The Pointy, Thuddy, and Zappy: How Legal Are They?

So remember that one time I got stopped at TSA for accidentally bringing a throwing knife (like the image below) in my purse? (They confiscated the beautiful thing and I might get a fine in the mail…? Speaking of which, if you bring in dangerous items in your carry-ons through TSA the fines range from $250 or so up to $1,500 depending on mitigating/aggravating factors). You better bet I spent the rest of my time at the gate before my flight looking up the legality of various items/kink toys on my iPhone because I didn’t want that to happen again. I encourage y’all to check your local laws as well, so you don’t get screwed over due to ignorance.

As a primer, here’s the info for 3 types of toys for the 3 states I most frequent:

Knives:

 
Generally: switchblades, bowie knives, spring-loaded knives, gravity knives, butterfly knives, double edged knives = illegal. These are the “worrisome” knives because they’re easy to pull out one-handed and cause mayhem with (so the issue is drawing capability). Also on this list? Ballistic knives–ones where the blade can be thrown/ejected from the knife and onto/into a thing/person.

  • In MA: You can own any, but the type of blade you carry (read: carry on your person, or carry under your control in a vehicle) is the one they care about. In certain areas, there’s a particular blade length max., too, but there’s no MA-wide one. For example, as per the ordinances in Boston (specifically, Chapter 16, Section 45), people can’t carry knives with blades longer than 2.5 inches except when hunting, fishing, or “any employment, trade or lawful recreational or culinary activity which customarily involves the carrying or use of any type of knife” and subsequently, when going to/from those activities. Also it’s okay to carry a bigger knife “[if it is] being transported directly to or from a place of purchase, sharpening, or repair, and if packaged in such a manner as not to allow easy access to the knife while it is being transported.” The fines are no more than $300 per offense.

Here’s the text from the penal code: “(b) Whoever, except as provided by law, carries on his person, or carries on his person or under his control in a vehicle, any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches […] shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two and one-half years nor more than five years in the state prison, or for not less than six months nor more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction, except that, if the court finds that the defendant has not been previously convicted of a felony, he may be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction.”

  • In NY: The state itself doesn’t have max. length, and you can pretty much possess any knife that’s not one of those “generally bad/illegal knives” I mentioned earlier (e.g. switchblades). Possession of other knives is only illegal if you have a “lawful blade” with intent to harm, but law officials COULD presume the latter just based on possession, so it’s messy. In NYC, specifically, (Chapter 10, Section 33), “it shall be unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person or have in such person’s possession, in any  public  place,  street,  or park any knife which has a blade length of four inches or more,” though they do have provisions for recreational/employment-related knife use and stuff.

Here’s the text from the NY penal code: (1) He or she possesses any […] gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, […]; or (2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another” 

  • In RI: The maximum blade length for wearing or carrying any knife concealed is 3 inches (measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade). The “no-no” knives CAN be owned if there’s no intent to use them unlawfully against another, but it could get messy trying to prove that (in either direction) in a court of law.

Here’s the text from the RI law (Section 11-47-42): “(a) No person shall […] with intent to use unlawfully against another, carry or possess a dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, or other similar weapon designed to cut and stab another, nor shall any person wear or carry concealed upon his person, any of the above-mentioned instruments or weapons, or any razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade, or other weapon of like kind or description. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, and the weapon so found shall be confiscated.”

Sap gloves/weighted knuckle gloves:

  • In MA: It seems you can own them, but not carry them anywhere. They don’t mention sap gloves by that specific name, but they talk about it being illegal to carry “metallic knuckles or knuckles of any substance which could be put to the same use with the same or similar effect as metallic knuckles” and “any similar device made from any other substance or a cestus or similar material weighted with metal or other substance and worn on the hand.”
  • In NY: Sap gloves aren’t specifically mentioned as “unlawful weapons” by state law, though they do mention the illegal nature of [possessing] plastic knuckles and metal knuckles, so…? Maybe illegal?
  • In RI: Possessing and carrying are both illegal, as is the “attempt to use against another.”

Stun guns:

  • In MA: Possession is illegal (source).

Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in the house of correction for not less than 6 months nor more than 21/2 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant any person whom he has probable cause to believe has violated this section.

  • In NY: In the penal code, possession of an “electronic dart gun” (the ones with a bit that shoots out to stun) or “electronic stun gun” (the ones you need to press against the person) is illegal and would be classified as possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor.
  • In RI: Possessing and carrying are both illegal, as is the “attempt to use against another.” Same penalties as with the knives. The one I had (but lost!) looks like the image above, but it was gold on the outside and black on the inside.

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.

 

Edenfantasys Fucks Up

So this post by my dear friend maymay basically speaks for itself.

The short short short summary? Edenfantasys is trying to skew its ranking on the Internet by using shady practices. This is not good, especially from a company with the tag-line “the sex shop you can trust.” You should read up on it and reconsider your support of their business. Personally, I still plan to use their website to learn about toys, since they have THE best website re: toys and specs and user-friendly info, but I’m definitely buying my things elsewhere. A good alternative for purchases? Fascinations! Or Good Vibrations. There are probably more, too, so do your research. It’s also a great idea to reach manufacturers directly, too. 🙂

As one of the people who went over maymay’s post before publication, I highly stress the importance of checking it out. There have been other controversies with Edenfantasys recently (and not-so-recently), so for more information on those, check out the following links:

Now, onto the show:


Edenfantasys’s unethical technology 
is a self-referential black hole


A few nights ago, I received an email from Editor of EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine, Judy Cole, asking me to modify this Kink On Tap brief I published that cites Lorna D. Keach’s writing. Judy asked me to “provide attribution and a link back to” SexIs Magazine. An ordinary enough request soon proved extraordinarily unethical when I discovered that EdenFantasys has invested a staggering amount of time and money to develop and implement a technology platform that actively denies others the courtesy of link reciprocity, a courtesy on which the ethical Internet is based.

While what they’re doing may not be illegal, EdenFantasys has proven itself to me to be an unethical and unworthy partner, in business or otherwise. Its actions are blatantly hypocritical, as I intend to show in detail in this post. Taking willful and self-serving advantage of those not technically savvy is a form of inexcusable oppression, and none of us should tolerate it from companies who purport to be well-intentioned resources for a community of sex-positive individuals.

For busy or non-technical readers, see the next section, Executive Summary, to quickly understand what EdenFantasys is doing, why it’s unethical, and how it affects you whether you’re a customer, a contributor, or a syndication partner. For the technical reader, the Technical Details section should provide ample evidence in the form of a walkthrough and sample code describing the unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques EdenFantasys, aka. Web Merchants, Inc., is engaged in. For anyone who wants to read further, I provide an Editorial section in which I share some thoughts about what you can do to help combat these practices and bring transparency and trust—not the sabotage of trust EdenFantasys enacts—to the market.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Internet sex toy retailer Web Merchants, Inc., which bills itself as the “sex shop you can trust” and does business under the name EdenFantasys, has implemented technology on their websites that actively interferes with contributors’ content, intercepts outgoing links, and alters republished content so that links in the original work are redirected to themselves. Using techniques widely acknowledged as unethical by Internet professionals and that are arguably in violation of major search engines’ policies, EdenFantasys’s publishing platform has effectively outsourced the task of “link farming” (a questionable Search Engine Marketing [SEM] technique) to sites with which they have “an ongoing relationship,” such as AlterNet.org, other large news hubs, and individual bloggers’ blogs.

Articles published on EdenFantasys websites, such as the “community” website SexIs Magazine, contain HTML crafted to look like links, but aren’t. When visited by a typical human user, a program written in JavaScript and included as part of the web pages is automatically downloaded and intercepts clicks on these “link-like” elements, fetching their intended destination from the server and redirecting users there. Due to the careful and deliberate implementation, the browser’s status bar is made to appear as though the link is legitimate, and that a destination is provided as expected.

For non-human visitors, including automated search engine indexing programs such as Googlebot, the “link” remains non-functional, making the article a search engine’s dead-end or “orphan” page whose only functional links are those whose destination is EdenFantasys’s own web presence. This makes EdenFantasys’ website(s) a self-referential black hole that provides no reciprocity for contributors who author content, nor for any website ostensibly “linked” to from article content. At the same time, EdenFantasys editors actively solicit inbound links from individuals and organizations through “link exchanges” and incentive programs such as “awards” and “free” sex toys, as well as syndicating SexIs Magazine content such that the content is programmatically altered in order to create multiple (real) inbound links to EdenFantasys’s websites after republication on their partner’s media channels.

How EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have an impact on you

Regardless of who you are, EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have a negative impact on you and, indeed, on the Internet as a whole.

See for yourself: First, log out of any and all EdenFantasys websites or, preferably, use a different browser, or even a proxy service such as the Tor network for greater anonymity. Due to EdenFantasys’s technology, you cannot trust that what you are seeing on your screen is what someone else will see on theirs. Next, temporarily disable JavaScript (read instructions for your browser) and then try clicking on the links in SexIs Magazine articles. If clicking the intended off-site “links” doesn’t work, you know that your article’s links are being hidden from Google and that your content is being used for shady practices. In contrast, with JavaScript still disabled, navigate to another website (such as this blog), try clicking on the links, and note that the links still work as intended.

Here’s another verifiable example from the EdenFantasys site showing that many other parts of Web Merchants, Inc. pages, not merely SexIs Magazine, are affected as well: With JavaScript disabled, visit the EdenFantasys company page on Aslan Leather (note, for the sake of comparison, the link in this sentence will work, even with JavaScript off). Try clicking on the link in the “Contact Information” section in the lower-right hand column of the page (shown in the screenshot, below). This “link” should take you to the Aslan Leather homepage but in fact it does not. So much for that “link exchange.”

  • If you’re an EdenFantasys employee, people will demand answers from you regarding the unethical practices of your (hopefully former) employer. While you are working for EdenFantasys, you’re seriously soiling your reputation in the eyes of ethical Internet professionals. Ignorance is no excuse for the lack of ethics on the programmers’ part, and it’s a shoddy one for everyone else; you should be aware of your company’s business practices because you represent them and they, in turn, represent you.
  • If you’re a partner or contributor (reviewer, affiliate, blogger), while you’re providing EdenFantasys with inbound links or writing articles for them and thereby propping them up higher in search results, EdenFantasys is not returning the favor to you (when they are supposed to be doing so). Moreover, they’re attaching your handle, pseudonym, or real name directly to all of their link farming (i.e., spamming) efforts. They look like they’re linking to you and they look like their content is syndicated fairly, but they’re actually playing dirty. They’re going the extra mile to ensure search engines like Google do not recognize the links in articles you write. They’re trying remarkably hard to make certain that all roads lead to EdenFantasys, but none lead outside of it; no matter what the “link,” search engines see it as stemming from and leading to EdenFantasys. The technically savvy executives of Web Merchants, Inc. are using you without giving you a fair return on your efforts. Moreover, EdenFantasys is doing this in a way that preys upon people’s lack of technical knowledge—potentially your own as well as your readership’s. Do you want to keep doing business with people like that?
  • If you’re a customer, you’re monetarily supporting a company that essentially amounts to a glorified yet subtle spammer. If you hate spam, you should hate the unethical practices that lead to spam’s perpetual reappearance, including the practices of companies like Web Merchants, Inc. EdenFantasys’s unethical practices may not be illegal, but they are unabashedly a hair’s width away from it, just like many spammers’. If you want to keep companies honest and transparent, if you really want a “sex shop you can trust,” this is relevant to you because EdenFantasys is not it. If you want to purchase from a retailer that truly strives to offer a welcoming, trustworthy community for those interested in sex positivity and sexuality, pay close attention and take action. For ideas about what you can do, please see the “What you can do” section, below.
  • If you’ve never heard about EdenFantasys before, but you care about a fair and equal-opportunity Internet, this is relevant to you because what EdenFantasys is doing takes advantage of non-tech-savvy people in order to slant the odds of winning the search engine game in their favor. They could have done this fairly, and I personally believe that they would have succeeded. Their sites are user-friendly, well-designed, and solidly implemented. However, they chose to behave maliciously by not providing credit where credit is due, failing to follow through on agreements with their own community members and contributors, and sneakily utilizing other publishers’ web presences to play a very sad zero-sum game that they need not have entered in the first place. In the Internet I want, nobody takes malicious advantage of those less skilled than they are because their own skill should speak for itself. Isn’t that the Internet and, indeed, the future you want, too?

TECHNICAL DETAILS

What follows is a technical exploration of the way the EdenFantasys technology works. It is my best-effort evaluation of the process in as much detail as I can manage within strict self-imposed time constraints. If any of this information is incorrect, I’d welcome any and all clarifications provided by the EdenFantasys CTO and technical team in an appropriately transparent, public, and ethical manner. (You’re welcome—nay, encouraged—to leave a comment.)

Although I’m unconvinced that EdenFantasys understands this, it is the case that honesty is the best policy—especially on the Internet, where everyone has the power of “View source.”

The “EF Framework” for obfuscating links

Article content written by contributors on SexIs Magazine pages is published after all links are replaced with a <span> element bearing the class of linklike and a unique id attribute value. This apparently happens across any and all content published by Web Merchants, Inc.’s content management system, but I’ll be focusing on Lorna D. Keach’s post entitled SexFeed:Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts for the sake of example.

These fake links look like this in HTML:

And according to Theresa Flynt, vice president of marketing for Hustler video, <span class="linklike" ID="EFLink_68034_fe64d2">female consumers make up 56% of video sales.</span>

This originally published HTML is what visitors without JavaScript enabled (and what search engine indexers) see when they access the page. Note that the <span> is not a real link, even though it is made to look like one. (See Figure 1; click it to enlarge.)

Figure 1:

In a typical user’s browser, when this page is loaded, a JavaScript program is executed that mutates these “linklike” elements into <a> elements, retaining the “linklike” class and the unique id attribute values. However, no value is provided in the href (link destination) attribute of the <a> element. See Figure 2:

Figure 2:

The JavaScript program is downloaded in two parts from the endpoint at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx. The first part, retrieved in this example by accessing the URI at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx?i=jq132_cnf_jdm12_cks_cm_ujsn_udm_stt_err_jsdm_stul_ael_lls_ganl_jqac_jtv_smg_assf_agrsh&v_14927484.12.0, loads the popular jQuery JavaScript framework as well as custom code called the “EF Framework”.

The EF Framework contains code called the DBLinkHandler, an object that parses the <span> “linklike” elements (called “pseudolinks” in the EF Framework code) and retrieves the real destination. The entirety of the DBLinkHandler object is shown in code listing 1, below. Note the code contains a function called handle that performs the mutation of the <span> “linklike” elements (seen primarily on lines 8 through 16) and, based on the prefix of each elements’ id attribute value, two key functions (BuildUrlForElement and GetUrlByUrlID, whose signatures are on lines 48 and 68, respectively) interact to set up the browser navigation after responding to clicks on the fake links.

var DBLinkHandler = {
pseudoLinkPrefix: "EFLink_",
generatedAHrefPrefix: "ArtLink_",
targetBlankClass: "target_blank",
jsLinksCssLinkLikeClass: "linklike",
handle: function () {
var pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.each(function () {
var psLink = $(this);
var cssClass = $.trim(psLink.attr("class"));
var target = "";
var id = psLink.attr("id").replace(DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
var href = $("<a></a>").attr({
id: id,
href: ""
}).html(psLink.html());
if (psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
href.attr({
target: "_blank"
});
cssClass = $.trim(cssClass.replace(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass, ""))
}
if (cssClass != "") {
href.attr({
"class": cssClass
})
}
psLink.before(href).remove()
});
var pseudolinksAHrefs = $("a[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksAHrefs.live("mouseup", function (event) {
DBLinkHandler.ArtLinkClick(this)
});
pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.live("click", function (event) {
if (event.button != 0) {
return
}
var psLink = $(this);
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix);
if (!psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
RedirectTo(url)
} else {
OpenNewWindow(url)
}
})
},
BuildUrlForElement: function (psLink, prefix) {
var psLink = $(psLink);
var sufix = psLink.attr("id").toString().substring(prefix.length);
var id = (sufix.indexOf("_") != -1) ? sufix.substring(0, sufix.indexOf("_")) : sufix;
var url = DBLinkHandler.GetUrlByUrlID(id);
if (url == "") {
url = EF.Constants.Links.Url
}
var end = sufix.substring(sufix.indexOf("_") + 1);
var anchor = "";
if (end.indexOf("_") != -1) {
anchor = "#" + end.substring(0, end.lastIndexOf("_"))
}
url += anchor;
return url
},
ArtLinkClick: function (psLink) {
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
$(psLink).attr("href", url)
},
GetUrlByUrlID: function (UrlID) {
var url = "";
UrlRequest = $.ajax({
type: "POST",
url: "/LinkLanguage/AjaxLinkHandling.aspx",
dataType: "json",
async: false,
data: {
urlid: UrlID
},
cache: false,
success: function (data) {
if (data.status == "Success") {
url = data.url;
return url
}
},
error: function (xhtmlObj, status, error) {}
});
return url
}
};

Once the mutation is performed and all the content “links” are in the state shown in Figure 2, above, an event listener has been bound to the anchors that captures a click event. This is done using prototypal extension, aka. classic prototypal inheritance, in another part of the code, the live function on line 2,280 of the (de-minimized) jsget.ashx program, as shown in code listing 2, here:

        live: function (G, F) {
var E = o.event.proxy(F);
E.guid += this.selector + G;
o(document).bind(i(G, this.selector), this.selector, E);
return this
},

At this point, clicking on one of the “pseudolinks” triggers the EF Framework to call code set up by the GetUrlByUrlID function from within the DBLinkHandler object, initiating an XMLHttpRequest (XHR) connection to the AjaxLinkHandling.aspx server-side application. The request is an HTTP POST containing only one parameter, called urlid, and its value matches a substring from within the id value of the “pseudolinks.” In this example, the id attribute contains a value of EFLink_68034_fe64d2, which means that the unique ID POST’ed to the server is 68034. This is shown in Figure 3, below.

Figure 3:

The response from the server, shown in Figure 4, is also simple. If successful, the intended destination is retrieved by the GetUrlByUrlID object’s success function (on line 79 of Code Listing 1, above) and the user is redirected to that web address, as if the link was a real one all along. The real destination, in this case to CNN.com, is thereby only revealed after the XHR request returns a successful reply.

Figure 4:

All of this obfuscation effectively blinds machines such as the Googlebot who are not JavaScript-capable from seeing and following these links. It deliberately provides no increased Pagerank for the link destination (as a real link would normally do) despite being “linked to” from EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine article. While the intended destination in this example link was at CNN.com, it could just as easily have been—and is, in other examples—links to the blogs of EdenFantasys community members and, indeed, everyone else linked to from a SexIs Magazine article or potentially any website operated by Web Merchants, Inc. that makes use of this technology.

The EdenFantasys Outsourced Link-Farm

In addition to creating a self-referential black hole with no gracefully degrading outgoing links, EdenFantasys also actively performs link-stuffing through its syndicated content “relationships,” underhandedly creating an outsourced and distributed link-farm, just like a spammer. The difference is that this spammer (Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys) is cleverly crowd-sourcing high-value, high-quality content from its own “community.”

Articles published at SexIs Magazine are syndicated in full to other large hub sites, such as AlterNet.org. Continuing with the above example post by Lorna D. Keach, Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts, we can see that this content was republished on AlterNet.org shortly after original publication through EdenFantasys’ website on May 3rd at http://www.alternet.org/story/146774/christian_anti-porn_activists_now_targeting_female_. However, a closer look at the HTML code of the republication shows that each and every link contained within the article points to the same destination: the same article published on SexIs Magazine, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5:

Naturally, these syndicated links provided to third-party sites by EdenFantasys are real and function as expected to both human visitors and to search engines indexing the content. The result is “natural,” high-value links to the EdenFantasys website from these third-party sites; EdenFantasys doesn’t merely scrounge pagerank from harvesting the sheer number of incoming links, but as each link’s anchor text is different, they are setting themselves up to match more keywords in search engine results, keywords that the original author likely did not intend to direct to them. Offering search engines the implication that EdenFantasys.com contains the content described in the anchor text, when in fact EdenFantasys merely acts as an intermediary to the information, is very shady, to say the least.

In addition to syndication, EdenFantasys employs human editors to do community outreach. These editors follow up with publishers, including individual bloggers (such as myself), and request that any references to published material provide attribution and a link back to us, to use the words of Judy Cole, Editor of SexIs Magazine in an email she sent to me (see below), and presumably many others. EdenFantasys has also been known to request “link exchanges,” and offer incentive programs that encouraged bloggers to add the EdenFantasys website to their blogroll or sidebar in order to help raise both parties search engine ranking, when in fact EdenFantasys is not actually providing reciprocity.

More information about EdenFantasys’s unethical practices, which are not limited to technical subterfuge, can be obtained via AAGBlog.com.

EDITORIAL

It is unsurprising that the distributed, subtle, and carefully crafted way EdenFantasys has managed to crowd-source links has (presumably) remained unpenalized by search engines like Google. It is similarly unsurprising that nontechnical users such as the contributors to SexIs Magazine would be unaware of these deceptive practices, or that they are complicit in promoting them.

This is no mistake on the part of EdenFantasys, nor is it a one-off occurrence. The amount of work necessary to implement the elaborate system I’ve described is also not even remotely feasible for a rogue programmer to accomplish, far less accomplish covertly. No, this is the result of a calculated and decidedly underhanded strategy that originated from the direction of top executives at Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys.

It is unfortunate that technically privileged people would be so willing to take advantage of the technically uneducated, particularly under the guise of providing a trusted place for the community which they claim to serve. These practices are exactly the ones that “the sex shop you can trust” should in no way support, far less be actively engaged in. And yet, here is unmistakable evidence that EdenFantasys is doing literally everything it can not only to bolster its own web presence at the cost of others’, but to hide this fact from its understandably non-tech-savvy contributors.

On a personal note, I am angered that I would be contacted by the Editor of SexIs Magazine, and asked to properly “attribute” and provide a link to them when it is precisely that reciprocity which SexIs Magazine would clearly deny me (and everyone else) in return. It was this request originally received over email from Judy Cole, that sparked my investigation outlined above and enabled me to uncover this hypocrisy. The email I received from Judy Cole is republished, in full, here:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 17, 2010 2:42:00 PM PDT
To: kinkontap+viewermail@gmail.com
Cc: Laurel <laurelb@edenfantasys.com>

Hello Emma and maymay,

I am the Editor of the online adult magazine SexIs (http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/). You recently picked up and re-posted a story of ours by Lorna Keach that Alternet had already picked up:

http://kinkontap.com/?s=alternet

We were hoping that you might provide attribution and a link back to us, citing us as the original source (as is done on Alternet, with whom we have an ongoing relationship), should you pick up something of ours to re-post in the future.

If you would be interested in having us send you updates on stories that might be of interest, I would be happy to arrange for a member of our editorial staff to do so. (Like your site, by the way. TBK is one of our regular contributors.)

Thanks and Best Regards,

Judy Cole
Editor, SexIs

Judy’s email probably intended to reference the new Kink On Tap briefs that my co-host Emma and I publish, not a search result page on the Kink On Tap website. Specifically, she was talking about this brief: http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676. I said as much in my reply to Judy:

Hi Judy,

The URL in your email doesn’t actually link to a post. We pick up many stories from AlterNet, as well as a number from SexIs, because we follow both those sources, among others. So, did you mean this following entry?

http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676

If so, you should know that we write briefs as we find them and provide links to where we found them. We purposefully do not republish or re-post significant portions of stories and we limit our briefs to short summaries in deference to the source. In regards to the brief in question, we do provide attribution to Lorna Keach, and our publication process provides links automatically to, again, the source where we found the article. 🙂 As I’m sure you understand, this is the nature of the Internet. Its distribution capability is remarkable, isn’t it?

Also, while we’d absolutely be thrilled to have you send us updates on stories that might be of interest, we would prefer that you do so in the same way the rest of our community does: by contributing to the community links feed. You can find detailed instructions for the many ways you can do that on our wiki:

http://wiki.kinkontap.com/wiki/Community_links_feed

Congratulations on the continued success of SexIs.

Cheers,
-maymay

At the time when I wrote the email replying to Judy, I was perturbed but could not put my finger on why. Her email upset me because she seemed to be suggesting that our briefs are wholesale “re-posts,” when in fact Emma and I have thoroughly discussed attribution policies and, as mentioned in my reply, settled on a number of practices including a length limit, automated back linking (yes, with real links, go see some Kink On Tap briefs for yourself), and clearly demarcating quotes from the source article in our editorializing to ensure we play fair. Clearly, my somewhat snarky reply betrays my annoyance.

In any event, this exchange prompted me to take a closer look at the Kink On Tap brief I wrote, at the original article, and at the cross-post on AlterNet.org. I never would have imagined that EdenFantasys’s technical subterfuge would be as pervasive as it has proven to be. It’s so deeply embedded in the EdenFantasys publishing platform that I’m willing to give Judy the benefit of the doubt regarding this hypocrisy because she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a search query and a permalink (something any laymen blogger would grok). This is apparent from her reply to my response:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 18, 2010 4:57:59 AM PDT
[…redundant email headers clipped…]

Funny, the URL in my email opens the same link as the one you sent me when I click on it.

Maybe if you pick up one of our stories in future, you could just say something like “so and so wrote for SexIs.” ?

As it stands, it looks as if Lorna wrote the piece for Alternet. Thanks.

Judy

That is the end of our email exchange, and will be for good, unless and until EdenFantasys changes its ways. I will from this point forward endeavor never to publish links to any web property that I know to be owned by Web Merchants, Inc., including EdenFantasys.com. I will also do my best to avoid citing any and all SexIs Magazine articles from here on out, and I encourage everyone who has an interest in seeing honesty on the Internet to follow my lead here.

As some of my friends are currently contributors to SexIs Magazine, I would like all of you to know that I sincerely hope you immediately sever all ties with any and all Web Merchants, Inc. properties, suppliers, and business partners, especially because you are friends and I think your work is too important to be sullied by such a disreputable company.

What you can do

  • If you are an EdenFantasys reviewer, a SexIs Magazine contributor, or have any other arrangement with Web Merchants, Inc., write to Judy Cole and demand that content you produce for SexIs Magazine adheres to ethical Internet publication standards. Sever business ties with this company immediately upon receipt of any non-response, or any response that does not adequately address every concern raised in this blog post. (Feel free to leave comments on this post with technical questions, and I’ll do my best to help you sort out any l33t answers.)
  • EdenFantasys wants to stack the deck in Google. They do this by misusing your content and harvesting your links. To combat this effort, immediately remove any and all links to EdenFantasys websites and web presences from your websites. Furthermore, do not—I repeat—do not publish new links to EdenFantasys websites, not even in direct reference to this post. Instead, provide enough information, as I have done, so visitors to your blog posts can find their website themselves. In lieu of links to EdenFantasys, link to other bloggers’ posts about this issue. (Such posts will probably be mentioned in the comments section of this post.)
  • Boycott EdenFantasys: the technical prowess their website displays does provide a useful shopping experience for some people. However, that in no way obligates you to purchase from their website. If you enjoy using their interface, use it to get information about products you’re interested in, but then go buy those products elsewhere, perhaps from the manufacturers directly.

  • Watch for “improved” technical subterfuge from Web Merchants, Inc. As a professional web developer, I can identify several things EdenFantasys could do to make their unethical practices even harder to spot, and harder to stop. If you have any technical knowledge at all, even if you’re “just” a savvy blogger, you can keep a close watch on EdenFantasys and, if you notice anything that doesn’t sit well with you, speak up about it like I did. Get a professional programmer to look into things for you if you need help; yes, you can make a difference just by remaining vigilant as long as you share what you know and act honestly, and transparently.

If you have additional ideas or recommendations regarding how more people can help keep sex toy retailers honest, please suggest them in the comments.

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.

——————————

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.

——————————

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.

——————————

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.

——————————

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.

——————————

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.

——————————

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.

UPDATE: Student Action Required!

Jaykay. Blount JUST pulled out. 🙂 They haven’t made it public, however, (like I said, this JUST happened) and I’d like to see if they issue a statement. I mean, they SHOULD and probably will…but let’s see. I want to know their official stance on WHY they pulled out. I’d hate it if they just kept quiet about it all. Hmph. Also, it’s important to wait and see what they say because the email reply COULD be open to interpretation, y’know?

Truth Wins Out received the following e-mail from Larry Marchese, public relations representative for Blount Fine Foods of Fall River, Mass.

From: Larry Marchese
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 10:06 PM
To: Mike Airhart; Wayne Besen
Mike,
That is correct.
Larry
Sent from my handheld – please forgive typos
—–Original Message—–
From: Mike Airhart
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 20:59:44
To: Larry Marchese, Wayne Besen

Dear Larry,
Thank you very much for your communication. Are you stating officially that Blount Fine Foods is no longer providing cash or goods to National Organization for Marriage or its affiliates for the event in Warwick on August 16?
Many thanks in advance for any definitive clarification.

Mike Airhart
Truth Wins Out

Regardless–wee! The power of consumers + the internet rules. I can now continue to eat my delicious Blue Room New England clam chowder.
———————-

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is holding an anti-equality event in Providence this Sunday, August 16. NOM is one of the largest groups that is trying to prevent &/or overturn marriage equality. One of the sponsors of this event is Blount Fine Foods, who supplies Brown Dining Services with pre-made soups found in the Gate, Jo’s, and the Blue Room. We wanted to send an e-mail to BFF (lol, BFF) to let them know how we are not happy with the sponsorship of the group responsible for the “Gathering Storm” ad.

Upon receiving complaints about this, Larry Marchese said, on behalf of BFF:

“Corporate philanthropy and good citizenship has been part of Blount’s mission since inception. In keeping with that, we have a long track record of donating Blount-brand chowder and other products to a wide variety of non-profits in our home area that request it for events. These donations of soup are just simple gestures of goodwill and were certainly not intended to be interpreted otherwise. It’s very concerning to us that anyone would think otherwise and as a result, we will review our policy going forward.””

The following is my draft for the email we want to send to Blount Fine Foods. We also want to send it to the local media/newspapers and start circulating it to create a sweet snowball effect. SO, forward it to other Brown students and groups, get support, and tell people to email us so we can do a formal email with a lot of signatures. 🙂 Tim Horton’s in RI was sponsoring the event too, and after a huge backlash, they pulled their support and apologized. Let’s see if we can make this happen again with Blount!

If you or your subgroup/organization (remember, the Queer Alliance itself cannot sponsor any event; this is up to each individual subgroup) would like to be added to this e-mail let us know soon–we want to send this email and start circulating it before the event happens this upcoming Sunday!
——————-

To Whom It May Concern at Blount Fine Foods,

It has come to our attention that your organization is one of the sponsors for the National Organization for Marriage event being held this Sunday, August 16th 2009, at the Aldrich Mansion. While we understand that corporate philanthropy and good citizenship are part of Blount’s mission, and that in attempting to keep with said mission, your organization has a history of donating products to all local non-profits that request it for events, we feel it is impossible to construe donations for this event as “simple gestures of goodwill” with no ideological ramifications. Being a sponsor of an event has its obligations and implications, and thus we urge you to reconsider your support for NOM’s Marriage and Family Day.

Your website lists your non-discrimination policy, which covers many forms of diversity (including sexual orientation), and states that you believe “workforce diversity is essential to the company’s growth and long-term success.” Furthermore, your non-discrimination statement ends with “We further strive to apply these same principles to how we work with business partners, our industry as well as organizations out in the community.” How is it then acceptable to support an event that goes against everything you stand for in that statement and blatantly supports discrimination? How is it logical to espouse fairness and a need for diversity and simultaneously sponsor a fundraiser for the National Organization for Marriage?

This event has a clear religious affiliation and political agenda, which blatantly go against the ideals of non-discrimination and freedom of choice, and thus we feel your promotion of this event is deeply hypocritical. Your sponsorship directly marginalizes a sector of your workforce and clientele, while simultaneously condoning the mission of the National Organization for Marriage–to stand in the way of legalizing same-sex marriage on the basis of certain people’s religious beliefs.

Your decision to contribute to this event is directly relevant to us (members of the Brown University community), not just because our institution has people who identify as LGBTQ and are affected by NOM’s message and goals, but also because your company supplies Brown Dining Services with a variety of goods. If your sponsorship reflects your values and you choose to support the National Organization for Marriage’s efforts, we do not want our dollars going to your business and, by extension, anti-equality groups such as that.

We would appreciate that your company follow Tim Horton’s example: the company has pulled its support for the NOM Rhode Island event and has issued a statement on its website, in which it acknowledges that the event falls outside their sponsorship guidelines (which support fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities, NOT those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups) and apologizes “for any misunderstanding or inconvenience” caused by the deal.

For all the reasons outlined above, we the undersigned oppose your decision to sponsor the National Organization for Marriage event this Sunday, August 16th, and urge you to reconsider your affiliation to it. In the event that you keep the sponsorship, we will work so that Brown University seriously reconsiders its patronage of your business.

Fling

You know what’s better than a Twix bar? A fake Twix bar marketed towards women. Especially one that SHIMMERS.

“We created FLING™ Chocolate Fingers to celebrate the female spirit – the unapologetically feminine playful, naughty, flirtatious, and alluring nature that brings shimmer into the world.

FLING™ is a sweet, light truffle on a subtle crisp layer enrobed in shimmering chocolate that’s as glamorous as you are. At under 85 calories per finger, it’s slim, but not skinny. Indulgent but not greedy. Naughty but nice.

It’s also a way of living. As FLING™ women we are spontaneous – we shimmer! And when it’s good? We share it. So let yourself go! Have a FLING™ in private, or wave it all around town; in the office, the bedroom, or the great outdoors.”

What in the world–? You need to look at this website.

Shimmery sparkling pink overload. Also, just look at the language used! I can’t believe they were able to pack so many stereotypes onto one site. Women are “playful and naughty and flirtatious” and we “bring shimmer into the world.” That’s actually true because we FLING women excrete glitter and rainbows and fairy dust. DUH. 😐 Anyway. I don’t have a problem with women being naughty, flirtatious, playful, and shimmery, but I DO have a problem when that’s what women are reduced to. Welcome to the marketing world.

I love how they describe the “fingers” as “enrobed in shimmering chocolate” that are as “glamorous” as women are. The parallels between describing this food item and women are incredible. And, notice how they differentiate between skinny and slim? This is a worthwhile distinction; it’s bad if you’re “skinny,” but slim is fine…never mind healthy, though? That whole section seems like it’s describing the “ideal woman,” too (cf. the “FLING” woman, which is even interesting from a linguistic/semantic perspective–a FLING woman? the “other” woman? a mistress?). Slim, but not skinny; indulgent, but not greedy; naughty, but nice. Are we marketing a chocolate or are we marketing ideals of femininity and womanhood?

And the crazy relationship subtext here is intense–“have a fling; let yourself go” and “Have a FLING™ in private, or wave it all around town; in the office, the bedroom, or the great outdoors.” Really? Could we be a little more explicit about promoting cheating here, folks? I didn’t think so.

Actually, here’s some more:

“How should I properly care for my FLING™?

Like the women who crave it, FLING needs to be handled with care — try not to ruffle our delicate truffles and keep them in a cool, dry place. Between 65-75 degrees is ideal. Then you can pleasure yourself with this chocolate sensation time and time again.

I ALWAYS WANTED A CHOCOLATE THAT DOUBLED AS A DILDO!

MY CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE!

also:

“Keep things interesting and try a FLING™ Chocolate Finger in all three flavors – Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Hazelnut – a ménage of flavors. Variety is the spice of life, so tear it open and sneak in a quickie.” REALLY? REALLY? A “ménage” of flavors? ROFL. Let’s have a threesome with these “chocolate fingers” because “variety is the spice of life.” I could go off the deep end and try to make some racial implications here, but that would be too much, albeit hilarious. This entire website wraps up ideals of womanhood, food, sex, and relationship models all into one big shimmering, glamorous package of fail.

However, the chocolate actually SHIMMERS, which is awesome. If I weren’t so amused by/disgusted at the marketing, I might actually buy some. You know how girls love their sparklies! (But really–I totally do.)

LINK.