An Abbreviated Beginner’s Guide to Fifty Shades Sex

It’s no secret that the recent Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon has sparked a lot of interest in BDSM. The first question everyone asks is, “how do I get into this stuff?” quickly followed up by, “how can I do this stuff safely?” So I came up with 5 steps for getting started in the wonderful world of BDSM:

1. Get clear about your desires!
So, you want to get into BDSM. That’s awesome! You’ve already taken a huge step towards making your fantasies real by recognizing that this is something you’d like to explore! I’m not saying you need to know everything you’ll ever be into before you start. Actually, a lot of people notice that their desires change a little bit once they’ve been in this lifestyle for some time. What I’m saying is that it’s important to have some ideas of what you want to try or do, and a baseline expectation of what you would like your relationships and/or play to look like.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:
• What types of play do I want to engage in?
• What do I hope to gain from my experiences in BDSM?
• What is my ideal relationship structure in relation to my kink?

o Do you want a monogamous partner to explore with, a variety of people to play in various ways with?
o Do you want to be in an ongoing Dominant/submissive (D/s) or Master/slave (M/s) dynamic, or just play with kink sometimes?

• What are the baseline expectations I have for my partner(s) and myself?
• What are my boundaries or “hard limits?”
• What do I need for aftercare after a scene?

If you’re not sure of what you want to try, or want some ideas to think about, consider using a yes/no/maybe list. There are plenty of them online, but this one is my favorite because it comes with detailed instructions and is extensive and editable.

2. Get educated!
Once you’re clear about what you want to explore, it’s time to educate yourself on how to engage in those practices in ways that reduce the risk of harm to you or your partner. There is a wealth of information out there on BDSM best practices. There are books, websites, and forums for those who like to self-teach, practice, and/or play at home*. If you prefer in-person support and education, there are workshops in a variety of settings such as sex toy stores, community centers, dungeons, and other kink events.

Continue educating yourself as long as you engage in kink. Whether it’s to learn new skill sets or just to get a refresher on old material, you will be a much better player when you continually learn new techniques and ideas.

3. Communicate!
I placed this one in the middle of the list, but really, communication should be sprinkled throughout all of the other steps as well. This may in fact be the most important step of them all.

You know what you want to do, now tell your partner all about it! I recommend bringing up your desires in a non-sexualized setting. It’s hard to remember everything you want to say when you’re focused on… other things. So it’s usually easier to start the conversation in a non-sexualized setting, such as over lunch or when you’re just relaxing at home. I DO NOT recommend bringing up your new interests in a moving car that your partner is driving, especially if they are really not expecting you to suggest something like this. Communication doesn’t have to be dry or clinical sounding. Make it playful! Ask in a way that isn’t pressuring or anxiety-causing. A question such as “what if we tried ______?” will generally do the trick! Use your yes/no/maybe list as a communication tool! Show your partner what you’ve checked off or both of you fill one out and compare notes.

Communication shouldn’t stop there! Start all of your scenes by talking about the types of play you want to engage in, toys you want to use, and asking how you’re partner is feeling that day. Once you’re in the throes of play, check in with your partner throughout your scene. If you’re the top, ask your partner how they’re doing, if they need you to stop or slow down, or if they want you to go harder. If you’re the bottom, don’t be afraid to use your safe word(s)! You are in control of the scene and what is happening to you at all times.

Image result for BDSM

4. Practice, practice, practice!

BDSM and kink are comprised of a lot of different activities that require particular skill sets. Like any skill, you need to take the time to practice and get comfortable so you can execute it safely. Like any skill remember that practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent. So make sure you are checking in that you’re practicing your kink correctly, so you commit the right movements or information to memory.

If you’re interested in more physical types of play like spanking, rope bondage, or sensation play make sure to practice on inanimate objects before trying on a real person! For impact especially, I recommend using a pillow. Take an old pillowcase and draw an “X” on it, then aim for the center of the “X” when you swing. The pillow will hold indentations where the toy hit it. That way you can see how precise your aim is. Bonus: It’s also a good idea to try bottoming so you know how it feels to be on the other side.

5. Find your tribe!
I know what you’re thinking when you first read this one, but don’t worry, I’m not saying you need to play publically or shout that you’re kinky from the rooftops. However, it can be a bit difficult to be going through a big, exciting, personal journey when you don’t have someone you can freely talk to about it without judgment. It can be vitally important to have support when you set out on your journey into BDSM, and often, the best support comes in the form of people who understand what you’re going through.

If you are up for meeting people in real life, most local kink communities hold events called “munches.” These are meet ups at coffee shops, bars, restaurants or other public vanilla spaces, and are designed for non-kinky socialization time. Because these are such great events for newbies, you’ll often find that you’re not the only new person there.

If you’re not there yet, or never plan to be involved in the public scene**, there are online communities like Fetlife.com where you can connect with other kinky folks all over the world. Looking for information and advice on a particular topic? Chances are likely you’ll be able to find plenty of threads of people discussing your kinks. Like any forum, the quality of information may vary. Remember to do your research, and if something just doesn’t sound right, it’s probably the best to keep searching for better information.

For more information, sign up for my email list!
*Check out a short list of some of the best BDSM resources HERE
**It is more than ok to only want to play privately and not be a part of the public scene. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Advertisements

Joyboxx Review

Let’s be honest, it’s pretty joysinsideeasy to store sex toys. There are a lot of sex toy storage bags and containers on the market. If you’re clever, the DIY options are limitless. So if I’m going to purchase something designed specifically for sex toys, it’d better have it all! Before I choose a container to store my toys, I ask myself three things: 1. Does it keep my toys clean? 2 .Does it keep my toys safe from damage? and 3. Is it discreet? The Joyboxx by Passionate Playground meets these criteria, and goes beyond to be what I consider an outstanding toy storage system. The Joyboxx is made of non-porous, food-grade polypropylene which is blended with an antimicrobial agent during manufacturing, so it won’t come off with use or cleaning. It’s easy to clean with soap and hot water, or for an extra deep clean, you can put the Joyboxx in your dishwasher (top rack only). I actually did a dishwasher load of my Joyboxx and silicone toys together, and it was really convenient to have everything clean and ready to use at once.* With external dimensions: 12.60″(L) x 5.5″ (D) x 5.0″ (H) internal dimensions: 11.25″ (L) x 5.5″ (D) x 3.5″ (H), the Joyboxx is small, but capable of holding a variety of toys. It’s the perfect size to hold a small toy collection, to travel with, or take with you to a play party. I will admit, however, that I do hope that Passionate Playground comes out with additional larger boxes in the future, for variety is the spice of life, and I’d like to see this storage system capable of holding larger toys like the Magic Wand and kink gear.

I was able to fit a ood variety of toys into the Joyboxx.
I was able to fit a good variety of toys into the Joyboxx.

The Joyboxx is very unassuming. When I first saw it, I thought it looked a lot like the boxes I store my make-up and jewelry in. If you have nosey children, roommates, parents, or friends, this box could easily be hidden in plain sight amongst your other regular storage boxes. At the front of the box, there is a sliding bar that keeps the box closed when it’s positioned at the left. To keep your toys extra secure, the Joyboxx comes with a lock that can be inserted in a small hole to the right of the closed slider bar. joyboxx_grandeSmall, hidden ventilation holes surround the entire opening of the Joyboxx to inhibit the growth of bacteria on toys, making it a hygienic storage system. At the back of the box is a dual purpose charging and ventilation hole that allows for toys to charge while they’re locked up! There’s no longer a reason to worry that your rechargeable toys will be “found” during their charge time (which can range anywhere from 90minutes to 16 hours… I’m looking at you Fun Factory Stronics!).

IMG_20150518_124011848
The top compartment of my Joyboxx held my Ride lube packets, Sir Richards Condoms, and bullet vibe perfectly!

At the top of the box is a convenient compartment that is the perfect size for small lube bottles or packets, safer sex supplies, and smaller toys such as bullet-style vibrators. This compartment is easily accessible in a pinch, so you don’t have to stop everything just to grab your condoms and lube. Think of it like a pop-up side table drawer that’s always there for you in your times of need.

Photo Credit: http://www.lovepharmacy.com.au/brands/passionate-playground/joyboxx-playtray-black
Photo Credit: http://www.lovepharmacy.com.au/brands/passionate-playground/joyboxx-playtray-black

My favorite feature of the Joyboxx, by far, is the Playtray; which functions both as a toy “coaster” and a washing/drying rack. The Playtray is great for keeping your toy safe and clean right after playtime. Let’s be honest, right after sexy time, no one wants to get up immediately to clean and store their toys. There are much more important things to do, like cuddle, or sleep, or have more sex! Inside the Joyboxx is a slot that holds the Playtray at the bottom, and keeps it in an upright position; perfect for keeping your toys separate and organized! Note: while it is not important to separate 100% silicone, glass, or stainless steel toys while in storage, it can make the difference between life or death for anything made of jelly rubber. I know, the Joyboxx sounds like the perfect toy storage system, but there is a downside. The Joyboxx does not have a handle, which can be a bit limiting in terms of how portable it is. I had the opportunity to speak with Deborah Semer, the lovely owner of Passionate Playground and creator of Joyboxx about this and she pointed a trick for carrying it. The area at the front of the box where the slider-lock is located can function like a handle. I tried to hold the box this way both when the box was empty and when it was fully loaded. I found that it worked for me when the box wasn’t weighted down with a lot of toys. When the box was full, my joint problems prevented me from gripping as firmly as I needed to. Personally, I think I was only able to grip onto the box this way because I have itty bitty hands. I could see this being more difficult for someone with more average-adult-sized hands and fingers.

Photo Credit:  http://simplenewz.com/2014-12-30/Mainstream/feed/393
This is what it looks like when you use the slider lock as a handle.
Photo credit: http://simplenewz.com/2014-12-30/Mainstream/feed/393

All in all, the Joyboxx is a great choice for someone who is looking for a safe, clean, discreet way to store their toys at home or for travel. It’s as easy to clean and care for as it is to use. I’m looking forward to seeing what Passionate Playground does next, and I believe that the Joyboxx will only continue to improve. You can get your own Joyboxx HERE, and use coupon code 6AR9SE for $5.00 off! *DO NOT use dishwashing soap when cleaning silicone toys in the top rack of your dishwasher. As per FTC guidelines, the Joyboxx was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review.

Showing off the Joyboxx after presenting at the Sexual Health Expo in LA.
Here I am showing off the Joyboxx after presenting at the Sexual Health Expo in LA.

My Favorite Takeaways from Is There A Secret Handshake?- Navigating Alternative Lifestyles

In March, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a panel at CatalystCon East with my friends and colleagues Rebecca Hiles, Dirty Lola, and Dylan Thomas called Is There A Secret Handshake?- Navigating Alternative Lifestyles. To get a good idea of what we set out to do, here’s our session description:

I had to introduce myself in the dark, which you can hear in the recording.
I had to introduce myself in the dark, which you can hear in the recording.
“When we said we were the sexiest panel to ever sexy, I don’t think this is what we meant” -Rebecca Hiles

“Many people are drawn to alternative lifestyles such as BDSM, polyamory, and swinging, because they are seeking to explore a different side of themselves. As part of the learning process, people often feel that it is important to find a community to help educate them on their new lifestyle journey. For some, seeking out a community for education and camaraderie can be the most difficult part of the journey. At times, it may feel as though you have joined a club, but never learned the secret handshake.

In this session, we will share ways to find your place within the alternative community that meshes with your needs and desire. This panel will cover topics ranging from appropriate lifestyle etiquette and finding a community, to negotiation and safety!”
All the work I do is focused around alternative sexualities and their corresponding communities, and I hear people’s questions and concerns about getting involved in a new communities all the time. So it was wonderful to have a little over an hour to dispel myths and give practical advice on getting involved in various communities. We got through a ton of information, which was recorded for your listening pleasure, but if you’re looking for a tl;dr version, here were my four favorite takeaways:

1. Showing up and watching is a form of active participation

This was one of my little nuggets of advice, and one that I feel very strongly about. There are a lot of ideas floating around in the ether about voyeurism in alternative sexuality spaces, and many of them are pretty negative.

I’ve heard that people who just hang around and watch are “creepers,” or that if you show up somewhere with no intention to play that there must be something wrong. Seriously! I’ve been asked before why I’m in a space and “not doing anything.” Well guess what? Watching IS doing something! It IS active participation, and honestly, it’s one of the best ways to learn about yourself and what turns you on, about types of play you never knew existed, and about the more visually obvious skill sets necessary to do that type of play in safe, fun, and sexy ways.

I actually often recommend to my clients that they watch the first time they show up at a new party. This gives them the space to take in the environment and decide if it’s somewhere they feel comfortable engaging in different ways. It also gives them the chance to connect with other community members and make friends.

2. Saying “I don’t know” or “hey, I’m new” is a perfectly valid way to get involvedCBR0tpRUQAA43Oc.jpg large

When you’re just starting out in an alternative sex community, you probably won’t know a lot of that community’s associated lingo or skill sets. I spoke to a friend recently who told me that when she started out in the kink community, one of her biggest fears was that everyone was going find out that she didn’t know what she was doing and that they’d think she didn’t belong.. She worried people would think she was a fraud or a wannabe (and this was long before 50 shades got kinksters up in arms over who is “really” kinky).

While there is some variance depending on the community you’re interested in joining and the area you live in, most communities realize that it behooves them to help newbies get acquainted. When people are up to speed on etiquette, safety techniques, and other skills relevant to the space, everyone is happier, safer, and less likely to get the venue or the community at large in trouble; whether that means losing the space, or gaining negative press.

When you speak up and say “I’m new” or “I don’t know about ______” and show that you’re genuinely interested in learning, there will be someone either willing to show you the way, or willing to point you in the direction of resources, workshops, or local community guides and mentors.
3. “If you build it, they will come”

I loved when Rebecca said this. We all need a space where we feel like we belong, and sometimes the groups available in one area just aren’t a good fit. So what can be done? Create the community you want to be a part of!

It can be as easy as making a facebook or fetlife group. You can broaden the topic or region of focus, and keep it an online community, or narrow the scope and post events in your town or city. What’s great about these websites is that they are free and easily searchable. If you enjoy in-person events, consider making a group on meetup.com. There is a monthly fee to run a group, but membership fees can keep the price low for everyone and will weed out the folks who are less interested in engaging with and contributing to the group.

That’s why we have the power to create the groups and spaces we want to see! I took a position as a Sex Geekdom emissary because I loved the idea, but we didn’t have anything like it in Philly at the time. I know someone else who is very introverted, but who wanted to make friends when she moved to a new state. So she started an introvert munch for herself and other introverted kinky folks. It sounds excellent, and if I had less on my plate, I’d probably start one too*.

4. Go where you’re celebrated

One of the audience members asked about the prevalence of sizeism, ageism, and other isms in sexually based communities that may deter people who do not fit the status quo. She was concerned that some communities may have more problems in this regard than others, and wondered what you can do when who you are is somehow off-putting to people in the community.

The truth is, we don’t live in a vacuum. We have all been impacted by society’s ideals. We are all bombarded every day with messages about who and what is attractive and what isn’t. So while it may feel like everyone in alternative communities is more enlightened and has spent more time examining mainstream ideals of beauty because they too have felt marginalized by the mainstream, that’s just not always the case.

Unfortunately there are still places where bigger bodies or older bodies aren’t treated as kindly, where people of color aren’t actively welcomed, or where you might be harassed or asked to leave because your intersecting queer identity and corresponding behaviors aren’t accepted. So save your time and money and only use them to support the spaces where your style, your size, your gender, your age, your body and your desires will be celebrated when you walk through the door.

We are planning to submit this panel again for CatalystCon West, which will be held in Burbank, CA in September. So if you felt like there was something we missed, and think we should add it for next time, please leave it in the comments below or email me at andrea@andrearenae.net.

*Hint hint Los Angeles introverts… get this thing going!

Girl Sex 101 Interview with Allison Moon

One of the most common desires I hear from women looking to explore their sexuality is the desire to experiment with other women, and when you’ve gone your entire life without lady love, it’s challenging to figure out where to start out. I’ve heard all the questions: “Where do I meet a woman? How do I seduce her? And most importantly, how can I make sure I won’t make a complete fool of myself once I get into bed with her?” If reading this makes you fGirlSex101-2eel like I’m reading your mind, I have some good news for you!

Writer, sex educator, and Sapphic savant, Allison Moon, has the answers to all of your questions and more in her new book Girl Sex 101, which drops tomorrow! This book is part story, part instructional guide, all inclusive, engaging and fun. It’s sure to be a must-have for the sexually curious woman and those who love them.

Allison was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about Girl Sex 101. Check it out:

What is Girl Sex 101?

Girl Sex 101 is an illustrated, road-trip themed, sex-ed book for queer women.

Who should read Girl Sex 101?

Girl Sex 101 is for the curious, newly out, or sexually exploring woman, and the people who love them.

Is Girl Sex 101 trans inclusive?

Yes! Girl Sex 101 is for women-identified folks, regardless of what they’re packing in their panties. We talk about things that are relevant to both cis and trans women including hormones, analogues between different kinds of genitals, identity, communication, consent, and hands-on techniques for both vulvas and penises (and their related analogues).

It can be tough to keep up with terminology around sexuality and gender. How does Girl Sex 101 make language accessible?

We had to make firm decisions about language, with the understanding that someday the terms we use may be outdated. That’s just how sex works. At the start of the book we have a Cunning Linguist glossary to help provide access to the terms we use. For instance, I polled a number of trans women about the best words to use for describing their genitals. Trans clit was used a lot, but we had near consensus on the term “girl dick.” I had a bit of trepidation using this term since I’m not a trans woman, but I respected their opinions, and so we use the word girl dick to describe what conventional society would usually call a penis.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve taught Girl Sex 101 as a workshop for years, and it became clear to me that my participants needed more resources. I wanted to write a book that was accessible, fun, funny, and educational. I wrote the book I would have wanted when I was coming out when I was 16.

Do you have a favorite part of Girl Sex 101?

I love the crowdsourced parts. I conducted a poll and got over 100 responses. I peppered those answers to certain questions like “What’s your relationship with your breasts?” and “What are your safer sex practices” throughout the book to offer varying perspectives.

I heard that there are some excellent interviews in Girl Sex 101. Can you name drop a few of your interviewees and what topics they discuss in the book?

All of them! Jiz Lee talks about their specialty: squirting. Tina Horn talks about giving blow jobs to strap-ons. Carol Queen writes about sexual fluidity and labels. Sex Nerd Sandra talks about learning how to listen in bed. Kelly Shibari talks about being a big girl, and how that affects sex. Tobi Hill Meyer offers a lot of practical tips for trans women and cis women together. Ignacio Rivera (aka Papi Coxx) discusses genderqueer identity. Claudia Astorino talks about intersex identity. And there’s a lot more. It’s an exciting group of folks!

What is one piece advice you have for women-identified folks who are new (and nervous!) to playing with other women?

Listen more. Listen as much as possible. Keep breathing and learn to listen to your lover: her words, her breath, her body. You’ll be amazed how much you learn.

Is there anything else you want us to know about Girl Sex 101?

Girl Sex 101 includes a hot story! Even if you think you’ve got all the concepts down, there’s a great erotic story that weaves throughout the book, with fun characters doing hot things to each other as a means of illustrating the concepts. Plus the illustrations (by kd diamond) are super fun and sexy!

How can readers find more information on you and your other work?

I’m at GirlSex101.com and on twitter at @GirlSex101 or @TheAllisonMoon. I have three other books: a sex memoir called Bad Dyke, and two lesbian werewolf novels known as Tales of the Pack.