Know Your Body Pt. I

No, really. Get to know it.

I feel everyone should be in touch with their body. Many individuals hand over their health to a practitioner and don’t really check to see what they’re being given and/or told (which can be a problem if the doctor filled out the wrong prescription or didn’t know something integral about the patient’s health that could affect their care). I find it terribly unfortunate that so many people don’t know what’s going on inside them and lay their lives fully in health-care providers’ hands. Not to say we shouldn’t trust doctors, but to trust them blindly is a mistake. Healthcare is a two-way street and I think patients definitely have responsibilities to ensure that they’re getting the best care possible, partially because they have insider knowledge about their bodies/ailments AND because doctors aren’t perfect (did you know many of them receive less than one week of sex-ed as part of their professional training regimen?).

Patients need to know their bodies to better assist clinicians in collecting data to inform decisions about how to proceed in a medical setting AND they also need to educate themselves about the medical processes that are affecting them or COULD affect them (due to risk level, heredity, etc.). However, while I feel it’s somewhat irresponsible to just go to a doctor without knowing anything about one’s body or the medical care one is receiving (or hopes to potentially receive), I must acknowledge that not everyone has access to this sort of information. Heck, not everyone has access to the conversations that would even bring up the need for this type of preparation, never mind the actual information that would aid in it! With that said, it’s my hope that by promoting body-knowledge in certain circles and classes, it will become a more normalized practice and thus spread. Furthermore, there are many different levels of knowledge and awareness about these issues, so while not everyone has to have a PhD, we should all strive to cover as many bases as we can with the backgrounds and life situations in which we are enmeshed.

But back to the point: know your body.

Why? If a patient is unaware of what standard procedures are, what to look for in a provider, how to recognize warning signs for specific illnesses, how could they advocate for themselves and ask for what they need? How could they tell if their doctor forgot something, or if their doctor is incompetent (or, vice-versa, amazing)?

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve gone through some interesting patient/doctor interactions and I’ve reaped the benefits of my preparation. For example, I went to the OB-GYN a few years back and she was very impressed by my knowledge concerning HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), Gardasil (an FDA-approved vaccine that protects against certain strains of HPV), blood-work, and urinalyses. She repeatedly said how amazed she was that I understood all these terms and knew what was going on. I explained that I like knowing what I put in my body and understanding the things I’m told, so whenever I get a lab result, vaccination, or prescription, I look up information about it. For example, I talked about how I’d had my Gardasil shots and so I felt I wasn’t super at risk for genital warts, but that I knew the vaccine only protected against certain strains–16, 18, 6, 11–though not all of them, BUT that 2 of those it covered were the ones that caused 90% of genital warts and the other 2 were the ones that caused 70% of cervical cancer. I also discussed that I was skeptical about having a UTI (which parts of my urinalysis seemed to point to) and we both concurred that it was probably just a contaminated sample, citing the number of bacteria and squamous epithelial cells as proof.

Because of this research and knowledge, I was able to ask things and explain some of my concerns while simultaneously pulling in facts to substantiate my questions and comments. I think this was the biggest thing for me, honestly; being informed helped me articulate better what I needed, thought, and was afraid of in a language that was meaningful and appropriate for the setting. Furthermore, it helped me realize when I was later dealing with an incompetent doctor!

Next article: how to prepare to be a better-educated patient!

Representations of Sex/uality

Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Sex Week 2010 Poster”


This is kind of a cross-post from the SHEEC blog, so forgive me.

My goals for the poster:
  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!
The RESULT:

Advocates for Youth: Criminal Miscarriage (repost)

New Utah law defines miscarriage as “criminal homicide”
Utah is poised to become the first state in the U.S. to criminalize miscarriage and punish women for having or seeking an illegal abortion. Utah’s “Criminal Miscarriage” law:
  • expands the definition of illegal abortion to include some miscarriages
  • removes immunity protections for women who have or seek illegal abortions
This law doesn’t punish individuals who perform illegal procedures; it punishes women. As someone who grew up in Salt Lake City, it takes a lot for Utah to surprise me anymore. This time there aren’t even words for my outrage.
Advocates for Youth has been working with activists in Salt Lake City to see how we can help. Their request was simple: Tell everyone you know about this law.

So far, the national media has been silent on this issue. If each of us does these three simple things, we can break that silence.
Will you take 60 seconds to spread the word?
STEP ONE

Send this link to three people right now: http://bit.ly/CriminalMiscarriage

STEP TWO

If you’re on Facebook, click here to post this story to your profile.

STEP THREE

Simply click here to share this story on Twitter.

Activists in Utah asked for our help. Let’s make sure we deliver.


Sincerely,
Will Neville Associate Director, E-Campaign Strategies
Advocates for Youth


P.S. For more background about why Utah’s “Criminal Miscarriage” law is so dangerous for women and girls, click here.

How [Sex] Laws Are Used To Fuck Us Over

Thanks to Gypsy for posting this article. <3

I urge you to read ALL of the cases. Some you may already be familiar with, but others didn’t receive crazy amounts of international coverage or anything, so they may be new to you. While some sex-laws are definitely necessary in order to protect us, there are definitely some laws that serve to HURT us. Check out the sex-related laws in the United States here. And, um, may I remind y’all that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still in place? Yeah. Let’s talk about that. According to the U.S. Penal Code:

  • (13) The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service
  • (14) The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.
  • (15) The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

Excuse me? 😐 And this is the policy to “take care” of those crazy homosexuals:

(b) Policy.— A member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense if one or more of the following findings is made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations:

(1) That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts unless there are further findings, made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations, that the member has demonstrated that—

(A) such conduct is a departure from the member’s usual and customary behavior;
(B) such conduct, under all the circumstances, is unlikely to recur;
(C) such conduct was not accomplished by use of force, coercion, or intimidation;
(D) under the particular circumstances of the case, the member’s continued presence in the armed forces is consistent with the interests of the armed forces in proper discipline, good order, and morale; and
(E) the member does not have a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.

(2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, unless there is a further finding, made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in the regulations, that the member has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts.

(3) That the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex.

*facepalm*

There are also laws regarding items that are non-mailable because they’re obscene and/or crime-inciting…and materials in some way relating to abortion are mentioned. O.o Check it here.

And on a related note, I still can’t believe the district court in Williams vs. Pryor (1998) considered banning the commerce of sex toys because they promoted “sexual stimulation unrelated to marriage, procreation or family relationships.” I mean, I can believe it, but I don’t LIKE it. Sigh. Dammit, unmarried people have a right to have sex lives, too! They also argued the ban was a good idea because there was legitimate legislative interest in “discouraging prurient interests in autonomous sex” because “commerce in the pursuit of orgasms by artificial means for their own sake is detrimental to the health and morality of the State.”

WHAT. THE. SHIT.

And William Pryor (assistant attorney in Alabama) is quoted as saying there is no “fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm.” -_-;

Eventually (and thankfully), Reliable Consultants Inc. v. Earle (2008) happened and resulted in the federal appeals court declaring the Texas Obscene Device Act as unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment on the right to privacy. Read about it here.

Other cases/info you should be aware of:

  • The 11th Circuit Court (discussing Williams vs. Pryor): “The fundamental constitutional rights of privacy recognized to date by the Supreme Court in the area of sexual activity each have followed from the Court’s protection of a person’s right to make the decision not to procreate without governmental interference. …None of these cases, however, is decisive on the question whether the Constitution protects every individual’s right to private sexual activity and use of sexual devices from being burdened by Alabama’s sexual device distribution criminal statute.” Citing a case involving assisted suicide, Washington v. Glucksberg, this decision favorably quoted: “That many of the rights and liberties protected by the Due Process Clause sound in personal autonomy does not warrant the sweeping conclusion that any and all important, intimate, and personal decisions are so protected….”

So basically, even though decisions pertaining to our sexuality and even our LIFE are “important” and “personal,” that doesn’t mean we always have a “right” to make them without the government butting in somehow. WTFBBQ! It makes NO sense to me that we don’t even own our BODIES in that way. (By the way, assisted suicide is legal in 3 states: Oregon, Montana, and Washington. Read more here.)

Stuff like this (the penal code and the following article) is why I’m so into/involved with the queer, feminist, sex-positive movements. Sheesh. This is also why I think I have only a few good options in terms of where I will eventually live in the United States (best choice so far seems to be MA). But now, onto the article!

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15 Shocking Tales of How Sex Laws Are Screwing the American People

By Ellen Friedrichs, AlterNet. Posted June 12, 2009.

The older I get, the luckier I feel not to have been busted for breaking a sex law. It’s not that I have been doing anything particularly scandalous. Public sex sure isn’t my thing, and I’m not in the habit of spamming my friends and colleagues with XXX emails. But in a world where a teen can get arrested for texting a boyfriend her own nudie shots, I don’t want to take anything for granted.

Really though, my clean record probably has as much to do with where I’ve lived, as with what I’ve done. Growing up in Canada, meant that I didn’t worry about the legal ramifications of losing my virginity to my high school boyfriend. Had I spent those angst-ridden years in Texas, or even Maine, I could have been charged with the crime of underage sex.

Similarly, accompanying a terrified 16-year-old to a New York City clinic for an abortion a few years back could have been illegal if I had done the same thing in many of the 34 states with parental consent and notification laws for this procedure.

So I’ve been fortunate. But plenty of other people haven’t. We often don’t realize that sex regulations extend beyond archaic blue laws banning things like having sex in a toll booth, or forbidding sororities on the basis that women living together constitute a brothel. Such prohibitions may remain on the books, but people seldom, if ever, face charges for breaking them. The sex laws that do get enforced every day tend to be a lot less laughable.

Occasionally, the focus on a particular case can lead to a law’s repeal. For example, in 2004, a Texas mom was arrested for violating that state’s ban on selling sex toys after she was busted hawking vibrators to her friends. The coverage of the incident drew attention to the statute and eventually lead to its 2008 nullification. And famously, following a 2002 arrest for having anal sex with his boyfriend, John Lawrence argued his case before the U. S. Supreme Court, and succeeded in getting the federal sodomy laws overturned.

Nevertheless, for many people, simply paying their fine or doing their time is preferable to embarrassing publicity that can accompany fighting charges. Still, plenty of cases do make the papers, whether those involved want them to or not.

Here are fifteen recent examples highlighting the fact the land of the free, the freedom to express your sexuality can still be pretty limited.

1) Over the past year, New York City has seen thirty-four gay men arrested for prostitution in what many people are calling an anti-gay sting operation. One case, reported by the New York Times, involved Robert Pinter, a fifty-three-year old massage therapist, who was approached by an undercover police officer in the adult section of a video store. As Pinter told the Times, “[the man who propositioned me] was very charming and cute, and we agreed to leave the store and engage in consensual sex.” Pinter explained that man then offered him $50 for doing so–an offer which he says did not respond to. Once outside, Pinter was handcuffed and arrested on charges of, “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.” The relationship between gay men and the police has often been far from harmonious (hell, arrests of gay men in the sixties are what prompted the Stonewall riots in 1969), and this situation has renewed fears that old habits die hard.

2) Despite the fact that Georgia has some real problems with youth sexual health — among other things it boasts the eighth highest teen pregnancy rate in the country — this state has put a lot more effort into targeting teens than it has into helping them stay safe. One particularly outlandish case involves a young man named Genarlow Wilson. Genarlow was recently freed after serving almost three years in a Georgia prison. He had been sent there at seventeen for getting a blow job from a consenting fifteen-year-old girl. Though Generlow was only two years older than the girl, in Georgia, he was above the age of consent and she was below it. As a result, the high school senior was charged with aggravated child molestation. At the time, Georgia had a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for this crime, so that’s what he got. A year into his sentence, the law was changed to make the maximum penalty a still pretty serious twelve months in jail. Even so, it took another two years for a judge to order Genarlow’s release.

3) Florida is famous for it’s liberal views on how little clothing can be considered publicly acceptable. It’s not so liberal, however, when it comes to the kind of sex it considers acceptable for people to have privately. In February, a lawsuit was filed against a strip-mall based private swingers club. The charges came after a year-long undercover operation, and despite the sheriff’s acknowledgment that, “detectives never found any evidence of drug use or sales and never saw any instances of anyone paying for sex.” Swinging is legal, so in the end, the best the cops could do was charge the club with violation of local zoning codes.

4) Starting off 2009 with a bang, seventeen Pennsylvania teens — thirteen girls and three boys — were busted for child pornography. The charges came after a teacher confiscated a student’s cell phone and discovered that the girls had sent “provocative” pictures of themselves to the boys. Initially, the boys were charged with possession of child pornography, and the girls with manufacturing, disseminating and possessing child pornography. These charges could have come with jail time and the requirement to register as sex offenders. The New York Times reports that given such daunting prospects, almost all of the students accepted a deal requiring them to attend a ten hour class dealing with pornography and sexual violence. But three of the girls rejected the deal and instead filed a lawsuit against the district attorney, claiming that offering them such a deal was illegal, as their actions never should have been considered criminal.

Public panic over sexting is growing and as a result the Pennsylvania case is far from an isolated incident. In fact, USA Today reports that between January and March police had already, “investigated more than two dozen teens in at least six states…for sending nude images of themselves in cell phone text messages.” And as a girl busted for sexting in Idaho this June can tell you, that number has surely grown since then.

5) No one has ever claimed that Georgia is a haven for the LGBT community. But a recent decision by a custody judge to bar a gay dad from “exposing” his kids to his “homosexual partners and friends,” is a reminder that in this state, the notion that everyone is equal under the law only applies if the “everyone” in question isn’t gay. In this case, the man’s soon to be ex-wife argued that the fact that her kids have a gay dad has landed them in therapy. So she asked that the restriction be imposed to protect them from discomfort. But as the father said, “In general, that [restriction] will never allow me to have my children present in front of any friends, whether they’re gay or straight — no one hands you a card saying are you gay, straight, heterosexual, bi, whatever.”

6) After his boxers were spotted by cops as he peddled his bike around town, a twenty-four-year-old Bainbridge, Georgia man became the first person arrested there under a new city ordinance that prohibits wearing pants low enough to expose a person’s underwear. Arrests like this have become common all over the country as more and more cities adopt such so-called baggy pants bans. But it isn’t only men who are targeted by these laws. This June, the city of Yakima, Washington, voted to change the city’s indecent exposure laws to include “cleavage of the buttocks.” This means that women whose thong or G-string show can now be fined $1,000 or face up to 90 days in jail. If a child under the age of 14 is thought to be a victim of this form of indecent exposure, the perpetrator is looking at a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Still while most cities choose to focus on legislating visible underwear, some laws take the clothing restrictions even further. For example, an ordinance passed in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana in 2007, not only outlaws “any indecent exposure of any person or undergarments,” but also bars a person from, “dressing in a manner not becoming to his or her sex.”

7) In February 2008, Wisconsin mom, Amy Smalley, was charged with the felony of “exposing a child to harmful descriptions.” The issue came to light after her eleven-year-old son told a counselor about conversations his mom had with him and his brother. These included talking about her sex life, explaining how to perform oral sex and showing the boys a sex toy. The charges, which could have landed Smalley three years in prison, were plead down to a misdemeanor. Smalley was placed on probation and had to undergo court ordered counseling. As the Court TV website put it, “Smalley called it education. Prosecutors called it a crime.” I call it terrifying. As a mom myself, I can easily see having similar conversations. (Okay, not for a while as my kids are only both under three. But still…). Sure, Smalley probably made a bad judgment call. But really, is this any worse than parents who let their kids watch Family Guy and South Park, despite the endless stream of rape jokes and blow job humor?

8) Come 2010, a law designed to protect child prostitutes will take effect in New York State. Until that time, kids as young as twelve can continue to be charged with the crime of prostitution. This is true even if they were forced into the business by pimps. Interestingly, since 2000, foreign-born teens have been protected from prosecution by anti-trafficking laws which view them as victims. For the next year, however, teens with American citizenship may still find themselves in juvie for being the victim of something most people would consider pretty horrific abuse. Hopefully, this is a sign that we are making progress not only the issue of sex work, but on the treatment of juvenile offenders in general.

9) In December, a Florida woman reacted to the penis being forced into her mouth by biting. Twenty-seven-year-old Charris Bowers told police that despite the fact that she didn’t want to have oral sex, her husband, Delou pushed himself into her mouth, and that she clamped down to get him to stop. He responded by punching her in the head until she let go. In the end no charges were filed against Delou, even though it is illegal for anyone, including a spouse, to make another person perform a sex act. Charris, on the other hand was arrested and charged with battery. Apparently, the era of blaming the victims of sexual assault is not a thing of the past.

10) That sexual double standards for men and women are alive and well shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. But a Wisconsin town recently showed just how damaging such notions can be. On consecutive January days in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Norma Guthrie and seventeen-year-old Alan Jepsen were charged with sexual assault for having consensual sex with their fourteen-year-old partners. However, that’s where the similarities between the cases end. Guthrie was charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum nine months in prison. Jepsen, on the other hand, was charged with a felony, which carries a maximum twenty-five years in prison. The Sheboygan Press reports, “Assistant District Attorney Jim Haasch, who filed both complaints, said the misdemeanor charge was filed in part because Guthrie has no prior criminal record. But online court records show Guthrie has a pending charge of misdemeanor battery, filed in October. Haasch would not say whether Jepsen has a prior juvenile record — which is typically sealed — but the boy has no adult charges listed in online court records. Haasch also said the cases are different because Guthrie’s boyfriend is “almost 15,” with a birthday in February. Jepsen’s girlfriend turns 15 in April.”

11) In December, something called a paramour clause was used to force a lesbian in Tennessee to move out of her house and away from her family. The clause prohibits cohabitation of unmarried partners if minor children are in the home. In this particular situation, the lesbian couple had lived together for over ten years. Much of that was with the biological mom’s kids, who were the product of a previous relationship with a man. There was no indication that this living situation was harming the thirteen and fifteen-year-old teens. Nor had the father requested that his ex’s partner move out. Still, a custody judge imposed the rule, leaving few options for the women in a state where same sex couples cannot legally marry. And people wonder why Proposition 8 matters?

12) As a sex ed. teacher, I believe in answering teens’ questions honestly and in using language that they will relate to and understand. So had I overheard a conversation between a New York State high school teacher and some of her students, I probably would have applauded her candor. But I didn’t get wind of this conversation. Josephine Isernia’s school board did. According to the board, when asked for advice on oral sex by one of the girls, Isernia used words that were, “vulgar, obscene and disgusting.” The words in question? Head job, hand job, and fellatio. Isernia was a teacher with over twenty years of experience who had never been in trouble before. Yet despite her clean record and the fact that the students sought her out for information, when 2009 rolled around, she was out of a job and educators everywhere were given a sad wake up call.

13) Remember a few years back when PDA policies were making the news every other day? Lately stories about sexting and mom’s who pose as teens on MySpace, have been stealing the headlines. But rules regarding public displays of affection never really went away and this February, twenty-two-year-old Jessica Garica was arrested at her local mall for kissing her girlfriend. According to Garcia, mall security told the couple, “This is a family mall, y’all can’t do this. Y’all kissed, and if y’all do it again I’m going to write you a citation or I’m going to kick y’all out.” The mall countered that after being asked to leave following the kiss, the couple returned and became belligerent. This, a mall spokesperson claimed, and not the kiss, is what lead to the arrest. Regardless, Garcia is considering suing for discrimination.

14) Imagine this: You’re sixteen and having sex with your boyfriend. You want to be safe so you ask your mom to take you to the doctor for birth control. Most people would call this a sign of maturity and responsibility. The state of Mississippi would call it an incident to be reported to the cops. That’s because a bill that passed in January makes it a crime for parents not to report to the police that their kids are having sex. The Mississippi Child Protection Act of 2009, requires mandatory reporting of sex crimes against children and imposes new abortion restrictions on minors. Though there is much to quibble with in the bill, one section is particularly alarming. This is the clause that prohibits, “the intentional toleration of a parent or caretaker of the child’s sexual involvement with any other person.” Supporters of the law claim that they are trying to protect young people from abuse. But nowhere does the bill distinguish between sexual abuse and consensual sexual encounters between teens. Mississippi already boasts the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Maybe they are striving for the number one spot in preventing parent/child communication, as well…

15) This past November, a convicted sex offender in Oklahoma had little reason to celebrate having his criminal record expunged. That’s because the requirement that he register as a sex offender for life remained. This is particularly problematic seeing as the individual in question is a kid. Due to age of consent laws, he was convicted at sixteen of having consensual sex with a thirteen year-old girl. His mother explains that sex offender status meant the boy was, “removed from high school [and] prohibited from being in the presence of children other than his younger brother. He can’t go near schools, day care centers or parks. His brother, age 11, can’t bring friends into their home. If his brother had been a girl, Ricky [the offender] would have been removed from his home.” The United States has some of the toughest sex offender laws in the world and Ricky is far from the only teen forced to live under such conditions. As Human Rights Watch reports, “Some children are on registries because they committed serious sex offenses, such as forcibly raping a much younger child. Other children are labeled sex offenders for such non-coercive or nonviolent and age-appropriate activities as “playing doctor,” youthful pranks such as exposing one’s buttocks, and non-coercive teen sex.”

There has been talk recently about America’s liberalizing morality. But as long as teens and gay men are still under attack for having sex, and teachers and parents still get in trouble for taking about it, then it would seem as if there is still quite a ways to go before we can claim that this is the dawn of a progressive new era.

Babeland Tip-Sheet

From Babeland.

Care and Cleaning

Non-porous Materials

  • Glass should be washed with soap and water. Do not expose glass to extreme temperatures.
  • Pyrex, a heat-resistant glass, can be boiled, put in a dishwasher, or washed with soapy water.
  • Silicone is our material of choice because it will clean easily and thoroughly. To clean, wash the toy with soap and water or place it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Immersing silicone in boiling water for 10 minutes will disinfect it. Silicone may be shared safely after disinfection. Never use silicone lube with silicone toys; this will break down the surface of your toys.
  • Stainless steel can be boiled, soaked in a bleach and water solution, or run through your dishwasher.

Porous Materials

  • Acrylic toys shoudl be cleaned with soap and water.
  • Cyberskin (also knows as Ultraskin and Softskin) is a delicate material; wash it gently with soap and warm water. Air-dry, then powder lightly with cornstarch (do not use talcum powder; it has been linked to cancer). Store the toys in a plastic bag containing a small amount of cornstarch to keep them from getting sticky. Cyberskin may contain some of the same chemicals found in jelly-rubber. We recommend using a condom on Cyberskin toys.
  • Elastomer is a soft, phthalate-free plastic. People who wish to avoid contact with rubber softeners can choose Elastomer toys as a hypoallergenic, durable alternative. To clean, wash with soap and water. We recommend using condoms if sharing the toy and for easier clean-up.
  • Hard plastic toys should be wiped down with a soapy cloth and warm water.
  • Jelly-Rubber is a soft rubber that cannot be completely disinfected. To clean, wipe the toy with a soapy cloth and warm water. Store it in a cool, dry place away from other objects. Jelly-rubber contains latex and phthalates (pronounced “thall-eights”). Phthalates are chemicals used as softeners or solvents. We do not have conclusive information on the health effects they may have. Because of their porous nature and chemical components, we believe the only way to safely use jelly-rubber toys is with a condom, every time.
  • Leather will wipe clean with a damp, soapy cloth or with leather cleaner. Do not soak leather. Wiping with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution (rubbing alcohol) will disinfect leather toys. After cleaning, you may recondition your toy using a leather conditioner. Protect metal parts from tarnish by applying a coat of clear nail polish. Always let leather air dry and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Neoprene is a synthetic, rubber-based polychloroprene. Wash it with warm water and mild soap, then air-dry.
  • Nylon can be hand or machine washed.
  • Soft vinyl toys have a smooth, flexible surface that is easy to clean with soap and water. These toys typically contain much lower levels of chemicals than those made of jelly-rubber.
  • Vinyl will wipe clean with a damp, soapy cloth or rubbing alcohol.

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Safer Sex Tips

Safer sex doesn’t have to be a chore; just like enjoying a relaxing bath or healthy meal, safer sex is a great way to take care of yourself. Browse these fun and useful tips for making it hot.

Lube should be used liberally, especially between a barrier and the receiver. If you are prone to yeast infections or urinary tract infections, we recommend using sugar and glycerin-free lube. Washing off and/or urinating after sex will help clean out your system and lessen your risk of infection. Do not use oil-based lubes with latex products, including latex condoms. Some lubricants contain Nonoxynol-9, which is a spermicidal detergent that can irritate skin and delicate membranes, making you more susceptible to STDs. Babeland does not carry products with Nonoxynol-9.

Barriers should be used for safer sex with partners and/or toys. Buy extras and play with them before partner sex so you know how they work. Use condoms on porous toys, like rubber or latex to protect you from the chemicals in these toys.

Non-latex Barriers can be used by folks with latex sensitivities. Try polyurethane condoms, nitrile gloves, plastic wrap, and polyurethane dams. Polyurethane and nitrile are compatible with oil-, water-, and silicone-based lubricants. They protect against STDs and pregnancy.

  • Masturbating with gloves, condoms, or dams can be a great way to further eroticize them.
  • Buy differently-sized gloves in different colors to make it clear in the heat of the moment which are medium and which are large.
  • To avoid cross-contaminating, use different color gloves for the butt and the vagina or use a marker to put an “X” on the gloved hand you will be using for the butt.
  • Use dental dams or non-microwavable plastic wrap for cunnilingus and analingus. Put an “X” on the outside so when things get good and slippery you can tell the sides apart.

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General Tips for Longer Toy Life

We strongly recommend using a condom with toys that are made of porous material. This will help prevent transference of body fluids that can carry bacterial and/or viral infections.

  • Remove batteries when storing vibrators.
  • Never submerge electrical components in water. Use a damp, soapy cloth to clean electric toys.
  • Protect your water-resistant and waterproof vibes by making sure the rubber O-ring stays tight around the battery compartment. If the O-ring is missing or broken, the vibe is no longer safe to use in water.
  • For vibrators with cords, wrap a small piece of electrical tape around the vibrator/wire and wire/plug connection points to strengthen them.
  • Rough edges on hard plastic toys can be filed down with a nail file.
  • If you are using a bullet vibe internally, put it in a condom and use the condom, not the power cord, to pull it out.

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G-spot Tips

The G-spot, or urethral sponge, fills with fluid during arousal and has a texture that can feel bumpy or crinkly when felt through the front wall of the vagina. Pressure on the G-spot can cause some folks to ejaculate fluid, which is similar to prostatic fluid.

  • To find the G-spot, insert a finger or fingers 2-3 inches into the vagina and press toward the pubic bone with a rhythmic “c’mere” motion.
  • Curved toys, like the G-Twist and Orchid G, are good for G-spot stimulation. Thumping, tapping, and vibration can also feel great.
  • Try combining G-spot play with oral stimulation of the clit.
  • Some folks prefer indirect G-spot stimulation; try pressing down on your belly just above the pubic bone or applying pressure toward the belly button during butt play.
  • Experiment with positions that angle toys, fingers, penis, etc. toward your belly button during penetration.
  • A full vagina may block ejaculate, so try pulling out toys, fingers, etc. when you orgasm, and bear down.
  • Finally, G-spot response varies dramatically, so enjoy all the sensations – try not to make it a quest.

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P-spot Tips

The P-spot, or prostate, is an almond-shaped gland located between the rectum and the bladder. The prostate produces fluid that helps semen travel through the urethra during ejaculation. During arousal, the P-spot fills the fluid, which can make it easier to feel. When aroused, some P-spots feel similar to the muscle between the thumb and forefinger when it is tensed.

  • To find the P-spot, insert a finger or fingers 2-3 inches into the anus and gently press toward the belly button with a “c’mere” motion. Use lots of lube and relax.
  • Try different techniques with your P-spot: stroking, massaging, tapping, vibration, or gentle thumbing.
  • Play with your perineum (the soft, fleshy skin between the testicles and the anus); tapping here can access your P-spot indirectly. You’ll also be hitting the base of your penis.
  • Curved toys are especially good for P-spot stimulation – try the Aneros, Protouch Plug, or Pandora. Make sure toys have a flared base to prevent them from getting lost.
  • P-spot responses vary. Try not to be goal oriented; instead, enjoy each new sensation along the way.

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Anal Sex Tips

Always remember our mantra to help you on your back door journey: “Relaxation, Communication, and Lubrication”. When playing with a partner, it’s important that the person being penetrated be in control of what’s happening, especially if you’re new to anal sex. Let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t. And, of course, have fun!

  • Always use toys that have a handle or flared base so they don’t slip inside the rectum.
  • Always use lube – the butt does not self-lubricate – and begin slowly by stimulating the outside of the anus.
  • Ease your finger in pad-first to avoid scratching and poking.
  • Cover your toys with condoms for safe and fast cleanup.
  • Softer materials are easier on sensitive tissue and will follow the natural curve of the rectum. Bumps and ridges can feel good sliding in and out.
  • Angle your fingers, penis, or toy toward the front of the body.
  • Stick to the butt – going from butt to vagina can cause infections.
  • Numbing creams are unsafe – lube and relaxation are better.
  • Pull out gently and carefully.

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Cockring Tips

Cockrings restrict the flow of blood out of the penis; making possible greater sensitivity and a firmer erection. They can even prolong erection. As with any toy, responses vary. Cockrings aren’t recommended for anyone with vascular or nerve diseases. If you experience any discomfort numbness or tingling – take it off.

  • Secure the cocring at the base of the penix, behind the testicles, so that it is snug and comfortable.
  • For new users we recommend an adjustable cockring because one can remove or cut it off if it becomes uncomfortable.
  • Non adjustable or stretchy cockrings should be put on while you are semi-flaccid. Hold the ring under your balls and insert your testicles one at a time. Next tuck your penis through head first. Hold the cockring in place until your erection secures it. Lube it up to avoid pinching pubic hair.
  • To remove a cockring, wait until you lose your erection. Don’t leave the cockring on for more than 20 minutes and always remove it if you feel any discomfort before then.
  • Experienced users can play with how long to leave it on. If you plan to sleep in it, use an adjustable cockring and keep it loose.

Sex-Ed

Because being a minor doesn’t mean sex isn’t on the brain. 🙂

In fact, it probably means it’s on the brain MORE…and that’s why we need positive, accurate information regarding sexual health, not to mention an eradication of abstinence-only programs that don’t provide the appropriate tools for teens to make their own choices about sex and their bodies. Omitting information and knowingly neglecting to address certain issues and questions is reprehensible!

So here are some resources for the under-18 crowd (or anyone in need of some sweet sex-ed?), courtesy of Violet Blue. 🙂

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Don’t believe the hype! Get real sex info on these bad-azz sites.

Just because you’re under 18 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the truth about sex, and what other people are asking about it. Plus, a lot of things you hear in school are sex myths and could get you in trouble, so you really need to know what’s up (down there). These sites will tell you all about sex and staying safe, while staying cool with your friends and yourself. Also, if you’re not sure about how you feel about sex, if you might think you’re not like everyone else, or think you know a gay or transgender person (or like WTF gay sex is!?), these sites will tell you what’s up.

They can even help parents get a clue about something you need to tell them, or want to ask about.

Teenwire

Lots of good information about teen sexuality and how to have healthy relationships. Some portions en español. Sponsored by Planned Parenthood.

San Francisco Sex Information

Free and anonymous way to have sex questions answered.

Sex, Etc.

Created by teens for teens. Great info about pregnancy and infection prevention.

Go Ask Alice

Answers tons of questions about almost any sex or relationship related question. Columbia University Health Education Program.

Coalition for Positive Sexuality

Boring name but great info, like why sex feels good, not just STDs and pregnancy prevention. Also en español.

TeenGrowth

General teen health site with medical advisory board. Lots of information.

Advocates for Youth

Do something about how lame sex ed is in school! They have great resources; also en español.

Scarleteen

Excellent sex-positive, realistic info about pleasure and sexuality. Made for all genders but particularly girl-friendly.

Not-2-Late

information about the emergency contraceptive and where/how to get it. Also en español and en français and Arabic.

OutProud

OMG: the National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth offers *tons* of info and resources.

The Midwest Teen Sex Show

Super funny video show about everything from older boyfriends to backdoor sex: great teen sex topics (but not how-to’s) and your parents ahould watch it too.

Violet Blue ® 2009. Accept no imitations. Tiny Nibbles copyright 2001-2009.