Review of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy

I stumbled upon Hallie Lieberman’s book about the history of sex toys while poking around on Amazon for Christmas presents. I was surprised—unlike other new sex toy-related releases, I hadn’t seen a single person in my communities talking about this one. How could a sex toy history book come out without many experts in the industry knowing about it? Intrigued, wary, and anxious to dig in, I ordered Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy immediately.

Lieberman is a former dildo slinger who wrote her PhD dissertation on sex toy history. In Buzz, she examines the history of sex toys from 30,000 years ago to the 21st century, guided by questions of how we ended up in the “sexually regressive” world of sex toys she came to know after years of working in the industry.

Indeed, large parts of Buzz analyze the mainstream sex toy industry’s adherence to gender and sexual norms at a time when companies and manufacturers instead could have promoted sexual freedom, empowerment, and liberation. Lieberman also provides a detailed overview of burgeoning sex toy companies in the 1900s and lays out the legal history of sex toys, “explicit” material, and numerous court and government battles many companies were entrenched in for years. But for me, as a sex toy connoisseur, blogger, and educator, Buzz left me wanting. I don’t think the average reader—someone who doesn’t work in or adjacent to the sex toy industry—would walk away from Buzz with a truly comprehensive understanding of the industry, especially recent history.

Buzz Basics

Buzz is well-structured: with approximately 300 pages of content plus a bibliography and endnotes, it’s just the right length. There are 15 chapters, about 20 pages each, and they all feel equal and even. History books often seem daunting, but Lieberman obviously took care to make Buzz accessible and palatable to a wide range of readers.

Lieberman begins Buzz with her personal stories of selling sex toys, first as an in-home sex toy party salesperson, then as a dildo slinger at a brick-and-mortar store in Texas when sex toys were still illegal. She then gives a centuries-spanning overview of sex toys around the world, followed by a deeper dive into sex toys in the 1800s and 1900s, with most of the book focusing on sex toy manufacturers and retailers in the United States in the mid-to-late 1900s. As Buzz progresses, Lieberman examines the women’s movement in-depth, exploring the idea of masturbation as liberation, the birth of the first feminist and queer-owned sex toy shops, and the contentious role of sex toys in the feminist movement.

Lieberman weaves in the history of sex toy companies’ legal struggles throughout the book, and positions those battles within the legal and cultural contexts of the time. She ends Buzz with a short discussion of sex toys in the 21st century and a reflection on where we can go from here.

What I Loved: Disabled Dildo Makers, Missing Magic Wands, and Feminist Founders

I have major concerns with Buzz, but there were parts of the book I found illuminating. As someone working in the field, it’s important to know the roots of the sex toy industry and its connections with feminist and sexual freedom movements—and I learned so much about the birth of the industry, including manufacturers and retailers that are still around today.

For example, I never knew that The Pleasure Chest was founded by two gay men intent on creating safer spaces for people to explore their sexuality through sex toys, or that the founders of Adam & Eve also co-founded an international abortion rights organization that’s still thriving today. I also learned that the first feminist sex shop in the United States, Eve’s Garden, was founded by an advertising executive inspired to make sex toys more accessible for women after attending Betty Dodson’s bodysex workshops.

Lieberman includes many helpful storylines that show how the sex toy industry was shaped into what it is now: differences between early companies, like those who prioritized safer toys and those who prioritized profit; the violent history of Doc Johnson founder Reuben Sturman and the incredibly tight stranglehold he had over the industry for years; how Vibratex came to market the Magic Wand after a vibrator drought in the United States; the battle feminists faced to liberate sex toys from the narrow category of “marital aids” compared to anti-sex toy “feminists” who firmly believed using dildos meant submitting to patriarchy; and how vibrators’ portrayal in the mainstream media contributes to sex toy stigma rather than empowerment.

I was most thrilled to learn that the first silicone sex toy was born out of the disability rights movement. Gosnell Duncan, a disabled Caribbean immigrant, joined the sex toy industry to make dildos for other disabled people who were disregarded by doctors and left out of the sexual revolution—and he made them out of silicone.

In Buzz, Lieberman writes:

“[Duncan] began by investigating newer, safer materials for dildos. At the time, most sex toys were made of polyvinyl chloride, which had major drawbacks, including porousness, a “plastic” smell, and the inability to retain heat…If he could develop a silicone safe enough for the body, he thought, he could create a dildo different than anything on the market. A silicone rubber dildo would be nonporous, making it appealingly smooth and capable of being sanitized between partners.” (96)

To make his silicone dildos, Duncan collaborated with a General Electric chemist. Nine months later, they hit the formula jackpot and Duncan created a test lab in his basement. His basement silicone dildo workshop wasn’t the only revolutionary thing Duncan did—he also helped make dildos more diverse.

“At the time, the standard dildo was in an off-white pinkish color referred to as ‘flesh-colored,’ which alienated all those whose flesh wasn’t the color of the dildo. It was only when Duncan, a dark-skinned Caribbean paraplegic, started making dildos that the colors and styles changed radically…Duncan experimented in his basement lab to create just the right skin colors, blending brown and black organic pigments with silicone oil.” (100)

Duncan’s silicone dildo legacy is a crucial (and also rarely discussed) piece of sex toy history. His innovation paved the way for the rise of body-safe sex toys and infused disability rights and health justice into the sex toy industry. Once his dildos became popular, Duncan turned his basement dildo operation into the now-defunct company Scorpio Products, but the mark he left on sex toys lives on.

Harmful “History”: Trans Exclusion and the Gender Binary

The sex toy history Lieberman did include in Buzz was informative and entertaining, but it wasn’t enough: there was little discussion of very recent sex toy history (in the last 10-15 years). Even more problematic for me, though, was the exclusionary language used throughout the book and erasure of marginalized and oppressed people.

Lieberman radically misrepresents what Buzz is supposed to be about—sexuality and gender. The language throughout the book is incredibly binary and focuses on “men and women” and “male and female” people. Transgender people are mentioned only a handful of times, always in reference to trans men and women. There’s no mention of non-binary people anywhere in Buzz. Even in the conclusion, when Lieberman shares her vision for the future of sex toys, she says “In a perfect world…boys and girls would be taught about [sex toys] in sex education courses.” (292)

Just boys and girls. It’s ironic and disappointing that in a book partly written to analyze the sex toy industry’s attachment to gender and sexual norms, Lieberman still adheres to the gender binary.

Further, any mention of queer people is focused mainly on lesbians and gay men, with a few bisexual women scattered throughout. Most offensive is Lieberman’s horrifyingly inaccurate retelling of the Stonewall riots: “It was the smashed beer bottle heard ‘round the world: Finally gay men and women had stood up to the police harassment that they were constantly subjected to in bars and other public areas.” (114) Uh, what? Black and Brown trans women, drag queens, and gender nonconforming butches revolted at Stonewall—and Lieberman didn’t say one word about them. Instead, she contributed to the continual erasure of trans people, especially trans femmes, at Stonewall and throughout queer history.

Glaring Omissions: Toxic Toys, Modern Manufacturers, and Blogger Contributions

Aside for brief mentions here and there, usually associated with Duncan’s silicone dildos, Buzz does not include an in-depth examination of body-safe sex toy materials. These quick tidbits are enough for someone like me who knows the ins and outs of safe sex toy products, but it doesn’t come close to being enough for the average reader. It’s irresponsible to leave this crucial information out—many people don’t realize that toxic and unsafe sex toy materials can make you sick, and that many big-name companies in the industry still sell toxic toys. Instead, Lieberman claims “nearly all sex-toy companies today target women and make sex toys out of silicone or other body-safe materials.” (287)

Lieberman is doing her readers a disservice by not delving into the details of body-safe materials. Ideally, she would have spent a chapter devoted to what makes a sex toy safe (and unsafe), what companies sell safe toys, and what manufacturers still promote toxic toys and value capitalism more highly than consumer and community safety. That’s still part of sex toy history—and social justice too. Lieberman had the opportunity to hold companies accountable for manufacturing and selling unsafe toys. She didn’t take it.

Most of Buzz focused on a small handful of companies and manufacturers—Doc Johnson, Scorpio Products (Gosnell Duncan’s company), Adam & Eve, Vibratex, and two older companies, Marche Manufacturing and United Sales—and a few feminist sex toy shops—Eve’s Garden, The Pleasure Chest, and Good Vibrations. Lieberman mentions a few other companies in passing, but doesn’t spend more than a few paragraphs on any company other than those above.

I was surprised at just how many incredible companies Buzz doesn’t even mention, like SheVibe, online feminist sex toy retailer founded in 2006, various feminist sex shops founded in the 2000s like Sugar, Smitten Kitten, and Early to Bed, or ethical manufacturers like Doxy. Once again, I feel like Lieberman is doing her readers a disservice: I know there are more excellent, equitable sex toy companies out there than the ones profiled or mentioned in Buzz, but will the average reader? Buzz is a book about the history of sex toys, but that should include recent history, too.

Lieberman also makes no mention of sex bloggers and educators working to improve the sex toy industry outside of prominent educators associated with sex shops she profiled. She leaves out proficient sex toy reviewers like Epiphora and Dangerous Lilly, who have each been blogging for a decade and educate thousands upon thousands of people about sex toy safety. Not a peep about the other countless bloggers, educators, performers, and other content creators who push the sex toy industry to sell body-safe sex toy materials and center social justice in their work and guide consumers away from bad companies and toward good ones. The sex toy industry wouldn’t be the same without the educators and bloggers who work tirelessly to make it more ethical and equitable—it’s a mistake not to include them in the history of sex toys.

Frustratingly, Lieberman had room to explore body-safe sex toys, 21st century feminist retailers and manufacturers, and sex bloggers’ role in making the sex toy industry better. She spent many, many pages retelling sex toy companies and shops’ legal battles in extreme detail—the least compelling part of Buzz for me. While including some of that history is necessary to highlight how anti-sex attitudes were (and still are) codified into law and used to discriminate, the intricacies of every drawn out legal fight were too much.

Finally, Lieberman strangely jumps between saying “sex-toy” and “sex toy” throughout the book. In my years in this industry, I’ve never seen “sex toy” written with a dash in the middle. The inconsistency was vexing. Buzz is also littered with spelling and punctuation errors. They aren’t few and far-between—I lost count of how many I found. Even Hillary Clinton’s name is spelled wrong in the final chapter of the book.

Written differently, a comprehensive history of sex toys would be an excellent asset to the sexual freedom movement. Unfortunately, Buzz just isn’t it. It’s not just about what history you include—it’s about how you tell it, who you center, and what stories you choose to lift up. Buzz is a start, but Lieberman still has a long way to go.

Review: We-Vibe Sync

I haven’t been reviewing many toys lately, but when Vibrant reached out to me and offered the We-Vibe Sync for review, I couldn’t resist! Thanks, Vibrant!

And Vulvas ‘Round the World Rejoiced: You Can Customize This Thing!

The Sync is a drastic departure from previous iterations of the We-Vibe, which featured only “loose fit” and “snug fit” models. These two polar opposites left no room for people in the middle, which meant that there was really no guarantee that the We-Vibe would fit any given person’s anatomy. Spending over one hundred dollars on a toy that might not work for your body isn’t exactly ideal, especially when there weren’t any options to adjust the toy to fit your needs.

With the Sync, it’s clear that We-Vibe took the above concerns into consideration. They produced a truly innovative product: the Sync has two hinges that adjust the shape of the toy, meaning it can fit a huge range of bodies. There is one hinge in the center of the Sync (between the internal and external arms), and one in the internal arm. Once you set the hinges where you want them to be, they stay there. You can bend the Sync all  you want, and the shape you’ve chosen holds in place.

This awesome innovation allows for a fully customizable sex toy – you get to pick the shape that works best for you and your anatomy. Of course, I can’t 100% guarantee this will fit your own anatomy, because I do not have your anatomy, but I can guarantee that the possibilities are essentially endless with the Sync. If you’re skeptical (and, let’s real, I would be too), see my video below!

The Way To My Heart is Through We-Vibe’s App… and Sex Toy Storage?
Screenshots of the We-Connect app (click to enlarge)

The Sync is my first hands-free, device-connected sex toy. I wasn’t sure if I would like using an app with it, especially since I’m not used to being glued to technology while masturbating, but I’m happy to say We-Vibe’s app totally optimized my experience with the Sync!

The “We-Connect” app is well-designed, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use… and I’m hooked. In the app, you can cycle through various vibration modes (both steady vibration and patterns), adjust speeds for both the external and internal arms, and create your own patterns.

I’m seriously ready to start a petition for every sex toy company I love to develop similar apps for their products. I much prefer using the app instead of the remote that comes with the Sync, but it’s imperative to note that the app does not work for every body, especially larger bodies. (More on this in the Accessibility section below.)

The We-Vibe Sync’s storage and charging case (click to enlarge)

There’s another outstanding feature worth mentioning about the Sync: its case, which doubles as a charging unit. I never put a big emphasis on sex toy storage in reviews, but We-Vibe deserves a round of applause for this one! The Sync’s case is excellent for people who need discreet storage. It also travels quite well – I took the Sync on a recent overnight trip and all I had to do was dock the toy and remote, throw the charging cord in the case, and toss it in my duffel bag.

Okay, But Did I Like It?

Well, that’s a complicated question. I was impressed by the Sync’s external motor when I first turned it on, which is substantially more powerful than previous We-Vibe models. (The internal motor is nothing to write home about, which isn’t too surprising.) Being the power queen that I am, it takes a lot for a vibrator motor to impress me, so I had high expectations for the Sync… but first impressions aren’t everything, and the Sync didn’t work for my body for a number of reasons.

There are three important things to know about my masturbation preferences: 1) I am a power queen, 2) I like to move vibrators around during use, and 3) I am not a girth enthusiast. Because of this combination, I wasn’t able to reach orgasm with the Sync. The external motor is strong, but since this is more of a stationary vibrator, moving it around kind of defeated the purpose of the Sync entirely. (One more power level would have been nice, too.) I also tried using the Sync paired with a dildo, but it was much too painful. If I couldn’t handle a smaller-sized dildo with this toy, I definitely could not have handled penetrative sex. (Fingers alone might be fine, though.)

My reasons for not liking the Sync have nothing to do with its design – given that this is a hands-free, “couples” toy, they aren’t too many ways to get around it being a stationary vibrator or one that’s meant to be used with penetration. This is just about my personal preferences, and I appreciated the opportunity to play around with the We-Connect app and all the different shapes the Sync can take on. I still think the Sync is a smart, innovative toy that could be great for some folks!

My Accessibility Concerns with the Sync

The Sync has some awesome features, but it’s not exactly the most accessible sex toy on the market. It’s technically a “hands-free” toy, but you still need to be able to adjust the hinges to fit your body before using it, which makes it not so hands-free after all. If you have mobility or joint issues, the Sync will probably be difficult for you to use.

The other concern I have with the Sync is accessibility for fat bodies. The We-Vibe Connect app connects to the Sync via Bluetooth, which doesn’t always work for fat folks or folks with fleshy labia. Both The Frisky Fairy and Dangerous Lilly have reported on this, and it’s an important thing to keep in mind before you shell out $199 for the Sync.

The Verdict

I feel comfortable recommending the Sync as long as you know what your preferences and needs are: do you need a massive amount of power? do you have limited mobility? do you need to move your toy around to reach orgasm? do you have trouble taking more girth than what you’re used to? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, the Sync might not be the best option for you.

“Couples” vibrators are never going to be perfect, but if you’re looking for one or if you’re looking for hands-free solo play and don’t have any problems with the above limitations, the Sync could be a good option for you! It’s certainly the only vibrator specifically designated as a “couples” toy for use during penetrative sex that I would recommend.

Vibrant generously provided me with the We-Vibe Sync in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. Vibrant is my newest affiliate and an excellent ethical company, and they absolutely deserve your business! Take a look at their selection here.

Review: Dorr Avond Wand

Welcome to the sixth 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 and September, woops!). Check out my previous five reviews in the series: Lovehoney Desire Wand, Svakom Emma Heating Wand, BMS Factory PalmPower, OhMiBod Lovelife Wanderlust, and Jimmyjane Iconic Wand.


I first saw the Dorr Avond Wand at SheVibe‘s Blogger Pajama Party at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. I was initially intrigued because the Avond looked just like a compact version of a wand I was testing and really liked, so I mentioned to SheVibe that I was interested in it. They offered to send me the Avond as my first SheVibe review product, and I happily agreed!

When my Avond arrived in the mail, I couldn’t believe how small it was. (Yes, yes, I first saw it at the SheVibe PJ Party, but I wasn’t exactly sober and apparently completely misjudged its size.) The Avond is by far the smallest wand I own – it’s even smaller than the PalmPower!

Avond vs. Desire comparison
Avond vs. Desire comparison

Despite this wand’s size, it doesn’t feel like an insignificant toy when I’m holding it. It feels solid and well-made, and while it’s not heavy by any means, it is weightier than I thought it would be. The Avond is smaller than its similar-looking sibling, the Lovehoney Desire Wand, but it feels like a higher-quality toy because of the back panel’s material. Even though I’m still confused about why this back panel exists (it has no function), the Avond’s is metal while the Desire’s is plastic.

The Avond comes with all of the features one would expect: it’s made of silicone, it’s waterproof, it’s rechargeable, and it comes with a storage bag. It has 5 vibration speeds and 6 settings, and as with most wands, the vibrations go from rumbly to buzzy as the speed increases, but the top speed is more of a rumbly-buzzy combination than strictly buzzy. The Avond is also very quiet during use. However, the white label aspect of this wand and of Dorr in general makes me a bit wary – it’s what first drew me to this wand (because it is very similar to the Desire), but it also doesn’t say much for the originality of the design. Dangerous Lilly spells out what a white label toy is in her review of the Dorr Silker, so I won’t re-explain that here.

This wand looks good on paper, but in practice it’s mediocre at best. I am able to jump to the Avond’s highest speed immediately without any warm up, and the vibration intensity at that top speed is what I would look for in the first speed of a medium-sized wand, or a smaller wand that plugs in, like the PalmPower.

Today in “sex toy features that are completely unnecessary”

While the Avond isn’t exactly a pinpoint stimulation toy, it’s surface area is small enough to make it closer to pinpoint than any other wand I own. When I was testing this toy, I alternated between a larger wand and the Avond to compare vibration strengths, but my body didn’t respond to the Avond after using a larger wand. It’s not just that it wasn’t pleasurable – I simply didn’t feel anything. This isn’t unusual for me – I don’t like pinpoint stimulation – but it does defeat the purpose of using this wand for broad stimulation, which is why I prefer this style of sex toy in the first place.

If you’re the opposite of a power queen, the Avond may work for you. However, I’m not comfortable recommending this wand – even if you prefer gentler vibration settings, the speeds on the Avond don’t allow for any room to grow if you end up wanting more. Furthermore, for a toy of this size and power, the Avond does not need an $80 price tag. For a smaller toy with an incredibly wide range of vibration speeds, check out the PalmPower, one of my favorite toys.

SheVibe generously provided me with the Dorr Avond Wand in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My unimpressive experience with this toy has no bearing on SheVibe – they are excellent and you should absolutely shop with them!

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!

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.


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.

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!

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!

Review: BMS Factory PalmPower

Welcome to the third 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. You can find my first two reviews in the series here and here.


The BMS Factory PalmPower was my second-ever wand purchase. After using my first wand (um, so much has changed since I wrote that review, wow) almost exclusively for a few months, I was ready to move on to stronger toys, only to find the pinpoint vibrators I tried wholly unsatisfying and sometimes uncomfortable. I loved my first wand so much, so why not try another? I had my eye on the PalmPower thanks to Toy Meets Girl’s review, so when I started working at a feminist sex shop after I graduated from college, I decided to take full advantage of the employee discount and order a PalmPower of my own.

The PalmPower has lived on my nightstand ever since. Only four other products live there – the Iconic Wand, Mustang, and Sliquid Satin and Sea – so this is definitely a compliment of the highest order. This wand opened me up to an entirely new world of strong, rumbly vibrators I had always heard about, but never experienced in my early days of trying toys.

For a toy of its size, the PalmPower is unprecedentedly powerful. It’s the smallest, most pinpoint wand I own, but also one of the strongest, even when compared to the Magic Wand Rechargeable and the Doxy. Whenever I use this toy, I orgasm very quickly (usually within thirty seconds to one minute) and then keep going… and going… and going. Breaking out the PalmPower usually means I’m ready for an exhausting but amazing masturbation session, often complete with 8-10 orgasms in less than ten minutes. If I want a super quick orgasm, even if I only have a minute or two to spare, I always reach for the PalmPower.

I have never experienced orgasms at this rate with any other toy, so testing other vibrators after using the PalmPower almost exclusively for a couple of months was quite the adjustment. Initially (about a year ago), I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get off quickly (or sometimes at all) with toys like the Doxy or Magic Wand, especially when the PalmPower could bring me to orgasm in less than sixty seconds. However, I soon realized that, of course, the wands I had in my collection were different for a reason: each one has unique features and provides a distinct experience, setting it apart from the others. I love being able to identify what I’m in the mood for and grab a wand accordingly: Treating myself to a long masturbation session? Grab the Doxy. Something quick and easy? The PalmPower. And something in between? The JimmyJane Iconic Wand. (This may seem rather obvious – of course toys are different! – but the process of being able to identify what toy I want in a certain moment because it provides x, y, and z has been an important step in my journey to understanding and loving my body and my pleasure.)

The PalmPower really is palm-sized!

There are a few features of the PalmPower that make it a top notch toy and a few features I have qualms with. My PalmPower is corded, which I actually really appreciate. I never have to worry about it dying when I’m right about to come, or wait for it to charge when I’m in the mood for a hard, fast orgasm. If you are averse to corded vibrators, BMS Factory also makes the PalmPower Recharge, which is the same price as the original PalmPower.

Another feature unique to the PalmPower is its singular button. As opposed to buttons that cycle through set vibration speeds and patterns, the PalmPower’s lone button allows you to increase speeds on a sliding scale. There are no set speeds (and no patterns!); you can land on whatever speed feels best to you. I wish more toys had this feature – there have been many times I’ve wished there was an in-between speed when I crank up the intensity on some of my other wands. There are a couple of drawbacks to the sole button, though. It’s pretty easy to turn off the PalmPower on accident, and there’s no way to decrease the speed without turning the toy off and back on again.

My biggest problem with the PalmPower is the cap. The cap is removable, which makes for easy cleaning, but it also protrudes from the rest of the PalmPower’s head. I have to be careful not to angle the PalmPower in such a way that the overhanging part of the cap pinches and snags my vulva, which has happened a number of times and is quite unpleasant. Also, if I don’t place the cap on the head exactly right, this pinching and snagging is much worse. For folks with a more exposed clit, this may not be as much of an issue. However, the combination of my love of pressure and my buried clit sometimes makes digging in with this wand an uncomfortable experience.

Cap issues aside, I love the PalmPower. It’s not as expensive as some other wands with less power, and it’s definitely worth the $70 in my opinion. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves wands and rumbly vibrators. Even if you prefer pinpoint stimulation, I would still encourage you to try the PalmPower – the head has the smallest surface area of any wand I’ve ever tried, and I think it could be good for folks who may not like larger wands. I’m certain this toy will continue to live on my nightstand for years to come!

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!

You can find the BMS Factory PalmPower at SheVibe.

Review: OhMiBod Lovelife Wanderlust

Welcome to the second 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. You can find my first review in the series here.


As an avid wand user, I’m always searching for new wands to experiment with and, hopefully, add to my regular rotation. On the same day I discovered OhMiBod recently released a new wand, the Lovelife Wanderlust, PeepShow Toys contacted me with an invitation to join their affiliate program. When the lovely folks at PeepShow Toys told me they could send me the Wanderlust for review immediately, it felt like kismet. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Wanderlust, and excitedly live-tweeted its arrival. So, how does this wand stack up to my other favorites? Did it live up to the hype?

In theory, this wand is great. It’s on the smaller end of the wand spectrum, rechargeable, splashproof (which makes for easier cleaning), and, of course, made of body-safe silicone. It features steady vibration as well as patterns, and comes with a satin storage pouch. Furthermore, it has a versatile shape: a full, round head for broad stimulation, two peaks for more targeted stimulation, and what I call a “clit nest” in between the peaks of the heart for more indirect stimulation. Unfortunately, in practice, the Wanderlust didn’t live up to my expectations.

OhMiBod’s Wanderlust product page features some quippy phrases like “Life is best when you live for the journey, not the destination” and “Not all who wander are lost. Some of us just love to take the scenic route,” which pretty much sum up my experience with this toy. Whenever I use the Wanderlust, I take the scenic route… and I drive on that road for a long time. Despite many journeys, I only reached my destination once in my time testing this toy (and it definitely didn’t look…erm…feel like the picture in the guidebook).

My complaint with this toy is simple: It has weak vibrations. The five speed levels are barely distinguishable as you click from one to another. There is a noticeable difference between the lowest speed and the highest speed, but it feels more like an increase of buzzy-ness rather than power. The Wanderlust’s highest setting matches the power level that I might look for in the lowest setting of a toy that really works for me. OhMiBod’s claim that this toy is “powerful enough to curl your toes” certainly did not hold true for me – I was only able to have one mini-orgasm with this toy, and that was on the highest setting with a huge amount of pressure on my clit.

If a toy feels good but just can’t get me to orgasm, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll throw it in my “never use” drawer – I’ll sometimes use those toys when warming up for a super high-powered wand, or when I want to have a long and relaxing masturbation session. However, the Wanderlust doesn’t fall into this category. It feels pleasant for a very short while, but I’m almost instantly left craving more. Needless to say, I won’t be adding the Wanderlust to my regular rotation.

If you need a very gentle vibrator and don’t enjoy massive power wands like the Doxy or Hitachi, the Wanderlust might be for you. However, if you’re looking for a small wand that packs a punch, check out the PalmPower. (I’ve only tried the corded version, but I’ve heard good things about the PalmPower Recharge as well if you don’t want to be constrained by a power cord.)

PeepShow Toys generously provided me with the OhMiBod Lovelife Wanderlust in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Check out PeepShow Toys’ selection of wand massagers and take 10% off your purchase using code FEMME.

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!

Review: Jimmyjane Iconic Wand

Welcome to the first 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 a month from this point forward! I’m excited to share my thoughts with you all on my favorite kind of sex toy.


I’ll be honest, I first bought the Jimmyjane Iconic Wand because of its aesthetic appeal. It’s rechargeable, relatively small compared to other powerhouse toys, and waterproof, so I thought it couldn’t pack a huge punch like other more well-known, corded wands. However, it sports a gorgeous design and I had been wanting to add to my wand collection, so I thought I would give it a try. You could have probably knocked me over with a feather if you had told me that I would soon be calling the Iconic Wand my new favorite toy… but here we are. Consider me knocked over.

It took me a while to admit, even to myself, that the Iconic Wand is my favorite toy. I really like my powerhouse wands like the Magic Wand and the Doxy, but I don’t love them the way I do my Iconic Wand. It’s possible the Magic Wand or the Doxy could dethrone the Iconic Wand once I spend more time masturbating with them (both are fairly new purchases), but the fact remains that whenever I use the Magic Wand or the Doxy and just can’t reach orgasm, I grab my handy Iconic Wand and get there almost immediately. (As a quick note, it’s probably easiest to compare the Iconic Wand to the Magic Wand and the Doxy, as they are well-known to a number of people, and I’ll continue to do so throughout this post.)


So, why exactly is the Iconic Wand my new favorite? Its vibrations are powerful, deep, and rumbly, and granted, not as strong as other wands, but still incredibly strong for a smaller, rechargeable toy. It has three speeds, three patterns, and one escalation mode. I’m usually not huge on patterns, but I find the patterns on this toy really great for edging. Furthermore, the Iconic Wand is fairly small compared to other wands. It’s waterproof and rechargeable, and has a truly astounding charge life. I’ve had this wand for over two months, I use it in almost all of my masturbation sessions (around three to four times a week, sometimes more, and always for more than 10-15 minutes each time) and I’ve only had to charge it once. Yes, really.

All of these fantastic features aside, what really attracts me to the Iconic Wand is its rounded head. Combined with this wand’s strong and rumbly vibrations, its head delivers broad stimulation in a way I really adore and much prefer to any wand I’ve tried before. Pinpoint stimulation is very uncomfortable for me, so I don’t need, or even like, the kind of stimulation that comes with angling the flatter heads of the Magic Wand or the Doxy. However, not all bodies are made the same, so if the potential for pinpoint stimulation is something you look for in a wand, check out Girly Juice’s review of the Iconic Wand for a different take.

The Iconic Wand’s rounded head also taught me something very important about my masturbation style, and especially my orgasms. Prior to using the Iconic Wand, whenever I would orgasm, I immediately removed the vibrator from my vulva entirely because it got painful very quickly. However, I always felt like my orgasms didn’t live up to their full potential – it always seemed like there was more orgasm to be had, I just couldn’t get to it because it was too uncomfortable. One day while masturbating with the Iconic Wand, I absentmindedly placed it lightly on top of my outer labia right after orgasm… and the orgasm kept on going. And going. And going. I was completely spent at the end of it. I felt more relaxed than I ever had after an orgasm.

IMG_8596My clit is buried and not at all exposed, so I was easily able to place the wand on my outer labia without feeling any pain. This extended orgasm happens with other wands, but it’s always more pleasurable with the Iconic Wand. The flatter heads of other wands are too bulky to nestle comfortably between my legs and on top of my outer labia, and one of my other top wand choices, the PalmPower, is too small to provide that broad stimulation I need even as my orgasm continues. I always love it when a sex toy teaches me something completely new about my pleasure, and the Iconic Wand definitely delivered in that department!

While I do love the Iconic Wand, that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect toy. The Iconic Wand is slightly more expensive than the Magic Wand Rechargeable, about the same price as the Doxy, and much more expensive than the Magic Wand Original. Yes, the Iconic Wand is rechargeable, which only the MWR can boast, and waterproof, which makes it unique, but it’s simply not as powerful as the Magic Wand or the Doxy, which its price tag does not reflect. My other major complaint about the Iconic Wand is that its vibrations rattle the handle, and hard. My hand gets massaged almost as intensely as my vulva whenever I use it.

It should be obvious by now that I think the Iconic Wand is a wonderful toy. I would recommend it to those who like wands, strong, rumbly vibrations, and rechargeable toys, as well as people who may not know what they’re looking for but want to try to a toy with a lot of good features.

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!

You can find the Jimmyjane Iconic Wand at SheVibe.

What I Learned from the We-Vibe Touch

When I started this blog, the We-Vibe Touch was one of the first toys I knew I absolutely had to try. I had been reading about the Touch’s magical rumbly vibrations from other sex bloggers for quite some time prior to starting my own site, not to mention that it flew off the shelves more quickly than any other toy at the feminist sex shop I used to work at. Incredibly strong vibrations? Check. A squishy tip? Yes please. And that scoop on the underside of the Touch? My clit dreamed of that scoop for many moons.


A couple of months into my blogging adventure, Heidi at Sexy Time Toys offered to send me a We-Vibe Touch for review. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to try the infamous Touch for myself. So, I tried. And tried. And tried again. And again, and again… you get the point. And nothing. worked. Not only could I not reach orgasm with the Touch, I found very little pleasure in using it at all.

For a while, I felt kind of like a sex blogging failure. Why didn’t the We-Vibe Touch work for me, when it had worked for so many other bloggers and toy lovers before me? After a few tries, I quickly learned that the tip of this toy was just too narrow for me. However, what about the broader back of the Touch? Or the scoop my clit dreamed of? The Touch seemed so full of potential even beyond its squishy tip, and yet I seemed to be able to harness none of it.


After spending some time lamenting my lack of We-Vibe Touch orgasms, I eventually realized that this entire thing was actually a learning experience in disguise. In the time I spent testing out the Touch, I unearthed a whole lot about what actually gets me off, more than I had learned with any other toy (except maybe my first vibrator).

First, I learned that direct, pinpoint clitoral stimulation is not for me. I requested the Touch with the inkling of an idea that direct, pinpoint stimulation might not be my thing, but I thought maybe I just hadn’t tried the right toy yet. Using my fingers to stimulate my clit directly never brought me much pleasure, and bullet vibes were always a no-go, yet I still had hope that the Touch might be right for me since it had worked for so many others. Nope, it turns out that pinpoint stimulation, as well as stimulation from some more narrowish (somewhere in-between a bullet and a wand) vibrators, just doesn’t get me off. (I say some more narrowish vibrators because the L’Amorouse Rosa actually does work for me when I use the base as a handle – more investigation forthcoming!)

Second, I learned that broad stimulation, the kind that wands bring, is what really gets me off. I owned one wand before testing the Touch, but afterwards, when I started to figure out what I really liked, I invested in two stronger wands… and saw stars. Yup, wands and broad stimulation are where it’s at for me. As I continue to test toys and experiment with my own pleasure, this only becomes more and more true.

IMG_7691Most importantly, I learned that what gets a lot of other people off might not necessarily get me off, and what gets me off might not necessarily get a lot of other people off, and that’s okay. My pleasure is my own, and I don’t need to compare my preferences and likes to anybody else’s. My pleasure is valid just as it is.

If you are a fan of direct clitoral stimulation, then the We-Vibe Touch might be the perfect vibrator for you. Handfuls of other bloggers swear by the Touch, and I would highly recommend checking out their reviews if pinpoint stimulation and deep, rumbly vibrations are what you’re all about. The Touch is obviously a thoughtfully made, well-crafted toy – it’s just not for me.

Finally, if you’re thinking about trying the We-Vibe Touch or are just in the market for something new, I highly recommend visiting Sexy Time Toys for a fantastic selection of body-safe toys. Using the affiliate links throughout this post at Sexy Time Toys supports the ongoing success of Formidable Femme, and you’ll get a shiny new toy – everybody wins!

Sexy Time Toys generously provided me with the We-Vibe Touch in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.