What I Wrote in 2017: Sex Ed, BDSM Guides, Relationship Advice + More

January 12th, 2018

Although I might have been uncharacteristically quiet on Of Sex and Love last year (I sometimes managed only to post a monthly Science of Sex post and certainly didn’t write enough reviews to post a best or worst of list!), I have not been quiet elsewhere.

Last year I continued to write for two other venues: Bad Girls Bible and Cirilla’s. I write dozens of pieces between the two of those, not to mention other clients (interested in someone writing for your own sex blog or sex toy store? You can hire me!).

The result includes some articles that I am pretty proud of. I’ve curated a list of posts that I think are especially helpful, well written or otherwise worth sharing.

For  Cirilla’s

I discussed 12 Things Porn Gets Wrong, which probably isn’t news to many of my readers, but many of these stereotypes are still perpetuated.

I also wrote about the Ways That Sex Changes In Your 30s, some of which are surprisingly awesome!

You can also check out my post called Why You Should Care About Sex Toy Materials. Again, this is old-hat stuff for some, but a reminder is always welcome. One thing I wanted to delve into but didn’t have the opportunity to do so is how green our sex toys are and where materials are sourced from.

Finally, I tackled 12 Sex Myths About Sex That Aren’t True. There are a lot of ideas that we believe to be true. But when you seek out accurate sex education that is also sex-positive, you quickly find that these ideas aren’t self-evident at all: they’re unhealthy and potentially harmful.

For Bad Girl’s Bible

The Truths and Myths Surrounding the Concept of Virginity

I was glad to be able to break down the concept of virginity, which serves very little — if any — purpose, in this post.


 

How You Can Have a Functional (and Sexy) D/s Relationship

I’ve been able to write more about BDSM, bondage and D/s lately, and I enjoy educating people on how these things can be sexy and healthy.


 

The 7 Best Sex Positions for Female Orgasm (Tried and Tested!)

You’d think that I’ve been around the block enough to have tried — or at least known about — all the positions that facilitate orgasm. Then again, you’d be wrong.


 

The Complete BDSM Aftercare Guide: Learn How To Do It Right.

Another element of safety in BDSM is aftercare, which I outlined in this post.


 

Hymen 101: Breaking the Myths to Determine the Truth

Writing about the hymen is similar to writing about virginity. Our current sex ed teaches us a lot of the wrong stuff, and this so-called knowledge can damage us in all sorts of ways.


 

5 Love Languages: How To Keep Your Partner’s Love Tank Full

You don’t have to believe in the 5 love languages to appreciate how being more thoughtful about the way you show love to your partner can benefit your relationship.


 

8 Vital BDSM Rules To Keep It Safe, Sane & Crazy-Kinky

Another post regarding the risk and safety involved in BDSM activities. Can there be too many?


 

What Is Intimacy? Discover The True Meaning Of Intimacy

A small detour into the romantic and relationship side of things.


 

Why Do Men Watch Porn When They’re In Relationships?

There are so many negative views on porn, and the idea that men (people) in relationships shouldn’t enjoy it is definitely one of them. It’s all bogus, of course.


 

Breast Bondage: Easy Harnesses Even If You’ve Never Used Rope Before

I quite enjoyed researching different styles of harnesses and rope bondage for this post. In fact, I wasn’t really a rope fan before writing it, but that has perhaps changed.


 

Sensual Domination: The Complete, Step-By-Step Guide

I am not personally one for more sensual styles of BDSM, but many people are. I hope this post encourages them to find their perfect flavor.


 

It’s no wonder that so many of my favorite pieces from last year were those that busted through stereotypes and myths surrounding sexuality.

Here’s to whatever 2018 brings!

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Resolve, Not Resolutions

January 4th, 2018

I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions, not really. I think they’re silly and we shouldn’t wait to do things that can just as well be started on a given Thursday. And I do dream up and start projects with no apparent thought to time or season — my Science of Sex feature is one of those things.  So I don’t plan to make resolutions, but the new years lures me into thinking about what I can do differently, and I wind up setting some informal goals, goals that I would never call resolutions, of course.

I’ve had pretty good momentum thus far. Granted, it’s only the 4th of January (I typed “July” because apparently that date just wants to be read), so there is plenty of time to fuck that up, but I feel pretty good about the emailing, article pitching, review inquiring, Twitter using, orgasm tracking and otherwise gettin-together of shit that I’ve so far accomplished. I’m creating opportunities and fostering connections, and I don’t want that effort to go for waste.

As it is, I may not be able to maintain this momentum. This may not be necessary if I set myself up to succeed. So I’ve been thinking of ways to keep myself accountable, to help me succeed at these not-resolutions. That’s what this post is about.

One of my big issues is time management. I plan to do things in a timely manner, but the deadline whizzes by, and it might take me weeks to notice. I think the solution is twofold: to see more rigid deadlines and to utilize technology to complete tasks. I’m not a planner type of person, but I rely on my phone for a couple of reminders, and I think I will expand that for some of my monthly endeavors.

With that said, I try not to put a timeline on certain creative things. I write when I am inspired. I pitch when I have an idea, and I don’t think trying to push that is beneficial. I want to encourage more inspiration, which means I need to be more proactive about keeping up with my fellow bloggers and the sex educators that I respect, among others. I’ve clicked countless links over the past few days, read blog posts and generally found myself shocked at how much I’d missed over the last couple years.

I’ve made efforts to follow more people on Twitter, where I intend to be more active. For the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time aimlessly scrolling my personal Facebook. It’s a huge time-suck, one with which I am sure plenty of my readers are familiar. I plan to redirect some of that attention. With that in mind, I am also following more of those sources on my personal Facebook, so when I inevitably find myself scrolling mindlessly, I will come across content from those pages. I am considering eventually consolidating my writing about sex with my actual online presence, so this is also a first step toward that.

While I don’t want to tie myself down to deadlines, I think I need to periodically analyze my progress and make adjustments. It seems that a quarterly check-in would be feasible and helpful. This will also enable me to keep up with erotica calls to action as I want to publish more of that.

And this leaves me with a shift I think has been coming for a long time, and some may argue has already occurred. Reviews are not where my heart lies. Perhaps they never were. I prefer writing articles and erotica, and I want to continue focusing on those. Eventually, I may want to move away from this domain name altogether, but I don’t plan to do that in the near future.

In the meantime, it’s necessary for me to only review the things that I feel strongly about, either positively or negatively. I’ve written so many lukewarm reviews in the past year or two, and I know they’re neither as helpful to readers as they should be or a worthy us of my time as I want.

I’ve got a backlog of items to post reviews about. Some are half-written drafts. Others are completely written and waiting on photos (a photog I am not, and I frequently struggle capturing photos that I feel are good enough to post). Some items I’ve tried and honestly never sat down to write about. I am not only renigging on my responsibilities, but I am making the task for difficult for myself. Signing up for fewer reviews in the first place seems like the most viable option, and I will shortly take a look at where I am with my existing queue and what I can do about that.

I think all this is doable. I’ll set up some reminders on my phone later today, after making a few more emails, and surround myself with the pile of items that I need to write about in the upcoming days and go through my post drafts to see what I feel like finishing and publishing.

Although I think I have no right to ask of my readers and friends to help, I think I shall. If I appear quiet on Twitter for extended periods of time, if I have missed the second Saturday of the month, if my blog seems stagnant, I would welcome a friendly reminder about these things if you feel like chiming in. I want to speak more, but I also want to hear more from you guys!

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I Get Paid to Write About Sex

November 3rd, 2016

..and it has nothing to do with this blog.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t made money from this blog. But I am not so awesome (like Epiphora!) to have made it my job.

I do get paid to write about sex, though, even if I’m not directly paid to write about sex toys. And I like it that way.

Mostly, I do tfghost-writing. Although, I do get a byline here and there. I typically write blog posts for sex toy stores and communities, including the Bad Girl’s Bible, Romantix and Cirillas, among others. I get to tell people how to choose sex toys, how to talk about sex, what it means to slut shame and which lubes are best for which sexual activities. All in all, it’s a charmed life.

And yet, it wasn’t at all what I set out to do. In the beginning of my freelance writing career, I wrote often about technology-related topics: cell phones and iPods, routers and browser settings. Several years ago, I began writing almost exclusively about search engine optimization (SEO). There were many things happening in the world of SEO, which meant there was much to write about.

All of these topics interested me as most things do – at least for a while. Writing about sex, relationships and toys fell right in line. It has given me an opportunity to write things that I truly believe have helped readers (and I’ve seen feedback from readers that validates this). Like I said, a charmed life.

Sure, it sometimes feels monotonous or redundant. There are topics that I find frivolous or shallow, but not everyone has read (let alone written) a blog like mine for 8 years. Some people are just discovered their sexual side, and my words may help make it easier or more fun. Who knows? And everyone once in a while, I learn something new to me as well.

So, yes, I get paid to write about sex. And, yes, you can hire me.

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No Pretenses

January 26th, 2015

The other day I read a post by the wonderful, articulate and talented Rachel Kramer Bussel on Thought Catalog. I’ve read her tweets, her stories and plenty of collections she’s edited. In fact, I will soon be published in one of those very collections! Her recent piece “Sorry, But I’m Not A Sexpert” was as well-written as any. But it was was than that.

To me, the words my eyes were absorbing were like something I could have written. I wouldn’t dare to compare myself to Rachel, who has years of experience and has done more to make a career from her love of writing and sex than I ever might. But the thoughts in those paragraphs spoke to me nonetheless.

There are certainly some people who would call Ms. Bussel an expert in her own way, but she dispels the idea that her longevity and interest alone are enough to make her a sexpert. She goes on to explain how she feels more like a student than a teacher, and while people might learn something from her, she’s focusing on sharing her ideas, opinions and experiences with the world as a person who loves sex.

She will “play” with words to tell of her life and fantasies and to lend advice when appropriate, but it’s all based on her own experiences and nothing about it makes her an expert. And that’s okay.

I was particularly struck by this line:

There are plenty of amazing, smart, talented and dedicated sex educators out there who rightly deserve the title of sexpert.

What I hope to offer readers is something else: amateur honesty.

Rachel Kramer Bussel calls herself an amateur. Albeit an honest one, but an amateur nonetheless! And that’s still okay. If Rachel doesn’t need to be an expert, then I sure the hell don’t.

I think I really needed to read this post as my brokenhearted love life and nonexistent sex life — I’ve masturbated twice in approximately two months — had me wondering why I still have this blog. What could I offer to the world? What words can I type on the screen that haven’t already been said? And if I can’t say it better, should I even bother?

But here I am, overlooking the one difference that no one — not even I — can deny: I am me. There are no other mes in this world. So while I may not be able to write about Peachy escorts in London — at least, not yet — or sex rooms in Amsterdam, I can unapologetically stand up for a sex toy that I love. Or speak out against transphobia. Or offer a little advice based on my own experience as a human being who loves and fucks.

I toyed with calling this post “Rachel Kramer Bussel is who I want to be when I grow up.” And it’s not entirely untrue. But it also misses one of the points of her recent post: her value as an “amateur” extends directly from her individuality as a human being. To quote her again:

No, not everyone wants to share their sex lives, but for those who do, their stories are fascinating not because they know everything there is to know about a given sexual topic, but because they are individuals.

So I shouldn’t aim to be another person when I grow up. Rather, I should try to be me. Just, perhaps, a me who understands that it’s okay not to have all the answers. Like Rachel Kramer Bussel, I might help people find them, but I don’t have to pretend to have them all, even answers about my own life.

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Sometimes I like What I Do

April 30th, 2012

An increase in writing for work has meant a decrease in writing here. It’s easy to burn out. A while ago, I put out a call, letting you guys know that I wouldn’t mind writing or working for you in a variety of ways. I received a response. So, sometimes work and pleasure cross in a way that is beneficial in almost every way possible. When I find great clients to write for, I enjoy what I do and work feels a lot less like, well, work. I have had the pleasure to write both an anal toys guide and a dildo guide for SexShop.net. This is the kind of work that combines all of my pleasures, and I hope you enjoy it, too!

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The Myths of Sex Toy Reviewing

April 20th, 2010

I was so excited when I got my first toys to review. I know you were, too! I know if you have just discovered how awesome it is to not only play with vibrators and dildos and butt plugs — Oh my! — but to do so for free in exchange for some words, then you might still be floating on cloud 9. That’s totally cool. I know I wanted to jump right into things and I was sure I was awesome and I made some beginner’s mistakes. I like to think I am beyond that; most people get some gentle guidance or learn from example. Some people realize that reviewing actually takes work and give up when it becomes apparent that companies expect some sort of quality.

The truth is outsiders and newbies may have some misconceptions about sex toy reviewing:

Toy reviewing requires no effort.
True, I’ve seen some rather shoddy reviews which could only have taken seconds to compose but to be a successful reviewer, the ones who earn respect and gain a following learn to do a few things. Like use a toy more than once, even if the first time is horrible. They work on improving their writing skills and describe things in painstaking detail even when the details have become boring to them. They discuss toys with friends, proof read dozens of times, deal with defects and argue with delivery services. The types of reviewers I like to read research materials and compatibility. They double and triple check waterproof capabilities and try toys in ways they would not normally use them, all in the name of a good review. *I wouldn’t be surprised if consistently bad reviews disqualified you from reviewing.
It’s all about experience.
I call bullshit. In fact, most quality review programs have something to say about experience: keep it limited and keep it relevant. I believe this guideline is in place for good reason. Quite simply put, your personal experience can never predict someone else’s personal experience. Furthermore, sometimes I can’t even predict how well a toy will work for me despite being myself. Hard facts generally give consumers a better idea of whether or not a toy will work for them.
Every toy is awesome!!!!
No, it’s not. Toys are made of potentially dangerous materials. Toys break. Defects abound. Poor designs can actually cause pain. And sometimes even a toy which is awesome just does not cut it for me. I wish it weren’t so but it is. In an effort to produce a good review, however, I will try to explain to you why the toy might be awesome for others even if my experience failed (see above).
Sex toy reviewing makes your sex life so much fun!
I won’t lie, it can. It can be a great “excuse” to get your partner or even just yourself to try something new. It can make masturbation or sex more pleasurable. Maybe you’ll have it more frequently. But there’s a big downside to it all. It can get mechanical. Pretty soon you start looking at everything as all numbers and sizes and materials and compatibilities. Like anything which starts out fun but becomes a “job” of any sort, you can forget to smile, to enjoy yourself. Plus, not every partner is okay with the idea of sex toy reviewing. Your sex life can actually take the back burner without even realizing it and sex toys can be pretty intimidating. There are just times when reviewers need to step back from toys so you can enjoy sex — solo or with others — again.
You will be the best reviewer ever.
I am always so excited when I embark upon a new adventure. Sometimes my ego swells a bit and I imagine myself taking the place by storm, making “thank you” speeches while holding flowers. It just doesn’t work that way. Every program has different expectations and limitations. It takes time to learn the ropes and to excel. I like to think I’ve done that but if you look at some of my first reviews on the blog or EdenFantasys, you will see I was not amazing when I started.
Reviewers are loose sluts.
There are a whole bunch of myths about the type of people who use sex toys and then to have the nerve to write about it! The truth is, the reviewer friends I have made are all extremely different. Males and females, some folks who don’t fit any category. Straight, gay, queer, bi and more. Young and old. Some have a lot of sex with the same person, no sex at all, or some casual sex. In fact, it seems that reviewers are just as likely to be the “girl next door” as they are to be the promiscuous one. No single generalization really applies, except maybe that they do like sexual sensations and are mature enough to write about it in a helpful way. Also, just to remind you, the vagina is a muscle which does not stretch out!
A good writer will never struggle with a review.
There are certain types of reviews I just find more challenging. Switching up the format can be difficult, too. I think all reviewers, no matter their writing talents, have days where words just refuse to flow in a way that sounds good and makes sense. It’s to be expected and if you experience it, don’t sweat it.
It’s all about the reviews.
Although I pride myself on writing helpful reviews and I spend a lot of time on them, I know that the reviews themselves are frequently not the end game. The truth is, reviews (especially offsite reviews) offer publicity and exposure. They bring in potential customers. In addition to this, links and keywords work to raise a website’s (the store you review for) search engine rank. Sometimes that is just more important than content.
Reviewers have a direct line to manufacturers.
As much as I’d like, this isn’t true most of the time. Most of the companies I work with are stores, not manufacturers. I assume some manufacturers read my reviews but the fact of the matter is, I review products which have already been designed and created. I am not a beta tester. My complaints do not necessarily mean a change will happen. Even if manufacturers contact me because they want that sort of criticism, nothing might happen because of it. My power is limited.
We talk about sexuality, so we want to talk about it with you.
No, just no. Unless we initiate the conversation, we probably don’t want to be having it. Back off. The same goes for pictures and videos.

To all your reviewers, what misconceptions did you originally have? Is there something I missed or something you find people assume? Let me know in the comments.

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I’m Over Here

December 23rd, 2009

I’ve been a little slow with reviews lately. Mostly I’m just lazy. But you can also find my writing over at EdenCafe. Some of my recent posts include:

Okay, so some of them aren’t exactly “recent” per se. I’m just a slacker in all things but it’s great to have been writing different kinds of posts on EdenCafe and the gift cards aren’t half bad either. As I understand it, Carrie Ann is always looking for more writers so drop her a line if you’re interested!

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