Have you ever been curious about strap-on play, but have no clue where to start? There are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a harness and dildo(s), and sometimes it can be difficult to gauge what will be the best fit at first. The Bend Over Beginner Kit by Tantus is the perfect introductory toy, as it is extremely easy to use and comes with everything you’ll need to begin bending your partner over!
The Bend Over Beginner comes with a velvet harness that is super comfortable, adjustable, and machine washable. The front pad of the harness sits in the perfect place both for comfortable angling in any position, and for the dildo to apply the perfect amount of pressure to the clitoris of the wearer during sex. For added stimulation, there is a little pocket inside the harness that fits a bullet vibrator that also comes in the kit. The straps of the harness are extremely long, as to fit a myriad of body types. I recommend trying the harness on prior to using it so you have plenty of time to fit the straps to your body before getting down to business. For a smaller body, it might be helpful to trim the straps after measuring them so they don’t tangle or get in the way.
There are two silky smooth, 100% premium silicone dildos in the kit as well. Both dildos are relatively small in size; smaller dildo- 7/8” in diameter and 4 ½” in length, and larger dildo- 1 1/4”in diameter and 5 ½” in length. They’re perfect for safely exploring anal penetration, or for anyone who enjoys the feeling of a smaller toy. Although there are two O-rings that come with the Bend Over Beginner, they can be changed out with a larger ring if you decide you want to use a bigger dildo.
Each kit comes in either Purple Haze (a light, iridescent purple) or Black. I got Purple Haze, and was a little concerned about keeping the light colored harness looking clean. I was delightfully surprised to see how easy it cleaned up in my washing machine, and how well the material has held up from washing so far. Since the dildos are 100% silicone they can be sterilized in a dishwasher, with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), or (my favorite) by boiling them for 3-5 minutes. Remember: because the dildos are made of silicone, silicone based lubricants will degrade them over time. Therefore, you should stick to water-based lubricants with this product.
The Bend Over Beginner is the perfect toy for anyone of any gender looking to try strap-on play for the first time. If you have already experienced strap-on play or prefer larger dildos, Tantus also has the Bend Over Intermediate Kit; which is essentially the same kit, but with dildos that measure 1.25″ x 5.5″ and 1.5″ x 7″.
It’s been a rough few weeks, so I am dedicating as much of this weekend as possible to self-care! For me there are two sides to the self-care coin. The not fun, but necessary stuff, and the relaxing, fun activities we usually associate with self –care. To paint a clearer picture, it’s looking like: waking up at a reasonable time to walk my dog and complete important tasks before going to work, making sure I take all my medications at the right times, and remembering to eat smaller meals full of foods that are less likely to cause pain flare ups. It means spending time with people who make me smile, cuddling aforementioned dog, spacing out and watching tv, and breaking in this awesome new coloring book I bought from work. Isn’t it fantastic?
Self-care can look any way you need it to; taking care of important errands or tasks, spending time outside, turning off your phone for a few hours and tuning out, taking a bubble bath. But if you want to practice self care with a partner, one of the easiest way is to give or receive (or take turns in each role) a massage. Last year I was asked by the folks at Astroglide to give a massage tip for their blog. Of course, I brought up how to kink it up a notch. The entire article provides some really excellent ideas. Read the article below. Then go to the comments section and let me know what you think and what are some of your favorite self-care strategies and activities.
When I first started working as a sex educator, my primary focus was on prevention and public health. I worked in a lot of non-profits including a sexual assault prevention center and multiple reproductive healthcare/STI screening organizations. I loved doing that type of work and often consider going back to it, even though that arena isn’t exactly known for its sex positivity. For now, I will just continue geeking out about risk reduction and safer sex practices. One area in particular that I’d like to focus on today is using barriers for oral sex, specifically on penises (I’ll focus on vulvas in a separate post). So many folks opt out of using condoms for blow jobs before even considering them. Why? Well, there is a ton of stigma around STI’s, so we’re often not talking about them before clothes come off. We also know there is a little less risk involved with oral sex, and sometimes that message comes out sounding like there’s no risk at all, which is patently false. Finally, we don’t talk about pleasure when we talk about prevention. They usually sound mutually exclusive. But they don’t have to be. Here are 4 tips for making blow jobs with condoms more fun:
1.Flavored condoms and lube
This is probably the most obvious choice for the blow job giver- using something that tastes better than a regular condom. There are tons of flavored condoms on the market. I recommend trying different flavors and different brands because some of them taste a bit too sweet or too strong, while others might fit your preferences perfectly. Another option is using an unlubricated condom and purchasing a flavored lube that you enjoy. My favorite to recommend are all the flavors of the Sliquid Swirl line. These lubes are sweetened with Aspartame rather than sugar, so they are safer to use inside a vagina or anus. This is especially helpful if you’re planning to go straight from a blow job to vaginal or anal sex. With other lubes it would be more important to wash off in between. If the receiving partner is very sensitive, for example if they are prone to yeast infections or get irritated easily from certain lubes, you still might want to clean off and switch condoms before moving on to other penetrative forms of sex.
Did you know that unless they are labeled otherwise, all condoms are packaged in silicone lubricant? It’s true! Silicone is super slippery and long lasting. It also has a much longer shelf life than water-based lubes. So it makes sense why condom companies use it. Latex condoms already have a particular smell and taste to them that are unpleasant to some, but silicone lube tends to amplify that effect. Enter, the water-based lube condom. Not many companies make them, but one is Microthin Aqua. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a non-latex condom with water-based lube so you’ll still have the latex taste, but it’s much easier to swallow (pun totally intended) than many traditional condoms.
3.Use lube inside the condom
This is my favorite trick! Sometimes in the condom directions (if you read that little pamphlet inside the box) you will see “put a drop of lube into the tip of the condom if desired.” This helps the wearer feel more stimulation. If you are planning to use the condom only for oral (and this is important because too much lube inside the condom will create slippage), add a little more lube than usual. This can help you create a makeshift masturbation sleeve that is also an effective barrier. You can move the condom up and down the shaft of the penis, making sure your mouth is always over the condom by keeping your hand closer to the base of the penis. Again, remember to switch the condom and wipe off that excess lube before moving to penetrative vaginal or anal sex, if that’s what’s in your plans.
Oftentimes when people are asked what’s sexiest about receiving oral sex from a partner, the response is ENTHUSIASM. Why? Most people want to know their partner is enjoying themselves during sexy times, sure. But enthusiastic oral sex generally looks sexier and feels better for the person receiving. If you’re not feeling it for any reason, don’t do it. Save it for another time when you really want to. Or if you are on the receiving end and can tell your partner isn’t into it, check in and stop until you’re both interested in trying again.
Let’s talk about toys! Well, one toy in particular. Recently I was gifted the new Womanizer Pro40. I am incredibly picky about my sex toys. I’ve been a sex educator since 2007 and have worked in adult retail since 2010. I know what goes into making a high quality, body safe toy. I also have really specific tastes in general when it comes to toys. This all makes receiving them from the company a mixed-bag type of experience. Fortunately, my experience with Womanizer products has been pretty positive overall.
You may have heard of the Womanizer Pro40’s predecessors The Womanizer W100 and The Womanizer Pro. Both featured a sucking sensation paired with low-powered, rumbly vibration around the clitoris. The body of the toys are made of a hard plastic, with removable silicone heads* that are easy to clean and are sanitizable**. Each toy is USB rechargeable. I was also gifted the W100 when it first came out (I know, my life is rough) and was incredibly weary of its gaudy appearance and disappointing name. However, I was actually really surprised to find it was both innovative and effective, feeling like no other toy I’ve ever encountered before.
What I love about the Pro40 is that it’s much more ergonomically shaped for different bodies and abilities. All of the Womanizer products are lightweight, but most of them have a more bulbous shaped body that can be tough to grip onto if you have carpel tunnel or other joint pain in the hands and wrists. The buttons are much more user-friendly than in previous models. Unlike the W100 with its one giant gem of a button, and the Pro with its excessive, pointy Swarovski crystal button, the interface on the Pro40 is much more user friendly. The buttons are softer and more responsive. They are also clearly labeled. The Pro40 has 8 speeds and 2 hours of battery life after a full charge.
It is my understanding that the Pro40 is the beta version of a new Womanizer product that will be hitting the market soon. It functions well and, in my opinion is Womanizer’s best product yet. Since it will be replaced and discontinued soon, I highly recommend you get it while it’s cheap (for Womanizer, anyway) at just $99 through most retailers.
* There are two different sized heads, for different sized clits.
**To sanitize silicone toys you have three options:
- Boil for 3-5 minutes
- Put them through the dishwasher on “sanitize” mode. Top rack only and no soap.
- Make a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) and wipe the silicone toy with it.
In my last post, I mentioned that one goal for better sex could be communicating your needs to your partner. Easier said than done, right? We live in a society that shies away from sex while projecting it everywhere in our media, that prefers euphemisms to medically accurate terminology and that provides very little, if any sex education. This makes it almost impossible to ask for what you want sexually. While a lot of it comes down to confronting the concerns that make communication difficult and practicing… for the rest of your life, there are tools available to help ease you through the process.
One of my favorite communication tools is the Yes/No/Maybe list. The idea is that you have a list of various sexual activities that you can choose and write into a column for Yes (this is something you definitely want to try or already know you’re into), Maybe (this might be something that piques your interest, but you’re hesitant to try or could be something you like under specific circumstance), and No (something you absolutely do not want to do right now or possibly ever). After you fill out the list, you can talk it out with a partner or swap lists and read them over. What’s great about this tool is that it not only helps you communicate with others, but with yourself as well. So many people aren’t even sure what they want to try sexually. This is a great starting point. It’s also easy to update or change especially if you have an electronic copy.
Once you become more familiar with the Yes/No/Maybe list, it’s easy to adapt it to your specific needs. Want to negotiate barrier use? Write in the types you want to use and when. Thinking non-monogamy might be your thing? You can write in the types of non-monogamous relationship styles that interest you or not. You can also turn the list into a game. Take the activities you and your partner have listed as a “yes” and use them to create a night of fun. There are a couple easy ways you can do this: 1. Close your eyes and point at the yes list, move your finger around and then drop it on the paper. Whatever activity you land on, you do. 2. Write out the yes activities on 3×5 cards and chose them at random out of a deck.
There are a ton of Yes/No/Maybe lists available online.Google it! I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for something specific, or a little more user friendly, check out this list of lists from Self Serve Toys. Another option that I like is Mojo Upgrade. There you can login with a partner, fill out the yes/no/maybe list in quiz form, and then the app links you and your partners “yes” lists.
CN: Vulnerability ahead!
It’s been quite a long time, but I am happy to announce that I’ve returned. As some of you may already know from watching my social media accounts, I am a grad student and I live with chronic illness. Grad school is overwhelming as it is, but add in illness to the mix and good luck if you can keep up with anything. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to slow down for a little while and practice good self-care, which for me includes doing the work that energizes me. So here I am, back in action.
As a way to get myself back into the swing of things, I am participating in NaBloPoMo (Unofficially. I don’t plan to register anywhere. This is for me and you, dear readers). I am doing better, but not back to 100% yet. So I am setting my daily goal at a very modest 300-word-per-day sex tip or thought provocation. My hope is that I will always beat my goal, but at least this way I can ensure I will at least make it every day. Something else that keeps me from writing as often as I’d like is concern over typos and grammatical errors. I will stare at a Tweet for an hour until I’m sure it’s well-written. So, as a way to ensure my writing ends up in the world, I plan to post whether I have time to edit to my liking or not. Please be kind about this.
This leads me to my tip for the day: If you’re going to be goal oriented, set attainable goals. In a world where we see acrobatic positions, penises that can stay erect for hours, and vaginas that squirt multiple feet of fluid in porn, it’s easy to set our sexual goals unreasonably high. While I believe that sex should be more about enjoying the journey than accomplishing goals, if you really have your heart set on something, at least make sure your goal is attainable.
Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable pieces. For example, if your goal is to have an orgasm during partnered sex, look at all the steps that really go into making that happen. Maybe tonight the goal could be figuring out what your body responds to most. To obtain this goal, you could masturbate and take mental notes of what felt really good, what felt less good, and if you do have an orgasm, what you were doing just before you got there. Your next goal could be to communicate those needs to a partner. Show them your notes or turn it into dirty talk and tell them what you want them to do to you. The next goal could be to try those moves out together; keeping note of when things don’t feel right or aren’t exactly what you expected. That way you can modify next time. Remember, sometimes it takes a lot of tries to get your bedroom game where you want it to be. Just keep an open mind, remember that goals aren’t the most important part of sex, and have fun!