Monday, December 21, 2009

OMFG Toto, We're Not in Texas Anymore:
Christmas at Good Vibrations

So I'm on vacation in California and will later travel to the East Coast to see my people in DC, Philadelphia, and NYC.

The first destination on my whistle-stop tour of America's most unabashedly liberal locales was, appropriately, a weekend in Berkeley and San Francisco. I always go to whatever feminist sex toy store happens to be in the city I'm visiting so I can see what drool-inducing new toys are out there but also to just be around other sex positive people. In the Bay Area the big player is Good Vibrations, which has locations in Berkeley and San Francisco.

Good Vibes has a great online presence and even publishes its own web magazine that highlights, among other things, famous sex educators like yours truly. I usually visit the Mission store, because it's in the Mission and I like to go there--what could be better than sex toys and tacos, all in the same neighborhood? You'd think, living in Austin, Texas, I'd be able to have such an afternoon in my own town but, alas, I cannot.

I thought I'd share a couple of the totally awesome things I found at Good Vibes that I've never seen before and that I'm either lusting after or highly recommending. First up is the La Femme Harness, pictured above. The photo doesn't do it justice--the edges, ruffled leather, are highlighted by pink zippers. At $169, this is not a beginner's harness but for those experienced players interested in a femmey strap-on, this beauty is a must-have.

I also found the most adorable hand restraints ever, Bound Bliss, pictured at right. The part that goes around the wrists is leather and closes with a heart-shaped padlock, and the bow is real patent leather. Also available in red patent leather (!) these are a bargain at $65. Hint, hint.



Lelo's Ina, at left, was part of my gift guide but I actually got to feel it in my own hands at Good Vibes and I can confidently say that this thing is fucking awesome. If you have a Rabbit now, throw it in the garbage and get this younger, firmer, hotter model. Seriously. It's rechargeable, silicone, and I love that it doesn't have any annoying animal features. This is a grown up vibrator.


One thing Good Vibes does have that I don't see when I go to Babeland is an unparallelled selection of queer and genderfuck porn. They have the whole Crash Pad series, everything out there in TrannyFag world and and more (I know they have Buck Angel titles in the store, but I couldn't find any on the website). They offer Video on Demand, too, so you don't have to live in the Mission to get your fill. Fluid, at right, is one of Crash Pad veteran Madison Young's directorial flicks.

If you're in the Bay Area, I highly recommend a side trip to one of the Good Vibes locations. The stores are clean, welcoming to people of all genders, orientations, sizes, colors, what have you, and their selection of toys is top notch. They carry more "novelties" than I care for (really, must I be forced to browse butt plugs with college kids giggling over penis birthday candles?) but I confess to lusting after more than one three digit toy of the kind I just can't see up close and personal in Austin.





You can read my other gift recommendations here, at my Holiday Gift and Regift Guide.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Gift (and Regift) Guide

The holidays are here (in the case of Hanukkah) and a'coming (in the case of Christmas) so the time to buy gifts is now, while you can still avoid paying extra for last-minute shipping.

For You (or me):
OMG. Lelo has put out the most gorgeous, simple, fabulous toys and they have outdone themselves with Ina, the rabbit-style vibrator that is missing cloying animal faces or hard to clean nubby surfaces.

Ina by Lelo

It comes in purple and orange (hook 'em!) silicone and medical-grade plastic, which means this toy will be great to use and easy to clean. If you want simultaneous g-spot and clitoral stimulation, this is the toy for you.

For your best friend:
Silk is a group of pretty, smooth, all-purpose dildos made out of hard silicone. They come in 3 sizes and can be used with a harness or as handheld toys. The smooth texture makes these great for anal play, especially for beginners.

Silk

For your boyfriend (and you too):
Simply Blown has delivered a stunning glass butt plug that looks like a Christmas ornament. It features a round base, which is key for comfort during sex, and you can see the color from the outside.

Simply Blown Plug

At 1.5 inches at its widest, this is a good size plug for those working up to anal sex with a male partner. Butt plugs are also great on their own for masturbation.

For the newlyweds:
The Red Heart Crop combines love with anger in a cute, gentle way. It also comes in handy for running meetings.

The Red Heart Crop

This crop won't cause real pain but it makes a satisfying 'slap' sound on contact. Plus it can double as a magic wand if your kid happens to find it.

For Everyone's Stocking:
The P Style is a small plastic object that allows women to pee standing up. Nuff said!

The P Style

Black Dragon Latex Gloves. These come in sizes S, M and L and are great for sex play or, in my case, dyeing my hair or cleaning the bathtub.

You'd be surprised how frequently well-fitting latex gloves come in handy around the house. I also used them this year when preparing my Thanksgiving turkey.

Kimono Type E Condoms. If you need condoms, try these.

Sliquid Organics Natural lube is a great all-purpose lube. It's glycerin and paraben free so even people with very sensitive skin can use it.


To Regift:
The Cone is, in my opinion, completely useless as a sex toy. But you know who loves it? Babies. Seriously. You can put it in their crib and it'll shut them up or leave it out and they'll carry it around, amazed at this pink cone that shakes around.

If you've received one and its stayed on your shelf for months, give it to a sleepless parent near you. They'll appreciate it.

Happy Holidays, everyone!
XOXO,
GTG

Friday, December 11, 2009

There is No Condom for the Eye:
"Jersey Shore"






I normally never, ever watch MTV's "television programs" but earlier this week when my friend T wrote about the new "Jersey Shore" on Facebook I knew I had to make an exception.

I grew up going to Cape May, which while technically a beach in New Jersey, is not really a part of the Jersey Shore (one way you know this is true is because people who go there don't say they're going to 'the shore'). But those who know me personally know I went to boarding school in Southeast Pennsylvania, perilously close to South Philly which is a true velour track suit Ed Hardy paradise.

My brother, A, lives in South Philly above a "t-shirt store" that, when I visited in June, stocked nothing but spray painted jeans, Ed Hardy t-shirts, rhinestone belt buckles, and huge rhinestone sunglasses for dudes. Let that sink in for a minute. They also had a catalog of "custom t-shirt designs" that I looked at, thinking I could get a nice vintage Phillies t-shirt for my then-boyfriend.

When I asked about how much it cost to get a shirt made, the bleached-blonde, Ed Hardied-out gal behind the counter gave me a look that said, "Huh? [translation: "We don't really sell custom t-shirts because we are a front business."]" Just then, a huge dude in a velour track suit walked in, went to the back room, and walked out with a beat up looking shoe box.

Just sayin'. So the firestorm of controversy surrounding "Jersey Shore" is based on complaints that it perpetuates stereotypes of Italian Americans as "Guidos" and "Guidettes," a term every character on the show uses to describe themselves. I've known and loved my fair share of Italian Americans, even some who had vaguely suspicious bookkeeping jobs, and I have never, not even on the Jersey Shore, not even at Rehoboth Beach, heard anyone describe him or herself as a "Guido" or a "Guidette."


The first guy to introduce himself, Pauly D, emphasizes what it's all about for him: "family, friends, tanning, gel, everything." He has a tanning bed in his house--that's how "serious" he is about "living up to this lifestyle." Important Italian Americans, including Alyssa Milano, are pissed:
"In the name of decency and fairness to millions of Italian Americans whose hard
work helped build this Country, and provide a steady source of sponsorship,
revenues, and support for your network, I am writing to your office to demand
that you immediately pull this series before it airs," DiMino noted. "It is also
hypocritical and shameful that MTV openly advocates against this type of
discrimination and racism, (and offers a community program at http://think.mtv.com/Issues/discrimination) yet does the
direct opposite in its programming toward Italian Americans.
I don't know what to say about this other than "There is no condom for the eye."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chicago Tribune Copies Laura Sessions Stepp by Telling Girls Hooking Up is Bad


(image from laurastepp.com)

Thanks to my pal "Early Marriage is A-Ok" Mark Regnerus for this article from the Chi-Trib (what, no R. Kelly stories to cover this week?) explaining a "study of more than 4,000 Twilight fans by researchers at the University of Missouri" that apparently demonstrates, once and for all, that girls want love and boys want sex and therefore, hooking up is bad for girls.
"This series represents a backlash to the 'hooking up' culture," explained one author of the study. " 'Twilight' has been a way for young girls to acknowledge their emerging sexuality without actually having sex." In other words, it's a female fantasy. It's also every boy's nightmare. After all, the hooking-up deal works pretty well for guys. Lots and lots of sex, without all that messy relationship stuff? What's not to like?
Hold on a minute. I was 17 once, and I don't recall having fantasies of "acknowledging [my] emerging sexuality without actually having sex." Kind of the opposite, actually. According to who is this a female fantasy? If you think this sounds suspiciously like the official Cassandra of GIRLSEXISBAD, Laura Sessions Stepp, you're right! The author of the newspaper article included this incredible stretch of a statement as though it were fact:
Remember dating? As quaint as is it might sound today, dating required you to get to know a girl before you did anything else. The goal might be the same -- indeed, it often was the same -- but you had to follow several distinct steps to get there. That was far better for girls, who could decide if they liked a guy before physical intimacy began. Now, the order is reversed: You hook up first, then decide if you want to "go out."
Jonathan Zimmerman, did you ever see Grease? Have you read The Crucial Decade? Just because you (if you were alive) were playing Cowboys and Indians in the 1950s doesn't mean teenagers weren't getting busy, you know, in the back seats of cars all over America. What do you think led to the highest teen pregnancy rates in our nation's history? But wait...there's more:
"No real commitment, no real feelings involved, this is like a guy's paradise," Bogle said one male student told her. "I mean this is what guys have been wanting for many, many years. And women have always resisted, but now they are going along with it." The male student is right. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, women have made enormous strides in education, income and professional achievement. But when it comes to sex, it's still a man's world. And that's why young women are celebrating an imaginary one, in the movies, where the guy actually loves you before he makes love to you. Even if he is a vampire.(emphasis mine)
Look, I read Bogle's book and she does not make the bogus conclusions Zimmerman claims here--and there were plenty of women interviewed who, surprise surprise, were too busy outperforming boys in the classroom to want a boyfriend--they wanted casual sex, too. Bogle starts out the book with a detailed history of "dating" in America and how the history people like Stepp often look back at with rose-colored glasses is far more layered and complex than a system of calling cards and polite conversations in front of the fireplace with a girl's parents.

And besides, most guys in college do want a girlfriend. They aren't looking for one when they're hooking up at parties, but they do want one. Another fact Zimmerman ignores that Bogle discovered in her research--hooking up often doesn't mean sex. But Zimmerman clearly just read the dust jacket.

Oh, and by the way, Jonathan Zimmerman is the acclaimed author of the groundbreaking book "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Barbara Ehrenreich Takes
Fundamentalist Pinkianity To Task


(from Komen.com)

With the new guidelines on mammography and Pap smears (short version: they're not as necessary as we thought) kicking up a firestorm of conservative idiot behavior (Fox News: "Healthcare Rationing Begins!!!"), Barbara Ehrenreich helpfully takes to task the "pink ribbon breast cancer cult," an unnecessary obsession with breast cancer, that she claims has excluded legitimate women's health concerns from public debate.

She's right, obviously, and she reminds readers how much money was made by oncologists and radiologists made when mammography and the cancers it inevitably detects (not all of which require treatment, and some of which might be caused by the radiation in mammograms) became de rigeur for women.

I went to one of the first Races for the Cure, not long after my mom had breast cancer, and I remember it being a meaningful event--but that was before Komen started putting its name on everything from OPI nail polish to New Kids On The Block tank tops to lingerie from fucking Frederick's of Hollywood to the special edition KitchenAid Cook For the Cure mixer. You can see the exhaustive list of Komen's corporate partners here.


(from komen.com)

Ehrenreich says:
When a corporation wants to signal that it’s "woman friendly," what does it do? It stamps a pink ribbon on its widget and proclaims that some miniscule portion of the profits will go to breast cancer research...When Laura Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2007, what grave issue did she take up with the locals? Not women’s rights (to drive, to go outside without a man, etc.), but "breast cancer awareness." In the post-feminist United States, issues like rape, domestic violence, and unwanted pregnancy seem to be too edgy for much public discussion, but breast cancer is all apple pie.
She's right--breast cancer is even becoming kinda sexy, like the "Save the Tatas" ("Who said fighting cancer can't be fun?") webstore hocking sexy tank tops and "boob lube" to make your BSE easier.



Ehrenreich reminds us that medicine is a business, and that people make money from testing, diagnosis and treatment of all diseases, but especially cancer. She calls attention--young women, I hope you're listening--back to the National Women's Health Network, which has been a cassandra on the risks of mammography, hormone replacement therapy, and overscreening of cervical cancer for ages.

It is also helpful to remember that in the midst of the healthcare debate, the fact that fundamental women's healthcare needs--abortion, contraception, maternity care--are even up for debate reveals how deeply entrenched are the ideas that "women's troubles" are dirty, not appropriate for public debate, and shouldn't be funded.

Unfuckingacceptable.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cousin Marriage in the New York Times




I don't know what all my readers were doing last week that nobody wrote me to tell me about this article in the Times about marriage between first cousins. Oh, right...Thanksgiving. The weird part is that they've hidden the piece in the "Home and Garden" section, of all places.

The article tells the stories of two couples where the spouses are first cousins, and their families' reactions to their relationships. One said her mother said it would have been easier to tell people her daughter was a lesbian.

I wonder how, in a nation where families may not live in the same town much less state, anyone would even know that two people filing for a marriage license are cousins. Many cousins may not sure last names and, if the two don't disclose, how would the authorities know they were related? I have probably 30 first cousins and I think only 3 or 4 of them have my last name and not one of them lives in my state.

For those cousin couples who do get married, the website cousincouples.com allows them to come out of the closet and find community with other couples. And those pesky genetic problems? Probably not a big deal, say various scientists in the article. Defects are more likely to occur in couples whose families have a long history of intermarriage--in a couple who are the first set of cousins to have children, gene problems are unlikely.

The website is interesting--it has a list of famous people who married their cousins (Jerry Lee Lewis, natch) and an analysis of what Christianity has to say on the matter.