Doms or Subs: who works harder?

BDsM is largely about power exchanges.  Whether you’re into bondage, discipline, role play, impact play, service submission or any other facet of BDsM, chances are your play involves one party giving some or all of their power to the other party.  And a lot of work goes into making that power exchange happen successfully.  The question is: who does the work?

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I hear often that Dominants have the harder end of the deal in D/s relationships.  They have to plan and execute scenes.  They work hard to hone their skills and look after another person. All the submissive has to do is follow orders and enjoy the pleasure that comes with pain.  And with that, submissives cry out “we work hard too!”.  A submissive is tasked with looking after their top, obeying and following orders and being on the receiving end of some intense physical treatment.  Within the D/s dynamic, there is a kind of push-and-pull between work and pleasure.

 

So who does the work in a D/s relationship or scene?  The answer is far from simple.

 

Let’s start by looking at Dominants.  A Dominant’s role comes with a lot of responsibility.  Depending on the type of relationship they have, they may need to set tasks and rules for their submissive. This includes following up to make sure that these rules are being adhered to and dole out punishment as required.  Although the Dominant is being served, it is up to them to decide how they wish to be served and monitor the execution of that service.  They have to play an active role in training their submissive to do things just they way they want them.

 

Even if your D/s relationship exists only in the bedroom, the Top has to plan and execute the scene each time you play.  Creating a scene is no simple task, and requires a huge amount of thought into the mood that is to be created, the psychological journey the submissive will be taken on, the intensity of play and safety precautions.  Sunny Megatron has likened it to building a rollercoaster: you have to create the climbs, the turns and the dizzying drops. You have to craft an experience that has rhythm and plays with emotion and builds to a pinnacle before the ride ends.  In addition to that planning, the Dominant also has to carry out the scene, which can require a lot of concentration, control and physical skill.

 

There can be no doubt that the Dominant in any D/s dynamic works very hard to create and maintain the dynamic.  However, that doesn’t mean that the submissive party just lies back and enjoys the attention.  Being a submissive is difficult.  Again, the exact work a submissive does depends on the specific relationship.  If you’re a service submissive, then you have to do a lot of dirty work, such as cleaning house, cooking for your master or mistress, grooming them and presenting yourself in a particular way. But submission is a lot more than just blindly following orders.  Not only do you have to remember and execute the instructions your Dominant has given you, but a good service submissive will also be anticipating their needs.  Providing those small, special touches that make their day smoother and more pleasant. Service submission is both mentally and physically taxing.

 

When it comes to play, the submissive party hardly just “lies back and enjoys” what’s being done to them.  Any kind of pain play takes a physical and emotional toll.  You have to work to process the pain and use it before it will be pleasurable.  If you’re into bondage, you have to learn to be placed in uncomfortable positions sometimes, to be bound and gagged, to be caged even.  In addition to all that, you’re working to conquer your own fears, to trust in your Top and let yourself go.  That’s not easy to do, even when you know that you’re safe and being well cared for.

 

Obedience also takes practice and effort to master.  It’s very difficult to bite down on your inner voice and trust that what your Dominant asks of you is right.  It takes effort to learn to serve well and obediently, particularly if you are a strong-willed person outside of your dynamic. Submission takes a lot of work.

 

It seems apparent that both Dominant and submissive parties work hard in a D/s relationship.  Aside from the individual duties there is the collaborative work that they do together, negotiating limits, discussing needs and revisiting old rules and protocols.  D/s is a difficult dynamic to do successfully, and it takes a lot of work on either side of the slash.

 

If you’re not personally enticed by the idea of dominance and submission, you might be reading this and thinking “This all looks like so much work!  Why would anyone want to take on a relationship of that kind?”  And the simplest answer I can give is that for many, the work involved in a D/s relationship is worth it for the joy the relationship brings.  A Dominant might relish the planning and execution of a scene because doing so brings them a sense of happiness, because they enjoy playing with their submissive and revelling in that sense of control. Just like some people love building Lego models or writing short stories, a Dominant enjoys crafting scenes.  They’re willing to take on the responsibility of training a submissive because it makes them happy.  And a submissive might be honoured to serve their Dominant, even if it means a difficult training process or having to wrestle with their own inner voice a hundred times a day.  It’s worth it to make that person’s life easier and brighter. For many, service is calming and an act of love.  And taking a beating or having wax poured on your flesh or being tied up is a gateway to amazing pleasure. It’s worthwhile moving through that pain to experience the pleasure on the other side.

 

Dominance and submission each come with a unique set of responsibilities and duties.  As D/s relationships are tremendously varied, so too are the kinds of work that each individual person may have to do.  But I think it’s fair to say that neither party works harder than the other.  But like so many difficult things in life, if it’s something that you truly want, that you truly enjoy, the hard work is worth it.  Often, the work wont’ feel like work, or will be more manageable by virtue of the happiness it brings with it.

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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.

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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.

Tying tubes and trying choices

This year I’ve given more thought to the subject of contraception than I have in the last decade of my life.  After twelve years of taking the oral contraceptive pill, I chose to have an IUD fitted in an effort to control my chronic migraines.  When my uterus rejected my IUD, I had to think carefully about what kind of contraceptive I would try next.  Although there are a multitude of contraceptive options available, my choices were severely limited.

The contraceptive pill was out, because although I knew it worked well for me, it definitely made my migraines more frequent.  There are a number of hormonal birth control methods, such as the Nuva Ring and The Patch which were also not appropriate for me because of my migraines.  I looked into the Depo-Provera injection but I didn’t want to have to have a shot every three months. I wasn’t keen to try another IUD and I wasn’t impressed with the failure rates of methods such as the diaphragm and cervical cap.  In the end I settled on an Implanon implant, because it was one of the few options available to me that was highly effective.

 

The effectiveness of each method was one of the most important factors to me when considering which kind of birth control to choose.  The reason for this is that I don’t want to have kids.  Not just now, but ever. During all this research and weighing of options, one other birth control method was on my mind- tubal ligation.  I thought long and hard about getting my tubes tied, and made the choice that if the Implanon didn’t work for me, then my next step would be pursing voluntary sterilisation.

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It’s really important for me to stop a moment and highlight just how much thought I gave to this choice.  This isn’t a snap decision I made on a whim.  I have known for a very long time that I don’t ever want to have children.  It’s a path I’m positive that I don’t want to walk.  For me, it’s not so much the fatigue from trying so many different contraceptive methods, but rather the fact that it seems futile to temporarily alter my fertility when I know for sure that I never want to become pregnant.  I don’t want to have children, and I would feel relieved if my body were no longer able to accidentally surprise me with one.

 

When I was rolling the idea of sterilisation around in my mind, I spoke to several friends about it.  Every one of them, at some point in our discussion said the exact same seven words…..”But, what if you change your mind?”

 

This gave me pause.  Each time I heard those seven words I felt frustrated, upset and invalidated.  I felt like nobody was hearing me.  That nobody understood the fact that I’ve made up my mind, that I definitely 100% do not want kids.  That they were all viewing me as some cold-hearted bitch whose biological clock was ticking like a time bomb, just waiting to blow my decision to remain childless to smithereens.

 

It occurred to me that when a person states that they want to have a surgical procedure to prevent them from having children, it is generally believed that they are making a mistake and that they will inevitably change their mind.  Conversely, when a person announces that they are planning on undergoing artificial insemination or IVF or another fertility treatment, nobody ever says “But what if you change your mind?  What if you don’t really want a baby?  What if you regret it?”.  And the reason for that is fairly simple.

 

Women are supposed to want to have babies.  That’s meant to be like an in-built factory setting.  Procreating is meant to be so deeply ingrained in our DNA that those who don’t want to breed are seen as strange, or wrong, or simply late-blooming.  Surely at some stage, that innate feminine urge to bear a child will overtake every woman.  Having a child is seen to be the right choice. And if that’s not the choice you’ve made, then it’s expected that eventually you’ll realise your mistake and change your mind.  Nobody questions the decision to have a child, because our culture says that having children is what you’re meant to do.  It’s the right choice, and deciding to remain childless is not.

 

One person said to me, “Imagine how horrible it would be if you decided that you wanted to have a baby, but you couldn’t because you’d had your tubes tied”.  I explained to them that this imaginary scenario didn’t worry me, because I am positive that it is only a remote possibility.  That I worry far more about the possibility of finding myself accidentally pregnant.  And they then said to me “But if you did get pregnant, once you got over the shock, you’d be excited about it”.  Again rears up the belief that pregnancy is so innately coveted that even if we think we don’t want it, if it happens we will be elated.  I couldn’t find the words to tell this person that finding myself pregnant by accident would be traumatic.  In this imaginary scenario, I feel as though my body has been hijacked, that I’m being driven by a spawn intent on pulling my world apart and destroying everything I want for myself.  I imagine being lost in the gaping maw of motherhood, pulled into a vortex that sucks me into a dimension I want no part of.  It feels wrong to express this kind of dramatic aversion to motherhood, because being a mother is supposed to be the right choice.  It’s meant to be what I want.  But I don’t.  In every corner of my being, I know it’s not what I want.

 

It’s also really important to note that there are plenty of women out there who have chosen to remain childless who have not regretted their decision.  So I don’t believe that having a baby is the right choice for everyone, nor do I buy into the idea of this mythical biological clock that is going to change my thinking.  And although our culture’s underlying ideal of motherhood is damaging in some ways, there is something that I find more upsetting.  And that’s the fact that when I wanted to talk about the idea of sterilisation, none of the people I talked to were willing to just accept my choice to remain childless.  Not one of them could respect the fact that I  know my own mind and each one had to undermine my autonomy with those seven little words.  I know that none of these people meant to show disrespect or to upset me, but it’s hard not to feel judged when your decisions are being questioned and undermined.

 

These past few weeks have brought up a lot of fear and anxiety that I hadn’t felt in a while.  I’ve had to confront a lot of shame and feeling like I’m broken because I don’t want the thing that all women are supposed to crave.  That the ‘right choice” of having a child feels deeply wrong to me.  And feeling judged by people around me for not pursing the path of motherhood.  But ultimately I’ve had to put on my big girl trousers and realise that I have to make these choices for me.  I can’t live my life a certain way just because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do.  I have to do what’s right for me, because I’m the one who knows what’s best for my life. And having a child isn’t the right choice for me.

Is marriage important to me?

Lately I’ve been talking about marriage a lot.  It comes up often because one of my colleagues asks me every week if my boyfriend has proposed yet.  Without fail, my Monday morning will open with “So, has he popped the question yet?”  Originally I used to just shrug and shake my head but now I find it more amusing to try to come up with a pithy response.  “Nope,  we’ve decided that marriage is less special now because they’re gonna let gay people do it”  or “Nah, my boyfriend’s already married so we’re trying to keep our relationship on the down-low” or “Not yet.  He’s waiting for my father to sweeten the deal with a generous dowry”.  That kind of bullshit.

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All this talk of proposals and marriage has made me think about how dramatically my feelings about marriage have changed.

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to get married.  Marriage was one of my life goals and something I thought I absolutely couldn’t be happy without.  I had a very idyllic perception of what married life would be like.  I imagined living in a beautiful house with my husband, who was extremely handsome and always smelled good. We’d spend a lot of time watching movies together, going on long trips and making out in our perfectly-made bed.  In my mind, once I’d found the right person, everything else would just be a snap.  There’d be no arguments, no uncomfortable silences and not a care in the world.  For me, marriage seemed like the ticket to a very happy life.

 

I should qualify this ideal by explaining my background a bit.  Like most girls my age, I was raised on a heavy diet of rom-coms and teen romance novels.  The happily-ever-after storylines definitely coloured my perception of what marriage should be like. The fact that most of these tales end with a wedding paints the picture that marriage is the goal.  The resolution of all the strife and struggle comes with that walk down the aisle.  In addition to this, I was surrounded by very happy marriages.  No kidding.  Among my parents, my grandparents and my aunts and uncles, there have been exactly zero divorces.  And this isn’t just because my relatives have chosen to tolerate one another until the sweet release of death, it’s because they really are genuinely happy together.  I was raised by a pretty good selection of contentedly married couples.  So it’s no wonder that marriage was something I aspired to.

 

In addition to holding very tightly to the idea that marriage was the key to a happy life, I was also aware of the status that marriage held.  Being married didn’t just mean getting to live with somebody who would make out with you whenever you wanted, it meant that you’d been chosen.  It was an affirmation that somebody felt that you were worthy enough to say “I want you in my life”.  As somebody who is chronically insecure, that kind of validation was pretty attractive.  My anxiety was also quelled by the idea that marriage was (in theory, anyway) permanent.  That it was a way to “lock down” a relationship so that I would never have to worry about heartbreak.  I felt like if I was to get married, not only would I be assured happiness, but I’d also be safe and validated.  Who wouldn’t want that?

 

As a teenager I felt pretty sure that I’d marry young.  My parents, aunts, and grandparents were all married by the age of twenty.  And I figured that my life would follow a similar timeline.  This feeling was cemented when, at 17, I met and fell in love with my first soulmate.  He was everything I wanted in a partner, and we had so much fun together.  After about two years of dating, talk turned to the topic of marriage.  Although we weren’t ready to get engaged yet, we agreed that we’d each found the person that we wanted to spend our lives with.  And so it seemed to me that I was well on my way to being married.

 

As a few more years piled on, I began to get anxious.  Although my boyfriend and I were still happy and close, we seemed no closer to getting engaged.  There were a few times when I thought “perhaps he’ll propose to me” and I ended up disappointed.  By this time, several of my friends had gotten engaged and a few had already married.  I was beginning to feel left behind, like I was going to miss out on something I very much wanted.  I vividly remember bringing home a bouquet I caught at a friend’s wedding and watching an expression of absolute panic spread across my partner’s face.  We were together for almost ten years before we admitted that we’d grown into two people who just weren’t really compatible anymore and parted ways.  I was 27, and the man I’d intended to spend my life with had just moved out.   As I sifted through the wreckage and tried to deal with the end of my relationship, I also had to recognise that a young marriage wasn’t on the cards for me.

 

In the years after my breakup, I became a lot more sexually adventurous. I admitted to myself that I was, in fact, bisexual and had several relationships with women.  I also had a polyamorous relationship that lasted about six months.  In each of those relationships, I was aware that any future wasn’t going to include marriage, at least, not a marriage that looked anything like the picture I’d envisaged as a child.  Additional I became more acquainted with the reality of what adult relationships are actually like.  That they aren’t always lighthearted, fun affairs filled with long makeout sessions and breakfast in bed.  Real people have real problems, real goals that don’t always line up, priorities that differ, finances and stresses.  Fights happen, people get upset and even the most loving relationship isn’t immune from conflict. I learned the hard way that marriage isn’t an instant ticket to happiness.

 

After a lot of dating and learning and self reflection, I find that I’ve really let go of my deep need to get married.  Now, I’m not saying that I don’t ever want to get married, but it’s no longer something that I feel like I need in order to be happy.  If I were to marry, I’d want it to be to someone who I feel is my partner, and that we were committing to building a life together and doing the hard bits as well as the fun bed make-outs and cute pet names.  I don’t feel like I need the validation of being chosen as a wife, and I recognise that marriage isn’t the secure haven I thought it was.  I also know that if I never get married, I won’t feel like I’ve failed.  I’d rather never be a wife, than to enter a marriage as blindly as I would have in the past.  If I do, I want to do it with my eyes wide open, and my heart and mind as well.

 

 

My pet peeves with sex toy companies

When it comes to designing and marketing toys, there are certain things that companies do that cause me to roll my eyes and seethe with frustration.  Whether it’s creating toys that aren’t fit for their purpose or perpetuating sexual shame, sometimes sex toy manufacturers really frustrate me.  Here are five things that I wish sex toy companies would stop doing.

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  1. Using the word “Massager” instead of “vibrator”

I’m always puzzled when I see the word “massager” pop up on the packaging of an item that is very clearly a vibrator.  I get that there are a lot of appliances that were intended to be used to relieve sore muscles, which have subsequently become cult-favourite sex toys (Hitatchi Magic Wand, are your ears burning?).  But often dildos and vibrators are sold under the guise of “massagers” that purport to “ease tension” and “reach those tight spots”.  All of this pussy-footing around just seems so silly to me.  That item that looks like a pearly pink phallus that rumbles and buzzes?  I’m gonna use it on my genitals.  It’s a vibrator.  The jig is up and you aren’t fooling anybody.

 

2. Non body-safe materials

There are materials that you aren’t allowed to use in the manufacture of children’s toys that are regularly used to make toys intended to come into contact with the most intimate parts of your body.  Some of these materials are not safe because they are porous and can harbour bacteria that can cause infection.  Some are actually toxic and can cause anything from minor irritation to chemical burns. And yet companies continue to make sex toys from non-body-safe materials because it’s cheap and they look good.  The worst part is that a lot of the “beginner” ranges of toys are made from these materials.  Those cute jelly dildos and small sized butt plugs look colourful and are easy on the wallet, but they can be seriously bad for you.  I wish that more sex toy companies would work harder to make their toys safe to use.

 

3. Anal toys without flared bases

I have lost count of the number of toys I’ve seen that are marketed as being “anal safe” that are actually anything but.  You should never put anything in your backside that doesn’t have a flared base to stop it getting sucked up into your ass.   Even though this is a very well-known rule, companies continue to make toys that are intended for butt play that have no means of retrieving them.  It’s very simple, if you want to sell butt-toys, make ones that aren’t going to disappear inside your consumers.

 

4 Including Anal-eze with butt toys.

While we’re on the subject of butt toys, let’s talk about Anal-eze.  Anal-eze is a numbing lotion that you’re supposed to apply to your asshole before anal play to stop it from hurting.  It’s also the Product Most Likely to Induce a Tantrum from this blogger.  Anal-eze is pointless and plays into so many insecurities people have around anal play.  Firstly, if you’re going to be playing with your anus, you don’t want to numb the area because you’ll miss out on all the pleasure.  Secondly, anal play doesn’t hurt when it’s done properly.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down, use more lube, relax, try a smaller toy, or change positions.  Pain has a function, and without it you run this risk of doing real damage to yourself.  I think that a lot of people use products like Anal-Eze because they are afraid of anal sex and believe that it’s going to hurt.  And ironically, if you can’t feel your butt, you’re more likely to rush or use something that’s too big and you’re going to be sore when the numbing wears off, which only reinforces that fear that butt sex is painful.

While I get pissed that Anal-Eze even exists, what makes me truly livid is the fact that some manufacturers include it in the packaging with their butt plugs and anal probes. To me, that eliminates the pleasure and power a person might experience from buying an anal toy and replaces it with fear and shame.  Also, it’s just plain unsafe.

 

5. Claiming to mimic “real life” sex acts.

In the last year, there has been a tidal wave of clitoral suction toys that are supposed to feel “just like” oral sex.  But they never do.  They feel great, but the sensation of a machine on your genitals is always going to be different to a real person.  Sex toys aren’t a substitute for a partner.  Sex with toys doesn’t feel like sex with a person. And that’s ok.   I see sex with toys as a different kind of sex to having partnered sex, and I like both for different reasons.  Trying to make a toy that mimics sex with a human being will always leave the consumer disappointed because even if you could perfectly replicate the sensation, you can’t program a toy to be spontaneous or intimate.  I wish that more manufacturers would focus on marketing how great the toy feels, rather than comparing it to sex with a partner.

There are plenty of companies out there that create amazing body-safe toys without cringy marketing or a side-helping of shame with every purchase.  But there are still plenty of stores out there selling toys that commit these five sex toy crimes.  And I wish they’d stop.  Because sex toys are so much fun and the less shame and stigma that surrounds them the better.

 

What are your sex toy pet hates?

The Soldier On Syndrome

I’ve been sick with the flu this week.  It crept up on me last Tuesday night, appearing as a tightness in my chest and a tickly cough.  By Wednesday morning I was aching all over and my cough had become a hacking, wheezing monster.  Even so, I stood in the shower on Wednesday morning, determined to soap away the sickness and head into work.

I had this mental tug-of-war going on.  One half of my mind was telling me “You are actually, properly sick.  You need to rest and get better.  And nobody in the office is going to thank you for coming in and spreading your disgusting germs around”.

But the other half was insistent that I should just toughen up and carry on.  I felt like even though I didn’t feel well, that it wasn’t right to take the day off when there was work to be done.  I felt selfish for even thinking about calling in sick and leaving my co-workers to pick up the slack.  This half of my mind was begging me to get dressed and soldier on with my responsibilities, regardless of how I was feeling.

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In the end, I listened to my body and phoned the office to let them know I wasn’t coming in.  But for the remainder of the day I had this lingering feeling of guilt that popped up in between bouts of coughing, uncontrollable shivering and feverish naps.

 

Now that I’m feeling somewhat better, I have to ask my self why it is that I feel bad for taking time off when I’m genuinely sick.  After a fair bit of consideration I’ve come up with several reasons.

 

Firstly, I’m worried that my co-workers won’t believe me or they’ll think that I’m faking it if I call in sick.  This is largely a silly worry because I’ve never heard anyone in my office suggest that a person is pretending to be ill to get a bonus day off. However, I’ve worked in other places where there has been scepticism when someone has taken a sick day.  And so I’m always anxious that my boss won’t believe me when I call to say that I’m not feeling well and I need a day to rest.

 

Secondly, I am concerned that taking a day off is selfish.  That by staying at home I’m shirking my responsibilities and being lazy.  This worry comes from a lifetime of living in a culture where self-care is seen as self-indulgence.  Where speaking up and saying “I need this” is seen as entitled behaviour and where admitting that you’re not up to the challenges of your normal day is seen as weak.

 

Thirdly, I’m very aware that we live in a world where we are surrounded by messages that tell us that being sick is merely a blip on the radar, a mere inconvenience that needs to be suppressed so that we can “get over it and get on with it”.  There are so many advertisements for medicines that don’t claim help us recover faster or feel better. Rather, these advertisements are all about getting you back on your feet so that you can soldier on with your myriad of daily responsibilities.  Rather than encouraging us to get well, the bottom line is that we should carry on regardless of how we are feeling, because how productive we are is far more important than the way we treat ourselves.

 

This mire of guilt, frustration and fear that I experience around taking a sick day needs to stop.  I recognise that it’s not good for me physically or mentally.  If you’re going through similar feelings, then it’s probably not good for you either.  Let’s take a moment to review some facts and set ourselves on solid ground.

 

If you are ill, you are allowed to take a day off to recover.  Heck, if you need to, take two days. Or an entire week if that’s what you truly need.   Sick leave exists for this very purpose.  If you work with other people, then going into work when you’re ill puts everyone else at risk of catching whatever you have.  And if you work in the customer service industry then you’re exposing your customers to your lurgy as well. Nobody wants their coffee served by someone who is snuffling all over the place.

 

Admittedly, this is a lot harder if you are self-employed.  When there is nobody to cover for you, and no sick pay to cushion the blow, taking a sick day can feel a lot more detrimental.  But honestly, if you aren’t well, you aren’t going to be doing your best work. It makes professional sense to take the time to get well and jump back in when you are well again.

 

Stepping away from work if you are ill isn’t selfish.  Not only will you be preventing your co-workers and customers from getting ill, but you’ll be ensuring that you aren’t at the office doing sub-par work and making mistakes because you feel lousy.  It isn’t self-indulgent to rest when you are unwell.  It is if you take a sick day when you aren’t actually sick and you just don’t want to tear yourself away from your Netflix binge.

 

Be kind to yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.  Often, we get sick because we haven’t taken care of ourselves as well as we could.  Illness can be your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

 

Finally, taking time off to recover isn’t weak.  In light of the constant bombardment of messages about the importance of productivity and how we should solider on in the face of illness, it’s actually takes some degree of inner strength to make the decision to step down and rest.  It can be easier to stay on the treadmill, to give in to the idea that your worth is based on how much you get done in a day, and completely ignore your personal needs.  I think that the more powerful decision is to stick up for what you need, to allow yourself the time to get well and to release yourself from the guilt and frustration that do not serve you and only make you feel worse.  If you’re sick, stay home.  There’s no need to soldier on.

Product review: Doc Johnson Wonderland vibrators

This past Valentines Day, I chose to treat myself to some sex toys.  I had been eyeing off the Doc Johnson Wonderland range of vibrators for months, and when Wild Secrets had them on sale, I snapped up The Pleasurepillar and The Mystical Mushroom.  When they arrived I could barely contain my glee.  I ripped into the packaging and was floored with wonder.

I was so impressed with the packaging of these vibrators.  The level of detail and sturdiness is akin to what you would find wrapped around a luxury vibrator.  Each toy came packaged in a hard box with a slipcover.  When the cover was slid away, it revealed a gorgeous gold-embossed letter W and the word “Wonderland”.  The boxes have a magnetic closure and the toys were safely nestled inside a perfectly-shaped foam case.  These cases are small enough to use as travel cases to stop your toys switching on in your luggage, or simply for storing your vibrators when not in use.

As if the packaging wasn’t gorgeous enough, the appearance of the toys themselves was breathtaking.  The colours are fantastic, and this line features shades not often seen in the realm of sex toys.  The Mystical Mushroom is a deep royal purple and the Pleasurepillar is a charming turquoise.  The shapes are also unique and exactly what drew me to the toys in the first place.

The Mystical Mushroom features a rounded nub surrounded by a flared disc to look like a mushroom.  It has a lot of interesting textured grooves. I imagined that the tip would be ideal for pinpointed clitoral stimulation, while the rounded edges could feel wonderful against my labia.  I had a different idea in mind for the Pleasurepillar.  I had hoped that it’s hooked end would make it a great G-spot toy, and I imagined that the bumps and bubbles along the shaft would feel excellent during thrusting.

My excitement grew as I pulled the toys from their cases.  Each one is made from a buttery soft silicone.  They feel incredibly smooth to the touch and have very little drag.  This silicone is of the kind of quality I’ve only seen on high-end sex toys, and is so impressive on a mid-range vibrator.  Sadly, the packaging, appearance and texture of these toys are not an indication of how well they perform.

The Wonderland toys are battery operated.  This can often be a stumbling point, as battery operated toys often lack power and you have to worry about having extra batteries on hand during play time.  I’ve had a few battery operated toys that pack a real wallop, but sadly these two vibrators fall flat.  The vibrations are extremely buzzy and don’t feel good against my skin.  During use, they feel more like an annoying itch and tickle than a pleasurable rumble.  Even on the highest setting, I had to really press the toys into my clit to get any real sensation.

While the shape of the toys has great potential in theory, in practice they really miss the mark. The Pleasurepillar was particularly disappointing in this regard, as it was just too short to hit my G-spot squarely.  And once inserted, the vibrations were even further dampened.  It was also very difficult to manipulate the Pleasurepillar for thrusting, as the toy doesn’t really have enough length to allow for a good grip during internal use.

I was also utterly frustrated with the placement of the power button. It is located right on the end of the toy.  This means that it’s incredibly easy to inadvertently push it during play, switching the vibration patterns and ruining your flow.

The vibration patterns were another source of consternation for me.  Each of these toys features ten vibration patterns and three vibration strengths.  This was a huge drawcard for me, but again it fell over in the execution.  For starters, when the toy is switched on, it starts on the highest vibration pattern.  You then click the single button to cycle down to a medium vibration, then again for a low vibration, and then you cycle through the patterns.  Now, when I use a vibrator, I tend to use it on the lowest setting to get warmed up, then slowly ramp up the intensity as I approach orgasm.  I don’t know anyone who goes in the other direction.  And the vibration patterns are varied and interesting, but the lack of power makes them almost indistinguishable on my clitoris.  As far as my clit is concerned, the patterns are just a bland series of flutters and blips.

As a final insult, these toys are an absolute bitch to clean.  The ridges and bumps on the Mystical Mushroom are just a lodging-place for lube and fluid and require scrubbing to get really clean.  Additionally, these toys are only splashproof and can’t be submerged, which makes cleaning even more frustrating.

I was so disappointed with the Wonderland toys.  The packaging and appearance were on point, but the performance was sub-par.  I wish that Doc Johnson would make a more powerful version of these toys, maybe with a bigger shaft.  I would love these shapes and that gorgeous silicone in a toy that actually had enough power to make playtime pleasurable, rather than an exercise in sexual frustration.