[Toy Review] Fifty Shades Freed ‘Lavish Attention’ Vibrator

First, let’s address the elephant in the room.

I thought long and hard (stop snickering at the back!) about whether or not to request, or accept, any of Lovehoney’s new Fifty Shades Freed line of toys for review after attending their recent affiliate product showcase. In the end, I made a balanced decision that yes, I would review this line. Let me tell you why.

A close up of an elephant. For a review of the Fifty Shades Freed Lavish Attention vibrator.

To say I have issues with the Fifty Shades franchise is an understatement. I believe those books are not just poorly written and questionably researched portrayals of bad BDSM – I actually believe they’re really harmful. The way they’re written, and marketed, passes off stalking, psychological abuse, disregard for consent and even rape as romantic. Check out Jenny Trout’s series or my friend Christine’s blog if you would like to learn why more and more sex-positive feminists are speaking out against this series.

However. A terrible first introduction though it is, more and more people are finding BDSM and the kink and sex-positive communities via this franchise. They read the book or watch the film and get turned on by all the kinky sex. “I want to do that!” they think. Okay. So where do they go? Maybe they search online. If they’re lucky, they’ll find brilliant educational blogs. If they poke around for any length of time in the internet kinkosphere, they’ll probably land on Fetlife sooner or later. They might come to a munch. And they might go and buy a sex toy, possibly for the first time ever.

The seasoned kinksters among us may roll our eyes each February when the newest film brings the influx of “the Fifty Shades crowd” to our online spaces or our local munch. But if we do not welcome these people, we are doing them a great disservice. If we push them away or look down on them, we’re completely failing to live up to our purported values of inclusion, respect and community. Not only that, but pushing them away means they’re more likely to practice kink in unsafe and uninformed ways, imitating what they’ve read in that trilogy. If we welcome them in, they will have access to tremendous resources of knowledge, experience and education. I’ve seen plenty of people who came to kink via Fifty Shades grow into fantastic, skilled, responsible kinksters.

People who come to kink via less-than-ideal source material deserve resources and information. They deserve support, a loving community and the same access to education that every single one of us needed when we were new, regardless of our route into the community.

They also deserve safe and quality toys.

The way I see it, the majority of people who are likely to gravitate towards Fifty Shades branded toys will probably fall closer to the “new/inexperienced” end of the demographic spectrum. They may never have purchased a vibrator or dildo before in their life! They’ll probably be completely overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of toys on offer. If Fifty Shades was their way in – or even if it wasn’t, but it’s still the main current cultural touchstone for “kinky sex” – they may well gravitate towards these branded toys. People feel comforted by the familiar.

This, in a nutshell, is why I am glad that Lovehoney have made this Fifty Shades Freed line in the way they have. Having seen most of the products in the flesh (um, as it were,) I feel happy to say they’re a body-safe, user-friendly and just flat out good quality line of toys. I’m glad that inexperienced folks, new to the world of sex toys, are going to get quality products and not some shitty jelly-rubber, phthalate-ridden piece of crap when they Google “Fifty Shades sex toys”. (And yes, this is the first link that comes up when you do that search. I checked.)

With that out of the way… what did I think of the actual toy?

The |Lovehoney Fifty Shades Freed Lavish Attention vibrator. A half moon shaped vibrator with a handle in a lovely plum colour;.The Lavish Attention vibrator is a dual clitoral and G-spot toy. Its shape is like a half moon on top of a handle. The internal part is nice and slim, with a circumference of about 4 inches at the widest part, and flexible. When this is inserted, the external part – which is more rigid – rests against the clitoris. Both vibrate. The Lavish Attention has 3 constant vibration speeds and 7 patterns. It’s USB rechargeable, waterproof, travel-lockable, and comes with a handy – and stylish – purple storage bag.

I loved using it. I wasn’t sure I would, as dual-stim toys often aren’t very effective for me, but I like to broaden my horizons and expand my preferences. Personally, I found the shape and size of the Lavish Attention perfect to comfortably stimulate both my G-spot and clitoris without much weird maneuvering required.

Unusually, I enjoyed the vibration patterns on this toy. I think having internal stimulation slightly changes how my clitoris responds to things, though I am still figuring out exactly how this works. There are some caveats – read on for those! – but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Lavish Attention to anyone looking for a good quality dual-stim toy.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★
This toy retails at Lovehoney – currently the exclusive carrier! – for £54.99. This puts it squarely into the mid-price bracket, and in my opinion it’s reasonable value for the quality. I note that Lovehoney have a stellar returns policy.

Materials: ★★★★★
I can’t praise this enough. It’s premium quality matte silicone and feels absolutely gorgeous. It’s the kind of toy you just want to stroke again and again because it feels so lovely.

Appearance: ★★★★
One of the big plus points for the whole Freed range, for me, is how pretty they are. They’re all the same plum silicone with rose gold accents. The look is classy, sensual and sexy as fuck. If it didn’t have the Fifty Shades logo emblazoned upon it, it would be the perfect aesthetic for a sex toy in my opinion.

Ease of Use: ★★★
I generally find dual-stim vibes take some practice and some experimentation to find the best position to use them. This was no exception. I also found it slightly awkward to hold due to the positioning of the handle. It is nice and light, which is a big plus and particularly relevant for anyone who struggles to hold heavier toys due to disability or injury. My biggest gripe is that you can’t turn the speed and pattern settings down – if you want to get back to the previous setting, you have to cycle alllllll the way back through.

Ease of care & cleaning: ★★★★★
You can clean the Lavish Attention, as with any silicone toy, with a sterile body-safe wipe. These are available cheaply in bulk from medical suppliers. This toy is completely waterproof which means you can submerge it to clean. The internal piece can easily be covered with a condom, but it’s not so easy to use with a barrier externally.

Versatility: ★★★★
The Lavish Attention has 3 speeds and 7 patterns, making it nice and versatile whichever you prefer. One feature I would have liked would be the option to control the internal and external vibrations independently of each other. The shape makes it safe for anal use, and I imagine the external stimulator could feel really nice against the perineum during anal play if that’s your jam. It is fully waterproof, so safe for bathtime play.

Intensity:
★★★★
As ever, please remember I am the biggest Power Queen who ever Power Queened. The vibrations were more than adequate and got me off, but I would have liked one or two higher settings. Considering that my preferred power level is “Doxy on speed,” though, I might be an outlier here. The vibration quality is a little buzzy, but not numbingly so.

Overall Score: ★★★★
A very solid dual-stim toy which I enjoyed using. Not perfect, but perfect doesn’t exist anyway. I’ve marked it up for being body-safe, fully waterproof, gorgeous looking and relatively quiet. It lost a few points for the annoying lack of a “down” control.

I don’t recommend this toy to lovers of girth – it’s definitely slimline – or those who can’t stand their vibrations being even slightly buzzy. But if you’re looking for a good quality, mid-priced clitoral and G-spot toy from a trustworthy retailer, and don’t mind the Fifty Shades branding, I suggest giving Lavish Attention a try!

The good folks at Lovehoney sent me the Lavish Attention vibrator in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions which are, and will always be, entirely my own. Buying your sexy products through Lovehoney helps support me with a small commission and keep the blog going.

Elephant image is courtesy of Pixabay, a fab source of copyright-free images. Toy image belongs to Lovehoney and is reproduced here with their kind permission.

When You’re Exploring, Not Everything Will Work – and That’s Okay!

This one’s late! Sorry sorry sorry! I had a really bad mental health day yesterday. Trigger warning: this post talks about consensual non-consent including rape fantasy.

I’d like to thank Sarah Brynn Holliday for becoming my latest sexy patron. You should check out her blog, she does brilliant work. If YOU’D like to support my work here, please visit my Patreon and pledge at any level. Even $1 a month means so much and you’ll get access to occasional exclusive content and get your very own shout-out here (with a link to your blog or Twitter if you have them.)

A close up on a map, magnifying glass and compass. For a post on exploring kinks and when they don't work.

So, onto today’s topic which, credit where it’s due, was suggested by my sweetie The Artist when I messaged them going “heeeeeelp I’m not inspired”! Today’s prompt from 30 Days of D/s (it’s nearly over, y’all!) is all about exploring your kinks together with a partner, in particular things you haven’t tried but would like to.

I’ve tried a lot of kinky shit over the years. Like, a lot. I’m not gonna say “name a kinky thing and I’ve probably done it,” because some of you have truly devious imaginations. But I’ve been doing this stuff for well over a decade. I have a lot of experience. At the start of our relationship, The Artist asked me what I hadn’t done and might like to try. I was just like “oh shit what have I not done!?”

Inevitably, perhaps, I’ve done some things that I do not care to do again. When you’re exploring an area as broad as kink and sex, you won’t like everything you try. That’s okay! Trying something and not liking it isn’t a failure. It’s a valuable learning experience.

I’m pretty big into consensual non-consent, or CNC – also known as “rape fantasy”. This is a really, really common kink especially among (people socialised as) women. I am nowhere near qualified to start delving into the reasons for that. Anyhow, I’m into it, and I practice it carefully with safe partners and safewords. Up until last year, my biggest fantasy was a group CNC scene, where several partners would ambush and ravish me. Um, to be honest, this is still one of my biggest fantasies.

But you know what happened when we tried to make it a reality? It didn’t work. Some combination of the time of night, my tiredness level, the people involved and my sense of disorientation combined to make it too much. I safeworded out and then spent the next two hours crying and apologising. What was wrong with me? This was my fantasy, why hadn’t it worked for me?

The truth is there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with my partners, either – everything they did was 100% consensual! It was what we thought we all wanted! None of us did anything wrong. The scene just didn’t work out. Sometimes scenes don’t work, and that’s okay. Sometimes you can be absolutely sure you’ll like something… and then in reality, you won’t. That is also ten million percent normal and fine!

There’s an anecdote in, I think, one of Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton’s books. I’ve just spent an hour searching for it and can’t find it, which is really annoying me! Anyway, it tells of a woman who has always fantasised about receiving caning… until she finds she reality too painful. This is because fantasy isn’t accurate, realistic information. Fantasy is there first for fun and titillation. Yes, it gives you an insight into things you might like to try, but liking it in fantasy doesn’t mean you’ll like it in reality. You might, you might not. You might like a modified version. Either way, that’s completely okay!

I still have group CNC fantasies, and I may or may not try to act them out again at some point. If I ever do, I’ll use the information I learned from what went wrong last time to modify the scene. If I don’t, it’s still okay for me to enjoy the fantasy! Not wanting to do something for real doesn’t mean you can’t fantasise about it! Even trying something and having it go wrong doesn’t have to be a barrier to continuing to enjoy your fantasies.

The key to exploring, I think, is to try not to attach too much to one particular outcome. This sounds ridiculously “zen,” and I appreciate it’s really difficult. But if you approach trying something new with the mindset of, “it might work, it might not, but we’ll learn something either way,” the pressure to have it be the best scene of your life lets up almost immediately.

Approach with an attitude of open exploration, communication and the goal of mutual pleasure and discovery. You might find your new favourite thing. You might also find out that some things are happier staying in your inner fantasy world – and that’s valuable too.

Kinky item of the day: Spreader bars! For me, there is very little sexier than being spread open and vulnerable in front of a Dominant lover. Especially if they’re also slapping my cunt and/or ripping an orgasm from me with the Doxy. Try this lovely adjustable bar from Sportsheets.

The image featured in this post was reproduced here under Creative Commons Licensing.

3 Things I Learned About Myself In My 18 Months as a 24/7 Submissive

Today in 30 Days of D/s, Kayla and John ask about 24/7 relationships. In a nutshell, this is a relationship where the power exchange is a permanent and pervasive part of the relationship. Essentially, the people in the relationship are “in role,” to a greater or lesser extent, all the time.

A padlock with a red heart on it and a red ribbon tied to it, fastened to a wire fence. For a post on 24/7 D/s

In my last relationship, I was a 24/7 submissive for a year and a half (collared for a year.) Even though that relationship was really unhealthy for me and I’m not in the 24/7 lifestyle any more, I still think I learned valuable lessons. Today I want to share some of those lessons with you.

Symbolism is really important to me

I’d been submitting to my partner more or less exclusively for months by the time we made the 24/7 thing “official”. Even so, writing and signing the contract and later having a collaring ceremony were really significant steps for me. They solidified what we were doing and they gave me a peg to hang my understanding of the relationship on. I couldn’t wear my collar 24/7 (professional job, y’all!) so having a day-collar (in our case it was a silver bracelet with a little lock-and-key charm) was very important.

Symbolism and ritual matters to me. It matters a lot. The act of creating intention together and naming it, whether simply to each other or in the presence of other loved ones, gives me a feeling of love, security and safety. Having a physical reminder of my connection to someone helps with the feeling of “home” that I value in a hopefully-lifetime relationship. This is why Mr CK and I intend to have a handfasting ceremony in the next couple of years.

I’m DEFINITELY a Switch

I love submitting and I’m still much more towards that end of the spectrum. However, I also definitely have a Dominant side and she gets grouchy if she doesn’t get to come out to play every once in a while. Not getting to Switch at all for about 2 years made me miss the hell out of it.

I’m not cut out for the 24/7 lifestyle

Yep… the biggest thing I learned in the course of that adventure into 24/7 power exchange is that I’m not cut out to live in a power exchange 24/7. Some of you are probably thinking this makes me less submissive, and the only thing I can say to that is that I think you’re wrong. When I choose to submit, I do so deeply and with my whole heart. It’s a beloved place I go back to time and time again and feel bereft if I’m away for too long. I just don’t live there.

You know the problem with wishing for what you want is that you might actually get what you want? Yep. I longed for 24/7 D/s and for quite a while I was on cloud nine of joy. When the reality set in, though, I chafed under the rules. I wanted to be able to step out of that role sometimes. Sometimes, I didn’t want to say yes Master, no Master, three bags full Master… I wanted to say you’re being an idiot, knock it off, and by the way I’m having a wank tonight whether you like it or not.

But I wanted it so much that I had to experience it to realise that maybe I don’t want it after all.

Tweet me your thoughts on 24/7 D/s. Have you done it? Would you do it again? Why or why not?

Kinky item of the day: ballet boots! (Not an affiliate link.) I love the hell out of these. They are, of course, utterly impractical on every level. But I think the inability to move far in them is part of the appeal, don’t you?

If you enjoyed this post, you can support the blog on Patreon or by buying me a coffee!

The image featured in this post is reproduced here under Creative Commons Licensing.

“Bring the Collar”: The True Story of a D/s Break-Up

I don’t want to write this post. I really don’t. I’ve been mulling it over all day and a huge part of me just wants to go, “oh fuck it” and write a generic “how to get over a break-up” listicle.

But I feel like that’d be a cop-out. Today’s 30 Days of D/s prompts is all about break-ups, and to be honest I’ve been inspired by Kayla’s amazing raw honesty in telling the story of her own D/s break-up a few years ago. So… here goes nothing, I guess.

A vase of dead roses. For a post about my D/s break-up

Realistically, I knew we were breaking up. Our relationship had disintegrated beyond repair now I’d finally, a good five years too late, begun to stand up for myself.

We were to meet in the park. Neutral ground. The stated aim: to have the make-or-break conversation. My true intention, though: to escape as quickly as possible with my head held high and my dignity intact.

All of this to say, dear readers: I knew it was over. It was overer than over. That relationship, like Marley, was dead as a doornail.

Still, it was three words on a text that broke me into pieces and tested my get the fuck out resolve to its limit.

“Bring the collar.”

Of course, I’d known he would want it back. That was in the contract. The Contract, to love and protect on his part. To love and obey on mine. Worth less, in the scheme of keeping us together, than the notepaper it was written on. But even so, this was the moment it sunk in. But Master is releasing me. He doesn’t want me any more.

My subby heart broke then. I’d thought I was as good as over it – mentally checked out of the relationship I was technically still in. I’d mourned the man I’d loved, come to accept he’d never been real and this monster who now stood in his place had been him all along. The guy who told me I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever known, one perfect night in a student dorm room when I was nineteen, and the man who looked me in the eyes five years later and told me I was poison, were one and the same person.

But as his sub – his slave, he’d called me, though I was never entirely comfortable with the connotations of that word – I’d tried so hard to please. To obey, do everything he said, shut my mouth and look pretty and never take up more space than my little allotted corner. A toy isn’t supposed to complain when it’s tossed aside once playtime is over.

What I felt then, when I kissed the little silver lock of the collar one more time and handed it over to him while I tried not to cry, was that I’d failed. He’d thrown it at me plenty of times over the preceding weeks, while whatever was left of our love dripped down the drain. Bad sub. Not really submissive. Disobedient. If you’d just shut up and do as you were told, we’d be fine.

For years, I’d twisted myself until the core of my identity was being his. I wrote him a poem in the early days. In it, I said, “You are life. You are oxygen. You are everything.” My blood and breath. My heart and soul. More myself than I am.

What I know now, and wish I’d known then, is that I wasn’t the one who failed. I was just a young girl who got thrown into a lion’s den too complicated and fucked up to comprehend, and then spent years trying to tame the most vicious, dominant lion while he snapped and snarled at her heels.

He was the one who failed me. He promised too much, delivered too little, broke me down too hard. I gave love, and what I got in return was emotional devastation, over and over and fucking over.

In that moment, I saw him as he was. All my idealistic, teenage bullshit fell away and I saw a man who could never love me. In that moment, I took myself back. I gave him back his collar and I took back my agency, my power, my life.

You’re not my blood and breath. I am.

I belong to nobody. I am free. And I am happy.

 

No kinky item today. This is too raw to add anything to it. Today’s image, as ever, was provided for use under Creative Commons Licensing. I’ve used an image of dead roses because we exchanged roses as part of our collaring/vows ceremony. 

Can You Truly Consent Ahead of Time?

As you will have seen already if you’ve been reading this blog for long, I have Many Feels about consent. In short, consent is everything. In all areas of life, but in sex and relationships in particular.

Full disclosure the first: I pondered this one for a long time, nearly didn’t post it at all, then went “oh fuck it.”

Full disclosure the second: it’s relatively late on Friday night and I’m tired as fuck. This might not be my best work ever.

Psst – don’t forget to check out #KinkMonth and join the conversation!

A white pillow with the words "do not disturb" in black. For a post on sleep sex and pre consent

Today in 30 Days of D/s, Kayla and John are talking about sexual availability. They say:

In some D/s relationships (including ours), there is an agreement that the submissive will always be sexually available to their Dominant. While this can be a kinky, sexy aspect of a relationship, it always requires a great deal of trust from the submissive and responsibility from the Dominant. What do you think? Does it sound deliciously sexy? Or does it not sound appealing at all?

Pre-consent vs. sexual availability

Mr CK and I do not have this type of arrangement as such, because we’re not in a 24/7 D/s relationship. What we do have, however, is certain types of what we call “blanket consent” or “pre-consent”- which, in practice, I imagine works in much the same way as a relationship where the submissive has consented ahead of time to sexual activity when the Dominant wants it. That is, it’s okay for you to do this thing unless I explicitly withdraw consent in the moment.

One of the things we’ve put this in place for is instigating sex/play while the other is asleep. Either of us can do this, and we’ve pre-negotiated that it’s okay. I find it really hot to be woken up from sleep because he’s decided he wants to fuck me. (And I’m a LIGHT sleeper so there’s no chance of my not waking up once he starts making a move on me.)

The reasons this works and is safe for our relationship, I think, are threefold:

First and most important: trust

Pre-consent of any kind, especially for sexual activity when in a vulnerable situation like being asleep, is edgy shit. It requires a huge amount of trust. This is not something you do on a first date. I really don’t recommend playing around with this level of vulnerability with a partner until you have a seriously solid foundation of trust.

Again: this is edge-play. Treat it accordingly.

Secondly, we exercise common sense and don’t abuse the trust

Just because he technically could, under this agreement, wake me up for sex at 3am the night before an important early meeting… doesn’t mean that he would.

Part of having agreements around pre- or blanket- consent means not abusing the trust your partner has put in you. These agreements exist, hopefully, because both parties find them sexy and are enthusiastically into whatever the thing being consented to is. Using them in a way that is likely to cause your partner harm or distress violates the spirit of the very trust required to have these kinds of arrangements in the first place.

Finally, we’re both totally happy to withdraw consent if necessary

I used to be the kind of person who would think, “well, I agreed to this in advance – or at least implied I might be up for it – so I guess I have to go along with it now even though I really don’t want to.” I am not that person any more.

We both say no when we mean no. Being able to rely on each other to do this means that we can relax into the play, knowing that the consent we’re receiving from the other person is genuine.

So: can you consent to something in advance?

My answer is… kind of. In theory I’ve given Mr consent to wake me up for sex any time he chooses. In practice, I could withdraw that consent any and every time he invokes this, if I chose to… and he would respect that withdrawal without question and with no negative consequences to our relationship. So, in reality, I’m actually consenting to the activity in a very meaningful and ongoing way at the time.

Because if you can’t withdraw consent, it’s not really consent at all. In advance or otherwise.

Kinky item of the day: Cuffs! Forget metal handcuffs (they’re either shit quality or painful as fuck in a bad way, in my experience.) What about these black leather beauties?

The above is an affiliate link. All opinions are, and will always be, entirely my own.

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

It IS [Mostly] All About the Sex

For today’s #KinkMonth post, it’s all about SEX! As you’ll have gathered (unless this is your first visit, in which case – welcome!) I’m doing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s. Today, Kayla asks:

Have you ever considered D/s without a sexual component? Would you be interested in something like it? How important is sex to your current or future D/s relationship?

A pair f black lace panties lying on the floor next to two condom packets, one torn open. For a post about people saying BDSM is not about sex

I do it because it gets me off.

For some reason, it seems to be a thing to deny that BDSM is mostly, or entirely, about sex. And for some people, this is probably true. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m a bit sick of it.

For me, kink and BDSM are, and always have been, overwhelmingly about sex. Yes, they’re means of connecting with people I love. They’re sometimes spiritual. But for fuck’s sake, the vast majority of the time, I do this stuff because it makes my cunt wet and gets me off.

People have tried to divorce BDSM entirely from sex. I am willing to entertain that there are some people – folks at the far end of the Ace spectrum, for example – for whom this is the case. But at its core, I do believe it’s fundamentally a sexual or sex-adjacent practice 99% of the time.

I don’t fuck everyone I scene with, but I do get turned on during pretty much any good kink interaction. It’s part of my pre-negotiation with new partners: “you don’t have to do anything about it, but you need to be okay with the fact that if we have a good scene, I WILL be aroused.”

What’s wrong with sex anyway?

We live in a world where it’s pretty hard to admit that something we do is mainly or entirely about sex. Sex is not seen as a good enough reason to do something – there has to be a higher purpose, a better reason.

Confession I’m seriously not proud of time: pre-20, I was really judgy about people who have casual sex. “I only have sex when I’m in LOVE,” I proclaimed loudly, as if it made me better than other people. Thankfully, I 1) grew the fuck up and stopped being a judgemental bitch, 2) learned the awesomeness that is good casual sex.

A lot of polyamorous people – and yes, I used to be one of them, much to my embarrassment – go around saying “it’s about LOVE, not SEX!” This often goes hand in hand with, “we’re not SWINGERS!” The problem with this is that it implies being a swinger is a bad thing, that love is inherently superior to sex, and it neglects the fact that sex is a hugely important part of romantic love for a lot of us. In this way, people who are ostensibly part of the sex-positive community fall into sex-negative and sex-shaming patterns.

It’s easy to do and I sympathise with it. We’re taught, more or less from birth, that sex is bad. Dirty. Gross. That sex is only “when mummy and daddy love each other very much and want to have a baby.” A huge part of sex-positivity and the sex-posi movement, in my view, is about unlearning these toxic narratives and trying to do better.

Real talk: I don’t have an IUD to control my period (though that’s a nice side effect.) I have it for sex.

For evidence of pervasive anti-sex sentiment, see also: “I use birth control for reasons that have nothing to do with sex, like controlling my painful periods.” Again, for a lot of people with uteruses (uteri?), this is entirely true and it’s completely valid.

However, lots of us DO use birth control for sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Saying that it should be freely available BECAUSE it has uses that aren’t sexual is really problematic. It should be freely available because it’s a normal part of healthcare, and lots of people like sex while also liking not being pregnant.

Let’s all just admit that some things ARE about sex

My challenge to you, and to myself: next time you find yourself wanting to defend a part of your life or identity with “it’s not about sex!” …Stop. Think about it. And resist the temptation to jump to this defense. Because sometimes, it is about sex. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the great Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

Kinky item of the day: Condoms! If you engage in penetrative sex or share toys in non fluid-bonded relationships, you need condoms to keep things sexy and safe. Buy 2 packs for 20% off.

Heads up: this post contains an affiliate link.

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

Building Your House Together: Using Rules for Good

Hey, I’m pro-rules in relationships. (Related, I’m also pro-hierarchy in polyamory – yes, even when I’m not the one on top of the heap. Read this to find out why.)

A close up of a section of red brick wall, for a post about rules

Did you see that I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project?

Join the discussion on Twitter or sign up for the project yourself – it’s FREE and can be used any way you like. Today’s prompt is all about rules. Kayla and John simply ask:

Do you know what kind of rules you may want or need?

A note about this post: it doesn’t contain much in the way of practical tips. I will do one soon with some more concrete advice on setting positive and useful relationship rules. This one is more a primer on my personal philosophy on the concept of rules/agreements in romantic relationships.

What’s wrong with rules?

A lot of non-monogamous people are against rules in relationships. The thinking goes: if you need rules to keep your partner from hurting you, the relationship is already doomed. I kind of agree with that sentiment, in so far as it goes. But I think it presents an unhelpfully pessimistic view on the role of rules in adult relationships.

Mr CK and I have rules in our relationship. They include things like always using condoms with lovers outside of our dyad, STI testing every 3 months, not having sex with someone new until the other has met the person, and not engaging in ongoing (i.e. longer than a scene) D/s dynamics with other people.

The rules don’t exist to keep either of us in line or prevent us from running amok over each other’s feelings. If we were going to do that, no rules would stop us, in the same way that the “rules” of traditional monogamy won’t stop somebody who is determined to cheat.

We have them because they keep us, and our relationship, happy and healthy.

A better framework

Used properly, rules aren’t a tool to bash your partner over the head with or keep them in line against your will. Used properly, they’re are the walls you build – collaboratively – to contain the house of your relationship.

You can use the word “agreements,” if you prefer, but in this framework they amount to the same thing. They’re limits, boundaries or modes of behaviour that you both (/all) agree to operate within, for the good of the relationship and everyone involved. Good rules should bring a sense of safety and security, like the solid, stable walls of your home. They’re not a prison.

If the agreements of your relationship are feeling like a cage, a conversation with your partner is in order. If your partner is arbitrarily imposing new ones without due discussion and buy-in from you, that’s a major red flag. (Incidentally, you obviously shouldn’t do this to your partner either!) To go back to the shared house metaphor, you wouldn’t just decide to build an extension or divide your living room in half without consulting your partner, would you? (If you would, umm, your relationship operates very differently from mine so please explain to me how this works for you!)

Build your house – together

I was once invited to move in by a partner and metamour. The further into “how will this work?” discussions we got, the more I came to realise a troubling fact. Namely, that their concept was that I would have little to no say in the running of the house. From the colour we’d paint the bathroom to the guests who were and weren’t allowed in the house, I would have very minimal input – while paying half the mortgage, naturally. I realise now, looking back, how fitting a metaphor this was for our relationship. They made the rules and I got no say, both in our trio and in my dyadic relationship with him. We weren’t building the metaphoric (or literal) house together – I was a permanent guest in theirs. I was caged.

I share this anecdote just to illustrate how a framework of rules can be really badly misappropriated. Contrast this with Mr CK and me, who thoroughly negotiate every agreement we make as equals. We leave them all open to discussion of renegotiation at any time, and always consider them with the best possible outcome for everyone involved in mind. Saying all rules (/agreements/boundaries) are inherently bad is like saying walls or doors or windows or grey tiling are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re elements you can pick and choose for your house – your relationship – to make sure it’s designed exactly the way you want it.

Keeping the house clean

You don’t build a house, move in, and expect to never do any work on it again. That’d be ridiculous. You have to sweep, do the dishes, repaint the odd wall and occasionally rip a piece out completely and spend loads of time fixing it. Maintaining the ‘house’ of your relationship is exactly the same. You don’t set the rules once and then you’re done. No. You have to tinker, negotiate

Build your perfect relationship the way you’d build your perfect house, with walls – agreements – to keep you cozy inside. That way, you can prevent the leaking roof of drama, and always have a safe home to retreat to and invite your loved ones into.

Kinky item of the day: Nipple clamps, for squeezy, pinchy fun! I looove clamps so much, both on my nipples and labia. (Pro tip: leave them on for more than 5-10 minutes, and they hurt like hell when they come off!)

This post contains an affiliate link. If you buy through it, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

The image in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

Why Vanilla Sex Can Be Scarier Than Kink

Doing something a bit different with my #KinkMonth post today, and talking about… vanilla sex! Today’s prompt, which comes as ever from Kayla Lords’ awesome 30 Days of D/s, deals with introducing kink to a previously vanilla relationship. Kayla and John say:

“Everyone is at a different point in life. Some people are married and happily kinky. Others are happily kinky but still single. And some find themselves thinking about kink while worrying about how to tell their vanilla partner. At some point, we can all find ourselves in a similar situation.”

Two vanilla pods resting on a small brown dish of what appears to be sugar, plus another pod to the side of the dish.

Now I’ve actually never been there. I’ve never been in a truly vanilla relationship. Therefore, today I’m going to talk about my relationship to the V Word. (No, not virginity. This one’s about something that exists.)

You might be unsurprised to know that your girl over here, who runs a blog called “Coffee and Kink,” doesn’t have vanilla sex that often. The vast majority of my sex involves some kind of power exchange element, though the level varies depending on my mood and my relationship with the other person.

What might surprise you is that I love vanilla sex. Not all the time – it’d bore the pants off me (um, as it were) if I had it too often! I need at least chocolate sprinkles the vast majority of the time. But what might also surprise you – it certainly surprised me when I realised it – is that vanilla sex can sometimes feel scarier to me than kink play.

No role to hide behind.

In vanilla sex, I’m just me. In a kink scene, I can be a victim, a willing slave, a feisty brat or a good girl. But in plain old sex, I’m just Amy, with all the roles and pretenses stripped away.

This is a profoundly vulnerable place for me to go to. To let someone see me – really see me, stripped back, with no role to hide behind – can be terrifying. That’s why, paradoxically, I’ll do kinky shit with fairly casual partners but only completely vanilla sex with someone I deeply love and trust.

With no-one to tell me what to do, the insecurities start to creep in.

When I’m submitting, I feel confident that I’m doing what my Dominant partner wants. I am literally doing exactly what they tell me to do. I don’t have to make decisions and I can relax into the safety of letting somebody else be in charge. When I’m Dominant, I don’t have to feel guilty about asking for what I want, because that’s the entire damn point. I’m also hyper tuned in to my partner’s reactions, because it is my responsibility to keep them safe.

In vanilla sex, with nobody to tell me what to do, the doubts start to creep in. Am I doing this properly? Are they having a good time? Do they like what I’m doing and will they tell me if they don’t? And on the flip side, without a veneer of Dominance to hide it behind, asking for what I want is fucking scary. When I’m fucking someone as an equal[1], I worry about coming across as too bossy, too demanding, too needy if I ask them to go harder, faster, slower, more gently, a little to the right.

Kink gives me a huge amount of permission to lie back and have things done to me without worrying, or to ask for exactly what I want without apology. In a vanilla setting, I have to grant myself that permission without a role to do it for me. Sometimes, taking that permission slip can be surprisingly scary.

Vanilla is not “plain” and it’s not lesser.

Vanilla sex isn’t the easy option for people who are too repressed or boring or inexperienced for kink. Like its namesake, vanilla is a complex and delicious flavour. Vanilla sex can be loving, affirming, sensual, playful, serious, funny and just plain hot. And sometimes, being just yourself with no other character or role to hide behind, can be the scariest place to go.

[1] Of course we’re always equals really, but D/s involves a facade of inequality in order for the game to work.

Kink item of the day: a Dragon Tail! (I have no connection with this company, I just love their stuff.) (Disclaimer: dragon tails can be dangerous. Have someone teach you how to use one properly and get appropriate practice before you try one on a person!)

The image featured in this post was offered for use via Creative Commons Licensing.

No affiliate links were used in this post. If you’d like to support me, please consider buying me a coffee, becoming a sexy patron, or shopping through my affiliates in the sidebar. Thank you!

The C Word: All The Wrong Things I Was Ever Taught About Consent

Are you celebratiing #KinkMonth? If not, you totally should be! Why not treat yourself to something exciting, and enjoy a free lube when you spend at least £30 on kinky goodies at Lovehoney?

I’m celebrating by taking part in Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s programme and writing posts inspired by the prompts. Today… oh boy. It’s the big one. Simultaneously one of my favourite topics, and one that feels too massive to actively delve into.

Today, we’re talking consent. 

Scrabble style letters spell out "yes" on a slate grey background. For a post on consent

Look, I can’t have my say on consent in one post. I just can’t. I’ll probably write a book on it one day (or at least a collection of essays,) but today I have to tell you something meaningful about one of the biggest and thorniest topics out there, in 1,000 words or less.

Something I learned recently: prior to finding sex-positivity, everything I was ever taught about consent is wrong. Everything you were ever taught about it is probably wrong, too.

Let’s go ahead and delve into some of the wrongness.

“Only men need to seek consent. Women don’t need to ask because men are always up for sex.”

If there is one myth that I think could fix so many of the world’s problems around sex if it would just have the decency to die in a fucking fire already, it’s this one.

Newsflash: sometimes, women want sex. Sometimes, men don’t want sex – tonight or this week or with this person or ever. Sometimes women want sex more than men[1] or at different times than men. And everyone needs to seek consent before and while engaging in any kind of sexual activity. (Incidentally, there are more than two genders and not all sex is heterosexual, so there’s that. Consent rules apply the same.)

[1] Source: literally every single male-shaped person I’ve ever dated having a lower sex drive than me, whether only slightly lower or a whole lot lower.

“Consent is unsexy and ruins the mood.”

Fuck this one! Fuck it backwards and upside down with a cactus, seriously.

Consent doesn’t have to be unsexy, awkward or scary. It doesn’t have to be a big sit-down discussion with yes/no/maybe lists (though these are awesome,) contracts and lawyers, for fuck’s sake. It can be straightforward: “I’d really like to kiss you, would you be into that?” “What kind of sex are you into tonight?” It can be playful: “Hey baby, wanna spank my ass?” It can be sexy: “God, I want to fuck you so bad. Do you want my cock?”

And you know what? Even if it IS awkward, even if you DO perceive active consent as unsexy… it’s still fucking vital. Get over it.

“If she says “no” or pushes you away, it might really mean “yes.””

No no no no no no no.

If someone says no or pushes you away, unless it’s part of a very clearly negotiated game (in which instance, you have a safeword, right!?)… no means fucking no.

Playing hard to get is bullshit. Even if you think someone might be doing it (because societal stigma is strong, especially when it comes to women being enthusiastic about sex,) the correct response is to stop what you’re doing and have a conversation with your partner about what’s going on and what you both want and don’t want. The correct response is never to just go ahead and have the sex.

No means no. Pushing you away means no. Freezing means no. Hemming and hawing without giving an enthusiastic “yes” means no. Making excuses means no. “I have a headache” means no. “We really shouldn’t” means no. Say it with me now: anything that isn’t clear and unambiguous consent means no.

“If I don’t ask, they’ll have sex with me! But if I ask, they might say no.”

If you ask and they say no, they were either never going to have sex with you in the first place and would have told you to stop when you got close to a boundary, or they would have endured an experience they weren’t really consenting to, possibly out of fear of the repercussions of saying no.

Is it worth risking maybe raping someone because you’re afraid that asking gives them permission to maybe say no?

(If your answer to the above question is “yes,” fuck off from my blog, ask yourself some serious questions, get therapy and don’t go near another human until you sort your shit out.)

“It’s really hard to know if someone’s consenting or not!”

First: no, it isn’t. Most people’s body language when they’re into an encounter is actually quite clear, and VERY different from the aforementioned “going along with it because you might really hurt me if I say no.”

Second: FUCKING ASK.

Third: if you’re still not sure, it’s your responsibility to not do the thing until you are sure.

See also: this song. [Song is “For the Guys” by Rachel Lark, who is a fucking badass genius. Lyrics include “if you’re not sure that it’s not rape, don’t do it!“]

Tell me in the comments or on Twitter: what lies were you told about consent?

Kinky item of the day is one from my “maybe someday when I have a shedload of money” wishlist: a proper custom-fit chastity belt. (Not an affiliate link and I have no connection to the company.)

Heads up: this post contains an affiliate link and if you buy through it, I make a small commission. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

Sex Not Stigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage My Mental Health

Content note: this post discusses mental health struggles in detail and includes slurs and a brief reference to suicide.

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. Thousands of brave people have spoken out about their struggles with various mental health conditions. I shared a little bit of my story on Twitter too, if you’re interested. Short version: I live with depression and anxiety.

I use a whole litany of tools to manage my mental health. I take medication, I’m working with The Best Therapist Ever, and I’ve learned to effectively regulate my physical and mental energy levels. I’ve also consistently found sex, masturbation and kink to be really useful and positive items in this toolbox.

A black and white picture of a heterosexual-read couple, sitting together with the woman's head resting on the man's shoulder in an affectionate fashion. They both have dark hair and the man has a beard and tattoos. Pixture by Hot Octopuss and given for a sponsored post about Mental Health Week.

#SexNotStigma

It is ridiculous to me that today, in twenty-freaking-seventeen, that there is STILL such stigma around both mental illness and sex. They are two of the great taboos that plague our society.

As a woman, admitting that you like to have sex can be a radical – and dangerous – act.  Speaking up about a mental health struggles is risky and brave for anybody to do. Words like “crazy” and “psycho” are thrown around with abandon. People with mental health issues are routinely portrayed as dangerous. Services that actually help us are thin on the ground and getting cut left, right and centre. Being a woman who talks about sex and is also open about her mental health. Ohhh, boy…

I’ve had my promiscuity chalked up to my mental health conditions more times than I can count. (“Poor girl, she’s acting out sexually because she’s depressed” at best, or “crazy whore!” at worst.) Interestingly, the same has also been true in reverse (“you wouldn’t be so depressed if you’d stop sleeping around!”) But that’s not how this works! I’m a proud slut[1] AND I have a mental health condition. One did not cause the other and ceasing one[2] will not “cure” the other.

The #SexNotStigma campaign aims to break taboos when it comes to talking about sex, including that surrounding sex and mental health. This post is my attempt to add my voice to that vital conversation.

I wrote recently about how I don’t think “don’t play when you’re depressed” is useful or realistic advice, and today I want to expand on that and talk about why, far from being off-limits when I’m low, sexuality has probably helped save my life more than once.

Sex: intimacy, connection, love.

Some people want to be left alone and can’t bear to be touched when they’re depressed. My experience is usually the opposite. I want to be around the people I love and trust, to connect with them in deep and profound ways. Sex is one of the ways in which I connect with some of the important people in my life. Therefore, honestly, fucking my brains out (or at least fucking my sadness out for a while) is one of the best ways a partner can help me when I’m struggling.

Sex reminds me, viscerally and in the moment, that I am loved. For me, mental health wise, a really good fuck with someone I love is basically a cuddle on speed. Throw in a few dozen orgasms (yes, your girl over here is SUPER multi orgasmic) and you will see a marked improvement in the happiness of your Amy.

Sex helps me to focus on all the joyful things – pleasure, love, connection, vulnerability, sensation – in a world that’s fucked.

Sex literally reminds me that there’s so much to live for.

Masturbation: the ultimate self-love.

Self-loathing is a feature of my depression and an unwelcome visitor that likes to pop in from time to time. I’ve learned that the best way to combat it is to be excessively kind to myself – the way you’d be kind to a partner, friend or child who was in pain. Sometimes I take myself out for coffee and cake. Sometimes I give myself permission to stay in bed, read and nap – take a “mental health day,” if you will. And sometimes, I masturbate!

Aside from the obvious benefits of all the happy chemicals that are released at the point of orgasm, masturbation is a means of reminding myself that I am worthy and deserving of pleasure. And on the occasions when romantic rejection or the ending of a relationship triggers my depression, masturbation reminds me that my sexual (and loving!) relationship with myself is the first, last and most important one of my life.

Who needs that git who dumped me when you have cutting edge sex toys, am I right?

Kink: freedom in bondage.

Submitting to a safe partner can be really positive for me when I’m feeling low.

Kink, especially pain play, pulls me out of my head and into my body. It’s hard to be sad when all I can think about is the hand spanking my ass! It’s grounding. It makes all the noise in my head go quiet.

Submission makes me feel useful. When I feel worthless, a well-timed “good girl” can do wonders. To know that I am pleasing somebody else, that I am serving them, gives me a purpose. It reminds me that I have value.

Kink gives me permission to be vulnerable. Play gives me chance to cry if I need to, to scream if I want to, to get pent-up emotions out. It releases me from the responsibility of decision making, of caring for myself or anyone else, even if only for a short time. It gives me permission to just be.

Discovering new paths to pleasure

Mental illness can impact sexuality in many ways. In particular, feeling very low can make it difficult to get in the right headspace to enjoy sex or orgasm. Certain types of common antidepressants including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can also cause erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia. When I first started taking citalopram – a common SSRI – I lost my ability to orgasm for a month.

Was it hell? Yes. Did it also teach me something valuable, namely that I kinda have an orgasm denial kink? Also yes. While this is something I prefer to be voluntary and not drug-induced, going through this experience taught me something really valuable about my fetishes. So there’s value in that.

Problems such as ED and anorgasmia suck (if you’ll pardon the pun) but they also force you to get creative. I finally broke through my month-long dry spell with a high powered vibrator. That’s how I learned that I love really intense vibration! If your cock isn’t getting hard in the way you want it to, you might discover other routes to sexual bliss that you’d never have previously considered or bothered to try.

Integrating the two

I’ve come to terms, over ten years of having a formally diagnosed mental health condition, that it’s not going away. It’s with me for life and I am better off learning how to manage it than hoping it will disappear. Just like a diabetic would take insulin every day, I take my antidepressants to keep me healthy. (Conceptualising my illness as being exactly comparable to a physical health issue – BECAUSE IT IS – has been surprisingly empowering.)

I’ve also grown into my sexuality in the last ten years. From a girl who was terrified to admit, even in a whisper, that she liked girls and might want to be spanked, I’ve grown into a woman who owns her desires and explores them unapologetically.

And, crucially, I’ve learned to integrate these two things. When my bisexual, kinky and non-monogamous identities ceased to be sources of shame, my mental health directly improved as a result. When my condition started to be properly managed, my sex life improved instantly. And when I learned to use my sexuality to enhance my mental health, I gained a tool that has saved my life.

[1] Yay, reclaiming slurs!
[2] Because you can totally choose to stop being mentally ill, right?

This post was kindly sponsored by the lovely folks at Hot Octopuss, a fantastic and innovative sex toy company who are committed to tackling taboos around sex. Check out their brilliant range of products, including the new Queen Bee, and their blog, where they talk sex, health and stigma. They’ve even offered a discount code for Coffee & Kink readers – use CK10 to get 10% off (and send a little bit of support my way.) All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

A banner ad for sex toy company Hot Octopuss, who sponsored a post on sex and mental health