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[Kink Product Review] Three Mini Reviews: Cuffs, Rope, Paddle

It’s no secret to my readers that I love small, independent, women-owned-and-run businesses, especially when they sell exclusively body-safe adult products. That’s why I am proud to be an affiliate of The Pleasure Garden Shop, a homegrown (pun intended) online feminist sex shop right here in the UK.

I must first apologise for the delay in getting these reviews out – my health (physical and mental) have taken a nosedive since the beginning of the year and Mr CK has been unwell too. As such I am woefully behind on testing and writing about everything! But no matter – we’re here now.

I was really excited when Francesca, owner of The Pleasure Garden (who I interviewed recently!) reached out and suggested a series of mini-reviews of kinky products that might appeal to people looking to explore BDSM for the first time, along with some handy tricks and tips on using them safely. This is the first of such a series – let’s take a look at what was in my very exciting parcel when it arrived…

Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs

People who have seen me getting my sexy on will know that I kink super hard for leather. (Yes, I know, as a vegetarian this makes me a horrible hypocrite – don’t @ me!) Good quality leather also tends to be expensive, which is probably why I don’t own that much of it.

Bound Noir black leather cuffs

So the Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs had me squeeing for joy! Not only are they super stylish, made of soft black leather with gold coloured metal accents, they’re also an absolute steal at £32.99. I’ve seen leather cuff sets go for £100+, but there’s no need to spend that much when these are so good! They come with a removable connecting chain with clips at either end, and each cuff has two D-rings – so lots of ways to fasten your sub to something (or to themselves) should you desire.

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous hands

These cuffs feel super luxurious to wear. The leather is really soft and supple, and just gets softer with use as you break them in. I’ve worn them for well over an hour before, including in a session where my wrists were above my head. They remained comfortable the whole time. The gold accents give an elegant feel. The perfect accessory for any sexy outfit!

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands

They’re super adjustable. They have 5 notches, and there’s no reason you couldn’t get an extra one put in if you wanted to. (Take them to a professional leather worker, you could ruin them if you try it yourself!) The adjustability means they’ll work on most bodies. I have tiny wrists so I use them on the tightest setting. But I’ve also used them on people with much bigger hands/wrists than me with no problems at all.

Leather Wrist Cuffs Tips & Tricks…

Bound Noir black leather wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands
  • Experiment with different positions. Not everything will be comfy for everyone. Clip your partner’s hands together behind their back, hook their arms around the bedpost, tie their hands to something above their head.
  • Pair with a set of ankle cuffs and a 4-way hogtie for more complete immobilisation.
  • Cuffs should be loose enough that you can slip 1-2 fingers between the cuff and the skin, but tight enough so your partner cannot wiggle free. Experiment with different settings and check regularly. If there is any numbness, tingling or pins and needles in the hands, take the cuffs off IMMEDIATELY.
  • Never, EVER leave a bound person alone.
  • Store your cuffs flat, not fastened – the leather will degrade quicker if you store them closed.

Bound to Please Hemp Bondage Rope

Ask any rope bondage aficionado about their favourite type of rope, and you’ll get wildly different – but equally passionate – answers. We all have our favourites. I’ve always been a jute fan; I love the smell of it, the feel of it and the way it handles. But hemp is also a really popular choice. So I was delighted to try out this hemp bondage rope from Bound To Please.

Hemp rope coiled

This rope comes in 10 metre lengths and 5mm width. I believe this is the most ideal rope thickness for most bondage – any thicker and it starts looking bulkier and less elegant, any thinner and it starts to make ties more painful due to the way thinner ropes cut against the skin. (Not necessarily a bad thing if you like pain, but I don’t suggest tying with anything below 5mm until you’re experienced!) Each length costs £12.99.

“How much rope should I buy?” is always a question beginners ask me. It depends on a number of things, including types of ties and the size of the bottom. If you eventually want to move on to complex ties and suspensions, you’ll need more. If all you want to do is tie your partner to the bed for sex, you can get away with a couple of lengths. As a rough guide, for a TK (Takate Kote or Box Tie, the first formal harness tie most riggers learn) you’ll need 3 lengths and possibly 4 lengths for larger bodies. (If your partner is very petite, you might get away with 2.)

(I should just write a Big Guide to Choosing Rope, shouldn’t I? Okay, coming up…)

Anonymous leg tied in a futomomo with hemp rope

The thing I really love about natural fibre ropes, and especially hemp, is the smell. Hemp rope has this slightly undefinable sweet/woody smell and it’s gorgeous. I love tying in a room full of rope enthusiasts because the mix of natural fibres, bodies and sex in the air is just so intoxicating. Natural fibre ropes also get softer and smoother with use, as they are handled and absorb the natural oils from your skin.

Yes, I LOVE this rope!

Rope Tips & Tricks…

Close up of part of a futomomo in hemp rope on anonymous leg
  • Firstly and most importantly, always – ALWAYS – keep a cutting tool to hand. The safest and best tool is a pair of EMT shears, like this, which you can by for a few quid on Amazon or from a medical supplies store.
  • Suspension looks cool and is great fun, but it is NOT the be-all, end-all. It is also very dangerous if not done properly. Gain proficiency in floor-work before you even think about suspending, and then do it under the tuition of an experienced rigger. Bottoms, this applies to you too – don’t ask someone to suspend you when you’ve never even worn a basic chest harness before.
  • Rope is for everyone! No matter the size of your body or your ability level, you can do rope if you want to. Listen to your body and be prepared to adjust.
  • Get some lessons! Rope bondage is inherently risky, and can be dangerous if not done properly. If you’re really lucky, there might be a rope studio near you. Otherwise, see if there’s a Peer Rope event in your area (these are usually listed on Fetlife) or find a trusted private tutor.
  • Check out some instructional Youtube videos. Ask in your local community or on Fetlife for recommendations, as not all teachers are created equal.
  • Get a book, such as Shibari You Can Use or Showing You the Ropes.
  • Learn about the safe areas of the body to tie. This is a great and thorough guide to bondage safety.
  • Rope can be a scene in itself. “Tie them up and fuck them” is great if that’s your thing, but don’t discount the possibility of rope for the sake of rope. Some of my most amazing scenes have been rope and nothing else.
  • To keep your rope in the best condition, coil it and put it away as soon as you can after a session.
  • This is worth reiterating: NEVER leave a bound person alone!

Bound to Please Silicone Paddle

I’d never used a silicone paddle before, so the Bound To Please Silicone Paddle was an exciting new addition to my impact play collection. It measures 41cm long by 6cm wide and is nice and light to handle. Silicone is super easy to clean and sterilise (just chuck it in boiling water or use a body-safe medical wipe), and as it contains no animal derived materials is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

BLack silicone paddle

I tested this one out with The Artist. From what I recall, my reaction to it was a string of profanity, followed by tears (because it hurt so fucking much, y’all). Due to the density of the silicone and the slender design, what feels like a relatively light stroke to the Top can deliver a hell of a sting to the bottom.

This thing is fucking vicious.

SIlicone paddle

I absolutely adore this paddle. But I am an experienced bottom and have been doing impact play for well over a decade at this point. Unless you have a high pain tolerance and a very clear idea of your body’s capabilities and limits, I cannot recommend this paddle to a beginner.

A wide leather paddle or a paddle that is padded on one side are great options for a gentler start for complete beginners! If you’re feeling brave enough to try this fucker, it retails for a very affordable £24.99.

Paddle Tips & Tricks…

Black silicone paddle in anoymous hand
  • Start slowly. People can take more impact if you build up gradually rather than just whack them at full force straight away!
  • Remember that the goal isn’t “take as much as you possibly can”. The goal is for both of you to have fun and get something out of the session.
  • Get clear about what kind of scene you want and what impact play means to you. Playing with punishment is hot to some people, and emotionally painful for others. “Teacher spanking a naughty student” roleplay is a VERY different scene to “I’ve had a terrible week and need you to spank me until I cry“, even though both might superficially look similar.
  • Learn the safe areas of the body to hit. Upper back and butt = good. Thighs, chest and genitals = yes if you’re careful. Face, head, joins, spine, lower back and neck = absolutely not.
  • Making your partner count the strokes and/or ask you for them can be super hot. Try phrases like, “Thank you Sir/Miss, may I have another?”

Other recommendations for your beginner kit…

When you’re just starting out in kink, you don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on kit – especially before you’ve fully worked out what you like! Exactly what you prioritise spending your money on will, of course, depend on your interests. But here’s a few things I think you should consider for your basic all-purpose kink kit…

Thank you to Francesca at The Pleasure Garden for sending me these items to review. Please check out the affiliate links in this post – by buying from The Pleasure Garden, you’ll be supporting a small woman-owned business as well as sending a little commission my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing. All views are, as always, my own.

[Toy Review] Rocks Off Chaiamo

I have a major soft spot for Rocks Off. I encountered them at my first Eroticon, where I met the wonderful Tabitha Rayne and bought her brilliant creation, the Ruby Glow (the first toy I ever reviewed!) One of the main things I love about this company is that they create body-safe toys at really accessible, entry-level prices. Their stuff is even available in my local Sainsburys, which is just brilliant.

So I was thrilled when Tabitha offered me RO’s latest creation to review. Enter the Chaiamo!

Chaiamo Vital Details…

The black Rocks Off Chaimo vibrator.

The Chaiamo is a straight vibrator with a gently tapered tip – the classic “lipstick” shape. (Though without the ridiculous “let’s try to actually disguise it as a lipstick” gimmick, thank Goddess).

It is a little over 6″ long in total, with 5″ being insertable. At the widest point, the width is 1.25″. The Chaiamo is fully waterproof and USB rechargeable. The advertising copy says it gives around 3 hours’ use for a single charge, but mine was definitely more than that – probably closer to 4 hours in total, over several uses.

This toy comes in three colour-ways and, praise be, NONE OF THEM ARE PINK. It comes in classic black, a stylish deep burgundy, and a pretty turquoise. Good on RO for bucking the “make everything pink” trend. Chaiamo currently retails for $44.99 at Peepshow Toys and $39.99 at Shevibe. UK readers can pick one up for £39.99 at Lovehoney.

Materials, safety and cleaning

The Chaiamo’s main body is made of soft silicone, with metallic accent at the base. This means, of course, that it is phthalate-free, non-porous and totally body safe.

The black Rocks Off Chaiamo vibrator in a woman's hand.

As the Chaiamo is waterproof, you can clean it using warm water and a gentle soap, or use a body-safe medical wipe or 10% bleach solution to sterilise it more thoroughly. Remember not to boil-wash toys with motors!

The Chaiamo’s shape is ideal for using with a condom if you’re sharing with a non fluid-bonded partner. As ever, a good quality water-based lube is recommended.

Settings & Controls

The Chaiamo runs on a very simple one-button interface. The button (which sports the cute Rocks Off logo) is large and intuitively located on the base of the toy. It is easy and responsive to press. To turn the toy on or off, you simply hold down the button for 2 seconds.

The black Rocks Off Chaimo vibrator

The problem with one-button interfaces is that you cannot go back a step if you accidentally skip the setting you want – you have to scroll all the way back through. It’s an annoyance and the reason I generally prefer toys with +/- buttons, but it won’t ruin an otherwise good product for me.

The Chaiamo has ten settings in total: three constant speeds and seven patterns. I, along with (it seems) most of the sex blogging world, can honestly take or leave patterns. I occasionally enjoy playing around with them, especially if I’m doing a teasing or edging session, but if I just want to come then constant vibrations are where it’s at. Toy manufacturers, please consider this a plug for toys with more constant speeds and fewer patterns!

So how did it actually fare in use?

I’ve sometimes found Rocks Off toys, fab though they are, to not be quite powerful enough for my preferences. I love my Bamboo, but I tend to reach for it as a warm-up toy or when I am feeling especially sensitive.

So to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Chaiamo’s power was an understatement. At its higher speeds, this baby really packs a punch! I don’t know if RO have changed their motors generally or just used a different one in this slightly higher price-point toy, but good lord. And not only is it strong, but it’s rumbly, too. None of that horrible numbness you get from more buzzy toys. I am able to orgasm quickly and reliably with the Chaiamo, again and again. It’s been added to my easy-access basket of the toys I like best and use most often.

The gentle taper of the Chaiamo’s tip was great for me: I like a certain level of direct clit stimulation but not too pinpoint. (Remember the famed Zumio which I didn’t particularly like?) Be aware that if you like very pinpoint stimulation, this toy probably won’t be a good fit for you. But for my preferences, it was brilliant! Sometimes, it works really well for me by just pressing its length against my vulva and clit.

The Chaiamo is also a versatile toy, in that it can be just as easily used as an insertable as for clitoral play. I don’t like internal vibrations at all, so I didn’t use it in this way, but my friend Isabelle Lauren describes her experience very positively in her review.

Do I recommend it? 

If you’re looking for a powerful and versatile clit/G-spot toy at an affordable price, look no further! A great offering from one of my favourite companies. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

Thank you to Tabitha Rayne and Rocks Off for gifting me the Chaiamo in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are, as always, my own. Shopping via the affiliate links in this post helps me make a small commission and keep doing what I’m doing.

[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

A woman in a purple top looking in a mirror and applying mascara. For a guest blog on body image by Violet Grey.

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

[Toy Review] Satisfyer Power Flower

I came home from my holiday a couple weeks ago to several parcels. One of which was an unexpected treasure-trove from Satisfyer, containing not one, not two, but SEVEN (7) new vibrators. My cup, or something, runneth over. Anyhow. It seems Satisfyer have moved on from just creating suction-based toys, and are now doing a line of more classic vibrators too.

Given the lackluster nature of Satisfyer’s other recent offering (I say lackluster as if I myself didn’t refer to this product as “the worst designed sex toy I have ever had the misfortune to encounter,”) I wasn’t altogether hopeful when it came to testing these out.

That’s why the Power Flower, the first one I pulled out to test on account of its interesting shape, was SUCH a surprise.

This toy is fucking awesome, folks.

Let’s back up a bit and look at some specifics…

The Power Flower is a red silicone vibrator, with a split tip that divides into three “petals”. Like a flower, get it? These petals “flutter” when the vibe is turned on.

The Satisfyer Power Flower viewed from above.

The Power Flower boasts an ergonomic loop-style handle, which fits really well with my small hands. The loop size is 1″ x 1.3″, and I can comfortably fit 2 fingers through it. The toy is 7.5″ in total length (4.75″ insertable, should you choose to do that), and 1.5″ wide at the widest point. It’s fully waterproof and USB rechargeable.

It operates on a simple three-button interface: On/Off, Up, Down. There are six levels of intensity and six different patterns. The buttons are easy to press and the interface is intuitive. The ability to click up or down through settings (rather than having to loop all the way around) is very much appreciated.

The buttons of the Satisfyer Power Flower

Keeping things clean & safe…

This toy is, of course, completely body-safe. The shaft and petals are made entirely of smooth, phthalate-free, non-porous silicone, and part of the handle is made of ABS plastic (also a body-safe material).

The one downside of this shape is the difficulty that cleaning it can present. Bodily fluids and bacteria can easily get trapped between the petals or in the little “dip” between them. So take extra care when cleaning your Flower! This toy is waterproof, so you can either dunk it in a 10% bleach solution or use a sterile medical wipe, followed by warm water and gentle soap, to get it clean.

Due to its shape, you also can’t really effectively use a barrier with this toy. So if you’re sharing it with a non fluid-bonded partner, please make sure it gets a really thorough clean between uses!

The Power Flower in use…

I honestly cannot overstate how much I loved this toy!

I was a bit intimidated to use it with no warm-up (my clit is picky and easily over-stimulated!) So I warmed up with a standard vibrator (a lovely offering from Rocks Off, since I know you were wondering – review coming soon!) and then got down to business with the Power Flower.

Friends, I orgasmed in less than a minute and immediately took to Twitter to be like “FUCKING HELL BUY THIS TOY.”

Okay, let’s back up a bit and talk about how it actually felt. Remember that “Nuzzle Tip” attachment I gushed about months ago? Well, this is sort of like a somewhat gentler version of that. The petals surround your clitoris and, well, flutter against it as they vibrate. As someone who finds direct and very pinpoint clitoral contact uncomfortable (hence why I didn’t like the famed Zumio,) this was an incredible sensation for me. Because it gets the hood, sides and whole area surrounding the clit, it basically encases the whole area in pleasure.

If you’re into very pinpoint stimulation, this toy may not do it for you. But if something a little more indirect is your jam, get your hands (and bits) on one of these!

Great for cocks too!

This toy came out for a second go during a play session with Mr CK. (Having your partner use this toy on your clit during penetrative play – recommend!) He had the bright idea to see how it worked on a cock.

He literally placed the end of the toy over the head of his penis so that the petals were surrounding the head (they’re quite flexible so you can do this!) The reaction when he turned the toy on was… intense and immediate. So, though this toy is designed for vulvas, it’s also a great option if vibrations around the head of your penis are a pleasurable thing for you.

Mr CK did not orgasm from this toy on this occasion but says he feels as though he probably could, with sufficient warm-up.

So do I recommend it?

Oh my god, yes. This toy has gained one of the rare and coveted “basically lives by my bed” spots.

The Power Flower retails for $49.99 and is available from Peepshow Toys or SheVibe. I have not yet found a UK-based company stocking it.

Thanks to Satisfyer for sending me this toy to review. All opinions are, as ever, my own. Please use the affiliate links contained in this post, which sends a small commission my way at no extra cost to you!

What Sexual Happiness Means to Me

This week is Sexual Happiness Week! I think that’s a sentiment we can all get behind, no? (If not, why are you reading this blog?) My pals at Lovehoney asked me in an email “what does sexual happiness mean to you?” and, of course, it got me thinking.

A cock ring, a bottle of lube, a mini wand vibrator, a pot of orgasm balm and a bath bomb, all from Lovehoney. For a post on Sexual Happiness week.
Being a sex blogger is pretty great when you get presents like this!

My initial reaction was to give my working definition of sex positivity: “supporting the right of all consenting adults to have sex, or not, in whatever ways work best for them, free from stigma or shame”.

And while I stand by that, I think sexual happiness is something a little different. So I started making a list of some of the things that make up “sexual happiness” for me. It’s different for everyone, so your mileage may vary. Why not tell me in the comments what YOUR definition of sexual happiness is?

1. Feeling in harmony with my body

My body and I have… an uneasy relationship. We haven’t always been friends and honestly, we sometimes still aren’t. Feeling good about my body is something I am mostly struggling to access right now, but in order to experience sexual happiness I do at least need to feel comfortable – neutral, if you will – about it.

I can’t have good sex if all I can think about is how much I hate my stomach and how my thighs are too big. But I can get to a happy place sexually if I can turn off all that noise and, if I cannot love how my body looks, at least appreciate it for the things it can do and the sensations it can feel.

2. Having partners I can really trust

You cannot have really good sex without trust. This is something I firmly believe. For me, trust is more complex than just “you’ll do what you say you’re going to do”. Trust means that I know you’ll show up for me if I need you, outside of a purely sexual space. It means I can be vulnerable with you and know that you will hold space for that and not use it to harm me. It means I can rely on you to show up and keep your commitments to me, not because I force you to but because you want to.

My bar for ongoing sexual partners is now much higher. We might or might not fall in Capital L Love with one another, but if I don’t trust you, we have nothing – not even a casual something.

3. A frequency that works

I’m a very highly sexual person much of the time (duh, you all think as you read my sex blog). This means that, much of the time, I’d like to be having quite a lot of sex. Much as I joke about liking my sex like I like my coffee (“hot and several times a day,”) my actual ideal frequency for sex tends to fall around the 4 – 5 times a week mark, a little more when I’m not busy. (LOL, as if there’s ever a time I’m not busy.)

But the key to sexual happiness for me is a frequency of sex that works with where my life is at that time, and works for the relationship I have with that partner. Right now I probably have sex with The Artist about once a month, but that’s… most of the times we see each other. Whereas with Mr CK, it probably averages out to once or twice a week – but we live together and see each other every day unless one of us is away, so we have days when we’re together but don’t have sex much more often. The key to happiness is a frequency that works for everyone.

4. Exploration and new experiences

At my heart, I am a curious creature with a lust for new experiences and plenty of adventure. Sexually, this can mean a lot of things. New partners, yes – sexual variety is one of the reasons I practice consensual non-monogamy. But also trying a new kink act, a new toy (my job as a sex writer blesses me with the ability to do this frequently!), a new position, or a new sex party or club all fall under the umbrella of “variety”.

Basically I want to try shit out. Being with a person for a long period of time and keeping a sexual spark alive comes quite easily to me, as long as there are plenty of adventures to be shared.

5. Plenty of attention given to my pleasure

I nearly wrote “orgasms!” for this one, but, well… I have an orgasm denial fetish. So I’ve amended it to needing a partner to give plenty of attention to my pleasure, in whatever way that looks. It might mean making sure I come, of course. But it might also include teasing me in the way I like, or spanking me in just the right way, or honestly just regularly checking in to make sure I’m having fun and getting what I want out of the scene. Nothing will turn me off faster than a partner who treats me like a sex toy. (Unless that’s a specific roleplay we’ve negotiated… in which case I’m getting something out of it too, so the point still stands).

Today’s post is brought to you by Lovehoney’s Sexual Happiness Week. Check out the great deals on offer. If you buy through any of my affiliate links, I make a small commission.

Ask Amy #9 – “How Do I Clean My Sex Toys?”

I’ve been meaning to write about how to clean your sex toys FOREVER. But, like many topics I keep meaning to get to, it kept slipping down my list. However, a lovely reader slid into my DMs this week with a question about this very topic. I’m taking it as a sign.

A silver boiling pot full of water on a stove, for a post on how to clean your sex toys
Yup – “boil your sex toys” really is as simple as it sounds!

She writes…

Hi Amy,

I know that you should sterilise sex toys after use, and you can do this to silicone dildos and butt plugs (for example) by boiling them in hot water. I’ve bought a pan for my dildo sterilising adventures, but do I just… heat them up like I’m boiling potatoes?

How do you boil sex toys to sterilise them, plus do you have any tips for storage to keep your toys clean between uses?

Ms Dildos-For-Dinner

Hi Ms. D-for-D,

I love this question! I think, as a veteran sex geek, I’m making too many assumptions that people will know what I’m talking about when I say “boil your sex toys”. So thank you for reminding me I need to give more specific instructions to ensure my lovely readers are staying safe.

The short answer to your first question is yep. Just put the toys in a big pan of water, bring it to a rolling boil, and keep it bubbling away for 10 – 15 minutes. You can do this with any pure silicone or stainless steel toy, and also with high quality borosilicate (Pyrex) glass toys. Once you’re done, dump the water out, dry your toys thoroughly, and put them away.

Remember: you cannot boil-sterilise any toys with motors. So this method is great for dildos, butt plugs etc., but no good for vibrating toys.

When it comes to toys with motors, check the instructions from the manufacturer. If your toy is waterproof, wipe it down with a body-safe sterile wipe (I buy mine in bulk from a medical supplies store such as Medisave, one pack lasts months) to kill any bacteria, then dunk it in a bowl of warm water and very gentle soap. Wash, rinse it thoroughly, and you’re done. You can also follow this process for waterproof ABS (hard) plastic toys, which also cannot be boiled regardless of whether they have a motor or not.

The other option for waterproof toys with motors is to soak them in a 10% bleach solution (that is, 1 part bleach to 9 parts water) for a few minutes. Be sure to rinse REALLY thoroughly if you do this.

If your toy has a motor and is not waterproof, it’s a little trickier but you can still get it clean. Again, wipe it thoroughly with a medical wipe. Then clean it all over with a damp cloth dunked in clean warm water.

Remember, if your toy has any tricky grooves or ridges or nozzles, bacteria can gather here so take extra care to clean these areas really thoroughly.

As far as storing your toys between uses, there’s a couple of options:

  1. Just throw ’em all in a big bag or box (this is what I do, mostly). That thing about silicone toys melting together in storage? It’s 100% not true. Silicone doesn’t work that way! Check out Dangerous Lilly’s experiment to prove this myth false. If you do this, I recommend giving your toy a quick wipe down before you use it, just to get rid of any dust or lint that may have settled on it.
  2. Get some individual bags for them. Lovehoney do really cute drawstring sex toy bags, or you can probably buy similar from a craft store or online. I have a few of the Lovehoney ones and they keep my toys sparkling clean between uses! (Remember: a lot of higher end toys now come with their own bag or pouch).

For the purposes of safer sex, I always recommend using a barrier if you’re going to share a toy with a non fluid-bonded partner[1] and that toy cannot be boil sterilised or properly washed. My personal policy is barriers on shared vaginal toys unless I am fluid bonded with that partner, and condoms on shared anal toys ALWAYS. It’s a bit less risky for penis toys because the outer skin of the penis isn’t technically a mucus membrane.

Real talk: STI transmission risk through toys is very low, and becomes even more miniscule if you follow the simple tips outlined here. The bigger concern if toys aren’t properly cleaned are thrush, yeast infections and similar complaints rather than STI transmission (though the latter is still possible). I’m a risk-averse person with safer sex so tend towards caution and will recommend the same, but your acceptable risk parameters may vary.

[1] I’m aware that fluid bonding is a controversial term (technically kissing is fluid bonding!). But for the purposes of this post, I’m using it to mean having manual, oral, penetrative or toy sex without a barrier.

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WWAD? (What Would Amy Do?)

I’ll be honest with you, dear readers. I’m having a really hard time with a lot of things right now. This is for a variety of reasons, not least that my body image is at its lowest level ever (even lower than when I wrote this,) my day job is…. challenging, and I’m currently working through intense childhood trauma as well as the abuse from my ex with my therapist. Basically, I don’t like the person I am at the moment. I’m a sluggish, grumpy, emotionally unavailable shell of myself.

A woman's face with her hand partially covering her mouth. The picture looks cracked. For a post called What Would Amy Do?

And one of the things I’m finding particularly hard right now is polyamory. Jealousy is biting me hard. Compersion has fucked off somewhere and ghosted me. And I’m forgetting everything I supposedly know about how to handle this shit.

I don’t want to be like this.

In my “real” life (air quotes because this world feels more real to me than my day-to-day life), I have a different persona. Another person I have to be. Let’s call her… Sarah. Sarah is significantly less cool than Amy. She works in an office instead of writing about her vagina on the internet, she wears comfy sweaters and jeans instead of corsets and lingerie, and she plays the role of a straight, monogamous “good girl” in a play called “Small Conservative Town And Judgemental Job”. She’s the person I was for most of the twenty six years of life before I started this blog, found “Amy,” and learned how to be the person I always wanted to be.

Sarah is also many of the traumatised, fucked up, broken pieces of me.

Something that frustrates me is how often I forget how to do the things that I advise other people on all the time. I know how to handle a jealousy flare-up. I know how to own my own shit. And I know how to talk to my partner about a problem without it escalating into a fight. People come to me for advice on this stuff. I run classes on it. And write a fucking column on it! I. Know. This. Shit.

Or at least Amy does.

But Sarah finds it so very hard to tap into this knowledge when I am neck deep in brutal insecurities, non-existent self-esteem and the sense that all I want is for these feelings to STOP.

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a situation and so deep in panic that I don’t know what to do, I try to ask myself a question: What Would Amy Do? That is, I try to step outside of the immediacy and the pain of the situation, and think: if a reader came to me with this question, what would I tell her to do? What would my advice be? Usually, when I look at it like that, the way forward is much clearer (if still equally difficult to enact in practice.)

So what would Amy do? She’d probably start by apologising to her partner for being an insufferable shit and get her ass back to therapy.

Hey, maybe buy me a coffee to help me keep paying for books and vibrators therapy.

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.

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