Review: NO MAN OF WOMAN BORN by Ana Mardoll

No Man of Woman Born - Cover eBook

The cover of No Man of Woman Born. Source: http://www.anamardoll.com/p/writings.html

No Man of Woman Born is a collection of short stories in high fantasy settings featuring transgender characters. It was written by Ana Mardoll, a genderqueer American author. In xer author’s note, Mardoll states that xie “tried to make this collection accessible to trans readers, with cis audiences welcomed but not centered,” and I think xie has achieved exactly that. Frankly, I’m in love with it.

I’m going to try to toe the line between “no spoilers!” and giving a detailed explanation of why I loved this book so much, so bear with me (and feel free to skip straight to reading the book if you don’t want to know any details about it!)

This book contains seven different tales, all with wildly different settings, cultures, and protagonists. (So much detailed worldbuilding! Times seven! I tip my hat to you!) The wonderful thing about a format like this is how it can demonstrate the wide variety of trans experiences. There’s a character who is neither a man nor a woman. There’s one who is both a man and a woman. There’s trans men and trans women. There’s a variety of neopronouns. There’s some nerdy pontification on the nature of prophecies. There are multiple dragons, of varying moral alignment. And best of all, every trans character is a person, with individual personality traits and motivations.

Having multiple stories serves to immediately counter the side effects of under-representation: namely, the thinking that there is One True Way to be a trans person, or having so few trans characters that every single one becomes a Commentary on Transgender People instead of being understood as one person out of many ways to be a person. I’m so happy that Mardoll chose a story collection instead of a single novel, because of this greater opportunity to show variety and diversity of trans characters.

One of the overarching themes of No Man of Woman Born is prophecies, specifically gendered ones. The main characters’ trans identities are highly relevant to the plot, because they serve as the loophole in the wording of the prophecy. It’s just like how Macduff was not born of woman and Eowyn is no man born of woman- specific wording is extremely important to The Magic, so our hero saves the day. Except, y’know, with trans people. I love this because it plays with one of the most classic tropes- wording has always been important, especially with genies and fey and other magical creatures, who will give you what you asked for, not what you want. It’s classic fantasy, which I adore.

In fact, I think maybe the best thing about this collection is that they’re good high fantasy stories. I’ve always adored the grandeur and imagination of high fantasy; it’s one of my very favorite genres. My personal favorite story was “His Father’s Son.” It was fast-paced and violent and epic, which is how I like my high fantasy to be. There’s found family, revenge, swordfighting, dramatic last stands, heroes on a mission, the defeat of arrogant bad guys- all absolute candy to me.

Gender-feelings-wise, the character I related to most was Claude, a genderfluid character at the center of a Sleeping Beauty retelling, who has girl-days and boy-days and neither-days. My personal gender feelings are still confusing and uncertain, but Claude felt like a kindred spirit, with their creative hobbies and fluctuating gender expressions.

One other thing I want to note: When writing this story, Mardoll chose not to include any deadnames, and xie states that choice in xer author’s note. There are multiple instances where a deadname could have been mentioned, where the plot makes it clear that some form of deadname exists. And Mardoll chose not to include them. These things could have easily been included, and they were just as easily omitted. Mostly I mention this as giant middle finger to anyone who defends problematic media by saying “oh they had to include [upsetting thing] for it to make sense!” Use your imaginations! It can be done! Be as creative as Ana Mardoll! Get good, problematic media creators!

It means so much to me to find media that is so well-aligned with my values, not least because it can be so hard to find. I wrote recently about my love/hate relationship with country music (which incidentally, Ana Mardoll recently described as “that hot ex who blows into town and we have ill-advised sex on top of a pile of diamonds.” Too true). This was in the context of constantly being forced to love stories and songs that actively disregard and exclude me and people like me, because I am so hungry for good stories. I have so many problematic faves because there are so few un-problematic alternatives. When I do find those alternatives, it is so incredibly healing and soothing. No Man of Woman Born is one of those magical treasures, and it was an absolute balm for my queer high fantasy nerd soul.

You can find links to buy any of the versions (e-book, paperback, and audiobook) of No Man of Woman Born on Ana Mardoll’s website, found here!

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On Country Music; or, Loving That Which Hates Me

I have a lot of problematic faves. I’m a queer woman, I’m intersectional feminist, I’m body positive, I believe sex work is work. I want my media to be full of queers and women who are shown to be real people, I want my media to embrace my values shamelessly and wholeheartedly.

And yet, I love country music. I love the twang, and the swing. I love to dance to it. I love line dances, and country swing, and spinning on the heels of my boots. I love to roll the windows down and scream-sing the lyrics I grew up with. I love to let my Southern accent out, and revel in my own drawl. I love the way that me and my redneck friends  make each other’s accents get thicker.

I’ve had my country pandora station on my tv all day. The album covers have been a constant stream of mediocre white dudes, as though this industry thinks there are no women or people of color in rural, redneck, Southern cultures. That is deeply untrue. There are definitely women and people of color making good country music, but it’s so hard for them to go big that it’s easy to miss them.

I’ve listened to lyrics that espouse deeply toxic visions of masculinity, that revel in the sort of violence that really hurts real people. I’ve heard romanticizing of everything from drinking while driving, to punching people you dislike, to murdering them with guns.

I’ve listened to various versions of misogyny. There’s the “preacher’s daughter” trope that fetishizes the corruption of innocence. I listened to a beautiful love song that claimed that women as a whole are incapable of punctuality and are always late to everything. The focus on women as “the mother of my children” instead of a whole person in their own right is disempowering. There’s a focus on body parts which is deeply dehumanizing. The “country girl” is usually unnamed and lacks the identifying characteristics or personality which might make her seem human, and is instead an infantilized, sexualized, objectified accessory to the singer. I am very aware that many of these artists think that I, as a queer person, am despicable, that they publicly state these things, that they don’t want filthy queers as their fans.

I still love country music.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must be like to be a straight, white, cisgender, monogamous man, and to grow up only ever seeing media that features people that look exactly like you. I can’t do it.

I can’t imagine that world, because for me, nearly all media consumption is an exercise in empathy.

Mainstream media doesn’t feature queer poly disabled women like me. Rarely does mainstream media even have well-written women characters who are presented as fully human people. I grew up on Star Wars, X-Men, Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings has three female characters with speaking roles. I cannot fathom seeing only me mirrored back at me from the big screen. And I’m white, which is a huge advantage here- the Lord of the Rings installment of “Every Single Word Spoken By a Person of Color” is only 46 seconds long and comprised entirely of men in orc makeup which prevents viewers from identifying their race. All three of those female characters are white and thin, and two are in heterosexual relationships by the end of the trilogy.

For me, and other members of marginalized groups, only consuming media by and for people like us, which only features people like us, would mean missing out on most media. So I keep listening to country music by mediocre white dudes, and reading fantasy novels with flawed ideas of gender, and watching action movies where there is apparently only one woman in the entire country. I do these things because I am hungry for good stories, and good fan communities, and films that are 90% explosions, and music with a bit of twang in it, and I take them where I can get them.

We know that exposure to different ideas, people, and stories builds the ability for empathizing with those who are different from us. But some groups, the marginalized ones, are forced to have that exposure, because lack of power means a lack of our own spaces and media. Mainstream and privileged groups, on the other hand, are able to hide in their own bubbles of media that reflects them and only them. I have trouble imagining what it would like to be able to do that, but I can see its effect on entitled male fans that view every character that doesn’t mirror them perfectly as some sort of theft or insult.

I would love for the misogyny, violence, racism, machismo, and heteronormativity to disappear entirely from country music (and also everything else). There are of course artists that are better about it than others, and I try to support them. (If you want to rec queer country artists, please tell me!) But for now, one of the constant trials of being a marginalized person in this world is knowing that unless and until the world changes an awful lot, wanting good stories- and good country music- means that I will love things which hate me.

Annamarie in the Middle’s Second Blogiversary!

 

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Hello friends! It’s officially been two years since I took the leap and launched this here sex blog. It’s been an absolutely wild ride.

As you may have noticed, my blog went quiet for three months. I graduated from university, moved into my first apartment, and started a new job. And then my laptop died. My apologies for the impromptu hiatus! I’m happy to be back and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

In the past year, I’ve written some things I’m really proud of. By far the most popular was about platonic power exchange and partner dancing. I’m pleased as punch that this one is the one that made the rounds, because kink and power is so tied up in my daily life, and it really does make me happier and healthier. Re-reading it now, it still rings true to my deep feelings about kink, as well as being a cute story about the magical power of cute bratty friends.

I also wrote several pieces in a series on caregiver/little kink and its role in my sex life, complained about unicorn hunters who are bad at online dating profiles, pondered the connections between physical size and dominance, and the thrill of subversion, posited that kink is basically a giant trust exercise, decided I’m a cat person but a dog-person, attempted to tease apart my complicated feelings of penis envy, and wrote some fanfiction roundups of A/B/O, polyamory, and daddy kink.

In more personal news, I’m still dating the same two lovely partners I was with at this time last year, and those relationships have grown, changed, and explored all kinds of new things, I started seeing a new human in December, and I continue to brave the garbage fire of online dating in search of novelty, excitement, and connection. I feel more connected with my switch-ness and grounded in my caregiver and little roles. I identify less with asexuality than I used to. As the penis envy post suggests, I’m chewing on this whole gender expression thing and playing with my presentation.

I would also like to share with y’all some of my favorite search terms people found my site with in the past year, because they are a riot.

Sex toy related ones include:

  • “tentacle dildo red”– I have a tentacle dildo pink?
  • “wife tantus acute”– sorry friendo I am happily single
  • “njoy pure plug review”– how many pages of google did you have to scroll through to find mine? 10? 20?
  • “njoy pure plug all day”– I have not done this, it sounds like a challenge that would require a lot of lube and probably make my butt very sore
  • “large tantus sex toys”– I adore my Adam and Destiny Super Softs, and a review of the Hero is coming very soon! (Spoiler: it’s great. I adore the Super Soft line.) I guess it depends on your definition of “large.”
  • “very soft dildo”– the Tails and Portholes Leviathan is the squishiest dildo I own! Again, see Tantus’ amazing Super Soft line.

There’s also some great fanfiction ones:

  • does smut is porn”– Yes. Yes it is.
  • “hogwarts gangbang fanfiction”– I’m guessing this person found this fanfiction in my gangbang roundup– it’s not all of Hogwarts, it’s pretty much just the Gryffindor boys, but it’s still highly recommended
  • “harry potter fanfiction”– again, how many pages did you scroll???
  • “best abo dynamics fics”– I personally love these a whole lot!

In terms of Future Blog Plans and Projects: I have a few reviews I’m working on, some more rants about online dating, and a few salacious kink tales for y’all to look forward to in the coming weeks. Here’s to another year of exploration, musings, dirty fanfiction, size princess adventures, “um I think I might have a new kink??” moments, new toys, and more!

 

 

Tantus Mark O2 Review

mark 2

The thing about the Tantus Mark O2 that makes it unlike every other dildo in my collection is that I didn’t buy it so that I could fuck myself with it. I got it so that it could be my dick, because I sorta want one of those. I’ve had a wonderful strap-on harness for a long time, which I used first for pegging and then for wlw adventures, but I never had a realistic, penis-y dildo to put it in. The dildos I own that do resemble human penises are invariably in bright, wholly unrealistic colors, and in addition, they often resemble penises only vaguely. Because of that lack and because of penis envy feelings, I’ve been really wanting something like the Mark for a long time.

I picked this specific dildo over other realistic market options for a few reasons: first, I just like the feel of Tantus O2 toys over some of their competitors. The silicone is matte and soft to the touch, and it never feels tacky or sticky like VixSkin can. (Sorry friends, I am super picky about texture!) Secondly, when shopping for something to use as my dick, I needed something that looked realistic. Not just “there is definitely a penis in the world that looks like that” but “a person of my size, skin tone, cultural penchant for circumcision, etc. would have a penis that looks like that.” Mark is of average length and medium width (I’m 5’4″) and comes in a very pale cream color, all of which suits what I imagine my bio dick would look like if I had one.

mark 1

Mark is actually my first O2 toy (as opposed to Tantus’ firm-but-flexible or super soft formulas). Not only that, it’s actually my first dual density toy ever! Wow, I am late to the dual density party, but y’all? I get it now. Dual density toys have a core of firm silicone with a layer of softer silicone on the outside. While I personally still prefer super soft silicone, especially for bigger toys, dual density really is ideal for strap-on play. Being a bit firmer than super soft prevents it from drooping in a harness and makes it easier to “steer,” if you’ll forgive the metaphor. Being a bit softer than firm makes it more gentle for the bottom, and harder for the top to accidentally hurt them.

Internally, I thought the Mark was fine. It’s not big, very curved, or bulbed, which are all things that make penetrative toys interesting and enjoyable for me. For me, the draw for this toy was never internal stimulation, it was all the way it looks. On it’s own, it’s fairly middle-of-the-road: I can get some nice penetration, especially if I thrust it rather quickly like I’m actually being fucked, but I feel like there are probably less expensive dildos that can also accomplish that very simple task.

Where this dildo shines is as an excellent strap-on toy. It’s just a little bit long, which helps with staying in, especially since the harness covers some of the length. It’s just a little bit curved, which helps with angles, especially from behind or in re strap-on blowjobs. Because of its medium size, it’s suitable for lots of bottoms. If what you’re looking for is an everyday strap-on that just works, Mark might be just the ticket.

I’m not gonna lie; the biggest reason I love this toy so much is purely psychological. It just looks like my dick. It feels like my dick. Having a dildo that looks and feels like my dick is so incredibly affirming in a way that’s probably not applicable to a ton of people. If you’re searching for that right now, I really hope you find it, whether in the Mark or in something that looks completely different.

You’d like the Mark O2 if you want a realistic, medium-sized strap-on dildo. (Or if you happen to be looking for your own dick and also happen to share my very specific requirements!) You can pick one up at Tantus or SheVibe!

I got the Mark O2 as a Christmas present from my wonderful girlfriend!

I Trust You, Daddy

I trust you daddy

My Daddy dom and I have been exploring our dynamic lately. We’ve been together for almost a year, and there’s a sense of wanting to try new things, as well as of wanting to see where we want to take this. Part of this is trying more intense D/s things that we weren’t ready for before, like consensual non-consent scenes, having a list of rules, and choking me out. Recently, my Daddy said something about choking me that surprised me: he told me that he trusts me enough to do it. I had to stop and think about that idea for a minute, cause I’d never really heard it put quite that way before. I feel like the common discourse in the kink world is all about the bottom trusting the top. And sure, you have to trust someone at least a bit to let them restrain you or hurt you, or anything like that. But it does go both ways.

This probably shouldn’t have struck me as much as it did, because I have been on both sides of this coin. It’s a heady rush of power and adrenaline to be allowed to choke or hit someone, to know that they trust you not to actually damage them. But it also requires that you trust your sub: that you know they’ll speak up or safeword when they need to, that they really want this and are actually enjoying it, that they won’t hate you or judge you because you like hurting them. Nobody goes into kink with nothing to lose.

Kink isn’t only a giant elaborate trust exercise, but for me, that’s certainly part of it. It’s like a game of faith, of stretching the boundaries in how far you can depend on someone. How hard can we push this? How far can we take it? Do you trust me to catch you? How much power can we exchange between us? Can we bend this without breaking it?

Can I trust you with what I really want? There’s an intensity and an intimacy in breaking the ordinary rules for behavior. There’s a defiance to asking for something that would usually be understood as bad, unpleasant, painful, or humiliating. There’s such vulnerability there, both in admitting you want to be the victim of something “bad” and in admitting you want to be the perpetrator.

There’s a reason that I, as well as many other kinksters, don’t feel comfortable getting into anything D/s with someone we haven’t established a rapport or connection with. Even admitting the things I want feels like being naked, to say nothing of the practical trust needed to actually work our way through a scene together. But when you do find that trust, that connection, that mutual willingness to push the limits of acceptable behavior into the deepest darkest secrets of what you actually want? It’s a kind of terrifyingly beautiful magic. It’s a sort of miracle to be able to say (and to be able to show through kink) that I trust my Daddy, with my whole heart.

On Penis Envy

mark 4a

I have a love-hate relationship with the term “penis envy.”

It was invented by Freud, and he used it to describe a phenomenon in which a vulva-owning person sees that some individuals have penises, feels inferior in comparison, and therefore becomes envious and wishes to have a penis.

These claims are disgustingly sexist and objectively untrue. They are partially on the concept that having a vulva is akin to having no sex organs whatsoever. In fact, “nothing” was a slang term for vulvas/vaginas for a while (see Shakespeare.) It is also based on the viewpoint that penises are superior to vulvas, and similarly, that men are superior to women. Otherwise, women wouldn’t “envy” penis-havers their “superior” genitals.

Freud believed women and girls experience penis envy subconsciously, so they aren’t aware of it, but it does influences their behavior. This is an extremely annoying “gotcha.” If a woman says “um, no, I don’t want a penis,” Freud comes back with “yes you do, subconsciously, you just don’t know it!” which seems to be just another way to discount women’s experiences and knowledge of their own desires.

A common feminist critique of penis envy is that if having a certain body part allows someone to be treated as a person instead of an object, it makes sense that individuals with other body parts might go “gee, I wish I had that thing that allowed my personhood to be recognized.” In this framework, the feelings have nothing to do with body parts and everything to do with oppression. I think this is a smart and reasonable interpretation which does not explain my personal feelings at all.

The phrase “penis envy” was created by a misogynist who meant hateful, derogatory things by it. Those aren’t connotations that I want anywhere near me. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a phrase that more accurately describes my feelings.

I feel a thing that I call penis envy, for lack of a better, more specific term. When I talk about penis envy, I mean that I would rather like to have a penis. That’s kinda it, really. I really like penises and I kinda wish I had one. I’ve wondered what it would be like to have different bits. I’ve pondered how dick of my own would be: the size, shape, feel, smell. I got the dildo in the above pic because I wanted a realistic strapon that looked like me. It’s pretty close to what I think my cock might look like.

Before you ask, no, I’m not really sure what this means about my gender. (I’m still working on that one.) What I do know is that my feelings have nothing to do with the misogynistic lack of self-esteem Freud described. They also don’t really have to do with internalized misogyny or a desperate wish to have my personhood recognized, although I think that feminist interpretation has merit in other areas. They really just have to do with me wanting a penis.

If you have a better word for the feelings I have, feel free to let me know! Til then, I am in search of a phrase that’s as short and clear as “penis envy,” without all the complicated sexist baggage, and I guess I’ll continue to use the phrase I have.

 

Fanfiction Roundup: Polyamory

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You know what’s nice? Seeing yourself reflected back at you from the media you consume. Happy, healthy depictions of stigmatized persons and lifestyles. Characters that share the parts of me that I can’t share with the world at large. You know where I don’t get that shit? Mainstream media.

This is a big part of what fanfiction is for. It’s the place where I can find characters who are queer and kinky and polyamorous, like me, which are written by authors like me. A big part of fanfiction is a desperate attempt to relate to well-written, interesting mainstream media that completely leaves out people like us. I always advocate for more and better representation, but I also want to be able to enjoy the good content that’s already out there. So here’s a roundup of some of my favorite representations of polyamory in fanfiction.

  1. Welcome Home by Udunie (Teen Wolf): Here’s a classic one shot threesome smut fic, but with extra kink for flavor. Stiles comes home from college and has reunion sex with his two domly boyfriends, Peter and Alan. There is no plot to be found here, just a pre-established kinky triad, chastity, blowjobs and boyfriends excited to be together again.
  2. Six Shots To Go by CourierNinetyTwo (RWBY): This one goes much deeper into character development, which is my favorite. Velvet, Coco, Yatsuhashi, and Fox all end up dating each other, and we get a chapter (and sex scene) for all six couple pairings. I love this one because I think it shows what polyamory is all about: getting to explore different sides of yourself and different dynamics, and supporting your friends and lovers in pursuing what makes them happy.
  3. Masks by Not_You (Watchmen): This Watchmen high school musical theatre AU is just as bizarre and wonderful as it sounds. They’re doing Phantom of the Opera, Walter is the Phantom, Dan is Raoul, and Laurie is Christine. Besides appealing to my musical theatre nerd heart, it’s about teenagers figuring out that they’re allowed to be attracted to multiple genders, and that it’s possible to love multiple humans at the same time. It’s really heartwarming and sweet to watch this verse in which people like me figure everything out and everything goes well and there’s love and happiness all around. Queers want fluffy wish fulfillment sometimes too.
  4.  Odd One Out by thingswithwings (Leverage): I really like this exploration of an OT3 getting together, because it’s messy. Parker and Hardison are dating, and they also want to date Eliot, but Eliot is reluctant and scared of feelings. They try the casual sex thing, and make things awkward- taking one step forward and two steps back, as it were. My favorite part of this is Parker’s conversation with Eliot where she talks about the difference between what we think romance is and what it can be in reality, and the difference between wanting a fantasy of romance and wanting a specific person. Poly is hard and complicated and I love a fic that looks at that honestly.
  5. She Who Must Be Obeyed by Not_You (The Avengers): This is one of my favorite fics of all time. It’s of the “everyone is poly because Avengers” variety. Natasha is a femdom with a whole harem of subs, that starts out with Tony, Pepper, Nick, Thor, and Clint and expands to include Steve, Bucky, and Loki, so there’s a combination of established relationship dynamics and getting together storylines. There’s a lot of femdom porn, as well as various dynamics between other members of the polycule. Also, great character development: Bucky confronts his gay feelings, Steve discovers his dom feelings, and Loki handles out his jealousy feelings, among other things. I love the idea of this big happy poly family all living together in a big house and making it work.

Do y’all have any favorite polyamory fanfics? Let me know in comments!

 

Three Things I Learned From a Year of Non-Monogamy

year of nonmonogamy

About a year ago, my boyfriend at the time and I broke up, ending a pretty serious monogamous relationship. In the year since it happened, I feel like I’ve changed and grown a lot. One of the biggest changes for me was moving to a non-mongamous lifestyle. Non-monogamy has been tremendously fulfilling for me, and in retrospect, I’m very glad I made the switch. Here are three things I learned about myself and how I do polyamory in the past year:

I should only sleep with people I like.

The thing about not really experiencing attraction is that it can be easy to say “hey, why not?” Because we have nothing in common, that’s why not! I don’t tend to enjoy sex with people I’m not that into, so I don’t do that any more. This means that I have fewer partners than I did before, but I have way more fun with the partners I do have. Rejecting monogamy doesn’t mean rejecting selectivity- just because I’m allowed to do something doesn’t mean I have to do it. I’m gonna have way more fun with a fellow kinky nerd who loves high fantasy and musical theatre than I am with some rando I just met with whom I have nothing to talk about.

Time management is crucial.

I do a lot of things: I’m in college, I have a part time job, I run this blog, I’m in a student organization, I have to shower occasionally. I’m also currently dating three people. That’s a lot of commitments to juggle. It can be really tricky for me to make sure that I’m managing my romantic relationships, my platonic relationships, and my self care without letting important things like my education fall by the wayside. For me, what works is making commitments and sticking to them, whether that’s going on dates that I’ve agreed to or honoring the time I’ve set aside for studying. It’s important not to let my academic life steal all my time from my love life, or vice versa.

Romantic time commitments are no morally different from any other time commitment.

One way that I like to frame polyamory is that I respect my partners’ commitments and responsibilities. If they’re working, spending time with their best friend, doing a hobby that they love, repairing their car, whatever it is, I understand that they have a life apart from me. I honor their time doing other things. I don’t think of it as time stolen away from me somehow, because I don’t feel entitled to their entire life. Once I rejected that poisonous lesson propagated by certain schools of thought about monogamy, it was easy for me to incorporate my partners’ partners (my metamours) into that framework. I can also honor my partners’ commitments to their other lovers, and plan around them the way I would plan around their work schedule or their D&D night.

Here’s hoping that the next year brings even more polyamorous happiness and growth for me!

 

 

 

Pink B.O.B. Bliss Rechargeable Wand Review

bliss wand 1

Hello lovelies! This week I’m reviewing the Pink B.O.B. Bliss Rechargeable Wand, a wand vibrator that was sent to me by the lovely folks at Too Timid. My love for wand vibrators is well known- I love the broad stimulation and sheer power- so I was super excited to try out the Bliss Rechargeable Wand.

First off, I’m afraid I have to address the name: “B.O.B.” stands for “battery operated boyfriend,” which I find to be a painfully inaccurate term for vibrators. Sex toys are not replacements for partners. That’s not how this works. I can’t see how this name does anything other than contribute to stigmatizing myths about sex toys. Also, not everyone who uses your products wants a boyfriend. I am fully opposed to this term.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can move on to the actual vibrator in question, which I actually quite like.

The Bliss Wand is significantly smaller than the Magic Wand Rechargeable, and extremely lightweight in comparison, which makes it much easier to maneuver and carry around in my purse. Although the head is also proportionately smaller, in use I didn’t really register a size difference because it’s still plenty broad enough for me. The copy on the website really hypes up the curved handle but it made no difference for me: in use I really couldn’t tell it was there because I tend to hold my wands further down.

The Bliss Wand did not come with an instruction manual, which I find quite odd. Partially because of the lack of instruction manual, I have absolutely no idea how long it takes to charge. I can’t tell when it’s done charging because the light which turns on when you plug it in just glows red forever. The Bliss Wand retails from the Pink B.O.B. website for about $50 cheaper than MWR, which is awesome. As a Broke College Kid, I totally appreciate the difference $50 can make in terms of someone’s ability to buy a good sex toy.

The buttons are in the opposite order of the MWR, which took some getting used to, but I fully admit that’s purely a personal problem. Also as a matter of preference: this wand has lots of patterns, but I don’t like patterns, so I don’t use them. The patterns button is separate from the intensities button, making the patterns easy to avoid, which I really appreciate.

There are 8 intensities that go from high to low and back again for some strange reason. I prefer the very lowest setting because it’s the most rumbly, so I always have to click all the way through the settings to find it.

bliss wand 2

Personally, I definitely need the lowest, rumbliest setting, and I prefer to use it through blankets or clothing. This thing is intensely powerful, and is reminiscent of the Original Magic Wand on its highest settings- which is not my jam, but is unquestionably some people’s.

Because it’s not as rumbly, I was able to keep it on my clit the whole time I was having an orgasm. This is actually really nice. With the MWR I almost always have to pull it away as soon as I come because it’s so intense- it’s really overstimulating during my hypersensitive period right after orgasm. With the Bliss Wand, it can kind of work me through the aftershocks, which is lovely.

On the lowest settings, it’s not nearly buzzy enough to put me off- my clit does sometimes feel a little bit rubbed raw from repeated or prolonged use, but it didn’t give me any numbness or itching that cheap battery-operated vibes always do.

The Bliss Wand is rather loud- it’s a bit more noisy than my MWR. The sound is almost completely muffled when pressure is applied, like when it’s on my bits. This seems odd to me, but I am clearly not an expert in vibrator engineering, and I appreciate the muffling effect.

Overall, I think the Bliss Wand is worth its price tag. You would probably like the Bliss Wand if you like broad stimulation, enjoy powerful mid-line rumbly/buzzy vibrations, need something lightweight, or are looking for a rechargeable wand for a bargain. You can pick one up here!

I was sent the Pink B.O.B. Bliss Rechargeable Wand in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. Thanks, Too Timid!

 

How Do I Be Friends With Men?

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I feel like I don’t know how to be friends with men. This must be a personal failing of mine, because I firmly believe men and women can be friends. They can be friends, and remain platonic, and nobody needs to be secretly harboring crush feelings or pants feelings, or be strictly gay. So why can’t I seem to be platonic friends with the men in my life?

How do you interact with men without assessing the romantic potential of the relationship? I do this thing where when I like someone, I ask myself “Is this a friend like or a sexy like?” I don’t think that’s too weird, especially since I don’t generally experience burning attractions. I have to think about it for a bit. But I admit that I only sometimes do this with women, and I feel like I always, always do it with men. I don’t know how to interact with men without feeling like I’m constantly reading the tea leaves.

My friendships with men, historically, tend to turn into more than that. I never learned how to be friends with men. I learned how to flirt with them. I learned how to make myself marketable to them. I learned how to avoid them, how to attract them. How to give them a soft “no” so they won’t kill you. How to please them. How to take care of them. How to make myself into something they want. How to date them. How to kiss them. How to fuck them. How to love them. But never how to be friends with them.

When I was a kid, I sometimes did that thing where I decided to have crushes on boys. (Lots of young afab queers do that.) I just picked a boy and went “I’m supposed to have crushes on boys, therefore I have a crush on that one.” I learned how to perform heterosexuality the way my culture wanted it performed. That did not involve befriending men.

I’ve gotten a lot better in recent years. I think part of it has to do with seeing men as people, and with being seen as a person by them. Our culture sets men and women up as diametrically opposed opposites, and rationally, I know that’s absolute baloney. But those sorts of lessons can be hard to let go of. It’s hard to stop seeing men as some terrifying or glorious other. I think the key here, as in so many things, is understanding other people as truly and fully human. It can be so hard, though, when the world has been divided up into categories and certain behaviors and values have been assigned to those categories.

I still have a lot of personal learning to do. There’s a lot of messages for me to unlearn, and new  lessons for me to replace them with. I wish my culture had taught me the right lessons in the first place. But I do believe that I can learn them, and I hope my culture can too.