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
Sep 202014
 

Earlier this year I ranted on a topic similar to this; many companies have no idea the sort of effort we put into our sex toy reviews. The testing, the photos, the writing, the editing, and even the promoting. For the cheap toys, we’re getting screwed in the conversion if the sex toy is seen as “payment” for the review.  But many of us spend at least half a day’s work time (if we’re comparing this to an hourly full-time job) if not a full day or even MORE than a full work day’s time on our reviews.

So today I saw a post from a blogger, not a sex blogger, talking about fair pay for bloggers. We’re not the only ones doing reviews! During my short time as a food blogger, I was indeed doing some reviewing. Perhaps because I was new, perhaps because that’s how they do it, but I was never sent a retail size product for review. If it was for, say, something that comes 6 per box….I was sent one individual item. I was tempted to review it as “ew yuck, tastes like poo, avoid” and that be that. Compared to the retail value of the sex toys I get? 140 characters for a total review would have been generous.

Regardless, the post is very good and raises some good points. Go read it. I’ll be here. Come back and talk amongst yourselves.

Maybe what I’m doing is fighting for equal pay: equal pay with journalists, critics, columnists.. or just being paid at all. It’s not a perfect proposition, I know that, but something needs to change. My idea has many reasons why it won’t work – but I just feel that it needs to be addressed and we get a conversation going in order to try and start to make a change.

Some points that have already been raised on twitter include integrity of the review/reviewer…..wouldn’t a company only want to pay for a positive review? Would this change how the reviewer talks about the product? Is there a way to get fair pay to bloggers for the hard work of a review without compromising anybody’s integrity? What about a payment to spotlight the review? For some reviewers, they don’t post often so a new post will stay on the homepage awhile. For others, it might scroll by quickly. One option could be that a blogger is paid a special sort of advertising fee for a sidebar banner that leads to the review or the company’s site or extra social media attention to the review maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know how it would work, if it could work, if any company values us enough to do it.

The blogger who wrote this post did a follow-up, and there is one point someone else raised that I found interesting:

Under the heading “Do you get paid for Product Seeding?” her answer was

“…No. Unless you are required to use specific links, post specific verbiage or do specific tasks in relation to the gifting. If you are being sent a product, you are at liberty to post in whatever context on whatever time frame you deem appropriate. If celebrities don’t get paid to wear a pair of jeans, you aren’t either”

Except that….in the sex toy world we are often required to have certain words appear, and appear as links, links that don’t have our affiliate link in them. We’re hounded if we have the product longer than a few months.

Do you agree? Disagree? Retailers and manufacturers, we’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Be anon if you must!

Would you think the blogger is getting fair pay, or would you think they’re less trustworthy?  If you respond on twitter, let’s use their hashtag, shall we? #fairpayforbloggers

 Posted by at 10:15 am
Sep 032013
 

I usually don’t do this – “this” being editing a post to completely change it OR essentially reviewing a sex toy that I’ve not even tried.  But, I’ve read a review on the Lelo Ida from someone I trust and it confirmed every single suspicion I had. When you’ve owned hundreds of sex toys and been reviewing for over 5 years, you get to be a pretty damn good judge of a sex toy before you have even seen it in person.

Lelo asked me to write this post originally to hype up their newest WTFail, the Ida. I had to write this post, and talk about a sex toy I knew very little about, in order to be allowed to even review it. Then, I was told to “be patient”, that my review order was being put on the back burner so that they could fulfill retailer orders1.  And then I never heard back. And then….then I read Piph’s review.

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And I thought about it all for a little while. I thought about Lelo in general. My frustrations. My issues. My disappointments. I decided I had to determine if I wanted to remain a “VIP Reviewer” for Lelo, and keep on doing this. I had to decide if I even wanted to review this Ida for myself. I could still decide, you see, because they still hadn’t yet sent it to me (meanwhile Piph’s had hers for like, a month). 

My answer came in short order. Actually, it came to me about 2 minutes after I finished reading Piph’s review.

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Lelo Ida is being launched in response to the ruling that the Lelo Tiani cannot be sold in the US or Canada; it looks like the ITC once and for all ruled in favor of Standard Innovations and their We-Vibe.  The Tiani 2 was pretty popular, judging by the vast traffic I’d get from searches about it. But Lelo took it pretty hard. They had seen the success of the We-Vibe, and felt jealous. They felt that they HAD to have a “worn while lovemaking” hetero-focused vibe, too.  Unable to release this concept from their robotic-claw grasp, they put on their crazy-hats and came up with Ida.

Debuting in late September, IDA is the most revolutionary couples’ massager, and unlike anything available on the market! Designed to be worn when making love, IDA stands as the only couples’ massagers that combines powerful vibrations and thrilling rotations within – providing the most stimulating sensations for both partners!

Since they were unable to utilise the U-shape because it belonged to We-Vibe, they made it look like a bathroom wall hook. Here’s a link to Lelo’s video, showing how it works.  The flat portion is what rests on the clitoris. As I’ve explained before, this design will not work on a fair portion of the world’s clitoris-bearing people. The arm, then, rotates. All the time. It never stops. Unless, of course, resistance stops it. Like a penis that is average sized, or bigger. Then guess what happens? The outer disc portion “rotates”, since the motor has to DO something otherwise it’ll burn up and die. From all I’ve read, the vibrations are largely worthless and the sound of the rotating arm is likened to a dentist drill.

A DENTIST DRILL SOUND DURING SEX.

giphy

So, let’s see. Either the penetrator feels an object bumping and shoving his dick while it’s in a vagina, or nothing happens because the vagina isn’t as cavernous as some men, and Lelo, think it is. The disc design could be nice for those women with an “exposed” clitoris and less prominent outer labia/mons, as the other person’s pubic mound will, in the missionary position, provide pressure. Some people need that pressure on the clit.  Ok, I’ll give them that. But they’re still leaving out a huge portion of the population.

Oh, and you also have the option of Tara–Ida’s less fancy sister. Same design, same stupid concept, just sans SenseMotion remote. Awesome. Make it even more awkward to use. But oh, Lelo Tara comes in a pretty Midnight Blue–a color Lelo has previously considered a “boy” color; we’d only seen it on their older cock-ring, Bo and the “male” version of the Liv, Billy.

If Lelo had come up with this design as a solo toy, I might not have had such a visceral reaction. I might have looked at it and said “Okay, it won’t work for people built like me, but it has some potential”. Instead, me, my husband, my girl friend, and other friends have all had the same reaction:

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Further Reading:

  1. Before retailers could back out after reading a bunch of negative reviews? Maybe? Who knows
Apr 092013
 

Because I think I would.

One of the many reasons why I love my Njoy Pure Wand is because of the lazy-C-shaped design. Bringing the controlling handle back closer to my arms means that I don’t have to do crazy contortions. The shape tends to be also why many sex toys on the market don’t work out for me – they’re straight. The controls for the vibrators are sticking out of my vagina by an inch or three, which means my hand has to reach that far. Guess what? It doesn’t.

I was poking around patents when I just merely looked up “sex toy”. The first thing I see is something that I don’t think ever came to light but I wish it had!!!

sextoyhandlepatent2

From the Background of the Invention portion:

Throughout history, humans have sought sexual gratification by artificial means. Such artificial means have included orifices to simulate male organs. Other artificial means have included phallic devices to facilitate vaginal or anal stimulation. The present device is directed to the latter.

Typical phallic devices or dildos are hand-held and require that a user either have a partner or contort their body in unusual positions to achieve proper and repeated insertion. Many have attempted to design an improved sex toy, both manual and mechanical, that facilitates insertion of a dildo. Such mechanical devices can become large and cumbersome which could interfere with a person’s desire to be discrete or private when using such a device. Further, manual devices can likewise become large and awkward to use.

Accordingly, there is a need for a sex toy that is compact in size and easy to manipulate. In addition, there is a need for a sex toy that can be easily moved with minimal strain on the hands, wrists and forearms. The present invention fulfills these needs and provides other related advantages.

Yes, there IS a need for sex toys that can be easily moved with minimal strain on the hands, wrists and forearms! I can’t say I’d choose the rabbit styles but a nicely curved g-spotter? Yup.  I think that if I ever could be a designer of a new line of sex toys, I’d want to partner with this person and build off of this so that people with disabilities or just not blessed with long arms and a thin body could more easily get off.

sextoyhandlepatent

 Posted by at 9:03 pm
Feb 172013
 

Car Alarms Are AnnoyingYou’d be hard pressed to find an online giveaway these days that doesn’t have the “Tweet about this contest” as an entry method. Same for “liking” a Facebook page. While the Facebook page “likes” are a bit less intrusive to the would-be winner’s social media circle, a Tweet is going to show up on the dashboard of everyone who follows them. And since some people just enter every contest they can, these Tweets are just so abundant that we’ve begun to, I think, tune them out like a car alarm. Remember those? Now they’re just annoying; you hear a car alarm go off and instead of thinking “Oh noes someone is trying to steal a car”, you think “That fucktard just set off their own alarm again I’mma kill that bastard you stupidhead would you just TURN IT OFF!!!”. Or something like that.

While there are people outside of the realm of sex toy giveaways who also will create a “contest only” Twitter account, I think it’s probably more prevalent for our little niche. Unless the person’s Twitter is safe from the prying eyes of friends and family, or they simply come from much more modern stock than I, they will want to create a secret account for entering sex-related giveaways. And then, since their Twitter account contains no valuable content to generate followers, their contest entry is the equivalent of standing in the middle of the woods and talking to the squirrels. Yet we reward them with multiple entries.

During my last giveaway I encountered a large number of these pseudo Twitter accounts, but also more pseudo Facebook profiles than I’d seen in the past. And like I said, to a degree, I get it. I happen to have a blog-me Facebook account and a vanilla-me Facebook account because I wouldn’t want to follow and like sex-blog/sex-toy related things on my vanilla account. It’s not something I need or want my family to see. But while I have followers on Facebook, these pesudo accounts that people use for contests usually do not have many, or any, friends/followers. So again, it’s a middle of the woods entry and we reward for it.

I suppose though that I’m more old school than I should be. While I agree and recognize that giveaways are a great tool to build brand recognition for both myself and the company sponsoring my giveaway, I keep wanting to go beyond that. I want the people to do something deserving of the more expensive prizes. I think I’m alone in this mindset, though. I encountered a giveaway earlier this week for a Vitamix blender – those fuckers start at something like $400. But did the giver-awayer require that I write a thesis paper? Nope. Did they even give a blog post as an entry method? Nope. They know that their audience isn’t other bloggers. All of the entries are nothing more than liking pages on Facebook, following Twitter accounts and a Tweet. Then again….this sort of social media “advertising” works for mainstreamers. People can easily “like” the Facebook page about food or recipes or whatnot, and it doesn’t matter one iota about friends and family, plus they’ll likely have a few friends/family who will also enter the contest and so it spreads, like wildfire.

But we are unique. We are stigmatized, in many ways. We are the dirty little secret. I get it. I do. My family knows nothing of my blog work, the blog-related trips I’ve made in the past to NYC for Calendar parties, to DC for conferences.

So, what to do? Do I need to just suck it up and play the game of social media as if I were giving away a blender and stop caring that most of the Twitter entries fall on deaf ears or half of the Facebook entries are seen by no one? As I was reading some articles about contests and giveaways, they stressed one fact that we already figured out on our own: people are lazy. They won’t want to do anything complicated. If your entry methods are complicated in nature or complicated to report, you won’t have many entries. I can remember once, long ago, Epiphora was giving away something pricey like a Pure Wand maybe(?) and contest entries had to be something creative and effort was required. I recall that she didn’t get many entries.

Past entry methods that netted me permanent traffic increases included things like having people submit a post to Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg etc…but not many people did those. Any idea why? It’s pretty darn simple, given the Shareaholic plugin I have below that allows for easy sharing to those places. In recent contests I’ve allowed not only the daily contest tweet, but the opportunity to share via Twitter a past post of mine. Again, some people do it, many don’t. It’s still relatively easy.  I’ve had entry methods where I have people subscribe to my RSS feed (can’t track that) or subscribe to email notifications of my posts – but those can be throwaway entries too, as I’ve had people subscribe to my updates and then after the contest they unsubscribe. They don’t want their inbox cluttered with notifications on posts about sex toy reviews. No, that isn’t true for everyone that enters using those methods but it will be true for a decent percentage.

So I’m running out of ideas for “worthy” entries, most effective entry methods, etc. For my 5 year blog anniversary in June, I’ve decided to have 5 different giveaways. Some of the prizes are from smaller, niche/luxury companies like Fucking Sculptures and Nobessence. These companies need traffic, referrals and to just in general create buzz and keep it going. We need to help keep companies like them in business by fostering their growth.

What contest entry methods are you willing to do to win a sex toy?

What entry methods have you seen that you won’t or can’t ever do?

Should I just give up and stick to the status quo?

 

Edit: I’ve been doing a lot of research and I know that some don’t enter contests that use an app (like my last giveaway) that will ask you to link your FB account and you “allow” it to access your information; it’ll sometimes even say “post on your behalf” which causes panic. First, by using FB privacy controls you can control who see that stuff and what stuff the app can see. Usually apps can’t see things unless they’re visible to “public”. But I found this which is interesting:

Facebook has it own set of Promotional Guidelines.  All sweepstakes or contest promos that run on a brand’s or company’s Facebook page must run within a 3rd party application. This means that you cannot just use the Facebook wall to collect data on the person or use the page or “Like” button as a means to determine winners.   So when you use a Facebook application the user must “Allow” the application access to the user’s personal profile and other data. Many people are still not comfortable with this and don’t understand what data the marketer will be getting and what they will be doing with it. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that they are not sharing their information with “Everyone”. Most apps will only have access to what a user makes public to “Everyone”.

Wow. We’ve been doing this all wrong. 

Apparently, whether or not to allow Canada residents to enter is NOT dependant on whether the sponsor will ship there: In Canada the winner can not be chosen by luck, but rather some element of skill must be involved. And if you do wish to open your giveaway to residents of Canada, you must go one step further and either exclude Quebec or add in the various additional rules that province requires. Quebec is very strict and requires bonding and registration for sweepstakes along with all communications to be produced in both English and French-Canadian. This is why you will see many U.S. based promotions excluding Quebec from eligibility.

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Feb 042013
 

About 3 or 4 months ago I was looking up something on the We-Vibe website and I noticed that while some of the icon links to the Salsa/Tango still existed, you couldn’t see the Salsa on their page anymore. Just the Tango. I had my suspicions that this meant they were discontinuing my beloved Salsa. I reached out to them first on Twitter for confirmation, and didn’t get a response. After about a week, I tried Facebook, I posted my question on their page. No response. I let it go for another month or so and decided to try asking again. Yet again, both inquiries on Facebook and Twitter were just flat-out ignored. What is the point of having social media accounts if you ignore people? Last week then I decided to contact them directly, and sent an email via the site.

Hello. I have tried numerous times to reach out to your company on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. All 4 times I’ve been ignored. I see on your site here that you do not show photos of the Salsa anymore, you just talk about the Tango. Since the shape of the Salsa is the one I recommend slightly more (it is versatile in replacing anything that uses an RO-80mm bullet, for example), I am wondering if you have discontinued it and if so, why. The colors are great!! Many users are not feminine and appreciated the gender-neutral color scheme.  I’m a sex toy reviewer/blogger and  I’m probably one of your loudest supporters of the Salsa & Tango. I recommend them to nearly every person who contacts me for sex toy help; I tell retailers who want to work with me to carry them, and I compare every other clit vibe (and sometimes even internal vibes) to the Salsa & Tango. They’ve quickly become my only vibrator needed and Holy Grail. Suffice to say, I’m quite disheartened that my simple questions about product discontinuance are consistently ignored on social media. I’d like to properly alert my readers to purchase Salsa wherever they see it if my assumptions are correct. Can you please respond and let me know?? Thanks Lilly

Their response was quite….lackluster.

Dear Lilly, Thank you for contacting We-Vibe Customer Care. We have consolidated our product line and as such the Salsa is no longer in production, though it is still widely available in many retail stores. The Tango and the Salsa are virtually identical with the only discernible difference being the shape and the colour. The Tango proved more popular than the Salsa, though the decision to stop producing the Salsa was not based on gender preferences but rather on sales. Best Regards,  Customer Care

*blinks* No apologies for the lack of response time and again on social media sites, not even a “Thanks for recommending our product, glad you like it” half-hearted attempt at giving a shit. Call me naive but I’m surprised. Hell I’ve had a more personal and heartfelt response from Doc Johnson. I think Tantus is likely a bigger company than We-Vibe but Tantus goes out of their way for superb customer service. I’ll still continue to recommend the Tango, although it will be with a tiny bit less enthusiasm than the Salsa (even though, yes, they are virtually identical, the only difference being color and tip shape). However I will recommend the Tango only because I love the vibrations, not because I love the company.  I’m so damn sick of “girly” shades of blue, pink and purple – the red, black and white of the Salsa were such a welcome change.  So buy up the Salsa when you see it if you think you prefer the color and/or tip shape. RIP, Salsa. On that note, I’d love love love to giveaway a Salsa or two to my readers as a proper send-off for my most-loved vibrator ever. If anyone would be interested in sponsoring such a thing, please contact me ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Update:  Standard Innovations Marketing has contacted me and apologized for the lack of response on social media sites and has said that they will be improving their online presence drastically. I really do hope so; in this age, social media is huge and it’s often the place where many people go to first for customer service.  Unfortunately our collective sadness over this discontinuance can’t stop the ‘wheels of progress’, we can’t save it like a petition for a TV show. SI said: “With regards to the Salsa, we too are sad to see it go, but as our brand evolves we needed to make space in our line up for future products. We also appreciate your feedback with regards to colour. This is something we will seriously consider when developing new products.” So I do hope that they continue to expand into more gender-neutral colors. In regards to the Salsa, I will be sent a whole case to give away as I see fit! I’m still sad that I won’t be able to recommend it to all my lovely readers BUT I’m thrilled that at least a few more people will be able to own one. I just need to figure out how best to go about doing it. I’d really like to see the Salsas end up with people who are like me, who have been searching and searching for a clitoral vibrator that has the power and depth we need. I’ve reviewed or owned over 100 vibrators and the Salsa/Tango wins, hands-down, above everything that I’ve tried.