Links & Hijinks: Blowjobs, Dopamine, & Carmen Miranda

• Girl on the Net wrote about rediscovering the real joy of sex after stressing yourself out thinking that sex “should” be joyful. I love pieces like this which acknowledge the sometimes unglamorous realities of sex, which many people feel broken for experiencing.

• Here’s some men talking about their sex toys. There’s lots to like about this article, but I particularly lost my shit over this line: “Men can orgasm at the drop of a hat, generally speaking (at least if it’s a particularly sexy hat — I’m thinking a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, that big wide-brimmed one Beyonce wears in the Formation video, one of those ones that has a beer can on either side).”

• Is mocking a man’s small dick on par with the body-shaming experienced by women? To me, the answer is “obviously yes,” but this article is still worth a read, if just for the absurd story therein about two Instagram models whose post-breakup drama played out online in the form of passive-aggressive dick snipes.

• “I can’t stop thinking about penetration” is one of the best opening sentences I’ve read in a while. Here, the Establishment’s Katie Tandy writes beautifully about penis envy and power dynamics.

• The great Alana Hope Levinson’s thoughts on “the cuckboi” made me shriek with laughter. “The cuckboi understands that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, unless you’re eating pussy.” TOO GOOD.

• On the loquacious raving and “intrusive thinking” that happens when you have a new crush: “When the object of your desire isn’t around, and therefore you lack that dopamine rush in your brain, you might feel like you’re in withdrawal. So, you may try to achieve small dopamine rushes from talking about your crush to your friends.” Gawd, I am so guilty of this. Sorry, friends.

• My bestie wrote about why they love blowjobs*sigh* Why am I not blowing anyone right now?! (Well… this post was prewritten and queued up in advance, so I guess it’s possible I am blowing someone right now, as you read this. Who can say?)

• Bex also wrote about sex ed, sex-positivity, and meeting people where they’re at. I love this. I’ve only been working in sex toy retail for two months but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these concepts from working on the “front lines.”

• This piece on anxiety and productivity is haunting and important. Read this if the current state of the world makes you anxious and so do thoughts of resisting, standing up for what matters, making change.

Trans kink porn is important! God, this article reeeeeally made me want to watch The Training of Poe…

• Depression may actually have a positive evolutionary purpose. Certainly puts things in perspective! “This framing of depression as a space for reflection is empowering, and lends a degree of agency to the person being pressed down,” Drake Baer writes. “Like anxiety, depression might be trying to tell you something.”

• A “boyfriend dick” is the kind of dick you could see yourself settling down with. I must say, though, I prefer the more gender-inclusive phrase “good dick,” which really says it all! (Incase it wasn’t obvious: the concept of a “good dick” is very subjective. Please don’t worry about whether your dick is good or not. If you keep it clean and use it respectfully, there are lots of people who would consider it a “good dick,” I promise.)

• What happens when best friends control each other’s vibrators?! (I think me and Bex should try this sometime.)

• Maybe we need to reject body-positivity and embrace body-neutrality. I love this idea! “Neutrality is the freedom to go about your day without such a strong focus on your body,” says one of the people quoted in this article.

• JoEllen wrote some spot-on guidelines for having good, ethical casual sex.

• This piece about Trump and BDSM argues that consent education, and the communication skills one can learn through practicing kink, are more critical than ever in our current political climate. Interesting stuff.

• I loved this short piece about pain, mindfulness, and transcendence. It spins a whole world out of a few moments of intense (consensual) pain, which is indeed what those experiences feel like to me sometimes.

Review: Zolo Pocket Pool Corner Pocket

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Has it always been common for sex toy companies to blatantly steal designs from other sex toy companies, or is it just starting to happen a lot? Because I feel like I’ve seen crap like this everywhere lately.

The Zolo line of toys caught my eye because it’s all products for men, and there just aren’t that many good toys for boys out there. There’s Tenga and Fleshlight, and there are other companies that dabble in making male masturbators, but the field is pretty limited compared to what’s available for women.

Hoping for something new and innovative, I was kinda pissed when it turned out that Zolo is just a blatant rip-off of Tenga.

The toy I scored for my boyfriend is the Corner Pocket, a single-use masturbator made of a stretchy material. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a bad knock-off of Tenga Eggs.

My boyfriend wholeheartedly recommends the original Tenga product over this sad Zolo copy, for the following reasons:

1. The Zolo is made of a more rubbery-feeling material that seems cheaper and grosser.

2. The packet of lube that comes with the Zolo lists a whole whack of nasty ingredients, like glycerin, propylene glycol, and parabens. Granted, this lube isn’t intended to go into a vagina, so these pussy-unfriendly chemicals aren’t a huge deal – but Zolo’s lube is still significantly stickier and cheaper-feeling than the lube that comes with Tenga products. My boyfriend was so disgusted by the lubey residue left on him after using the toy that he had to immediately go rinse himself off.

3. The texture inside the Zolo toy isn’t nearly as raised and detectable as the Tenga textures. In fact, it’s so shallow that he could barely feel it. He was able to reach orgasm using the Zolo, but he didn’t find it to be a pleasant experience at all, and said he would’ve preferred to just use his hand.

4. Zolo Pocket Pool toys are $2 more expensive than Tenga Eggs, which feels kind of like paying $500 for a cheap made-in-China derivative of a $400 designer handbag, y’know?

In summary: Tenga rules, Zolo drools.

Review: Fleshlight Stamina Training Unit

My boyfriend is a lucky guy. I buy him Tenga Eggs practically every time I’m in vicinity of a sex shop (which, as you might imagine, is often), and this past month I asked him if he’d be interested in reviewing a Fleshlight with me. Naturally, he said yes.

After poring over all the options, he settled on the Stamina Training Unit, or STU. It’s marketed as an aid for guys who want to last longer, but it only “helps” with this problem because it’s so stimulating that lasting five minutes with this Fleshlight is supposed to be like lasting ten minutes in a real vagina. My boyfriend just wanted it because the texture looked awesome, though.

Like I said, he has tried a few Tenga Eggs, including the Clicker, the Wavy, and one of the limited edition models. He reported to me that the Fleshlight actually feels very similar to the Eggs – soft, squishy, textured – but that the Fleshlight is better overall.

Why is it better? Well, one obvious reason is that it’ll last longer. If you take care of a Fleshlight properly, it could conceivably last for hundreds of uses, unlike a Tenga Egg which tend to start to fall apart after 5-10 uses, even with diligent cleaning.

The Fleshlight is also significantly quieter than an Egg. The Tenga products we’ve tried have always produced loud squelching noises that could definitely be heard by a bedmate or roommate. The Fleshlight does make sounds in use, but they’re quiet and subtle. You might even be able to get away with using it while someone sleeps in the same room as you, if you can control your moans.

For my boyfriend, the biggest factor giving it a leg up over Tenga Eggs is the cushiony “vulva” which he can press into his pubic mound. He likes pressure at the base of his penis, not only because it feels like “the real thing” but also because it just feels good, so he appreciates that he can apply that kind of pressure to his heart’s content with the Fleshlight.

There’s also a suction function, controlled by the screw-off cap on the end of the toy, which he doesn’t really dig, though he says that plenty of guys would like it.

He likes that the Fleshlight allows for “a level of disconnect” that the Eggs don’t. Using the Fleshlight almost feels like he’s not jerking off, like someone else is in charge of the motion – perhaps because he doesn’t have direct control over the tightness of the Fleshlight’s grip, unlike he does with the Eggs.

I asked him what he thought of the visual of his penis going in and out of a rather realistic-looking vulva. He said he’d prefer if it was just a plain slit, because as is, it “feels a little objectifying.” I asked him if he thought my realistic dildos were “objectifying” and he wasn’t sure what to say to that. (My boyfriend is such a feminist. It’s nice.)

As for the actual texture of the sleeve, it’s very intense. He’s uncut and very sensitive, so I was worried that this texture might overwhelm him, but he really likes it – as long as it’s thoroughly lubed. I gave him a bottle of a thin Sliquid lube to use with it (the Fleshlight’s material can only handle water-based lubricants), and he says he likes it but it dries out too quickly. Something thicker and more gel-like would probably be a better choice.

The main downside to owning a Fleshlight is that cleaning it is a big fuckin’ deal. You have to clean it after every single use, as soon as possible (i.e. ideally within an hour), or it risks becoming gummy, tacky, or even mouldy. You can’t use soap, only water and maybe some isopropyl alcohol if necessary. You can’t turn it inside out, or it’ll tear. And once it’s clean, you have to set it out to dry, and you can’t put it back into the case until it’s completely dry or it’ll get mouldy. Does this sound like a process you want to go through when you’ve just had an orgasm? Not so much.

Another “con” of this product is that it’s not discreet in the least. For a company that has built an entire line of toys on the idea of “looking like a flashlight,” the STU really doesn’t. It’s way too big and bulky to be a flashlight, plus it’s gold, plus it has the word “Fleshlight” emblazoned on the side of it. Yeah, real subtle. Needless to say, my boyfriend would prefer if the case was plainer and looked less like a prop from a Las Vegas burlesque show.

I asked him for an overall rating out of 5, and he said 3.75. At $70, the Fleshlight STU would be worth the money if he was single, he says, but as a guy in a happy sexual relationship, he just doesn’t use it often enough to make it worth that price tag. It feels great, but the impending cumbersome cleanup makes him reluctant to use it as often as he’d like to. Still, he likes it more than I was expecting him to.

Thanks so much to Sex Toys Canada for sending us this toy to try out!