Never Shut Up: A Mantra for Changing The World One Sex Toy at a Time

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.

16 Responses

  1. Colleen Godin says:

    On behalf of Sportsheets and my own particularly picky views on toys, thank you for keeping this topic relevant, honest, and interesting. After working for an adult boutique retailer for 2.5 years before moving to the manufacturing side, my eyes have been drastically opened, and you’re a big part of the reason why. If you ever decide to start reviewing sex accessories other than toys, I would be honored to send you some goodies. :) Hope to meet you at Woodhull this year!

  2. Kara_Sutra says:

    I appreciate you. I appreciate what you do. Your voice has value, as do your experiences. Please, don’t ever stop doing what you do. The world needs more people like you, who are brave, vocal, determined, and not afraid to speak out against the status quo.

    When I started 9 years ago I felt like I was the only one talking about this stuff. It’s taken time, but you are absolutely right – WE ARE MIGHTY. Thank you for standing up for what you believe in and inspiring others to do the same. <3

  3. 9 years ago, yeah, it was probably just you and Violet Blue, and Metis and Crista on Livejournal. It took awhile for reviewers to really start standing up and saying no. I’m so glad we all have though!

  4. Mary Q. Contrary says:

    Thank you. You *were* a catalyst for me. It was an honor to meet you last year at Woodhull. I don’t think you realize how starstruck I was. Your encouragement to keep going means the world to me.

  5. Thanks Mary! It’s still pretty weird to me to hear someone is starstruck meeting me. I feel like such an average blogger!

  6. I will definitely be there!

  7. Talia says:

    The first time I thought it was an error on my part, but when I posted the second time I KNOW that the post appeared here. As it’s gone now I can only conclude that you deleted it. Given that I did state facts – and provided a link enabling you to check the veracity of my statement – I do not understand this. Could you please explain?

  8. Wow. Really?

    Your comment is now on the site. Because there was a link, it got picked up by the Disqus overactive spam filter.

  9. I have not read any studies or heard of any. The link is in German and even with a translator app I can’t see any results.

  10. Talia says:

    The actual test results are for sale – the magazine has to make a living… (which is why I don’t feel good about mailing them to you…). The fourth paragraph – the one that lists all the toys (fortunately the names are international) also has the phrase “scheitern an ihrem hohen Gehalt an Dibutylzinn (DBT). Diese
    zinnorganische Verbindung ist als fortpflanzungsgefährdend und
    fruchtschädigend eingestuft.” which means: (the toys listed) fail because of their high content of dibutyltin (DBT). This organic tin compound is classified as dangerous to the reproduction process (not a good translation of “fortpflanzungsgefährdend” but the best I can do at the moment) and teratogenic.”

    If you wanted to buy the article (it’s € 1 which is about $ 1, PayPal accepted) – which of course is in German – you’d have to click on “Testergebnisse abrufen” on the page to which I’ve linked and then buy on the right-hand side of the page. On the left-hand side you can see the products that were tested…

  11. Talia says:

    Oh, I see. I should have known that nothing messes up more thoroughly than a computer left on its own – sorry for suspecting you. I had wondered whether you thought that it’s hard enough to steer people away from jelly/rubber/other shit to silicone and so one shouldn’t confuse them by mentioning that silicone can be unsafe too – which actually I am wondering about myself. But test results are test results – and I have no reason to doubt Ökotest, which is a reputed German print magazine doing health- and environment-related tests. Unfortunately the test results don’t seem to have made it to the companies in question, as the magazine didn’t have any reaction from them (I asked Ökotest).

    Maybe I should mail Lelo, JeJoue and We-Vibe, to see what they have to say…

  12. FUCK. I bought it, but it’s PDF and now I gotta go translate the whole thing. That’s gonna be fun. I wish they’d left it on the site so that I could use Google translator.

    I’ll be discussing this with Smitten Kitten since they’re the ones doing testing on toys, and I’ll see if I can get any responses from my contacts at the toy manufacturers.

  13. Talia says:

    But you can copy the text from a pdf file (at least I can in my pdf-reader) and paste it into Google translate. The result should a) be hilarious, b) prove that humans are still irreplaceable and c) give you at least a rough idea which paragraphs are worth having a closer look at.

    The interesting part begins on page 91, after “Das Testergebnis” in red. Before it’s just introductory text about the changing status of sex toys, and an explanation of sex toy categories in the boxed part.

    Bon courage!

  14. Penny says:

    Your blog was my 1st resource for toxic toys information when I started 5 years ago–it was and still is one of my main inspirations as a blogger. Thanks for everything you do!

    Sometimes I think that because other people have written about something already I shouldn’t, but really we need as many people talking about this stuff as possible! Thanks for writing this.

  15. Every little bit helps, I think :)

  16. Lorelle Gerhardt says:

    Any updates on this?