Q&A: Sexual Debut + Conservative Background = Help!

I’m a 20-something penis-owner who hasn’t yet made his sexual debut. I grew up in an environment that was pretty conservative and repressive, so issues around sexuality were taboo. I’ve since made a conscious effort to fight this conditioning, but I still feel somewhat uncomfortable around sex. Do you have any resources you would suggest to someone who wants to learn more – how to do it, how to reach orgasm, how to help partners reach orgasm, how to do sex in context of healthy relationships?

Hey Anon! Thanks for reaching out!

I made my sexual debut with a partner at 19, so my first comment would be don’t stress about the age bit (if that was even a concern in the first place). Before my first partner, though, I had fulfilling sexual experiences with myself, so I’d like to highlight the positives that solo-play can bring about. Knowing more about one’s own body—how it feels, how it responds, what things are good/bad—can help immensely when it comes to reaching orgasm with a partner, or even just having a discussion about it. (The second piece is all about communication, but I’ll get to that later). I also think that as a society, we should start acknowledging that solo sexuality can still be gratifying for those who practice it, and it’s not like a person’s “sex-life” begins once another person pops into the picture…but anyway.

As someone who grew up under the Jehova’s Witnesses practice (read: a SUPER conservative Christian denomination), I was educated in the ways of “sex before marriage is wrong,” “homosexuality is a sin,” and all that came with that. I even overheard a conversation where it was said that “masturbation is just like losing your virginity—you are no longer pure after that.” (Oops. I was already touching myself by then, so that was awkward.) Somehow, though, I didn’t end up completely shame- and guilt-ridden the rest of my life. I also know a lot of folks who were raised in very conservative families and came out the other end feeling various degrees of sexual empowerment, so I’m sure you can achieve that as well. Hopefully the following resources can help!

The first place I’d like to point you toward would be the website for one of the places where I work: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. That is just CHOCK full of information (check out the Pleasure tab, too, which has info about positive porn, lubricants, toys, and more). Within that site/organization, specifically, I’d say check out the Q&A section here. It’s all questions people have submitted, and I think some of them might be helpful in your situation. Here are the main ones:

  1. Climaxing is not always the goal in sexual interactions, but when it is, you want to make sure it happens! So what to do when you have difficulty? This Q&A answers just that for penis-owners.
  2. On that note, not all people with penises masturbate in the same ways or want their penises touched in the same styles! Here are some tips/tricks for solo stimulation that can also be employed in various ways during sex with partners.
  3. A big question (pardon the pun) that many penis-owners have is around penis size and its impact on sex/relationships. That gets addressed here!
  4. In terms of sexual debut and just general sex-having, anal sex might be on the menu at some point, so it’s important to learn about that and prepare beforehand before just soldiering on, especially if you don’t have lube on hand.
  5. Something that might also help is reading about sex-positive spaces and being around sex-positive people, whose perspective on sex (ideally) could balance/counterpoint your conditioning. However, for someone from a conservative background, entering such a space could be weird or even super uncomfortable, so here are some tips on being more comfortable in sex-positive spaces, and even how to FIND those spaces in the first place.
  6. How do I get my partner to be more sexually adventurous? – This one could help you “talk to yourself” or even articulate things to a partner if you discover you have wishes that might be a bit outside of the mainstream.
  7. If you’re interested in vibrators and toys, this is a good intro for when you’re considering/picking something out.
  8. Someone wrote us because they had strong feelings to their partner’s past experiences, and felt insecure when comparing themselves to their partners’ past lovers. We gave some advice about how to deal with that and communicate those feelings. As someone who might make a sexual debut with another person who has already had partners before, this could be helpful to you.
  9. Sometimes penis-owners lose their erections and wonder why that happened. There are many reasons, and though this Q&A was directed at a person whose partner was the penis-owner, I think it’s important for everyone to read.

My second big resource would be Charlie Glickman’s work, and specifically, the “shame” tag on his prolific blog. He writes a lot about shame and the related situations/feelings, as well as how to recognize, deal with, and overcome them. He has many years in the sexuality education field, and his dissertation was all about sexuality and shame, so he knows what he’s talking about ten times over.

The healthy relationship part of your question I could write about forever and still have things to say, so I’m going to write a separate entry about it in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Racist + Sexist “Adult Novelties”

Trigger-warning for gross sexist, racist language and glorification of non-consent.

Those of you who know me know I *love* talking about sex toys. Not only do I find them personally stimulating (har har har), I’m also just fascinated by how they have evolved, how technological developments have impacted their growth/design, and the ways in which people and the media conceptualize them. I’m fortunate enough to have attended some “novelty expos” in the past for work and I’ve seen a wide array of products. Some have blown my mind with their stylish marketing and innovative designs, but I’ve also had the misfortune of encountering some REALLY horrible toys (read: unsafe materials, terrible packaging, offensive marketing, and more). I wanted to highlight 2 particular companies producing some pretty egregious toys.

Why?

  • Because I want to hold toys and companies to higher standards and share what I know with the people who read this blog
  • Because consumers deserve to find good resources for their sex toys and know which companies are fucked up
  • Because there are some damaging and oppressive stereotypes and ideas being bandied about, and the sex toy industry usually gets a “free pass” because people think sexuality is some magical arena where politics and kindness don’t apply
  • Because we need to acknowledge the pervasive sexism and racism in our fields and see how these things connect to our daily lives

BUT FIRST: some background. Pipedreams and Nasstoys (the ones I discuss here) are part of what’s known in the industry as “The Big Five” (Doc Johnson, Cal Exotics, and Topco being the other three in the club). These are the companies that churn out toys like nobody’s business–the “giants” in the industry. There’s no real sense of “coherent” brand identity to the average consumer because these huge companies have a lot of toys under their belt and a wide array of different lines. Unlike smaller independent stores and companies, these organizations are faceless and commercial (not inherently a bad thing, but it’s not a positive thing for me personally). They also put their profits before their consumers, as evidenced by their practices and the stuff I mention in this post.

Disclaimer: I own a glass Pipedreams toy because I was asked to review it years ago. While the line has a TON of products, and some of them are actually nice, I don’t support them as a brand.

 

Pipedreams

When I went to the ANME Founders Show, I was introduced to the Pipedreams Extreme Toyz line. My immediate thought was a big WTF. They have toys like Flip a Sista Over and Junk in Tha Trunk. If the names and the “cum in her ghetto booty” slogan slapped across the package of the latter aren’t enough to get you riled up, here’s the copy that goes along with these ridiculously offensive toys:

Fuck her first in her tight mocha twat, then Flip A Sista Over and bust a nut in her booty! This handheld honey is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…a sweet black pussy on one end and a big ol’ bubble butt on the other, with nothing getting in the way of you filling her with cum! 

If you love thick black asses, this sista’s got enough Junk in tha Trunk to satisfy your cravings! Fuck her first in her phat booty, then stick it in her snatch and bust a nut in her tight mocha twat! This bubble butt beauty is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…two big round ass cheeks to slap and pound on top, with a sweet black pussy spread eagle underneath! 

Flip her over, insert the vibrating bullet underneath, and enjoy thrilling vibrations in her coochie and ass. When you’re finished, cum inside either hole and never worry about knocking her up!

Where…would I even begin criticizing this? Jesus.
This one also creeps me out due to the way it fetishizes virginity, and while I’m down with most fetishes and fantasies, the problematic thing about this toy and its accompanying text/ideology is that for many people this “virgin ideal” leads to a lot of slut-shaming  (among other things). Similarly, there’s the misogyny and idealization of youth in this other toy, which bears the lovely slogan “I’m young, dumb, and want your CUM!” And while I’m actually a fan of consensual face-fucking, the images for this toy are just downright creepy. They hit super close to home re: the dehumanization of women in day-to-day experiences, and the copy is also atrocious and reeking of rape culture:

She’s all yours to enjoy and there are no rules! Best of all, she never says no to a good time because she always has her mouth full! 

Watch her eyes roll back into her head, then gag her with a taste of your man meat!  If your girl never deep throated you before, now is your chance to enjoy the thrill! (…) She won’t gag or choke, and there’s no annoying teeth to get in the way or bite.  When you’re about to cum, don’t worry about pulling out–blow a fat load right in her mouth and let her swallow!

At the expo I attended, they also had a “shemale” torso (Note: this was their offensive language, not mine–or it was something else but along these lines, like tranny or hermaphrodite)–headless with a huge penis and huge breasts, though I haven’t seen that one being sold…

 

Nasstoys

They have an entire “Latin” section. Don’t even get me started on the packaging. The fact that they have “se habla español” on their company page makes me think that perhaps these folks are in part, men of color? I’m not sure, though! Either way, it’s fucked up.

Their “Isabella Pussy” is described as “super realista pussy” that’s “siempre lista / always ready,” so we once again see gendered language and the idea of constant sexual availability, but this time with racialized connotations to boot. The other model is “Maria,” and I could see that stupid name coming from ten miles away.

The one that is most unnerving to me, though, is the one called “My First Pregnant Latina ‘Knocked Up’ Pussy.” With the history of seeing women, especially women of color, as baby-making machines; with the history of  colonial rape; with the widely-held racist notions/images that Latin@s are “welfare queens” and “promiscuous” and all have a billion babies and get pregnant at 12…this kind of shit does not sit well with me.

BUT WAIT, they also have a racially unmarket one (read: a white one). The difference is that the “Latina” toy is slightly darker and the model on the front has dark hair and a more “Latina-looking” face (which…is another post entirely) vs. the white model who is pale and blonde. *facepalm*

I’m focusing on the things that strike me the hardest as a Latin@ female, but never fear, they also have some delightfully racist dolls that target other groups, like the Mai Li Asian Love Doll, the Geisha masturbating sleeve, and the Asian Geisha Love Doll.
Men aren’t left behind entirely in this racist circus, though, since when it comes to the “lifelike dongs,” there’s a section just for those, and there are Latin, Black, and ones without an adjective which are, you guessed it, the white ones. Because white is normal, once more. Anyway. The “super realistic dongs” are all faux-clever (read: actually just racist and lazy) plays on words that insidiously dehumanize actual Latin men (little pistol, top stud, big bull, wild bull, little bull, and more). And this banner below I think can just speak for itself (especially the “ALL American” part):

 

Again, I know these toys are selling a fantasy and a product, but we need to see how our daily lives connect to this, and how the daily lives of women and people of color are affected and mirrored by these toys and the attitudes toward them. It’s not “just a toy” or “just a fantasy.” These are all created and reflected by the society in which we live, and we can’t afford to just ignore sex (and art, too, for that matter) because it’s some special snowflake (which it’s not).We need to think about what messages these toys send and why people buy them. We need to be critical consumers and media-viewers/makers.
If you want to buy fabulous toys from reputable sources, though, check out the stores in the Progressive Pleasure Club.

 

Herbivores are Sexy

Sometimes I have nightmares in which I find myself eating meat. 

The day after I “officially” became a vegetarian, I dreamt I was at a supermarket back home, and that I was eating rotini, and that the rotini SOMEHOW TURNED INTO SHRIMP. And then I freaked out because I was eating an animal, and then I doubly freaked out because I wondered if anyone had noticed–now no one would believe I was honestly becoming a vegetarian. Ever since, I’ve had the occasional dream where I eat meat and flip a shit. It’s not SERIOUSLY a big deal if I accidentally eat meat (in the non-dream world), but it still makes me really uncomfortable. Apparently enough to fuel nightmares, even!

Anyway. SO. For those sexy vegetarians, vegans, and animal-rights activists out there, caring about what’s in one’s food is NOT the only worry. Vegetarians not as much, but vegans REALLY have to watch what they eat, wear, and buy in general. As I’ve previously mentioned, there are animal products and byproducts everywhere. And one of these places is the realm of pleasure: there are many sex-toys and safer-sex materials that are not vegan friendly.

But fear not! That’s why The Sensual Vegan, a store that sells sexy vegan goodies (everything from candles and razors, to condoms, strap-on harnesses, and anal-sex books), is here! And it is not only awesome because it caters to animal-rights activists and veg-heads, but also because it donates 5% of all sales to Scarleteen, a sex-positive sex education resource site aimed at young folks. Good stuff all around, and from what I can see, it carries quality items–not cheap-o novelty item crap that will leave your sexy bits covered in creepy chemicals.

Also, another website worth checking out is VegPorn. With a tag-line like “titillating tofu-eaters,” who wouldn’t be curious and click on the link? The color scheme is really pretty (not like those neon sparkly pink porn sites, with all the glitz and glamor and Photoshop-happy airbrushing, or the really intense red and black ones). Every model has a little bio, and it’s a happy bunch that looks, above-all, REAL.

Finally, porn-related, but not veg-ism related, I wanted to link to this (NSFW, obviously) video, featuring sassy and adorable Milla Monroe making an apple pie and then…well…masturbating in the kitchen. But the important part is not the sexual part–it’s the fact that she’s so friendly, pretty, and cute. I thought she was fantastic. Check out more of her videos. They’ll probably put a smile on your face.

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.