Relationships & Gender | In this together.

So recently I read an article calling it an offensive double standard for a trans* partner in a relationship to expect their partner to address them with the correct pronouns and–egad–even correctly identify the relationship dynamic! The author writes from his personal experience as a trans man who has a partner who continues to be self-identified as a lesbian. You know, despite that label being demonstrably inapplicable and inconsistent with reality. The whole thing seems to be a pretty desperate attempt to avoid stepping on toes. Yes, it is never right to dictate to someone how they should feel or what they should identify as. However, having a partner respect and use the appropriate terminology to reflect your own identity as a trans* person seems like a pretty basic request. That is like the bare fucking minimum you can offer as a partner of a trans* person. I’m truly sorry–I know it’s tough to move away from a label of your sexuality you may feel very comfortable with and identify very happily with, but please understand that if your partner is transitioning, they are going to go through changes a thousand times larger and more numerous. Socially (let alone physically) transitioning is a huge, huge step for trans* people. If you, as a hypothetical female partner of a trans* person, can’t even help your FtM boyfriend out by not calling yourself a through-and-through lesbian and your current relationship dynamic a lesbian one, you’ve got some more serious issues to address than being “offended” by your trans* partner’s honestly pretty mild request. He is only asking for you to open your eyes and respect the relationship dynamic as it truly stands.

This goes for genderqueer, non-binary, and other types of relationships as well as the typically thought of MtF and FtM scenarios. If you as a partner are not sure how to correctly refer to your relationship, by all means, please ask. It may seem stupid at the time, but I can guarantee your partner will appreciate that a million times more than continuing to call yourself a “gay man” when she is in the process of living life openly and honestly as a female. If your partner wishes to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns, it’s very likely references to the relationship should be treated in the same respect. The words “partner” and “relationship” are fairly safe defaults, but every person handles their gender identity differently and the best method is always to ask. Maybe your non-binary female-bodied partner totally won’t mind having her girlfriend call the relationship a gay/lesbian one; it really depends on each person’s individual comfort levels and boundaries.

Again, I do understand I can come off as sarcastic, but I am being completely sincere when I say I know it can be hard to move away from labels you identify strongly with. But here’s where it gets really tough. If you entered into a relationship with your partner and they come out as trans* after the fact, it can be jarring from always being gay/straight/lesbian or any other solid label to suddenly bi/pan/queer or any other label which may now logically fit. The thing is, it is not logically consistent to carry on identifying as a label that doesn’t even work anymore. Even if you’ve always self-identified as straight, if your partner who initially presented as female transitions or otherwise begins presenting as male, it does not make sense for the label of “straight” to still be in effect. The label has been broken. Okay, so you’ve got a few choices now, and I’ll try not to tinge any with negative judgment, because it legitimately can get difficult for everyone involved at this point:

1. You continue identifying as your old, now-inapplicable label. The reality of this choice is that it will almost certainly be very emotionally taxing on your trans* partner. You continue being able to identify as you always have, with the risk of really hurting someone you care deeply about. This is an uncompromising position in one direction: selfishness.

2. You begin addressing your partner and the relationship with the correct, applicable terms. This, unfortunately, does involve some real change on your part. You need to split from your old, possibly very comforting and familiar label in order to help your partner feel accepted as their correct gender. You start using terms that are logically coherent despite very possibly dealing with your own identity crisis as a result of this choice. This is the uncompromising choice in the other direction: selflessness.

3. This choice is similar to the first, but… ugh. You decide you cannot bring yourself to continue being with your partner through their transition and have to end the relationship. Oh my god, this sucks.

3. (cont.) Again, don’t think I am passing judgment; the fire is out of me and I’m left only with sympathy at this point. Please do not think I am expecting the partners of newly-out trans* people to just suddenly, magically alter their sexual desires and romantic leanings. I know this is not probable or even possible without some internal predispositions already existing. This choice is a horrible one to make, but you are (if you are reading this, probably) not a horrible person for making it. If you feel your love cannot withstand your partner’s transition, it is probably for the best if the relationship is ended. Your partner will struggle to be happy with someone who cannot physically or romantically be drawn to them. You will struggle to be happy with a partner you are not actually attracted to, even if you really do truly love them. I’d like to fantasize of love without physical limitations, but this is just not the case for most people. If you’ve landed here and this resonates with you… I’m sorry.

Well, fuck, that was depressing. To summarize: If you wish to maintain a relationship with your trans* partner, be prepared to make some personal changes to your own terminology and identification. It can be extremely hard to emotionally distance yourself from things like this, but it’s important to realize a label like “gay” just simply doesn’t work in relationships involving both males and females. You do need to make some sacrifices and do some work in order to help your partner feel safe and accepted at home in a world constantly seeking to invalidate trans* identities. If you feel it’s not possible to carry on the relationship with the new terminology or dynamics in place, you probably need to bring things to an end. Just… don’t leave your transitioning friend in the dust, okay? Please.

It’s not logically consistent to be in a state of what I’ll call “limbo” in regards to gender terminology. Being self-identified as a gay man while simultaneously being in love with and attracted to a trans woman is not a logical final step. Something has to give. In the end, it is not the place of anyone to force labels onto anyone else. However, as partners in a relationship it is your responsibility to come together and sort out the most honest course of action to take in the face of your partner’s transition. Even if that honest choice hurts like hell. Relationships are things of compromise and toil. These are hard decisions to make. I understand that on a very personal level. No matter what choice you make together, don’t leave things in limbo. Try to find the best way through things in a way that is respectful to all involved.

Slender Tentacle | One sexy cephalopod.

Whipspider Rubberworks is a pretty inspired little company of three friends in Maine. Together, they make 100% silicone sex toys ranging from skeletal ghost dildos to Stag Beetle vibrators. But for today, I’m going to be talking about one of their many aquatic-themed toys: the Slender Tentacle. The Slender Tentacle is the less girthy and more modestly-textured cousin of Whipspider’s Tentacle. I really love the look of both toys, but I decided on the thinner model due to my size preferences and anatomy. Its tip starts at a bit smaller around than a nickel, but increases to an eventual insertable size of about 5.5″ in circumference (~1.75″ diameter). While the Tentacles aren’t really suggested for anal use, they both become a whole lot wider near the bottom and have a textured shaft which is really easy to grip and hold for manual thrusting.

The company advertises the Slender Tentacle as O-ring compatible, but I haven’t been able to test that theory. In any event, this just isn’t a toy that needs to be inserted especially deeply to get some really nice results. It rubs against my P-spot fantastically with only about 1/3 of its length inserted. The Slender Tentacle is my absolute favorite toy for P-spotting. It totally puts to shame any other toys I own which were designed for that very purpose. It’s pretty awesome, is what I’m saying.

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Yes, I totally tried to make it look like it was reaching out from the water.

I don’t know what kind of magic spells people in Maine are able to cast, but whatever they’re doing to the silicone is working. Whipspider’s silicone is, as of writing this, hands-down my favorite sex toy silicone. It’s actually kind of hard to describe; it feels a bit matte and draggy, and is squishy only to a point. It’s a great medium firmness that makes for smooth entry, pleasurable stretching, and good lube retention. The whole toy is somewhat iridescent and there are swirls of all sorts of blues, purples, and aquamarines. It’s fucking beautiful. Also very notably is the fact that I really struggled to find even the tiniest surface flaw on my Tentacle. I hate to load on the clichĂ©s, but it really does look like someone who loves what they do made it. It shows.

ImagePictured: love.

The suckers running down its 7.5″ length honestly don’t add much to the experience. They’re pretty to look at and certainly make your tentacle look more tentacle-y, but that’s about all they capable of doing. All the pleasure I get from this sea beast lies in the curved tip and how I manipulate it. I also may or may not fantasize about being carried away by a sexy tentacle monster. Those fantasies may or may not help get me off in a quick way when paired with the Tentacle’s ability to massage my P-spot and deliver the most pleasant stretching sensations I’ve felt thus far in a toy.

The Slender Tentacle is quickly becoming one of my most-used toys, and I’m rarely not in the mood for some tentacle action if I find myself gravitating toward the toy box. The only complaint I have is a pretty obvious one: I wish it had a proper flared base. I can get a really firm, safe grip on the toy, but obviously being even vaguely worried about a toy’s safety while trying to get off isn’t exactly optimal. Jeez, cephalopods, why do you have to be like that?

ImageWhat’s that? Ooohh! All is forgiven!

Oh, sorry, did I mention the Slender Tentacle freaking glows? The lighter-colored silicone is actually glow-in-the-dark, and just needs to be exposed to a bright lightbulb or natural sunlight briefly before it’s ready to go. Needless to say, the glowing factor adds a completely new dimension to a play session in the dark. I feel silly writing this, but I actually set the Slender Tentacle out on my work desk in front of a big window sometimes just to admire it. Whipspider advertises their sex toys as “interactive sculptures,” and I think that’s the perfect description. The Slender Tentacle is a work of art I can fuck myself with.

Overall, I’m pretty darn impressed with the Slender Tentacle. Using this toy actually showed me how incredible prostate stimulation can feel. Most “prostate toys” are designed for simple plugging and may vibrate on top of that, but what these toys are missing is the ability to massage the P-spot by thrusting. That’s what really makes the difference for me. I am one lucky lady to be in possession of a Slender Tentacle, and if anyone is needing to satisfy their deep-sea fantasies, I cannot recommend Whipspider’s Slender Tentacle enough.

Want a tentacle of your very own? Check it out on Whipspider’s website!

Follow me on Twitter! @sexweasel

Icicles No. 24 | In for a bumpy ride.

Oh, how I’ve lusted after Pipedream’s Icicles No. 24. I’m a great lover of firm, textured toys, and No. 24 had all the intense bumps and ridges I could ask for. Seriously, the toy is lousy with texture. Kind of actually lousy if your vag or butt are at all sensitive to non-stop heavy textural stimulation. I’ve found I have a sort of love-hate (but mostly love) relationship with this toy, despite my eagerness and largely very positive experience with the Icicles No. 1. If my ass is already stretched and ready to go, this toy is just amazing. However, if I’ve got a single little cut or sore spot down there, this toy pretty much sucks. It’s a roller coaster of textures, and if you plan on putting this thing inside you– especially anally–I suggest you experiment with more lightly textured toys beforehand. Look at how highly-raised and regular the bumps are along the toy’s length:

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My first experience with this toy actually wasn’t very positive at all. I’ll even risk looking silly by warning that this particular Icicle might come with a bit of a learning curve. During my first session with this toy, I was so eager to try it out that I didn’t really take my time inserting it slowly, and . . . ow. Not the most pleasant experience in the world, although it certainly wasn’t session-ruiningly awful. Unfortunately, I did feel the need to move on to using a lightly-textured silicone toy for most of my fun that evening. I went to bed overall satisfied, but thinking “I will make that freaky tentacle love me if it’s the last thing I do!”

And I did! A couple of days later my sore spots had gone away and I was determined to try again. This time, I used a little more preparation, a bit more silicone-based lube, and a lot more patience. It absolutely paid off. The slower the movements in and out the more enjoyable this toy is for me. Allowing myself to feel each bump and ridge as it slides into me is a completely different experience versus my usual standard of Complete Thrusting Anarchy. The toy ends in a fun little “swirl” or loop which could be interpreted as a curled tip of a tentacle; this is actually pretty useful for sliding a finger through in order to get a better grip on the now-quite-possibly-slippery toy.

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I promise the handle’s tip isn’t as pointy as the blurred focus makes it look.

This toy is made from borosilicate glass (think Pyrex equipment) and is as tough as it is pretty. It’s also super easy to clean. For most washes I just use warm water and a good mild soap. The only complaint I have as far as cleaning this is that the tongue-like dip on the top of the shaft is a pain to clean lube out from. This is my second acquisition from Pipedream’s Icicles line of glass toys, and despite my not-so-great experiences if I’m having any amount of tenderness, I have to say I’m pretty satisfied. “Satisfied” wasn’t exactly the word I had in mind when I first set eyes on this thing, though, nor were my planned experiences when purchasing this toy so average in nature. To its credit, it lives up to its name as a G/P-spotting toy. The bumps grind up nicely against my sweet spot with a little manual nudging of the toy into the right direction. I definitely gasped “Oh my god,” when I first felt its pressure against my prostate, and there are always bonus points to be had in that arena.

No. 24 is a whole lot of bumps. So many bumps, in fact, that the more subtle “veining,” or ridges, on the underside of the toy’s shaft becomes almost entirely ornamental. I’ve tried this toy as part of nearly a dozen different sessions so far, and I’ve never been able to distinguish the smaller ridges from the rest of the textures. The much higher-raised bumps produce much more powerful sensations which all but drown out any effect the underside’s texture could potentially offer. Mostly I’m noticing the unyielding girth and bumps from this toy. It’s roughly 4″ around and about 1.25″ in diameter at its widest. “Roughly” due to the crazy textures getting in the way of a perfect measurement. I’ve pictured it here with another glass creation from the Icicles line:

24-2A size comparison involving a lighter? Trailblazing!

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No. 24 is around 6″ in length, but I’ve found this really doesn’t matter too much for my uses. The texture is pretty much uniform, and I only need a few inches to enjoy myself with this particular toy. It’s definitely quite a bit wider and more oval-shaped than cylindrical. It also has an interesting crevasse-like indent on the top of the shaft, as mentioned previously. I think it makes the toy vaguely visually similar to a tongue of some sort–I like that.

I really enjoy this strange-looking toy, but every time one thing about it pleases me, another aspect disappoints. My experiences with it and my expectations I had prior to purchasing No. 24 don’t mesh very well. It’s too rough for my liking most days, even when used slowly. But if its texture is something I’m craving, it feels pretty damn good. I can see it becoming a very “when I’m in the mood” toy, but it will never be something I’ll be taking out to use all the time. And honestly, that’s fine. However, I am often finding myself going back to more moderately-textured glass toys like SSA’s Nubby G wand or the previously-pictured Icicles No. 1 after playing with No. 24 for a while. No. 24 is just . . . No. 24. It’s hard to describe it in any one way. It’s beautiful, it’s bumpy, and it might just be too much to handle.

Interested? Check out Pipedream’s product page for Icicles No. 24!

Want to get your hands on it? SheVibe has got you covered.

Keep up to date with me on Twitter! @sexweasel

My origin story.

Hiya, and welcome to my blog! Before I start working on new reviews and focused discussions on all things sex and gender, I’d like to take a moment to explain how I got here. By “here,” I mean as a sex toy reviewer and as an independent writer. Around mid-to-late 2011, I first created my account at an online adult store. I was extremely new to creative writing and a complete newbie regarding sex toys. I still consider my first two reviews ever published on the aforementioned site to be actually embarrassingly bad. However, with the help of a mentor who I will always appreciate for giving me the push to improve and further apply myself, I learned how to not totally suck at writing sex toy reviews. I like to help people reach a decision on whether or not to put money into a sex toy, and I feel my later reviews post-mentoring were able to do that for people. It gave me great joy to see people genuinely appreciate my writing, and I loved seeing comments about people getting excited to try out toys I left favorable reviews of. I actually became part of a team of less than two dozen people to be an official review editor for the website in early-to-mid 2013, which at the time I accepted and considered a great honor.

However, less than one month into my rotation of review editing I started to see smoke rising from the floorboards of this company. There were suspicious and jarring changes to various programs, and from an editor’s point of view, there was an almost unimaginable increase of plagiarized reviews due to a sudden increase from $.50 in store credit per review to $10.00 in store credit. There were so many plagiarized reviews that it actually became something of a miniature miracle to discover an original work among all the garbage. Reviews partially or entirely lifted from others’ work were slipping through the cracks left and right, and the “genius” owner of the company had oh-so-wisely fired every single administrator except for a single betrayer. With a heavy heart, I decided to close my account at the site with little warning. I left before many others noticed there was reason enough to abandon the site, and I have no regrets other than not reaching out to more people who were also catching on to what was happening behind our backs. The company’s community (as of June 20, 2013) is in shambles, and the website’s staff and active community bases are both now little more than empty husks made of lies, anger, and a few shitty people pulling the strings.

I felt guilty initially for leaving dozens of still-honest reviewers in a lurch, but I’ve come to the conclusion that those talented souls are better off applying their writing skills and passion at a place where they will be more appreciated. I truly hope the people reading this will feel inspired enough to continue reviewing sex toys independently and off-site. I think it is so important that the rights to your work remain yours and only yours. I do not advise or promote giving away any work you are passionate about to any company; you should always, always own the rights to your writing.

Something to take away: Don’t let any company or any one person tell you how to develop your style. There are definitely conventions and standards that are rightfully assigned to guide you to effective writing, but your writing style is fucking yours. Don’t let people own it, by legal rights or by pressuring you to change the face of your work. Fuck that. If you have good writing sense, you will be able to tell what is and is not desirable in writing about sex toys. Learn everything you can about grammar, understand the ins and outs of the sex toy industry, and develop your own style. Those sites that assign you a template? Hell no. I was guilty of using templates myself, as I realized the site I used to write and edit for often received free-form reviews much more poorly than templated reviews. This meant that, all else being equal, a templated review would likely score extremely high ratings while the free-form review would suffer from wrongfully low ratings by the community at large. I realize now that no true writer should feel bullied or pressured to use templates and stiff guidelines. Write your own story. Be informative, be awesome, and never stop improving. “Good enough” does not exist. Push your limits as a writer, and you’ll either burn out in the process or arrive on the other side a better writer than you could have ever been by playing it safe.

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