Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pleasure without the risk..

The time has come. Time to talk about the "M" word. Masturbation. (Yes, I'm going there)... As women, I feel like our experiences are different than men when learning the art of self pleasure. Some of us like to light candles, pour a glass of Henn and rub one out with a spliff. Others prefer to bring a trusty waterproof favorite to the shower and handle it like business before the 9-5. While some demand to keep the experience completely romantic and solo, others enjoy including a partner, audience or element of risk to enhance the moment. The different styles, methods, fantasies and techniques are as unique and individual as the orgasm itself.

We grow up with an idea of masturbation that differs from the average man. I remember the first time I discovered the power thst I held in my own hands, I felt confused, guilty, naughty. Needless to say, I got over that fast, but still found myself shy when it came down to buying toys, flicks, and other pleasure enhancers. Little did I know that when I quickly into a grungy sex shop in downtown Minneapolis for my first vibe, I was spending my hard earned money on a TOXIC toy. Yes, toxic.

It wasn't until I found out about a woman owned shop, the Smitten Kitten, that my eyes were opened and I was educated on this "hush hush" topic. Now that I am in NY, I have been meeting some of the most intelligent, vibrant, sexy, talented women I have ever met, and none of them have heard the news. Ladies this post is long, but well worth the read. I learned so much about myself, my orgasm, and how many options there are to achieve the explosion you deserve. Safely.

xo Sarah White

Thanks to the Smitten Kitten for the info!!:

What exactly does it mean, "toxic"? What can it do to hurt us?

In order for products to be included in our inventory they need to meet a number of different criteria. When toys fail to meet the following standards, we consider them “toxic” and DO NOT make them available to our customers.

SEX TOYS SHOULD BE NON-POROUS. Many sex toys are made of mystery materials often referred to as “jelly” toys. These products are highly porous and cannot be sterilized. They also cannot be adequately cleaned. The porous surface of these toys may harbor bacteria and viruses; it’s not uncommon for a “jelly” toy to be the source of a reoccurring bacterial, yeast or fungal infection. “Jelly” toys that develop a cloudy appearance are most likely growing organisms in the porous surface. Many retailers will recommend using a condom to protect yourself from the porosity of these toys.

SEX TOYS SHOULD NOT CONTAIN HARMFUL CHEMICALS. Though there is no way to tell exactly what is in specific “jelly” toys without having them chemically de-formulated in a laboratory, through tests that our non-profit organization (Coalition Against Toxic Toys, commissioned and GreenPeace Netherlands has released, many of these toys are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC—the most environmentally toxic plastic on earth) and chemical plasticizers called phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates). Phthalates are used to make hard plastics like PVC soft and pliable, and are known carcinogens, in addition to being linked to birth defects. While condoms may protect you from the porous surface of your sex toys, there has been no research conducted that would indicate that they will protect you from exposure to toxic chemicals.

So, I have been noticing more and more people have NO idea that some of the toys and accessories are made with toxic materials. How would one know if they have something toxic tucked under the sheets?

It can be extremely difficult to tell what your sex toys are made of—there is no “truth in labeling” requirement for the adult industry—and in the case of toys you already own, you probably don’t have the package that it came in. The best way to get an idea of what kind of toy you have is to implement what we call the “SMELL TEST.” This simply means give your sex toys a good sniff! If they currently (or have in the past) had any odor, you should consider this a big red flag. Toys that contain hazardous chemicals often smell like a new shower curtain or have an otherwise strong plastic odor. They may also be “pleasantly scented” to perfume over the smell of the chemicals off-gassing from your toy.

Products that are made of safe materials (surgical stainless steel, acrylic, glass, hard plastic, medical grade silicone) don’t contain chemicals that will “off-gas” or leach out of the toy. You should be able to sufficiently clean your sex toys with soap and warm water, or sterilize them by boiling for 3-5 minutes or with a 10% bleach/90% water solution.

Obviously your site is a wonderful place to go to find safe toys, but are there an particular brands that you favor?

There are lots of wonderful, safe toys available to consumers—here are a few of our favorites: Fun Factory makes a great line of medical grade silicone vibrators and are really expanding their selection of uniquely shaped dildos and butt plugs. LELO manufactures a line of medical grade silicone vibrators that are rechargeable (just like a cell phone) and those are fabulous to take when you travel. We also are big fans of Vixen Creations. They manufacture the most realistic looking silicone dildos available, and their innovative VixSkin line is quite lovely—an excellent alternative to the “real-skin” type mystery materials that have become so popular.

What do you find is the most common misconception of people coming to shop or workshop in the Smitten?

This is a great question! I asked some of the Smitten Kitten staff members and a few customers and here’s what they think:

Customers: Fear of the unknown. People don’t have a lot of framework for what a comfortable, welcoming sex toy store might look like.

Staff: New customers are often surprised at how knowledgeable the staff here is, and how many educational resources are available to them. Also, lots of people are surprised to find that an “adult” business functions with ethics and a dedication to education as its goal. Once they learn about what we do, they really appreciate it though!

Speaking of your shop, why and when did you decide to open it?

We opened Smitten Kitten in August of 2003 after we identified that there was nothing like it in the Midwest. We wanted to develop a space that allowed people of all genders to access information and feel empowered about their sexual choices while they shopped for toys, lubes, books and porn. Since that time, our store has really developed into something beyond a boutique-style shopping experience. Smitten Kitten is the premiere venue in the region for sex-positive educational workshops, classes and events, as well as a strong supporter of organizations working to make a positive impact on our community.

Being in the business, do you feel women know their Pussy's better now in 2008, or do you feel we still have very far to go before we take control of our pleasure..and our bodies?

I think that lots of women are excited to learn about their bodies! For some, they’re young and have the good fortune to take advantage of all of the sex positive groundwork that has been laid by lots of people before them who have dedicated their lives to helping women learn how to feel empowered about their bodies and their sexual selves. For others, it’s a life long journey of working through lots of cultural baggage and degrading social messages to get to a place where they love their bodies. Each of us is a work in progress, but I’m hopeful that we’re heading in a positive direction.

Last but not least, words of advice (whether it be a book, toy recommendation, etc) to women looking to really tap into their pleasure dome?

Don’t be afraid to explore your pleasure potential! Sexual desire is always changing and you should take the opportunity to learn about what your body responds to and explore what makes YOU feel good. Who cares what kind of vibrator a fictional character on a television show likes? Learn about your body, watch porn, read books, try something new. Most importantly, ask lots of questions. We’re always happy to helps people find resources and products to meet their needs, so stop by the store or the website, give us a call, or send us an email. We’re always happy to help!

Jessica K. Giordani, Co-Founder, Smitten Kitten


achali said...

lol. u goin hard over here! i'm a man that doesn't really dig the whole "by yourself", or the toy thing, but props on opening up the discussion.

cackle said...

I recently picked my first vibe from Smitten Kitten! I too feel the need to be public about my "personal habits" as my mother says because not enough women are aware of the toxic toys & these more empowering toys!

here's a link to my blog post:

Power to the Cooters!

<3 elizabeth

Artistic Bling said...

Achali. Shame on you. Are you saying you never do it "by your self" or you just think ladies should not. My man hates on it too, but if you open yourself to the idea, t could be something to explore. Nothing replaces the real deal, but its nice to have something for when you wear your man out and need round 4.
I know who you are...

achali said...


i do find that with getting older getting to round 4 ain't as easy. lol. i always thought i'd be some magical exception to the rule.

but most men are satisfied after round 1, at least for several hours anyway. so i've never really needed that last "diy" round. but i feel u the sisters tend to have more endurance and so i can understand if after 3 rounds u need some diy.

but situations other than that i dunno. i think energy's better spent lockin down the real thing.

Lichiban said...

I'd say to any man out there who is worried about the DIY 'threat'(I suppose it is common experience, since I heard it several times before): put away the penis-envy , open your mind and listen to us. Masturbation and love-making are two different sexual experiences and they don't collide...there is nothing that replaces the intensity of sex that involves the infusion, exchange, merging of two bodies and two souls. No toy (even the safe can get anywhere near that, so chill out. Sex drive varies, but if you experience cravings all the time, and let's say you don't have a lover (around)..then what? Masturbation is a healthy way of keeping yourself balanced and sane and I think it is about time to update all the medieval concepts and misunderstandings about it. It actually helps to have a better sex life. Toys help women discover their bodies, ways of letting go deeper into the experience, and they don't (!) make our pussy numb. Orgasms have a large mental component--it requires your mind allowing itself to let go of holding back--,and many women learn to let go by experimenting on their own before they ever have orgasms with a partner (so it's actually not all on you gents). Because it makes us more comfortable and familiar with our own sexuality, we will be able to have more free and wholesome sex...and that should be a good thing, right? Until I have a man, I prefer wearing myself out to being a player just to diffuse all that sexual tension. The fact that most toys out there are toxic sends chills down my spine...this is how little the FDA cares about our health. This is why it is time to share with others without having the usual sleez-factor surrounding the topic.

Sallomazing! said...

I use a condom with my toys! lol

achali said...

i hope i haven't been turned into the elected representative of medieval thinking in this convo. merely expressing my preference.