Nov 102016
 

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

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

Blog Squad Origins

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

What Does Blog Squad Mean To You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Feelings of Exclusion

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

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

How to Be Part of the Blog Squad

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

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

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

On Friendship, Anxiety, and Assumptions

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

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

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

Assume Good Intentions

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

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

Assume. Good. Intentions.

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

  1. I won’t go into that whole story here, in part because it would take 1000 words, but if you really want to know, feel free to contact me
  2. yes it’s a thing we’re gonna try to do
 Posted by at 2:49 pm
Nov 012016
 

Three things to know about me before we get on with it:

  1.  I suck at accepting compliments
  2. I’m competitive in some aspects
  3. Yet I prefer fairness

So today I found out I was named Kinkly’s#1 Sex Blogging Superhero 2016. In my 8 years of blogging there has been at least one “Top 100” list every year – the Top 100 Sexy Bloggers1 and Kinkly’s list. Over the two lists my rank from 1-100 has spanned 1-84 – and no, I didn’t start out at 84.

You would think that after 8 years I would be happy, nay thrilled, to be at the number 1 spot on a list like this. After all, I did ask for votes – as much as I hated doing so. And I really hated doing so. But instead, I feel….uncomfortable. Unsettled. So I have to say at this point that if you like the Kinkly list and your ranking and you don’t see any problems (and I totally respect that, absolutely), you might want to skip to the last section, “Blogger Awards”. This is my space to say my piece but you don’t have to read my words if they’re going to hurt you.

Apparently, winning the #1 spot comes with a prize. I say “apparently” because I so much didn’t expect to get #1 that I didn’t pay attention to prizes. The $500 prize money is going to be turned into two $250 “scholarship funds” for bloggers to attend Woodhull in 2017. If I had more money to do more scholarships, then I’d simply say “any educational sexuality conference” but with only 2 scholarships I’m gonna just pick my favorite conference: Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit.

Why do We Have to Compete Against Each Other?

Over the last month I’ve spoken to many bloggers who approached the Kinkly list with dread. The thought of bugging everyone, repeatedly, for votes felt off to some of us. Others didn’t want to do it, period. Some felt they had to because of the credence that ranking high can give you (especially if your blog is newer). Even I felt like “well if I don’t ask for votes and don’t make the list, will I lose the respect of my peers and those who may want to do business with me? Will my blog be less desirable?”. It was a tough internal battle to ask for votes. 

Rankings can make people sad; angry; bitter; depressed. It’s really hard if you are upset by your ranking because you don’t want to pee in other people’s Cheerios if they ranked well and are thrilled. Conversely it can feel rough (hi, it me) to be ranked high when your friends are unhappy with their own rank. There is no denying that I spoke with many people last year, and this year, who looked at the Kinkly list with confusion (on their own rank and others’). A poor ranking can be the thing that makes a blogger stop caring, stop blogging – especially when the ranking criteria is vague and they don’t understand their rank.  And it fosters this “I’m better than you” attitude2 – I feel like we need to support each other, build each other up. We need many voices. You never know what it is about your blog, your post, that may get through to a reader. No matter how new or old your blog, we’ve all reached people who are reading this for the first time. You are different than me and yet similar to someone else – and often, especially with sexuality, we need to know we’re not alone, we’re not the only one like that. Reading something where you say “Oh, wow, that’s totally me” makes you feel less alone and broken, sometimes. We need that!

So, yes. I may be ranked #1 but I don’t really like the list. I don’t like the competition. The popularity aspect. I don’t like wondering how XYZ blog is ranked so high yet these other blogs I love are ranked so low (or, not ranked at all). I hate knowing that the low ranking is making my friends feel bad about their wonderful blog. I am wondering how a blog that ranked #1 last year is #68 this year. How a blog with very few posts is ranked much higher than a very active blog. And so on. And yes, I know that there’s no point in a list like this if we all rank the same year to year. I know that a blog might be stellar to the judges one year and the next they think that others are simply better, not that you got worse. I know these things. I say we break tradition – can we change how it’s done? Can it be better?

I bet a lot of you are shaking your head right now. You think I shouldn’t be complaining. I should be happy. Right? Well, it doesn’t feel fair. I’m ranked #1 in the Sex Toy Reviews category this year, with Epiphora ranking #2. Please, tell me who thought that was accurate? Seriously if I could get that changed, I would. I would rather be ranked #2 for that one. I’m proud of my blog, I am. I know that my reviews help folks who are similar to me. But as far as the quality of writing in reviews is concerned? Epiphora is better than me. I say it objectively and subjectively. She has more traffic, more comments, and more followers than me AND crafts the most amazing sentences. I actually feel that a number of bloggers write better reviews than I – more witty, easier to read, better with the appropriate zings. I can recognize my strengths, but don’t really feel that my reviews alone are it or deserve the #1 slot. I would feel so much more comfortable if the ranking were more like “here’s the top 10, and here’s everybody else, and you’re all great” like Rory did in 2014So I’m having a hard time being happy for my success at the detriment of others, and that’s really the bottom line. That and the fact that I hate the votes and popularity contest aspect. And the vague criteria. I said that already, eh?

A New Kind of Blogger Awards

So the list fostered a lot of discussions between some of us bloggers and an idea I’ve had in the past is going to come to fruition in January. It will fully be a group effort, brought to you “by sex bloggers, for sex bloggers”. But because we don’t think that a sex toy review blog can be ranked against an erotica blog can be ranked against an essay/activist blog, our awards will be limited to the niche of sex education, sex toy reviews, and social justice as it pertains to sexuality/sexual health. If you like this idea but want other sexuality niches to be included, please borrow the idea yourself!

We don’t feel the need for another 1-100 ranking, or ranking by number at all. We don’t even really want to rank one person’s blog against another’s. But have you ever read a sex toy review that had you laughing out loud in public, enough to elicit strange looks? What about a social justice angled post that stirred great emotion? Or a review about a kink item that totally changed your opinion about that kink? Made you say “Damn, I wanna get my ass beat now!”? Is there an educational article you read that you think is really important, and everyone needs to read it? A sex toy photograph that has stood out? A bold piece about sexuality and mental health that digs deep and bares it all? A really salty/snarky review that you loved? This is what, and how, we want to highlight. We want to celebrate the little things. We want to have fun, be silly, and also be serious and reverent.  I think it makes more sense to compare like with like. I feel that removing the rankings and focusing on specifics, with a broad category range, will celebrate more people. 

I’ll be taking input from readers and bloggers and industry folks on categories, and how the list will be run. This Google Doc will allow you to comment – agree, disagree, suggest an alternative, suggest an addition. 

If you’d like to help out, please let me know. I want some judges who are bloggers but not sex-ed/review bloggers; I’d like some judges who are in the industry, but not a blogger. And yes, some judges will be eligible for nominations (but won’t be judging categories they’re nominated in).

I welcome comments – about your thoughts on the Kinkly list, how you feel about my critique of it, and your input/feelings on a less competitive Blogger Award set up (tentatively called The Lubies – yes, trophies will be awarded and they will be lube bottle based) – even if you think my idea is shit, tell me.  I’m nervous as fuck about this post, but this ranking has been eating me up all day. Can we all get lifted up instead of just some? Can we find a way to celebrate more folks, more equally?

As uncomfortable as I feel about being ranked above everyone else, as much as I dislike the linear ranking at all, I’m going to thank Kinkly because their choosing me means I can do something important to me: Help more folks get to a really awesome sexuality conference

  1. Started by Rory at Between My Sheets, run my Molly of Molly’s Daily Kiss starting last year
  2. Maybe you don’t have that attitude, but you can’t deny that competition creates that atmosphere
 Posted by at 6:25 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
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.

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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!!!

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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.

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 Posted by at 9:03 pm