Tantus Bend Over Beginner Kit

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!

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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″.  

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Self Care

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.

http://www.astroglide.com/blog/how-to-give-the-sexiest-massage/

Safer Oral Sex Tips (Penis Edition)

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.

2.Water-based lube
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.

4. Enthusiasm
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.

The Womanizer Pro40 Review

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:

  1. Boil for 3-5 minutes
  2. Put them through the dishwasher on “sanitize” mode. Top rack only and no soap.
  3. Make a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) and wipe the silicone toy with it.

Yes/No/Maybe Lists

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.

Thoughts on Sex Toys, Aging, and Disability

Some of you might know that I’m currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program for Human Sexuality Education. If you didn’t know…

I am currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program for Human Sexuality Education!

It’s been a fantastic step for my career, it’s helped create invaluable connections with fellow educators and given me the opportunity to improve my teaching skills. On top of that, I get to take some really cool classes you can’t find anywhere else!
This summer I am taking a class on Sex and Aging, and it has given me so much to think about. Specifically, how age affects the ways in which we have sex, how we see ourselves as sexual beings, and how we see the sexuality of others. I was recently in my first weekend of class, and we did an activity that became more emotional for me than I could have possibly imagined. We were asked to use different materials to limit ourselves in the ways that older adults are often limited.

We put ear plugs in our ears so we couldn’t hear. We wrapped our joints with ace bandages to decrease mobility. We put dry beans in our shoes to make walking difficult and painful. We put on gloves, with popsicle sticks in their fingers and cotton balls on their tips, to limit movement and sensation. We put on strong glasses (or in my case, took them off) to impair sight.

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At first, it was kind of entertaining to see each other with all of these devices on, but then it got interesting. We were asked to walk around and do daily tasks such as walking up and down stairs, using the restroom, laying down and getting back up, reading newspapers, using our phones, etc. As someone with invisible disabilities, the added difficulty really hit home.

There was one station that I left for last because I wanted to spend time with it; the table covered in sex toys. I work in a sex toy store by day, so I have a lot of time to think about what types of toys can best serve different types of people for different types of activities. I think a lot about ways toys can be used outside of their marketed uses. So I wanted to take this opportunity to really engage with toys in ways I hadn’t been able to before. I walked up to the table (slowly!), and picked up a hard plastic, pink, slimline-style vibrator. This may in fact be the most common type of toy I see purchased by people who are new to toys (it makes sense because of their versatility and low price point).

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I twisted the base to turn on the toy with minimal problems, but it was when I tried to open the toy that things got complicated. I stood there for several minutes just trying to grip the toy firmly enough to loosen it, but to no avail. It was at that moment, one of my two professors, the brilliant Dr. Melanie Davis, came up behind me and said, “Try putting the little watch batteries into that bullet.”

I’m sure you can already imagine what that was like.

I couldn’t even hold on to the batteries long enough to get them close to the toy, let alone inside it. I felt defeated and downright disempowered. I felt guilty knowing that some of my customers and clients have left with one of these toys, and probably had similar difficulties rendering their brand new toy useless.

This activity has given me so much to think about. Now I feel driven to find toys that are more accessible, and alternative ways of using toys to make them more adaptable for aging populations and people with other disabilities. Expect a follow up post soon with my findings. This is far from over!

Sexy Summer Reading List 2015

Yesterday was the first day of summer! You know what that means—It’s time to put on your sex geek t-shirt and get ready for some sexy summer reading! As a graduate student, I am excited to finally have time again to read texts that haven’t been assigned to me. Unfortunately, time is still limited, so as you’ll see, my personal list for the summer is quite short. To make up the difference, I am supplementing my list with some of my all time favorite books for folks who are new to exploring their sexuality. I’ve added some blogs as well! Enjoy!

What I’m reading this summer
My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory by Cooper S. Beckettmylotss
Cooper Beckett loves to talk about himself, but it’s ok because he’s just so good at it! It’s one thing to vaguely point out that you’ve made mistakes along the way, but Cooper truly walks the talk. What I’ve always appreciated about him is the fact that he’s not afraid to name each of his mistakes through non-monogamy so that others can learn from them.

I asked Cooper what he wants us all to know about My Life on the Swingset, and he said:
“My Life on the Swingset is a book that doesn’t hide behind the benefit of hindsight. The book was written as things happened, and thus tackles surprising things like divorce and major errors in judgment. It also showcases the unexpected highs of swinging and poly, from discovering the joys of the prostate orgasm, to learning how to navigate sex parties and sexy vacations.”

*Note: the audiobook comes out on 6/30, in case you’d like to turn part of your summer reading list into a summer listening list! I’m so excited to read (and maybe also listen to) this book!

cayaCome As You Are by Emily Nagoski, PhD
There’s a lot of confusion about women’s sexuality, and one of the biggest myths is that there can be a quick fix to female desire issues in the form of a pill; a “Female Viagra” as many are calling it. Come As You Are delves deep into the science of women’s sexuality to provide insight on how we can tackle the real issues around female sexual dissatisfaction and difficulties with arousal.

Although this isn’t a topic I generally focus on, it’s something that I’m asked about quite frequently, so I’m happy to be gaining wealth of knowledge through this book. I also have a feeling this book will become a staple of my book resource list that I recommend on a regular basis for years to come.

Best Sex Writing of the Year Edited by Jon Pressickbestwriting
The truth about sex writing is that there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but sometimes it takes some weeding through the bad stuff to get there. This anthology takes the guess work out, and provides an inclusive resource of some of the best sex writing on topics such as: porn, sexual assault, BDSM, disability, aging, STI stigma, and sex work.

When asked about this book, editor, Jon Pressick, said that Best Sex Writing of the Year is “an invitation to all readers to explore the wide world of sex, sexuality and gender. We are in desperate need of more conversation about sex, more discussion to change the parts of our society that need fixing and celebrate the great advances we have already made in the conversation of sex.”

I can already tell that Best Sex Writing is a thought-provoking, beacon of permission and conversation starter in a variety of sexual topics. I look forward to discussing what I read in this book with my friends, colleagues, and fellow Sex Geeks.

Book Recommendations
Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon (and several amazing guest authors)
This book is for women-identified people and all who love them! If you’re interested in Girl Sex, but don’t know where to start, this book will guide you with illustrated education, a story, and sections by guest experts of all walks of life. Read more about Girl Sex 101 HERE

Playing Well with Others by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams
Maybe you’ve been playing with kink in your bedroom and are ready to take it elsewhere, or maybe you read Fifty Shades of Grey and are ready to jump right in! Either way, Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams’ book, Playing Well with Others will provide a strong foundation for your new foray into your local kink scene! This book provides in depth information on what public kink venues are available and the etiquette of getting involved and playing in these spaces.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
This is one of my favorites for anyone wanting to learn about gender diversity. As transgender narratives become more visible in our media, it’s vital that we understand the realities that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face. Janet’s story shows much of what the media leaves out; what life is like as a person of intersecting marginalized identities. While it is a powerful story of living and thriving with unapologetic authenticity, it is also educational in that it provides basic information about gender, as well as accessible language for discussing trans issues.

More than two by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux
There are a lot of guides on nonmonogamy out there, but this book is specific to polyamory. Authors Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux provide the tools and skills needed to communicate and negotiate needs and agreements, tackle common pitfalls such as insecurity and jealousy, and give a comprehensive look at what ethical polyamory can be. The More Than Two website is also full of information and resources. I highly recommend checking it out!

Bondassage by Jaeleen Bennis and Eve Minax
There are plenty of ways to play with kink, but one of the most versatile is sensation play. You can use a variety of toys to cause pleasure, pain, tickles, hot and cold temperatures, and more. Bondassage is the ultimate guide to getting started with sensation play, and is my favorite book to promote in my workshop, Sensation Play: The Art of the Tease! Co-author, Jaeleen Bennis says that this book helps readers “learn some easy, practical ways that they can spice up their play time and connect more deeply.”

The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori
I recently had the benefit of listening in on one of Midori’s famous bondage workshops while working at The Pleasure Chest LA, and while this wasn’t my first time learning from her in person, this particular experience was a good reminder of all that rope bondage can be. Midori understands that rope doesn’t need to be overly complicated or serious to be hot, and actually, it can be downright silly and fun! This book includes that same wisdom, practical knowledge and accessibility, along with beautiful photos that help guide you through the steps to tying your partner up in all kinds of safer, sexy ways.

Blog Recommendations

redheadbedhead
Redhead Bedhead
JoEllen Notte’s mission is to save the world from mediocre sex, and she does that by providing some of THE BEST information on sexual health and pleasure, casual sex, online dating for introverts, superhero sex toy stores, and sex and depression. You’ll quickly see why many refer to her as a Sex Ed Superhero!

sunny

Sunny Megatron
What I love about Sunny is that, like me, she talks about alternative sexuality in ways that are welcoming and accessible, making the topic less scary for people who are new. At the same time, I love that she goes several steps further, so once you’re past her posts on sex toys and swinging, you can move on to the ins and outs of edge play. If I had to come up with a catchy tagline for this website, it would be: “Come for the world class blowjobs, stay for the fucksaw!”

friskyfairy

The Frisky Fairy
Rebecca Hiles, aka The Frisky Fairy, writes about polyamory, sex toys, sex and cancer, and other sexuality topics with wit and candor. Her insight and personal perspective on alternative sexuality often comes out of stories from her daily life; making her a relatable voice in topics often considered taboo.

mo

Perverted Negress
Following the Fifty Shades craze, a lot of folks are interested in BDSM from the “s” (submissive/slave/bottom) side, and Mollena Williams says it best- being a sub does not mean being a doormat. If you are looking to learn about BDSM and how to be a strong, independent sub, this is the site for you!

Ask Orpheus Black
Orpheus provides a point of view on D/s and kink from the D (Dominant) side. His posts always challenge my worldview, and especially my ideas on what D/s relationships can aspire to be. If Dominance and/or submission are of interest to you, this blog is a great place to gain new perspective.

piphHey Epiphora
This is your destination for some of the best sex toy reviews on the internet. Epiphora is honest, thorough, and always on point. She has hundreds of reviews posted with new ones coming out all the time. Chances are likely that a quick search on her site will provide you with all the information you could want on the toys you’ve been curious about!