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. 

More pieces to read: Cara Sutra’s post; what an abuse survivor thinks of Sheen as spokesperson; my Tumblr post about this, particularly see the responses.

 Posted by at 6:46 pm
Feb 292016
 

A photo collage depicting my low libido as it relates to sex toys; it shows two dildos tucked haphazardly beneath of pile of clothing, headphones, and an ear thermometer. The text reads: "The Sex Blogger's Curse: A Low Libido Story (aka: DO I really have to masturbate today?)"Buying a house. It may not be a stressful event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory’s top 20 but it’s been stressful for us. We’re both anxious people and we loved the house, so we REALLY wanted it. Then, things went to shit. The seller’s agent was also part-owner / flipper of the house and when it appraised low it was our own personal World War 3. I was under so much stress that I had near-constant chest pain; turns out stress/anxiety really makes your gallbladder grumpy and that chest pain was mine freaking the fuck out. A little over a year later from the start of things and I’ll be having the fucker removed. So yes, we bought our first (and maybe only) house. We have been dealing with all the things (and then some) that new homeowners deal with, including slowly finding out that little things around the house weren’t as well-done as they seemed. Compound all of this with two people who both already have mental health issues, one of them (me) untreated and the other starting a new treatment and the stress continues. Add in an unknown “injury”for myself that’s stumping doctors and racking up bills. Add in 8 weeks of illness (5 of them fairly major including oral surgery) for the spouse and 4-5 months of illness for me culminating in my first surgery of my life.  And hey just for good measure….let’s mix it all up with that lovely little side effect that some people get with untreated depression or anxiety: trouble keeping up with personal hygiene, things as simple as showering regularly. Yes, it’s a thing; it’s a thing we don’t talk about it, but it’s a thing1. The chances of us both having the ability to shower on the same day? Low.

Do you know what you get? You sure as hell don’t get laid.

And we both know that the lack of intimacy isn’t necessarily healthy for our relationship but we both see it for what it is – out of our control and something we’ll work on when our health improves. We know this and we miss it, but our libidos are too low to care *too* much, so at least we’re both in the same place. We know it’s nothing personal. But you don’t feel sexy when you haven’t showered in 4 days or brushed your teeth since yesterday.

But it feels a bit frightening for a sex blogger! Thankfully I’m no longer the “sexy” sort of sex blogger who writes erotica, takes sexy photos, writes about her sex life, etc. If I were I’d have nothing to write about. If I were, the pressure I’d be putting on myself would be huge.  The lower sex drive is affecting my reviewing, though, too. It’s making me less interested overall in anything that doesn’t vibrate, for one. Dildos just don’t hold as much appeal to me. I could, were it not for the reviews, go a month or so right now without needing g-spot stimulation and that’s the sad truth. I have a Lelo Tiani 3 that I very badly wanted to review now that it’s being sold in the States once more but guess what that kinda requires: a partnered sex life. Guess who doesn’t have that right now? This guy. And when we do finally have PIV sex do I really want to waste time on a vibrator that I know won’t help me orgasm? Been there done that and I’d like to not repeat that again but that’s the life of a sex toy reviewer. It just means that, for now, I have to put the Tiani 3 review on hold and I feel awful about that.

Update: Since writing this post I got the chance to try the Nuelle Fiera Arouser for Her, a product designed for low libido

I reviewed the Doc Johnson Truskyn dildo because I felt strongly about telling everyone about the new, affordable dual-density silicone but I wasn’t really very sad to be done with using it so that I could move on to cutting it and burning it for science.  The same thing happened with the CuRious Wand – I really wanted to tell you about it, penny stink and all, and re-acquainting myself with the Pure Wand as part of the testing was nice but I could have gone without it. Testing vibrators like the L’amourose Prism and We-Vibe Rave have been a different story because at least they vibrate. I can still form strong opinions about sex toys and feel good while using them. I can still orgasm; it’s just that I can go a week without even wanting to. I have this complete Orgasmatron X2 kit waiting on my review and trying to find the ability to really put it through the paces has been rough; as of this writing though I’m realizing that perhaps I need to just force it because I don’t know how many weeks after my surgery I’ll be in pain and unable to use insertable toys.

There’s no answers, and I’m not really seeking them. I don’t feel like I can just take time off again from the blog; I had to do that in 2013 (actually I thought I might have to quit) and it created a lot of problems. One of the problems being a drastic decrease in affiliate sales. My sales are finally at a level where they really are helping out with our household expenses and I can’t afford to see a drop. I don’t want to lose readership or followers. I don’t want to fall out of contact with my blogsquad – I fucking need them! At this point I think I can just be grateful that I can still orgasm and that I no longer have the “sexy” expectations hanging over me; due to a bit of a traumatic dramatic “thing” 4 years ago I lost all taste for that sort of thing. It was to such a dramatic degree that I didn’t just stop doing it, I hid it from view on the blog. You can’t easily navigate your way through to those sorts of posts anymore.  But that’s a story for another time…

I wrote about my slowly-increasing depression a year ago, mere days before we found The House and that whole snowball of stress started building. I am no stranger to it, but back then the low libido hadn’t affected my desire to use any and all sex toys. I am, at least, in good company (if there is such a thing in this not-great space to be); plenty of other sexuality bloggers & reviewers have gone through this same thing. I don’t think it gets written about a lot. Sure, maybe we’ll tweet about it but it’s not a hot topic. So I kinda wanna drag this one out into the light – not at all for sympathy, please don’t fawn with sympathy – but in solidarity. There’s things that get discussed only in private messages and I’m ready to say “Here I am, here’s my issues, anybody with the same issue need to chat?”. Whatever pedestal you’ve maybe put me on, pull me down, I don’t belong there. I might feel a little broken some days, but deep down I know I’m not. And if you’re in the same boat, you’re not broken, either. Far from it. I know that this could be worse; I could be completely unable to orgasm. Couldn’t very well review regularly if that were the case. I could lack a support system and understanding spouse; I am grateful to have friends in the same boat and a spouse in the same boat! At least we’re going through this together. With Tumblr porn at the ready I will carry on and hope that soon it comes back, for both of us. In the meantime we’ll have substitute intimacy in the form of curling up together on the couch for TV time, finally sleeping in the same bed, and supporting each other. There are fixes and workarounds there’s something out there that will help me, I just have to find. I hope you are able to find the thing you need to help yourself, if you’re in a similar situation.

Some other posts and must-reads from other bloggers dealing with similar issues:

Sugarcunt on depression, anxiety and zero libido

Jillian Boyd on being the “sexy” sex blogger with low libido

The Redhead Bedhead’s articles on Sex & Depression

 

  1. Why don’t we talk about this? Oh that’s right, because not everyone is like this and the people who religiously shower once a day or more will judge you so fucking harsh. I have confided in other bloggers privately and we have compared notes on how long since our last shower. For those who are judging us, fuck you. Count your blessings. This isn’t abnormal
 Posted by at 9:00 pm
Feb 192016
 

A few of the thank-you emails I've received over the years, they keep me going when the voice in my head doubts what I doI’ve been writing here for a long time now, nearly 8 years. My blog has changed drastically from that first year. My writing style is different, my topics are changing, my soapbox is growing to immense proportions. I didn’t start this blog to have a voice in the war against the toxic chemicals we put into our body in the name of pleasure, but that’s what it’s become.

You see, I’m the sort of person who gets mad when people are too lazy to walk their shopping cart to the cart return. I’m the sort of person who is enraged at the people who continue on through the intersection well after their light has turned red. I get angry and I let it show because somehow, something in my brain says that if they know it’s wrong (thanks to my horn and my middle finger) they’ll eventually stop1. Toxic and porous sex toys (and poisonous lubes) make me mad. And so I never shut up about it. I kept on finding ways to research and write about it. I eventually stopped working with shops that carried mostly porous sex toys. I do my best to continually tell people “hey…you know that’s porous, right? Do you know what that means for you?”. I spend my words fighting the myths that seem to keep spinning around. And eventually other reviewers started talking about it too. I don’t believe I was the first and I don’t believe I was the catalyst, but I think I had some influence on a few. And then those few had influence on a few more, and so on.

Over the years we reviewers have grown more and more vocal about safe sex toy materials. We send a message when we refuse to give our time to porous and toxic sex toys. We are sending a message to the manufacturers who, in recent years, have exploded with under-$75 (even under $50!) sex toys made from truly body-safe materials. With our honest reviews we are giving some assurance to people that when they spend $100 or more on a sex toy, we’ve thoroughly vetted it as best as we can. When we review the affordable toys we are helping people find safe, decent sex toys that fit their budget – our role is not only to make sure the high-end sex toys are worth their price tag, but to make sure the affordable sex toys are still as decent as they can be. After all, what’s the point of buying any sex toy, no matter the cost, if it doesn’t perform well? And 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. They are not just for the lonely, the celibate, the single. They are tools for every body. And every person deserves access to safe pleasure tools.

I can’t tell you how many readers have assumed that because an item is for sale, because an ingredient is in a lube, it must be safe. After all who would sell us unsafe things like that? Who would so blatantly disregard common sense and decency to make a buck even if it is at the expense of our health?

If you’re comfortable, talk about your body and your orgasms and your sex life on your blog. We’re a society of grown ass adults who were never taught a thing about pleasure, who were taught the location of fallopian tubes but not the clitoris, who grew up believing the porn narrative of what orgasms look like. For years as a teen and young adult I did not know where my clitoris was. I didn’t know, and I couldn’t orgasm; I thought I was broken. We need sex-ed, and we need pleasure-based sex ed….who else will teach it, but us? We are blessed with some amazing educators who are allowed to talk to teens on college campuses; along with sites like Scarleteen and places like the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health we are slowly spreading the education. But never doubt the power of your blog to reach the people not attending seminars and classes.

I’m writing this to remind you how important it is to speak up on the matters of safe sex toy materials, safe lube ingredients, and to research your information. If you feel comfortable, write about these things. Remind your readers in your reviews that this is a non-porous material and why that matters. If you, our readers, also understand how crucial this education is then share our posts with your circle, even if your social media circle doesn’t expect you to be sharing things about sex toys. When I see people on Tumblr sharing my posts about materials, people who normally would never reblog something about sexuality, I then see other people who also wouldn’t normally reblog things about sexuality reblogging and commenting. Learning. Sharing the knowledge. Small ways of “preaching outside the choir” and not just waiting for them to find our blogs when they search “dildo burning me” or “black spots on dildo”. Learn about the issues with big name brand lubes; for some people this is the only “sex toy” they will have and they will suffer through years of irritation without knowing any better. Hell, bring up the conversation with your doctor when they reach for the KY or Surgilube during your next exam. Talk to them about the bad ingredients and how detrimental it can be to the vaginal health of at-risk people. Bring your own damn lube! Anywhere you feel comfortable, teach someone something that may end up impacting their sex life forever simply by opening their mind a little.

Pictured above is just some of the thank-you letters I’ve received over the years. I have them printed and filed, to be pulled out on the days where my own anxieties and insecurities threaten my sanity. When my brain says “you’re not doing anything important”.

We are mighty. As a group we are loud; we are getting shit done, and we are not shutting up. Please, keep writing. Your voice is important, your story is important. Somewhere out there is another hundred people with the same tastes, problems and worries as you – you are helping others. You are teaching. 

  1. My husband assures me I’m wrong on this logic, and they will never learn. I can’t help it, though.
 Posted by at 3:31 pm
Jan 222016
 

BWE1One of my first erotica books was a Best Women’s Erotica of the Year. My local Barnes & Noble had two shelves for erotica books and BWE caught my eye immediately.  Back then, BWE had a year name in the title but apparently this caused book stores to send them back at the end of the year, thinking people wouldn’t buy past year’s books. I always wanted to find back editions because I liked the book so much. So Cleis Press now is starting over with Volume 1, and the lovely Rachel Kramer Bussel is editing (and contributing!). Rachel is a prolific writer of both erotica and editorial pieces. Her work spreads far and wide in print and Internet. If nothing else from this contest, let me introduce you to Rachel because you don’t want to miss out on her writing1.

I don’t really review books anymore because I lack the time and post scheduling resources, but I love Rachel so much that I couldn’t say no to introducing my readers to her and Best Women’s Erotica of the Year. I’ve had time to check out a few stories in the book and what I’ve had time to read has been *really good*. BWE Volume 1 has 22 very varied stories, including BDSM, heterosexual, lesbian and bisexual stories, stories featuring women with trans men, one sci-fi story and one historical story, several women in their forties and more. I’ve got an excerpt for you below from Rachel’s story, but if you visit the book’s website, you can find excerpts from 5 more stories!

I highly recommend this book! The stories I’ve read so far have focused on hetero, cis couples but I know from Rachel’s info that there is a little more diversity. She is aiming to have more work by and about trans women in the next volume (which is open for submissions!). I have such faith that you will love this book too that I want one of you to win one, and you have tons of ways to gather entries. You’ll notice a lot of people down there that can be followed on Twitter for entries – besides myself, Rachel and Cleis Press the rest all are authors who have stories in this book. If you’re a fan of erotica, please consider following these very talented people! One lucky US winner will get a paperback copy. You can find BWE Volume 1 on Amazon in the US, UK, and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

From Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, published by Cleis Press, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Flying Solo

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

 

I’ve made sure my camera has plenty of battery left for this trip, because you’re not here to watch me. I wish you were, but life sometimes keeps us apart. You didn’t ask me to, but I want to send you photos of me naked, turned on, wet for you. Even though you’re not talking up a storm as you usually are when we travel, I feel you with me as I pass through security, and especially as I head to the gate and start casually, quietly, discreetly looking around, the way we did on our honeymoon. Has it really been four years? They’ve flown by.

I’ll never forget sitting with you and hearing you whisper, “Find someone to take back to our hotel room with us.” You didn’t specify if it should be a man or a woman, and although I’d never considered it before, the idea of being pressed between you and another man made me so excited I almost spilled the medium coffee I’d just purchased. You took it from my hand and blew through the small opening in the plastic top for me, raising your eyebrows. I giggled, then started looking. I reached for your hand for support; you squeezed it but then let me go. I fiddled with my wedding ring, twisting around the new gold band over and over, afraid I looked like a kid in a candy store.

You’d whispered to me again. “I’m just so madly in love with you, and I think this should be a new tradition; when we travel, we find someone to join us. Just for fun, no strings attached.” I’d spent the entire time before we boarded perusing every adult sitting around us, mentally undressing them, wondering who had piercings or tattoos, who was kinky, who was the best kisser. I pictured the tall man in a suit, speaking rapidly in Spanish on the phone, with his cock in your mouth. I pictured the short, curvy redhead with her head buried between my legs while you entered her from behind.

“Well?” you’d asked, as they started to board the plane.

“I can’t decide. And I certainly can’t go up to any of these people. What am I going to say? ‘I just got married and my husband wants to have a threesome?’” Yet even saying those unspeakable words made me wet, made my mind and heart race. I’d told you that I was bisexual after our third date, wanting to make sure you wouldn’t have that awful, frat-boy, “That’s hot!” reaction that even most seemingly sophisticated men busted out once I revealed I went both ways. You just nodded and let me tell you all about Simone, the gorgeous woman with the smoky voice and beautiful, curvy body I’d most recently bedded.

I’d fallen in love with you in part because you let me tell you anything, and in turn revealed some of your fantasies. We’d tried out many of them—bondage, strap-ons, hot wax. We’d talked about threesomes and orgies but in a fantasy way, until that trip. For whatever reason, you’d never mentioned wanting to be with another man, but I liked learning new things about you just when I thought I knew it all. “Let’s wait until we’re on the plane,” I’d said, and lucky me: my dream girl, the one whose face I kept returning to, was sitting next to me on the plane. You’d pretended to sleep while I made small talk with her, all the while working up the courage to say what I most wanted to. As it turned out, she’d been the one to whisper in my ear, “I wish I could be alone with you for an hour. I want to kiss you all over.”

I’d stared right back at her, barely hearing the screaming infant behind us, or the  blaring music from the woman’s headphones in front of us. I just saw her, Katia, her ripe, naturally pink lips, her jet-black hair, the tiny diamond glinting from her lightly freckled nose. When I reached up and traced her lips, you’d stirred, gently knocking my knee with yours.

 

  1.  Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) is an author, editor, event organizer and writing instructor. She’s edited over 60 anthologies, most recently Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Dirty Dates; Erotic Fantasies for Couples and Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica. She’s the author of Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays and writes widely about sex, dating, books, pop culture, body image and feminism. Find her @raquelita on Twitter.
 Posted by at 12:06 pm
Jan 142016
 

Sex toy copycats

This is a think-piece that has been brewing for awhile, and it’s been sitting here brewing because I don’t really have answers. I’m just going to say right here and now that I’d like your opinions — reviewers, consumers, and store owners — on this matter.

There are three types of sex toy copycats in the sex toy world – one is a given and one feels like really shitty business practices – and the third? Flat-out counterfeiting which we see online in places like Amazon and Ebay and in shadier stores in large cities like we learned exist in NYC thanks to attending SHE NYC. The given: lower-cost sex toys that are merely “branded” and redesigned for various companies. Sometimes even different lines within the same brand. Some examples: Lovehoney’s “Cupid Smoothie” and then the line branded Annabelle Knight Oooooh! (the second of which is more expensive). Doc Johnson’s Black Magic bullet is the same as the Harmony bullet; Black Magic has a matte-finish PU coat and Harmony is shiny and slick, but Harmony has always been a little pricier.  Even seeing the same thing across different brands like basic vibrators – bullets, that curved egg-on-a-stick design, etc.

But then there are patent wars and companies directly copying other companies designs which is NOT a matter of the manufacturing plant’s “book of blank sex toys” that companies come put their name on. Examples here are the We-Vibe vs Lelo Tiani (which is more concept than design rip-off), the Split Dildo vs Funtoys G-Vibe, the Fun Factory Big Boss vs Funtoys GJack, and various Blush Novelties or Pleasureworks vs Tantus product. Or the Fairy Wands and BodyWand brand – they are very much identical but one is made very cheaply (Bodywand). Fun Factory, publicly, didn’t seem to care much that Funtoys totally ripped off their design, but I think they’re a big enough company that it doesn’t bother them. Smaller companies care. You know who else cares? The fans of the smaller companies.

Blush Novelties – Twitter Wars and Quiet Design Copies

The most recent design rip-off, done by Blush vs Tantus, caught the ire of bloggers on Twitter. Blush decided to fire back publicly – insulting and being nasty not just to Tantus and Metis, but to bloggers who defended Tantus. DUMB MOVE, BLUSH. I saved their tweets in case the social media manager gets fired in the morning.

BlushTantus BlushTantus2 BlushTwitter1BlushTwitter2BlushTwitter3

So yes, the tweets quickly disappeared. In DM’s to others, it is claimed that this person was a very new hire and has been fired. I personally call bullshit on this because what new hire would know all of this information OR be dumb/ballsy enough to behave in such a way? It would clearly be job suicide. I don’t actually believe for a moment that this was a new hire.  Bloggers are being told1 that we’re (bloggers and certain manufacturers alike2) spreading misinformation about their materials, insinuating that they’re safer than we think. The deleted tweet to Bex included in the screenshot shows that she talks about “gross porous materials” NOT saying it’s toxic, while the Blush person tries to roundabout claim they’re using non-porous TPE….um, no. Fuck you. But, this goes beyond the tweet claiming that some medical supply companies use TPR (which yes, there is a medically-safe TPE/TPR material but it’s expensive and I refuse to believe for a moment that a company making super-cheap TPE sex toys is using a medical-grade non-porous TPR). Really? We’re “manipulating the public”? Yes. That’s my goal here. Sure. Come ON Blush! Seriously? Seriously. Blush is also stating that “Tantus started it” with the design rip-offs, but no one but Blush seems to know what this is about. Really adult way to behave, Blush.

Yes, Blush, you do have plenty of silicone products, but you state ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE that you use materials like PVC and TPE/TPR that are porous. This is my big complaint, porosity. I will recommend porous TPR only when there’s literally no other option and with plenty of warnings and education – which is more than you do. No one is saying TPR is toxic but porosity fucking matters.  I would like to see a giant fucking apology from Blush on their bullshit statements, their treatment of people during that now-deleted Twitter exchange, and for them to remove their head from their ass. I will pepper my site with caveats about Blush as a company during the few times I recommend their silicone products; I will recommend other brands above theirs, even if they have the same product for cheaper. Ethics matters, Blush.

Update: Blush Novelties not only unfollowed but blocked nearly all bloggers on Twitter by Sunday afternoon.  Very adult.

Split Dildo vs Funtoys – Patent War Turned Blogger Harassment

The Split Dildo creator; he’s been fun. He cared so much about his design being copied that he started harassing bloggers who had reviewed the G-Vibe. He would email them and try commenting on their reviews with (empty) legal threats, telling the bloggers they had to remove their review of the G-Vibe because it was a patent violation. Whether or not this is true isn’t my concern and isn’t the concern of the bloggers; we are legally on the hook for our review from the companies who provided the toy to review, even if that company is Funtoys – we HAVE to keep those reviews up because we entered into an agreement. If the Split Dildo guy has an actual case then he should be talking to Funtoys, not us. After all, Standard Innovations didn’t come harass bloggers who had reviewed the Lelo Tiani; not even after it was banned for sale in the US for a few years.

If there is a valid patent that Funtoys has violated then I empathize with the Split Dildo dude but it still gives him zero right to harass the bloggers and threaten us. He not only has zero understanding of how this all works, but seems to not even understand what we say to him. A year later after I told him that he legally has no right to harass us and ask us to do anything with our review, he’s still at it and even telling some bloggers that he’ll go to court to get us to remove our posts. He feels our reviews somehow are discrediting his reputation. So what can happen here? At worst, the Split Dildo guy wins a case and it is decided legally that all reviews and written mentions of the Funtoys G-Vibe be removed. He still cannot be the one to come tell us this, it would have to be Funtoys or the retailers we received the product from. That’s it. He can’t do anything about the rest of our blog and reviews, because it’s not about us it’s about Funtoys.

I’ve reviewed both products and, aside from the Y-split, they are different in every way – size, silicone shore strength, flexibility….one’s a damn dildo, the other is a vibrator. But still. If his patent is valid, if his complaint is valid, then I empathize but if he’s just butthurt that Funtoys made it work and he didn’t? Not cool.

What Can We Do?

So that all said….what can we do as bloggers, and even retailers, when duplicates like this happen?  Do we boycott entire companies in cases like Funtoys, Blush Novelties or Pleasureworks? Or do we simply never recommend/carry the imposter sex toys? Blush Novelties is not a company I respect, but I can’t ignore that they do have some really decent silicone products that are affordable (and NOT rip-off designs) and many people need affordable silicone sex toys. I’m reluctant to boycott the entire company, but will always promote the better brand over them if I can.  At what point do we say “this is a company taking a product that is good and trying to make it better”? In many ways, as much as I truly hate to admit it, Lelo did the “couples’ PIV vibrator” thing better than We-Vibe. I’ve always liked the Tiani better. If the patent on a dual-motor c-shaped vibrator meant to be worn during PIV sex wasn’t a thing, would anybody be bothered much by it? I wasn’t.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. See how companies react. When a company starts to react like Blush…when you look at their overall line and see so many problematic things…you have a decision to make. Do you hold the entire company accountable for someone who shouldn’t be anywhere near social media, behaving like an ass? I don’t know. I think that WE care as bloggers/retailers…but do consumers?

When faced with a patent war that is smaller that has not seen legal rulings, the answer is clear: We listen only to lawsuit rulings. We can change our reviews to say hey, I’m not sure who is at fault and who ripped off who, but here’s what I’ve been told. Let the customer make up their mind after hearing what we know and what we feel.

  1. There is alot of misinformation in this unregulated industry and marketing and social media titans use their clout to manipulate the public.” The current person in charge still maintains that everything this person spewed on Twitter that was deleted is true but was said in a wrong way.
  2. I felt it was really hypocritical of Tantus to get angry of copying us when they did it first.” They then had a tantrum about all of the people who were deriding Blush for their plethora of porous materials on Twitter, saying that we don’t know “the facts” only what “these manufacturers” tell them. Fuck you, Blush, I’ve done enough goddamn research outside of what one person tells me.
 Posted by at 10:25 pm