Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vacuum Beds

We were checking out videos on youtube and came across the fetish of vacuum bagging. A person puts themselves in what seems to be either a large rubber bag or plastic bag and uses a vacuum to suck all the air out. I'm not quite sure what the fetish is here, is it like the whole asphyxiation thing or is there something about the way the bag feels? Isn't this really dangerous? A lot of them used "breathing tubes" and people wrote comments saying that was "cheating" and they weren't really doing it. Can you explain this fetish in anymore detail? I don't get it at all.

I don't know if I can describe it in detail, but I may be able to give a little insight. This is in the BDSM family, which isn't exactly my forté.

What I think you're referring to is mostly done with vacuum beds (or vac beds) which are comprised of two latex sheets secured by a metal or plastic frame with a zipper for side entry. The user is sealed into the bed by sucking out all the air using a vacuum cleaner. Usually the bed comes with a breathing tube or a hole that is lined up with the user's mouth so that the person can breathe normally. It would most definitely be dangerous without a way to breathe easily.

There are a few things going on here that people may find enjoyable. Some people really enjoy the feeling of latex. Wearing and playing with latex is a kink of its very own. Another reason people seem to enjoy it is because it is pretty much impossible to move while in the bed with all the air sucked out. Many people find this kind of total restraint to be very erotic. The user (usually a submissive) is at the complete mercy of the person/people (usually dom(s)) outside of the vac bed.

This total control is the reason why it is so important for there to be a lot of trust between the people involved in activities like this. They can be extremely dangerous if the people involved don't have a lot of trust between each other and don't discuss the activity thoroughly beforehand.

I've also seen some instances of this done with just bags without a frame, but it doesn't seem to be as effective in getting the desired result, but maybe that's because those people weren't using powerful enough vacuums.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How To Be a Sex Educator

Dear Garnet,
I've been wondering for a little while about how one becomes a sex educator. What sort of degrees or certifications do you need? Are there any particular schools that are great for studying sex ed?

Currently I'm a biology major finishing my general education classes at a community college before I transfer to a university. I'm involved in VOX, a Planned Parenthood advocacy group on my campus right now. I really love what I do for this group and I think it would be awesome if I could make it into a career.

It is incredibly difficult for me to answer this question for two reasons. First, there are many different types of sex educators who have differing backgrounds in educational as well as life experience and who teach to varying types of people. Some of these careers require high degrees and some of them don't require any degrees. Some of them are positions you may find with a company or a school and others are entrepreneurial in nature and therefore are whatever you make of them.

Second, and the reason that this question actually made me chuckle, is that I'm trying to figure this one out for myself. I am an aspiring sex educator. I think I'm starting to reach my goals on sex education, but I'm really still trying to figure out what type of sex educator I want to be and how to become that type. Like you, I work for Vox at my school. I also write this blog, review sex toys for a couple different woman-run sex toy shops, work at a woman-run sex toy shop where my title is sex educator, and have done some escorting work for Planned Parenthood.

So really what you have to do is figure out what kind of sex educator you want to be. If you want to work with Planned Parenthood I highly suggest talking to someone at Planned Parenthood about what types of jobs they offer and what is required to fill those jobs. You can also get some of that information on their website here.

For this type of job as well as others in the sex education field, possible topics of study in college can include, but are not limited to medicine, public health, education, anatomy, gender and women's studies, psychology, history, and language (being bilingual can really help with a lot of positions especially in non-profit). Based on this wide possibility of studies its difficult to make a recommendation as far as a particular school to go to. Look around and do your homework before deciding what school you want to attend. The only thing I can recommend would be to look for a pretty liberal school if you want to receive an education that takes diversity into account.

I will be getting my bachelors degree in May from a state university which is pretty average in its undergrad program although it has been rated as one of the top 100 colleges for GLBT students and is a very diverse campus in general. I feel that my gender and women's studies classes have especially helped me to understand a lot of issues involving sexuality, gender, and the intersectionality of different identities. For grad school I plan on attending The Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality which specializes in sex education and sex therapy. It is my choice to go there to further my education in the sex education field. Some sex educators never even went to college.

So this is really all up to you. There is no real established path to becoming a sex educator. I do recommend that you find well established sex educators who are involved in the kind of sex education that you want to do and write to them. Ask them what paths they took, why they decided to become a sex educator, and ask if they'd be willing to mentor you a little.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

People Who Like to Eat Stuff Off of Each Other

It has been awhile since I have posted a rant. It is definitely past due. This rant's subject is people who like to eat stuff off of each other.

Working in a sex shop I've noticed that many people seem to want to eat stuff off of each other. I'm fine with that. I can see how it can be sexy and I've even participated in it a little bit myself. However, what annoys me is that people seem to want things that are specialized for sex to eat off each other. This is dumb. If you want to eat something chocolaty off of each other get chocolate syrup or nutella. It is a helluva lot cheaper and tastes better. We're seriously talking like 10x cheaper in some cases. And then there is edible underwear. Yuck! It is like a fruit roll up, but worse. And women should really not be putting sugary things near their vulvas.

The worst part is that there is no such thing as stuff you can eat off of each other that is actually specialized for sex. You still can't put it on (or even worse, in) a woman's vulva without the worry of her getting an infection and you're still going to be sticky after you're done. So really, save yourself the money and just buy some chocolate syrup or whipped cream or whatever at the grocery store.

But hey, as long as everyone keeps buying the edible sex play stuff, sex shops will keep selling them.

The one exception that I have found for this is Honey Dust. You still shouldn't put it on a woman's vulva, but you won't end up sticky and it has multiple uses. It is really light tasting so it will take longer for you to get tired of the taste and there's no pressure to lick it all off because it won't leave you sticky and will actually help to absorb sweat. You can dust it in your sheets to absorb sweat and make them smell nice. Heck in the summer I even use honey dust in my sandals to keep my feet dry and sweet smelling.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First Time Anal Explorers

Dear Garnet,
I am interested in exploring anal stimulation/penetration with toys. My girlfriend is excited to play with me in this way too. What advice can you give a couple starting to explore this?

Go slow and use a lot of lube. Patience is extremely important. The second one partner jumps the gun on the other partner's ass means the end of ass play for awhile. Remember that it is always better to go too slow and have your partner beg for more (hot!) than to go too fast and hurt them.

If you feel any pain at all, stop what you're doing and SLOWLY remove whatever is in your bottom. NEVER use any sort of numbing creams, lubes, or gels because if it hurts there is a good reason for it. Do use a thick water-based lube like Maximus.

Make sure that both you and your partner are very aroused before starting any sort of penetration of the anus. It will be a lot more pleasurable than starting cold. On that note, it is also best to start with a finger and work your way up to a toy.

When looking for butt toys make sure you are buying good quality toys, preferably silicone, with a flared base. Being a beginner, you should definitely stick to small dildos, butt plugs, and anal beads. Males can also try the Aneros Prostate Massager. I've heard great things about it and certain models are great for beginners. They're a little pricey, but thats because they're specifically designed for prostate stimulation. I'd actually love if I could get a willing male to try one out and review it for me. Any takers?

And above all, just like anything in a relationship, share an open honest dialogue. Communicate with each other on what feels good and what doesn't.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Valentines Day Gift Idea

So it is less than a week from Valentine's Day and you still haven't gotten that special person in your life a present. What are you going to do?

Buy them a sex toy! Sex toys make incredible presents for your spouse, girl/boyfriend, fuck buddy, best friend, siblings, or even for yourself. Babeland has a variety of different gift kits that you can choose from. They quite generously sent over 4 of them for me to review. Now there is absolutely no way I'd be able to test all of them out before Vday, but I chose the one kit that I thought would make a great gift for any woman out there, whether she has never had a sex toy or owns several.

That kit is the Bunny Love Kit. This kit contains the ever famous rabbit habit. Even better news is that this favorite has been updated with a new elastomer material that is latex and phthalate free. That means less allergic reactions and the toy is non-toxic. Elastomer is porous however, so it is important to clean it well and you can always use a condom to lessen the risk of infection.

Another new feature is that the rotating pearls are now attached to the mechanics of the toy and don't tumble randomly. This has pros and cons. Pro: a more consistent feeling. Con: If you have strong PC muscles you may stop the rotation of the pearls or even break the mechanics of the toy. Eek!

The rabbit habit is a favorite among women because it has a lot of stimulation going on at once. Some women even swear by it. The clit, the g-spot, and the opening of the vagina are all stimulated at once. The vibrating, clit-stimulating rabbit has a stronger vibration than one would assume from a AA operated toy, but it still does not hold a candle to the plugins like a hitachi magic wand. So if your special woman normally uses a powerful vibrator she may not get as much joy from this toy as many women do. However, it is relatively easy to turn the vibrator off, turn the toy to the side, and use a hitachi along side the rabbit habit for a rather powerful orgasm.

This would hardly be a kit if it only came with the rabbit habit. It also includes a 4 oz bottle of Babe Lube, a 6 oz bottle of Babeland Toy Cleaner, 3 AA batteries, and one Babeland condom.

First, the lube. Babe Lube is a water-based lube that is glycerin-free and has no taste or odor. Glycerin-free means that it is less likely to cause yeast infections and is less likely to get that icky sticky feeling once it starts to dry. It is a pretty thick lubricant which makes it ok for anal play. These are all great things, but the big downside to this lube is that it dries quickly. It doesn't leave you with the sticky feeling once dry, but you may have to reapply especially when using toys or during anal play. Unlike a lot of water-based lubes, when drying out you cannot refresh this lube with water or saliva. It does not bring the slipperiness back.

Sex toy cleaners, in my opinion, are unnecessary. That being said, many people like them a lot. I just feel that you're better off using soap and water.

The batteries were a great touch! I was completely out of AA batteries so it was nice not having to go to the store to stock up. I could open the box up, clean the toy, put the batteries in, and go to town.

The kit also came with a condom which is a nice touch for those who are worried about the elastomer being porous. It is a latex condom so those with latex allergies should not use it of course. I can't give a review of the condom since 1. I am allergic to latex and 2. Even if I weren't, my partner is a female so a real review is beyond my ability. Don't fret though! I found a willing young man to try out a few condoms for me and write a review up. So look forward to that.

So my overall feeling of the Bunny Love Kit is that the rabbit habit is great and is a good buy, but the rest of it I can take or leave. I'd say get the rabbit habit on it's own, a pack of AA batteries, and your own lube would make a great gift.

Watch for reviews of other Babeland gift kits in coming months that include: The Menage a Trois Fantasy Kit, The Sex Toys 101 Kit , and The Eco-Sexy Kit.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Purpose of a Butt Plug

OK, so my friends and I were talking about this the other week and we weren't really sure.

We were talking about butt plugs and how the term "plug" implying it's stopping up a hole or filling some sort of gap. We looked it up on wikipedia and really only saw that it was not so much functional as it was used for pleasure, despite the implied meaning. Does a butt plug have a functional purpose like to plug the butt from leaking (gross I know!) or is it merely for sexual pleasure?

There is more than one meaning for the word plug. Think of an electrical plug or gauged out ear jewelry that is also called a plug (pic). Neither of those has the function of stopping anything from coming out or going in. They are merely objects that one inserts into a hole where it remains until taken out. A butt plug is an object that is inserted into a hole, specifically the anus, and stays there until taken out. And yes, it is usually used for pleasure.