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Why (Some) Women Love Strap-Ons

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Last week, I found myself at Cafe Gratitude in Los Angeles, eating a gluten-free scone and fuming about gender, as one does in 2016. On the receiving end of my rant was my friend “Lori,” a 23-year-old MFA student studying queer theory. I was saying something like, “Sure, it’s cool that we live in this post-everything world where gender is over and hetero-normativity is off-trend and all the rules of sexuality have been thrown out the window. Life is more free now. But we’re also being forced to ask ourselves some serious questions. Like, ‘Does shaving my armpits make me a bad feminist?’ And, more pressingly, ‘Is my strap-on a symbol of male supremacy?’ And if so, should I set it on fire as a performance art piece?”

Lori sipped her green juice and rolled her eyes. “I love wearing a strap-on,” she said, casually flipping her long curls behind her shoulders. “Even though my dildo is bright pink and it’s this laborious process to strap yourself in, something about it still feels real. It’s some Freudian bullshit, but it just feels so fun and powerful to have a penis.” This wasn’t the “feminist” answer I was expecting.

A few nights later, I met my friend “Claire,” a 31-year-old screenwriter, for drinks at the Sunset Tower. Claire is somewhat of a unicorn in that she’s a straight woman who gets off on wearing a dildo. “Think about it: Men are the ones with a prostate. Why isn’t every woman fucking her boyfriend with a strap-on?” Claire asked, as an elderly man played jazz piano in the background. “It’s crazy, you actually feel like you have a dick. I’ve been pegging this guy I met at a Dave Matthews concert.”

Claire admitted that this was not a bucket-list moment for her. “I knew what pegging was because of that Broad City episode where Abbi pegs her crush, but I was never like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t wait until the moment when I finally get to peg someone.’ ” Her tone turned almost motherly.“I think every woman should experience fucking a man at some point in her life, even just as a therapeutic tool. It’s very empowering. I never thought this would be part of my life story, but here I am. I’m fucking a man.”

After meeting through friends at said concert last fall, Claire and her pegging partner, “Jim,” bonded on a party-bus ride back to West Hollywood, talking about sex.They ended up back at Jim’s apartment, where he produced a double-sided glass dildo—one end for the pegging, the other end shaped like a hook, to be inserted inside a vagina. “It’s essentially a strapless strap-on,” Claire explained. “It’s the chicest kind. I could never go back from this.”

She liked it far more than she expected to. “It’s such a shift in the power dynamic. I kept thinking, I’m literally penetrating someone right now. Plus, it’s a vaginal workout because you have to grip the dildo with your vagina while you use it. It’s basically exercise, which I love. I’m very health-conscious,” she said, gulping her second martini. For the next two months, the two met up for sex regularly. “He would get a colonic every time before I came over,” she said enthusiastically. “He was really on point about his whole anal grooming and cleansing journey.”

Beyond the thrill of the power shift, what Claire didn’t expect was how intimate the sex would be. “The person has to be very trusting of you. You have to listen to their physical cues and gauge if they’re having pleasure or if you’re hurting them. You have a lot of control, and that became very sexy to me. Before Jim, I’d always thought of myself as submissive, but through that experience I accessed a totally different side of myself.”

She made it sound so bizarrely appealing. I wondered if I should resurrect my strap-on from the junk box under my bed, where it’s been in exile since my breakup with my now ex-girlfriend four months ago. When I met my ex, one of the first things I did was run to a sex store and buy a large purple dildo and leather harness. It was my first same-sex relationship, and I was like, “This is what lesbians do, right?” As it turned out, we used the strap-on only like four times in our three-year relationship—partly because it quickly dawned on me that I didn’t need to imitate heterosexual sex in order to validate my queer sex. In the years that followed, I found it insulting when people would ask me, “But don’t you miss dick?” As if the penis is the holy grail of pleasure. Similarly, my androgynous girlfriend resented the fact that just because she wore boys’ clothes, people assumed she wanted a penis. (One day, I remember, she put on the strap-on, looked down, and said, “Wait, I’m gay and dicks are weird. Why is this thing on me?”)

But my worst fear is being one of those cyber-feminists who’s offended by everything, so in order to challenge my aversion to strap-ons, I organized a queer, roundtable lunch with strap-on loving Lori and my particularly opinionated friend Mel, a 37-year-old queer actress.

“My hand is my sexual object,” said Mel, displaying the hand in question, with its immaculately manicured fingernails. “A lot of women get off wearing a strap-on, either psychologically or because of the way it rubs against their clit, but I don’t. I feel erotic pleasure through my fingers. It’s sexual reiki: If I can make you come with my hand, then can I extend that power five inches in front of my hand? Ten inches? Can I sit across the room from you and make you come? When you’re at that level, a fucking phallus seems like kindergarten for me.” The conversation became heated very quickly.

“So is penis envy actually a thing?” I asked. “I just don’t understand why, if you’re queer, you need to bring a fake dick into the bedroom.”

“I know lesbians who, when they go on a Tinder date, will pack their penis in their bag,” said Mel. “Like, that’s their dick. They’re not trans, but they want to be able to fuck their girl without using their hands. When I was younger I wanted that,” she recalled. “I didn’t want a dick all the time, but I wanted to be able to fuck a girl and choke her with both hands, basically.”

“I don’t care to over-intellectualize or over-politicize it,” said Lori. “If you like being fucked by a strap-on, it’s not a reflection on your sexuality. I get where you’re coming from, but if it feels good, then what’s the problem? My girlfriend and I aren’t secretly wanting to have sex with a man.”

This made sense to me. If the point of sex is to create intimacy and to give and receive pleasure, then why restrict yourself from something that feels good just because of the patriarchy or whatever? After all, being a lesbian isn’t about hating dicks, and using a strap-on isn’t about wanting to be a man.

Through my own queer experience, in fact, I’ve learned that it often isn’t true that the more “masculine” or butch woman would be the one to wear a strap-on in the relationship. Mel put it well: “Our default is to think that, in a power dynamic, masculine is top and feminine is bottom. But a butch woman will often want to be subjugated sexually because she has to armor herself in the world so much. She has to be tough, just like a man does. It’s like the Wall Street guy who sees a dominatrix on the weekend. That’s why they say, ‘Butch in the streets, femme in the sheets.’ ”

Speaking of femme tops, I told them about Claire and her pegging saga, which incited a literal round of applause. “I wish more guys would get into pegging,” Mel said. “I think if men knew more about what it was like to get fucked, they would be better at fucking. The only reason men don’t get pegged more often is because of gay shame and bottom shame. It’s really hard for straight men to bottom because they think it’s emasculating, when in reality it can be super hot.”

Beyond all the politics, one can’t deny that strap-ons have a lot of advantages. You never have to worry about a dildo being soft or too small or diseased, and it won’t accidentally get you pregnant. As Mel put it: “When you’re having sex with a real penis, sex becomes all about what feels good for the penis, and then the penis has to throw up all over your tits. But a strap-on is just for the woman’s pleasure. The dildo doesn’t need to be satisfied.”

“That’s true,” Lori agreed. “Dildos are not demanding at all.”

“It’s just a hands-free device,” added Mel. “Like a selfie stick.”

Complete Article HERE!

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8 Steps for Choosing a Strap-On Harness for Men

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By Mistress Kay

Strap-on fun isn’t just for women. Men can have fun, too. Use these 8 steps to choose the best strap-on harness for your needs.

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Did you know that even if you have a penis that you can still wear a strap-on harness? Yes, manufacturers make strap-on harnesses for the male-bodied as well as the female-bodied. While males can definitely wear strap-on harnesses designed for women, some find that the pressure it places on the penis and testicles to be uncomfortable. Strap-on harnesses for male bodies are designed with a penis in mind, providing much better comfort.

Strap-ons for people who have a penis can be used for a variety of play times. Some people like to use them as an alternative to penetrative sex (or in kinky contexts, as a “punishment” where the wearer doesn’t get to be directly involved in stimulation). Other people like to strap them on to continue the penetrative action after the penis has gotten soft (due to orgasm or other reasons). Yet others like to explore the idea of double penetration.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexual side effects of prostate treatments include ejaculatory dysfunction

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Even if patients are 100 percent satisfied with the treatment and can urinate perfectly, they may be unhappy that they can’t ejaculate.

Medications that treat lower urinary tract symptoms and enlarged prostates may cause sexual dysfunction, but some urologists don’t discuss this with patients, according to a survey of doctors.

Although more than half of the physicians said they discuss ejaculatory dysfunction when prescribing the most common treatments, most don’t routinely offer alternatives, the study authors report in World Journal of Urology.

“We need to think about the entire picture as doctors. Even if patients are 100 percent satisfied with the treatment and can urinate perfectly, they may be unhappy that they can’t ejaculate anymore,” said lead study author Dr. Simone Giona of King’s College Hospital in London.

Lower urinary tract symptoms and prostatic hyperplasia – an enlarged prostate – cause difficulty with urination, urgency and leaking. Patients sometimes wait until symptoms worsen before seeking treatment, often because they know treatments could affect sexual function, Giona said.

“That’s very important for some men, even if they’re 75 or 80 years old,” Giona said in a telephone interview. “We need to talk to patients about their expectations and offer the treatments that will help them, including new alternatives.”

Giona and colleagues surveyed 245 urologists attending the 2015 World Congress of Endourology in London. They asked what prostate treatment options the urologists offered their patients, how often they discussed the different types of treatments available, how often they discussed ejaculatory dysfunction with patients and how often they discussed alternative treatments based on the risk of sexual dysfunction.

About 70 percent of survey participants said they discuss erectile dysfunction before prescribing alpha blockers, although there’s no evidence currently that these medications impair sexual function. Most urologists said they discuss treatment-related erectile dysfunction, but those with the busiest practices and higher caseloads were most likely to discuss sexual side effects.

On the other hand, most respondents said they don’t routinely discuss alternative therapies based on the risk of sexual dysfunction, and those with the highest caseloads were least likely to offer alternatives.

“We’d expect that a urologist with more experience would have a wider picture of the best treatment, but maybe they don’t discuss options other than what they prefer or know best,” Giona said. “We need to make sure patients have options and we’re not missing the rest.”

A limitation of the study is that the responses were not analyzed according to the participants’ region or country of origin, which might highlight differences in what’s available. Some countries don’t yet offer some of the treatment options, but few survey respondents marked “not applicable” while answering the questions, the study authors note.

“Patients should mention all their worries and discuss their sex life concerns,” Giona said. “Urologists should get a full picture of what will make their patients happy.”

Current guidelines recommend lifestyle modification, medication or surgery for enlarged prostates. All options can impact sexual function, but some affect libido, erection, ejaculation and semen volume more than other options. In this study, the most common treatments were medications such as alpha blockers and 5alpha-reductase inhibitors, followed by surgical options such as Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) and laser procedures such as Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate (HoLEP) and GreenLight Photoselective Vaporisation of the Prostate (PVP).

“Patients didn’t previously have choices about their treatments and accepted the side effects,” said Dr. Tobias Kohler of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“But now, we’re seeing minimally invasive treatments that offer excellent improvement and low risk of sexual side effects,” Kohler said in a telephone interview.

“Now the conversation needs to be whether patients should take a pill or treat the problem definitively and prevent the progression of bladder dysfunction,” Kohler said.

“Patients should educate themselves on the risks and benefits of prostate treatments,” he said. “Upfront procedures could offer little risk and a lot of reward.”

Complete Article HERE!

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How to use handcuffs during sex in the best (and safest) way

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Please, please, please avoid cheap metal cuffs.

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Considering trying BDSM? If you’re looking for a beginner‘s way in, handcuffs are a really simple and super-fun way to start.

“Restraints are a fantastic way to explore the world of bondage and discover a new level of pleasure and play,” says Megan McCormack, sex expert for Ann Summers. “Using handcuffs may seem pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few key things to know to ensure you’re getting the most of being cuffed and doing it safely.”

Introducing restraints

When most people think of BDSM, a lovely, gentle chat is probably the last thing that springs to mind. But any form of BDSM play needs to be based on absolute trust and effective communication between partners.

“Establish consent, boundaries and safe words before you begin exploring,” Megan explains. “Talk to your partner about exactly what turns you on. Having this discussion through ‘dirty talk’ allows you to go into detail and build up a scenario to play out later, while building the suspense.

“Set the scene; seduce and relax with your partner,” she advises. Don’t have too many alcoholic drinks for ‘dutch courage’ though, safe BDSM play operates on the Safe, Sane, Consensual principle. This basically means you should be in a sensible frame of mind to take part. “Light candles, kiss and build the anticipation of what’s to come. A slow build makes your body more reactive to sensations,” Megan adds.
Pick your handcuffs style

There are so many different types of handcuffs and restraints, it’s really not necessary to walk away with bruised wrists (unless you’re into that, of course). A dominatrix once told me to never, ever use that cheap metal cuffs you see because they will cut your wrists up so badly. Avoid them at all costs.

“Always begin with soft cuffs, such as Silicone Quickie Cuffs. These stretchy handcuffs allow you to explore restraints without having to worry about getting stuck,” she says. You can play around with control, all in the comfort of knowing there are no pesky keys to lose.” Hypoallergenic silicone is a great and safe material for sex toys and accessories – and they’re soft, flexible and strong.

Chinese rope restraints and rope cuffs are also great introductory restraints for first-timers. “They’re made from soft yet sturdy material, and with sliding knots rather than clasp openings,” Megan explains. “Buckle cuffs are often the easiest type to use and their fabric or leather straps cause less irritation to the wrist during wear.” Plus, they’re often adjustable so you can have them as tight or loose as makes you comfortable.

Putting them on

Before anyone gets handcuffed to anything, you need to pick your position. “Whether you want your hands tied above your head, behind your back or to the bedposts, the options are endless,” Megan says. “If you’re the one being retained, you’ll have to rely on your partner to position you in your chosen cuffs. With your discussion beforehand, you should both be quite clear of what everyone wants and is comfortable with.

“Starting with either yourself or your partner laid on your back, and restrained with hands above your head, is a simple and pleasurable position to start in.” Whatever you want to do once you’re in position, is totally up to you. But it’ll leave you free to get into loads of awesome sex positions. “It also means that you can explore erogenous zones and both give and receive oral sex,” Megan says.

What next?

Communicate

“Reassure your partner by talking to them throughout, and telling them exactly what you’re going to do to them next,” Megan says. “This allows them to voice any concerns and can also settle any nerves they may have.”

Play with temperature and other accessories

Temperature play is so much fun, and introduces new sensations to your sex play. “Freezing lube in an ice cube tray is a super fun (and slippery) way to use it. With your lover’s hands already cuffed above their head, add a blindfold,” she says. “One sense becomes heightened when another is taken away. Watch how their body responds as you slide the ice cubes over them – the coldness will also increase skin sensitivity.”

Rubbing the frozen lube on their neck, nipples, inner thighs and genitals makes bloody rush to the area, too. “Kissing and licking their erect nipples, or gently blowing on their chilled, lubed neck will be the ultimate tease.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The Sex Toy Shops That Switched On a Feminist Revolution

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The “White Cross Electric Vibrator Girl” as pictured in a 1911 Health and Beauty catalog.

BUZZ
The Stimulating History of the Sex Toy
By Hallie Lieberman
Illustrated. 359 pp. Pegasus Books. $26.95.

VIBRATOR NATION
How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure
By Lynn Comella
278 pp. Duke University Press. $25.95.

Think back, for a moment, to the year 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. The Beatles released the “White Album.” North Vietnam launched the Tet offensive. And American women discovered the clitoris. O.K., that last one may be a bit of an overreach, but 1968 was when “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm,” a short essay by Anne Koedt, went that era’s version of viral. Jumping off of the Masters and Johnson bombshell that women who didn’t climax during intercourse could have multiple orgasms with a vibrator, Koedt called for replacing Freud’s fantasy of “mature” orgasm with women’s lived truth: It was all about the clitoris. That assertion single-handedly, as it were, made female self-love a political act, and claimed orgasm as a serious step to women’s overall emancipation. It also threatened many men, who feared obsolescence, or at the very least, loss of primacy. Norman Mailer, that famed phallocentrist, raged in his book “The Prisoner of Sex” against the emasculating “plenitude of orgasms” created by “that laboratory dildo, that vibrator!” (yet another reason, beyond the whole stabbing incident, to pity the man’s poor wives).

To be fair, Mailer & Co. had cause to quake. The quest for sexual self-knowledge, as two new books on the history and politics of sex toys reveal, would become a driver of feminist social change, striking a blow against men’s overweening insecurity and the attempt (still with us today) to control women’s bodies. As Lynn Comella writes in “Vibrator Nation,” retailers like Good Vibrations in San Francisco created an erotic consumer landscape different from anything that previously existed for women, one that was safe, attractive, welcoming and ultimately subversive, presenting female sexual fulfillment as “unattached to reproduction, motherhood, monogamy — even heterosexuality.”

As you can imagine, both books (which contain a great deal of overlap) are chockablock with colorful characters, starting with Betty Dodson, the Pied Piper of female onanism, who would often personally demonstrate — in the nude — how to use a vibrator to orgasm during her early sexual consciousness-raising workshops in New York. I am woman, hear me roar indeed.

Back in the day, though, attaining a Vibrator of One’s Own was tricky. The leering male gaze of the typical “adult” store was, at best, off-putting to most women. Amazon, where sex toys, like fresh produce, are just a mouse click away, was still a glimmer in Jeff Bezos’ eye. Enter Dell Williams, who after being shamed by a Macy’s salesclerk while checking out a Hitachi Magic Wand, founded in 1974 the mail order company Eve’s Garden. That was quickly followed by Good Vibrations, the first feminist sex toy storefront; it’s great fun to read the back story of Good Vibes’ late founder, Joani Blank, along with radical “sexperts” like Susie Bright and Carol Queen.
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The authors of “Vibrator Nation” and “Buzz” each put in time observing how sex toys are sold, so have firsthand insight into the industry. Whose take will hold more appeal depends on the reader’s interests: In “Buzz,” Hallie Lieberman offers a broader view, taking us back some 30,000 years, when our ancestors carved penises out of siltstone; moving on to the ancient Greeks’ creative use of olive oil; the buzzy medical devices of the 19th century (disappointingly, doctors’ notorious in-office use of vibrators as treatment for female “hysteria” is urban legend); and the impact of early-20th-century obscenity laws — incredibly, sex toys remain illegal in Alabama — before digging deeply into more contemporary influences. In addition to feminist retailers, Lieberman braids in stories of men like Ted Marche, whose family business — employing his wife and teenage children — began by making prosthetic strap-ons for impotent men; Gosnell Duncan, who made sex aids for the disabled and was the first to expand dildo production beyond the Caucasian pink once called “flesh colored”; the Malorrus brothers, who were gag gift manufacturers (think penis pencil toppers); and the hard-core porn distribution mogul Reuben Sturman, who repeatedly, and eventually disastrously, ran afoul of the law. Although their X-rated wares would supposedly give women orgasms, unlike the feminist-championed toys they were sold primarily as devices that would benefit men. Much like the era’s sexual revolution, in other words, they maintained and even perpetuated a sexist status quo.

“Vibrator Nation” focuses more narrowly on women-owned vendors, wrestling with how their activist mission bumped up against the demands and constraints of the marketplace. Those early entrepreneurs, Comella writes, believed nothing less than that “women who had orgasms could change the world.” As with other utopian feminist visions, however, this one quickly splintered. Controversy broke out over what constituted “sex positivity,” what constituted “woman-friendly,” what constituted “woman.” Was it politically correct to stock, or even produce, feminist porn? Were BDSM lesbians invited to the party? Would the stores serve transwomen? Did the “respectable” aesthetic of the white, middle-class founders translate across lines of class and race? If the goal was self-exploration through a kind of cliteracy, what about customers (of any gender or sexual orientation) who wanted toys for partnered play or who enjoyed penetrative sex? Could a sex store that sold nine-inch, veined dildos retain its feminist bona fides? Dell Williams solved that particular problem by commissioning nonrepresentational silicone devices with names like “Venus Rising” from Gosnell Duncan, the man who made prosthetics for the disabled. Others followed suit.

Even so, Comella writes, the retailers struggled to stay afloat: Feminist stores refused, as a matter of principle, to trade on customers’ anxiety — there were none of the “tightening creams,” “numbing creams,” penis enlargers or anal bleaches that boosted profits at typical sex stores. Employees were considered “educators,” and sales were secondary to providing information and support. What’s more, Good Vibrations in particular was noncompetitive; Blank freely shared her business model with any woman interested in spreading the love.

Consumer culture and feminism have always been strange bedfellows, with the former tending to overpower the latter. Just as Virginia Slims co-opted the message of ’70s liberation, as the Spice Girls cannibalized ’90s grrrl power, so feminist sex stores exerted their influence on the mainstream, yet were ultimately absorbed and diluted by it. In 2007, Good Vibrations was sold to GVA-TWN, the very type of sleazy mega-sex-store company it was founded to disrupt. Though no physical changes have been made in the store, Good Vibrations is no longer woman-owned. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed, Lieberman writes, the idea of feminist sex toys as a source of women’s liberation has faded, all but disappeared. An infamous episode of “Sex and the City” that made the Rabbit the hottest vibrator in the nation also portrayed female masturbation as addictive and isolating, potentially leading to permanent loneliness. The sex toys in “Fifty Shades of Grey” were wielded solely in service of traditional sex and gender roles: A man is in charge of Anastasia Steele’s sexual awakening, and climax is properly experienced through partnered intercourse. Meanwhile, the orgasm gap between genders has proved more stubborn than the pay gap. Women still experience one orgasm for every three experienced by men in partnered sex. And fewer than half of teenage girls between 14 and 17 have ever masturbated.

At the end of “Buzz,” Lieberman makes a provocative point: Viagra is covered by insurance but vibrators aren’t, presumably because while erections are seen as medically necessary for sexual functioning the same is not true of female orgasm. Like our feminist foremothers, she envisions a new utopia, one in which the F.D.A. regulates sex toys to ensure their safety, in which they are covered by insurance, where children are taught about them in sex education courses and they are seen and even subsidized worldwide as a way to promote women’s sexual health.

In other words: We’ve come a long way, baby, but as “Vibrator Nation” and “Buzz” make clear, we still may not be coming enough.

Complete Article HERE!

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