Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Natural Contours Superbe

I love vibrators, I love them a lot, with all of my heart and soul, and I'm not at all sure what I would do without them. When offered to let me review the Natural Contours Superbe, I was pretty much ecstatic. I've lusted after the pretty shapes and colors of all the Natural Contours toys for a while, and given that I'm super in love with clitoral stimulators in general, I figured this would be a wonderful choice for me. I wasn't wrong, and though it won't be replacing the Lelo Lily as my go-to toy, it's certainly a wonderful addition to my toy box.

To start out, I'm entirely in love with the sunny, lemony color of the toy. The day it came in the mail I was wearing a bright yellow shirt, and having yet another yellow thing in my life just made everything wonderful. Most of the toys I own are black or some shade of purple, and while those colors are all fine and dandy, it's really nice to see a different color when I look in my drawer for a toy. Another thing that was really awesome was that it came with batteries, something that in my experience most toys don't do, so I didn't have to run out to the store and get some or take them out of anything else. Plus, the batteries say "power for pleasure" on them, and how cute is that?

The shape of this toy was really what got me interested in trying it, it's curved so that it can kind of rest on your mons while the end stimulates the clitoris. I really enjoy this sort of shape, and it was really wonderful to have something a bit bigger to hold on to and move the toy around with, especially since holding on to small things (like the afore mentioned Lily) sometimes makes my hands go numb, which is really not desirable in a toy. Another wonderful thing is that it is light weight, so using it doesn't wear my arm out. Plus it's made of hard plastic, so it cleans up pretty easily and doesn't have pores in which bacteria can live, something I'm always in favor of. My only quibble with the design is the seam that goes around the entire toy, which though totally understandable from a construction standpoint, I feel takes away from the beautiful shape of the toy.

Now, down to what using it was actually like. By myself, I found the Superbe quite pleasant, and fully capable of getting me off. The shape and lightness of the toy made it easy to move around as I saw fit, and though I would personally prefer a slightly narrower point for more directed sensations, the toy delivered vibrations wonderfully. I was initially slightly confused by the controls since the first setting is the highest, but after a few uses that started to make sense since it was nice to be able to turn directly to off from the highest setting without having to go through all the others first. I did find it a little difficult to differentiate between the lower settings, and a couple of times accidentally turned the toy off while I was on my way to orgasm because my finger slipped. The controls however are pretty conveniently located and rather easy to use.

The motor in the Superbe must be different from the motors in toys I'm more used to, I'm used to a sort of rumbly feeling in my vibes - as if the motor is shaking the entire toy - this felt more like something was just shaking around inside. Power wise, on the highest setting the Superbe is similar to a not fully charged Lily, and slightly stronger than my old slimline style vibrator. It is however much louder, and when I was first using it I was convinced my roommates could hear it from the kitchen, though I didn't get any complaints so I may have been wrong about that.

As a solo toy, I thought the Superbe was just okay, but during intercourse with my (male) partner it was fantastic. Because of the curved shape, the Superbe is able to rest on my mons and vibrate on my clit in any position where I'm on my back. With the toy like this every thrust pushes the vibe down on my clit, and I'm able to move it around to get a better angle or the exact spot I want. This arrangement made it very easy for me to orgasm during intercourse, something that is otherwise a bit difficult for me and for that I have to give the Superbe some serious love. We have tried this set up with other toys, particularly with the Lily which shares a bit of the Superbe's shape, but never with this degree of success. It's almost like I was the Goldilocks of orgasms during intercourse and found that some toys are too big, some are too small, but this...this is just right.

Thanks so much

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sex Blogging Ethics: Consent

So, today I read this article at Jezebel which asks if sex blogging is consensual, particularly when you write about specific encounters you have had. Now my brain is stuck on this concept, and I'm realizing that I have a number of posts that are still hiding in editing because they are enough about someone that I worry that I may be breaking someone's trust to publish them. Everyone I'm currently at all involved with knows that I have this blog and that I write about whatever thoughts I'm having about sex, but I wonder if that's implicit consent to being written about even in the vaguest of ways. I have no real desire to write explicitly about my encounters, but sometimes things come up because of what happened during said encounter. Is it wrong to write about those things if someone could read what I've written and say "oh, hey, that's about me."? Or does that just come with the territory of messing around with me? If I don't ever explicitly identify anyone, is that okay? Or should I be asking if it's okay to write about anything that has to do with sexual experiences that involve someone else? On top of that, do I have to go back and ask everyone I've ever messed around with if it's okay to share some of the experiences I had with them? Even if it's been years and we only hooked up once?

What do you think, internet?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why you cannot hide behind "free speech"

I appear to have a very hard time keeping my nose out of some of the more dramatic things that go on in the sex blogging community, I love to follow along as people better known than I tell others what they did wrong and so greatly admire what others in the community do to make it as safe of a space as possible and hold companies accountable for their actions. Mostly, I don't comment because mostly I'm on the outside of these things. There is one thing however, one thing that I am in fact late to the party on, that I don't think I can refrain from commenting on because a big part of it is something that bothers me on a very deep level.

I just read furry girl's post about why she dropped out of the Sex 2.0 convention this year, and as someone who is rather invested in sex worker's rights, I have to say that in the same position as she was in, I likely would have done the same thing. My major academic work so far has been related to sex work, and one of the things I believe sex workers need most is a place where they can come together and freely discuss their lives and their work. Perhaps if we had more of such spaces through out the world there would be a chance of properly unionizing sex workers (particularly in those countries where prostitution is legal), making it possible to more successfully agitate for what sex workers need, and giving sex workers more of a voice in the political process rather than letting other people decide what is best for them. But I digress. What actually bothered me most about this situation is the way in which Carnal Nation chose to defend themselves when they were called out for allowing someone to put sex workers in danger.

What they said amounts to "we have freedom of speech in this country" and that is basically my least favorite defense of anything. For one thing, freedom of speech does not in fact mean "freedom to be an unrepentant asshole" and it certainly doesn't mean freedom to say things that endanger other people's lives. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater without getting in trouble, you cannot incite a riot without getting in trouble, you cannot speak in ways that incite people to kill other people without getting in trouble (well, at least in theory, in practice...well, we're a bit shaky on that) etc. etc. Now, the fact is that what was said by this creep of a person on Carnal Nation probably doesn't constitute speech that the government would decide is worthy of suppressing, but a lot of that depends on the state that the case would be looked at in, the specific judge, etc. etc. I can certainly see ways in which what was said (though I have not read it) could constitute hate speech, and I can see many ways in which it could count as potentially causing violence against another person.

Regardless of all of this, the fact that we have freedom of speech in this country still doesn't mean that anyone gets to say anything they want and we have to put up with it because of "free speech", idiots on the internet hide behind this all the time when you attempt to tell them that what they said was in some way morally reprehensible. Free speech, as a legal concept, mostly just means that the government cannot restrict your speech, and last I checked Carnal Nation is not the government and as such can actually restrict the speech that occurs on their website. While I understand and largely agree with their statement about how content hosted on other sites sometimes gets taken down simply because enough people say they don't like it, there is a really significant difference between someone saying something unpopular and someone saying something potentially dangerous. As a company that wishes to be viewed as sex-positive and/or sex worker friendly, allowing posts that are dangerous to sex workers to be posted on their website is frankly stupid. It shows a serious lack of commitment to the cause they claim to believe in, and simply saying that they think what this guy is posting is repugnant is not doing anywhere near enough.

Further, their comparison of what this guy is doing with sex workers to what Larry Flint has done with Republican politicians is largely idiotic. First of all, when one becomes a politician one knowingly enters the public eye and can reasonably suspect that their private business may well become public knowledge at some point. When one becomes a sex worker, one does not in the same instant decide to be in the public eye, and many sex workers work very hard to make sure that their involvement in sex work does not become a matter of public record. Second, sure, a Republican politician may lose his job if s/he is found to be cheating on his/her spouse, but in the current political climate that doesn't actually happen all that often and generally exposing them does little but to show their hypocrisy, if anything they leave office and find some other sort of work. Alternately, if an individual is found to be a sex worker s/he may not only lose her/his job but may not be able to find work after that, particularly because being involved in some types of sex work (prostitution specifically) can result in a criminal record that will follow that individual for the rest of her/his life. These things are not the same.

In summary:
1) That's not what freedom of speech means.
2) If Carnal Nation wants people to believe that they are sex-positive/a safe space for sex workers to have honest discussion this is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.
3) This is nothing like people trying to catch Republican politicians doing things contrary to their stated morals.
4) That's really not what freedom of speech means. Stop hiding behind it.