Monday, January 27, 2014

No, There is No Anti-Freeze in Your Lube

The other day, the lovely Koko let me know that she'd had a customer in who had told her she had thrown out her lube because she saw on 'The Doctors', that there is anti-freeze in the lube she was using. Aaarrrrggghhh! It drives me crazy when people who have a platform on TV use it to spread misinformation that freaks people out. This is not true. There are no lubes that are made with anti-freeze in them because anti-freeze itself is actually toxic.

Here's how this idea got started. The ingredient used in anti-freeze is ethylene glycol. It is fairly toxic and not really something humans should consume or put in their bodies. The ingredient that is commonly used in lubes is propylene glycol. This is used in many types of foods and consumer products. It is toxic, but, as with almost anything, only in high concentrations and large amounts. Propylene glycol has been studied quite extensively and there has never been any proven link to any serious adverse side effects when consumed in small doses.

But Brenda, you might say, propylene glycol IS used in anti-freeze. That's true, it is used in a number of industrial applications. But there are three important things to note about that. First, propylene glycol has replaced ethylene glycol in a lot of industrial products exactly because it is not toxic like ethylene glycol is. Second, the amount used in these products are much higher concentrations than in lubes and other consumer products so the effect of its presence is not the same. Three, just because propylene glycol is used in anti-freeze does not mean it IS anti-freeze. It can also be made in a variety of ways from a variety of different materials so not all forms of it are alike.

All that being said, I'm not saying that propylene glycol is necessarily your friend. It is not toxic in the levels in which it is present in consumer products and it is concerned safe to use inside the body. However, although there's not a lot of research on this, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that propylene glycol is one of the ingredients in lubes that tends to change the ph level in the vagina. This can lead to yeast infections in women who are quite prone and it can also interfere with the health and motility of sperm. This is not to say that you should use it as a contraceptive, it just might be a problem for women who want to get pregnant. Some women seem to find that because of that ph thing, lubes with propylene glycol leave them feeling itchy and dry, which can itself lead to other problems like bacterial infections.

So no, it is definitely not anti-freeze, but it's also not necessarily the best thing in the world. Some women seem to have a lot of trouble with it. The good news is, there are many lubricants that don't contain propylene glycol. It's not present in any 100% silicone lube. Sliquid H20, Sliquid Organics, Slippery Stuff and Wet Naturals do not contain propylene glycol.

I found this nice little youtube video that clearly and simply explains the whole anti-freeze issue.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's a Shame There's So Much Shame

One of lovely facebook friends posted an article this morning that caught my eye. It's an opinion piece about an opinion piece about a review of male sex toys. Confused? Okay, what happened was, a guy named David Corvucci got a bunch of Tenga masturbators and wrote of review of his experiences of them. Then a woman name Erin Gloria Ryan, wrote some rather nasty things about it on Jezebel. Then a guy named Brian Moylan blasted her on Nerve There's so much here that I don't even know where to start but I know that I can try to start by saying that I read all three pieces. It is a HUGE peeve of mine in these days with so much information available to us that people never bother to read it. They see a headline, get their shorts in knot and lose it all over the internet. I didn't want to be one of those. So I went back to the Jezebel piece and read that and then back to the original piece and read that. I do have to say that I think Moylan is somewhat misinterpreting both pieces.

There's a lot of stuff in all three of these but what strikes me is the incredible amount of shame and judgement in all three of these posts. According to Corvucci, he did not get the toys to review because he loves toys and he wanted to give a real review of them, he did it as a joke. The whole tone of the post is very dismissive of any man who would actually use such things. Many times he states that he's curious and he wants to use them because, after all, Tenga was nice enough to send him over $200 worth of toys, but he is scared that trying them will turn him into one of 'those guys'. The kind of guys that fucks Japanese sex toys in closets. The kind of guys that 'brings a girl home and before she even has her bra off, asks her what kind of lube she likes'. The kind of guy that firefighters would laugh about when they find his toys in his burned out apartment. Some of what Corvucci has to say is pretty funny. His descriptions of the toys as seen through the eyes of someone who has never used or even seen such a thing before is quite priceless. But it relies heavily on the idea that using these toys constitutes some sort of perversion. His trepidation about become a pervert is the central joke. I find that whole notion offensive and just sad. What the hell is wrong with fucking a Japanese sex toy? Those toys are really cool! Most human beings masturbate. Corvucci says many times that he masturbates at least once a day. So why is that normal but using a device to do it is not?

Then Erin Gloria Ryan puts in her two cents on Jezebel. That very short post is so poorly written (this is reason why I rarely read Jezebel anymore) that it's hard to understand exactly what her point is. But it seems apparent that she too thinks that men who fuck Japanese sex toys are perverts and 'chair-sniffers'. She berates Corvucci for doing it even as he berated himself. I can't for the life of me understand why she felt this was necessary. Corvucci's piece was just a humor piece about his experience with some toys. He wasn't making a political statement. Why she picked this post to comment on is beyond me, other than perhaps she's desperate for something to write about. Why bother to pick this out and further hammer on the idea that male masturbation is perverse and disgusting?

So that's kind of Brian Moylan's point. He takes Ryan on for criticizing Corvucci. He also talks about the shame that Corvucci heaps upon himself and asks where this comes from. He explains clearly and simply why a man would want to use a Tenga FlipHole rather than just his hand - because it fucking rocks. He says the orgasms that come from using a Flip Hole are far more intense than when he uses his hand. If you knew that was possible why in the world wouldn't you do it? This is how I feel about my toys. I use it because it does something that I cannot do without it and that something is something that I like very very much.

Moylan makes an important point about this whole thing. Had the writer of the original post been a woman using toys built for women, Erin Gloria Ryan and many like her would have been quite upset if someone had written a post about how depraved that woman is for using toys, called her a chair-sniffer and told her to just use her hand. Although there is still a lot of shame directed at woman around masturbation, we have made some movement and it's much more normalized and acceptable for women to use vibrators. Many people would be upset about someone shaming a woman for using a vibrator. But it still seems pretty acceptable to make fun of a man for using a sex toy. However, there may be some hope on the horizon. The comments on Ryan's post almost uniformly slam her for being so negative and judgemental. It's great to see that kind of feedback. Why is it okay to make fun of men's sexuality? She should be called out for that.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All I Want for Christmas Is a Nintendo DS Full of Porn

There was an awesome story that broke just after Christmas about an 8-year-old boy in Virginia who opened up his brand-new Nintendo 3DS only to find that some content had already been pre-loaded for him. There were 12 porn pictures on it! I know a lot of parents would take me to task for this, but I happen to think that's hilarious! Were they looking at the thing with him when the pictures were discovered or did he go to his parents and 'fess up after he found them. Eight is a little young to be bogarting porn so he probably told them. Imagine their surprise! And how to explain this? How exactly did those pictures get there? Well, it turns out that Wal-Mart, where the toy was purchased, is none too picky about putting returned merchandise back on the shelves. Apparently, they don't bother to check it before they do so. It's fascinating to me that someone would buy the things, put their porn on it, and then decide they don't want it and return it, porn and all. Just fascinating. So of course there's an outraged cry from parents that Wal-Mart needs to sort it stuff out so that their kids aren't similarly irreparably damaged by looking at naked people. I think they should choose to look at it as a bonus. Those pictures were free! If you don't want them, delete them. I just hope the porn wasn't pictures of people who never consented to have them passed around. That's pretty skeezy.

What I find really amusing about this is that the Adult Video News predicted it when the Nintendo 3DS came out. In 2011 they ran a story about a Japanese bikini model who had prepared a package of 3D photos of herself specifically for the 3DS. They said that the device, which allows people to see 3D images without wearing glasses, is perfectly suited for porn, and that, were it not so expensive to make the content, there would be loads of it available. Pornographers have always been among to first to adopt new technology - seems like at least a few people figured out the potential of this one pretty quick.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Top 5 Misconceptions About the Sex Toy Industry

I decided to write this post after spending 3 hours last night poring over on-line toy catalogues looking at possibilities for new products to bring into the store. After three hours, countless different companies, and approximately 2000 products, I came up with a list of 8 I would look at. Sigh. There's so much out there and yet there's just not much out there. People who don't work in this industry are under a lot of false impressions about what is actually out there for sex toys and what they can really do. Here are the top 5 things I am asked about that just really do not exist in the toy industry.

1. Sex dolls. It never ceases to amaze me how often I am asked about blow up dolls. People usually want them for gags for a party of stag but even then, they would like a doll that is somewhat realistic and fun looking - perhaps with real hair etc. I have to tell you, this doesn't really exist. There are a lot of blow-up dolls for sure but they are cheap and nasty. The boxes show pictures of voluptuous women in seductive poses like this:

But when you blow it up, you get this:
mmm, sexy! I don't deny that some might find this really hot, but for most people, that's not what you would be anticipating by the picture on the box. But hey, what can you expect for $25?

The soft rubber types of dolls that you sometimes see in movies don't really exist. The only option for soft rubber dolls is to just get a part of the body - the boobs or butt, etc, or to buy one of the silicone 'real dolls'. Those will set you back at least $1000.

2. Vibrating Panties. This type of toy does exist but it's not the kind of thing people think it is. Thanks to the movie The Ugly Truth, people think that there are pretty lace panties out there with tiny vibrators in exactly the right spot that are operated by a remote control with all kinds of customizable speeds and settings. There isn't. The only remote control panties that exist right now are not particularly pretty and they come with very large, cumbersome bullets that usually have just one speed. It's a cute idea but it doesn't do the types of things you'd really like it to do. The only decent remote control toys out there - that have a good range, don't eat up their battery life in 20 minutes, and are quality, reliable toys - don't come with panties and are larger than most people would like to put in their panties. I always suggest the We Vibe 3 or 4 for this purpose because it stays in place and can be worn under clothes. It doesn't come with panties, but it doesn't need them. Panties can just go over top. Or you can go without completely.

3. Computer controlled anything. I'm not sure where people are getting this from but there is definitely an idea out there that there are remote computer controlled vibrators. I have been asked many times for 'the toy' that you can control with your computer by the internet. It doesn't exist. I think it will but it doesn't yet. I also think that when it does, it will end up being a big disappointment. What we do have so far are toys that connect to your computer and receive input from specifically designed porn movies that make them move in sync with the movie. There is also a toy that vibrates when your cell phone is called and keeps vibrating until you hang up - as long as its within range of your phone. There is a toy that can be controlled by your Nintendo Wii remote. There is a company that's developing underwear with vibrating sensors in it that can be controlled by an app on a cell phone from anywhere in the world - not directly in range of the underwear. That's not on the market yet though. As far as technology has come, the computer controlled or wifi connected thing just hasn't happened yet.

4. Large condoms. I know, you'd think this would be a cinch, but it's not. In Canada, the standards for approving condoms include some fairly strict regulations on the size which greatly restricts the range of sizes that can be produced. Most large size condoms are, at the very most, 5mm longer or wider than the standard. That's not a lot. We seem to be under the impression that there are condoms in every size and shape but sadly, it's just not true. There is a company that makes condoms in 99 different sizes but they aren't approved for sale in Canada.

5. This isn't really a specific product thing but it is a common misconception that I wanted to include. It's the idea that because a product has been advertised a lot or endorsed by a particular 'sex expert' it's really great. Many many times I've had to explain why we don't carry a product that has had a lot of hype or been featured on a television show. Anyone can pay for advertising. It doesn't mean their product is good. What some people fail to realize is that when you see Laura Berman or Dr. Oz or Sue Johanson promoting something, they have been paid to do that. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that some celebrities accept a promotional contract because they've checked out the product and believe it's good. But I know that is not the case for most because some of the products they endorse are terrible. Dr. Oz had a prolonging spray featured on his show. Prolonging sprays are just numbing agents that might work to delay ejaculation but only because the guy can't really feel anything. Laura Berman has an entire toy line that are direct copies of other toys produced by the company that makes her line. There is nothing special about those toys. The Magic Banana has been in all kinds of magazines and promoted by many celebrities as the best kegel exerciser ever. But the Magic Banana is just a piece of plastic rope inside a plastic tube. It's not really effective at all. The Hello Touch by Jimmy Jane was one of the most talked about toys of 2013 and yet that toy is basic, cumbersome and fragile. It's certainly not the best toy of its kind on the market. Hype is never a good indicator of whether a toy is good or not. You can only get that information from toy retailers and bloggers who really spend a lot of time playing with and testing toys.

All this is not to say that there are no good toys on the market. There absolutely are. And now is a great time for toys. New, innovative companies are coming on board and bringing in new materials, motors, and designs that are making toys so much better than they used to be. However, those toys are the exceptions. The vast majority of products produced in the industry are just slight variations on things that have been around for decades. As it stands now, these things are just not around. But I have hope that one of those brave new companies will turn their attention to these things that people are really looking for.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Two Awesome Transgender Women Put Katie in Her Place

One of my lovely friends just posted a link to this interview on the Katie Couric show with Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera. This is an interview with a trans woman like you have never seen on talk TV. Usually, when you see a trans woman being interviewed on a show like this, the focus is all on how hard it was for her growing up and what kind of surgeries she went through. It's all about 'understanding what it's like to be trans'. Well, Carrera and Cox were having none of that and they explained why in a beautiful and elegant way.

The interview with Carrera starts off about her modeling career and how well she's doing and then drifts into talking about when she knew she was trans. Then Couric just outright asks her if she's had surgery on her private parts. I think a lot of people who go on shows like this think that they are obligated to answer the hosts questions. After all, they brought her on there because she's trans. That's probably what Couric is going to ask her. But to her credit, Carrera flat out tells her that it's private and she doesn't want to talk about it. Couric tries to make it seem as though she accepts that but comes back with the old 'but people want to understand' excuse. Carrera beautifully counters by saying that these things have been discussed so many times before and there's no need to do that anymore, that she would rather show people that being a trans woman is not just about the transition, there is life after that. I get that people are curious and confused and I do think it's okay but I think that what Carrera did is exactly how that should be addressed. It's okay if you don't get it. You don't have to get it. You just have to see her as a beautiful, strong, smart woman like any other beautiful smart strong woman. You absolutely do not need to know what surgeries she's had and what's going on in her panties to be able to do that. That's what she said, but in a much nicer way than I did.

Then Laverne Cox came on and really laid the smack down. But she's so confident and sweet and awesome that it doesn't feel like a smack down. When Couric asked her how she felt about talking about her transition she said that just talking about trans women's bodies objectifies them and it focuses attention on the wrong thing. She's right. Trans women don't need people to feel comfortable with their genitals, they need people to just be comfortable with the fact that they exist and they are just people like anyone else. Cox then explained the case of a trans woman who was beaten to death by some men who found out she was trans after they cat-called her. She said that this kind of violence is common for trans women and that's what we need to be talking about - not genitals. Boo-ya! I wish I could hug her.

Score another one for seeing trans folk on TV just being people like anyone else. Sadly, we rarely see it. Too often still, the trans person (or character on a TV show) is there specifically to be portrayed as different or worse even, as the butt of a joke. But if we saw more trans folk just being themselves, I think life would become so much easier and less dangerous and scary, not just for trans people but for all of us. When we understand that people are just people, we don't need to be scared or threatened by the way they dress or express their gender.

Cox rocks and she will be in Edmonton on March 8th at the University of Alberta. I don't have details of time and place yet but we'll put it on the Tickle Trunk calendar as soon as I do.