[Book Review] “Position of the Week” from Lovehoney

Happy Friday, friends! And welcome to day 4 of #12DaysofLovehoney, where I am bringing you a new product review every single day. Check out the whole series. Today we’ve got something a bit different. Instead of a toy, we’re looking at the Position of the Week book from Lovehoney.

What is Position of the Week?

Position of the Week is a book of 52 sex positions (the idea being that there’s one for each day of the week – “52 positions for a year of pleasure,” as the cover says.) It’s a pocket-sized hardback book.

Position of the Week book

Each double-page spread includes a silhouette-style drawing of a couple having sex in the given position on the left page. The right page gives the position number, name, and a brief description.

Who is it for?

I have to be upfront: this book is very, very heterosexual.

Every position is designed with a cisgender male/female couple having penetrative (penis-in-vagina) sex in mind. The illustrations even feature a woman drawn in pink and a man drawn in blue. There’s also a lot of gendered language throughout (“he does X, she does Y”, “girl power”, and so on.)

Seriously, it’s so freaking straight.

Pages from the Position of the Week book

Now, a lot of the positions in this book would actually work for different body and genital configurations. Many of the positions would work just as well for two vulva owners using a strap-on, or for anal sex with any configuration of bodies.

So queer and trans folks absolutely could use it. But the language and the whole aesthetic is so cishetero that it’s likely to feel alienating. I feel pretty put off by it and I’m a cis woman in a relationship with a cis man (though I am not straight.)

So yeah. This is a book for cishetero couples who have p-in-v sex. Let’s go with that.

Consent disclaimer = yay!

On the 3rd page, after the welcome but before the positions start, you get a little consent disclaimer. This states that you should talk before trying something new, that everything must be 100% consensual, and that you should stop if anything hurts or is uncomfortable.

It’s pretty much Consent 101 summed up in 33 words. But you know what? I’m here for it. Because fundamentally, this book isn’t for people like me – sex nerds who engage in non-traditional relationships and have long and nuanced conversations about sexuality out of academic as well as personal interest. This book is for people who are likely newer to sexual experimentation – many of whom might understand that consent is important, but not have a sophisticated understanding of exactly what that means or how to talk about it.

Basically, what Lovehoney have done with this little one-pager helps to normalise and demystify consent conversations. And I’m very here for that.

So what about the actual positions?

A lot of them are pretty good! We have some obvious-but-decent choices (doggy style, sit-down sex, spooning) and some creative interpretations on classics like reverse cowgirl and standing sex.

Others were definitely created for the athletically-inclined. No. 30 (“the Can-Can”) requires the vulva-owning partner to be able to get their foot on their partner’s shoulder while standing. That is… simply not going to be possible for a huge number of bodies, including mine!

Pages from the Position of the Week book

Positions like the “Standing Thrust” and “Up Against It” require the penetrating partner to be able to support most or all of their partner’s weight while thrusting. Again: just not going to happen. And I’m going to go ahead and call No. 47 (“the Raunchy Rider”) physiologically impossible for 99% of people.

Pages from the Position of the Week book

This book clearly assumes that women are tiny, petite, and flexible, while men are muscular and strong. If that’s not you, it can lead to some pretty negative body feelings.

On the plus side, a number of the position descriptions reference clitoral stimulation, which the vast majority of people with vulvas need in order to get off. So that’s something.

So do I recommend it?

Meh.

If you’re cis, heterosexual, skinny/strong, and athletic, you’ll probably get something from it. Otherwise, you might find a few interesting position ideas but largely be left thinking “…yaeah but my body doesn’t work that way.”

Position of the Week retails for £6.99 from Lovehoney. A fun stocking-stuffer if you’re within the very specific demographic it caters to! Otherwise, don’t bother.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me this product to review! Views are, as always, my own. Affiliate links appear in this and all toy review posts. Want to support the blog? Signing up to my newsletter and buying me a coffee are great ways to do that!

Men: Her Orgasm Is Not About Your Ego

This is my third post of #Smutathon2018: #SmutForChoice Edition. Please donate to our page for Abortion Support Network, and don’t forget to leave your email address or Twitter handle so we can enter you into the raffle to win some awesome sex toys!

Dear Well-Meaning Cishet Man,

This one’s for you.

You’re a good guy, right? You care about your sexual partner’s pleasure, and her orgasms. You even eat pussy! When DJ Khaled’s comments surfaced about “different rules” for men re. oral sex, you probably tweeted furiously “I’M A GUY AND I LOVE EATING PUSSY”.

Well, okay. But slow down. I want you to read this with an open mind, and try not to feel attacked. That’s not my aim.

However, please – please – stop making your female partners’ orgasms about your ego! Let me explain.

When I started having partnered sex in my mid and late teens, my boyfriend compelled me to tell him I’d never had an orgasm before I met him. He’d decided this was the case.  Telling him it wasn’t seemed like it wouldn’t achieve anything but bruising his ego. He was very into the fantasy of me as the perfect innocent. So I went with it.

I think a lot of young women have similar experiences. Their (also young and often inexperienced) boyfriends want to feel like sex gods who introduce them to a world of pleasure they never knew existed before. They don’t want to hear “I’ve been having orgasms by myself for years”. This narrative is a big part of the Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy. Ana has not only never masturbated or had an orgasm. She’s never even thought a sexual thought until Christian “I-Don’t-Make-Love-I-Fuck-Hard” Grey deigns to deflower her.

How this played out for me was thus: he didn’t really know what I liked. I knew what I liked, but couldn’t tell him because then he’d known I’d – gasp – had sexual feelings and even touched myself before he showed up. So a long time was spent with him trying to get me off, and either getting pissed off that it took so long (when I got there at all) or me faking it because dude, it’s been two hours, my clit is rubbed raw. 

This is, of course, a sex education problem. We don’t teach young women that exploring their bodies is okay. We don’t teach boys that girls masturbate and hey, she might know a thing or two about her own body! Instead, we glorify this notion of “I’ve never felt anything like this before!” even when you’ve totally felt something like that before… a lot.

A big part of the problem, though, is that these attitudes don’t really change as we get older! I remember reading in a glossy magazine (it was probably Cosmo?) advice along the lines of “when he whips out a new move in bed, tell him you’ve never done that before, even though you totally did that with your ex”. (That’s how Cosmo speaks, right?) The point is that women are still supposed to coddle our male partners’ egos to the point of straight-up lying to them, in order to pretend they’re the only person who has ever unlocked our sexuality.

This also plays out in other ways. I hang out on the Sex Toys forum at Reddit and also similar groups on Fetlife, and time and again men will post: “looking for a sex toy for my partner, but it needs to not be too big or powerful. Don’t want it to replace me!” But what if that big dildo or power-tool vibrator could give their partner the best, most explosive orgasms of her life? I guess it doesn’t matter – what they’re thinking about is not her pleasure, but being upstaged.

Men: women’s sexuality does not exist to stroke your ego! If your partner has a rich and fulfilling erotic life with herself, and/or had a rich and fulfilling erotic life with other partners before you came along, this doesn’t imply anything about you! When she uses toys, she’s not replacing you!

If you want your partner to never have masturbated (or to pretend she’s never masturbated,) or if you want your partner to have never had good sex with anyone else until you came along, you are not being sex positive. You are not being a good lover. You’re making your partner’s sexuality a receptacle for your ego.

And this brings me on to the Great Pussy Eating Debate of 2018, and the problems I see with it. Obviously, what DJ Khaled said was gross, as are all the other ridiculous things straight men have said about going down on people with vulvas. However, a lot of the responses pissed me off too. A lot of men felt the need to weigh in on how THEY always go down on their partners. Which… might seem harmless but is actually indicative of a particularly insidious form of virtue signalling that often comes into play around (particularly heterosexual) sex.

Prioritising your partner’s pleasure isn’t something to brag about. It’s the bare fucking minimum.

The other place I see this kind of ego-tripping manifest is around the issue of whether or not a woman orgasms during a sexual encounter with a man – and how that orgasm happens, if indeed there is one.

Too often, I hear “I want to make her come from intercourse, no clitoral stimulation, what am I doing wrong?”.  What you’re doing wrong, my dude, is prioritising your fucking ego over her fucking orgasm. The vast majority of people with vulvas don’t experience orgasm from penetration alone. This is normal. What you need to do is realise you don’t actually have a problem that needs solving. Talk to your partner, and stimulate her fucking clit the way she likes.

Basically: sex is much better when you take your ego out of it. I promise.