[Guest Blog] The Thirst of “Femmes d’un Certain Age” by Evelyn Archer

When I started out on this quest to publish a select few guest bloggers on my site (and pay them for it, of course!) part of my mission was to share the stories I cannot tell. The experiences I have not had. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited by this piece by Evelyn Archer. Here, we’re talking Sex After 40! I’m in my late 20s. The myths about sex stopping is one of the things I’m very afraid of about growing older. But here, Evelyn tells us that not only can sex after 40 be amazing – it might just be the best ever. She’s also sharing some wisdom she’s learned along the way. Over to her…

Amy x

A 40th birthday cake, for a guest post on sex after 40 by Evelyn ArcherThe Thirst of “Femmes d’un Certain Age” by Evelyn Archer

Some doctors call it “The Surge”. I call it “The Going Out of Business Sale”.

Here’s the truth: in my late 30s through mid-40s, I’d done without sex for a long time. In a long, otherwise happy marriage – between medication side effects, interpersonal issues and plain old fear – we’d been Not Having Sex for longer than I like to admit. I told myself that everyone gets to define these things for themselves (still true), but there was also another message that I was getting and internalizing without really realizing it. A woman over 40 with a sex drive is a joke. A grotesque joke. Either played for laughs or an object of scorn and pity – we’re Stifler’s Mom from American Pie, Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company (Google it, my sweet babies).

I had no model for what my sex life after 40 was “supposed” to look like. It was “supposed” to Go Away. In fact, cursory Googling revealed a stark, depressing story of “sexless marriages”, of couples living with resentment and disappointment, or at best as friendly roommates, co-owners in the Business of Our Life. A sexual life was something I used to have, someone I used to be, and it looked like I would have to find a way to live without it.

But through hard work in therapy and a bunch of other stuff we came together again.

And now we can’t stop boning each other. But as an essentially cishet (I mean, het-ish, but that’s another post) monogamous couple, in order to truly get back on track, we had to take our cues from outside the cishet community (which is unsurprisingly UNHELPFUL in terms of sex positive information). Instead we turned to queer folks and trans folks and polyamorous folks.

If my partner and I were struggling, for whatever reason, with penetrative P-in-V sex, why was this the “end of sex” for us? Would we say that what our queer friends, our trans pals did in bed wasn’t “really sex”? Of course not! That doesn’t even make sense! So why did it have to be that way for us? Once we stopped putting P-in-V sex at the center of our sex lives, once we stopped seeing “everything else” (oral and manual and toys and everything) as a “lead up to the main event” our entire sex lives transformed. All of a sudden, “fucking” was whatever we decided it was.

So we started fucking all the time.

We can’t seem to stop. He comes home early from work just for banging. We send dirty gifs to each other. We keep a Sex Toy Wish List on Lovehoney. And we haven’t seen our friends on a Saturday night in months because we’re so tired from banging all afternoon, all we can do is eat spaghetti and watch cartoons.
And it was from polyamorous folks writing about relationships and intimacy that we learned that we have to TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. We have to find ways to talk about stuff we don’t want to talk about. How to sit in uncomfortable feelings like disappointment and jealousy, and still hold space for each other.

It never occurred to us to actually have a conversation about what we WANTED to do
specifically, only what we DIDN’T want to do. From the BDSM community that we learned that we can just talk out whatever is “on the table” for fucky stuff and instead of all that talking “ruining the moment” (or whatever) it leads to a more fun and satisfying play-time.

The power of just listening

But let me be clear: all these terrific queer, trans, poly sex positive folks (bloggers, Twitterers, Instagram folks) are not giving this information to US. Their work is not necessarily FOR us, it’s for themselves and for each other. But by shutting up, and by watching and listening closely, I learned a new way to look at and talk about sex. As these folks process and manage their own sex positive liberation, it shows me a different way of inhabiting my own sexuality, shows me ways to question and ways to talk. It’s not one person in particular, but this chorus of voices, and quietly immersing myself in what they have to say has utterly changed my marriage, my relationship to sex, and the way I see myself.

But still, my high levels of desire seemed to be out of sync with public opinion and popular culture. There’s still the Google-able stuff about The End of Sex, but dig a little deeper and there’s something called “The Surge”. The way I understand it (and I am a writer not a doctor, so do your own research!) is that here at the End of my Childbearing Years my body knows that each egg it releases could be its last. So it releases a surge of hormones telling me “YOU BETTER BANG EVERYTHING BECAUSE THIS COULD BE YOUR LAST CHANCE”. But there’s SO little information on this (and most of it anecdotal) it reminds me of how monstrous our culture sees Femmes d’un Certain Age whose sex drives are still strong. We’re still a joke, still grotesque. Still Mrs. Roper, still Stifler’s mom.

Dawn Sera and Tristan Taoromino have talked about it on their podcasts a couple of times, but there’s little in popular culture for me to look to. Even looking for women over forty in romance novels came up thin, even thinner if you want something a little hotter than “sweet” and “tender”.

So…where ARE we?

WHY is no one talking about this? Why is the only talk of women and
middle age and desire about our thinning hair, our drying and atrophying vaginas, our hormone therapy, our inevitable march to a dry and sexless grave?

Well, I’m not having it. I’ve decided to embrace my monstrousness (if indeed that’s what it is). And I’m leaving you with some resources that really helped me. (These may Old News to you Sex Positive Veterans, but they were news to me).

Resources

  • Tristan Taoromino’s podcast “Sex Out Loud” (available wherever fine podcasts are uploaded). She has more talk of kink and gender and queer politics so this was right up my alley.
  • Dawn Serra’s “Sex Gets Real” (available wherever fine podcasts are uploaded). She has a softer, more relationshippy slant. There’s also lots of good stuff about the intersection of fat positivity and sex positivity. (Be prepared to hear the word “yummy” a lot.
  • Oh Joy, Sex Toy is a web comic by husband and wife team Erika Moen and Matt Nolan. I went there just for sex toy reviews and what I got was SO much more. The illustrations are really sweet, with lots and lots of body diversity (which I don’t see everywhere).
  • Come As You Are: the Surprising New Science that will Transform your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski. The research here on how desire can work for some folks was a revelation to me. (Also Erika Moen does the illustrations!) Not so science-y that it’s dry, yet doesn’t read like a self-help manual. She is a scientist and a sex educator and this book is great.

Author photo of Evelyn ArcherEvelyn Archer is an author living in New England. You can find her books here and you can sign up for her super fun newsletter, “The Strange Files” here. She also writes erotic shorts as “Madeline Moon”. You can find them here, or here.

 

Affiliate links are contained within this post. All views are the author’s own.

Great Reasons to Try Chastity Play

What do we mean by chastity play? Broadly speaking, it’s a form of kink play where the submissive abstains from orgasm – and sometimes from any form of sexual contact – for a period of time as determined by their Dominant. If you’re not currently in a relationship, you can also play with it by yourself, of course. This might or might not include the use of a physical chastity device such as a cock cage or chastity belt. It’s also sometimes referred to as orgasm denial, orgasm control, no-touch, and other variations.

A chastity device for a penis. For a post on chastity play.

So what are some great reasons to give it a go?

It’s a great way to enhance your submission/Dominance

Giving someone control over your sexual release is, in some ways, the ultimate surrender. Whether this involves handing over the keys to your chastity device to a “keyholder”[1] or simply pledging not to touch yourself until given permission, needing someone’s say-so to experience pleasure and orgasm is likely to make you feel submissive to that person really quickly! And for the Dominants amongst you, having someone’s release at your mercy is awesome. Hearing them beg for it is a hell of a power rush.

The eventual pleasure is so much better

When I’ve been denied for a period of time, the eventual orgasm is just so much stronger and more satisfying. A bit like that first bite of your favourite meal when you’re starving hungry, an orgasm after a period of chastity is like no other orgasm you’ll ever experience.

It keeps your mind on your service even as you do other things

Going about your day to day life and feeling your chastity device under your clothes or just remembering you’re not allowed to touch is a great way to feel connected to your Dominant and to your feelings of submission, even when you’re not actually playing.

It’s really fun for long-distance relationships

If you’re long distance, you might wish to implement a rule such as that the submissive is always in chastity when not with the Dominant. A less extreme but still fun version is only allowing your submissive to masturbate and orgasm when on the phone with you. Or you could play edging games on the phone, only to lock your poor submissive up again without release at the end. The possibilities are endless, and playing with chastity is a great way to feel close when you’re apart.

Pleasure can act as a motivator

Are you trying to train your submissive and instill desirable behaviours (or break problematic ones)? Chastity can be a great motivator! Perhaps they only get to touch themselves if they drank their 8 glasses of water today. Maybe you’ll only let them orgasm after they’ve got all their writing done. Or perhaps they get an extra day in the belt for every day they forget to eat breakfast. I’m a big proponent of using kink as a tool for self-improvement. Release-as-reward is one fun way to play with this.

Do you play with chastity? What do you love about it? Tweet me or comment below!

[1] A word of safety caution: ALWAYS keep a spare key where the wearer can access it if they need to. You never know when a medical emergency or similar may crop up.

Heads up: this post was sponsored by Toys 4 Naughty Boys, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of sex toys for people with penises. All views, as ever, my own. Featured image is property of Toys 4 Naughty Boys and the featured product is the Confined Stainless Steel Chastity Device

[Kink Product Review] The Obsidian Neon Wand Intensity Kit

Electro play has been an interest of mine ever since I first encountered a restored violet wand at a fetish fair. (Have you seen them? They’re *gorgeous*. They’re also expensive as hell.) Mr CK and I have a friend who has an amazing electro set-up in his home dungeon (yes, we have the kind of friends who have home dungeons) which we love playing with when we get the opportunity to visit.

But until now, exploring electro-play at home has been difficult for us. In large part, this is because it’s such a pricey kink to get into if you want decent kit. A cheap knock-off neon wand set from Amazon was fine for a while, but we found ourselves craving something more. Enter the Obsidian Neon Wand Intensity Kit, which was very kindly sent by Stockroom for us to review.

A word of warning: do not, for the love of all that is holy and good in the world, buy a knock-off neon wand from Amazon or Aliexpress or the like. We were lucky that ours (which I bought when I was young and uneducated!) has stayed in one piece and been reasonably safe, but there are all kinds of horror stories such as this one from Ella Scandal: “...when I plugged it in and switched it on, the socket smoked, banged and flashed, then the upstairs electrics tripped out.” Please, please, please buy your electro-sex gear from a reputable sex toy/BDSM gear supplier.

Let’s go back a step: what is a neon wand?

The neon wand, a modern and cheaper alternative to the violet wand (a turn-of-the-century quack “medical” device) is a popular BDSM toy that discharges electricity across the surface of the skin, creating a sensation that can range from a gentle, warming tickle to a sharp, scratchy pain. I’m informed that the sensation is somewhat similar to getting tattooed, but having inkless skin (for now) I couldn’t testify as to the accuracy of this claim.

I don’t know enough about electrics to go into the detailed science of how it works (sorry!) but a neon wand is what’s known as a “solid state device” (no moving parts). This makes it durable and easy to move around without interruption to the flow of electricity. It also means that modern solid-state devices are likely to be more durable and last longer.

Essentially, a neon wand consists of the main wand handle, and various attachments called electrodes which are made of glass or conductive silicone. You plug your electrode into the wand, and then touch it to the body to transmit electricity across the skin. When switched on, the inside of the clear glass electrodes glows red or purple. How cool is that!? This video is a good visual if you want to see it in action (and hear the sound it makes!)

Why would anyone want to do that!?

There are lots of reasons people might enjoy electro play (sometimes called e-stim, electro-stim or electro-sex). For some, the sensation is relaxing or even meditative. Others are masochists and get off on the more painful end of the spectrum. For some people, these devices play into a medical kink. And for others again, i’s about conquering a fear or seeing how much they can take. The motivations are many and varied – as with most kinks. The only way to know why it makes a particular person tick is to ask them.

Let’s take a closer look at the Obsidian kit…

The Obsidian Neon Wand Intensity Kit is a bundle put together by the good folks at Stockroom (purveyors of kinky goodness extraordinaire) and it’s an electro play lover’s dream! It consists of the neon wand and two attachments – the Electro-Whip and the Flex Capacitor, both made from conductive silicone.

All of this comes attractively packaged in a handy leather zip-up case, branded with the Stockroom logo (yes, it’s real leather, I checked).

Be aware that this kit does NOT come with any glass attachments, so if you want those you’ll need to buy them separately – but they are all available from Stockroom at very reasonable prices. I particularly recommend the comb, the probe, or – for the romantics amongst you – the heart.The neon wand has an 8 foot power cable. A word of warning for my non-US readers: it is a US plug, so you’ll need an appropriate step-down converter to use it safely in your country. Thankfully, I already have one for purposes of using my Magic Wand! The user interface couldn’t be simpler: there’s a single dial control to control the power and intensity.

How did we get on?

When we get a new kink item to try that we’re not experienced with, we try it in a non-scene headspace. (We call it “lab time” because we’re dorks). So that’s what we did with the Neon Wand Obsidian Kit. Problem is, it’s very hard for me to stay in an analytical mode when I’m giggling and thrashing and squirming, which is what this toy had me doing within seconds.

I experience electro-play on a spectrum that ranges from tickle to sting. At the lower ends, it reminds me somewhat of the sensation of having a Wartenberg wheel drawn across my skin. On the higher settings, it’s a sharp and stingy pain. If you’re a thud lover and totally hate stingy sensations, neon wand play is unlikely to be for you.

I love the sensation of electricity, so I totally adored this product. I think we’ll be playing with it a lot more, and we’ll be investing in some extra electrodes to have even more fun with it.

Mr CK’s feedback on this product can best be described as “sadistic giggling”

Let’s meet our electrodes…

The Electro-Whip is actually a small flogger, with ten falls made of conductive silicone. You are not supposed to hit hard with it! Despite the name and design, this “whip” is more designed for dragging across the body, leaving a trail of sparks wherever it goes. You can strike with it gently, but again, think “stroke” rather than “whack”. If you want to hit someone hard, get out an ordinary flogger.

It’s a stingy fucker! The high number of contact points on the body all at once and their small surface area means this one delivers a lot of bite.

The Flex Capacitor is described by Stockroom as the most intense of all neon wand electrodes, and it’s an apt description! The two-pronged tip sends a powerful shock to wherever it touches. The Flex is best for short, sharp bursts of pain. I couldn’t stand this one on any but the lowest settings – it’s THAT intense.

Some quick safety notes

Electro play, done with the proper kit and a bit of common sense, is actually fairly low risk! But of course, like any BDSM activities, there are some risks and knowledge is your first and greatest line of defense. This is not an exhaustive list (I Am Not A Doctor!) and you must always do your research, but as a starting point here are some of the major safety points you need to be aware of:

  • Again, for the love of god, buy a genuine device from a reputable supplier!
  • Check your cords before play. If any of them are frayed or look damaged, do not use the device.
  • Store your device in a dry place and never, ever get it wet or use it in a damp environment such as a bathroom. Make sure your skin is completely dry before you begin playing. Come on guys, we all know water and electricity aren’t friends, don’t we!?
  • Check the voltage/ampage and make sure you are using an appropriate converter for your country’s outlets, if relevant.
  • Do not leave your device plugged in when you’re not using it.
  • Read the instruction manual and follow it.
  • Do not do electro play if you have a pacemaker. Always check before playing with a new partner. Do not assume your partner knows that pacemakers and electro play are a bad combination.
  • Do not do electro play if you have any kind of inbuilt/non-removable medical device in your body (such as, for example, an insulin pump). The electricity can damage your device, putting you at risk.
  • Do not do electro play if you have a heart defect.
  • Don’t do electro play if you experience seizures.
  • Do not do electro play if you are pregnant.
  • Do not hold the device on one spot on the body for more than a second or two. Keep it moving. This will greatly reduce the risk of burns or skin damage.
  • If you experience bad pain or any sensation that worries you, stop immediately.
  • Do not use the device on the face or head, especially near the eyes or mouth.
  • Start out at a low setting, build up slowly, and listen to your body.

Where on the body can you use it?

Most places are fine – I recommend starting out with fleshy areas such as the butt or upper thighs. Upper back, inner thighs, tops of arms and stomach are a little more intense for most people, but fun if you’re up for it. If you’re feeling brave, try the nipples, labia, shaft of the penis, or soles of the feet (go very, very carefully in these areas and start on a low setting.) Again, never use your electro play device near the head or face. You should also never insert it into the vagina, anus or mouth.

So do we recommend it?

Definitely! Though with the caveat that I think this is a kit for more advanced players, or those who know they like a little more intensity to their play. If you’re completely new and nervous about electro play, I’d suggest starting with the standard neon wand kit. The glass electrodes don’t pack quite such a punch as the Whip and Flex Capacitor.

But for electro afficionados looking for something a bit more, this kit is a great investment and will be a fabulous addition to your kitbag.

The Obsidian Neon Wand Intensity Kit retails for $188 (about £145).

Thank you to Stockroom for sending us this product to review. If you buy through one of my affiliate links, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are, as ever, my own. All pictures are by me – do not steal them, thanks!

Positive Masculinity in Erotica (for International Men’s Day)

As a feminist, I’m in favour of many of the aims of International Men’s Day. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. There are tonnes of really important issues affecting men today – from lack of mental health support which leads to a much higher suicide rate for men, to male victims of rape or domestic violence going unacknowledged.

A man's body in a blue blazer and black tie. For an International Men's Day post on positive masculinity in erotica.

What I don’t believe, however, is that feminism – or women – are responsible for these issues. They’re a symptom of patriarchy, the fucked up system under which we all live, and which also harms men – in different ways to the ways it harms women, sure, but harm nontheless.

But plenty of better writers than me have already said all of these things much more eloquently than I have. And this is a sex blog, after all! So in celebration of International Men’s Day, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite examples of positive masculinity, as portrayed in erotica. Because Fifty Shades of Grey is all well and good[1], but Christian Grey is fundamentally a misogynist and a rapist – literally the embodiment of toxic masculinity in sexy-pants, richer-than-God, sold-100-million-copies packaging.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Bruce Shepherd – The ‘Swingularity’ series by Cooper S Beckett

Anyone who has read these books will be unsurprised to know I have a huge character-crush on Bruce. What I love about him is that he’s confident as hell (to the point of juuuust occasionally coming across a tad arrogant) but is actually a complete softie and quite vulnerable underneath it all. The sex is hot as hell (of course) but it’s the emotional depth of this novel that really gets me. Bruce’s struggle to let go of the past, his enduring love for Paige, and his desire to save everyone – even to his own detriment – combined with the older-man sexiness make him a romantic character I can’t resist.

“Are you still upset with me?” he asks after a long silence.
She turns, surprise on her face. “No, I’m…”
He waits.
“She’s inside me too, you know.”

[Disclaimer: the above is an affiliate link and if you decide to get this book, I would super appreciate you supporting me by buying from Shevibe!]

Neil Elwood – The Boss, Abigail Barnette

If you like billionaire-older-man romance, Neil Elwood is a much more positive antidote to Christian Grey. The romantic relationship between Neil and Sophie is built upon trust, mutual respect and actually getting to know one another, not upon fear and bullying-masquerading-as-dominance.  He’s not threatened by Sophie’s success in her career and explicitly doesn’t use his position to sexually manipulate her. And he’s willing to admit when he’s wrong. Oh, and crucially, there’s tonnes of explicit and enthusiastic consent.

He kissed me hard, his hand tangled in my long hair, and when we were both breathless he lifted his head to answer my question.
“Not now. I thought I’d lay you down on this sofa and bury my face in your cunt first. Unless you object…”

Johnathan – The Adventures of Sir & Babygirl, Kayla Lords

This is a really lovely, sweet-yet-sexy romance about a woman recovering from a broken heart and a Daddy Dom she meets through her blog. What I love about it is how respectfully Johnathan approaches Katie, and how he slowly gains her trust as their relationship develops. There’s a constant underlying thread of consent – even as simple as “don’t feel pressured to answer all the questions I ask you”. The biggest character trait I get from Johnathan is kindness, which is underrated but extremely powerful when combined with just the right amount of sexual dominance – and I am very very here for it.

“Look at me, girl!” Johnathan’s voice took on a feral tone. “I want you as a woman and as a submissive. I will not deny my nature any longer. I also won’t force you to accept something you don’t want. But I think you want this as much as I do. If you do, tell me. We’ll go slow, but just fucking tell me.”

See? Everyone who told you that women only like slathering rapey beasts was full of shit. Give me kind, respectful dominants who value consent and mutual pleasure any day. Who are your favourite male characters in erotica, and why?

[1] *Narrator voice* “Fifty Shades was not, in fact, all well and good at all.”

Yes, I Have a Problem with Fifty Shades… But It’s Not What You Think

It’s actually more accurate to say I have several problems with Fifty Shades of Grey, the infamous erotic trilogy (plus rewrites-with-the-pronouns-flipped) about the kinky-ish love between naive college student Anastasia Steele and young handsome billionaire  Christian Grey.

A block of grey paint samples in reference to Fifty Shades of GreyYes, I’ve read the first book, and enough of the second and third to get the gist. I’ve also read Cliff Pervocracy and Jenny Trout’s recaps (which are hilarious, by the way). Make no mistake: these books are horribly written and I did not find them erotic in the slightest. The sex depicted in them is either boringly vanilla, dubiously consensual (or straight up rapey), or both. The main characters are both awful people and the dialogue is about as sexy as a root canal. As a kinkster, I hate that people think this is what we’re about. As a writer, I think it’s a travesty that Ms James has made more money than anyone ever needs in a lifetime, while genuinely talented artists are underpaid and undervalued every day.

So yes. I have issues with this book. But they’re not that it’s an unrealistic kinky romance between a virginal college student and a vampire billionaire.

“But it’s fantasy!” fans cry.

And yes. It is. Look, I’ll be the last person to tell you that you can’t have your fantasies, even your problematic ones. Fantasy is not reality and fantasy exists to enable us to escape from the real world for a while. And nowhere is that more true than in sexual fantasy.

A huge part of the reason that erotica and porn should only be accessed by adults is that adults, typically, understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Jaime Mortimer wrote a really good post on this recently.

I’m not going to infantilise everyone who reads Fifty Shades or any other problematic book and tell you that it’s going to turn you into a rapist or make you leave your husband for an emotionally stunted billionare (or a vampire in a Volvo). I read plenty of erotic fiction and plenty of it has themes that would be super problematic if they were real – doctor/patient scenarios, professor/student scenarios, consensual-non-consent roleplay, voyeurism and exhibitionism, public sex and more are just some of the themes I’ve enjoyed in my sexy fiction.

Guess what? Fantasy. And again: adults, overall, have the capability to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

So enjoy Fifty Shades, if it’s your thing, as a fantasy about a naive young woman being seduced by an dude with more money than God and pants that hang from his hips (yes, this is an actual line in the book). Enjoy the light BDSM, the sexy  helicopter rides, the grumpy, brooding, damaged male lead if you want to. I’ll be the last person to judge you for enjoying some silly escapism or some improbable erotica if that’s what gets you off.

My problem with Fifty Shades is actually in the social and cultural narrative surrounding Fifty Shades.

Because this is not a great love story. This is not something to which young women should aspire! And the problem is that it’s being sold that way.

There is tonnes of erotica (and straight romantic fiction) out there that relies on problematic tropes and scenarios that are hot in fiction but would be a terrible idea in reality. That’s fine. Again: fantasy is cool, y’all!

But none of that has the marketing power behind it that Fifty Shades does. Ms James and her publishing team have made their collective fortunes not on selling Fifty Shades as fluffy erotic fantasy, but on selling Fifty Shades as a style of relationship to which we should all aspire.

And that is what is dangerous about this book. Not the fantasy it depicts, but the marketing power that sells that fantasy as genuinely aspirational. Because make no mistake, the relationship between Christian and Ana is very often abusive.

How many young women do you think have watched this movie, and decided that if this is romance, my boyfriend obviously only super jealous and controlling because he loves me? Or, Ana loves Christian out of abusing her, so if only I behaved better my husband would stop hitting me? Maybe not in quite so literal terms, but make no mistake – these messages are out there, and victims of abuse are listening and absorbing.

You might think this is hyperbole, but it’s not. This is the kind of power that massive marketing budgets, ingrained cultural narratives about love, and a total lack of sensible sex-and-relationships education has.

I don’t blame Fifty Shades for my own experience in an abusive D/s relationship, of course. But I do partly blame growing up surrounded by the idea that if a man hurt me, my job was to heal him so he could love me properly in the end.

Fifty Shades is far from the only story to suffer from this phenomenon

We have always built collective cultural narratives around these deeply problematic stories. I am reasonably confident in saying I doubt that Shakespeare intended Romeo & Juliet to be considered the greatest love story of all time. If you read it as a love story and analyse it for more than three seconds, it’s a ridiculous play. If you reread it as a satire about “love at first sight” and teenage stupidity, though, it becomes utterly brilliant. (While we’re at it, Wuthering Heights isn’t a great love story either. And Christian Grey bears a passing resemblence to Heathcliff in a variety of ways.)

Despite being for children, even Disney movies sell us some pretty horrible messages about relationships. Think about it: marriage is the ultimate goal for any girl. Once a man chooses you, you’ll live happily ever after.  Cinderella tells us to be good and subservient and pretty until a man rescues us; The Little Mermaid tells us that what we have to say is the least valuable thing about us; Sleeping Beauty suggests that kissing a sleeping stranger is totes a sensible and romantic thing to do… and so it goes on. We’re drip-fed these messages from earliest childhood, so is it really any wonder that so many of us grow up with totally screwed up ideas about what relationships are actually supposed to look like?

Don’t ban – educate

In closing: I don’t support the banning of Fifty Shades or other problematic stories. Fantasy is important and something we should all be able to have access to. Instead, we need a greater cultural understanding and greater education around separating fantasy from reality, and understanding what healthy relationships actually are.

I’d be much happier with the thousands and thousands of twenty-something women enjoying Fifty Shades as sexy, escapist fantasy if they weren’t already surrounded by a culture that teaches them if he hits you, it’s your job to be better so he can heal from his fucked up past.

Plus-Size Lingerie and Body Love [A Review, of Sorts]

This post contains frank descriptions of body image issues and weight loss (no numbers) and discusses external and internalised fatphobia. Please look after yourselves and skip this one if this is likely to be difficult for you. This one is quite vulnerable for me – please be kind. Thank you.

A pretty curvy woman in the Rendezvous plus-size lingerie set from LovehoneyI am currently fatter than I have ever been in my life. And I am not, truth be told, okay with this.

To be honest, I feel bad even writing that. I don’t know if I am allowed to complain that I experience fatphobia at this size – where I never have before. Plenty of people who are bigger than me experience far worse. But there we are. These things exist on a spectrum. And many people, from men who might want to fuck me to service staff, treat me noticeably worse now than they did 50lb ago.

A pretty curvy woman in the Belle Amour plus-size lingerie bra set from LovehoneyEven though I’m frequently attracted to gorgeous babes of all sizes, fat and thin and everywhere in between, I really struggle with seeing my body like this. I have to be in a lot of photos at my day job, and I’ve often ended up going to the loos to have a sneaky cry after seeing a photo of myself. It’s probably fair to say I currently hate my body most of the time.

I’m on a long journey right now of getting back to the weight where I felt good about my body, while also trying to love it as it is on the way. Part of the problem is that a lot of my clothes, and especially a lot of the clothes I used to feel good in, don’t fit me at the moment. This includes all the gorgeous lingerie I’ve accrued in two years of sex blogging. (Small mercies, I can still get into the catsuit of joy, but just barely.)

So when my pals at Lovehoney announced they were launching two new lines of plus-size lingerie, I agreed to try it out. Still at a place of being reluctant to call myself “plus-size,” I nervously selected a couple of pieces and waited for them to arrive. They then sat on the sofa for several days, staring at me. Making me feel guilty for not trying them and scared to try them in equal measure. What if they looked awful? If they didn’t fit? If I ended up just hating my body even more?

Eventually I did try them, when I was alone in the house and there was no-one but me and the mirror to judge me. (Not that my sweethearts would ever negatively judge me, but internalised fatphobia is strong, y’all).

Meet Belle Amour & Rendezvous

Belle Amour and Rendezvous are Lovehoney’s two new lines of plus-size lingerie. Unlike their other offerings, these ranges are exclusive to Plus and cover sizes 18-28 (that’s UK sizes).

“Belle Amour” is a red-themed range (two of the sets also have black accents) which is bright, bold and sexy as hell. The two “Rendezvous” pieces are inspired by fetishwear and characterised by black fabrics, gold studded collar and belt, and fishnet lace. Woof.

The pieces I chose & my experience

I decided to go for one basque and one bra set, to get the best overall sense of the range. I chose the Rendezvous Studded Fishnet Basque and the Belle Amour Longline Bra Set.

When I first got lingerie from Lovehoney, I was really pleasantly surprised at the quality. Unlike what you get from a lot of sex shops and online retailers, this stuff is fantastically made and uses real high-quality materials. These pieces were no exception. The satin looks anything but cheap, and the lace is unbelievably soft.

I tried on the Rendezvous set first. I’m a big fan of fishnet and I love the floral pattern interspersed with the netting – it gives the set a gorgeous kinky/femme edge. The studded belt is my favourite part, though. I love how it accentuates the curve of my waist.

Sexy lingerie is not designed for comfort, so I won’t pretend it was the most comfy thing in the world. But the material is soft and non-scratchy enough that I could wear it for a few hours at an event without too much trouble.

I think this one is coming out at the next kink event we go to…

Next up was the Belle Amour set. I was initially less sure about this one. For starters, it shows off my stomach which isn’t a part of my body I am particularly fond of.

But the longer I wore it, the more I loved the shape it gives to my breasts and the way the garter belt hugs the curve of my hips. I also think the long line bra style, which hits just at the top of my waist, is a super flattering cut for me. The whole aesthetic is delightfully femme.

This is definitely the more comfortable of the two – again, I cannot overestimate how soft this lace is!

Now I just need to get me some wonderful stockings to complete the look…!

Some reactions:

I think it’s safe to say the reactions from my partners and sexy friends were overwhelmingly positive.

“Woof!” – anonymous friend

“*heart eyes emoji*” – other anonymous friend

“So ridiculously hot.” – the Artist

*Drags me into the bedroom for immediate sex* – Mr CK

A note on sizing

As ever, femme clothing sizing continues to be a mystery. Lovehoney’s plus-size lingerie comes in three sizes: 18/20, 22/24, and 26/28. However, each basque and bra has three rows of hooks-and-eyes and some stretch, making them adjustable to a reasonable degree.

Regardless of what size I’ve been at, I have always had disproportionately large boobs compared to the rest of my body. I don’t normally do bras so I haven’t had a measurement done in years. But at a guess I’m probably an E or F cup right now. This means I often have to go a size up in tops and anything with a built-in bra.

I requested these pieces in size 18/20. I’m wearing a 16 in most things at the moment, occasionally an 18 on top thanks to the aforementioned tits. However, on the tightest hook setting these pieces fitted like a dream. Even the cups were a perfect size and actually covered my nipples properly! All the straps are adjustable, from the bra straps to the pieces that attach the collar to the basque. The collar, though not adjustable, is stretchy enough that I can pull it over my head so it will fit the vast majority of neck sizes.

The knickers on both pieces were very, very slightly big on me but really nowhere near enough as to be problematic.

Care and Cleaning

Unfortunately, these pieces – as with most sexy lingerie – are hand-wash only. We actually do put them through the washing machine, in a net bag on the most gentle cycle and they’ve been absolutely fine, but your mileage may vary.

The Verdict

I love both of these sets, and these whole ranges! Interestingly, both my partners agreed that the red set was their favourite, but the black feels like more “me” when I wear them. Perhaps I’m just not very used to bright colours! Black feels much more comfortable, much more… safe?

More than anything, I want to emphasise how goddamn sexy I feel in these pieces. I cried when I’d finished trying them. The whole experience reminded me how it feels to love what I see in the mirror. That’s been… a while.

So what now?

Whatever size you are, if you’re struggling with how you see your body, I recommend getting something to wear that you feel absolutely gorgeous in. This might be lingerie or it might not – what makes us feel good is very personal.

This experience has not cured my body-image issues by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. We live in a society that hates fat bodies, that encourages women to hate themselves, and that profits off insecurities and imperfections the media has convinced us we have.

But putting on this this gorgeous plus-size lingerie, taking photos and letting my lovers tell me how sexy I am, has reminded me that my body can still be hot and desirable and perfect, exactly as it is right now. And that has to be worth something.

Thanks to Lovehoney for providing me with these pieces to try. As ever, all opinions are my own. If you purchase through my affiliate links, you send a small commission my way at no extra cost to you. Professional product photos are property of Lovehoney and used with permission. Other images are mine – do not steal them.

[Kink Product Review] Lovehoney Take Control Bondage Kit

I often groan at the idea – and the reality – of sex toy kits. Too often, they’re lots of cheap and bad quality things shoved together in a pretty box and sold for a premium. If pressed for an opinion, I’ll nearly always tell my readers to forego a kit and spend a bit more on just one or two quality items. However, I try to keep an open mind, and occasionally something surprises me. The Take Control Bondage Kit from Lovehoney pleasantly surprised me.

Through the eyes of a beginner…

I’m practically a kinky veteran at this point. I’ve been practicing BDSM for about a decade and have accrued a sizeable collection of toys – expensive leather floggers, my fabulous vegan leather collar, the gorgeous hand-made whip I gave Mr CK last Christmas, our electro-play kit, and more. So beginner kits are not something I would ever normally buy for myself. Therefore, I am trying to step back in time ten years or so and view this kit through the eyes of someone who is just starting out in their kinky explorations.

Inviting and Fun Packaging…

The Take Control Bondage Kit comes in one simple box, with all the products clearly displayed on the front so you know exactly what to expect. The packaging is bright and fun, which I suspect is a deliberate choice to make it non-intimidating to the new and nervous.

There’s a LOT of information on the box, too. I really like the way that there’s a brief description on how to use each item on the back, and also that they pay attention to safety and consent! The box reminds you to use safewords, never leave a bound person alone, and have a non-verbal safe signal if someone is gagged. In this regard, I’m really impressed. It’s pretty 101 stuff, but safety/consent 101 is exactly the information that the target market for this kit needs. A+ for that.

The unboxing…

I wasn’t delighted with the way the box was packed – everything was just sort of piled in, each item wrapped in a cellophane wrapper. It would have been nicer to have an inner tray with slots for everything. Some little storage bags for the items would also be a welcome addition. Assuming you don’t want to throw everything back in the box when you’re done playing, it’s not an ideal storage solution.

With that said, I was immediately pretty impressed with what was inside. Some (many) beginner BDSM kits are filled with things that are dubiously even safe, let alone of good quality.

Let’s take a look at what’s inside, shall we? Just for fun, I’ve included a fun tip or an idea to try with each item.

1: Blindfold

This blindfold is super comfy. It’s nice and thick and padded, and I couldn’t see a thing when it was on. The band is stretchy, too, so it should fit most people comfortably.

Pro kink tip: blindfold your partner and stroke different things across their body – a silk scarf, a piece of velvet, the tails of your flogger – and make them guess what each item is.

2. Nipple suckers

I really liked these! They’re a great gentle introduction to nipple play, and perfect if you want some sensation but without the pain of clamps or clothes pegs. I have pretty small nipples on fairly large breasts, and I found these stayed in place very nicely once I’d suctioned them onto my chest.

If you flick or hit them too hard, they will fly off, but they can withstand some gentle playing and wiggling.

Pro kink tip: tell your partner to fetch you something from another room with these on. They’ll have to move carefully… they’ll be spanked if one falls off!

3. Ball gag

Full disclosure: I hate ball gags. I fucking hate them. They make my jaw hurt, they make my face contort into an expression that no-one could possibly find attractive, they make me drool, and I can’t kiss my partner when I’m wearing one. I. Hate. Them.

With that said, this is a good one if you like that sort of thing. The holes make it breathable, and being silicone it’s non-porous which makes it hygienic. The holes do make it somewhat of a pain to clean, so take extra care when you’re cleaning it. Warm water and gentle soap is the best way to go here.

I also like how adjustable this gag is. With 9 buckle holes, it will fit most people comfortably.

Pro kink tip: make your submissive try to repeat words back to you (try phrases like “I’m a dirty little slut”) while gagged.

4. Flogger

This is a stingy little bastard! Don’t let the small size fool you, it can pack a wallop. The falls are made of thin rubber, which delivers a vicious sting when you put some force behind it. If pain isn’t your thing, you can drag it sensually across the skin for a gentle tickle. I would have liked the handle to have a bit more width and weight to it.

Pro kink tip: Try – gently – flogging the vulva or penis if your partner is up for it. Remember to clean your flogger thoroughly afterwards.

5. Wrist and ankle cuffs

These were the weakest part of the kit by far, for me. They’re quite thin and made of nylon, with no padding, which means they chafe if you put any pressure on them at all. They’re fine for exploring the feeling of being restrained, but if you’re into rough play and would be wanting to pull against them, they’re not a good option for that.

Try restraint with these, by all means, to see if you like it. But then ditch them and get some proper cuffs. And I hope it goes without saying that you should never, EVER suspend from wrist or ankle cuffs. These are not designed to take any real weight.

Pro kink tip: Restrain your partner then make them watch you masturbate in front of them.

6. Under-bed restraints

These are great, except for the tiny detail that they don’t fit on our bed! We have a Super King bed (which is the best thing ever, seriously. I always tell Mr CK that my relationship with him and the bed is polyamorous in itself.) Turns out these restraints fit up to King Size. So they’ll be fine for the vast majority of people, but if you have a ridiculous bed like us, they may not fit.

That said, they’re still a great addition to the kit. They’re strong, durable, and easy to set up… and tuck out of sight when you’re done, if you want to. The little clips mean you can easily add different cuffs to them, so when you ditch the rubbish cuffs in this set and get some better ones, you can still use them with this restraint system.

Pro kink tip: when your partner is restrained, run a cube of ice along their body… or drip candle wax onto their skin (read up on how to do wax play safely first, of course!)

7. Silicone suction-cup dildo

Do my eyes deceive me, or… no, it’s actually a body-safe dildo in a BDSM kit! With an insertable length of 6 inches and a diameter of 1.5″, it’s perfect for vaginal play. It’s possibly a bit ambitious for first-time anal sex or pegging, but most people could easily work up to it with a bit of time and warm-up.

The slight curve makes this dildo feel delicious for G-spot or prostate stimulation, and the silicone is super soft and silky. The suction cup is also a nice addition and makes this toy more versatile.

It’s even got a convenient hollow in the base where you can slip the bullet vibe that comes with this kit to turn your dildo into a G-spot vibrator!

Remember to use water-based lube with your silicone dildo for the best experience.

Pro kink tip: tease your lover’s entrance with just the tip of the dildo. If they want it inside, they have to thrust on to it!

8. Strap-on harness

This is actually the same harness that I bought as part of a pegging kit a few years ago. I’ve used it many, many times to top for both vaginal and anal penetration, and it’s still my favourite harness. It’s comfortable, the dildo stays in place well during thrusting, and the rings are interchangeable so you can use it with any dildo with a flared base.

Pro kink tip: If you have a vulva, put on a wearable vibrator before you put on your harness, so that you get some clitoral pleasure while you fuck your partner.

9. Wired bullet vibrator

This was the biggest surprise in the kit for me. I was fully expecting it to be awful. While it’s not the strongest vibrator in the world, it’s not a bad little bullet for the size. I was able to orgasm with it quickly and easily. It has a number of patterns as well as steady vibration speeds.

I didn’t love the wire element, but you cannot expect to get a wireless bullet for this price-point. It’s long enough for one partner to comfortably have control of the remote while the other holds the vibrator against their genitals.

Pro kink tip: switch it off just when your lover is on the edge of orgasm. Make them beg for release.

Other things to note

  • The bullet takes 2x AAA batteries, not included.
  • There is no real leather in this kit, making it entirely vegan-friendly.

Overall Verdict: do I recommend it?

On the whole, a very solid kit for the price. I wouldn’t recommend it to folks more experienced in kink and BDSM, but for those of you who are new and looking to explore different sensations and types of power-play, this kit is a great starting point.

The Take Control kit retails for £79.99 ($109.99 US) which is a reasonable price for the quality and variety. As you get more into your kink and discover what you like, I’d encourage you to drop more money on single items if you can – a quality, handcrafted whip or flogger will last you a lifetime, perhaps, or some really high quality natural fibre rope? But to get you started? Look no further.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the Take Control Bondage Kit in exchange for an honest review. If you choose to purchase this or anything else from Lovehoney, please buy through my affiliate links – it supports the blog at no extra cost to you!

 

Five Fun Ways to Use a Kinky Card Game

Have you ever played a kinky card game!? I hadn’t either, until recently – when the lovely folks at Pain Play: The Game introduced me to their prototype.

A laid out table with Pain Play the Game cardsPain Play is a simple game for lovers of impact play. There are 50 cards divided into 5 decks – 20 “hit cards” (i.e. the number of strokes you will receive, when the two are added together,) 10 “location cards” (where on the body you’ll receive the impact,) 10 “implement cards” (to determine the implement used,) and 10 “modifiers,” which can do anything from doubling or halving your strokes to allowing you to give them to somebody else. You literally draw a card from each deck and then do what the cards say. There are also spare cards, so that you can add your own ideas.

After a devious session of scheming with the creators of the game, I thought it would be fun to share some of the wonderful – and perhaps less obvious – ways of using this delightful little game.

A table laid out with a deck of Pain Play the Game cards
Just one possible permutation…

Obvious disclaimers apply

In the context of the game, as ever, full consent and negotiation is paramount. A safeword or any other withdrawal of consent ALWAYS supersedes the rules of the game. Whether in a group or one-on-one setting, no-one should ever be pressured to take part in anything they don’t want to.

Pro tip: you can remove cards from the deck without affecting the mechanic of the game. So if impact on a particular body part or with a particular implement is a limit (or if you just don’t own/have the skills to use any implement,) you can remove it.

Now let’s look at some ways to have fun with Pain Play: The Game.

1. As humiliation play

Is your masochist complaining about the cards they drew? Well, just tell them they did it to themselves!

I recently discovered I have intense feelings (good ones!) about phrases like “you brought this on yourself…” while a Top is doing deliciously mean things to me. Making your submissive pick the cards and then telling them that they’re just getting what they chose can be super fun for the discerning sadist.

2. As a way for newbie bottoms – and Tops – to explore

So you want to try impact play but you have no idea what implements you want to play with, where on your body you might enjoy it, or how hard? Or are you a nervous new Top, wanting to spank your eager submissive? Playing this game is a wonderful way to try things out – and, frankly, to get a feeling of permission to try things out. Afterwards, you can discuss which “rounds” were your favourite.

3. To get a kinky party going

You know that moment at the party when the snack table has been demolished and the introductions have happened and everyone’s like “so… do we just start playing or what!?” Being the first one out onto the play kit can be nerve-racking. Get a few friends together – or even everyone, if it’s a small party – and play a few rounds of Pain Play to start you off. Everyone will be into their kinky thing before you know it!

4. To start a scene with a new partner

You want to play with that hot person. They want to play with you. Awesome! But how do you actually get from the negotiation chat (you’ve done that, right? If not DO IT NOW) to actually getting a scene going? Well, a round or two of kinky cards can be a great way to transition from negotiation-space to play-space.

5. To demo different toys or techniques

Are you a sex and kink educator, workshop leader, purveyor of fine impact toys, or just the resident spanking guru in your friendship circle? How about using this game as a jumping off point for your next teaching session? Whether you’re showing off different skills to the audience on your own partner, or allowing willing volunteers to have a go at being on the receiving end themselves, structuring a workshop or demo around this game adds an element of fun and surprise!

Okay, Amy, you’ve sold me! How do I get a copy?

Pain Play: The Game is being funded through a Kickstarter project, and there’s only a little time left to get them to target! Mr CK and I have pledged £200 which will get us a copy with custom artwork to at our events and parties. But if you can’t afford that much, never fear! Every pledge of £15 or more gets you your own copy of this fabulously filthy little game, with the standard (gorgeous) art and everything you need to play. We should be supporting creativity and innovative projects by people within our community, so please do support if you can!

This post was kindly sponsored by the creators of Pain Play: The Game. Follow them on Twitter! As ever, all opinions are my own.

Group Sex Does Not Ruin You For 1-on-1 Sex

Believe it or not, this post title has been in my ideas list for ages… and then Exhibit A said almost exactly the same thing in one of his Smutathon posts! So this forms my final post of the day (probably, unless this is quicker than I think it’s going to be and I end up rattling off a sixth one). If you still want to donate to our fundraiser for Abortion Support Network, you’ve got time!

A snowy slope with a ski lift. For a post about group sex and the slippery slope fallacy.
This is a slippery slope. Sex and kink is not one.

I get asked this question surprisingly often. “Doesn’t group sex mean you can’t be satisfied with one on one sex any more?”

The short answer is no. The long answer is…

Things, and people, don’t work that way. Are you no longer able to enjoy a simple but delicious meal simply because you occasionally go to fine dining restaurants? Are you unable to appreciate quiet drinks with friends because you’ve also experienced wild, dancing-on-tables nights on the town?

No. Because people don’t work that way. Sex is exactly the same. The idea that things always have to get more and more and more extreme in order to keep a person satisfied once they’ve had a taste of the “exotic” just doesn’t stack up. Sex isn’t a drug – you don’t need a bigger hit every time to get the same high.

I love group sex. Love it love it love it. The tangle of bodies, all the hands and mouths and cocks and cunts and… oops, sorry, got a little carried away there. Point is that it’s brilliant. No matter how many times I do it, and how often and in what combinations, it’s still fucking amazing. I honestly don’t see that ever changing.

But you know what? One on one sex works exactly the same way! We might have had nine-person orgies (that was a great birthday party) and group spanking parties and kinky threesomes and wild nights with other couples… but none of that takes away from the simple, perfect loveliness of my partner’s lips on mine and his cock inside me. Enjoying four or six or eight hands on me doesn’t mean I can’t still delight and find bliss in the same two hands that have known and loved me for years.

It’s the same with kink. I have done some wild kinky shit in my life, and loved every second of it. But it doesn’t mean every session needs to be wilder and more extreme than the last! Despite what some scaremongers would have you believe, spanking is not a slippery slope to being strung up from the ceiling on meat hooks. (Hook suspension exists, don’t google it if you’re squeamish, #YKINMKBYKIOK!) The intense stuff I’ve done has been brilliant and I’m sure it will continue to be brilliant. But it doesn’t mean I’m always seeking harder, crazier, more. A light spanking can still thrill the hell out of me exactly as much as it did the first time I experimented with it. A good old vanilla-ish shag with my partner is still super satisfying, too!

Sex is not a drug. You cannot “ruin” yourself for one-on-one sex by having group sex. Liking kink is not a sign that your desires are getting out of control or that you’ll end up doing something dangerous to get your rocks off. Enjoy what you enjoy, and don’t stress – you’re not going to lose control.

Masturbation Monday: “On the Prowl”

A "support me on Patreon" buttonThis is an experimental piece, unlike the erotica I usually write. Let me know in the comments what you think! And if you love my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon to get some bonus content and awesome perks.

A pair of black cat ears on a headband. For a Masturbation Monday post called On The Prowl

She is on the prowl tonight. The black latex clings to every inch of her perfect body, the heels of her boots are spikes to crush anyone who gets in her way. The cat ears could be considered cute on someone else, but she will eat you alive if you call her cute.

She’s in the mood to fuck tonight. Not to get fucked; no. Tonight she wields the cock and you will submit.

She’ll extend a long finger, her nail a perfect pointed claw the colour of blood, and from across the room you’ll feel that nail and her gaze pierce you. You. She has chosen you, and she knows you will follow. That finger beckons you, and you come. The heat of the bodies and the thump of the music swells as she draws you in, close enough to feel the heat of her breath on your lips, close enough to see yourself reflected back in those startling feline eyes. She’s assessing you; will you pass? You must choose, in this moment, to obey or not. If you don’t, she will have no hesitance in casting you aside with a flick of her tail and seeking a more suitable worshiper.

Satisfied, she grants you a single nod of approval. You lap it up as though you are starving. She will not allow you to touch her. You have not earned that right. Your hands must stay obediently at your sides, a test of your willpower and devotion.

Later, you will find yourself prostrate on her bed in submission as she slides in and out of you. You revel in the gentle hiss of her breath at the exertion. She revels in the sheen of sweat glistening upon your back as you take her in. She might reach beneath you to wrap her claws around your longing cock – if you’re lucky. More likely she will simply use you, take what she wants and ignore your aching need, and you will adore her all the more for it. You are here, after all, to serve her.

Tonight she is on the prowl, and her hunt will be rewarded.

Masturbation Monday is created and owned by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what’s getting everyone off this week.

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Image is by me.