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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Packaging — Worth the Price?

May 29th, 2014

AKA the reasons I hate bulky, “luxurious” packaging.

A box inside a box (with a bag inside!)

A box inside a box (with a bag inside!)

A few years back — man, have I been at this for a while — every review of a high-end item seemed to shout the praises of beautiful packaging. And for a while, I was pretty impressed, too. When I pure received my Pure Wand, I was impressed with the box and the layer of pink satin into which the dildo nestled. But that was almost five years ago, and I’ve since changed my tune. I think other people have, too.

Originally, luxury packaging indicated that companies were paying more attention to detail. If it was a non-porous material or made to the highest standards, it probably had to come in a big box. But this is no longer the case. In fact, some companies ship their wonderful toys simply in plastic bags. Don’t be surprised if you purchase an awesome dildo from Naughty but Nice and packaging is minimal. After all, this doesn’t effect use.

More people are coming to that realization, I think. They realize that, at the end of the day, luxury packaging doesn’t make a bad toy good. In fact, it may only increase the disappointment when you open an exquisite box to find a lackluster toy. Not only that, but it can take away from the time spent developing a luxury — or even a functional — sex toy. Years ago, people discussed Tantus’ now-defunct Alumina line. The price seemed high for dildos, and someone created a poll. The resounding answer was that more people would have purchased the products with a cheaper price tag because the company sacrificed the packaging, instead.

But packaging always makes a toy more expensive.  And perhaps that’s the point. When you charge more, you create a niche market for yourself. We’re luxury you say. Other items are just functional. Isn’t it time that people ask what’s wrong with being functional? It’s difficult not to wonder whether companies are paying too much attention to packaging and not enough to the toy itself. A pretty sex toy really isn’t worth a higher price if it doesn’t get me off. There is no exception to this rule.

Luxury packaging also irks me for a few more reasons.

  • It’s often not easily recycled or disposes off. Cardboard and bags? Most people have no problem with that. Mixed materials, PVC and other materials become harder to dispose of.
  • This sort of packaging calls attention to itself, which is less-than-discreet when it comes to recycling in community containers. Many people use these.
  • Luxury packaging is bulky, which makes it more difficult to store. Does a toy really need a big box and a storage pouch? The problem only increases when you’ve own a dozen Lelo toys or more. I’ve thrown out more boxes than toys I currently own. Seriously.
  • Bulky packaging can increase the cost of shipping.

However, this isn’t the way that everyone feels. Perhaps I am just jaded as a sex toy reviewer but some people want more companies to go the way of Lelo. Other people like boxes as storage. Still, more sex toy owners enjoy the attention to detail. Some people like them for gifts. Others find creative ways to reuse packaging.

While it certainly wouldn’t be feasible for companies to provide two sets of packaging, it isn’t impossible to create classy packaging that’s discreet but nice enough to use as a gift without sacrificing the ability to recycle it. However, the process to attract high-end consumers should come only after you have a solid product and not if the price increase will cut into your market share.

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If #NotAllMen Are “Bad,” Stop Acting Like You Are

May 27th, 2014

I have a problem with the #NotAllMen hashtag and misogynistic assholes. I plan to tackle these issues, perhaps not so succinctly, in this post.

First, #NotAllMen. It’s the trending topic that started when men wanted to point out that not all men are rapists. It’s true, according to numbers. According to numbers, however, it’s also true that most rapists are men and most victims are women.

The problem with #NotAllMen is it always comes across as “but I’m not a rapist.” Congratulations. Do you want a cookie? Not being a rapist isn’t good. It’s neutral. And you don’t get an award for being a human being who doesn’t hurt other human beings. This should be something we expect as society.

It’s the bare minimum you should be when it comes to not subscribing to sexism and rape culture. In fact, you can be “not a rapist” and absolutely be a douchebag.  Men don’t even disagree with this point. After discussing this with a guy friend, he said that he wants to point out that #NotAllMen are rapists or sexist because he isn’t, because he is personally offended to be associated with them. On the one hand, being repulsed by rapists or the idea that someone could think you are one is good. It shows a moral compass. On the other hand, that behavior brings the discussion back around to men. If there’s one thing that human rights advocates and feminists have been fighting to say, it’s not about you, men. It’s not about you. You are not the victim.

It’s also not about men who are victim to predatory women. Yes, this happens. Yes, it’s awful. No, this is not the forum to discuss it. Because that isn’t a result of system-wide hatred and objectification of men — but the idea that a man shouldn’t be so “weak” to become a woman’s victim is a result of misogyny.

And if pointing out that systematic hatred for and objectification of women hurts your feelings, I am okay with it if it also helps put an end to the societal constructs and beliefs that treat women as less than human. Because your hurt feelings don’t even fall on the scale of terror when rape and murder make that scale.  Think big picture. Do your hurt feelings pale in comparison to rape? I can live in a world where men are offended by this means women are safe.

Does defending yourself take attention away from the problem — a system that, at best, leaves women uncomfortable and worried about their safety for their entire lives? A system that, in reality, results in 1 in 8 women being a victim of rape in their lifetime and that fails to enact justice for rapists, some of whom are even able to continually harass their victims until their victims have to change their lives because they live in a world that does not protect them. Women live in a world where we are told to deal with harassment and abuse and then questioned as to what we did to cause it rather than a world that tells men not to harass or abuse women.

But maybe you’re not an abuser or a harasser. You’re a nice guy. At best, you’re #NotAllMen and you treat women as human beings and not objects. You are someone who everyone may describe as a nice guy. However, you’re still not helping to fix the problem. Ignoring the problem is the same as letting the problem persist.

What do I think men can and should do to help defeat rape culture?

  • Don’t advertise that you’re not a rapist. Simply be a decent human being whom others, especially women, can trust. You can build trust by not raping.
  • Don’t make rape/non-consent jokes. Call out inappropriate jokes whether it’s from your peers or a talk show host. Remember, in a room with 8 women, one of them is likely a victim or will be a victim. Your jokes could be triggering them again and again.
  • Skip catcalling women. Forgo objectification in general, whether it’s online, in person or during a discussion with your buddies.  Recognize that women are not there to look good for you. No one owes you that. Measure women on the merits of their character and skills, not their appearance. View women as complete human brings who do not just exist to get you something (sex, popularity, a cup of coffee).
  • Teach your sons not to rape. Do not teach your daughters that a certain aspect of dressing means they are “asking” for rape. Do not “slut shame” women for the way they dress, which has nothing to do with their sexual activity. Ditch the words “slut” and “whore.” You might even do away with “bitch.” On that note, do not judge women who are sexually active or celibate. Whether a woman chooses to have sex or not, she does not deserve to be a victim of harassment or rape.
  • Call out men who describe women who don’t want them as “bitches” or any other negative label. Explain to men that rejection is okay. Not every woman will be interested. This is a part of life. No one is entitled to another person’s affection or body. Let men know that they should leave women be who do not return their interest.
  • Engage in conversations about behavior that may actually contribute to rape culture even if that is not your intent. Let women express themselves without going on the defensive.

Because subtle versions of all these things mean you still subscribe to rape culture and misogynistic views. Even if you’re just mimicking things you’ve heard, you’re contributing to the problem. If you let other people around you do these things, you are actively part of rape culture. I know many men — and even women — who are so immersed in these things that they don’t realize how entrenched it is in society. Just because you don’t see it or even think about it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

The problem is that while most men don’t think about these things, haven’t even considered them, no woman is ever allowed to not think about them. It might not be all men who are a danger to women, but all men need to hear the message until all men are on board and, then, when a woman is victim of violence or harassment, we’ll know it was because of one unwell person. Not a person who was taught these things every day of his life and just treating women in a way that society taught him was acceptable.

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How to Survive International Sex Toy Shipping

April 23rd, 2014

If there’s one thing that makes being a reviewer slightly less than awesome, it’s mail. I live in a locked building and often miss carriers. However, the worst-case scenario is that a package is sent back. Once or twice, I’d had to pick one up at the carrier’s office. This is nothing compared to some of the horror stories I’ve heard about people using international shipping but retailers like CherryAffairs try to make it easy for shoppers. Make sex toy shopping less stressful with these tips.

FedEx Express Airbus A300 Jager

Know the rules of each retailer and delivery service to make shipping less stressful

  • Know your country’s tariffs. More than once, a blogger or sex toy reviewer friend has been contacted by their national postal service or a delivery service such as UPS and had to pay tariffs or fees for their bundle of BDSM gear. This is especially true for Canadians. If you’re ordering from another company and the item is of low value, you could be paying a fee that’s actually more than the value of what you’re buying, which means that it might be smarter to make large purchases and pay a single duty rather than making smaller purchases.
  • Make it worth your money. Many retailers offer free shipping over a certain amount — $50, $75 or $99 are common. Stock up and pay a single shipping fee rather than ordering every vibrator separately.
  • Find local retailers — and I don’t just mean those that are in town. Sometimes you might not have that option, but if you look for a company that’s located within your own country, you can avoid high tariffs and long shipping periods. Canada and the UK both offer several options. However, just because you’re in an area where sex toys are less common doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to get off. In Singapore, for example, you can shop for sex toys online at CherryAffairs and have vibrators, dildos and BDSM gear delivered right to your door no matter where you are.
  • Get a P.O. box. A box at your post office can solve a lot of problems — like snooping parents, thieving neighbors and a work schedule that doesn’t allow you to get to the door. If there’s no locked mailbox large enough for packages containing sex toys, a P.O. box is useful. Plus, you can rent them for temporary periods. However, there’s a downside. Not every sex toy retailer will ship to P.O. boxes. Make sure to verify shipping policies before deciding if this is the way to go for you.
  • Plan ahead. Whether you’re vacationing in Singapore or you just won’t be home for the day because of work, make sure to get your ducks in a row. Ask someone who won’t snoop though a box of dildos to get your mail, notify the shipping service to bring a package to work or have the post office hold your parcel until you can pick it up.
  • Purchase insurance or tracking. I always feel best when a package is safe in my hands. Second-best, however, is when I can track every move it makes. It’s a little more difficult when it comes to shipping from overseas, but a tracking number goes a long way (almost as long as a package coming from Asia!). CherryAffairs offers tracking for all overseas packages and an option for local customers to upgrade to registered shipping  to get a tracking number along with piece of mind.You can also sign up to get text or email alerts from most delivery services so you never lose a sex toy in transit.
  • Do your research. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re aware of a company’s return policy. If you miss UPS three days in a row or your package gets stuck in customs, what happens then? Will the sex toy retailer try to ship it again, or will you simply get a refund? Will you have to pay for additional shipping? It also helps to check out customer service. Does a sex toy store have a number for international consumers? Can you contact them via email or even WhatsApp — CherryAffairs offers this — if that’s more convenient?

When you’d looking at high fees, missed packages and stolen goods, a discreet package is the least of your worries. Many of these tips will also help people ordering adult toys within their own countries who have experienced frustrations.

Do you have a sex toy shipping story that’s funny or terrible? Let me know!

 This post brought to you by CherryAffairs, Singapore’s leader in adult novelties, vibrators, couple’s toys and more. Cherry Affairs promises discreet and expedient shipping the world over. Check out the CherryAffairs Facebook page for more information.

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The shield of shame surrounds these everyday male issues

March 31st, 2014

When broaching any mention of a medical concern, men find it too embarrassing to discuss. These problems are common and should be aired to remove the taboo.

male issuesMen prefer not to discuss Premature Ejaculation

This topic provokes a great deal of unease with men but this ailment is very normal and occurs in practically every man at one stage in their lives. They find it belittling that they are unable to be in control of their ejaculation. The more often it happens, the less they are able to deal with it and can become, to their detriment, more introverted and it may even lead to depression. The knock on effect of this symptom of depression, is that it will affect the relationship that he is in. There is a solution called the Prolong Climax Control Programme which consists of a six week programme offering a treatment that can postpone orgasm until both he and his partner are ready.

Men avoid discussing Low Sperm Count

Hearing that you have a low sperm count is not uplifting especially if you are hoping to start a family but there is no need to feel awkward about this: in fact it is a very common reason why male infertility happens. Sometimes this is due to a hormone balance or an infection which is treatable through a series of either hormone replacement treatment or antibiotics.

Men are uncomfortable talking about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

One of the main points that are hard to bring up among men is STI and they find it even more humiliating in from of a doctor. What men do not realise is that it is fairly usual for STI to occur even if he is not careless and can only be treated with medication administered by a GP.


Men can’t face talking about Gynecomastia or Male Breasts

When Gynecomastia results in a man, it invariably means that he has put on weight and the pectoral region develops fat. However it is essential that if a man’s breast enlarges suddenly or they become painful, medical examination will need to be conducted. A few of the other causes for this ailment are chronic liver disease, kidney failure, tumours, genetic disorders (ex: Klinefelfter’s syndrome), reaction to some therapeutic medication and androgen hormone exposure. However in older men, these enlargements may be due hormonal imbalances.

don't let goMen are incapable of opening up about Erectile Dysfunction

Discussing this subject is not easy at all amongst men. The definition of male impotence focuses on the inability to fulfil or continue an erection for as long as it takes to be satisfied by sex. For this to happen, the blood flow must be acceptable for the penis to maintain an erection. The underlying origin may be cardiac or vascular disease. Check for cholesterol, obesity and smoking plus change your lifestyle. The medication available include Cialis, Viagra and Levitra.

It is time now to open up and stop the discomfort!

Thanks for the guest post, ProlongShop.

 

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