12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 1 Fantastic Toy Company

Here’s a riddle for you. What’s sexy as fuck, smells wonderful, and makes kinksters swoon?

No, not my vagina. Although: that too.

Nah, I’m talking about products made by Aslan Leather. Like my vag, they are glorious beacons of kinky wonderment, made right here in Toronto, and much-revered by sex-nerdy bondage enthusiasts. And this year I’m profiling Aslan as my favorite sex-products company of the year, because I just love ’em so very much.

I met Carey Gray – Aslan’s fearless leader – at a Tell Me Something Good event back in mid-2015, when we co-judged that night’s storytellers. Uncharacteristically for me, I struck up a conversation, because I just had to tell him how much I admired his beautiful products. He very kindly offered to let me review an item of my choosing from Aslan’s catalogue – truly a kinkster’s dream come true.

A few weeks and back-and-forth emails later, I found myself trotting down an alley to Aslan Leather’s sorta-secret workshop in downtown Toronto. I had requested the Crystal Blue Cuffs, and the craftspeople plucked a pair from their overflowing stock drawers and handed them to me, all nicely wrapped and pretty as hell. On my streetcar ride home, I kept taking the cuffs out of my bag, holding them to my nose, and inhaling deeply. Like many people, I have a visceral reaction to the smell of leather: it’s intoxicating, inviting, and sweetly sexy. Even now, if I open a drawer containing one of my Aslan products, the scent wafts out to greet me, and I feel both comforted and turned on.

Since acquiring those gorgeous cuffs, I’ve picked up a few more Aslan products: two collars (one black and one pink, natch), and a pink harness. All of them are absolutely stunning, well-made, sensuously fragrant, and buttery-soft. I swoon a little every time I touch or see or smell an Aslan item. They are simply top-of-the-line, as far as I’m concerned.

A materialistic kinkster’s heart is never sated, so I have a few more toys on my Aslan Leather wishlist. I’d love to own one of their ballgags (somehow I’ve never used a ballgag!), their pink leather paddle, and the ankle cuffs that match my wrist cuffs. I’m also all starry-eyed for the line of bluish-purple leather toys they released as a posthumous tribute to Prince (SheVibe carries the harness from this line, and it’s a stunner).

In 2017, I hope to widen the variety of companies and craftspeople that comprise my kink-toy collection: I want a ballgag from Oddo Leather, a leather paddle from 6Whips, a Lexan glitter cane from RavenHawk, a chest harness from Mad Elephant, and a torquemada from Creative Kink. But for now, I’m pleased as punch that Aslan Leather items make up most of my kinkwear “wardrobe.” They make me feel like the cutest little subby princess when I wear ’em, and that feeling alone is worth the price of the products.

What was your favorite sex toy company of 2016?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 2 Fears Defeated

After I chickened out on going down on a girl during a threesome this year, my male fuckbuddy – the other participant in said threesome – commented, “I wish I could hack your brain and cut your anxiety out of it.”

I could’ve been offended. I could’ve interpreted this as him wanting to circumvent my resistance and artificially coerce me into doing something I didn’t want to do. But I know him well, so I knew what he meant. He wanted to rid me of my sexual anxieties, not only because it would be more fun for him, but because it would be more fun for me.

I can’t argue with that. There are, no doubt, a lot of fun activities I could enjoy if I didn’t psych myself out of doing them. But we can’t control the mental illnesses we’re saddled with, and we can only do what we can do. So I try not to beat myself up for the hurdles I’m not yet strong enough to jump – and I try, instead, to celebrate the hurdles I have leapt over with flying colors. Here are two such hurdles I cleared in 2016.

Doing porn. I don’t even like my partners to look at me during sex. I don’t know why I thought I could handle porn, where the eyes on me would total not only my partner’s but also the cameraperson’s, any other crew members’, and those of the eventual viewing audience. But it sounded fun, to some deeply buried and uncharacteristically brave part of me, so I gave it a shot. It helped that I have a lot of friends who are involved in porn – most notably Caitlin of Spit and Taylor of Feisty Fox Films – so I knew I’d be safe and supported.

I kicked off 2016 by shooting a scene for Spit with the devastatingly handsome Dane Joe, who bent me over a coffee table in Caitlin’s cozy downtown apartment and spanked an epic bruise onto me with a paddle while I stared at a bowl of oranges artistically placed in front of me. And then I got to eat a cupcake for having been such a good girl. (This scene was later screened at Smut in the 6ix in front of dozens of people, to my blushy glee.)

A few days later, I got naked in the Glad Day Bookshop for Taylor’s camera, posing with goofy props gathered from around the store. The manager pumped Justin Bieber tunes through the stereo at my request and I wore an unshakeable smile as I sidled around the shop in my skivvies, still bruised from my last shoot.

Photo via Spit.

In February I performed in one of Spit’s live porn shoots at Oasis Aqualounge: Dane Joe bossed me around and fucked me with various toys for the crowd’s amusement, until I had a surprise orgasm while she pounded me with my Eleven.

In May, I skipped over to Taylor’s house with a tote bag full of sex toys and masochistic implements. He and his photographer pal Caroline Fox trained their video cameras on me, and I didn’t feel nervous at all – instead, I came alive, perked up, put on a show. I smacked myself silly with my stone crop, then fucked myself with toys until my body burst into climax.

In June, I showed up at Riverdale Park in full rockabilly garb. Caroline, shooting for CherryStems this time, helped me sleuth out a relatively secluded area in the middle of the park, and I saucily stripped off my clothes while she snapped away. Then she handed me an ice cream cone and I fellated it with the juicy joy of someone who loves sugary treats as much as she loves blowjobs. (A lot.) Being photographed for CherryStems felt like the fulfilment of a very old wish: I’d longed to do pinup modeling since I was a wee lass poring over SuicideGirls.com before I was legally allowed to view such materials.

Mid-year, I complained on Twitter that I’d never shot blowjob porn and wanted to – and to my surprise, I got a DM from the owner of one of my favorite dicks, volunteering his gorgeous cock for me to suck on camera. I contacted my friends at Spit and managed to organize things so both Bex and I could shoot scenes for them while Bex was visiting Toronto that month. Bathed in soft light and the giggly glow of a happy little princess, I knelt on the floor between my fuckbuddy’s knees and Spit’s artistic director John Bee shot us in a stunning POV BJ scene. Weeks later, me and my co-star huddled together in my bedroom with boozy ciders and watched the scene on my little laptop. “Do I look pretty?” I asked him, and he replied, “You look very pretty. And sexy. And determined.”

Porn has never been a career ambition for me, never something I took very seriously – I’ve always done it for the fun and thrill of it, more than for money or glory (both of which there is little of, in Canada’s small porn scene). So I don’t know if I’ll do much more of it, now that I’ve basically achieved what I wanted to achieve by gettin’ sexy on camera. Maybe in 2017 I’ll shoot a solo scene for MakeLoveNotPorn.TV, or spank a pretty girl for Taylor’s camera, or co-blow a handsome person for Spit. Only time will tell…!

One-night stands. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate fear from regular ol’ dislike. Prior to this year, I’d always theorized that one-night stands would not be my jam (peep this old post where I wrote, “I’m soooo not interested in sex where the partner and I know nothing about one another… Boring!”), but this year I finally delved into them a little bit. I had one in Minneapolis and a couple more back home in Toronto.

Those experiences were okay, but they also confirmed for me what I’d already suspected: that one-night stands are not my preferred type of sex, not at all. I didn’t have an orgasm during any of those three encounters, and it wasn’t a coincidence: sex with a brand-new partner who’s a near-stranger is rough on my anxiety, making it hard for me to relax into pleasure, plus my genitals’ preferences are so specific that someone really needs to bang me a few times before they’ll learn how to get me off. With one exception (a porn shoot at a sex club, using amazing toys), all the orgasms I had during partnered sex this year were with steady romantic partners or consistent fuckpals – people who knew my body, and who I felt comfortable bossing around til they learned what worked.

Another factor that makes one-night stands not-so-great for me: there’s often alcohol involved! It isn’t necessary for us to drink before boning, of course, but it just shook out that way a lot of the time: either we went on a Tinder-borne pre-bang drinks-date, or we met at a bar or party where there was some boozin’. Alcohol numbs sexual sensation, which – for me, during one-night stands – just compounded my already-extant orgasm troubles in those situations.

It’s interesting how sometimes conquering a fear introduces you to your new favorite thing (that’s what happened for me with improv!), but other times, it just shows you how much you dislike the thing you once feared. It’s still always better to know than to suspect, though, so I’m glad I did the legwork and learned one-night stands aren’t for me. Sexual empowerment is a process, and part of that process is learning what you like and what you dislike.

I think in 2017, I’ll avoid one-night stands. (To the best of my ability, anyway. Sometimes you can’t predict when a sexual encounter will be a one-off.) The only reasonable exception I can imagine is if I’m desperately craving a dick in my mouth – in which case, I won’t be especially concerned with getting off, so it won’t matter if the non-BJ parts of the experience are subpar. I’m hoping my sexual situation in 2017 will involve some more consistent, longer-term sexual partnerships – but if not, I think I’d rather just double down on masturbation than risk terrible sex with a stranger!

What fears did you conquer in 2016?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 3 Fave Encounters

Today’s “12 Days of Girly Juice” instalment sums up my three favorite bang sessions of the year, and I have an embarrassing secret to confess: unlike last year’s diverse trio of fucktimes, all three of these encounters were with the same person.

It’s embarrassing because it implies that he’s the only good partner I’ve had all year, out of the 12 partners I had in 2016, and that none of the others were worth remembering or writing about. That’s not true at all; I had so much good sex this year and all of it was worthy of celebration!

But there are emotional factors at play which affect how I think about all those encounters. Many of those people have peaced out of my life, after messy break-ups, painful rejections, and/or shocking betrayals – and that drama retroactively mars the memory of the sex I had with those folks. What was amazing sex at the time just feels sad in retrospect.

The following three stories are about a fuckbuddy I’m still friendly with, one who doesn’t make me feel sad, resentful, angry, or betrayed. As such, my memories of sex with him have been left untouched by chaotic emotions, so I’m free to recall these memories in their full splendor. They seem every bit as hot, fun, exciting and transformative now as they did then.

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I snapped this selfie for Bex before embarking on my BJ date. “Do I look pretty?!”

Impromptu blowjob date

On the evening of February 11th, I sat in a lukewarm bath, realizing my sex life was about to change.

A few days earlier, I’d blown a fuckpal whose dick just jived with my mouth. Craving blowjobs was a completely new thing to me, so it’d taken a few days to sink in: not only did I enjoy blowing him, not only did I want to do it again, but I couldn’t stop thinking about doing it again. This was, for me, unprecedented.

In a sudden fit of impulsive bravery, I leapt out of the bath, grabbed my phone, and tapped out this DM to the aforementioned good-dick’ed dude:

Apologies if this comes across as crass or un-“chill,” but I have been thinking a lot about going down on you and would 100% be down to do that again sometime soon. Just lemme know. Sincerely, girl who is totally not this much of a BJ perv with most people but just had to speak what’s on her mind(/vag).

His reply was, shall we say, enthusiastic. We hammered out details, I threw on some clothes, and then I ventured out into the icy Toronto evening, en route to dat dick.

I gave him two blowjobs that night: one when I arrived, amid giggles, blushing, and R&B slowjams – and one later, after we’d gone out for drinks and dinner, when he muttered darkly into a kiss, “I’m thinking about your mouth…”

Sexual tastes take time to shift; it’s rare for a kink to spring up, fully formed, overnight. So maybe my descent into the Blowjob Fandom was more gradual than I realized. But for me, this is the night I’ll always remember as The Beginning of My Blowjob Obsession. Some dicks are so good, they make history in your life. Some dicks are so good, they rewire your brain. Some dicks are so good, they conjure desire where before there was only distaste.

Some of the toys I brought with me to our hotel-buttsex date (and a bottle of gin).
Some of the toys I brought with me to our hotel-buttsex date (and a bottle of gin).

Anal sex in a sketchy hotel

When we went out for dinner and drinks between Blowjob One and Blowjob Two (which sounds like a duo of Dr. Seuss characters I’d dearly love to meet), we discussed the possibility of him being the first person to fuck me in the ass.

It hadn’t occurred to me before that night in that Distillery District pub, but this particular fuckbuddy was really the perfect person to usher me into the world of anal sex. I liked and trusted him, we had good sexual rapport, and he had experience with butt stuff from both sides of the dick. He outranked me in the realm of Butt Wisdom, and I trusted him to guide me through the experience.

We booked a cheap hotel for the following Monday night and met up there, both nervous as hell and self-medicating with weed (him) and gin (me). We set the scene by cuddling, talking, and joking around. And when we were ready, we started into a sex sesh that lasted about four hours in total. Four languid hours of messing around, laughing, and trying things out. My butt got fucked at some point during the proceedings, but it didn’t feel like the Main Event; everything else was so much fun that the actual butt stuff felt very low-pressure and almost like an afterthought.

This night confirmed what I already knew: that goofy, relaxed sex is my favorite kind, that a shared sense of humor and rapport is vitally important to my sexual enjoyment with a partner, and that – yes! – I like getting fucked in the ass.

I don’t know that it’s always useful to agonize over who should be “your first” when it comes to a particular sexual act. I’m endlessly picky about who I want to fist me first, for example, whereas the first person I ever had sex with was just a friend, for whom I didn’t have sexual feelings. I think the importance of the person really depends on the specific act – and because anal sex is highly intimate, emotionally risky, and physically tricky, I’m super glad I held out for someone I deeply trusted and adored. The experience could not have been any better, truly. I think back on it with immense fondness and gratitude, and I hope my butt gets fucked more in 2017!

28042689031_dbf0210c7d_oBAMF threesome

One night in April, my then-boyfriend was over an hour late to meet me. I complained to Bex, who said, “You know who’d never be late to meet you?” and then they said the name of my fuckbuddy, who, at that time, I hadn’t seen in quite a while and missed a lot.

Bex was joking about my FWB being better for me and nicer to me than my boyfriend, but they were also right. That boyf was disrespectful, unfeminist, and made me feel terrible about being a sexual person. He always wanted me to “warn him” in advance if I wanted sex, acted like it was a favor he’d begrudgingly do for me, and talked about my body less like a hot piece of ass and more like a mildly distasteful science experiment. Though I didn’t want to admit it, I missed having sex with people whose approach to sex was spontaneous, enthusiastic, and joyful. Like that far-away fuckbuddy.

After tweeting about Bex’s remarks, I went to bed, because I had work early the next morning. By the time I woke up, Bex had a) had a conversation with said fuckbuddy about my tweet, b) explained that my boyfriend was basically the worst, and c) established that me, Bex, and the FWB should totally have a threesome. Bex makes dreams come true. They hadn’t gotten the go-ahead from me to set this up, but they didn’t need to: months earlier, on a streetcar, I’d randomly turned to them and said, “Hey, hypothetically, would you ever want to have a threesome with [my FWB]?” to which Bex immediately said, “Yeah!” So there was a precedent. And now that plan had been set in motion.

Over the next six weeks, we planned, brainstormed, sexted, and negotiated. I booked a bus ticket to New York and wrote a decidedly sex-centric packing list. We titled this landmark event “the BAMF threesome” – “Bean (Agender)/Male/Female threesome” – or, alternatively, “The Great Threesome of 2016.” I broke up with my boyfriend, in part because I realized I’d never been half as excited about him as I was about this threesome.

We wore matching rainbow socks, 'cause we knew the dude liked 'em.
We wore matching rainbow socks, ’cause we knew the dude liked ’em.

I took a 10-hour overnight bus from Toronto to New York, and then trekked from the bus station to Bex’s Queens apartment with my little suitcase and backpack full of sex toys. When I arrived, I found that we were wearing the same shirt, which just reiterated the whole “we are gonna sexually team up on a dude tonight” vibe.

The threesome itself was fucking adorable. Dude came over, showered, and the three of us nervously cuddled on a couch for an hour or two, talking and catching up. Then we semi-awkwardly transitioned to kissing, moved to the bed, and took some clothes off. What followed was a blurry mess of blowjobs, fingerbanging, spanking, fucking, biting, dirty-talking, and laughing. It was a magnificent synthesis of two people I love very much and all my favorite aspects of sex. So, basically: the best.

Despite all the threesomes I’ve been involved in, they’re not really my jam – I prefer the unbroken focus and intensity of one-on-one encounters. But sometimes the stars just align, and a magic threesome materializes from the ether like a stroke of genius. This was one of those. More than a sexual encounter, it was a bonding experience, a true test of friendship, some serendipitous playtime. I felt so lucky to know both of those people.

When we were done fucking, we ordered Mexican food, ate it while sitting unselfconsciously naked on Bex’s bedroom floor, and then climbed into bed for a cuddly three-way snooze. I’ve rarely gone to bed so happy, comfortable, and satisfied in my life.

 

What were your favorite sexual encounters of 2016?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 4 Fun Events

This year I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder – a pronouncement so obvious to me and anyone who knows me that it was hardly necessary at all. My friends have seen me hyperventilate on the stoop outside a party, walk around the block six times before feeling ready to enter a gallery opening, smoke weed on my way to a networking event to make my presence possible, and break down crying in a busy Starbucks because I physically couldn’t walk into the newsroom at my school. Suffice it to say, events can be hard for me.

While social anxiety is moreso a curse than a blessing, it does make me extra grateful for events where I actually feel comfortable. It helps to have friends accompanying me who understand the anxieties I deal with, and I’m fortunate that wonderful friends accompany me to events more often than not these days. All my favorite events this year were favorites because of the fun, kind, welcoming people I got to hang out with – some of whom may not even know how much I appreciated having them there. Here are those events…

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#HaveDildosWillTravel is the official name and hashtag Taylor, Caitlin, Bex and I gave to our cross-country road trip in the springtime, after rejecting other options like #CarOfQueers, #RoadTripOfBabes, and #HitTheRoadJackOff.

Planned meticulously in Google Drive documents (mostly by Bex, my hero) over the course of several weeks, our trip began in New York, then meandered through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, until we reached our destination, Minneapolis. Along the way, we attended a sex conference, bought kink implements at a toy store, oohed and aahed at the Leather Archives, introverted at queer cafés, ate artisanal donuts for breakfast every day, shopped at the Mall of America, ogled Colin‘s sex toy studio, and visited multiple queer-owned sex shops. On the morning of my 24th birthday, I woke up in Bex’s sister’s femme-as-hell bed in a Pennsylvania farmhouse; that night, I went to bed in a swanky hotel in Chicago.

The cast of characters on our wacky trip included, among others: a diner owner’s mother who didn’t understand our collars, an enthusiastic leather archivist who complimented my vulva ring, a helpful moustachioed hotel clerk, a hot domly dude who owned a kink-themed coffee shop, a beardy Tinder boy who owned far too many nerdy snapbacks, a self-identified radical fairy named Dragon who had once made “consent-based vegetable porn” on a commune, a friendly Tinder stranger nicknamed Face Tattoo, and a lifelong hero who kissed me on a sunny side street.

Although I’m 24 and have therefore theoretically been an “adult” for quite some time, it’s only within the past year and a half that traveling without my parents has become a frequent and normal thing for me. This feels like a rite of passage, a bastion of grownupdom, a milestone in my journey toward self-sufficiency. But though it makes me feel independent, I don’t have to do it all alone. Traveling with friends is so damn much fun. We laughed practically all day every day during #HaveDildosWillTravel, about everything from sex to scenery to selfies, and it’s a trip I will always remember fondly.

Photo from Smut in the 6ix’s Facebook page.

Smut in the 6ix sounded like a literal dream come true when I first heard of it. A collaboration between Playground and Spit, Smut was a day-long celebration of the burgeoning indie porn scene in my hometown of Toronto. During the day, porn nerds gathered for panel discussions about the technical, social, artistic, and political facets of porn creation. At night, there was a big gala with live performances, porn scene screenings, and lotsa dancing. Told you: a dream come true.

I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel at Smut, and was also invited to perform some music at the gala. It was a terrific honor to be involved. I’m so grateful to Caitlin K. Roberts, Samantha Fraser, and Claire AH for organizing the whole shebang; as always, it was a delight to convene with my fellow sex-positive weirdos and get nerdy together!

In 2015, it made me super sad to see my favorite sex bloggers social-media’ing about all the fun they were having at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I resolved to do my very best to make it to the Summit in 2016 – and I managed to save enough money to make it happen. Hooray!

I flew to Washington by myself without having an anxiety meltdown (success!) and checked into the hotel, where I was sharing a room with Sarah and Artemisia. I hadn’t met either of them in person before, but they were so delightful, and totally ideal roomies for me!

Sex-positive events are where I feel most able to be myself. My anxiety mostly melts away and I throw caution to the wind: I dress weird, speak my mind, laugh loudly, and go on adventures. It helps that people actually know who I am at these events, making me feel like a powerful little starlet! Woodhull had also thoughtfully set up a “bloggers’ lounge,” perfectly appointed with coffee galore and sex toys to fondle. I felt truly in my element.

I wish I could’ve gotten to know everyone at Woodhull, but like many bloggers, I’m an anxious introverted weirdo and could only do what I could do. Luckily, though, I did make several new friends. April offered to let me borrow her lipstick for blowjob purposes; Mandi‘s laugh lit up my life; Lorax‘s dark sass slayed me; Sarah was so adorable and clever I wanted to high-five her constantly; I quaffed wine with Mary and Harry; I cooed over Crista‘s killer eye makeup and bought an Ethical Misandrist sticker from her; Polly‘s sex stories kept me on the edge of my seat; I finally got to ogle (part of) Lunabelle‘s epic dildo collection in person; I delighted in Girl on the Net‘s hilarious sexy poems; and Sugarcunt frequently made me laugh so hard I thought I might choke to death. Plus I got to spend time with several treasured blogger friends I’d met before: Suz, Piph, Lilly, CaitlinHedonish, JoEllen, and of course, my bestie Bex.

I spanked a beautiful butt, learned about sex ed and sexual freedom, attended a fancy gala, and snapped selfies with femme friends. It was truly – to steal a phrase from Lilly – “like sex-blogger Christmas.” I’m already daydreamin’ about Woodhull 2017, and it can’t come soon enough.

Photo via Taylor J Mace.

Bex wanted a spanking party for their 25th birthday, and so, #BirthdayBruises was born. It was lovely to celebrate this milestone with sex-savvy friends both local and far-away. I put on a ridiculous outfit and pranced around our cozy Airbnb playing hostess – a role which involved everything from serving drinks to administrating the livestream to spanking the birthday bean. When Bex had taken all they could take, they were accosted by cuddles on the couch and I brought them some refrigerated mint-chocolate truffles. Sex bloggers really know how to party, y’all.

I’m so glad that this experience was affirming and uplifting for Bex. It was for me, too, even though I barely got hit at all. It’s always comforting to marry my sex blogger life with my IRL/offline life, to blend those two friend groups together, to embody all my favorite parts of myself without needing to compromise or hide any of them. This party also demonstrated my friends’ immense generosity: guests helped us with tech troubles, took over hosting duties when Bex and I were otherwise occupied, and (of course) harnessed their brawn to make Bex’s birthday-spanking fantasies come true. Gosh, I love my friends.

What were your favorite sex-positive or sex-adjacent events in 2016?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 5 Sex-Savvy Superheroes

One of the reasons I love the sex-positive community so much is that it’s chock full of excellent mentors and role models. At 24, I am but a baby in the grand scheme of things, and there are so many people who know more than me, and have more experience than me, and have learned things the hard way so that people like me can learn them the easy way. I find that reliably comforting.

Here are five people who’ve particularly influenced my sexual evolution this year, all for the better…

14474500_776431015829192_2600787072084082688_nTina Horn. It’s surprising Tina wasn’t on my list last year, actually; she’s been one of my favorite voices in the sex-positive sphere for a long time. But this year she did so much excellent work and introduced me to so many useful new ideas and fascinating new people. In fact, two of the other folks on this list, I discovered primarily because they guested on Tina’s podcast!

Tina’s book Sexting helped me get better at that titular act, while giving me a more nuanced understanding of the theory and ethics behind it. Her writing on sexual morality, porn, and sex work is always captivating and well-crafted. And her podcast often introduces me to kinks I’ve never heard of or haven’t thought about very deeply before – like latex, fire, bootblacking, and puppy play – in discussions that are as nuanced and nerdy as the kinks themselves. Tina is certainly one of the cleverest brains in my community and I always look forward to seeing what she’ll come up with next!

cl0mlyrvyaaciocJillian Keenan. I first heard of Jillian on the spanking episode of Why Are People Into That? and was immediately taken with her: the frank way she discusses her lifelong fetish, how nerdy she gets about kink, and her brave stance that spanking your kids is sexual assault. As someone who has a spanking kink and was also nonconsensually spanked a lot as a kid, her work instantly resonated with me.

Jillian’s debut book, Sex With Shakespeare, is equal parts memoir, kink missive, and Shakespeare analysis. It tells the story of her enduring obsession with spanking through the lens of the Shakespeare geek she’s always been. Not only did this book help me dive more fearlessly and fervently into my own spanking kink; it also made me want to write more fearlessly and fervently about the stuff in my psyche that embarrasses me. If Jillian could confess her spanking fetish to her husband and the whole internet in one New York Times-sized fell swoop, surely I can write about roleplay and mental illness without cringing and blushing, right?!

cyvgqb3weaabiseAlana Massey. I truly believe Alana‘s cultural writing is some of the most important of this decade. Though she went to divinity school, she now writes about a broad range of topics: sex, love, labor, femininity, and technology, to name but a few.

Though you may or may not be familiar with her name, two of her most well-known pieces went so thoroughly viral that you’ve probably read them or at least seen them on your social media timelines. “The Dickonomics of Tinder” spelled out the central problem with men on Tinder – that hardly any of them seem willing to put in the effort to seem charming and bangable – and also popularized what has become a dating mantra among many millennial women I know: “Dick is abundant and low-value.” I reread this piece periodically when I’m bone-tired of Tinder and need a cathartic rage-laugh and some hope that good men do still exist, somewhere.

Alana also penned “Against Chill,” an impassioned defense of enthusiasm and decisiveness in a culture that seems to want us laid-back and laissez-faire. As I’ve told you before, I have no chill, so this piece resonates deeply with me each time I read it again. Some of my other favorite Alana essays are “The Unlikely Appeal of the Dick Video,” “A Woman’s Right to Say ‘Meh,’” “Feeling Lonely When You’re Single Doesn’t Mean You’re Weak,” “The Monetized Man,” and “Stop Wasting Your Time on Bad First Dates.” I wanted to limit myself to only three links in that last sentence, but I could not; Alana’s writing is too good, too thought-provoking, too perspective-shifting. She’s one of the great writers of the 21st century thus far, and I think far more people will realize that when her book comes out in 2017.

imageSarah Brynn Holliday. I met and befriended Sarah at Woodhull this year and I’m so glad our paths crossed. She’s incredibly brave and strong, a badass social justice advocate whose activism takes many forms. This year alone, she’s written about Lelo’s baffling decision to hire abuser Charlie Sheen as a condom spokesperson, sex toy safety as health justicefatphobia in sex toy marketing, women’s right to privacy, and self-care methods that don’t require money, among other things. She’s always calling out companies when they do terrible shit, highlighting ethical companies, and centering politics in her sex blogging because the personal is political. I admire Sarah enormously.

Though there’s been a lot of debate this year about the term “BlogSquad” and who it comprises, to me, it has always simply signified sex bloggers who are dedicated to intersectional feminism, social justice, sex toy safety for consumers, and so on. Sarah’s a new-ish blogger, having started her site in mid-2015, but to me she completely embodies the goals and values that sex bloggers can exemplify when we’re at our best. I love her and her work and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

crjsy1rwcaag-neLilly. I’ve been reading Lilly’s blog since before I even started mine; she’s a stalwart of the sex blogging world. I was mildly starstruck when I met her last year at the Sexual Health Expo in New York, and I continue to be mildly starstruck every time I remember she’s my friend now.

An incomplete list of the brave, badass things Lilly has done in 2016: When she won the #1 spot in Kinkly’s annual list of top sex bloggers, she wrote about the flaws in the ranking system and why these rankings can be hurtful. She has allocated her Kinkly prize money for scholarships to help other bloggers get to Woodhull, instead of just pocketing it (which she would have been well within her rights to do, given how hard she works on her blog). She has worked to build bridges between communities of sex bloggers and values our community enormously. She’s actively using her platform to help less privileged bloggers get to sex conferences so we can all hang out and learn together.

Also, on a personal note: at Woodhull this year, there was one particular afternoon when I hung out with Lilly and Epiphora in Piph’s hotel room, and told them semi-tearfully about a romantic interest who was treating me badly at the time. They both confirmed for me that his behavior was unacceptable and that I should call him out, set some boundaries, and expect better from him in the future. It was surreal and deeply appreciated to receive romantic advice from the two sharp-tongued bloggers who made me want to start my site in the first place. I can always, always use more people in my life to remind me that I’m awesome and worthy of respect, so I’m super grateful to Lilly and Piph for the support they gave me that day.

 

Who were your sex-positive heroes, idols, and role models in 2016?