Jun 032017
 

In just a few months I will be heading to the annual Sexual Freedom Summit put on by the Woodhull Alliance, thanks to SheVibe. It’s a few days of bonding and learning. This post is a big pile of info: a favor to ask of my readers; information on how you can get to the Summit if you’re low on funds; and information about a fun event for all the digital content creators who will be at the Summit.

Thanks to SheVibe being my sponsor again I’ve got my funding taken care of so I’m able to pay it forward for SFS17 – I’d like to get more bloggers to attend!

Help Two Trans Bloggers Get to SFS17

Sugarcunt set up a fundraiser to help send two trans bloggers to SFS17 – Taylor J. Mace of Feisty Fox Films and Insert Trans Here. We have gotten them over the 50% funded hump, but still need more help. Even small amounts can add up to a big help so if you’re able I know they would appreciate it. The community support, and learning, is so essential right now.

Blog Squad Scholarships

Last year when I was named Kinkly’s #1 Sex Blogging Superhero1 it came with a $500 prize which I was reluctant to accept – until I found that I could redirect it to Woodhull and create a few small scholarships. Woodhull very graciously is giving free registration to the winners of the scholarships. In addition, another member of the Blog Squad contributed $250 to add a THIRD scholarship to a blogger in need. One scholarship is earmarked for a blogger of color.

We’ve asked folks to write a short essay about “How do you use your blog to advocate for the fundamental human right to sexual freedom?” What should you write? Tell them about you and your blog, give examples of your social justice work on your blog, and tell them what it would mean to you to be able to attend with the help of the scholarship. The Blog Squad created this scholarship fund because we know that not everyone can get sponsorship for many reasons. Sponsors these days expect a return on their investment and often require more followers or traffic than many newer bloggers have. We hope that these scholarships will make the difference for you and turn a “I really wish I could come” into a “Yay, I’ll be there!”. 

No blogger will be responsible for choosing the winners – all essays will be read by the Woodhull panel. Go here to enter!

Free Registration  from Chaturbate

Chaturbate is hosting a giveaway for THREE free registrations which starts June 2nd! You can get more details about it here.

Digital Content Creator Meet n Greet

“Blogger Meet n Greet” rolls off the tongue a little better but we wanted to be more inclusive and reach out to those who are creating content in all ways – vloggers, podcasters, etc.  If you’re on the precipice of creating a space online for yourself, you should also attend! Not sure if you’re eligible? Email me or Suz/comment here. So many of us are creating content online – from sex toy reviews to social justice editorial pieces on Medium. And it seems like so many of us are also socially awkward / anxious / introverted. It’s hard to reach out – whether you’re the new person or it’s old hat but new-to-you people still intimidate you. My hope is that this will bridge the gaps.

A few months ago I had this idea and with Blog Squad help & input the idea has come alive. On Thursday, August 3rd, starting at 4:30pm, we’ll all gather for some relaxed hang-outs, networking, and skillshares. Because of the timing, we’ll be providing snacks and pizza — this is why we are asking you to RSVP. Registering for the Meet n Greet is not to keep people out but to help us plan and ensure there’s enough food. If you are late registering for the Summit and want to attend, just shoot me an email and we’ll make sure your attendance will be noted. Because the Meet n Greet is happening in Summit space we must restrict this to folks with a Summit ticket.

The skillshares (topics will be voted on soon by attendees!) are quick little 15-minute super-informal huddles – you can listen on the outskirts, actively ask questions, share your own related tips or ignore the whole thing and carry on with your conversations on the other side of the room. We want you to be comfortable!

I’ll be providing some blank business cards (limited supply) if you forget yours or cannot afford any but need to hand out your contact info. Retailer and manufacturer reps will be welcomed at 6:30pm for the last hour of the Meet n Greet to help you make connections that may grow into site sponsorships or sex toy reviews, or more!

We’ll also facilitate sign-up sheets for things like meals or evening events to make sure that you’re not alone if you don’t want to be. If you’re new and super anxious about all of this please reach out and we’ll assign you a “blogger buddy” to stick by you at the Meet n Greet and introduce you. 

How to RSVP: Use the Woodhull Eventbrite page to grab your free “ticket” and let us know you’ll be there!

If you’re attending: There will be five 15 minute skillshares throughout the evening. The topics are up for vote here. Please pick 1-5 topics.

Companies: I’m looking for a little help!

  1. Have any branded pens laying around? I’d like to have a small pile of pens for the blank business cards I’ll be setting out.
  2. I have a partial sponsor for pizza, but would appreciate a little more sponsored help for the packaged snacks, paper plates and napkins I’ll be bringing. If you’d like to help out with a sponsor amount of $100 please let me know ASAP! Got it covered! Thanks to Split Peaches!

 

YOU! YES YOU! Are you going to Woodhull? Will you be attending the Meet n Greet? Comment and let me know!!

 

  1. goin out on top – due to the extreme presence of Lelo on their site and their condoning the Hex condom, and I some other bloggers asked to be removed from their list so I won’t ever be a Sex Blogging Superhero again!
 Posted by at 6:01 pm
May 162017
 

A topic that I’ve been really up front and vocal about for ages is my weight and how that factors into sex toy use. It can’t be overlooked (but boy can it be mocked) and many readers over the years have appreciated my candor. A lot of factors come into play when using sex toys and your body size is one of them – something most thin people don’t think about because it’s not their lived experience. The same can be said for using sex toys as a disabled person – most sex toy creators are able-bodied so the ease of use by a disabled person is usually not thought about. It’s a mostly-ignored market so when a sex toy literally is called “plus size” it feels like a game changer.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sex toy made for – or marketed specifically towards – plus size folks1.  In the absence of a specialty product, we have to try a little harder to find a product that will work better for us. There are attributes we can look for – different handles/bases on dual-stimulation vibrators, handles on dildos, or simply using a g-spot vibrator as a clitoral vibrator. There are attributes we can try to avoid – poorly placed buttons is a big pet peeve of mine along with long handles that point away from my body. But a few months ago Womanizer/epi24 started advertising their newest model, the +Size (or Plus Size, if you prefer). I don’t think it was a stretch to assume that this was a calculated move and would be marketed, in some part, towards plus size folks. This assumption is especially based on the stock images they chose – slightly plus-size femme folks alongside Womanizer’s traditional images of thin femme folks. 

Screengrab of the marketing images from the Womanizer site for the Plus Size model - 2 photos on the left show artistic photos of thin femme bodies, the product image is next, and then there are two artistic photos of plump or slightly large femme folks

The current language on their site talks about the +Size having an extended handle which measures 8.5″ long and intensity buttons at the end of the handle. This handle is 2.3″ longer than their PRO40 model and 1.5″ longer than the largest (but poorly made) Satisfyer, the Satisfyer 2. I am not certain on the measurements but it also appears that there’s more depth from the tip of the nozzle to the backside of the body.  The elongated handle has a slight curve which is more ergonomic for rounder bodies and disabled folks. With the exception of the poorly-placed power button, the buttons are in a great spot. Just by looking at the Womanizer +Size I feel like it was made more with my body type in mind than nearly all other sex toys on the market are.

The Womanizer Plus Size is disappointing me heavily in their marketing choices, though. Despite absolutely loving the Womanizer PRO40 and W100 in use and supporting the Womanizer brand over the Satisyfer brand I’ve always been turned off by the name, their prices, and the stereotype images they’d chosen originally for all their different design themes of the W100. I won’t pretend that, despite the name, the Plus Size is meant only for plus-sized people but you certainly can’t ignore the fact that it IS great for larger bodies. As a plus-sized woman, I felt, briefly, like I was finally being “seen” in this industry. Briefly. The fact is that beyond a couple of photos on their site of slightly larger femme folks they have been using thin folks in their marketing images on social media so far. The brand’s marketing seems to have completely ignored the subtly stated target market of larger folks or disabled folks. Where are the images representing those people? Where is the marketing that would give validation to people of size from an industry that largely ignores us? 

The only Womanizer + Size marketing image so far on social media shows a thin femme person

 It’s still early so epi24 can still decide to embrace a marginalized portion of the population that is grossly under-served in the sex toy market by respectfully portraying and marketing to plus-sized people AND disabled folks. I would love to feel like a legitimate person with a legitimate set of particular needs in this market rather than invisible or fetishized.  I’ve long wished for sex toy manufacturers to acknowledge the not-insignificant portion of the population that is considered “plus size” and create more ergonomic sex toys with that in mind – but like any wish you have to be specific and I didn’t think I had to specify that said sex toy would also be marketed to and portray images of the target market. I do, so I am: Epi24, please let the Womanizer Plus Size be a truly Plus Size sex toy.

To be clear, this isn’t my review of the Womanizer Plus Size and I don’t even have one quite yet. I plan to review it in the near future; this issue is something I wanted to talk about outside of the review space because this isn’t just about the Womanizer Plus Size or epi24 – it’s about the fact that 99% of the sex toys on the market ignore plus-size folks as a specific niche of end-user AND the fact that sex toy marketing is mostly devoid of larger bodies.

Update: A representative for Womanizer contacted me and had this to say:

I realize that our European site has not been updated with the new naming convention, but we have launched this product with being all inclusive in mind, so it is actually called Womanizer Plus (+) not Womanizer +Size as it appears online currently. 

Our intention is to offer a product with the ease of use that customers get from a wand styled item. We realize that our customers come in all shapes and sizes and want to be all inclusive with all of our products, and with all of our marketing, we use all shapes and sizes. We also want to market a product and not ignore the fact that the size and shape of Womanizer Plus(+) offers an ease of use for bigger bodied people, just like many wand style items. 

My response includes a re-iteration of my point here:

It seems that many retailers and early reviewers have been calling it +Size or Plus Size, so I imagine there will be confusion on the name for quite some time now.
 
And while I can understand that you intend for this to be for all people it’s a great marketing opportunity to be unique and gain favor by specifically creating marketing that speaks to the Plus being particularly well suited for larger bodies and disabled people.  I don’t feel that embracing niche users will alienate anyone else, especially if you have marketing that covers everything. As a plus-sized woman I’ve never seen manufacturers use images of someone my size and haven’t seen anything made with us in mind – I’ve seen a photo or two of a very slightly plump person, as on the Womanizer Plus site, but so far that seems to be it. 
  1. Please do correct me if I’ve missed any
 Posted by at 9:19 am
Apr 182017
 

Depression and #45

I never used to be very political; when I finally registered to vote in my home state, I registered as Independent because I had no real care either direction. I think I knew I was more Democrat, but I never was very bothered by elections. All politicians seemed “the same” and it felt like “choosing the lesser of two evils”. I remember feeling slight apprehension on election night for Obama, hoping he would be voted in, but I didn’t worry. I felt like his becoming President, and then staying President, was a foregone conclusion. 

And then our most recent presidential election happened, and I couldn’t not be political anymore. I stood in line to vote and felt fear. I cried pretty much the whole time in line due to fear and anxiety. Our 45th President, whose name I will not use here, scares me. Sickens me. And was the trigger for a still-ongoing season of depression for me, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long while.

I think that I held out some warped hope in November and December; hope for a re-count, hope for the electoral college to do something historic. Or perhaps it was denial. The hope/denial was gone when he was inaugurated.

Depression and Turning 40

Two things about this year are hard for me: I’m turning 40, and this year is the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. 

This is the last year where I can say I’ve lived life without him for slightly less than the time I’ve known him. Living in a world where my father has been gone for longer than the time I’ve known him is weird, cruel, and just plain unfair. We were close, especially in what would be his last years. He was the “cool” parent, the one I got along well with, the one I was just like. His sudden death truly broke me and still has me fucked up to this day. I don’t think I would have ever wanted to show him this blog, but I’d like to think that, eventually, I would have told him about it. He would have happily helped me with my experiments; he would have gotten me equipment, or found new testing methods, or helped me research and understand. He was a chemist and fostered my love for “experiments” and learning.  His influence led to the 2 majors I tried in college that have become useful for my blog: (photo) journalism, and computer tech. Even my strange way of typing is because of him – I don’t use two fingers on my left hand, and only recently realized they are the same two fingers he was missing. I was never taught how to type the “correct” way, but learned as I grew up with a computer and learned by watching him. It’s a strange connection that I cherish.

And yes, I’m turning 40 in a month and taking it hard. I don’t feel 40. I know that my father’s death was incredibly traumatic for me and the mental repercussions are many and deep. I feel like in many ways I didn’t “grow up” and mature; I don’t feel 40. But at the same time, 40 is making me aware of my health and the fact that time is marching on. I am middle-aged. Time is slipping away. I wonder if I’ve done “enough” in my 40 years, if I’m “behind”. Should I have accomplished more, by now? My last few birthdays have been “okay”, and some have sucked. I’ve not had a birthday party since my teen years, and I don’t plan to start up again now but I also feel like 40 should get more attention, more pomp and circumstance, more … something. I don’t know if I’ll get that, though. My anxiety on turning 40 features a lot of fuzzy, unformed fears that can’t really be voiced and don’t have defined parameters.

Depression and Blogging

So, yeah. I’m depressed. To add insult to injury, I tried going back on an old medication for a little while, to get a bit of a boost. Prozac had never been a wonder drug for me but it had been the only anti-depressant that didn’t give me terrible hazing side effects – until now. I couldn’t stick with it and outlast the hazing period, so I lost nearly a month to terrible side effects from going on the drug and then going off the drug. And all of this is to explain why you haven’t seen many posts from me. I’m trying.

My ability and desire to use sex toys has gone down the drain. My ability to write about sex toys has plummeted. I have reviews to write that, when I try really hard, come out as dry and flat as toast. My depression has seeped into my feelings on blogging, on this blog, and my ability to write anything decent or relevant. My depression is telling me that I shouldn’t go to Woodhull; that I won’t enjoy it and I’ll just bring others down. I also have a lot of guilt about the backlog of review items, and there’s nothing anybody can say to erase that. Sure, I could take time off to take care of myself, and I’m sure many will continue to suggest that, but I can’t. Not really. I feel like it’s either quit or stay, nothing in the middle. I’m trying to understand/remember that Depression Lies, but it’s also a word-stealing bastard thief.

 

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Feb 152017
 

Cadillac of Vibrators. Top of the heap. One to rule them all. Everybody needs one! If you spend enough time on Reddit boards, Buzzfeed or other online mags that talk about sex/sexuality you will soon see posts talking about the “best” sex toy. They give readers no indication of qualifiers, and yet inevitably there will be a dozen proclamations that the Hitachi Magic Wand is THE BEST and SHE WILL LOVE IT and it ALWAYS WORKS and MAKES ME CUM IN A MINUTE. These proclamations and recommendations are also often given in r/sex when someone is asking for a first-timer’s vibrator recommendation.

And I twitch. I used to end up ranting and lecturing on Reddit, but now I avoid the place for my own sanity. Yet I can’t avoid the holiday lists put out by such experts as Buzzfeed, Cosmo and retailers and every damn time they make me mad. Why? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Wherein I Dislike The Wand, Any Wand

I’m not really a wand fan. I used to be; 9 years ago it was the only thing that sometimes could “force” an orgasm out of me. I took a notoriously long time to orgasm and when I’d tried the Magic Wand I had yet to own anything that worked truly well for me. I assumed that I needed sheer power. After all, I thought I’d tried everything else the industry had to offer, it must be an issue with the intensity.

It took me years to figure out that it wasn’t a need for power that was the key, it was a combination of rumbling, penetrating vibrations and pinpoint clitoral stimulation. I have one spot on the right that responds the most to sensations and the more precisely I can target that spot, the better off I am.

Even so, I’ve reviewed many wands because hey, people like them. Many people enjoy them, many people need them and I want to be able to give my thoughts on the quality and buzz vs rumble so that I can accurately give advice. But I don’t like reviewing wands, really, because I know they’re not what I need and it will be even harder to please me. I think most are ugly (but some are beautiful). I think they’re over-rated sometimes. I’ve notoriously hated wands that others have adored. I think that the Magic Wand and similar wands are buzzy, numbing, overkill for many folks and not really the best “first vibrator”. I don’t think they’re bad, and I don’t discredit that, for many folks, they are The Key to Orgasm. And, for others, they’re not the Only Key, but they can be a fun tool to hammer out an orgasm in a minute or two. I’m definitely in neither camp, so I feel obligated to often rally for the Not A Wand Lover camp because if you’re Not A Wand Lover and you read all about these thousands of people who can come in a minute, and you can’t, you might feel broken.

Wherein You Dislike The Womanizer

There’s another sex toy that is leading to fans (and companies) making orgasm guarantee claims: The Womanizer (or Satisfyer). I delayed trying the Womanizer but eventually had to settle my own skepticism. I thought for sure I would be the first review of dissent.  It’s a rare occurrence but I was wrong and the Womanizer ended up working for me, with one caveat: Others talked about coming in under a minute. It took me sometimes as much as 15 minutes, but usually more like 5-10. Regardless, I find that it’s a unique sex toy and if I can use the right model then sometimes I can keep going and have another orgasm in the nearly-immediate future. Are the multiple orgasms that some boast about with the Satisfyer or Womanizer the norm? Probably not. So don’t expect it.

Womanizer, or epi24, literally has an orgasm guarantee. If you buy their overpriced Womanizer Deluxe Pro Super Spectacular W500 and it doesn’t work for you, they’ll give you your money back if you contact them within 30 days. They haven’t put the same guarantee on their Womanizer PRO40, which baffles me, but what are you gonna do.

The Womanizer, or any other sex toy similar to it, is not going to work for everybody. It can’t possibly. Do I know who is more likely to enjoy it? I think so. I think you have to like clitoral stimulation – direct clitoral stimulation – versus broad vulva stimulation and have extreme difficulty with orgasm via manual stimulation. I think there are other factors, but this is one of the only common threads I’ve seen amongst folks who hate the Womanizer and it doesn’t work for them. I was talking to JoEllen after re-reading her piece about how the Womanizer doesn’t work for her, and we had a really hard time putting things into a short “sound bite” but came away from the conversation understanding that there’s no normal, there’s no standard, there’s no best. JoEllen likes wands; in large part, because direct clitoral contact is painful and wands allow for broad areas of the vulva to receive vibration as an indirect method of clitoral stimulation. If that’s you? Ignore what they say about how it’s “touchless” clitoral stimulation because touchless doesn’t matter if you don’t like direct clit stim.  I talked to Sarah who also hates pinpoint vibrators, loves wands, and definitely cannot orgasm without a sex toy. She talks here about how a much-loved small vibrator doesn’t work for her at all, and has told me that the Satisfyer simply doesn’t feel like anything to her. Her body just doesn’t register it.

There’s No Best Sex Toy

Yep, I know, I have a page titled “The Best Sex Toys“. To be honest? SEO is a big reason for it. But I also wanted a place to list out all of the sex toys I personally love mixed with some stand-out sex toys I always recommend in the right circumstances. Not all are perfect for me, but I think they’re all top in their class.

I can’t just recommend a sex toy to someone without knowing a lot about them, and I tend to think it’s a bit reckless to toss out promises that are as hard to keep as a wriggly puppy. When someone1 polls the mob and just says “I need a sex toy recommendation” and people start shouting out names and promises, I can’t handle it. I need to know what body part they want to use it on; what sort of stimulation they’ve liked so far; how difficult it is to orgasm manually; if they’re tried other sex toys; and a few other key questions. Only then will I give a mostly-confident recommendation, with the heavy caveat that if it doesn’t work, they shouldn’t despair.

This need for clarifications and questions and caveats and if-then statements leads to a burning rage when places like Buzzfeed list out “sex toys you can’t live without”, or uncontrollable twitching when someone (anyone) claims that XYZ sex toy will work for everyone. It’s why I can’t give a singular recommendation when a place asks me to tell them my favorite sex toy recommendation for a Valentine’s Day piece. It’s why it took me so long to even write the review for the Womanizer W100 – because I couldn’t figure out why I liked it, or who might agree/disagree with me. I am caught between this high-strung desire to not let you waste money and to assure you you’re not broken and you may not find your Holy Grail sex toys until the 12th try. “Try, try again” and “let’s not waste money here” are kind of at odds with each other, but I subscribe to both.

Works For You? Great!

A lot of folks who go around insisting that their holy grail will be your holy grail sex toy are missing a crucial point: everybody is different. I’m so glad that you found a sex toy that works for you, without fail, and to your desired degree of swiftness. I know the frustration of owning many sex toys yet not having any that work truly well. So in your enthusiasm, there is a bit of blindness. If you love a certain sex toy, try explaining why you love it when you recommend it. Talk a little about your level of sensitivity or ease of orgasm without sex toys. Give an example of something that was absolutely terrible for you, and tell them why.

I’m not trying to take away your well-deserved love of your favorite sex toy. I have them, too. I fucking adore the Tango and Womanizer equally, but I know they’re not the best for those who are more sensitive and it’s a bit much to spend until someone knows for sure that they like pinpoint, intense stimulation.

And finally, maybe most sex toys aren’t your thing, and you don’t see the fuss. You prefer your hand or your lover’s mouth. That’s completely valid, and while it’s foreign to me, no one is superior. Needing a vibrator is absolutely okay, and so is NOT needing one.

Bloggers, Not Magazines

Want to avoid the pitfalls of hearing that something is “the best” without them knowing you at all? Not everybody does, but if you do, if you want to get a recommendation on a great sex toy for YOU, don’t read those listicles from Buzzfeed, Cosmo, or hundreds of other online magazines. Avoid the reviews on such magazine sites, too. You’ve got the best, most experienced, most critical squad to call on when you need answers: reviewers. Don’t be afraid to ask multiple reviewers their opinions, and read enough of their blog to get a good understanding of what works for them. Find someone who seems to be similar to you in needs, likes and dislikes. And if you see those dreaded words “every woman needs one”, run for the hills.

Let’s love it, but let’s stop trying to make “the best sex toy” happen. It’s never gonna happen.

  1. Whether they’re a dude looking for something for their girlfriend, or a person overwhelmed with the choices in general
 Posted by at 12:14 pm
Jan 222017
 

The most popular session I attended at #SFS16 was #SFSMedia or ‘Navigating Social Media Practices for Adult Businesses’ and as you’ll see, this post is drawing heavily on the tidbits of wisdom dropped by panelists Sandra Bruce (Shevibe), Metis Black (Tantus), and JoEllen Notte (Redheadbedhead.com). While I was taking notes and tweeting as best as I could I realized during that session that it would spawn a blog post or two but I didn’t realize that every month thereafter I would be reminded by others‘ social media fuck-ups that this post needs to be written.

Today I’ve partnered with Formidable Femme, Red Hot Suz, and marvelous darling to create a multi-post guide to sex industry social media. Hopefully, through these guides, new and old companies can be educated on how to maneuver through marketing sexuality in a professional way. I plan to pull this post out like your mother pulls out that annoying pamphlet on whatever health condition she is sure you have or will have. I will present this to companies and hope they have the sense to read the whole thing.

As more and more adult-industry companies are created, or simply joining social media, the occurrence rate for social media fuck-ups is also rising. It seems like every month on Twitter the blog squad will notice new1 companies saying things that fly in the face of everything our side of the industry2 stands for: sex-positivity, body-positivity, inclusivity & tolerance, and correct education. As a business, your social media posts go beyond fun & marketing – they are your reputation. Reputation is currency. Reputation can be the difference between being named someone’s favorite company of the year and living on their Blacklist; between being recommended consistently to readers & customers or never mentioned. Reputation is currency. Understand this and you’re on your way to understanding how to handle your fuck-ups. It’s easy to make mistakes – listen to the community and take heed when we tell you you’ve fucked up.

Alright, so you’ve fucked up. Your mentions/comments are filled with people calling you out on your fuck-up. What’s the first thing you should do?

Step 1: STOP. Remove yourself from this equation, and don’t take it personally. I say that to prepare you for this: It doesn’t matter what you think right now. It doesn’t matter what your intent was. What matters is how it was received. Full stop, the end. Sit with this for a minute or ten and repeat it like a mantra until you fully believe it – and don’t you dare respond to folks until you believe it. So many companies make the storm worse by getting offended and upset, by doubling down on the bad behavior we’re calling out or throwing us a half-hearted fauxpology.

When you’ve done wrong, every hour that ticks by, from the moment the river of hate floods your screen, is affecting the perception of your business. As a business, a brand, the longer you take on damage and stay silent, the worse it will be for you and the harder it will be to come back from it.

Step 2: Delete the offending post(s). They’re terrible, offensive and hurtful. The post that got you into hot water is not going to do you any good by leaving it up. By bringing it down and quickly following up with Step 3 you will hopefully stop the bleeding. Stop the bleeding, and start the mending.

Step 3: Apologize and tell us you were wrong, we were right. Because no matter what is in your head our reaction is what is correct right now. Apologize publicly, apologize privately, apologize to individuals and acknowledge the validity of their complaint to them. However, and this is very important, make sure your apology isn’t a fauxpology. A fauxpology shifts the blame – to the complainant for their feelings or that they saw something you didn’t, for example. A fauxpology is “We’re so sorry you found this offensive, it was never our intent” which can be re-written as: “I’m very sorry; I didn’t see it that way but understand my error”.  Crafting a good apology is as simple as expressing regret/remorse, admitting you’ve done wrong, and promising that it will never happen again.

Actually, there’s one aspect I left out but it needs a little mention: a blanket “sorry, we did wrong” can feel empty if you don’t seem to really understand what you did wrong.  Months after this post went live a perfect example has occured. Godemiche put up a quick personal video to a social media account which showed the company owner discussing how he thinks a “hairy vagina” is “disgusting”. Many folks with pubic were offended and enraged, and rightfully so. The company put up a written apology that seemed sincere but vague. They later did a periscope video where they talked about their error in conflating vagina with vulva. Nowhere did they talk about how it was incredibly wrong to shame body hair like that or acknowledge that they crossed a line on their professional account. This left many folks feeling skeptical and unsatisfied that the company actually understands what it is they did wrong.

Step 4: Sit there and take the beating.  This doesn’t mean you need to engage in discussions about it and reply to every single tweet in your mentions. It’s a delicate balance; a dance of sensitivity. Apologize, make it look heartfelt but understand that more angry tweets will follow. When a tweet is popular, it will show up in someone’s timeline later on – 9 , 18, 24 hours later. And that may be the first time they’re hearing about Your Awful Thing. And maybe they’re so disgusted/incensed/hurt by what you did that they need to jump in and be another voice telling you. This may come hours, or a day, after your apology. Let it happen. Take it.

Step 5: Do better. Don’t let this happen again. Learn. If this happened because you handed your social media accounts over to someone who doesn’t understand the language of sex-positivity and inclusiveness, who has never run a social media account for a sexuality company? That’s on you for letting them go unchecked. At the end of the day, this is your company and you shouldn’t be hands-off on something so important. Hire someone better and make sure you have the login information for all of the social media accounts others are handling. Make sure you’re logged in so that notifications are seen immediately by you.

If this happened because you, the owner, are running your social media accounts then you need to consider handing them over to someone else who has experience running social media for sexuality companies. Otherwise you could be damaging your own business.

Educate yourself and your employees, specifically on the topic you were called out for. Understand the nuances of consent, shame, gender, sexuality, and more. And if you read up on these topics and still feel that you were right, we were “over-reacting” or being “too politically correct”? Then you have no business being the voice of your company. Hire someone to do it for you.

What Not To Do

DON’T block the people who are complaining. That’s literally never a good idea. It does absolutely nothing but make you look like shit. It earns you a bad reputation amongst the folks who are giving voices to your brand; the folks who might have considered forgiving your fuck up.

DON’T ignore us. The apologies are necessary. You can’t just delete the offending post(s) and be done with it. No response will land you in hotter water than you started in. It signifies that you don’t give a shit and/or don’t care to understand your mistakes.

DON’T insult us. Don’t get defensive. We’ve seen too many folks lash out at the people doing the call-out. Again, this is only going to make your situation worse and pretty much ensure that most bloggers won’t recommend your brand.

DON’T assume that the followers who are vocal are the only ones who care. I can assure you that there are other brands, companies and important people following you who also care but couldn’t say anything. If you are a retailer, consider if you’re prepared to have brands pull their stock from your shelves because you fucked up and handled it poorly.

And finally, get over your belief that any publicity is “good”. Sure you may be getting attention for your bad behavior but remember this: bloggers have influence. On their readers, on other bloggers, and sometimes on the retailers they work closely with. In addition to never shutting up, we don’t forget.

This Could Be You

Let’s say you don’t believe me and don’t think there will be a lasting impression. Let’s look at a few examples of companies who fucked up and didn’t fix it:

Lelo – They never took responsibility for naming Sheen as the face of their terrible condom. They’ve never acknowledged our anger (about multiple issues). Instead, they tossed out some condescending responses and look where we are now – many bloggers finally gave up on supporting them and recommending their products. Many retailers who were already half out the door before this catastrophe finally decided to stop carrying their products.

Blush Novelties – Many bloggers are reluctant to recommend their products. I’m still blocked by their Twitter account; I’m still pissed off at how they reacted when we called them out on blatant copycat reproductions of Tantus designs. When I do reluctantly recommend a product of theirs I never fail to also educate my readers on my reluctance and will continually mention their treatment of bloggers and their too-casual attitude on Intellectual Property.

Kiiroo – They offered up a half-hearted fauxpology on a rape joke and have had multiple complaints from freelancers – including tales of how they want to commission blog posts about decidedly un-feminist, not-sex-positive topics. When esteemed company Standard Innovations (We-Vibe) announced their pairing up with Kiiroo the blogger reaction on social media was loud and swift. Numerous bloggers have said they won’t review any We-Vibe products that are a Kiiroo partnership.

To close, I need to add this: This post is about dealing with companies – not individuals. You may notice tweets from #sfsmedia where JoEllen talked about “blocking early & often”, or see where someone said it’s okay to wait out a social media shitstorm by going silent. Those comments were about dealing with individuals as an individual or dealing with a shitstorm based on lies from a troll. My post is dealing with the very simple and straight-forward multi-platinum hit: You Done Wrong. It’s often re-mixed and covered but the song remains the same.

 

It’s been said by some that instead of, or in addition to, calling out companies for their bad behavior we need to be educating them. Consider this your education.

 

 

  1. or old, because most of us had muted/blocked the companies for posting graphic porn
  2. some would call it a utopia but this Pollyana believes in what we can become
 Posted by at 7:05 pm
Jan 012017
 

Traditionally, a lot of the things in this post have been included in my Best & Worst Sex Toys lists but I decided that for 2016, I had a lot to say just about sex toys, and sex toy companies. But also that I had a lot to say about the year in general. I wanted to not be afraid that I was “being too wordy”. You know, in many ways, this hasn’t been a good year. For the country, the world, and even for personal reasons. It certainly hasn’t been my personal worst year but…it’s definitely one for the charts. I hope for a better 2017 personally but have deep fears about the next 4 years overall. This post officially closes the book on 2016 and welcomes 2017. I’m looking to 2017 as some sort of arbitrary reset button that I hope will make things better, somehow. Ridiculous, perhaps, but I’ll take what I can get.

Rankings

Now, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that being ranked as the #1 sex blog on Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superheros list for 2016 would make me happy, right? Not so much. It came with a lot of strange guilt, mixed feelings, and unease. I still feel uneasy about the whole thing if I’m honest. I’m going to start working on a new sort of un-ranked directory in January, to get exposure to folks without relying on competition.

I also hit the #2 spot on Molly’s Top 100 list, which didn’t make me feel as oogly as Kinkly’s list. Perhaps it’s because I know how she ranks, and it’s not a popularity contest and has strict, laid-out guidelines. Whereas the Kinkly ranking blurb talked only about my reviews, which I don’t think are the absolute best in the business, Molly looks at everything and her words made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

AND Kate named me as one of her 5 Sex-Savvy Superheroes.

I’ve peaked. It’s all downhill from here, folks.

Stuff I Wrote

A few really big projects finally saw the light of day this year – what I’ve dubbed the Great Glass Post which talks about cheap glass, how to test your own items, and what to avoid1. Also, the Big Lube Guide which is constantly being updated. A long-time project, the Jar of Horrors, had its own little “where are they now” post showing photos over the years. The Jar turned 3 this year.

Some research posts I really enjoyed doing included the post about clear silicone vs clear TPR, and a post discussing if there’s any point to putting a condom on your sex toy. I ranted about sex toy copycats and counterfeits and raved about the powerful, rumbling g-spot vibrator options we finally have. After screaming about a really shitty Amazon-only sex toy brand, I wrote a guide on how to report that dodgy sex toy you bought from Amazon before you decided to stick with reputable shops.

I wrote a post about my mantra, “Never Shut Up” about how so many bloggers so often put on their activist hats and how damn important it is that we keep on talking – and condemning unsafe sex toys and lubes. “When we continually reassure our readers that their pleasure is important, their bodies matter and that yes they need to care about the materials of their sex toys and the ingredients of their lubes we are validating that these items are important.” I also wrote about my mental health and how it has affected my libido, and how that has affected my being a sex blogger. 

This year I started reviewing sex toys that are truly new to the industry. They’re so different that I don’t even know what to call them. They’re not a vibrator, really. And definitely not a dildo. They don’t fit in with any existing category. I’m talking about the Womanizer and everything the original model spawned. Writing the review for the Womanizer W100, by the way, was hard. It’s perhaps the most difficult review I’ve ever written because I couldn’t really understand why it was working for me, and who it would work for. Perhaps the most surprising thing: it’s become my preferred clitoral stimulator. Well, the Womanizer PRO40, technically, but really any of the ones I’ve tried are the first thing I’ll reach for now above everything else in my arsenal – yes, even more than the We-Vibe Tango. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Stuff Other Folks Wrote

Many fellow bloggers wrote important, insightful, and powerful posts this year. JoEllen’s Surviving a Bully (When You’re 35) spoke to a lot of us. Kate’s “I’m a Good Girl” piece really hit home for me; I identify less with kink these days but I’m a “good girl” through and through. Lorax of Sex got their hands on the awful Lelo Hex condom and showed us what happens when you poke it with a needle – and more importantly educated folks on why this is so bad. Sarah wrote two posts I couldn’t choose between – her post on why she calls companies out is close to my heart just as much as her post “Fat People Aren’t Your Goddamn Punchline“.

Molly bravely agreed to review a truly heinous dildo – you know those reusable heating devices that contain liquid and you click a metal disc inside to solidify the liquid and make it warm? Yeah someone thought that making a dildo like that would be a good idea. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Lunabelle wrote up a guide to buying decent sex toys from Etsy, because too many questionable items are on that site like antler dildos and wax-covered clay dildos. Erika talked to us about arousal nonconcordance, a term I wasn’t familiar with but is super important to understand. And Rose is writing about sex from a chronic illness perspective, which needs to be talked about more in general. So many people deal with various types of chronic pain, disability, and more and yet we’re still sexual beings! Who knew!

Finally, Epiphora wrote about the importance of her name. As someone who has also chosen their own blogger name and will never use her legal name in this context, I love the post. For a while there, Lilly was more like my alter-ego but in recent years I’ve come to realize that “Lilly” is just as much who I am, if not moreso, than the parts of me you don’t see or read about. As Lilly I’m more outspoken and making a small difference in the world. And, like Piph, I seemed to have chosen a name that shouldn’t be hard to spell correctly but people fuck it up all the time and insist on calling me the flower.

Good Things, Good People, and Changes

I wrote a whole post about my time at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit, but I feel like I can’t say enough good about it.  It’s just that good for me – so much so that even when a moment or two wasn’t perfect, the overall lasting effect and memories are golden. They’re protected and shining, and keeping me going some days.  It was easily the highlight of my year and I’m already making plans for SFS17, including working on a session proposal with a few other bloggers.

In my 8 years here I’ve worked with/for a lot of companies and a lot of affiliate managers. I’ve had the privilege of being more picky about who I work with this past year, who I link to, who I recommend. It doesn’t take much for me to tell a company “no”, or stop working with them. You’ll be noticing a lack of Lovehoney links soon (and the ones here don’t work). While I realize that it’s hard to compare other companies to the bright light of Shevibe, Lovehoney just hasn’t excited me. Sure, customers love their kinda ridiculous returns policy, but I’m on the fence about a lot of things. When bloggers found out that we would suddenly have to change every affiliate link and then accept a much lower percentage for our efforts, it felt like the sign I’d been waiting for. I’ve been doing this too long to force myself into anything that doesn’t make me happy. I’m on the lookout for other decent UK companies that carry the brands I endorse.

And all of that is also to say: Every retailer that disappoints me makes me put Shevibe (and Smitten Kitten, Early to Bed, Come As You Are) up on their pedestal a little higher. Every industry idiot who turns their social media management over to a disgruntled teenage boy sporting the “no fat chicks” snapback and “no homo” t-shirt makes me run to Shevibe like a kid hiding behind their parent’s legs. We’ve had so many incidents this year alone with Companies Behaving Badly on social media; it’s exhausting.

And even though my well-intentioned blog post probably ended up making everything worse, I hold such deep regard for the bloggers I am lucky enough to consider friends. The Blog Squad bands together, fighting for truth and justice in this shady industry.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

yearreview

I’ve tried to think of Blog Goals for 2017; things to do better, things to start anew and you know what? I can’t. Every time I ask folks what they want, they want more of posts like this and this. And while those are great, getting that information is sometimes damn hard. I’ve been trying for years now to get insider info on the metals used for our sex toys, but it’s tough. I would love to find a way to help you know if that affordable stainless steel sex toy is made of a truly body-safe alloy2.  I’ve mentioned it on Twitter but I’d like to get some sex toys with my name on them – can I take it a step further and see if I can get one from every major body-safe material? That might be taking it too far!

I’m happy, for the most part, with the way my site looks. My header image has never been better – which hey, tick off another goal! I’m so in love with the image SheVibe came up with and I have a feeling this is my forever banner3. I feel like the site is easy to navigate. And now that I work 40 hours a week4 it’s proving harder and harder to get out a post a week5. I’ll keep trying my best to put out content as often as I’m able. I looked back at the goals I’d set for 2016 and I think I accomplished most of them, blog-wise. I finished the Glass post and the Big Lube Guide. I didn’t get to the Library page. I didn’t really end up doing more videos; I grew to hate the way I looked and sounded and just kept trying to make a video but would delete it every time. I committed to focusing on reviewing even more affordable sex toys, and I think I did okay – Doc Johnson Truskyn, the Blush vibrator, the Boom Olive vibrator, the boring Jazzie, the awful Jimmyjane Intro line, a few random things to avoid, and a Jopen vibe. I’m definitely going to keep reviewing the lower-cost sex toys.

The 2016 goals I failed to meet were the personal goals. I haven’t lost weight. I haven’t exercised much. We didn’t get the garden started. I did, though, escape that horrible, soul-sucking job – albeit replaced it with one that leaves me with much less time to devote to the blog and all that is periphery to that. Frankly, I’m afraid to set any personal goals given my rate of failure on those in 2016. I will be hitting a milestone birthday in 2017 which I am… not ready for. I’m not ready to be that age. Age is but a number, most say, but there is a real stigma against women post-40.

The Lubies that I talked about here are still happening, albeit more tentatively, and slowly. The in-fighting caused a lot of folks to lose momentum and hope, I think, and it will take a small army to get this to happen. 

I’m always open to suggestions, though, so please leave them if you have them! I’d love to know what YOU want to see more of here and what would make my blog even better.

 

 

  1. and has led to me owning way more unusable glass sex toys than I’ve ever wanted to own, and I still don’t know what to do with them
  2. Knowing the grade of the steel can help folks know if they may have contact dermatitis due to a metal allergy. Also certain grades are less prone to rust, such as the grade that nJoy uses. I’ve also seen companies claiming to sell stainless steel when it’s really just chrome-plated something else which will be problematic if the chrome gets a scratch
  3. I think I’ve had at least 5 header images by now so it’s about damn time I settle on one
  4. I started this blog while working a full-time job, but with that job I had no real supervision and not a lot of work to do so I could easily do bloggy stuff all day long
  5. I don’t know how the fuck people with kids ever find time to blog, especially the parents who also have jobs beyond the blogging
 Posted by at 12:26 pm