Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Diagnosis: A Case of Femaleness

I look GOOD. Damn good.
In the past few days, I've hit a perfect storm of media consumption that has spun me into a feminist spiral. So if you're not into wild-eyed ranting, please avert your eyes.

It all started with a friggin' Campfire girl meeting. A high school girl showed a short film she'd made on body image, then in a halting, nervous voice told about her struggles with an eating disorder. By the end, every mother there was in tears. In tears! Because we totally got it. We all had our thing--too fat, too thin, hair too weird, butt too little, butt too big, etc...--that made us so horribly not right.

The next night, I watched a Netflix doc called "Orgasm Inc." It was about how in the past few years, pharmaceutical companies, along with willing shills in the medical community, have popularized the "disease" of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). (Not to be confused with FTD, which provides human females with unattractive flower arrangements).

"I think there is dissatisfaction and perhaps disinterest among a lot of women, but that doesn't mean they have a disease," said Dr. Sandra Leiblum, professor of psychiatry at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in "Myth of female impotence 'created'" in the BBC News.


I'm not arguing that some women don't have sexual problems that could be improved medically, but a lot of the FDS "symptoms" are just the way women are. Yes, women can take a long time to come, yes, women can take awhile to get aroused (note: FTD flowers will not speed arousal time), and, yes, women get pissed at their mates which, yeah, fucking does affect desire.

In this study of FDS among women in Lower Egypt:  Marital disharmony, 'hate' and unfavourable socio-economic circumstances were the most common aggravating factors (28.1%) for sexual dysfunction among the participants, followed by pregnancy-related events.

I'm not a doctor, but as far as I know, there is not a pill for curing "unfavourable socio-economic circumstances" and the like. (Although if there were, I would so fucking take it.)

One middle-aged women in Orgasm, Inc., ("middle-aged" = older than me) volunteered to be a guinea pig in some freaky-ass experimental procedure in which electrodes were inserted into her back. Into her back, as in under her skin. Did I mention that this was a totally untested procedure by, for all she knew, a completely iffy doctor?

The implants did nothing for her besides causing her to kick her left leg at random times. (This new trick, while novel and exciting, did not help her sex life.) The creepy invasive procedure did nothing to cure her "problem" which was--oh, dear god--inability to come during intercourseNot inability to have an orgasm. Not inability to come if someone paid a whit of attention to her clit. No, this woman, raised on the notion that women's sexuality is just like men's--stick in it, pull it out, repeat til orgasm--believed that if she couldn't come from penetration alone, she was "ill."

I so wish she could have read an article like this from RH Reality Check which took special care to state in the very biggest and boldest of fonts:

The majority of women -- according to most studies, at least 70% -- do not and will not reach orgasm through vaginal intercourse or vagina-only stimulation (like "fingering" that's only about vaginal insertion) only.

So yeah, a little testosterone might help you out a bit (I said might--even this isn't certain), but seems to me the best way to alleviate FSD would be to spend a little time on arousal, make sure the female parts that feel pleasure are actually the parts that get stimulated (did I really just have to fucking write that sentence?)...plus a bunch of boring stuff like providing favorable economic conditions for the ladies and whatnot.

What is that? You have more sexual problems, you say? You've suddenly realized that your vag is not completely normal as you'd thought for years and years, but, in fact, hideously ugly and in need of surgical intervention. Don't worry, my ugly little freak, Vaginal Rejuvenation (i.e. plastic surgery for your vag) will fix any and all labia deemed unsightly.

What's sightly and what is not? Well, the highly lucrative Genital Mutilation Vaginal Rejuvenation centers that have popped up in the last few years (Hey....isn't that about the same time you started becoming displeased with your own vag? *shrugs* Weird.) have to find some way to keep the ladies coming in so currently they've determined that "too long" labia are "out." If you go ahead and get them shortened, I sure hope that long labia don't come into vogue because then you'll be bumming, huh?! (See also: The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss).

Check out these before and after Gential Muti Vaginal Rejuvenation photos from one place "helping" women.

Seriously!!!??? Not only did this chick not realize that she had a perfectly fine vag (I think it's a good one, actually, don't you?) but she actually thought it was so heinous that it required surgery--surgery!--to "correct". (Expensive surgery too. When I googled "vaginal rejuvenation" for you, the sponsored link offered a raffle for $1000 off. If they're offering $1000 off, you know that $%$# ain't cheap. Although I have to admit that the concept of a vag. rejuvenation raffle is sort of appealing in its utter wrongness. Coming soon...penile bleaching cake walk.)


I would hope that we women would all come to our fucking senses and just...stop it. Realize how totally fine we are and get on with more important things (see above: taking time with and enjoying arousal). At the very least, I can think of about 6 million better ways to spend our time and money than getting friggin' surgery.

However, as it looks now, I think that the only things that's changing is that more men are buying into this crap too with their pec implants, ED drugs, and the like.

My big wish is that one day someone will be lying on an operating table, legs open wide as they watch a surgeon walking toward them eyeing their groin and wielding some sharp pointy thing and the patient ("patient" = "regular person misled by fucked up societal norms") will think, "What the fucking hell am I doing?!?"

And, O, they shall Rise Up and Spread their Enlightenment among the people, who shall toss aside their sense of shame and unworthiness, and be free to rush forth into the forest where they shall fuck freely and joyfully under the dense green canopy of the trees. (Note: future scenario includes ecological renewal, elimination of STDs, and men and women with true knowledge of each other's sexualities. Void where prohibited by law.)


P.S. Meanwhile, just yesterday, I paid $45 for a tube of cream that promises to even out skin tone. One of the ingredients "might cause mercury poisoning."


(photo source)

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Meanwhile, in a parallel universe
So depressing was my image of the post-election day Fuck Chair yesterday that several people were compelled to write to me asking if I was okay.  Which yes, and I am beyond grateful that so many people would be on the lookout (you never know!).  And of course, at the same time, I am also not okay with what the fuck happened on election day.

Yesterday my mother called us and on speaker phone gave my girls an incredibly moving speech about not listening to the messages they were hearing and to know that they still had value, dammit.  This is something you don't generally have to tell people. Anyway, at the end we were all weeping.

Then my 15 year old daughter went and made a Sim of Tr*mp wetting his own pants while over-Tweeting. My friend said we shoulda done the one where he was in a pool then taken away the ladder, but this felt like a cleaner, though immature, schadenfreude.

Oh. Yeah.

Today I am in the anger phrase which I expressed by writing a disturbingly long comment to some dude on Facebook I barely know. I recognize that that was not a good use of my time.

In other news that now sounds jarringly hollow and not nearly as fun as it did when it heard it last week, I was #8 on Kinkly's Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2016. I adore the site and turn to it for surreptitious midnight web searches on "How do you do X?" or "Wtf is Y?" But what wrecked me* the most with how they so got what I'm trying to do here:  "This blog is funny - like, hilarious - but it's also thoughtful in a way that leaves you feeling a little better about yourself after you read it. We like that.

And, yes, I do hope I leave you feeling a little better about yourself sometimes, or at least that I've reminded you to do all necessary peeing before embarking on a Tweet storm.


* I am highly motivated by extrinsic rewards.  Not good, but hey, it's not smoking crack so I'm not gonna worry about it too much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9, 2106

If you need me, I'll be sitting here for a while. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

12 Things I Learned On My Sex Toy Factory Tour!

Butt plugs patiently awaiting their destiny
“It's kind of like Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but for sex toys :-),” emailed Erica Braverman, Communications and PR Manager for Doc Johnson, inviting me to tour their North Hollywood factory.

The 215,000 square ft sex toy factory, the largest in North America, once housed a novelty company until Ron Braverman, Erica's father, bought the business in 1976 and ditched everything but the sex toys. “A few of our initial product offerings included our 8” Classic Dong, Motion Lotion, and our Classic Butt Plug in three sizes,” says Erica. In a market where it's now not (that) weird to use the word “classic” when describing a butt plug, Doc Johnson is thriving, cranking out 2,500 different products, 75% of them made in America.

When I got to the factory, instead of being greeted by a chocolate river—which, for the record, would have been nice--there were gigantic cans of mystery substances labeled enigmatically, like “black jelly base, fresh breeze scent.” And, to my delight, the factory floor truly was Wonka-esque. Everywhere I looked, there were brightly colored sex toys being molded, shaped, and otherwise being handled in a way that would constitute sexual harassment were they real body parts.

After popping my eyes back into my head, I managed to learn a few things about sex toys and the industry as a whole. Namely:

--People put some big-ass stuff up their holes.
There were butt plugs half the size of traffic cones, dildos the size of a grown man's forearm, and if that wasn't gonna do the trick, dildos shaped like actual arms. There were not just a few of these supersizers to service a niche market of people with especially receptive orifices, there were a lot. Stacks everywhere.

--Flavored lubes are no longer just that one cloying strawberry flavor.
There is an insanely huge array of lubes, gels and body icings to make your partner's private parts taste less like private parts and more like marshmallow fluff, red licorice or red velvet cake. A cinnamon bun spray I tried was surprisingly good. (For a more literal interpretation of “cinnamon bun,” there's a hot cinnamon anal lube, perhaps so you can freshen your breath while licking someone's ass. #Multitasking.) Inexplicably, ye olde strawberry is still the top seller. I imagine that they're shipping most of these back to 1975, but I didn't ask.

--The person molding your next strap-on is most likely a kindly-looking Latino woman in her 40s or 50s.
Doc's line workers move diligently and efficiently, weaving pubes onto disembodied vulvas or hot ironing genitalia to get it just so. As they brusquely power sand various body parts—a sight which is extremely difficult not to anthromorphize--most wear the kind of expression of someone who could be just as easily be slapping labels on cans of peas. Long inured to the sight of a big pile of unpainted dildos awaiting their attention, their demeanor is somewhere between “Sigh, these realistic veins aren't gonna paint themselves” and a serenity akin to companionable silence of a longtime sewing circle, but with pubic hair.

--Sex cosmetics are a thing and it's a huge market.
Sex cosmetics promise all kinds of magical-sounding benefits and include everything from sprays that plump lips, prevent dry mouth and numb the throat for optimal oral sex to lubes that warm, cool and/or enhance sensitivity. There's a Sta-Erect cream, a prolonging spray and all manner of arousal gels including a new “liquid vibrator” that somehow starts vibrating after application which, if you must know, I'm too afraid to try. There's also fake cum (several types!) as well as faux pee.

--What, exactly, is the taste of faux pee?
If it's from a Piss Off cock, that would be “tropical.”

--There is a real artist behind what you're putting in your behind.
Doc's sculptor/artist's is Anjani Siddhartha, an earthy, sexy woman of indeterminate age who is currently working on a toy that looks like a finial for a curtain rod. Like that bad recurring 1993 SNL skit where the shopkeeper saw everything through the lens of “you can put your weed in it,” Siddhartha looks at everything—yes, including your finials—to see could be made fuckable. Surprisingly often, the answer is yes.

--Fake vaginas, like real ones, are full of mystery.
My three takeaways.
--Fake vaginas have no curb appeal. All the good stuff is near the entry point and inside, so the outside is just kind of a flesh colored rubbery rectangle. Thus, packaging on fake Vs is hugely important.
--There is no preference in labia shape or size. Any woman still worried about her own equipment can stop this very second.
--Porn stars regularly come in to have molds taken of their body parts. For the female porn stars molds, the labia is an accurate, spot-on re-creation, but the inside is generic, that is, pussy approximate.

--Sex toy exec really read those online user product reviews.
Even the weird ones like this Amazon review for the Belladonna's Magic Hand, black which reads “...easy to clean and don't smell too bad.”

--The Next Big Thing is anal.
"Toys for heterosexual man are a huge emerging market,” says Erica. “Straight men are discovering they have a prostate, which basically like the female g-spot.” To facilitate these tentative explorers, Doc has several beginner anal training kits, with sets of butt plugs, a vibrator and lube, so you can “kind of work your way up,” says Erica. She likens their popularity to the appeal of well-stocked makeup kits. You might not use all those eye shadows (or...butt plugs) but it's fun to have the array of options.

--Branding has made it to the sex toy industry.
Before sex toys went mainstream, you got what you got, style-wise—generally that style statement was a combo of utilitarian and sleazy. Now it's kinda gauche to stick just any old thing between your legs. High-end stuff that's more artsy/less body part-looking is big, like the Tryst Multi-Erogenous Zone Vibrator. Branding at Doc's includes the upscale, GQ-ish OptiMALE line, a line with Kink.com full of black leather and fucking machines, and WonderLand, with toys packaged like a whimsical fairy tale book. If a Tim Burton character needed to take the edge off, they would for sure reach for a WonderLand toy.

--At Doc Johnson, there is no official job of Product Tester.

--Not all factory tours end with some sort of poetic comeuppance, ala Wonka tours.
That is, I was not overfucked by an onslaught of dildos for my sin of Lust. Still unsure if that's good or bad. 

jill, home now with a huge bag of swag.

This article originally appeared on AlterNet as "11 Amazing Things I Learned at Touring a Sex Toy Factory." Meaning, yes, you got a bonus bit of knowledge.