Dec 122012

The number of articles written about the insipid and unfortunate trilogy, 50 Shades, is staggering. But at least most of them are better written than the actual books. Just look at the 1/2 star reviews on Amazon to see what I mean if you’ve managed to miss out on that aspect. This article I stumbled across today points out that while the actual sex is indeed a ridiculous fairy tale, the relationship is a tale of caution.

Much of the media attention thus far has focused on the BDSM relationship between the two main characters. What’s missing, though — in the media, probably in our book clubs and certainly in our conversations with our teenage daughters — is a discussion of a serious and dangerous aspect of their relationship.

Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about BDSM. Our concern is that the interaction between the characters outside the bedroom has been ignored.

From the beginning of the series, Christian Grey’s need to control Ana Steele is unmistakable. He gives her a laptop and BlackBerry so she can be instantly available and shows up at her house when she doesn’t respond quickly enough. He flies thousands of miles to her mother’s house, unexpected and uninvited. The examples go on and on. These events are explained away as romantic, as products of Christian’s intensity, his wealth, his need to control, his childhood abuse. But they are not romantic, nor are they justifiable. They are hallmarks of intimate partner violence (IPV).

And it touches on the stalker aspects of Mr. Grey:

Intimate partner stalking includes repeated and unwanted contact or attention that causes the victim to fear her own safety or the safety of others. Over 16 percent of women have experienced stalking during their lifetimes, and two-thirds of those have been stalked by an intimate partner, such as a boyfriend, spouse or girlfriend. Although alarming, these rates likely underestimate the actual prevalence, as most instances of IPV are not reported to the police. The most common form of stalking is repeated and unwanted phone calls or text messages; Christian’s first gifts of a laptop and BlackBerry may not be coincidental.

Millions of women are romanticizing the entire book series, skimming over the IPV and focusing on the unrealistic sex and the “romance”. Women who are in the position of Ana Steele likely do not recognize it at first. Even when they do recognize it, they feel that there is nothing that can be done. After all, what will the cops do about phone and email stalking and harassing? Not much until the perpetrator threatens harm or shows up in person. Yet to live with that kind of stalking is terrifying, sickening and is a life filled with despair.

What’s worse though is reading the comments on this article. There are a few people who are still unable to see Christian’s actions as “stalkerish” and still see it as “romantic”. Too many people are going to think that because “oh he had good reason”. There is never good reason to behave this way.

’50 Shades of Grey’: Expanding the Conversation from Sexy to Safety by Peggy Andover, PhD and Colleen Jacobson

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This great post, written well before the 50 Shades bullshit, is very useful for not just kinksters but anyone who is dating. Remove the BDSM aspects and you still have a creepy, unhealthy person: A Field Guide to Creepy Dom.

The Creepy Dom isn’t just a character in a Dungeon or sex club, he (or she) can be the predator next door, the sweet person you develop an online relationship with, or the guy you meet through the vanilla dating site. Sadly, the ability to recognize and run away isn’t something gained with age. The writer of the post linked does talk about the propensity for young girls in the kink scene to be fooled by “Doms” older than their father but I assure you the ability to be conned and believe the con is not bound by age. It can happen to anyone, be they 18, 34 or 52. I wish I had seen this post years ago and memorized it like a doctrine. 

The anatomy of a Creepy Dom, according to Asher (explanations available in the post, so read it):

1. He comes on too strong, too fast

2. He’s consensually challenged

3. He has “connections” and is “experienced”

4. He “essentializes” dominance and submissions

5. He manipulates your desire to be a good bottom

6. He’s usually doing something wrong

I’d like to add in one of my own:

7. He seeks out submissives who have little to no real life experience, for they are easier to manipulate

Read it. Memorize it. Live it. And be careful out there.

Do you have any to add to the list, after reading Asher’s post?

Jul 122010

Another Formspring question here!

When looking for a new toy how do you know if it does or does not have pthalates? asked by mydnitebyte

First, a definition from Wikipedia: Phthalates, or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).1

The sex toy review community and sex-positive toy shops are all buzzing about phthalates and how bad they are for you. Phthalates are found in many plastic items that have been chemically softened. The studies going around are saying that phthalate exposure can damage all sorts of organs, and can possibly cause cancer. There are a lot of harmful things in our world these days that we can’t avoid – so when we CAN avoid something like toxins in our sex toys, we should. Not to mention, toys that contain phthalates are also porous and can harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly; they also cannot be sterilized for 100% safety against transmission of STD’s.

 So how DO you know if a sex toy has phthalates in it?

You don’t. The better question would be: How do I make sure I don’t buy a sex toy with phthalates in it? I previously had a list up of various major sex toy retailers and what it looks like on their site if a sex toy is phthalates free. But, since the industry is not at all regulated and sex toy manufacturers can lie, we can’t really trust them. Avoid materials such as:

  • Jelly
  • Rubber (even “Skin safe” rubber)
  • PVC
  • Vinyl
  • Cyberskin
  • UR3
  • “Mystery Meat” – the retailer or manufacturer uses a weird trademarked name for their ultra-realistic sex toy – there are some exceptions for this one, but you won’t know til you see the material in person.

Stick with materials that are known to be safe. This includes:

a. 100% pure medical-grade silicone
b. Hard plastic/acrylic
c. Glass, metal, wood, ceramic, and other natural materials
Grey area: Elastomer, TPE, TPR – these are phthalates free, but are still porous.

Can condoms keep you safe from phthalates?

Researchers/scientists haven’t come to a conclusive yes/no result yet, but they say it depends on numerous condom factors such as:

a. The thickness of the latex.
b. The integrity of the condom.
c. Additives in latex condoms could also influence whether phthalates pass through. For example Nonoxynol-9, which used to be used as a spermicide in condoms, could actually increase the risk of phthalate exposure (Nonoxynol-9 is no longer commonly used on condoms or personal lubricants though).
d. The personal lubricant in pre-lubricated condoms could (but doesn’t necessarily) facilitate the leaching phthalates out of a sex toy.2

There is also a chance that the oils used to soften these toys could cause a condom to break down, making it utterly useless to protect you.



1 – Definition of phthalates from Wikipedia
2 – Phthalates and condoms fom