Product review: Hero by Tantus

I’ve never been a fan of realistic-looking toys.  I tend to avoid dildos and vibrators that look like actual penises.  I find it really difficult to get excited about a toy that looks like it’s been chopped off a body.  So when I unboxed the Hero which was lovingly sent my way by Tantus, I was surprised that I didn’t immediately recoil at the sight of it.  Further to that, after trying the Hero, I can definitely see the merits of a toy with realistic features.

I think the thing that sets the Hero apart from a lot of realistic toys is the colour.  The Hero doesn’t come in flesh tones, but rather in shades of Peacock Blue and Periwinkle.  These bright and unconventional hues instantly make the toy look less like a disembodied appendage and more like a fun object for sexy play.  I was lucky enough to be sent the Periwinkle incarnation of the Hero, and I instantly fell in love with the colour.

As insertables go, I’d say that the Hero ranks at the midpoint in terms of size.  The insertable length is only 5.5 inches, which is plenty to satisfy but still not the largest of the toys I’ve tried.  The diameter of the toy is 2 inches, which is enough to give a nice full feeling, but not so massive that I need to warm up with another toy before I use it.  The shorter length of the Hero makes it great for harness play, because it’s easier to control than a longer dildo.  I find that longer dildos can be more challenging to use in a harness because they can be unwieldy when thrusting and there’s always the danger of being too aggressive and hitting your partner in the cervix (which is no fun for anyone).  The stout shape makes the Hero a great option for strap-on sex.

The other thing that makes the Hero one of my favourite strap-on dildos is those bulging balls hanging from the base of the toy.  I’ve never really understood the appeal of testicles on dildos, other than for aesthetic reasons.  When I strapped the Hero into my harness for the first time, my eyes were opened.  If you’re the partner who is wearing the harness, often you miss out stimulation during play.  But when I’m wearing the Hero, those balls line up beautifully with my pubic mound, which provides pressure and stimulation while I’m thrusting.  If you have a clitoris and you enjoy strap-on sex, I definitely recommend giving the Hero a go.

If you’re using the Hero for solo play, those balls also really come in handy.  They provide an excellent base so that you can stand the toy upright on a chair, bed or in the bathtub and ride it. Even though this particular toy isn’t suction cup compatible (as a lot of Tantus toys are) it’s still stable enough to use on a flat surface without it tipping over.  If you prefer toys that you can mount, the Hero is a great choice.

When I saw the super-straight shaft on the Hero, I was doubtful whether this would be adequate for g-spot play.  I prefer curved toys that really target my g-spot as opposed to straight shafts that tend to miss it.  However, I was totally wrong about the Hero.  Even though it doesn’t hit my g-spot directly, that pronounced coronal ridge strums against it during thrusting, which was something I hadn’t experienced before and really enjoyed.  This indirect rubbing on my g-spot was enough for me to orgasm without even touching my clitoris, something that is almost unheard of for me.  The downside of the pronounced head is that it made the toy a little difficult for me to insert, because it kept catching on my pubic bone.  But with plenty of lube and a little patience, I was able to avoid this problem.

The Hero is made of matte silicone with a fairly firm texture.  The firmness of the toy was the factor that made this toy such a joy for my g-spot, and also makes it easy to control in a harness.  However, there is also a Super Soft version of the Hero if you’d prefer something a bit more forgiving.  I have a Destiny Super Soft from Tantus, which provides less intense internal stimulation but is still great to give you something to clench around during play.  The matte silicone has a slightly sticky texture to it and tends to collect dust and hair readily.  I’m not a fan of that sticky feel, but it does go away when the toy is wet or lubed up.  The high-quality silicone is body safe, easy to clean and can be sterilised in boiling water or in the top shelf of your dishwasher.

After playing with the Hero, I’ve done a 90 degree turn on my opinion of realistic toys.  I’m still not ready to go for something that looks lifelike, but I see how certain features which are inspired by real genitals can provide extra stimulation for out-of-this-world play.  The Hero is a perfect hybrid between fantasy and reality and hits all the right notes.

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Does pegging make you gay?

I get a fair number of emails and messages from men who are interested in trying pegging.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “pegging” was coined by Dan Savage to describe when a person (usually a woman) penetrates their partner (usually a man) in the butt with a strap-on.  And it seems like a lot of you guys are interested in this particular sex act, because it’s one of the topics I get asked about most often by readers.

wooden laundry washing clothes line

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

 

I’ve noticed something really interesting about these messages though.  When the author of the message is a guy, it usually goes something like “I’m not gay, but I’m really curious about pegging.  I want to ask my girlfriend to use a strap-on on me, but i don’t want her to think I’m gay”.  Or “I am really turned on by the idea of my wife having strap-on sex with me.  Does that mean that I’m gay?”.  Occasionally I will also get a woman asking for tips for successful pegging who also throws in a question about her partner’s sexuality.  So I wanted to unpack that question a little, and ask if pegging, or wanting to be pegged, means that a man is gay?

 

First of all, let’s talk about the reasons why someone might like to be pegged.  The most obvious answer is “because it feels good”.  The anus is packed with nerve endings which, when stimulated, can feel incredibly pleasurable.  Anal penetration is a great way to engage the prostate, which can feel amazing for the receptive partner.  Pegging also allows for multiple avenues of stimulation at once, as the partner wearing the strap on can also use their hands to play with their partner’s genitals or nipples.  So from a purely physical level, pegging feels great and that’s one reason why people like doing it.

 

Secondly, pegging creates a scenario that is mentally stimulating.  For a heterosexual man who has a penis, being penetrated is not something they typically get to experience.  Pegging flips the sexual script somewhat, and this can make the receptive partner feel vulnerable and even submissive.  Pegging often features in BDsM play where a male partner wishes to be dominated or “taken” by a female partner.  In addition to this, anal play is still considered something of a taboo, and so there’s the excitement that comes with doing something that we feel is illicit or naughty.  Pegging can be very intimate and romantic, and for some couples it’s an opportunity to try something new, to share a novel and special experience together. The emotional and intellectual stimulation is as much, if not more, a part of why people enjoy playing with strap-ons.

 

Just as anal play is still thought of as being “risque” there’s also a stereotype that anal penetration is “gay”.  There’s this idea that anal sex is a favourite pastime of all gay men, and so if you’re a man who craves butt sex, maybe that’s a sign that you’re secretly gay? Anal play has become stereotypically intertwined with homosexuality, so for a lot of people, wanting it up the butt is inherently gay.

 

I find this idea interesting for a couple of reasons.  First of all, anal play isn’t exclusive to men.  Literally anyone who is willing is able to experience butt play.  Everyone has a butt, and so anal play is one of the least gendered types of sex play available.  And yet it’s become so deeply linked in the public psyche with gay male culture.  Furthermore, anal sex isn’t as popular among homosexual men as you might think.  In a 2003 study of homosexual experiences in Australia, Andrew Grulich et al reported that only one third of their participants who identified as homosexual men engaged in anal sex.  On the other hand, three quarters of their gay male participants reported that they regularly engaged in oral sex.  So in actual fact, blow jobs are much more popular among homosexual men than anal sex.  Although some gay men do enjoy and engage in anal play, many do not.  And many people who are not gay men like having their butts played with.  The idea that anal sex is “gay” just isn’t correct.

 

Further to that, I don’t think that wanting to do particular sexual acts is an indicator of your sexuality.  I think what’s more important is who you want to be doing those acts with.  What defines homosexuality is being attracted to people of the same gender as yourself.  So if you’re a man, and you’re not attracted to other men, then you’re not gay.  If you’re a man who wants his wife/girlfriend/female sexual partner to bone him with a dildo, you’re probably not gay.  What matters here is who you’re attracted to, not which acts you include in your sexual repertoire.

 

And finally, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, although I completely understand the confusion and fear that comes with questioning your own sexuality.  If you do have an inkling that you’re attracted to members of the same gender, that’s ok.   I think the fear that many people have of being “secretly gay” is one that stems from a worry that our identity is fluid, that things we feel are true about ourselves might not always be so.  In my limited experience, I’ve never met a person who was personally surprised to realise that they were not heterosexual.  Generally, people who are homosexual or bisexual tend to have an inkling that this is the case, even well before they’re willing to take on that label.

 

So no, I don’t think that wanting to try pegging means that you’re gay.  It could mean that you’re interested in exploring a new sensation, or you already know how great prostate stimulation is and you want more.  Or maybe you’re drawn to the power dynamics and sexual rebelliousness that pegging represents.  Whatever the reason, I don’t think that being curious about or turned on by pegging means that a man is harbouring same-sex tendencies.  (or that same-sex desires are something to be feared or ashamed of, but that’s a whole other blog post).

 

 

What I wore: royal purple

A few weeks back I was on my way to pick up the office’s stationery order when I passed the local Red Cross shop.  In the window was a gorgeous long-sleeved vintage 70’s dress in the most lovely shade of purple.  It was a fairly simple design, a straight skirt, boat neckline and button detail, but my eye was instantly drawn to it.  The following day I made the decision to go to the shop in my lunchbreak and pick up the dress.

Alas, when I arrived it was no longer in the window.  My heart sank when I realised that it had probably been sold, and I resigned myself to taking a quick look in the store to see if I could find a consolation purchase.  And there, on the rack with the other dresses, was my purple marvel.  Silly me!  It hadn’t been sold, they’d just changed the window display!  I snapped it up for $5 and walked gleefully back to work with my treasure.

I am wearing:

  • Royal purple vintage dress (thrifted)
  • Black boots from Ebay
  • Mrs Doubtfire pin from Amy Blue Illustration
  • Celtic knot brooch (gifted)
  • Art deco earrings (thrifted)

I wore this particular outfit for mother’s day brunch with my family.  I chose my jewellery carefully.  These two brooches are to pay tribute to two mothers who are important to me but who weren’t present for Mother’s Day this year- my late Nana Dot and my ex-mother-in-law-now-friend Judith.  The Celtic knot was a gift from Judith and I always think of her when I wear it.  I chose Mrs Doubtfire for Nan because it was a film that she loved and we used to laugh our asses off watching it together.

 
I’m thrilled with this dress.  I have very few long-sleeved vintage dresses, so this was the perfect addition to my winter work wardrobe.  The colour is superb and the slight stripe texture makes it a bit more interesting than just a block colour.  I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this now that winter is here and the temperatures are dropping.

What on earth is “tenting”?

Today’s blog post is brought to you by reader questions, duoballs and the letter “V”

I received a question from a reader when I mentioned that I had a low-sitting cervix in this review of the OVO L1 Loveballs.  This awesome reader very astutely pointed out that if my cervix sits low at certain points in my cycle, then that would mean that my vagina is very shallow.  And they wanted to know how people with low-lying cervices can have penetrative sex if their vaginas are only a couple of inches long.  I was quite excited to get this question, because it has a really interesting answer and it’s also something that not a lot of people know about.

Before we jump into answering this reader’s question, let’s take a quick peek at some pelvic anatomy, shall we?

vagina diagram

Ok, so you can see in the diagram above the vaginal canal and the cervix that sits on top. The cervix is the opening of the uterus, the gateway between the uterus and the vagina.  Now, this bit’s really important: a lot of people think of the vagina as an open tube, like a length of pipe.  In actual fact, the vagina is really more like a deflated balloon, in that most of the time the walls are flattened down and compacted.  It’s not a tunnel, it’s more like a sleeve.  But this deflated shape isn’t permanent.  Just like a penis can go from soft to hard, the vaginal canal can go from narrow to wide, and this happens during a process called “tenting”.

 

Tenting is a pretty nifty process that happens as part of the sexual response cycle in people who have vaginas.  The sexual response cycle is basically the body’s reaction to sexual stimuli, getting turned on and preparing for intercourse.  Everyone’s sexual response cycle differs a bit but generally all people with vaginas go through the same steps.  And “tenting” is one of those stages.  In order to prepare for penetration, the walls of the vagina become slightly swollen which increases sensitivity and also opens the vaginal canal to make penetration easier.  The uterus begins to draw upwards, lengthening the vaginal canal to make more room for a penis or object of penetration.  This swelling and lengthening is called “tenting” because it’s like the vagina is opening up like a tent, ready for your partner to come inside.  So  people with penises aren’t the only ones who pitch a tent when they get aroused!

 

If you’ve got a vagina, it’s likely that you’ve experienced this aspect of the sexual response cycle.  Consider how it feels when you try to put something inside the vagina when you’re not really turned on.  It might be very dry and everything feels a bit tight and uncomfortable.  Now compare that to the way it feels when you’re super aroused and rearing to go.  It’s so much easier to accept penetration (whether that’s a penis, fingers or a toy) when you’re turned on and you’ve had a chance to get ready.  The vagina is much more receptive, it’s likely to be slicker from lubrication and it feels more pleasurable because blood rushing to the area increases sensitivity.  This comparison highlights the importance of knowing your body and taking your time when it comes to sex.  As I said, everyone’s body works at a it’s own pace, but it generally takes a minimum of twenty minutes for a person with a vagina to reach the peak of that preparation phase and be fully ready for penetration.

 

So now you see how having a lower-lying cervix isn’t a problem when it comes to penetrative sex.   The vagina is a very clever body part that does some amazing things, and the way it prepares for sexy times is only one of them.  All it needs is a bit of time, patience and foreplay to help it along.

 

Do you have a sex question you want answered?  You can shoot me an email or get in touch via one of my social media channels.

Bluths, bullying and backlash: what the Jessica Walter interview shows us about how our culture deals with abusive behaviour.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent backlash that’s hit regarding an interview of the Arrested Development cast.  In the interview, Jessica Walter (who plays Lucille Bluth in the cult comedy) talks about how cast-mate Jeffrey Tambor verbally abused her on set. Despite the fact that Jessica is obviously distressed, many of the cast members present at the interview awkwardly addressed the issue, saying things like “all families have arguments” and “Difficult people are all part of the business”.  This interview struck a chord with me, and it’s only right now that I’ve been able to put my finger on the reason why.

lucille-bluth-2

Whenever people ask why individuals who are abused, bullied or harassed don’t speak up about the way that they’re being treated, I’m going to refer them to this interview.  Because this interview perfectly illustrates one of the main reasons: because people who are being bullied or abused are afraid that those around them won’t take them seriously.  They’re fearful of being told that they’re overreacting or that their experiences will be swept aside.  When you listen to the audio of the interview, you can hear Jessica Walter’s voice has a tremor.  You can hear her crying.  It’s evident that she is hurt and distressed.  And still, her co-workers gloss over her experience and tell her that it’s all part of the job.

I’ve sat in that spot many times.  On numerous occasions I’ve worked with people who were physically and verbally aggressive.  And many times when I’ve raised my concerns about their behaviour and the fact that it made me uncomfortable or fearful, I was told “Well, that’s just their personality.  It’s not about you so just don’t take it to heart” or “Well, this job is stressful and that’s just how they react to stress”.  It’s so upsetting to work up that courage to speak up about the way you’re being treated only to be told to “get over it and don’t take it personally”.

Now, I think it’s really important to note a few facts about Jessica Walter’s background.  She is a seasoned, experienced actress in her seventies.  She’s articulate and intelligent.  And still, when she speaks up about her upsetting experience, her co-workers don’t take her seriously.  When a woman who has credibility and is able to express herself clearly says she’s been abused, and doesn’t garner any respect or kindness from her male co-workers, what message does that send to someone younger, less experienced, less able to advocate for themselves?  It says to them that if they speak up, they probably won’t be believed or treated with dignity or respect either.  Because hell, if a woman with sixty years experience in her job and a sharp mind and tongue isn’t taken seriously, well why would someone younger and greener be?

For a person who is being abused or bullied to call out the behaviour of their attacker takes huge strength and courage.  It’s an immensely frightening thing to say those words, even to someone you trust.  And when that effort is rewarded with the reaction that “we all have to deal with this” or “It’s just how that person is with everyone”, it makes the person speaking up feel even more isolated and helpless.

 

I feel like there’s a huge problem in our culture when it comes to dealing with abuse and harassment.  Often, much of the burden of dealing with bullying is placed on the victim, and a lot of blame is tossed their way if they don’t speak up.  And yet, when someone does call out unacceptable behaviour in a very public manner, they aren’t taken seriously or treated with care.  This interview is a snapshot of that dynamic playing out in real time, and it highlights how badly we need to examine how we treat people who vocalise their experiences with abuse and bullying.  We need to stop asking people to speak up and then turning them away when they do.  If people are going to report abuse and harassment, they need to be assured that their efforts will be met with respect and care, not blaming and shrugs.

What I wore: no capes

It’s been a couple of years since my last cosplay.  After a stint as Tank Girl at Supanova I unintentionally took a hiatus from cosplay.  I didn’t make a conscious decision not to do it anymore, I just no longer felt excited about creating and wearing costumes.  But recently I started feeling the itch to cosplay once again.  And Free Comic Book Day presented the perfect opportunity to rock a new character costume

I’ve got a short list of characters I want to cosplay, and Edna Mode from The Incredibles was at the top of that list.  I adore Edna’s super sharp style and lightening wit.  Like so many cartoon characters, her look is simple but instantly recognisable and pretty easy to translate into a cosplay costume.

Naturally, an all-black ensemble was vital.  Edna’s outfit has an armoured look to it, and it’s very structured.  I chose this heavily sequinned dress for the bell-shaped skirt and the rough texture.  I added leather-look pants with pleated details on the knees and thighs for a tough look.

I actually bought new glasses specifically for this costume.  These are the 7001 from Derek Cardigan.  I normally go for very square or cats-eye glasses, but Edna’s frames are extremely round and heavy.  I actually really like the way these frames look and they’ve become my go-to glasses lately. It’s great to step outside your comfort zone and wear something you haven’t tried before.

Edna’s makeup was kind of tricky, because in The Incredibles she doesn’t appear to be wearing makeup. I kept my look polished and fresh, making my brows heavier and doing some more extreme contouring that I do for day-to-day.  I contoured my cheeks and around my mouth to make me look a little more jowly and shaped my nose to be a tad rounder to recreate the shape of Edna’s face. I kept my lips light with a slick of nude lipstick.

 

I picked up so many new comic books on Free Comic Book Day.  My favourite offerings were The Mall, which was a very nostalgic 80’s teen romance mixed in with a crime story.  Crush was gorgeous, a tale of a young man dealing with his first crush and I really enjoyed the lightheartedness of the Adventure Time Fiona and Cake story.  Naturally, I loved Tank Girl as well.  And the artwork in Street Angel’s Dog was unlike anything I’ve seen before.

After a very long day of standing in line, waiting in stifling shops and lugging bags of books I was grateful to jump on the train back to my boyfriend’s house.  He’s never seen me in cosplay before so that was a hilarious first for us.  I was ready for a long shower, a shampoo and a Marvel movie with the man I love.

 

I loved being Edna for the day and allowing myself to jump back into cosplaying.  I felt a bit disappointed with myself when I lost interest in cosplaying, because it used to be something that brought me so much joy.  But sometimes we grow out of hobbies that we used to love.  And sometimes we just need some time and distance, and suddenly our interest bubbles up again and we get to become reacquainted with that fun and creativity that we used to know.  And when that happens, it’s an awesome feeling.

Product review: Stainless steel princess plug

I started my butt-play adventures with a slim dildo and a small silicone plug.  After countless joyful sessions with each, I felt ready to move onto something more daring.  When I spotted this stainless steel butt plug at Kinkfest I knew it was just the toy I was looking for.  My decision was sealed when I caught the glitter of a giant purple jewel beaming on the base of the plug.  This royal toy was fit for a princess!  I gleefully took my new plug home to play.

I’d been keen to try a stainless steel toy ever since I’d read Erika’s review of the Njoy Pure Plug on Oh Joy Sex Toy.  The idea of wearing something metal inside your butt was more than a little intimidating to me, but it also tickled my curiosity until I knew that I just had to give it a go. And so, armed with a vibrator, my plug and plenty of lube, I embarked on my royal buttplug adventure.

The most noticeable feature of this plug is it’s temperature.  When you pick it up in your hand, that bad boy is freezing.  Inserting an icy-cold plug is a unique experience, and one that I didn’t find at all unpleasant. It’s a totally new sensation that wakes up all of those super sensitive nerve endings in your anus and makes them very receptive to touch.  After a short while, the steel warms up to your body heat, which feels amazing once it’s inside.  Unlike silicone plugs, steel plugs conduct temperature beautifully which makes them ideal for temperature and sensation play.

In addition to being cold, stainless steel is also wonderfully slick and smooth.  The surface of this toy has absolutely no seams or marks which means it’s easy to insert and comfortable to wear. There are no rough edges to irritate your backside and it offers very little resistance or drag.  It doesn’t dry out your lube like silicone toys tend to, which means you can play comfortably for longer.

I’m a huge fan of the shape of this plug.  It has a traditional teardrop shape, with a pointed tip flaring out to a rounded body, getting gradually wider.  Then at the widest point, it nips in again to a very narrow stem and flared base.  This shape has a number of benefits.  Firstly, that pointed tip is ideal for warming up the anus, ready for play.  It’s a nice small surface that you can press gently against the opening while you wait for it to relax.   The gradual widening of the body allows you to gently ease the toy into your backdoor, without feeling forced or tight.  I am especially impressed with the narrow stem.  I find plugs that allow your anus to accept the toy and then close behind the widest part to be the most comfortable for long term wear.  If the stem of the plug is too thick, it can result in a stretching sensation that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

The princess plugs are definitely heftier than a silicone butt plug.  Stainless steel is rigid and heavy and that weight is obvious when you are wearing the plug.  When standing or walking, it puts gentle pressure on the opening of the anus, the location of many sensitive nerve endings.  This weight and pressure feels amazingly pleasurable without being too intense.  The rigid material gives you a really full feeling, even though the plug itself isn’t very large.  In this way, stainless steel offers a uniquely sensual experience that I’ve never had with any of my silicone plugs.

This toy has a number of uses.  Firstly, it’s a good warm-up for more intense anal play.  Secondly, it’s fun to wear for more extended periods to increase arousal and draw your attention to your butt.  Like wearing a pair of ben wah balls, walking around with a plug in has a feeling of delicious taboo, like  you have a secret that nobody else knows about.  Finally, I love wearing this plug during penetrative play.  The rigid material and sloped shape help to narrow your vaginal canal, so penetration feels tighter and more intense.  The angle of the toy also directs your partner’s penis or dildo towards your g-spot.  If you struggle to stimulate your g-spot during penetrative sex, then wearing a butt plug during sex could be a fun solution.

I also adore the base of this plug.  When inserted, that little gem looks adorable sparkling between my butt cheeks.  It’s like arse jewellery!  The base is wide enough to stop the toy venturing further than it should, but small enough to nestle between the folds of your backside so that it’s not obtrusive and uncomfortable.

Stainless steel is an amazing material for butt toys because it’s non porous and easy to clean.  It won’t harbour any smells and there is no place for bacteria to get trapped and fester.  You can easily clean it in the sink with warm water and gentle soap.

I purchased my princess plug from Black Peaches, an Australian vendor who is sadly no longer operating. However there are a number of similar plugs on the market.  DDlg world has a range of stainless steel plugs, including ones with heart-shaped jewels, ones with tails attached and adorable rosebud adornments.  You can use the code NESSBOW to get 10% off your order at DDlg world, which makes these plugs super affordable.  If you”re interested in something at the higher end of the scale, Lucent makes a very beautiful jewel accented plug with chrome plating.