Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hey,Turkey, Don't Be That Guy...

Oops... Too late...

Things are often misunderstood on the internet. It's like its “thing”. Sarcasm is misread, words taken the wrong way, things taken out of context. It happens every day. Hell, it even makes the news if someone has gaffed on Twitter. The public reacts, the outrage swells, the original poster usually either apologises for the misunderstanding, or goes into defensive mode and attacks back. Words are spoken, delete buttons are pushed and people forget and move on to the next gaffe.
I spend a lot of time online. I see these things happen all the time. Sometimes they're big, sometimes they're small. Sometimes I sit back and watch it unfold, other times, especially when it's a topic I feel very strongly about, I will make a comment.
This happened last night on a Facebook account I follow and enjoy. A comment was made and the public reacted. And then a really, well, actually kind of depressing thing happened.
Let me explain from the start.

I Bet This Turkey Can get More Fans Than NOM is a great little pocket of the internet universe. It was created by a guy who was fighting against National Organisation of Marriage – You know, that bunch of whackjobs from America who use “the sanctity of marriage” as a front for blatant homophobia. He wanted to see if he (or his turkey picture) could get more Facebook likes than them. He did. And also succeeded in becoming a popular page for LGBTI rights. I enjoy it thoroughly. I always trawl through there and read the posts and the articles. The guy who runs it is funny and and often posts up his reactions to homophobic messages he gets which are always hilarious and well constructed sarcasm and mirth at the idiot who has posted.

Last night something happened and I'm actually so pissed about it it's already ruined my morning.
The Turkey posted a link to a news story in which everyone's favourite pure Christian, Josh Duggar, had been outed by a sex worker/adult star as having paid her to sleep with him. She mentioned he was frightening, terrifying even, and that he had been rough and abusive in both his actions and his words.
Now I know why the Turkey posted this. Duggar is a guy who holds himself up as a beacon of purity and Godliness. He is completely homophobic and anti equal marriage, despite recently being charged with the sexual molestation of a number of young girls (including his own sisters), outed as a frequent Ashley Madison user, and now this story of sex workers and rough sex. For activists all around the world who have a hand in fighting for equal rights (myself included) its a gold mine. It truly is. The word hypocrite has been used more times than when Tony Abbott opens his mouth on just about anything, but I digress.
The Turkey posted up this article titled “Porn Star says she had terrifying rough sex twice with Josh Duggar”and captioned it with this comment: “Something tells me that his wife should be getting an STD check asap.”
Completely ignoring the fact that this woman had a terrifying experience. Completely ignoring the fact that fucking porn stars is probably not the thing that good, pure Christians for the sanctity of marriage should be doing. Completely ignoring the fact that this piece of badly written “journalism”came from the Daily Mail which is known for its sensationalism and gossip-mongering. Nope. Forget that shit. Let's make a tired and boring old joke about dirty dirty sex workers and their disease riddled bodies. Ew!!
Almost every single comment underneath it said similar to my above comment. People taking task to the fact that not only had this woman been treated so appallingly, but also the actual fact that sex workers have probably the lowest number of STIs in any demographic because of the rigorous testing and protection and prevention steps they take.
I was upset. I was disappointed. I wanted the Turkey to understand that his comment was not only unnecessary, but also hurtful and contributing to the rampant whorephobia that I see and encounter every day. Not so much towards myself any more, but towards sex workers in general. To my friends and colleagues. Hell, the whole Amnesty thing recently brought out whorephobia to the public eye and wow, was it unpleasant and nasty to view.
So I wrote him a comment. I wasn't rude. I wasn't even angry. I was disappointed. This is my comment. (I would screenshot... But...)

Wow Turkey. What a whorephobic, uneducated comment. Sex workers and adult film stars have some of the lowest rates of STIs. 
Pretty sure you of all people know the harm and pain and hatred that stigma and uninformed asides can make. It's the whole reason you set up this page. To stand up against hate speech and people spreading bullshit propaganda and lies and reinforcing that in the eyes of some, others are less equal. This time it's her job not her sexuality that's being shamed. Not cool, Turkey. 
Don't be that guy.”

I wanted him to realise that his words have consequences and that he of all people should understand those consequences. That hatred and misinformation spread by ignorance do so much damage. That stigma hurts. The thing is he KNOWS this. He's lived it. It's the whole reason the Turkey page was created! But for some reason, and it happens all the time, when it comes to being insulting to an entire demographic of people, it's totally okay if it's sex workers. We are lesser humans in the eyes of people. No matter what minority you're part of, at least you're not a dirty, disease riddled sex worker. Hey! You molest your sisters and cheat on your wife and frighten women... But at least you're not a whore! Let's focus on the whore! We can make fun of her! Why not! She's just a whore....
My comment garnered a lot of likes because, I assume, people agreed with me. Like I said, almost every comment on the entire thread was in the same vein as mine. I really hoped the Turkey would see it and respond to me. To apologise and realise his words hurt. Even if they had come from a place of misunderstanding. It was obvious to me that he had struck a nerve with many people and it was, to little ol me, actually quite heartening to see so many people on the side of sex workers, defending her job, her medical history and hoping that she was okay after her experience.
But that didn't happen. Nope.
I woke up this morning and saw that the Turkey had made a comment on the post. Ooh! Yay! Little ol me and the rest of the commenters had maybe got through to him! One more converted to the “let's not make fun of sex workers for just doing a damn job” pile. Yay!
Nope. Well, not really anyway.
Turkey went on the defensive. He edited the original caption and wrote a post chiding everyone who had commented on whorephobia because we were all mean and horrible and how dare we take something he'd said and try and twist it. All he'd meant is that because Duggar was sleeping around his wife should be tested. Which in itself is a valid comment. But, and it's a huge but, considering almost 100% of the comments had “taken it that way” and considering the fact that I see these sorts of “dirty STI whore” comments almost daily... Well, I'm sorry, Turkey, but your comments were taken on face value and that face was one of derision and whorephobia.

The other thing that pissed me off was the fact that, although every other comment mentioning that his caption was not cool is still there, he deleted mine. Gone! Zip! See ya later! I only happen to have the print copy of it because I had copied it onto my clipboard while Facebook was being a bitch and I wanted to have a copy in case it didn't post properly the first time.
Why delete it? Why just mine? The only thing I can think of is that mine is the only one who actually attempted to educate him on WHY it was offensive for someone like the Turkey to make such a bold and uninformed comment. I explained it in the words of homophobic misinformation. I made it personal to his experience. I tried very hard to not be rude, but to educate (while being pissed off, sure). I think maybe I struck a nerve. It's very telling to me really. And that makes it even worse. It really does. The fact that mine is gone but the others remain makes me wonder if his defence is all a bit bullshit. Too after-the-fact. He deleted my comment, my comparison to homophobic propaganda and perpetuation of stigma and hate, and then wrote his defence with the ending “Good riddance” to anyone who had even considered to have the merest possibility of a hint that he may have been a bit out of line with his comment...

Yeah. Silenced and deleted and chucked off the page.
You know what, Turkey? You became that guy.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Period Sex... Are you Spongeworthy?

Originally written for the wonderful Birdee Newspaper (issue 2). I have decided to put it on my blog as well because it's a question I get asked over and over and I thought it would be good to have a quick link to send to people.

Hi Eva.
I'm curious about sex during my period. I'm always so horny at that time of month but the thought of blood everywhere turns me off. My boyfriend doesn't seem to mind, but I do. A friend said something to me once about sponges? Do they just mean a kitchen sponge? I don't understand. Is that safe? How do I use one?
  • Karen

Hi Karen.
It's not uncommon to be ultra horny during your period, which is often in stark contrast with how your body can react to it, you know, feeling sad and fat and sore and irritable, but actually having sex can help fix those things! Sex releases endorphins which can make you feel good, orgasms can help ease period pain, and being desired and wanted by a lover is awesome for your self esteem. But yes, blood. It can be messy, but your friend is right, sponges are awesome! Basically it's a stringless tampon that sits up against your cervix and soaks up blood so you don't leak, but leaves enough room for penetration.
Sponges usually come in three categories and all three have their merits and often come down to personal preference.
You can buy specific “sex sponges”or “stringless tampons”at some chemists and adult shops and online. They are usually small-ish, heart-shaped sponges (often containing a bit of lube to help with insertion). For all you Seinfeld fans out there, remember the “spongeworthy”episode? These are what Elaine is talking about, although she is using them more as a contraceptive with the ones she buys being soaked in spermicide. (the ones I am talking about are NOT contraceptives and should not be used as such. Sure they may block the passage to the cervix and it's not super easy to get pregnant on your period, but it IS possible and you should always take precautions and be safe. They also won't stop STIs.)

You can use natural sea sponges (large ones, not the small ones). These are my personal preference because I find them the most absorbent of all and I like the fact that they're completely natural. You can usually get them sold loose and individually at chemists. Make sure they are around the size of a medium lemon. Don't buy the little individual ones in packets sold as make-up sponges. They are far too small. Before using, soak them in boiling or boiled water to soften them, squeeze out the water (wait til it's cooled obviously) and insert.

And, as per your “kitchen sponge”question, some girls I know use your basic yellow car wash sponge you buy at servos and stuff and then cut it up to size.
Apart from the shop bought ones which are usually sealed in individual wrappers, I would suggest the boiling water soak, just to make sure you get rid of any germy extra bits.

Some tips to remember:
* Check sea sponges for little bits of sand or shell (not always, but every now n then you may find some. The soak is great at getting them out).
* When you are ready to remove it, it's probably a good idea to do it in the shower. You'd be surprised how well these things can hold liquid, and how much there can be, and removing them can be a messy affair.
* The reason I said to use large sea sponges is because the smaller the item is, not only does it not absorb as much as you may need it to, it is also a lot harder to remove them. The bigger the sponge, the easier to get it out. Sometimes it can take a bit of digging around to find it and grab and pull it out. 
* NEVER EVER use anything other than your hands. EVER! Oh the horror stories I've heard with girls using tongs or similar. 
* If you're finding it hard to find, relax, breath, push a little. I do know of a few girls who've had to go to a doctor to get them removed, and most often this is because they were too small to grab. The shop bought ones usually have a little finger-hole in the bottom of them which can make retrieval a little easier.

A question I am often asked on the subject of sponges is “but can't the other person feel it?” 
The answer to that is sometimes, but it's not actually that off-putting (according to people I have fucked while wearing one). Usually it just feels like the rest of your vag, soft and spongy, and when they have felt it and known what it was, they haven't particularly cared.

Another question I get asked is “But doesn't the pushing of a penis or something against it make it squeeze out the blood?” 
Perfectly valid question and, to be frank, every now and then, yes. But that is usually when the sponge is super full and, in all the years I have been using sponges (and I was a sex worker for quite a few years) I could probably count on one hand the number of times that has happened.

I have also been asked about how wearing a sponge affects your natural lubrication and, in a nutshell, it doesn't. Lubrication doesn't come from the same place as the blood. It's basically secreted out of the walls of your vagina so it completely bypasses the sponge. You can get super wet and excited (and yes, I am sure there will be a few times you're sure you are leaking and you have to give yourself a quick finger check) without a single drop of blood making its way in there.

When it comes right down to it, period sex is a personal thing. If the blood doesn't bother you or your partner, then there's nothing gross about it at all. If it kind of grosses you or your partner out you can either wait a week til it goes away, or try a sponge and see how you go.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Review - G-Balls 2 With App

Normally when I do a toy review I set aside about a fortnight. I first get the toy, and have a hand play with it. You know, feel the material, turn it on, feel the strength of the buzzes (expert tip, test the buzz on the end of your nose. Seriously. It gives you a very good indication of just how powerful or not it will be. The nose tip is far more sensitive than the fingertips). I read through the instructions and features etc, and then I get down to play. I usually have a few different sessions with it to work out all the features and try and get the best and most thorough results that way. It's a process and a system that's always worked for me.
This toy is a bit different, and required a different process, so it took quite a bit longer to test and review.
The G-Balls 2 (with app) is a kegel training ball system that you can use on its own or with an app to help you keep track. The reason I took so long testing and reviewing it is because, well, Rome wasn't built in a day. It would be a bit like me reviewing an all-in-one gym machine, using it for a week or so, and then writing about the (most likely) lack of results. It's not a proper test of its ability and I'm just short changing anyone who wants the actual real deal info.
When it comes to training and strengthening any part of your body it takes time and patience to really see any results. Most kegel ball training advice says it can take anywhere up to twelve weeks to see definite improvement in the muscles, but that is often in extreme cases of muscle weakness like women can experience after giving birth. I have quite a strong pelvic floor to begin with so I was at an advantage coming in to this, but the great thing about these balls is they will work and be useful for anyone at any level.

So first let's get the specs out of the way.
The G-Balls 2 are made of medical grade, body-safe silicone and ABS plastic. They measure 1.2” x 3.2” so they're not too big or scary looking to a first-time user. They are fully rechargeable and 100% waterproof and come with a one year warranty.
They can be used with or without the app (available on smartphones with Bluetooth 4.0) but the app has six training programs as well as a bunch of different “rewards”and badges so it's a great way to mark your progress and get the best out of it that you can.
Before I go into my review I will mention that I have tried a very similar product (The Swan Clutch) and found it to be one of the best kegel exercisers I have ever used, so these balls had quite a bit to live up to insofar as comparing one against the other.
Just like the Clutch, one of the features of these balls is the squeeze to buzz function. Turn them on and squeeze the bottom ball with your fist and you'll the vibration turn on in the top ball. When you release the pressure the vibration stops. When the ball are inserted it is a really great way to gauge how strong your kegels are and how long you can hold them.
There are a number of different ways you can use them. You can set it so it's on a permanent buzz (this is great as a pleasure device), or a buzz-when-squeezed setting (self testing your muscle strength), or you can connect them to the app and follow the programs on that. You can also use the app programs in an off-line setting but I'll get to that in a minute.
The app is super easy to set up. Make sure the balls are fully charged (the little LED light will turn on when charging and off when full), turn on your Bluetooth, find the “Magic Kegel” app in the Apple Store or Google Play and follow the instructions.
The app asks you a few questions to narrow down what sort of program would be best for you. It even asks your gender, because men have pelvic floor muscles too and these can work to help strengthen them too (benefits include helping bladder control after prostate surgery and helping to increase libido and orgasm strength among other things) It is a fairly simple questionnaire about what you want to get out of it, for example is this a sex thing? Or maybe you've just had a baby, or are preparing for the birth? It then suggests which program would be best for you. Each program has levels ranging from beginner to expert.
Because they aren't too big insertion is easy, especially with a bit of water-based lube. Pop them in, make sure the string (which is the receiver for the Bluetooth) is outside of your body. It's best to be lying on your back with your knees up and slightly apart, this is for ease of insertion and also the best position to be in to really get a good squeeze going.

The app has a cute, perky girl voice to talk you through the exercises (it may be a guy's voice for the men's setting. I'm not sure.). I will say that after a few goes the perky voice irritated me a bit. But that could just be me. She tells you when to squeeze and when to rest, and there's a count thing you can follow too. But I have to say the best thing is the bird. So the harder you squeeze, the higher your little bird flies. I started not listening to the girl's voice and just started squeezing and trying to keep my bird in the air. It's not easy. Even when you're squeezing suer super hard. I actually wonder if the sensor is a little off, because when I removed it and squeezed in my hand the bird jumped, but when inserted and squeezing my hardest sometimes it didn't even appear on the screen. And I know it's not because my muscles are bad. I found if I lay really still and had the bottom ball kind of not completely inserted, it worked well. So I dunno, maybe it's my vag, but I found that frustrating. And exhausting! (I took it out at one stage an popped in the clutch, and that one worked fine with my squeezing... So I don't know).

The other thing I found frustrating was the device kept getting disconnected and then would randomly connect again while I was trying to figure it out. I thought at first it was a reception thing, having to have your phone right near the device to get it to work, but then I decided to test it walking around the house and it stayed connected for about ten minutes before cutting out and back again. I even decided to try it walking around the local mall but that completely didn't work and I thought I'd look funny if I kept waving my phone in front of my crotch just to get a connection.

With every program level you complete, you are rewarded with beans and badges. The beans you plant and grow and the badges help monitor your progress. I have to be really honest here, once I had got the hang of the exercises I wasn't all that fussed about the rewards. It was really complicated to work it all it and what to do to get what badge and, well, it's not Mario Kart. I should also point out that I am not particularly technically minded so it really could just be me, but I found bits of the app super confusing and the programs and badges etc just a bit naff. It certainly was helpful in the beginning to get an idea of the exercises, but all the extra stuff wasn't too exciting nor necessary for me. There are the options of different buzz settings and the more you play the more functions become available, so for a pleasure thing that's pretty cool. And it also a menstrual calendar which is brilliant for keeping track of your cycle.

The main problems I have with this device is the app. It just seems too glitchy and temperamental. At one stage it would not even pair with my toy. I sought some advice from a techie person and they suggested uninstalling the app and starting over. I did this and it worked... But I lost all my beans, all my badges and rewards and had to reset the menstrual calendar. It just seemed like a lot of work for something that should essentially be fun and easy and out of the way after five or ten minutes a day.

Now let me talk about the offline mode. So from what I can understand and have read about, the offline setting allows you to do the programs without being connected to the app. I really don't know how this works and for the first few times I tried it, it didn't seem to connect at all. Then, after I did the whole resetting thing it did and I had the first exercise program running constantly, and to be perfectly honest I could not (still cannot) figure out how to turn it off. It's still on offline mode now. Three days later. The app keeps freezing on me, and the touchscreen bit that you're supposed to click to take it back to online mode won't work. I think I'm going to have to uninstall it again.
But I probably won't.
All in all, even with the issues, I actually like this toy. I like what it does, what it's for and what it's trying to do. I just think if you're going to have something connected to an app, you need to really really be sure the app makes things easier, not harder.
I've talked to a few people who own this toy and they have all enjoyed it. They have all cited glitches with the app, but no-one seems to have had the full on frustrations that I did, so this could very well me a “me” thing. I really am bad at technology. Really. Phones die on me, computers explode, even automatic doors don't open for me (most likely cos I'm a short-arse) so I really don't want to make too many grand statements about the app, just in case it IS just me. But these are my experiences so I will leave it up to you to decide. I will also say that I sent the guys at Fun Toys a tweet asking about the Bluetooth when it first went weird, and they came back to me straight away and offered assistance both on twitter and email, so that was awesome customer service and I rate that really highly (have edited out email address for privacy).

I will also say that my kegels are even stronger than they were at the start of this journey. I would put that down to the regularity in which they suggest you exercise, the fun of the buzzing (and the frustration of the NOT buzzing which makes you squeeze even harder and, although is probably an error in the sensor, definitely helped my strength!) and that, in turn, keeps you going back. Even the app, before it decided to be a pain, was fun for a while and got me on the right track.
I will give these balls a 6 out of 10. If the app was a bit easier to understand and user friendly for a techno-dimwit like me, I would probably have given it an 8.

Happy Buzzing, My Friends!