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Sexting is a Real Sexual Relationship

A computer surrounded by mobile phones and with a red bra discarded over it. For a post on sexting.

When I was seventeen and we had not long moved in together, I caught my then-boyfriend sexting online with a random woman he’d met on the internet. We were, at the time, in a monogamous arrangement – and to say I was livid doesn’t cover it. I absolutely considered it to be cheating. (This is to say nothing of the fact that they’d been planning to meet and have sex, and only didn’t because I found out before that happened.) But the point is that I considered the online sexual relationship – in and of itself – to be a sexual relationship, and therefore a violation of the boundaries of a monogamous relationship. Of course, every relationship is different and if both parties agree a little digital flirtation is okay, more power to them. But there are certain things that are assumed to be off-limits in a monogamous commitment, unless very explicitly negotiated otherwise.

I stand by my assessment (of those activities as cheating) to this day, some decade and change later. This is because I completely believe that sexting, cyber-sexing and other forms of exchanging sexually explicit content online is a form of sexual relationship. It might not involve physically being in the same room or rubbing genitals together, but it is sex nonetheless.

My relationship with Mr CK began primarily online, as we lived 100 miles from each other. As we tried to work out what we felt for each other and what it meant, we texted day after day and sexted, cyber-sexed and exchanged filthy pictures and videos by night, until we reached the point that we simply had to see each other in person. But by the time we took it “real life,” not only were we already in love but we already had a pretty decent understanding of each others’ likes, dislikes, kinks and curiosities. Such is the power of digital sexuality.

“It’s only online!” I hear this all the time. I hear it from people in ostensibly monogamous relationships who have been caught having illicit cyber-sex behind their partner’s back. I’ve heard it from people who are trying to convince themselves they’re not really into that person they have been swapping naughty messages with every day for weeks. I even said it myself, when I was trying to deny the fact that I was fast falling in both love and lust with the man who blew up my phone with sexy texts multiple times a day.

We live in a digital world. There’s no getting away from it. Whether you’re keeping in touch with your long-distance sweetie via naughty Skype chats, booking private shows with your favourite cam models on Chaturbate, or using sites such as freesextingsites.com to find sexy chat partners, the vast majority of us have engaged with our sexuality online in some form or another. I would venture to suggest that the vast majority of adults around my age have nude pictures – their own or someone else’s – lurking on their phones.

Personally, I think sexting and cyber-sex are brilliant. Many of us have partners who live a good distance away from us – a different city or a different country – which makes regular in-person sex impossible. Online sexting is an amazing way to keep the spark alive in those relationships.

But it has benefits for those of us with more local partners too – even partners we live with. Have you ever received a steamy sext from your partner in the middle of the day, and then just wanted to go home and rip their clothes off their body for the rest of the day? Exactly. And if you’re very busy, or one of you has an illness or injury that is making a physical sexual relationship difficult or impossible, a virtual one can be just as satisfying.

Crucially, I think we need to move away from viewing sexting or cyber-sexing as less “real” sex. There are infinite ways to have sex, and as sex positive people we’re trying desperately to move away from the narrative that sex only “counts” if a penis goes into a vagina. I propose that we also move away from the idea that virtual expressions of sexuality are less valid, less real, or count less than in-person encounters. Let’s stop devaluing sexting and embrace it as one of the infinite possible ways to express delicious, hot, consensual human sexuality.

FYI: this post was sponsored. All views are, and will always be, my own.

Bad at Making Friends?

KATNISS: Yeah, but I’m not very good at making friends.
CINNA: We’ll see.

– The Hunger Games

A group of people putting their hands in a circle. For a post about making friends.

In every single job I’ve ever had, and a number of out-of-work hobby things too (especially when I was younger,) I’ve been very much on the periphery of any social things going on. I’m one of those people who generally gets along with almost everyone, at a surface level, but I’ve never really had a proper Work Friend. Not in the true sense. I don’t really get invited to happy hour or Work Nights Out or whatever it is people who work in offices do when they socialise with each other. (Which, okay, I don’t really care any more – reality is I probably wouldn’t go anyway).

I was thinking about this today, and in particular about the way in which members of my work teams over the years have been (or at least seemed) super close to each other in a way they have never been to me.

My immediate thought was “I’m just bad at making friends”. Then, upon interrogating this a bit more, I realised this cannot logically be true. Because I actually have tonnes of friends. They just exist in a completely different section of my life.

When you compartmentalise your life to the extent that I do, it becomes very, very hard to build meaningful connections in spheres where you cannot be fully yourself. I cannot let my guard down or allow myself to be vulnerable when I know there are so many things about me – things that are real and huge and significant – about which I simply cannot be open. Things like this blog. Like what really went on at that party I went to on Saturday. Things like that I feel a bit off today because the polyam jealousy is biting me hard.

There’s a reason that basically every single person I have a meaningful and intimate friendship with these days is either a sex blogger, kinky, queer, non-monogamous, or some combination thereof. (My definition of “meaningful and intimate friendship” here is someone I’d invite to my wedding without hesitation, someone I’d feel okay calling up in tears if something terrible happened, someone I’d travel significant distance to spend time with). And that reason is simply that I can be fully myself around those people. My queer, kinky, slutty, polyam, sex-writing self.

I’d love to be fully, openly, aggressively out in every facet of my life. But, for a large number of good and valid reasons, that simply isn’t possible. Therefore, compartmentalising is the option that makes the most sense and brings me the most peace and happiness.

But I’m not bad at making friends. I’m just bad at forcing myself into a box in which I do not fit.

Mr CK recently pointed out that if I found myself at a kink event without him by my side, I could bounce up to the nearest group of pervs and make friends, no problem. Same at a polyam social. Thing is, he’s right. But there, I can be the version of me I view as fun and interesting and sparkly. I can connect with people in a way that is meaningful to me – through a shared love of the taboo, the transgressive, the usually hidden. In that space, I don’t have to think “they’d hate me if they knew my secret,” because I know they share the same secret.

The people I spend time with in other compartments of my life are fine, often wonderful people. But they’re not my people. And that’s A-okay with me.

Did you enjoy this post? Maybe consider buying me a coffee to help me stay caffeinated and doing the putting-words-into-sentences thing.

Four Badass Feminist Songs for International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. There have been tonnes of great writings today! Check out this piece from my dear friend Quinn, all about why she’s staying angry. Or this one, from the wonderful Emmeline Peaches about why she will never apologise for being herself. There are badass women doing awesome work all over the place and we should support them.

A cartoonified painting of a woman with music notes coming out of her mouth, for a post on feminist songs for International Women's Day 2019

Me, though? I’m on a tight turnaround and have had a shit week. So in lieu of a deep, thoughtful essay, here are four of my current favourite feminist tunes.

Fight Like a Girl – Emilie Autumn

(TW: this one deals with violence against women and is at least somewhat a revenge-fantasy song from an abuse survivor).

I am through lying still,
Just a body to be beaten, fucked,
And – if I’m lucky – left for dead,
So who’s scary now?

Listen.

Black Tie – Grace Petrie

I love Grace Petrie’s sometimes-irreverant, sometimes-angry, always poignant protest songs. Honestly at least half her most recent album could have gone on this list, but I’ve picked Black Tie because it’s a love letter of sorts to her younger self, reassuring her that she’ll find her place in the world one day and that traditional gender roles are bullshit.

“And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
And you never will surrender
To a narrow view of gender.
And I swear there’ll come a day
When you won’t worry what they say
On the labels, on the doors –
You will figure out what’s yours.”

Listen.

You Kinda Hate Girls – Rachel Lark

You ever dated a “woke” guy, and then scratched the surface to find he was just as misogynistic as your average bro on the street? Yeah, me too. In this song, Rachel Lark delivers a razor-sharp critique of exactly this kind of man.

“You say I’m “not your type,”
Well, I guess you can’t change what you like,
But if what you like is what society likes,
And society is sick… maybe you’re a dick!
I’m not sure what you mean by “chill,”
I party, do drugs, and I’m on the Pill,
But I’ve been noticing that you’re kinda preferential
For the meek and the skinny and the deferential.”

Listen.

Men Explain Things to Me – TacocaT

Much like the book of the same name, this angry little two-minute ditty calls out exactly how fucking annoying it is when men take it upon themselves to explain things to women… that the women already know plenty about.

Though I know all about
The words you’re spitting out
The floor is yours without a doubt
I already know
How this is gonna go
How this is gonna go
Tell me to calm down.

Listen.

What’s on your playlist today, babes?

Remember: Resist. Support your sisters, not just cisters. Smash the patriarchy.

Happy IWD.

Did you enjoy this post? Don’t forget you can buy me a coffee!


Masturbation Monday Guest Blog: Date Night by Mr CK

Today’s Masturbation Monday is a very special guest post written by none other than…

(drumroll please)

…Mr CK! Yes, that’s right, after nearly two years of blogging I have finally persuaded my sweetheart to write some smut for you all. And he’s produced a fantasy kinky scene that I’m sure you’ll all agree is simply delicious. This piece came without a title so I’ve called it “Date Night” because, well, I think this sounds like my perfect date.

A woman's bottom, legs and hands. She is wearing black leather cuffs. For "Masturbation Monday - Date Night" by Mr CK

Date Night by Mr CK

On arrival, he tells you to remove your shoes and coat and then go upstairs and into the bedroom. There’s no hint of malice in the tone of his voice, but it’s also clear that it would be best for you to be an obedient sub and do as he says. That’s confirmed when he says those words as you walk into the bedroom, him two paces behind you. “Good girl.”

The bedroom is warm. Lying on the bed are various items, which he gives you time to look at; to sink into your consciousness. A spreader bar. Various leather cuffs. Some rope and safety shears. Two floggers (one large, one small). A leather paddle. A glass dildo and a large, mains-powered wand — the type that gives very deep and rumbly vibrations. You suspect this isn’t going to be a simple cuddle session!

“Remove all of your clothes except your knickers.” Again, the tone leaves little room for disobedience. Somewhat shyly and a little bit nervously, but also full of that kitty curiosity that you know he loves so much, you strip whilst he watches you; admiring your body.

One hand under your chin, he leans in to kiss you on your lips, the other hand removing your hair-tie and then tracing a single finger from the back of your head, all the way down your spine to your knicker-line. With a smile, he reaches onto the bed and picks up a pair of cuffs.

“Yes — I’m going to restrain you. And then tease you. A lot. I’m not going to touch your cunt at all; at least, not until I think you’ve pleaded enough for me to do so and then I will tease it, spank it and, if you’re very lucky, even give you an orgasm.”

Cuffs go onto your wrists and then onto your ankles. He leads you around the other side of the bed and stands you looking into the full-length mirror, him standing behind you. You watch as he explores your body with his hands, tracing the lines of the inked serpents decorating your curves, a mixture of gentle caresses, light scritches, heavier scratches and a whole bunch of surprise pinches and small slaps that make you catch your breath. He doesn’t touch your cunt. At all.

He turns you around and pushes you onto the bed, face down, cuffs clasped behind your back. The exploration continues. He’s clearly enjoying it — enjoying you — if the noises of delight he’s making at your reactions are anything to go by. More of the mixed-sensation touching, with harder spanks on your bum and thighs, some much harder. You feel his breath on your back, the sensation of his mouth and tongue kissing and licking you. Random bites setting your skin ablaze. And then a pause.

He reaches for something else from the bed. You’re not sure what as he has grasped handfuls of your hair and buried your face in the bed as he did so. Something solid on your back. Cool. The paddle. He uses it on your butt. Once. Gauging your response and asking what kind of pain level that was at. Adjusting, he strikes you again.

“I’m going to give you 8 of these. You’re going to count them, one by one. If you lose count, we start again. Understood?”

You say yes. He hears the trepidation in your voice. “It’s okay — you are a brave girl and you can take this for me. I will look after you.”

The first three strikes were no harder then the test strikes. But only the first three. Gradually, they get harder. He knows your tricks. As you clench your buttocks and try to get away from the paddle, he pulls your head back with the hair he still grasps, forcing your back to arch, making you more vulnerable. The continued strikes are not too hard that you are out of your depth, but hard enough that you are glad there are only 8 of them. You don’t lose count. You feel he must be pleased with you!

“You’re such a good and brave girl!” A calming hand on your back, gentle kisses on your neck. “Turn over — let me kiss your lips.” More kisses and a big hug.

“Now, I’m not finished with you, yet. You’re nowhere near to pleading for me to touch your cunt, so there’s much more teasing to be done!”

To be continued…

Editor’s note 09/03/19: Oops! Mr CK sent me the *earlier* edit of this by mistake. It has now been updated to the final version.

Do we want part two? I think we do!

This piece is shared as part of Masturbation Monday, a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click here to see what everyone else is getting off to this week!

Image from Pixabay.

March’s Best Deals

This is a new thing I’m trying – we’ll see if it takes off. Basically, here you will find all the shiny special offers from my affiliate companies for the month. I’ll aim to get one of these out close to the beginning of the month.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive – just highlighting a few of my favourite current offers.

Peepshow Toys

Buy any Fun Factory toy from Peepshow Toys and get a free Sugar Sak. Valid until 20 March.

Lovehoney

The Big Brand Bonanza includes discounts off tonnes of top brand products, including:

Shevibe

Remember: buying from any of my affiliates helps me to keep doing what I’m doing here!

What sexy things are YOU treating yourselves to this month?

What Happens When You Go for an STI Test

Yesterday I went for my quarterly sexual health check-up. This is an important part of my life as a non-monogamous person and it’s now a really normal, routine, “no-big-deal” thing. But that wasn’t always the case! When I went for my first STI check-up at age 19, I was shaking like the proverbial leaf and had no idea what to expect.

Several medical sample tubes, for a post on STI testing

So let’s answer some common questions, shall we? Please bear in mind that my experiences are entirely based in the UK, so if you live in a different country your experience may vary somewhat.

Where do I even go for a test?

There are sexual health clinics or “GUM” (genito-urinary medicine) clinics at most major hospitals and at some smaller practices too. Just Google “sexual health test + [your town]”.

Some clinics have “walk in” times where you just turn up and wait to be seen. Bear in mind these tend to be VERY busy – I arrived 15 minutes before the clinic time officially started for my test, and still waited about an hour. Get there early, bring a book, and don’t expect to be seen in five minutes. Alternatively, some clinics have bookable appointments, where you ring up and book like any other medical appointment. Again, these services are very busy and in-demand so you might need to wait a couple of weeks to be seen. If you have symptoms, explain this at the clinic or on the phone and you may be seen sooner.

Do I have to pay?

Nope! In the UK, all sexual health services including testing and contraception are free of charge. Praise the NHS.

If I’m under 16, will they tell my parents?

No! As long as you’re over 13, you’re entitled to the same medical confidentiality as anyone. If your provider feels that there is a serious risk to your safety going on, such as sexual abuse, they may need to tell someone in order to keep you safe, but according to NHS guidelines “the risk would need to be serious and this would usually be discussed with you first”.

Also, if you’re under 18, get off my blog. This is not the space for you. Get yourself to Scarleteen.

Do I have to answer questions about my sex life?

Your provider will ask questions about your sexual practices so they can make sure they’re giving you all the tests and advice you need. You don’t HAVE to answer anything you don’t want to, of course, but it’s important to be as honest and thorough as you possibly can to make sure you get the best care. Everything you say is in strict confidence. Questions may include:

  • When was your most recent sexual encounter?
  • What is the sex of that partner? (They may assume opposite binary sex unless you tell them otherwise. It’s bad practice but heteronormativity is strong).
  • Is that partner your regular/only partner?
  • Have you ever injected drugs or knowingly had sex with someone who injects drugs?
  • Do you have reason to believe you might have come into contact with HIV?
  • Have you been raped or sexually assaulted? (If you indicate yes, they’ll ask if you need any support or resources).
  • Have you ever paid for, or been paid for, sex?
  • Have you had sex with someone born outside of the UK?
  • When was your last sexual health screening?
  • Are you pregnant or do you think you might be pregnant?

Once you’ve gone through these preliminary questions, it’s time for your test.

How is a test carried out?

There are slight variations depending on the clinic but here’s how it normally goes:

For folks with a vulva, you’ll swab the inside of your vagina and possibly provide a urine sample.

For folks with a penis, you’ll provide a urine sample and may also swab just inside your urethra.

If you engage in receptive anal sex, you will swab just inside your anus.

If you engage in oral sex, the health care provider will swab the back of your throat.

Unfortunately, anal and oral swabs are not always offered as a matter of course. You may need to prompt your provider for these. I strongly advise you do so, as infections can grow in these areas of the body without being present in the genitals.

The provider will then do a blood test to check for blood-borne STIs such as HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis. (You can get a vaccination against Hepatitis B and if you haven’t had the vaccine, I recommend you ask your provider for it. This is most commonly offered to men who have sex with men, or women who have sex with bisexual men, but I really believe everyone should get it if possible).

You do the vaginal and rectal swabs yourself in private, either behind a curtain in the consulting room or in the bathroom. Your provider will give clear instructions on correct insertion of the swabs. There is not usually a need for a genital examination unless you have any symptoms such as genital warts, a rash or pain.

Does the test hurt?

Not really. Throat, anal and vaginal swabs aren’t exactly comfortable but shouldn’t be painful either, and they only take a couple of seconds. Some men do find the urethral swab slightly painful but, again, you only need to go very slightly inside and it only takes a few seconds.

Some people (hi, I’m one of them) find blood tests make them feel a bit sick and lightheaded. If this is you, tell your provider and they’ll let you lie down and should check on you at every stage. The actual test feels like a brief quick scratch, nothing more.

Will my provider judge me for the things I tell them?

They really shouldn’t. I’ve been getting STI tests regularly for 10 years and only a couple of times encountered a judgemental provider. And yes, I always tell them I’m a polyamorous swinger and exactly how many partners I’ve had since my last test.

Your provider’s job is to help ensure your health and safety, not to judge you. If you feel that they are overly judgemental or they make inappropriate comments about the things you tell them, you should report this to the hospital or practice.

Again: this is really rare. Most sexual health professionals are absolutely lovely. Comments I’ve had on explaining my lifestyle range from “sounds like you have lots of fun!” to “it’s great to see you’re being responsible and taking care of everyone’s sexual health”.

Even the judgy comments were hardly “you’re a filthy slut and you’re going to hell”. They were more along the lines of, “you need to be aware that you’re at high risk for STIs and unwanted pregnancy” (“no I’m not, because I take precautions and know the facts”, I did not say but wanted to).

How and when will I get my results?

Many clinics operate a “no news is good news” policy, meaning that if you don’t hear from them within two weeks you can assume everything is fine. But they should also give you a card or phone number with details on how to check your results if you want to be sure. I always recommend you phone, as it is rare but possible for a clinic to lose your samples. This happened to my partner once, and they didn’t call to let him know he needed to be re-screened until after the two week window had passed.

Other clinics may text or email you (usually something simple like “your tests or all fine”) or, less commonly, ring you to let you know you’re in the clear.

What if I do have something?

If you do have an infection, they will ring you to let you know. Then you’ll make an appointment to go back to the clinic and make a plan for treatment. For most of the common STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, treatment is a simple course of antibiotics.

For more serious STIs it’s more complicated (if you have HIV, for example, you’ll be on medication for the rest of your life – but you can still live a totally normal, long and fulfilling life). STIs are not a death sentence. They are not a source of shame. They’re things that humans sometimes contract in the course of doing normal human activities like having sex – and it’s much better to know so that you can get the most effective treatment quickly.

Bear in mind that HSV (herpes) and HPV (human papillomavirus) are EXTREMELY common – most of us are carrying one, the other or both and may never even know it! – and are not picked up on standard screenings unless you have symptoms such as warts. HPV can also be picked up on cervical screenings, so if you have a vagina make sure you go for your smear tests.

But STI testing is just for sluts!

Nope! Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be getting tests. Stigma like this, that people who go for tests are inherently slutty (and that being slutty is bad) contribute to the misinformation and fear-mongering that are already far too ubiquitous in our culture.

How often should I get a screening? 

That really depends.

My partner and I go every three months because we are non-monogamous and quite promiscuous. Three months is also about the longest incubation period for any of the known STIs, so this schedule means that if we do contract something we are unlikely to have it for long without finding out.

If you’re a swinger, polyamorous or have a lot of casual sex, I really recommend the three-monthly schedule. At an absolute, absolute minimum, please try to go every six months.

Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, it’s wise to test every now and then if there’s ANY possibility that either of you has had sex outside of your relationship at any point. Unfortunately, cheating is rife and many people have caught STIs this way and not known they had them for months or years.

Whatever your relationship style, I recommend a test before every new sexual partner where possible.

Anything else I need to know?

Many clinics offer free condoms and, less commonly, dams (for oral sex on vulvas). Don’t be afraid to ask for supplies or take them if they’re offered to you. Using barriers is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from STIs.

When did you last get tested? If it’s been a while, go and book one in!

Eroticon 2019: Virtual Meet & Greet

I can hardly believe it’s almost Eroticon time again! This will be my third year going to this amazing conference and I’m so excited. Let’s dive in to another Meet & Greet, shall we?

NAME (and Twitter if you have one)

Amy Norton (CoffeeAndKink on Twitter)

Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2019

  1. Bringing Mr CK along for the first time and getting to introduce him to so many of my sex blogging friends.
  2. Presenting my first workshop! (Once I’ve actually got around to writing it).
  3. All the new things I’m sure to learn over the weekend. I never come away from Eroticon without a head full of new information and new ideas.

We are creating a play list of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the play list and tell us why you picked that song.

You’ve Been Written by The Vocal Few. Because it’s a gorgeous love-song and is sort of about writing, too.

I write everything down that I like
and you’ve been written into the songs of my life,
and I like the songs that we write…

The pages filled, recording wars and victories that we’ve been given,
like altars built, preserving all our history, yes we’ve been written
in the melodies you gave to me.”

What is your favorite item or book you’ve purchased so far this year?

Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare. “Extraordinary” doesn’t even cover it. (Yes, I will be writing a proper review soon). But seriously. Read this book.

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

Self-esteem, since lack of it is the thing that most often holds me back.

What is your favourite quote from a movie?

“Can you see what we’ve done here, by coming together all of us? We made history!” – Pride (2014

What is your word suggestion to next years Eroticon anthology?

Memory

Complete the sentence:

I feel… as though 2019 is the year I will crack myself open, break apart into tiny pieces and eventually put myself back together again.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

[Toy Review] Satisfyer Partner Multifun

Ladies, gentlemen, gentlequeers, non-binary babes and all those in between… behold the worst designed sex toy I have ever had the displeasure of reviewing.

I hate being mean about toys. I really do. I always try to find something positive to say. But here, I just… I just can’t.

Basic Details

The Satisfyer Multifun, a pink u-shaped vibrator
Anyone else hate this fucking colour? Yeah, me too.

Partner is a subsection of Satisfyer, a company famed for awesome toys like the Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Generation and the Satisfyer Pro Plus Vibration. That’s why I was so surprised that this offering is such an absolute mess.

The Multifun is a U-shaped toy with two prongs that come almost together at the top. There are two very slight variations – the Multifun 1 is blue and the Multifun 2 is pink, and the ends of the prongs curve in very slightly different ways on each. Again, the difference is tiny.

It contains three motors, one in each of the prongs (which are operated together with a single button) and one in the base (operated separately with a second button). The toy is about 5 inches long in total, 3.5″ being the prongs and 1.5″ the base.

This toy is waterproof and USB rechargeable.

Safe isn’t enough.

The Satisfyer Multifun, a pink u-shaped vibrator
Okay, it’s body-safe, but I don’t want that to be the best thing about a toy!

When I ranted to Mr CK about how terrible this toy is, he pointed out that it’s at least a slight improvement on the terrible jelly cock ring I didn’t really review, in that it is body-safe. And yes, it is. It’s coated entirely in smooth silicone, which is phthalate free, non-porous and non-toxic.

But, as I explained to him, at this point I don’t see “body safe” as enough. I see it as a bare fucking minimum. At this point in my career, “this toy is body safe” is up there with “this food didn’t give me food poisoning.” It’s not a glowing recommendation, it’s a basic expectation.

So yes. This toy is body-safe. Can I say anything else positive about it? I’m honestly really struggling.

In Use

The Satisfyer Multifun, a pink u-shaped vibrator, hanging on a purple suction cup dildo stuck to a wall.
Feat. our shower wall and the Blush Ruse Jammy silicone dildo.

On the back of the box, the good folks at Satisfyer have helpfully included diagrams of different ways to use this toy on both a vulva and a penis. Being the dutiful and diligent toy testers that we are, we tried all of them (except the “hang it off your balls” one, because even Mr CK’s tolerance for doing weird shit to his genitals in the name of journalism has its limits).

They were all… equally terrible? Similarly nonsensical?

Pinching it around my clit was mildly painful for the two seconds it stayed on, and then merely annoying as it kept slipping off. Trying to stick it inside me made absolutely no sense whatsoever as it’s entirely the wrong shape to get anywhere near my G-spot, never mind provide pleasurable sensation. Trying to get it to hang off my nipple like a nipple clamp was merely hilarious (and a complete failure). Hanging it around Mr CK’s cock in various configurations produced no greater reaction than “well… that’s kind of in the way”. Even using it as a straightforward clitoral vibrator didn’t work, because the vibrations were so weak and buzzy that I literally Did Not Feel Anything.

I literally described the vibration quality of this toy to a fellow blogger friend as “akin to a single bee buzzing away on my clit. Not even a hive of bees. Just one.”

Other things I hate

The sound. Good God. This thing doesn’t just buzz, it WHINES.

The buttons. They’re small, fiddly and hard to press.

The ridiculously gendered marketing – “for men, women and couples”. (Ah yes, the three genders?) Seriously though, there are so many better ways to market that your product is suitable for different types of bodies. The diagrams of possible ways to use it with different genital configurations is more than enough. And EVERYTHING can be a toy for couples if you use it with a partner. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, it comes in two colours – baby blue (Multifun 1) and pastel pink (Multifun 2). You know, in case you don’t know which one is for you, they’ve colour coded them for you!

In conclusion…

I hate this toy. I hate it with a burning passion that surprises me. I have never hated a sex toy this much (no, not even the stupid jelly cockring/headlamp, because at least we KNEW that was going to be terrible, and that didn’t have a nearly $50 price tag).

I implore you, do not buy this toy. Your bits deserve better. For a pinpoint clitoral vibrator, get the Blush Nocturnal. For a decent vibrating cock ring, get the Hot Octopuss Atom. For a great toy to wear during penetrative sex, get the WeVibe Sync.

Satisfyer: I still love you. But you dropped the ball on this one. For God’s sake, do better, and test your products on actual humans before you mass produce them.

Thank you to Satisfyer for sending me this product to review. If for some reason you still want to try it, it retails for $49.95. This toy sucked but their other products are great! Affiliate links are used within this post.


Interview: Porn Researcher Rosie Hodsdon

I was thrilled when Rosie Hodsdon reached out to volunteer to be an interview subject. I’ve known her through the UK kink scene for a while and she’s totally lovely as well as ridiculously smart. Here, we chat sex and relationships, academic porn research, and why the Digital Economy Bill sucks. 

A picture of Rosie Hodsdon, a white woman in her 20s with shoulder length brown hair. She is wearing a blue jacket and smiling at the camera. There are flowers in the background.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I am currently working towards my PhD at Northumbria University, looking at the regulation of online pornography in the UK and how this affects the people who produce it. 

What made you want to get into porn research?

My research interests float around sexualities more broadly, and this stems from the failure that was my school’s sex education! I felt incredibly alienated from everything we were taught and had to find the information that I felt I needed out for myself, and was very lucky to be able to do this at a time when the internet made this a little easier! I knew that I never wanted people to feel as alienated as I did growing up, and wanted to be someone who helped others to learn about the range of sexualities out there in a safe and supportive way.

To me, porn forms just one part of that much wider sphere of things, and I have worked, or would love to work, on projects concerning kink, polyamory and sex work as well. [My work is] about dispelling misconceptions surrounding sexuality more broadly and wanting to work towards a society where these things are free from stigma and judgement. 

What’s your background and how did you break into this work?

Almost by accident, really! I did my first degree in Anthropology and Sociology and I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to focus on sexualities research. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I had a guest lecture on my Sociology of Gender and Sexuality module from Professor Clarissa Smith on extreme pornography, which I found fascinating. At the same time, the AVMS regulations had been passed, so pornography was at the forefront of my mind. However, the more I tried to read into academic research on the porn industry, the more I noticed that the voices of those who worked in the industry were rather absent, so when I got an email in my inbox asking for PhD proposals relating to law and sexuality, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

What’s the most challenging thing about your work?

There’s a few things that spring to mind, which all cover somewhat different aspects of what I do!

The first problem is somewhat inherent to academia, which is that I can’t ever really escape my work – I can’t go home at the end of a work day and forget about it, because it’s always going to be in my mind and if it’s in my mind, then I’m thinking on it and working!

The second is how frustrating it can be. There’s something very futile about trying to work for a better understanding of sexuality and sex work in a society where everything seems to be pushing back against it – everything from the Digital Economy Act to FOSTA/SESTA. Even in the few days that I’ve been working on this interview, Tumblr has announced its porn ban and Facebook has tightened their control over what language you can use.

The third is that the work itself can be pretty misunderstood and stigmatised. I’m very wary of saying so, because the stigma attached to this academic work really can’t be compared to the stigma attached to actually making porn, and I wouldn’t want to ignore that. But I have had a lot of judgement myself because of what I do, from strangers on the internet all the way to previous partners. Shout-out to my ex specifically, who told me that no one else would ever love me because of what I do. Look at me now, dickbag!

What about the most rewarding thing?

I get to meet some incredible people who are doing some fantastic work, both as producers and as activists. And sometimes I get to be considered amongst them as well! Feeling like I have the ability to change people’s viewpoints or give them a new perspective on things is both very powerful and very humbling, and I feel a huge responsibility with it, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

Who’s your favourite porn performer and why? What about your favourite production company? 

I have to pick just one? I’m not going to play by these rules! [Spoken like a true polyamorist! – Amy] There are some amazing performers who represent the industry in such a positive way, both in the US and the UK.

Stoya was the first person I encountered who combined porn with activism, and I’ve appreciated her work ever since. I’m also a huge fan of Pandora/Blake, who works tirelessly to support sexual freedom. Jiz Lee has done some amazing work, and their book, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, has been hugely influential to me in its approach to centering performer voices.

As for my favourite company, it has to be Crash Pad Series! It’s radical, queer, kinky, feminist-grounded porn which focuses on a fair production process and has the inimitable Shine Louise Houston at its helm, also fighting for new approaches to sexuality in society more broadly. And it’s hot. 

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the incoming age verification regulations to access online porn in the UK. What’s your take? 

Where do I start!? The whole thing is a tangled mess of clusterfuck. I could spend hours ranting about this, so I’ll do what I can to condense why the entire thing is a terrible idea. It’s time for some bullet points.

  • The rationale behind the law is to “protect children”, and this is based on fundamentally flawed evidence. The study which forms the basis of the legislation, carried out by the NSPCC, has since been discredited by 37 academics for poor methods and conclusions which stretched far beyond the scope of the study. This is no basis for legislation.
  • Furthermore, what are we protecting children from? Of course no one should have to see porn without wanting to, but this does not just apply to children. There is no evidence which proves that children are harmed en masse by watching pornography. In studies which have explored young people’s motivations for viewing such material, the overwhelming theme is that pornography allows them to explore their sexuality and learn about sex in a way that they otherwise do not have access to. Pornography should not be a substitute for sex education, and this can only be solved with a drastic overhaul of the SRE curriculum. Porn should form a part of this, but so should issues of queer identity, pleasure and safe sex practices. All of these are currently very much lacking in the UK (and in most other places!). 
  • The laws are also almost certainly going to have the least impact on young people, given that they are generally far more technologically literate than a lot of adults. Anyone, including young people, can just get around these restrictions through the use of a VPN.  On a practical level, it won’t work.
  • So what will it do? For the consumer, it will place their private personal information in the hands of companies who are not required to enforce stringent protections of this data. As much as I would like to live in a world where people are not shamed for their sexual desires and preferences, this is not currently the case. We can see in countless examples how information about people’s non-normative sexual preferences has had major real-world consequences, such as losing their jobs or custody of their children. A database which stores information about what porn people watch? Hackers are going to have a field day.
  • Finally – given that this is where my research lies! – it’s going to decimate the porn industry. The financial impact is likely to be significant, particularly for smaller companies with more niche audiences, who are likely to struggle to implement AV systems from an economic standpoint. These are often the studios which produce explicitly ethical, feminist, queer, kink pornography so to lose these would make the industry even more homogeneous and less diverse. There’s also the emotional impact of the regulations to consider – people are fearing for their jobs and businesses. The government is telling people that their work is actively harmful for society. Their own sexualities are being delegitimised. And when you consider further that people with a significant background in porn may well find it harder to find “square” work due to the stigma attached to sex work more broadly, people are very worried about their future. 

Ultimately, the AV laws are like trying to fill in the Gran Canyon with a bucket and spade. I’m going to actually be rather lazy here and take a quote from my own response from the BBFC consultation of which I am rather proud:

Age verification seems to be merely an ineffective, unsubstantiated patch-up for a much wider social issue with regards to how we inform young people about sex and our wider sexual culture– including pornography. Young people are desperate for accurate, inclusive, informed sex education, which produces greater positive outcomes for their sexual, emotional and relationship wellbeing. Focusing on age verification serves to mask that problem rather than confront it, and may instead be detrimental to the development of sexual knowledge if not supported by compulsory and comprehensive sex education. This would be a much more effective use of government resources.”

They rest on fundamentally-flawed foundations of research and are likely to cause a significant amount of social harm.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

People think that I sit around just watching porn all day. They’re not wrong, but I then have to write about it afterwards. People seem to find that part much less sexy. 

What do you really wish everyone understood about pornography?

Ooh, this is a really interesting one! There’s a lot I could say here, so I’ll break it down into some more bullet points:

  • That (most) porn costs money to make, and all of it takes work. Pay for your damn porn. Or, at least, access it for free only directly from creators, not through any pirated means.
  • That porn performers (and producers) are human! There’s a narrative in anti-porn discourse which tends to paint performers particularly as being nothing more than vapid, blow-up fuckdolls, which not only removes their agency and autonomy, but also reduces them to their having sex. We live in an age now where it’s easier than ever to move past this image – we have performers doing some amazing activist work or simply engaging with their fans on social media, and the image that persists of people, particularly women, in porn as being either a mindless set of holes or an exploited victim, denies them their personhood,
  • That it’s not a public health danger. There is no research out there which proves that porn is inherently harmful, and while I would never want to belittle any individual issues that pornography has caused (because yes, people can have issues with it and people who do need appropriate support), it does not do this on a large scale.
  • That pornography can be massively positive. Emerging research is starting to show that porn isn’t just used by consumers to get off, though that’s part of it too. It’s a way to explore their sexuality and identity, a way to connect with others (if you’ve never shared the Lemon Stealing Whores introduction with your friends, I recommend it), an education resource, a method of stress relief, and much more. 
  • Finally, that it’s okay not to like pornography! Whether that’s a particular type or the genre as a whole – as much as I’m positive about what pornography is, what it can do and who makes it, I don’t expect everyone to like it. All I want is for it to be respected as a form of labour and as a creative product, and for the freedom of others to be able to access it and make it should they choose to. 

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

On a professional level, there are so many people I want to name here! First of all, I have to note the amazing things that my participants have shared with me over the course of my research, and their openness and trust with me is massively motivating.

Secondly, my PhD supervisory team – Chris Ashford, Tony Ward and Laura Graham – who continue to blow my mind and push me to succeed, even when I want to give up, and whose research has paved the way for someone like me to do something like this.

Thirdly, the tireless activism of Pandora/Blake and Myles Jackman. I’m so in awe of the both of them that even now, having met both multiple times, they still scare me slightly!

Fourth (and finally, for this part of the question), the awesome communities that my research has allowed me to become immersed in – academics, sex work activists, porn producers and creators – who are all doing such amazing things themselves!

On a personal level, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people. My partner, Lewis; my boyfriend, Willtom; and my girlfriend, Tiggy, have all provided me with invaluable support and happiness. They push me to keep going even when I just want to throw my thesis in a fire! (They’re also hella cute). I also have an amazing family, who have dealt with trying to explain my PhD topic to far too many people! I hate feeling like I’m “lucky” to have their support, because it should be a given. But I know that that’s not always the case and that I am grateful that they’ve not disowned me yet. And I can’t not also mention the lovely people of the Durham, Leeds and Reading kink scenes, who are unfailingly wonderful and who have also supported me along the way. 

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

So much of my inspiration to enter sexualities education (in a sense) myself came from Scarleteen, so I’d like to say their entire website! Also, my entire Twitter feed has been improved since introducing Alix Fox into its mix. She combines some spectacular puns with activism and awareness work, and I’m always impressed by her willingness to reach out and continue learning from others. [We love Alex here at C&K! – Amy]

What’s something you used to believe – about sex, relationships or porn – that you don’t believe any more?

I feel like there’s a tendency to put romantic love on a pedestal, and as has probably been demonstrated in this interview, there are so many other forms of relationships that can be just as wonderful, supportive and fulfilling.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee & Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

…I don’t. Unless *insert enema joke here*? 

(Please don’t hate me!)

Thank you so much to Rosie for her time and for the awesome work she’s doing, which will undoubtedly benefit all of us – when porn and sex work are destigmatised, all of us gain greater sexual freedom. You can keep up with Rosie via her Twitter, and as ever if YOU are doing something awesome in the field of sex or relationships and would like to be featured on the blog, hit me up.


[Toy Review] Lovehoney Desire Remote Control Knicker Vibrator

One of the requests I receive most often is for remote, “vibrating panties” style vibrators. I’m not sure what it is about this idea that’s so popular. Perhaps it’s the covert, playing-in-public naughtiness of it? Problem is, most of them are rubbish. I bought my first pair when I was 18, tried them once and never used them again – the design was poor and the vibrations weak.

So I am really pleased to report that, finally, I’ve found an Actually Effective vibrating underwear style toy, in the form of Lovehoney’s Desire Remote Control Knicker Vibrator.

What’s the buzz?

Don’t you just love this colour?

I’m really into the Desire range as a whole. The sleek black-and-purple designs, smooth body-safe silicone and decent motors make them really solid choices for beginners and toy aficionados alike.

This toy is actually three separate pieces: the vibrator itself, the remote control, and the knickers to use it with. The vibrator is 4″ long, saddle-shaped and made of smooth, rigid silicone, with a single button on the top and a nub on the underside which rests against the clitoris when worn.

The remote control is small and egg shaped, and also silicone-coated. Worth noting is that while the main toy is rechargeable, the remote control takes a single CR2032 battery (included). The main vibrator is waterproof, but the remote is only splash proof so take care not to get it wet.

Silky smooth lace and a pretty and practical tie-side design.

Including the knickers with this toy is a really nice touch. They’re made of soft black lace and tie at the sides with dark grey ribbons. Because they’re tie-up, they are super adjustable. I wear a UK size 16 and there was tonnes of room left over once I’d tied them on snugly – I reckon they’d fit up to at least a size 20 or 22, easily. The knickers have a little pouch in the gusset where you slip the vibrator to keep it in place.

All of this comes in a stylish and convenient black case, and the toy has a travel lock so you don’t need to worry about it switching on in transit.

The remote control range on this toy is about 8 metres, assuming a clear line of sight.

Power, settings and functionality

The Desire Knicker Vibrator has a whopping 12 speeds. Of course, being the ridiculous power-queen that I am, I simply put it on the highest setting and left it there. The higher settings have a decent level of power, though they’re not as rumbly as I would ideally like. The top level did bring me to orgasm, but I would have liked a setting or two higher. Of course, more powerful toys = more powerful motors, which = more expensive end product, so it’s a trade-off.

I hate patterns. Did I mention that? I fucking hate patterns. I don’t like them and I don’t use them. However, if you’re a pattern fan, then this toy has plenty of variety to offer you, as shown in the handy patterns diagram provided on the Lovehoney product site and in the instruction booklet.

The best thing about this toy’s design is the shape, which sits comfortably along the curve of the vulva. The bump on the end is ideal for brushing against the clit and providing some gentle friction.

Controls-wise, the toy itself has one button which you can use to cycle through the settings without using the remote control. However, you cannot turn the power level up or down on the toy itself. The remote has three buttons: power up, power down, and the centre button which changes the pattern as well as switching the toy on and off. Worth noting is that you need to switch the toy on using the main button on the body of the vibe before it will work with the remote control. Just hold the button down until it lights up.

So can you actually use it in public?

My verdict here is… maybe.

I don’t entirely agree with the description of this product as “whisper-quiet.” It’s far from the loudest toy I’ve encountered, but it does have a distinct buzz. That said, last year we took our play partner out wearing another Desire product under her clothes (the Butterfly, if you’re curious) which we surreptitiously switched on and off during dinner and no-one was any the wiser. So it’s entirely possible that this toy is also discreet enough once masked by layers of clothing and the ambient noise of public spaces.

What I like about the design of the knickers with the little pouch is that they keep the toy in place pretty well, including while walking around.

So do I recommend it?

That depends on what you’re looking for, really.

If you’re after a vibe to simply masturbate with in the usual way to get you off, this is probably not your best choice. I’d recommend going for the bullet or for the pebble clitoral vibe instead.

However, if you’re after a knicker vibe/”vibrating panties” style experience, or something to hand your lover the control to as you go about your day, this is a great option for you.

A sexy present for Valentine’s Day, perhaps?

The Desire Knicker Vibrator retails at £74.99.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the Desire Knicker Vibrator to review. Links in this post are affiliate links and if you use them, I make a small commission. All photos are by me except the pattern diagram, which is property of Lovehoney.