The Myth of the Lesbian Sex Toy

I need to tell you something. It’s not a secret, so there’s no need to gather round closely, or whisper this one in hushed tones behind closed doors. Please, for the love of goddess, shout this from the rooftops: despite what some retailers promote on their websites or in their stores, there is no such thing as “gay and lesbian sex toys”.

I am a queer woman. I use sex toys. But my sex toys are not queer sex toys. They are simply sex toys, for use by people of any sexual orientation.

I’ve written before about the importance of companies and retailers relieving toys from any gendered categories on their website or in their stores in a post about ethical, feminist sex toy companies, which was inspired by one notoriously awful company claiming to embody feminist values who then hired an abuser to promote their condoms. Now, I’ve been inspired to write about mythical “gay and lesbian sex toys” thanks to the reactions to this tweet, which then prompted this tweet, which then prompted my investigation into a number of online retailers.

There are a huge amount of online sex shops and brick-and-mortar stores that categorize sex toys by sexual orientation. I will not link to any of those shops here, but they are easily found. It doesn’t take much searching. Most often, these categories are named “gay and lesbian toys” or are are separated into “gay toys” and “lesbian toys”. During the aforementioned investigating, I even found a retailer with a “gay masturbation” category. (What is that? Please, someone, enlighten me.) The toys in these “gay and lesbian” categories are often strap-on kits, including dildos and harnesses, anal toys, like plugs or beads, and strokers, but this is definitely not an exhaustive list. Retailers put all kinds of toys under their “gay and lesbian” section.

I want to make one thing clear: this isn’t about queering sex toys. I deeply believe that movements, frameworks, and things in our lives can be queered – for example, examining how we can queer sex education to center queer and trans people in curricula, how we can queer the sexual freedom movement so that people of marginalized genders and sexual orientations are represented, or how we can queer perceptions of sex toy usage by highlighting their revolutionary importance for lots of queer folks who are exploring their bodies or re-discovering pleasure after trauma (like me!).

I could write a book on each of those topics. But this is not about queering: this is about presenting factual information on retailer websites and in stores, removing stigma from sex toy use, and understanding that sex toys are not sexual orientation or gender specific.

Categorizing certain sex toys as “gay and lesbian” is not just inaccurate and frustrating: it shows a real, radical misunderstanding of both sex toys and queerness. This misunderstanding starts with language. Where are the sex toys specifically branded for bisexual, pansexual, and queer people? Are queer people who do not identify as gay or lesbian allowed to use sex toys? What about straight folks who enjoy strap-on sex or anal play? Are gay and lesbian people only allowed to use the certain toys listed in their specific category? Of course not. Any toy can be used by queer folks, not just anal beads, plugs, strokers, or strap-ons – people of all sexual orientations can use any toy they like, but these questions expose the ridiculousness of such separatist branding.

The most common arguments I hear in favor of categorizing sex toys by sexual orientation (and gender) relate to targeting, marketing, and SEO. To me, this boils down to one thing: does your company prioritize marginalized people, or does your company only care about making money at the expense of queer people’s identities? By simply classifying toys according to what they are (what a novel concept!) instead of who you think they will appeal to, your company will move towards inclusivity and attract folks who do not feel alienated by your branding. It’s a win-win all around.

Sex toys are for everyone. It’s that simple.

If you own or work at a sex toy company and want to do a deeper dive on centering queer and trans people in your business model, you can contact me to discuss my consulting fee.

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Review: Lovehoney Desire Wand

Welcome to the fifth post in the Wand Queen series! In 2015, after experimenting with lots of toys in my first few months as a reviewer, I figured out what really works for me: broad stimulation, particularly wands. So now, in 2016, I’ll be reviewing at least one wand per month from March onward. Check out my previous four reviews in the series: Svakom Emma Heating Wand, BMS Factory PalmPower, OhMiBod Lovelife Wanderlust, and Jimmyjane Iconic Wand.

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I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one: The Lovehoney Desire Wand is one of my favorite vibrators I’ve tried this year. I’ve had my eye on this toy since Lovehoney released their Desire range in November 2015, so I was delighted to receive it for review this summer. I wanted this wand to deliver, but was cautiously optimistic, remembering previous times where I couldn’t wait for a toy but was sorely let down. Thankfully, this wand more than delivered – it is now one of my top three favorite wands and occupies a coveted spot on my bedside table.

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Back of Desire Wand, ft. The Odd Plastic Panel

The Desire Wand has all the features you’d expect from a well-made toy, and then some. It’s USB rechargeable, waterproof, and made of buttery-smooth, body-safe silicone. The Desire Wand also features a travel lock and comes with a sturdy storage case (not just a bag!), which is pretty impressive. It can be rare to find a great vibrator with a travel lock, and as someone who travels fairly frequently, this is super important to me. The storage case is even more of a rarity: while some companies include bags with their toys, Lovehoney included a large, lockable case that you can charge the wand inside of discreetly. I love this case because it holds all of my favorite wands, with room leftover for lube and charging cables! The only odd feature about the Desire Wand is a plastic panel on the back of the toy. (Why isn’t the whole thing silicone? I am confused.)

Toy features are important. But how does the Desire Wand feel? Really damn good.

Even though the Desire Wand is a rechargeable, medium-sized toy, it still packs a punch. It boasts twelve vibration speeds and eight vibration modes, and moves from rumbly to buzzy as the speed increases, but not in the typical “Well, the first two speeds are rumbly and the last three are buzzy” kind of way: even on this wand’s top speed, it still retains a sense of rumbliness, which I really appreciate. While I was still testing this toy, I found myself reaching for it even in my non-testing masturbation sessions, which is most definitely not the case with all of the toys I receive for review. After I finished testing it, the Desire Wand became a regular in my toy lineup, which told me a lot – most of the time, toys aren’t strong enough for my power queen clit, and I won’t really have a use for them after I’m finished with the testing period.

Storage case

While I love the Desire Wand, I do have two qualms with it: the controls and the charging port. I find the buttons fairly hard to push, and there’s no way to turn this toy off quickly – you need to press the “minus” button and cycle through to the lowest vibration speed to shut it down. This isn’t exactly ideal if someone has privacy concerns and may need a toy with easy-turn off capabilities. Because this toy is rechargeable and waterproof, the charging port is covered by silicone, and has to be punctured by the charger. The first time I tried to charge the Desire Wand, I honestly thought mine had a manufacturing issue and didn’t come with a charging port – the layer of silicone was that hard to break through.

It’s clear that I think the Desire Wand is a great toy. It’s one of the strongest rechargeable vibrators I’ve tried yet, and the massive variety of speeds and patterns can appeal to a wide range of tastes and preferences. I’d recommend it to just about anyone, except people who know they firmly do not like wand vibrators.

Lovehoney generously provided me with the Desire Wand in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

If you enjoyed this review and want to support the ongoing success of Formidable Femme, please consider using the affiliate links used throughout this post. Many thanks in advance!

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Yes, I’m a Sex Blogger and No, I Don’t Care About Your Dick

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Two days ago, I was enjoying a sleepy, lazy morning in bed after an invigorating (but exhausting) conference in Washington, D.C. As I slowly came to consciousness, I admired the daylight peeking through my blinds and listened to the bubbling fountain in my apartment courtyard. I felt truly rested for the first time in almost a week. Basking in the morning glow, I reached across my bed to check the time on my phone.

“u get my cock so rock hard thank u baby xoxoxoxo” popped up on the screen, a tweet from a man who calls himself “Bob in Daytona Beach” and whose entire timeline is comprised of an odd amalgam of happy birthday salutations and tweets about his rock hard cock. And the most bizarre part? The tweet Bob in Daytona Beach responded to was about bread. Yes, bread.

Is Bob in Daytona Beach a bot, or is he real? The world may never know, but that’s not really the point. The point is that someone, somewhere took time to either send us a message personally, or create a bot account that targets people who talk about sex on the internet. (Or bread, apparently.)

Rock-hard-bread-dick-guy is not an anomaly or an outlier: he represents the huge swath of men who take it upon themselves to attempt to disrupt women’s lives and intrude on our joy. Women and non-binary folks are constantly harassed for simply existing: this is particularly true if you are a woman or non-binary person who is visible on the internet, and painfully true for sex bloggers and educators.

And the common denominator in this sex blogger and educator harassment? Cis men talking about their dicks. (Which is also the common denominator in a staggering amount of all harassment, let’s be real.)

About a year and a half ago, I added “sex educator” to my online dating profiles when I accepted an educator position at a feminist sex shop. I had just begun this blog at that time as well, but was much less open about it than I am now, and I was worried about misogynistic men finding my website and outing me.

What a difference two words can make. The messages started flooding in:

“You’re a sex educator? I bet you could teach me something I don’t know about my cock ;)”

“plz suck my dick baby, I bet you give the best head”

“Can you give me a masturbation lesson?”

And on. And on. And on.

Now, I get emails about dicks. I get mentions and direct messages on Twitter about dicks. I get comments and direct messages on Instagram about dicks. Men send me pictures of their dicks on all of these channels. And I’m not the only one – ask almost any sex blogger out there and they’ll sing you the same sad song.

There is an instant switch in men’s demeanor when I mention I’m a sex blogger. Whether it’s on Tinder or OKCupid, on Twitter, or in a bar or at a party, the reaction is usually the same. The questions I get are rarely respectful: I’m fine with people asking more about my blog, or about how I came to this work. Unfortunately, most men I share this information with immediately want to know how can benefit them and their dicks.

Let me make this crystal clear: I do not care about your dick. I do not want to see it. I do not want to hear about it. It means nothing to me. I do not exist as a receptacle for dick, physically or virtually.

Formidable Femme exists because I wanted to create a space to talk about sex, queerness, depression, trauma, and sex toys on the internet. Formidable Femme does not exist for men to interrupt the space I carved out for myself and the space I enjoy with my fellow sex bloggers and friends.

Your unsolicited dick is not welcome here. Respect this.

I demand respect both online and offline because I deserve it. I deserve respect because I exist. Part of respecting me is allowing me to live freely without harassment.

If you are considering sending a message about your dick to anyone, sex blogger or educator or not, just don’t. I don’t care about your dick. Other people don’t care about your dick. And we never will.

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I’m on My Way to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit!

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A peek into my blog planner! (Woodhull travel day and National Watermelon Day? What a treat!)

In just two short hours, I’ll be in the air, making my way to Alexandria, Virginia for Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit!

Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit is a pilgrimage of sorts for the sex blogging community. I so desperately wanted to attend last year (and I even lived just half an hour from the conference hotel), but I had a demanding and unhealthy work schedule, and was unable to make it. Now, my absence last year doesn’t even matter: I’m glad that 2016’s conference will be my very first Summit. I’ve been blogging for over a year now, and I feel comfortable in this community and elated to be a member of the Blogsquad.

And the very best part about this whole trip? I get to meet the incredible sex bloggers who have now become my friends; those brilliant, talented people who first inspired me to create Formidable Femme a year and a half ago. I’ve written before about what this community means to me, and I’m bursting at the seams with excitement at the opportunity to actually meet all of these bloggers in person and spend four wonderful days with them.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic line-up of speakers, educational workshops, and events at the Summit. While I wish I could be at every single session, I’m particularly looking forward to Self Publishing for Radicals, Embodied Consent and the Cultural Lie of Sexual Desirability, Facing the Monster Under the Bed: Continuing the Conversation About Sex and Depression, Side Effects May Vary, and, of course, SheVibe’s Blogger Pajama Party!

I’d love for you to follow along with me while I’m at the Summit! Keep up with me on Twitter at @FemmeReviews and on Instagram at @FormidableFemme. Also be sure to follow the overall Summit hashtag, #SFS16, for four days of sexual freedom goodness on your timeline!

If you want to ensure the ongoing success of Formidable Femme and my ability to continue to attend wonderful events like Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit in the future, please consider making your next sex toy purchase through my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

Thanks for reading!

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Review: Svakom Emma Heating Wand

Welcome to the fourth post in the Wand Queen series! In 2015, after experimenting with lots of toys in my first few months as a reviewer, I figured out what really works for me: broad stimulation, particularly wands. So now, in 2016, I’ll be reviewing at least one wand per month from March onward (even though I skipped June, shhh). You can find my first three reviews in the series here, here, and here.

For my Wand Queen series, I’m constantly on the lookout for vibrators that set themselves apart from the pack in some way. It can be easy to get lost in the hoards of generic wands on the market, so this year I’m focused on identifying and reviewing wands with stand-out features. When I told Naughty Play Time, my newest affiliate, about this series, they happily agreed to send me the Svakom Emma Heating Wand for review. Thank you, Naughty Play Time!

At first glance, the Svakom Emma looks like a standard wand vibrator. It’s medium-sized, rechargeable, and waterproof. It’s vibrations aren’t out of the ordinary, either. Like most toys, the Emma has a number of vibration settings: 5 levels of vibration intensity and 6 vibration modes. (I’m not one for patterns, so I tend to stick to straightforward vibrations.) And, like most wands, the vibrations go from rumbly to buzzy as you cycle through power levels.

However, the Emma has one unique feature that makes it stand out from the crowd: it heats up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius. The Emma takes approximately 5-7 minutes to completely heat up (it was hard to tell when it’s at peak heat, so this is a guesstimate), and you can either turn the heat on first or turn it on during use, which is great if you want to use the Emma for temperature play without vibrations.

For me, the heat makes this product enjoyable. The vibrations alone, even on Emma’s highest setting, aren’t enough to bring me to orgasm. The first two levels of vibration intensity are barely discernible to my power queen clit, and even when I cycle through to the highest level of vibration, I’m still left wanting more. Luckily, I can easily reach that something more by turning on Emma’s heating function.

My favorite way to use the Emma is by turning on the heat and the vibrations at the same time. Since it takes a few minutes for the wand to fully heat up, by the time it reaches 100 degrees it gives me that extra kick I need to come. I’m already looking forward to using this wand in the winter – bring on the snow days!

If this wand didn’t heat up, I wouldn’t recommend it. The vibrations are lackluster and this toy isn’t cheap: for $106, I would expect more power, even as a rechargeable toy. However, the heating function makes this toy special: if you like temperature play, need gentler vibrations, or just want to try a unique product, the Svakom Emma is worth a try.

Naughty Play Time generously provided me with the Svakom Emma in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Check out Naughty Play Time‘s selection of toys and take 10% off your purchase using code FORMIDABLE!

If you enjoyed this review and want to support the ongoing success of Formidable Femme, please consider using the affiliate links used throughout this post. Many thanks in advance!

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