand, feel free to link to my Tracy’s Dog vibrator post to give Amazon background information on the problems with the brand.

The bottom line here is this bit from my Live Chat conversation with Amazon – I was told by the Live Chat associate:

“I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.”

And when I asked about others reporting:

Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

Write a Customer Review

While the customer review won’t alert Amazon, it could help in deterring others from purchasing the item. Ultimately, this is what we want: we don’t want customers purchasing shady products from shady brands. You can write a customer review even if you haven’t purchased the sex toy from Amazon (but you should own the item, at least). Reviews from folks who’ve purchased though may hold more weight and will show as “Verified Review”.

Leave Seller Feedback

This is again only something that customers who purchased from Amazon can do. In your Orders history next to every item is a “Leave Seller Feedback” button.  I gave the seller 1 star, confirmed that it arrived on time, said that it wasn’t as advertised, and again discussed material discrepancy in the comments section. This will be seen by both Amazon and the seller. Too many bad seller feedback reports will also cause an investigation.

amazonreport4

Report Incorrect Information

There’s a link that you will only see if you’re logged in to your Amazon account, where you can report incorrect information. You don’t need to have purchased the product, but you should be certain that the information in the listing is incorrect. The link can be hard to spot; it floats around based on the size of the product picture.  If the picture is small, the link is right up under photo or bulleted list of product highlights. If the picture is large the link may float farther over to the right. Below are two examples.

amazonreport1

amasonreport2

When I clicked on the link, because the incorrect information was everywhere and not just the bulleted points, I chose “Other product details” first, and then after some thought I went back and reported again to point out the bulleted list. The next drop down wants to know what the issue is. I put “incorrect information”, but “product quality issue” may also be valid. On listings like the items I purchased for the Silica Gel post, I would choose “conflicting information” because those items said silicone in some parts of the listing, silica gel in others, and so on. Does it help to report over and over again on the product for every issue? I don’t know. Because we could say that the Tracy’s Dog rabbit vibrator also had “conflicting information” – while all of the ad copy from the seller, Tracy’s Dog, said silicone the Product Description (which I assume Amazon writes?) said TPR. But it only ever said TPR in that one little section, and that is easy to overlook when they say “silicone” 15 other places.

amazonreport3

It would take a massive effort worldwide, really, and I feel that this reporting needs to be done across the board – not just sex toys, but all items on Amazon that you receive which seem in poor shape. Counterfeit products are rampant on Amazon, products of all kinds, and these counterfeits are killing small businesses. Maybe a change can happen; maybe Amazon will just stop selling sex toys. Until this massive change happens, though, please think twice before you buy that sex toy from Amazon.  You’ll get much better customer care and support by shopping with amazing folks like Shevibe, Early to Bed, Come as You Are, Smitten Kitten and many other small, feminist shops both online and in-store  – for more information on where to shop, go to the last portion of this article.

 

 

  1. allow me this one moment of sheer optimism
 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Nov 272016
 

Remember when I thought that “Womanizer” was the worst name for a sex toy? “Tracy’s Dog” is worse, and it’s the brand name. It might be the worst brand name I’ve ever heard. Stick with me here; I know you may be wondering if it’s April 1st already but you’ll soon see this isn’t your average sex toy review.

Tracy’s Dog – A Brand I Do Not Trust

You won’t find “Tracy’s Dog” at the retailer I trust most, SheVibe, or other retailers I trust like Come as You Are, Early to Bed, Smitten Kitten, Babeland, and more. Where will you find it? The retailer I trust least – Amazon. Tracy’s Dog has been trying to get me to review their sex toys for ages now. They’ve sent a bunch of emails. I’ve always refused because I won’t review sex toys that come from Amazon and only Amazon because reasons. Some reviewers have tried out the brand, and not everyone hated it. There was a really eyebrow-raising issue with Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel reviewers and their “Liquid Silicone” dildos – two people received a “Liquid Silicone” dildo with a “Materials Test” result paper which supposedly came from a testing lab and claims the material is SILICA GEL – links and photos further down. Not silicone, for they are not the same thing. And as I’ve reported before, silica gel is a desiccant – not a sex toy material!

The Tracy’s Dog Flirt Rabbit sells for $13.98 at Amazon, is not made from silicone, and is a nightmare. I bought this stupid thing from Amazon for that piece I wrote illustrating water-clear TPR and cloudy-clear silicone. I also bought this because on the Amazon listing, in amidst all the SEO words, Tracy’s Dog claims it is silicone in the title. The “highlights” bullet list calls it silicone. The fucking packaging calls it silicone. Multiple places throughout the page call it silicone. Finally way down under “Product Description”, it’s called TPR. Most people will not see this, though, and think they’re buying affordable silicone. This. Is. Not. Silicone. This is why I avoid “white label” sex toy brands, and brands that you only see on sites like Amazon, Ebay, AliExpress and Groupon. The “branding” on this piece of junk is literally a fucking sticker. So yeah, be prepared to see this godawful thing from other “brands”, too.

51xasgt4mjl

“Tracy’s Dog® Flirt Rotating Bullet 36-frequency Thrusting Soft Silicone Powerful Rabbit Vibratoir G-spot Stimulation Vibe Clit Masturbation Dildo (Purple)”

*sigh*

  1. It’s not silicone.
  2. What is 36-frequency?
  3. Vibratoir?
  4. Not a Dildo
  5. SUITABLE FOR BAR FLIRTING

AND THEN. Oh because the listing gets better. We’re still up at the top here – just under the image where they bullet-list the highlights and say:

The rabbit vibrator is made of healthy senior silicone, crystal clear,vivid skin touch feeling

What, pray tell, is “healthy senior silicone”? Also, no, not “skin touch” feeling. It feels like goddamn softened plastic. I’ve felt TPR that does feel realistic-ish, but not this!

Realistic big glans,telescopic bead design, 36-frequency vibrating,adjustable power,can auto thrust to you body, direct sexual desire,like a fire burning all your passion

Oh, you’ll feel a fire, alright, after you’ve used it too many times and the itsy bitsies living in the pores give you a yeast infection.

“Rotating, Vibrating, Thrusting, knock the door of your heart.”

  • The design of this product bases on in-depth analysis of the Europe and the United States female’s sexual-mind. Its size and appearance according with human body engineering design can let a female fondle admiringly.
  • Thrusting soft silicone combined with strong power motor creates infinite fun. ..Powerful rotating bullets coupled with the unique flapping wings make you passionate.
  • Built-in the most advanced motor, provide a steady stream of power for the strong speed.

The two long cute antennas and wings vibrating with36 frequency tender massage your body, releasing all of your sexual desire and pleasure. The realistic soft big glans can thrust into your body slowly, conducting you into a wonderful happy world. Under the glans penis, the large raised silica gel points stimulate the right place, making you excited. The 101 pleasure floating-point around the stick, surrounding the passion of thread, give you a good friction.12 adjustable speed,36 frequency and 360 ° rotation can fully satisfy you.

1. For couples: This toy can satisfy curiosity and increase the newness.

2. For solo: No longer lonely with it in the night.

3. For the senior players: It helps you explore new things.

4. For beginner: It provides the instant resource for love.

tracysdogbox tracysdogbox2

Note: Text appearing in dark red is directly from the Amazon listing, and written by the brand. There’s just so much to unpack here, and this is only the fucking Amazon listing. So, it’s right there on the Amazon page, why did I copy it, you’re wondering? In case they change it – plus it’s funny (and sad).”No longer lonely in the night” – now, if we were talking about an actual dog, providing actual companionship, sure. But a vibrator? A vibrator will not ease your lonliness, nor is it meant to. Vibrators are also not there for love. The orgasms you get from a really great sex toy that makes you come harder than you thought possible, the kind of sex toy that makes you want to give them as gifts to everyone you meet – sure, those may produce endorphins that mimic love and if you try to steal my Pure Wand or Kate’s Double Trouble you will be hurt. But love? Ehhh, you’re pushing it.

Sure, we can absolutely chalk a lot of this up to “lost in translation”. After all, the vibrator is made for Asian women. Not kidding.  In amongst all of the typos and bad translation it says on the back of the packaging: “the product Dimensions boby [sic] feature based on Asian design, tailored specifically for Asian women”.  Also on the back of the package is where they say that it is “crystal clear silicone”. Um, no, no it’s not. You want proof beyond this post? It failed the flame test spectacularly.

tracysdogburn tracysdogburn2 tracysdogburn3

Anyway. Since this post is about this particular vibrator, I want to tell you a few things about it.

  1. Yes, it thrusts. Poorly.
  2. Yes, it rotates. However the rotating section of “beads” has sharp points on it and can be felt through the thin material.
  3. The only part that vibrates is the clitoral arm, which is, of course, buzzy and mediocre at best. Not powerful.
  4. It’s shit. Even if it were silicone, it’d be shit. Don’t fucking buy it!

I Won’t Trust a Brand Who Lies

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are products from this brand that are indeed silicone. There are positive reviews for these products from sex toy reviewers. But I will never endorse ANY Tracy’s Dog product, ever, despite it being affordable silicone because they lie. They’ve lied in 16 ways about this rabbit vibe; they’ve lied about those “Liquid Silicone” dildos – even though that 2016-dated product material test affidavit went out with multiple dildos they claim it was a TYPO and sent out another test report from a different lab DATED 2010. SIX FUCKING YEARS AGO.  Below you can see the two test papers that were sent to the reviewer and originally appeared at carasutra.com in this review, used with permission from Cara. At the left is the 2016 report, which doesn’t name any specific sex toy, listing the material as “silica gel”. At the right is the 2010 report, again not naming any specific sex toy. You can see what an actual materials test report looks like from a reliable lab by visiting BadVibes.org. I’ve also sent out an item for testing to a lab and received the same test report styling as BadVibes did. No decent lab would put forth such strange, vague test result papers.

Tracy's Dog material test paper from a lab reads: Sample Name - Sex toy. Sample Material: Silica Gel. Tracy's Dog Materials Test Report from a different lab, offered up as the "real" lab test. No sex toy name is defined, material is "liquid silicone rubber" and the report is dated 2010

I can’t recommend this company, at all, for any product, full stop. Even the items rated well by other bloggers can be found in similar form from more reputable companies. The brand Tracy’s Dog now live on my Blacklist. If you need an affordable sex toy, check out my list of sex toys under $35.

35under35small

 

ETA: At the suggestion of others I decided to contact Amazon. Their A-to-Z thing wasn’t activated (when looking at orders history, you should see a “help with this order” button or something, and I didn’t) so I ventured into Live Chat. I’m sharing the chat, but I want to point out: the way to get dodgy sellers/brands like Tracy’s Dog off Amazon is for CONSUMERS to file reports the way I’ve done. If enough people who’ve purchased the item report it as misleading ad copy, etc to an Amazon associate, then an investigation may be opened.  There is also a “report incorrect product information” link to click on the page, which can be done by anybody. It took me a little looking to find it, but it’s up at the top, after the item photos, on the right side. 

In my chat with an Amazon associate, once I explained what the situation is and showed them the link to Cara’s review with the shady lab test reports, etc, I was told that the person was filing a claim so that the item page can be taken down for review. I confirmed that I personally didn’t want a replacement, that I wanted to report the brand & seller. The helpful associate let me know she was asking her supervisor for any other steps that can be taken to report the problem. I was told: “I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.” and when I asked about others reporting: “Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

 

Nov 232016
 

blackfriday2

It’s that time of year, again. I’ve got some pretty great deals for you below, from the shops I support the most.

svbf1Shevibe is doing a progressive sale again, where the more you spend, the more you’ll save. Spend $85, save 10% (KRINGLE10); spend $100, save 15% (KRINGLE15); spend $125 and save 20%(KRINGLE20). NOTE: CODES STACK. You can use all of the ones mentioned here! Given the cost of a really great sex toy, it’s not hard to get above that $125 mark. Some of my top recommendations:

* Pretty much anything from L’amourose. The Prism V is great if you’re not ready to splash all out, while the Rosa Rouge and Denia are big winners for me.

* Now’s the time to try out the We-Vibe Rave, Nova or even the new Sync. And if you don’t already own it? The Tango! There are so many great We-Vibe items that I endorse.

* Any of the Womanizer models are great, but my current fave is the new Pro40.

* And of course, don’t forget some of the amazing (premium-priced) dildo makers like Njoy, Nobessence, and Fucking Sculptures.

There’s more! If you are into Fun Factory toys (like the ultra-rumbly extra-powerful G5 line) you’ll get a free Fun Factory Toybox when you spend $109.99 on FF products (after discounts) while supplies last.

toybox

These two deals are just for my readers. In order for these codes to work, you’ll have to click through to Shevibe.com from my site. All codes can be stacked, so no worries on choosing just one.

Free mini lube with code LILLYLUBE

For now, the lube is Earthly Body Waterslide – Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Propanediol, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Citric Acid

Spend $125, be entered to win a $300 gift card. Enter LILLY300 to be eligible. For this cool extra, just spend more than $125 (BEFORE discounts!) and you can be entered into a drawing for a $300 gift card. Use the code LILLY300 for this, and remember – gotta place your order by clicking from my site first. That’s how they know you’re MY lovely readers!! <3

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

Tantus! 40% Off Sitewide* Thursday starting 12 am PST through Monday 11:59pm PST with code DANGEROUSLILLY


*sale excludes Doxy, Magic Wand, Joque Harness and lubes.

tantusbfwide

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

Hot Octopuss Pulse II Solo and Duo

So there’s going to be a Pulse III coming out, I don’t know what the price point will be. Given that SheVibe sells the Solo 2 for $99, I’d reason that the 3 will be the same or slightly more. The 3 Duo will have a stronger secondary motor for your partner, and both models will be more quiet, have a “turbo” mode to go straight to high-power, and magnetic charging vs the port it is now. Directly from Hot Octopuss the Pulse 2’s will be 60% off on Black Friday, and I’ll have a coupon code that’ll get you that 60%, otherwise it’ll be 50%. Go HERE to purchase, but the sale won’t be live until Nov 25th UK time, which I think is going to be sometime late Thursday night in the US.

Save 60% on the Pulse II Solo or Duo with BFDL60

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~

 

Canadian shop Come As You Are has the following:

  • Festive Bundles: Awesome stuff massively reduced in price
  • Get a $15 gift card from us when you spend $50 on Fun Factory with coupon code FUNFACTORY
  • Get a free Simple Massage Melt with coupon code MASSAGE
  • 20% off all sex toys over “Black Friday” weekend with coupon code AMERICANTHANKSGIVING
  • Automatic free shipping in Canada on all orders over $50, free shipping on orders over $100 in the USA with coupon code USA

Another Canadian shop, Lovedreamer, has some pre-Black Friday sales? I don’t know if these will change, if there will be more, or they’re just announcing early. Right now I just see this 30% off “Sneak Peek” thing.

 

Keep checking back through Friday – if a few of my fave little indy shops announce deals for Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) I’ll let you know! 

 

 Posted by at 1:01 am
Nov 202016
 

We-Vibe Sync in various positionsI’ve been reviewing the We-Vibe, Standard Innovations flagship sex toy, since it first came out in 2008. I’ve owned every major design except for We-Vibe 2. I’ve watched the changes they’ve slowly made, brought on by customer (and reviewer) feedback. Yet every time I’ve been disappointed by one prominent thing: The motor. As much as I have wanted to like it, the We-Vibe has never impressed me, not like the Tango. So when Standard Innovations approached me with the Sync I said yes because how can I not? When they promise a powerful motor, finally, I have to try it out. So many folks want the We-Vibe but I’ve never been able to fully recommend it – until I got my hands on the We-Vibe Sync. And the motor isn’t the only reason….those hinges? Damn ingenious. Now, the Sync isn’t perfect so hang on, we’ve got some things to cover.

Finally! More Power!

Now, to be fair, the We-Vibe Sync still isn’t the powerhouse I personally would like it to be – I’d like more power in the g-spot arm. I’ve heard some folks say it has the motor of the Tango, but I’m not convinced. On the lower settings? Sure. The clitoral arm is a lot more powerful than previous models, definitely, and pretty rumbly – except when you get to the upper level then the buzzy starts to take over more. The G-spot arm, though, is still buzzy and weak like it’s always been. It’s an irritating buzz and grating sort of barely-there vibration. In order to even notice it I have to turn the clitoral arm completely off. The sensation makes me want to never do it again. A pap-smear would be just as uncomfortable for me. How weak and buzzy is it? If a single, gentle, non-stinging bee were trapped in my vagina1, that’s about what it might feel like. I can understand the reasoning there – anything too powerful could just be overwhelming and distracting for the penis. Because, let’s not forget, the We-Vibe is a sex toy made specifically for PIV sex. It could be adapted for different types of sex, so long as there’s a vagina involved and it can be used as a solo sex toy for remote-controlled fun. But at its core it remains a… “couples” sex toy. I hate “couples” sex toys and the term so much that it’s painful for me to type it, or say it, without grimacing. Regardless, the “dual motors” thing feels like “well…..sort of” because that g-spot motor is just so barely-there. 

If a Sex Toy and PlayDoh Made a Baby

There’s something else though about the We-Vibe Sync that has me excited – unlike previous models the Sync can be shaped by you. The moveable joints remind me of the Je Joue G-ki, in a way – it requires effort, but it won’t change shapes while in use. These two moveable joints mean that one vibrator is going to fit a larger percentage of vulvas – previously there was only the loose fit (Classic) or the snug fit (such as the 4 Plus). Neither did well for me – the loose shape was too loose, the snug fit of the We-Vibe 4 was so snug and clampy that getting it in place was nearly as tough as getting a pair of Spanx on – but unlike the Spanx, the We-Vibe 4 Plus didn’t want to stay put. But now the configurations are seemingly endless. You can essentially make the “hinge” section very thin and snug, opened up more to resemble the “Classic” fit, opened up even more than that if you want while also angling the hinge in the middle of the g-spot arm to point it more in either direction. In fact the hinges can open up so much that it almost makes it ridiculous.  You may find that you’re worried about breaking the Sync until you master how to make the hinges work. I find that I have to put pressure on and push at the hinge vs just opening it up like a book, and sort of push the hinge back. It’s very difficult to explain in text so hopefully this video will help.  It takes effort and hand strength and dexterity so if you lack these because of any reason – arthritis, disability, etc – this may not be ideal for you.

Other Improvements

Over time We-Vibe products have seen evolutions of charging methods. Their Nova was the first to have a much better magnetic charging spot, and the We-Vibe Sync sports the same – for two reasons. The first is that Lelo, being the assholes they are, bought out somebody’s unused patent for induction charging – which is how We-Vibe Couples vibes have charged ever since they started coming with a cover. You plug the cradle in and set the form inside. No magnets, no plugs. It was a bit finicky and you had to get it just-so. Now that they need to use the magnetic charging, the base is awesome. I don’t have to guess at how the We-Vibe is supposed to set in the cradle, it’s obvious. And that magnet is really strong. I can pick up the We-Vibe Sync while it’s charging and it won’t disconnect!

Connectivity Still Sucks

I’ve had so much trouble using the We-Connect app, no matter what We-Vibe toy I’m using it with but the We-Vibe Sync and 4 Plus are nightmares. The Bluetooth connection drops if I shut my legs; if I’m wearing clothing; if I’m not spread-eagle with the phone near my crotch. Not ideal.  This isn’t good for a public-play toy until this is fixed and it’s not the best for sex, but not terrible.

A lot of other folks have reported trouble with the app crashing, but mine hasn’t been crashing (I’m using Android). 

Will It Fit Your Body? Can I Recommend the We-Vibe Sync?

There’s the rub. Yeah, the hinges means it’ll fit more vulvas. And with a little, or maybe a lot of, trial-and-error you can find that perfect bending of the hinges which means the We-Vibe Sync will stay in place during sex for you. But maybe not. And that’s still going to be the biggest problem I have with a sex toy like this – I cannot predict if it’ll stay in place during PIV sex for you. I can tell you that if the penis you’re having sex with feels borderline-too-big or “just exactly perfect”, the Sync may make it so that your vagina is like an overstuffed suitcase – it’ll be painful and the Sync will move more with your movements because the penis will rub against it even more. I personally cannot wear this during PIV sex, there’s no spare room for it.

So yeah, there are major improvements. I still have some reservations and I don’t love it with all my heart like I do the Tango, Touch, Rave and Nova. I want the clitoral arm vibrations to stay rumbly at their highest power. I want the g-spot arm to be rumbly and not worthless. I want the damn Bluetooth to work on larger bodies and through clothing. BUT! The We-Vibe Sync is definitely more powerful than the Lelo Tiani 3, and will fit a larger range of vulvas. I feel like I can finally tell you to purchase a We-Vibe if you’re dead-set on a “couples sex toy” meant for PIV sex; sadly all this innovation comes with a high price tag, because of course, so it’s $199 at SheVibe.com.

I was provided this item in exchange for my honest review by We-Vibe.

  1. humor me here
Nov 102016
 

Note1: This is a post about bloggers, for bloggers. Readers you can probably feel free to skip this one. Note2: The majority of this post was written prior to November 8th. As warriors and activists for underserved groups, we have our work cut out for us. We feel defeated right now. We don’t know where to put our energies. I’ll do my best to keep American politics out of this but I will say: a world where Trump is president scares the shit out of me, and I suspect many of you reading this feel the same. So let’s do our best to stand together, not apart.

Blog Squad - Truth, Justice and CaffeineI’m not the authority on this. I’m not the gate-keeper, the mafia don, or anyone of power. I’m simply the person who has chosen to write about it since I embrace the term “Blog Squad” so strongly. I’m writing this in the hopes to bridge divides and correct a lot of wrong assumptions I’m seeing amongst bloggers. I may say “we” and “us” a lot in the post, and it’s only because those of us who have been to Woodhull and are “blog squad” have had long talks about the accusations of exclusivity, the divide, and what we need to do to bring down the “wall”. If they disagree with anything I’ve said here, I’m sure they will comment and correct for themselves (please do!).  I’ve tried my best to organize my feels here, and this post is partly about Blog Squad in general, as a global thing, and it’s in part just about Woodhull. Some of this may not apply to you.

Blog Squad Origins

August 2015 – A dozen sex toy bloggers attended a new-to-them sexuality conference, some with great trepidation. Some had had bad experiences at a different sexuality conference1, some had just heard about the negativity bloggers had dealt with at another conference, and still others were just anxious little bunnies about getting out from behind their computer. In part because of our collective anxieties and in part because without each other we felt lost, we bonded and stuck together at that conference. You were fairly unlikely to see just one blogger; we mostly traveled in packs. It was because of this that an employee of Smitten Kitten dubbed us all “The Blog Squad”. We’d never had a thing like that and it felt so superhero-badass that we jumped on it. So yes, it referred specifically to those bloggers at that conference, originally. And then with SFS16 the Woodhull Blog Squad grew with at least 2 dozen of us in attendance. It was glorious and I know we made a difference. Our social media posts, blog posts, tweets – they all educated someone.

What Does Blog Squad Mean To You?

Before I continue on with thoughts on accusations, cliques, inclusion/exclusion, and more, I want to include some words from Woodhull folks. I explained my post to them and asked them what “Blog Squad” means to them; who is the blog squad, etc. Ricci Levy is the Head Founding Honcho, and blog squad mama – her effusive inclusion of us at SFS15 made all the difference.

The #BlogSquad is a group of bloggers who were all at Woodhull together and who adopted a twitter hashtag and name to describe themselves. It’s not a formal group, there’s no application process, no membership dues, no real requirements.  In fact, anyone who wanted to say they were a member could – because there’s no governing body to say “nay.” It is our strongest hope that our bloggers and social media warriors will expand every year – both in terms of diversity and in terms of focus.

Metis Black of Tantus is on the board of Woodhull and created a Bloggers Lounge for us starting with SFS15.

The blog squad was so spontaneous in its becoming. I remember at other events, bloggers questioning if they were really sex educators, if they were just toy reviewers. Whatever it was at Woodhull SFS – respect and acknowledgement from the Executive Director (Ricci) and staff; sessions that had larger human rights themes; or just the battle scars from earlier events that made the camaraderie binding, the bloggers bonded in a unique unifying way. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t exclusive, no one coordinated it- it just happened. And the content for those initial writings also changed. There was more reflection of society, more consent issues, more writing about illnesses, more talk of personal journeys that brought the writers to bigger cultural issues.

Sandra, of SheVibe, (my sponsor) for SFs16 did her best to help bloggers feel at home by sponsoring a PJ Party. The SV crew also drew a Blog Squad design which gave me such sheer joy I don’t even have words. The original superhero trio is included in this post, and their comic-book cover for SFS16 is shown here.

Blog Squad did not (and does not) at all seem exclusionary to me. Any blogger in good standing (and I don’t know any who aren’t) is part of the Blog Squad. In good standing means to me: respected within the community who is working hard at their craft, contributing and learning. Someone who is producing quality work that is meaningful to sexual health and justice.

On Feelings of Exclusion

Over the last year, but particularly recently, we’ve seen folks complaining about the name “the blog squad”. They have felt that it’s purposefully exclusionary, and wonder if they’re a member, or assume they’re not. I’ve seen folks getting salty about it on social media.  But here’s the thing: It wasn’t a name we came up with ourselves, it wasn’t a thing created to exclude – it was created to celebrate. It was not born of malicious intent; quite the opposite. Yet it’s being used against us. Maybe you’ve never had the privilege of attending a conference, or maybe you have but it was just a different one. Maybe you have, or have not, felt the camaraderie that comes from spending the weekend learning, hearing uplifting words, and being around Your People. Woodhull wasn’t the first time I felt it, but it was the first time it was felt so strongly.

There seems to be this bizarre divide, a growing divide, and I don’t know what started it. There seems to be the Blog Squad who is willing to include anyone and then there are folks who are almost anti-blog-squad, who complain that we are a “clique”, who assume there is purposeful exclusion. If you were to talk to us and really listen, without prejudice or paranoia, you would understand that it wasn’t something we named ourselves but it IS something we’ve embraced because we needed the community and support. We needed each other to lean on. I would love to see it be a unifier, not a divider.

How to Be Part of the Blog Squad

There will still be the Woodhull Blog Squad, but I think that the term is important and very descriptive of what so many of us do – unrelated to the Summit. It’s not a club, with dues or criteria, really. It was born out of Woodhull but doesn’t require an invitation. Maybe you live far outside the US and will never be able to afford to come to Woodhull. Well, SFS16 Blog Squadders are working on a way to extend the education from Woodhull to everyone, but there’s not much we can do to extend the in-person experience and I’m sad for that. I really am. I wish you could experience this bonding. It’s so life-changing. But I think we can find other ways to bond and relate.

So you want to know who is blog squad, who isn’t? How to be part of it? Embody the Spirit of the Blog Squad. That’s it. You’re in. As I’ve said before, as a group we get shit done. We’re loud. We are mighty. We can accomplish so much more if we just support each other. This doesn’t mean everybody will be chummy friends; disagreements will happen and personalities will clash. But overall we can support each other in so many ways and elevate the community to a true Force To Be Reckoned with.  Also? The Woodhull Blog Squad isn’t limited to American bloggers. Firstly, there’s a number of Canadians that attended Woodhull. Poor overlooked Canadians! You definitely don’t have to attend Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit to call yourself “Blog Squad”, but you’d better believe that the moment you step foot inside the Summit bounds, you’re Blog Squad. You will be thanked, you will be honored, you will be mentioned as part of the mighty group of social media warriors.

I’ve already seen so much Blog Squad Spirit from many of you. When you write posts about companies who fat-shame in their marketing. When you call out a company on social media for shitty behaviour of any kind. When you educate others against toxic toys and irritating lube. When you feature interviews with other bloggers on your site. When you share each other’s important posts on social media.  When you review a sex toy and talk about flame testing, or encourage silicone over porous materials.  Really, it’s pretty open-ended. Take the name, freely, if you feel it suits you and be fucking proud of yourself because you’re awesome. The name has begun to evolve, to be synonymous with Bad Ass Blogging and Taking No Bullshit.

On Friendship, Anxiety, and Assumptions

I don’t know WHY this is the case, but man a lot of us are anxious bunnies. A lot of us, and by us I mean the bloggers in general, sometimes assume the worst of other bloggers. We are scared they dislike us; this is sometimes easy to assume when you’re in the context of text-only social media. If your mentions timeline is always busy, you don’t have the time to reply to every person who @s you. Maybe you just have time to favorite their tweet. Maybe their reply doesn’t really need a response. I can’t speak for everyone about everyone, but as someone accused of being part of the exclusionary clique, I can tell you that most of the time my non-response isn’t a signal of my exclusion of you – it just means I didn’t have a good response or didn’t see your tweet.

However, something that comes from meeting in person and hanging out is a bond – I’m sure that some of the UK bloggers have experienced this with ETO or Eroticon. There’s simply a stronger bond of friendship that forms, and it’s not against others, it’s not to hurt them. But it’s a fact of life. I feel that I can speak for those viewed as blog squad when I say that we are not closed off to making new friends, but out of comfort we can be more likely to talk to each other. That’s normal. But when folks starting making jabs to each other publicly on social media about the blog squad, accusing us of exclusionary tactics, of being a clique, of being this or that….take a moment to think of how that feels for us. How hurtful that is. It is tiring to frequently be told you’re a bad person for having some friends closer than others. For embracing a bonding, unifying “code name”. It is tiring to constantly assure people that there’s no evil clique, merely varying levels of kinship. If we were to send out engraved invitations, I feel that that still would not help some folks. Yet here I am, trying regardless. The very definition of the word “clique” means that those in it put up walls and refuse to let others in. We may not be handing out roses but that isn’t a good definition. We are friends. Some of us are close friends. Some of you are close friends. But purposeful exclusion on a large, group level? That’s simply not the case.

So many folks said “I wasn’t sure if I was part of the Blog Squad, you guys were this little group” after Woodhull. Or even, that they didn’t feel as much camaraderie or felt on the fringes. Confession: I had a mini break-down to Sugarcunt on Saturday before dinner. I had no dinner plans; I wasn’t sure if anybody wanted to spend more time with me. Yes, I felt like Everybody Disliked Me for a little bit. Why? No real reason, actually. Just my anxious, paranoid brain sticking it’s nose where it doesn’t belong. That doesn’t mean that it was right, though, you see? You may get worried that you’re being excluded but I feel I can speak for us all when we say “it was never intentional, we were doing our best which maybe isn’t all that good”. And I know that unintended hurts don’t erase hurts. Which is a great segway to this next topic…

Assume Good Intentions

Speaking here mostly for myself (they’ll chime in if I’m wrong) but when you’re anxious, nervous and feeling really overwhelmed by being around more people than you usually are – is it not normal to seek out a friend, use the buddy system? We often say we’re socially awkward – yes, around folks we don’t know well. Not around those we’ve already bonded with. But because we’re all up in our own heads, trying to read other people’s faces and words, trying to figure out where we’re going next, battling a lack of sleep, battling our introversion….it’s damn hard to be A Good Host. It’s really fucking hard to remember to find people and purposefully include them if they’re not right there. If you stand on the very outskirts and don’t introduce yourself? I’m not going to come talk to you. That sounds horrible, but I’d probably vomit if I had to do that. I saw a number of folks at SFS16 that I know by sight because they aren’t anonymous online, but they may not remember what I look like. And a bunch of them never spoke to me. I didn’t take it personally; how could I? I didn’t have the guts to go say hi and tell them who I am. I’ve been told that some folks at SFS16 felt that I gave them the cold-shoulder. I can assure you that I didn’t on purpose. Maybe I wasn’t as socially confident and proper as I should have been, but I was doing the best I could. Maybe I had somewhere to be next. Maybe I just had to fucking get out of that loud room, NOW. There’s plenty of reasons and I can pretty much promise – it wasn’t you.

So when we start tweeting pre-conference about how excited we are to see our friends but also all the anxiety, maybe try believing us? Try assuming that we’re sitting there unsure if YOU dislike us. That we’re terrified we’ll say something dumb. We all have battle scars, we’re all trying to support each other. Come sit with us in the Blogger Lounge. Throw your cents into a conversation. Put your name on the list next year for lunch buddies2. But mostly, understand that we’re individuals, not a mob. We may have a lot of similar views, but we are not the same. We don’t all agree on everything, and we don’t expect to.

Assume. Good. Intentions.

Stand together. Be kind to each other. Understand that friendships take time and many times need more than just tweets. If we support each other and ask as often as we offer, can you imagine the changes we can be part of for sexual health justice? To better the industry? Assume good intentions, and have good intentions.

  1. I won’t go into that whole story here, in part because it would take 1000 words, but if you really want to know, feel free to contact me
  2. yes it’s a thing we’re gonna try to do
 Posted by at 2:49 pm
Nov 062016
 

Womanizer vs Satisfyer - a line up of the 3 Womanizer models and the Satisfyer Pro 2

For quite some time I regarded the Womanizer with a healthy dose of side-eye; I was quite sure that it wouldn’t work for me. I remained skeptical of the many glowing reviews. When you’ve been reviewing sex toys for 8 years, you can often get a really good feel for the facts just by reading a handful of reviews. But the Womanizer shocked me – in fact, it left me speechless. It took me months to write my first Womanizer review because I felt like I couldn’t explain why I liked it or who else might like it (or hate it). I also was having a really hard time admitting I liked something THAT ugly with THAT bad of a name and that high of a price tag1. The Womanizer W100 makes the original copper Eroscillator look damn good.

A screencap of an email I received recently from one of the many misguided Chinese plants who think I'm a manufacturer or retailer, not a blogger. They offer me low wholesale prices and the ability to put my name on their stuff. The photo shows knockoffs of the Lovehoney tongueslapper and Womanizer-like toys. Like anything popular, counterfeit / copycat products quickly flooded Amazon, AliExpress, eBay, etc.  It never takes long after “white label”2 versions of popular brands are available for the emails about them to start hitting my inbox3.  As you can see in this email screenshot there’s a knock-off of the Womanizer tech in a different body with a wholesale price of $20.

When I saw the Satisfyer brand, it was really clear that they’re going after the Womanizer market with this non-vibrating air-pulsation technology – they went the cheap route though with the motor and design, allowing the retail price to be so much lower than the Womanizer that they were guaranteed to steal a large chunk of the Womanizer’s potential customers. The company behind the Satisfyer has denied that they’ve outright copied the Womanizer tech; Womanizer responded by slapping them with patent infringement but it won’t hold water outside of Germany.  At first glance, Satisfyer seemed to have fixed the primary complaints about Womanizer: design, name, price and waterproof abilities.  But when you use the Satisfyer Pro 2 side-by-side with any Womanizer it’s glaringly obvious that the price increase with the Womanizer will get you a product that seems to be better made. I also just have a really hard time supporting a product that is such an obvious rip-off – maybe you don’t agree, and you need to have the most affordable option which I respect. **After this post went live** two folks commented via Facebook about their interactions with Satifyer reps at SHE NYC. One said: “True story, at this years SHE Expo in Brooklyn the Satisfyer representative said flat out to my wife and I that they took the “poorly designed Womanizer and made it better” then proceeded to essentially brag about how they got away with it adding how they considered a powerful patent lawyer part of the cost of bringing the Satisfyer to market. I mean, the guy was chuckling about it.” You know, this is not how a decent company behaves. At all. Jesus fuck.

Womanizer PRO40

Womanizer PRO40Until recently, Womanizer remained an overpriced, luxury item. When you get it in your hands it doesn’t feel quite as well-made as some brands. It lacks the pretty, “classic”, refined beauty that has drawn people to Lelo, L’amourose, etc. And while $99 for the new Womanizer PRO40 still is considered luxury, out-of-reach pricing to many, it’s a bit more attainable than $159.  The Womanizer PRO40 is clearly epi24’s answer to the sales lost to the $59 Satisfyer Pro 2 – and unlike the W100 or W500, the more affordable Womanizer PRO40 is waterproof, with a plain design that is a welcome change. The PRO40 is not overtly feminine, thank god, and is in fact pretty damn plain. Somehow the PRO40 gained a feature (it’s now waterproof, like the Satisfyer) AND is priced much less. How is this possible? Well the motor is a little louder; they’ve gone with a cheaper motor that still performs well, but is less refined, I guess.  It may still be more expensive, but the PRO40 has the features that keep me coming back to Womanizer – the low settings and better navigation buttons. The PRO40 combines the best of the W100 (body, button placement) with the best of the W500 (extra power for those who need it, and up/down level navigation buttons), adds in waterproofing and takes away cost. I’m happy to have a slightly louder motor in exchange.

The lowest two settings on the Womanizers are subtle and arousing. They feel really good, and aren’t necessarily trying to yank an orgasm out of you. In fact the lower settings on the Womanizers are really great warm-up toys, and can build arousal in me in ways that the Fiera never could. Have I mentioned the buttons? Oh the buttons. You can easily toggle between lower and higher settings. I like to draw things out with the Womanizer (usually) because it feels so nice; so I don’t want to rush, I want to keep edging my orgasm. I can start out at 1 until I find some good porn; increase to 2 when I’m more aroused; tip it up to 3 to get the ball rolling; back down to 2 for a minute to keep things going. Up to 4 to pick up the pace; 3 then 2 then back up to 4 and maybe 5 if I need a boost and want to come. It’s the sex toy version of Monica’s ergoneous zones playlist.  I cannot do that with the Satisfyer Pro 2. With all Womanizer models I can quickly return to the lowest setting; perfect for just after orgasm. It’s just tolerably intense in those sensitive moments, but allows me to actually keep going and have multiple orgasms. I can’t do that with the Satisfyer because I’d have to turn it off completely to get back down to the gentle first setting (new model; old model has nothing “gentle” about it). These features are crucially important to me.

Even though the Womanizer Pro 40 is a little louder vs W100 or W500, it’s now my top recommendation over every brand and model.

Womanizer vs Satisfyer – Comparison Chart *

  Womanizer PRO40 Womanizer W100 Womanizer W500 Satisfyer Pro 2 (old) Satisfyer Pro 2 (new)
Power button brings you back to level 1 Y Y Y N N
Easy-to-hold Design  Y Y  — Y Y
Multiple color offerings Y Y Y N N
Gender-neutral colors/designs Y N N Y Y
Motor decibels 50-74 50-62 50-72 72-75 63-75
# of intensity levels 8 6 8 11 11
Plus & minus level navigation Y N Y N N
Multiple sized nozzle heads Y Y Y N N
Waterproof Y N N Y Y
Perceived Intensity, scale of 1-10 9 8 9 10 10
Price $99 $159 $219 $59 $59
Warranty 2 yrs ?* ?* N N
Use Time 240 mins 90 mins 240 mins ?* ?*
Charge Time 2 hours 4 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours
Storage N Case Pouch Pouch Pouch

Womanizer W100

Womanizer W100It’s ugly, but it works – One thing that the Womanizer W100 has that the others lack is a really nice storage case. Sure, it’s baby-pink and has “Womanizer” emblazoned on it, but it’s really nice to keep the extra head, and charging accessories, all together.  The W100 is the quietest model because it lacks the more intense levels. I feel that when the Womanizer W100 is pressed against your vulva, it’s nearly silent. Even when you break contact, it’s not that loud – 62 decibels. The Womanizer W100 has only one button but the power button can be tapped during use to bring you back down to the first intensity level. And of course the W100 line is the most gaudy, with a big faux-rhinestone button to boot. Shevibe carries it in Pink Croc, Black Leopard and Red Roses; for a little more money Lovehoney carries it in Black “Tattoo” or Pink Leopard.

Womanizer W500

Womanizer W500One word: Awkward – For as much as I loved the Womanizer W100, I thought I’d love the W500 even more. Sure, it introduced the necessary plus and minus buttons to easily navigate the increased levels, but the power button was harder to press. The buttons are now located on the back side of the body, facing away from you, and are located in a place that is very awkward for me during use. The short, fat stature also makes it harder for me to hold.  The designs of the Womanizer W500 are a little more classy, but still very femme with the exception White Chrome design – but even that has a Swarovski crystal “element” as the power button.  The W500 is priced way, way too high at $219. It’s absolutely ridiculous and I can’t recommend this model with the other choices available. The W500 comes in the aforementioned White Chrome; Black Leopard, Red Roses, and Magenta Lace.

Satisfyer Pro 2 – The Old and The New

Satisfyer Pro 2Affordable? Nah, Cheap – Rather than rename the Satisfyer Pro 2, the company made two changes and kept the name and design the same. This means that with most retailers you won’t know which model you’re buying, because they’re priced the same, too. You’d only know to see it in person – the new version has “Satisfyer” in raised lettering along the handle (shown below). Satisfyer boasted that the new Pro 2 was “90% more quiet” than before. Where do these companies come up with this stuff? Using my amateur decibel meter the difference is only 9 points – the loudest rating on the lowest setting is 63dB on the new model vs 72dB on the old. It’s definitely noticeable, but not 90%. And the high levels? Identical when not pressed against the vulva – when pressed against the vulva, the new Pro 2 is a bit more quiet.  While Satisfyer does have a few more models and designs, most retailers don’t carry them right now.  If I test them, info on those will be updated here.  The Satisfyer Pro 2 comes in one color that is very gender-neutral, even if the packaging isn’t4.

satisfyerpro2-old-vs-new

*  A few things to note about this comparison chart:

  1. As new similar products are available to retailers, and I try them, I’ll add them to the chart. By similar I mean no vibrations, just this air pulsing whoosiewhatsit.
  2. Womanizer W100 and W500 previously had warranties, but things have changed and now I’m not sure. On Shevibe the “warranty” icon is not displayed for these two products. I’m waiting on confirmation.
  3. The decibels were tested with my phone and a sound meter. Due to the idling-engine type sound that the motors make on low, the sound meter jumped around a lot. The lower numbers then represent the loudest that the first settings will get. Also, I tested the sound levels without the nozzle being completely covered, like it would be in use. When the nozzle is completely covered the sound is dampened a lot.
  4. Charge and use time reports are varying from retailer info to manufacturer website / product manual info.  One reports the Satisfyer has 120 minutes of use, while their web-version user manual reports only 30 minutes. When I can get an accurate number, I’ll add it.
  5. I feel that the fat & short design of the Womanizer W500 is awkward to hold and more awkward to press buttons. Womanizer boasts it being more comfortable to hold. We’ll agree to disagree, I guess.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

While some folks are so turned off by the Womanizer name that that alone will make them buy the Satisfyer, if you didn’t know the names then you’d see that the Womanizer is the best. They pioneered this new type of sensation and while they’ve started off with designs that make most folks cringe and a name that you are loathe to utter, the Womanizer motor is superior. If Womanizer would lower the price on the Pro40 to $79, I feel they’d have the market cornered again. But for now my vote is with Womanizer Pro40 and Shevibe is naturally the retailer I’ll direct you to.

  1. At first the Womanizer W100 was priced at $189 at Shevibe, $199 many other places. In recent months Womanizer has dropped the price and now Shevibe sells it for $159 – this is the lowest price it should be sold for. Womanizer has a VERY stringent MAP agreement that any retailer must follow. If you see someone who isn’t, approach with caution
  2. White label is when a manufacturing plant makes a product, but they are not necessarily a brand – they offer to make things for your brand. You, the brand company, don’t really design anything, you just slap your brand name on the packaging and maybe pick a slightly different color scheme. This is why you can often see a dozen nearly-identical sex toys on the sub-par retailer market
  3. Side note: why the hell do these companies think bloggers are retailers?
  4. features a white femme person
 Posted by at 4:00 pm