6 Picture Mistakes Men Make on Tinder

June 25th, 2015

Having spent a little bit of time on Tinder over these last few weeks, I’ve found myself both frustrated and befuddled about some of the photos choices that guys make. And we’re not just talking about fish; although, there are plenty of those pictures to hate, too. No, it seems like guys don’t want me to swipe right — or is it left — when they do these things.

1. All of Their Photos Are Group Photos

Guys do this a lot. It’s great that you’re not addicted to selfies. It’s awesome that you have friends.  And that you fish, hunt, like your car/truck, have climbed mountains, go to parties and have tons of hot female friends. Except none of those things helps me determine who you are when I’ve never met you every picture is of multiple men. Often, those guys all look pretty similar. So give us a single, clear picture of your face or tell us who you are at the very least.

2. Photos Only Depict Animals

I like cats and dogs. I have cats. It’s cool that you do, too. Or something even weirder. But you’e not your pet. This shouldn’t be your main photo on Tinder (but maybe you can add just one). In fact, no one should use their pets — or kids! — as their profile picture on any social network.

3. There Are No Clear Facial Shots

Unless you’re only looking for the hookup so you plan to show off only your body for privacy reasons, then we want to see your face in a recent and flattering photo. With smart phones, it’s really not all that hard.

4. All Photos Show Are At the Gym/Flexing/Pulling Up Your Shirt

A good body is great, okay. But that doesn’t need to be all we see. After all, if you wear well-fitting clothing, your physique will show through just fine. And shouldn’t you make it seem like you’re not trying that hard? Maybe?

5. The Photos Look Like Honeymoon Pictures

Tinder is obviously a hookup app. If you’re with someone and haven’t made it clear that it’s open, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Plus, I can’t help but wonder if guys use photos with their exes as an ego boost. Like “Look how hot my ex is!” This just rubs me the wrong way, every time. So while that may be a stellar picture of you, it probably shouldn’t be your main picture,

5. There Are Repeated Photos

Tinder’s profile options seem pretty buggy to me. I tried to upload one picture today, and it deleted 2 — including my profile picture. But it doesn’t take long to double check and fix those errors.

6. There Are No Photos At all

For a micro-dating service that provides only two ways for people to learn anything about it, it’s important that you utilize the most important method — photos. I think I speak for most people when we realize you have low self-esteem if you refuse to post photos. Most people might not be attracted to you, but no one will have the chance if you don’t let them at least see you.

And while some people will tell you not to use selfies, that’s a far lesser offense than doing any of these things in my opinion. At least I know what you look like when you do that!

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Female Sexuality: Redacted and Undefined?

June 3rd, 2015

There is a process I go through, a process with which most of us are familiar, every time I get a new device. Even reformatting my Android phone or switching between keyboard apps makes this process a necessary one. It’s the act of adding words, whether slang, inside jokes or simply those left out for some reason or another by the keyboard developer.

I’ve posted screenshots of my personal dictionary to my friends because I was amused at the content. As you’d expect if you’d ever had a conversation with me in person, there are four-letter words in all their versions. If it can be used a noun, an adjective and a verb, I will love it all the more as a practical tool. Perhaps this is why “Fuck” truly is one of my favorite words. I can construct sentences from “Fuck” using only different tenses and word forms, and those all appear in my personal dictionaries.

personal dictionary

Swype isn’t down with sexting

Now, you can certainly write me off as a pervert with a dirty mouth, and I wouldn’t argue with that descriptor. It’s certainly not untrue. But it’s not painting the whole picture. You see, when my dictionary consists almost solely of words such as “cock” or “cunt,” it paints an even picture of the type of words that are withheld — and sometimes even suppressed — by the creators of these apps.

At best, it portrays them as prudes who are overly concerned with protecting their users from inappropriate conduct. And I don’t think “cunt” necessarily needs to be a suggestion as I hastily swipe away on my phone’s screen. This particular slang isn’t so common that it need pop up in our everyday communications, but what about “Sex?” Regardless of keyboard or how frequently I use that word — and you can bet it’s often! — no keyboard I’ve ever used has wanted to make it easier for me to easily add one of my most favorite words to a communique.

At worst, it highlights how ingrained misogyny is in our society. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. When I first picked up my Kindle Fire, I couldn’t imagine a specific time that I would send a message or post a tweet discussing vulvas and clits, especially given the awkwardness of the default — and only — keyboard. But I knew that time would come one day. It was a matter of when and not if.

I was utterly taken aback when the medical words, the correct terminology for female body parts, the very phrases that some people refuse to use erotically because they’re too cold and clinical sounding, were completely missing from my keyboard’s default dictionary. I couldn’t talk about my — or any — clitoris or vulva, even in a nonsexual sense, without first adding those words to a dictionary.

And, yes, I checked to see whether my Kindle was already aware of “penis.” It would appear that Amazon had truly developed a dick-tionary, a collection of vocabulary that acknowledged and suggested the rightful terms for a man’s reproductive organs but not those belonging to women. You can talk about the perineum, the anus and even testicles, but you’ll have to add “vagina.” It’s like this potential space in the human body has been obscured by the retail giant, like the non-sexual organs possessed by Alan Rickman’s angel character in the movie “Dogma.”

Ironically, my tablet recognize “kegels.” But I have to wonder if this is only because this is the name of a man, a doctor, who developed them. Without the vagina with which to do these exercises, that word certainly loses its usefulness! At least my Kindle produces this suggestion after having added the word to my user dictionary, rather than keeping it hidden away because it knows damned well why it was hidden in the first place!

There is some part of me that admits we live in a society both appalled by and obsessed with sex, and she is not overly surprised by these omissions of the suppression of sexually suggestive, well, suggestions when it comes to smartphone keyboards. It may be 2015, but I’m still forward thinking when compared to some. But there is no part of me that think this is an acceptable policy when only applied to female sexual organs in their most basic variations that are easily found in a traditional dictionary.

Are we still so uncomfortable with sex as a whole that we must police technology to discourage the use of clinical vernacular? Are we so obsessed with not talking about sex that nothing other than unhelpful, cutesy slang for our body parts, our orgasms and our sexual activity must be used, much to the chagrin of reviewers, sex educators and others like myself who talk about sex on a daily basis?

What does it say about a society when we obscure a woman’s body parts with black bars on TV screens and lines of code on our devices? A woman may have those parts — indeed, a trans-woman must have those parts to be considered as such — and there’s no negotiation that she must make them available to men. But she musn’t display or talk about them

Perhaps what it says about society is less important than what it does to society. It leads to woman in 50-year marriages without not a single orgasm to show for it. Women spend decades not receiving oral sex from partners who routinely accept blowjobs from their partners. They don’t discuss sex with their partners or even view talking about one of the most important elements of their relationship as a priority. It starts when we’re children, and it never ends for some people. Thanks to the Internet, more people are discussing sex than ever, discovering what their bodies can do, expanding their sexual satisfaction and improving their lives.

But the wrong messages — or no messages at all — are still being spread in other places. Teen girls aren’t even aware that masturbation is something they can do because sex ed only mentions boys jacking off. As a teenager, I once had to explain to my friend that her urethra and vagina weren’t the same body part. I’m constantly shocked about the number of women who can’t name their own reproductive organs or give even a brief overview of how their birth control works!

Women are afraid to discuss sexual function and dysfunction to the point of accidental but completely preventable pregnancy. A shockingly-large portion of women are afraid to discuss these things with doctors, medical professionals who should be at the front line, helping to combat sexually-transmitted infections and raise awareness about cancers other than break cancer one month out of a year.

The implications are worrying and far more vast than I could articular in these paragraphs. Indeed, it seems like I could write an entire book about the ramifications of dusting female sexuality under the rug.

This is why so-called scientists are still publishing articles debunking female ejaculation as a myth and British lawmakers have banned essentially any pornography focusing on a woman’s pleasure. Are we only allowed to discuss female sexuality inasmuch as it pertains to a man? Is it only okay to speak of it in hushed whispers but not in any manner where another person or computer can bear witness to the conversation having taken place to begin with?

Whether in print or on the screen, every effort is made to ban us from discussing, discovering and divulging what is one of the most important aspects of humanity — and certainly the most important aspect of myself as a person and a woman — and so few people seem to notice, let alone care.

But I cannot help but care. Because I am a woman. I have a vagina, a vulva and a clitoris. They don’t always make me happy, but they are mine. And I want to help others feel the same about their own parts.

I care because I want to send messages to my lovers about my cunt. I want to continue writing articles and sex toy reviews on this blog. I want to encourage my peers to seek medical advice when something seems amiss with their vaginas, and I don’t want to hear another living soul refer to the entire vulva as a pussy. I don’t want anyone to think they must call their vaginal canal a “vajayjay.”

And I certainly can’t stand that idea that anyone would subconsciously internalize, even for a second, the idea that discussion any of these things — and so many more — is taboo because their so-called smartphones don’t offer the terms as suggestions.

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12 Sex Toys I Need to Use More

April 22nd, 2015

It’s not that I do it on purpose, it’s just that I’m not very thoughtful about cycling through all my sex toys and accessories to make sure they get use and prevent them from picking up dust. I mean, it’s bound to happen sooner or later as a sex toy reviewer, right? I only have one clit and one vagina and two hands, and it’s fairly easy for me to get off, so I don’t need to use a bunch of toys every time I masturbate.

However, the truth of it is that I simply don’t use toys all the time. Or even most of the time. I usually pop open Tumblr, find a GIF I like and manually stimulate my clit. If I’m using toys, I’m probably using a clitoral stimulator like Siri, Ora or even my Layaspot, which has consistently remained one of my go-to vibes for nearly as long as I’ve run this blog.

D1 stone dildo by Laid

D1 stone dildo by Laid

And I reach for those toys repeatedly because I know they work. I keep them readily accessible because maybe I’m a bit too goal oriented? Or perhaps I don’t want to have to think about using the controls of a toy because it operates differently and I’m too tired or not paying enough attention to it to become reacquainted with it.

Of course being single and involuntarily abstinent at the moment means that I simply don’t have a chance to use my restraints, impact play toys and massage oils. But let’s not focus on that, eh?

For the most part, I don’t use dildos a lot. While I was a huge fan of my Spur before I killed it, I don’t seem to give as much love to Tex.

Glass dildos — ceramic and stainless steal, too — are especially forgotten when you consider how many I have. The Twist (1), which Liberator no longer makes, is a seriously enjoyable toy, as are the 24K Double Happiness (2, my first glass toy!) and the 24K Double Pleasure (3), which are essentially the same dildo but with different appearances.

I also don’t reach for ceramic much. This is mostly due to the fickle nature of the pieces in the Ceramix (4) line.

And the heft of D.1 (5) is what I usually use as an excuse not to reach for this gorgeous dildo more than I do.

It would seem that G-spot toys are the ones most pushed to the back burner — and the back of the drawer. This makes sense because I am able to squirt but not orgasm through G-spot stimulation. That’s why I own a number of internal vibes that I may not even have used since I first reviewed them — Rondo (6), Mona (7, which got some use for a while but no more), Form 6 (8, more battery issues), Boss and Big Boss and Stronic Eins (9, 10 and 11), a toy whose sensations I really liked. But it remains in its box on the floor of my bedroom since the second I pushed “Publish” on the review!

Mona (Red) and Mona 2

Mona and Mona 2 get no love )=

 

I actually try to use Yooo (12) more than I am able to because the battery just seems like it’s total crap at this point. The last time I reached for it, it was dead. Then, when I tried to charge it, the magnet wouldn’t click into place. After several hours, it seemed like it was completely dead, but I managed to situated the charge on my Kindle so that Yooo would finally charge. Annoying!

There are so many more toys begging to be used, but these ones stand out as the most regretful ones to be forgotten. I do think I might dedicated tonight to Fun Factory with the Yooo, my new Boss dildo and maybe one of the existing vibes. Considering as my Internet has died, that seems like a good idea!

I’ve had this draft sitting in my dashboard for over a year, and I think that I will finally get around to writing and publishing it. Not just for posterity’s sake but to encourage myself to use some of these toys a time or two again — and perhaps write some followup reviews.

So what about you guys — do you have any toys that you generally like but that have fallen to the wayside?

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Dear Carla Alcorn

December 30th, 2014

Last night, I read about how your trans daughter killed herself. Then, I read any number of incorrect articles about how your “son,” your words and the media’s, accidentally died while taking a walk. Make no mistake, it was no accident. More correctly, it was suicide, but I am many who think that you and your husband had a direct influence on your daughter’s death.

I am sure this is a difficult time for you, whether or not you subscribe to the truth. But consider this.

Your daughter’s entire life was difficult for her.

She admits to spending a decade — 10 long years — uncomfortable in her own body. In her blog, she talks about feeling awash with relief upon discovering out what it means to be trans. She rushed to you, wanting to share in an intimate and vulnerable moment, and you shut her down. You told her that she was confused and going through a phase. You told her to consider your feelings and your social standing while never considering her own feelings, feelings that were surely tumultuous and more difficult than anything you, as a white, Christian, cisgendered woman have ever experience.

You tried to force her to abandon her true self. But I knew better. She knew better. Humans just can’t do that. You tried to force her to keep her wings still, and when she tried to fly, you clipped them. You cut her off from her freedom, her friends and any sort of social connection.

Why? Because you don’t understand? Or because you were afraid of how it would make your family look?

Carla, let me tell you how you look now.

You look hateful and spiteful. You look shallow. You look like a bad parent. You look, to some, like a fucking murderer. You look like a monster.

You look like someone whose denial is so strong that she’s painfully close to insanity.

You look like part of the problem, a problem that your daughter wrote and cried about in depth. A problem that ultimately took her life.

It is easy enough for me to forget that trans and homophobia exist with so many happy and smiling trans faces, but it’s dangerous to do so when those opinions still exist and they’re still killing people like Leelah.

I have no hope that you would ever see this, Carla. You’re probably hiding out because many people have attacked you after you continued to spew ignorance and hate after your daughter’s suicide. I know I should be a better person, but I cannot help but think this is karmic retribution for the way you attacked your daughter during her life and the way you’re somehow still managing to attack her in her death.

I couldn’t begin to understand how your daughter felt, Carla, but I can imagine how I would respond in your position in a parent. Hint: you failed your daughter.

I am privileged in many ways, with my skin color and sexual orientation and able body. In fact, we are privileged in the same ways as far as I know. Yet you drove your daughter to suicide and I will stand up for her rights, even in her death.

So, Mrs Alcorn, I apologize for your loss. It will hurt no matter how you look at it. But your pain is nothing like the pain you caused your daughter, and all of this could have been avoided if you were a better person. I have no doubt you will come to this realization. Perhaps on your death bed. Perhaps some night as you lie awake, tossing and turning, in your own comfortable bed.

And when you do, Carla Alcorn, I hope you pick up the torch your daughter has lit, cease your involvement as part of the problem and help to make the world a place where people like Leelah will want to live. After all, you owe Leelah her life.

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2014: The Best Of

December 29th, 2014

Another year. Another couple dozen reviews of sex toys. There were fewer this year than the last. This might be due to me having more sex. Or perhaps there were fewer toys that I really loved.

In fact, while populating this list, I worried I wouldn’t have enough best-ofs. I suppose that’s bound to happen, and I might accept the blame of trying out some toys that wouldn’t work well for me if I had looked past the shiny and read the small print. Oops.

But, there’s definitely some toys I would recommend, so here they are!

Vibrator

Svakom is an up-and-coming company. I had a hit-or-miss relationship with the toys they send to review, but Leslie is a self-heating vibrator with respectable power output.

Minna’s Limon took me quite by surprise, quickly becoming one of the most intuitve vibrators I’ve ever used.

I also quite like Ora 2, but it’s the stuff it does besides vibrating that does it for me.

ceramix 5 and 6

Ceramix 5 (right) left a surprising impression

Dildo

2014 was light on dildos. I only tried a couple, and both of those were from Pipedream’s Ceramix line. Ultimately, I preferred #5!

Erotica

Move over 50 Shades of Grey. Wrapped Around Your Finger is actually a book worth reading, and there are more in the series!

Sexual Non-Fiction

I’m technically a year behind and I didn’t even write a review for Best Sex Writing 2012 (I did write a review for the next year’s). But I think it might be the best in the series and you’re missing out if you don’t check it out.

BDSM

The Bettie Page Spanking Paddle is manufacturer by Lovehoney and full of the details you’d want while offering a sexy spanking.

Lingerie

Designed Intimates sent me quite a lot of lingerie to review. I especially enjoyed the Charming chemise and thong.

Bath and Body Product

SheVibe let me try the Flirty Little Secret Pink Caviar Scrub With Pheromones. It’s slippery but smells great and works well. It’s been a nice addition to my shower routine!

Storage

Lovehoney is rocking 2014’s list. They also made the Deluxe Sex Toy Case, which is probably my all-time favorite option for sex toy storage!

As always, I recommend the best toys from years past. Check out my list of 5-star sex toys!

Don’t forget to let us know about what you loved in the comments.

Have a good new year. I plan to!

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In Defense of Legalized Sex Work

December 10th, 2014

Amid all the terrible news lately, a slew of articles about several sex workers — and their clients — who were recently arrested popped up. These articles don’t impact me the way they should. Perhaps it’s the way the media portrays sex workers or simply the frustration I feel for a system that works against people who might legitimately want to earn a living in this method. If I’m being honest, I could think of far worse ways to make money than through prostitution, and I think I would prefer it to, say, starring in porn.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize with sex workers. I’ve thought their line of work should be legalized for years. And after reading the piece titled “Lost Boys” in Best Sex Writing 2013, I’ve thought about sex work more often and in a new light than before. That story certainly impacted me, and it’s stayed with me as I’ve read accounts about homeless teens who’ve been rejected by their families for coming out as gay as transgendered. Sex work is often the only logical reaction for these people; although, being forced by their circumstances can lead to some pretty dangerous situations. Still, it’s not always dire.

One thing that this story impressed upon me is how many people see sex work as a way to pay the bills or earn some extra money for the things that they want. It’s something that we all do and something that’s fairly encouraged in a capitalistic society. However, controlling a woman’s sexuality seems to trump capitalism in this case. If a woman’s body is her own, if she is to retain autonomy over it, then laws outright outlawing sex work are at odds with that right. Those laws enable people to literally police a woman’s sexuality. They take away the choice in the name of providing choice to people who may be unable to escape sex work. And while women are certainly not the only sex workers, people who want to make and keep it illegal focus on woman. Laws against sex workers are just another aspect in the war against women.

[In a related note, the UK’s decision to essentially outlaw female orgasms, ejaculation and pleasure in pornography is another unacceptable example of controlling women’s sexuality. It angers me to no end!]

I’m not saying that people who have been forced or coerced into sex work shouldn’t have a way out if they choose it, but I think there is room in society for both legal and safe sex work. If a woman wants to be an escort who provides sex in exchange for a fee, why should we, as a society stop her? Some people might argue that the demand for sex work exists solely because of the objectification of women in a misogynistic society. This may be a contributing factor, but men can also be sex workers. Indeed, there are likely more male escorts than people realize. And a woman can enjoy sex and authority over her own body without succumbing to the patriarchy.

Furthermore, legalization paves the way for both taxation and regulation, which, if done correctly, could both become a source of revenue and offer protection to sex workers. Options such as healthcare and routine testing that may not be available to some sex workers could become available to those people if prostitution and escorting became legal.

Those same protections could extend to sexual and physical abuse, which sex workers experience far too often. Rather than hiding their work for fear of being arrested or even raped by police, these men and women would be able to seek legal and judicial protection from the people, typically men, who pray on sex workers. When a sex worker has no one to turn to, that violence continues because perpetrators know they won’t be caught or have to pay a price. However, legalization would protect those who want to be in this line of work while highlighting those who are victims of sex trafficking, and this is a distinction that must be made.

Legalizing sex work would open a lot of doors, from opening communications and networking between sex workers themselves (trading safety tips, rating clients, et cetera) and their clients via websites like Escorts and Babes (without fear that those websites would be targeted by law enforcement). Aside from safety, sex workers would likely see improvements in health due to a decrease in STIs. Transmission often occurs as a result of violence (rape) without a condom, and editors of one medical journal have explicitly stated that legalization of sex work is the only option to protect sex workers from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. And studies show this is truth. Just consider Rhode Island, where prostitution was technically legal for about two decades. During this time, transmission of some STIs and reported rapes both dropped.

If this could happen in the 1990s, then surely sex work could be legalized in 2014 and beyond with consequences that are both sex positive and positive for society.

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5 Weird Dildos I Totally Want to Try

July 25th, 2014

Yea, okay. Weird is a subjective term, especially when you’ve purchased a tentacle dildo for a friend as a Christmas gift, and you’ve use multiple glass dildos that look like undersea creatures.

1. Cthulhu

Necronomicox makes the “Myths” dildo, which is everyone’s favorite creature from a horror story. This one’s made of silicone while many strange dildos I’d try are made of questionable latex. His tentacle tail is super adorable. You can get customize the dildo in one, two or three colors. Buy it for $125.

The Xeno art dildo from the same company is creepy and looks like it would feel amazing.

2.  The Dragon’s Tongue

Dragon's Tongue from Bad Dragon

Dragon’s Tongue from Bad Dragon

Bad Dragon is well know ’round these parts even though I haven’t had a chance to use any of their toys. The dragon’s tongue caught my eye because of the colors and shape. It just seems like it would give me a good time. The exclusive colors for these toys are The company lets you build your own from 4 sizes and 5 different firmnesses. Plus, you can get a fucking art print of the dragon whose dick this is when you order.

This.is.awesome.

Runners up from Bad Dragon include The Tailstretcher and their tentacle with glow-in-the-dark suckers.

3. Avatar

I didn’t like this movie, but I’d put Alien Dildos’ Avatar dildo inside me. The design is relatively human-esque with interesting texture along the shaft, a large contoured head and balls that I could without but won’t hate on because it’s a freakin’ avatar dildo. Props on the bright blue, right?

I also love the Phallus, which I’d order in metallic purple. Alien Dildos makers all of their toys with either Vac-U-lock or suction cup bases.

In fact, I love all of their designs, but most of them are too big for me.

4. Ghost

Whipsider Rubber works is one of those companies that specialized in awesome toys. This company made the tentacle dildo I bought for a friend. Sadly, I’ve never owned any of their toys myself. Despite the name, dildos like the Ghost are made of silicone. Sold in two colors — tombstone and red velvet, they’re after my own heart — this dildo glows in the dark to depict the ribs and claw hands of a creature that I would hate to see on TV but would fuck for hours.

Runner up: the Jellyfish. Gradient colors. A bulbous “head.” Super texture.

5. Cyborg

Fleshlight was definitely trying to turn heads, for better or worse, with its Freaks lineup. There are matching dildos and masturbators. The details on the deep purple Cyborg dildo are enough to make H.R. Geiger jealous.  It’s the cheapest on this list by far at under $60.

Fleshlight Freaks Cyborg

Fleshlight Freaks Cyborg

The company obviously thought of Avatar when it came to the Alien dildo, which is a marbled blue and wider than it is thick. I actually really want to put it in my mouth.

Honestly, there are some weirder toys, but the ones I want to use please both my sense of aesthetics and sensibility. Dog dick dildos? No thank you. That Obama dildo? It’s soon going to be dated and isn’t very pretty to begin with. Zombie dildos just gross me the fuck out. You cannot screw a zombie. Its dick will fall off, okay? Okay.

So what strange dildos do you have your eye on?

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