During a slightly drunken tirade brought on by a shit tonne of dirty martinis, anger towards the industry in which I work and the twitter hashtag #thingsthatneedtostop (things that need to stop), I came to find that I was not alone in my frustration, as many of the complaints I had were also felt by others within the sex positive community. So at the request of someone that truly inspires me, I’ve decided to compile my list (and slightly expand on it) in the hopes that it might positively affect a change in some way or another.
So, if you’re someone who ‘works’ within the scene (bloggers, reviewers, manufacturers, retailers, educators etc) and are in support of this, feel free to retweet it and/or add your thoughts. This isn’t just about me, this is about all of us working together to create an environment of understanding, respect, acceptance and professionalism – even if it was born out of the blissful truth alcohol often provides.
For those of you interested, this sort of goes hand in hand with my Open Letter To Manufactures, Retailers and Consumers, read it if you’d like, then make the effort to affect a change.
*the list is in no particular order of importance, I’m copying it from the way the booze permitted it to flow.
Things That Need To Stop
1.) Social Media/Video sites disallowing Sexual Education & assuming it’s all shameful info.
Maybe it’s just my experience but it seems that anytime a sharing site views the tag ‘sex’ moderators instantly think it’s referring to a hardcore gonzo movie filled with gaping holes, full frontal nudity, creamy facials, spread eagle dudes taking it rough doggie styles and rim jobs. Not that there is anything shameful about watching porn or getting off to it, quite the contrary. It’s just that it’s the only thing I can see being removed or considered ‘inappropriate’ in this instance. And while I understand the need to be diligent when deleting content that could potentially harm a websites online social standing (read “stock holders interests”), I just can’t get my head around how a positive view toward sexuality, engaging viewers to think consciously about their sexual practices and encouraging ownership of ones own sexual exploration is even close to the scene I previously mentioned. Sex is not porn. Sex is not bad. Sex is just sex. Get the fuck over it and let those who seek to educate do our job.
*Fortunately twitter hasn’t fallen prey to those who feel that sex positive content needs to be censored like Facebook, YouTube and even Craigslist. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it stays that way, but as more corporate advertisers get involved I wouldn’t bet on it.
2.) Shitty companies that make garbage products being the ‘mainstream”. “Our Jelly Toys Are The Best!”
If there is one thing that seriously pisses me off when it comes to ‘mainstream’ manufacturers it’s the fact that the vast majority of them are the ones creating harmful and cheap products that do nothing more than leach chemicals and fall apart after a few uses. Excuse me for saying so, but it’s high time companies that produce quality products like Tantus, Sliquid, Crystal Delights, Vixen Creations, Fun Factory, Lelo, Standard Innovations (We-Vibe) and Njoy (to name a bunch) became the industry standard by which everything else was measured. Of course part of the problem here is educating the customer to know crap from quality, something that becomes increasingly difficult as more sites are choosing to censor sex positive educators
3.) Expecting fantastic reviewers to NOT get paid for their work. At the end of the day IT’S WORK! Not fun. Well okay it *is* fun…but a shit tonne of free dildos & lube don’t pay the rent.
If I had a dollar for every time someone wrote and asked me to review something, offering a “free” product as payment, I’d have a lot more money to put toward my consumption of booze and time to rage on twitter. Unfortunately you can’t buy drinks with dildos – sure you can stir them, but with many being rather girthy, it gets kind of messy and wastes alcohol. We all know wasting alcohol is just stupid.
All jokes aside, at the end of the day reviewers take countless hours out of their day to write reviews, spread them through social media, answer questions about the product (to help generate sales), direct sales to your site, offer SEO that builds up your online rankings and offers direct access to a target market that would have otherwise been inaccessible – with all of it done UNPAID, except for that “free” dildo of course. Maybe it’s just me but that just doesn’t seem fair. Nor does it make the dildo something that was “free”.
More than that, building a successful blog worthy of advertisers takes countless hours, often years, to create. Maybe it’s just me but offering a vibrator in lieu of actual payment doesn’t seem fair. Quite the opposite actually, it’s a complete and total undervaluing of a persons work, time, and effort. In a word – disrespectful.
So here it is and I’ll say it again: people need to get paid for their work.
Whether it’s paying for content, sponsoring posts, buying advertising space, or offering up an affiliate program (where they can make a commission) – people deserve to get paid. Like you, we bloggers and reviewers work hard for the money we earn, at no point should I (or anyone else) be expected to take less than we deserve. That’s just tacky and rude.
The actual way of making it worth our while doesn’t really matter to me, it’s getting people rewarded for their work that does.
4.) Trying to buy reviewers opinions. Product features are just that. Reviews are HONEST experiences & reactions.
While this may seem like common sense I feel the need to explain something just so there are no more misunderstandings:
Review [ri-vyoo] noun: a critical evaluation, a formal assessment or examination of something, a general survey, a report or account of something. – simply put, reviews are opinions based on the personal experience(s) had by the reviewer. They include the good, all the little things that make the product/experience what it was, and should include the bad (if there was anything bad), offering consumers the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding their future purchase(s).
Product Placement/Feature: If you want someone to write glowing words about your product without actually having tried it, therefore providing little detail toward the actual experience, you want a product placement/feature. Actually, what you’re asking is for someone to write a bunch of bullshit about your product. My advice, don’t expect much, don’t try to control their work and yes, be sure to pay them, well; if they’re going to sell out you might as well make it worth their while.
*for the record, while I do get paid for my work none of my opinions have ever been bought, nor do I offer any editorial control to those that provide products for me to review.
5.) Lying to customers about the quality of products or saying something is what it’s not. TPR is NOT silicone.
Simply put, don’t stuff a jelly vibe in my vag and tell me it’s silicone. My vagina is classy and only likes the best of the best, anything else and I get unruly, miserable and volatile. And yes, I do know the difference. It’s my own fault really, I’m spoiled. I can’t help it, my vagina deserves it! Don’t make me punish you because I unknowingly punished myself. You lie, you get cut. That’s just how it works.
6.) Thinking every reviewer/sex educator/porn star wants to see a picture of your dick. WE DONT! Get over yourself!
If I had a dollar for every time this happened I’d get a least a months worth of rent covered. Maybe two. For those that do it because they’re genuinely concerned about their Johnson, here’s something you may not have thought of yet – go see a doctor! I’m not a medical professional that can treat or diagnose you, neither are the majority of porn stars or reviewers. If we wanted to see a dick we’d watch a porn, then probably whack off and write a review. It’s that simple.
7.) Spamming reviewers w/ mass emails if they don’t respond to the 1st you send. We likely read it, then deleted it.
Okay, I know how bitchy that really sounded, and I totally admit that I very often get a backlog of messages making staying up to date rather difficult, but the truth is – if you’ve sent a message more than twice and haven’t gotten a response, it’s likely because the person a.) didn’t like the website b.) didn’t like the products you were offering 3.) thought you came off as a total conceited dickhead d.) already knows about your company and doesn’t want anything to do with it or e.) all of the above. Sending another 5 emails won’t change our minds. If anything it’ll just piss us off and make us block/delete you. Be nice and carry good stock, that’s all we’re asking for.
8.) Being impatient w/ reviews. Unless you do it you have no idea how hard it is to write a review… especially when it’s on a near daily basis, for things that are exceptionally similar, or hard to put into words. Reviewers block happens.
I’ll be totally and completely honest here: I literally have a bin of products in a back log just waiting to be reviewed, most of which are in various forms of 2nd and 3rd drafts (I usually ‘test’ products 6 times, adding or changing things to the review as the experiences allow). Having said that, writing every day can be exhausting and often leads to a serious case of reviewers block/sex toy burn out. And while we may be very professional at what we do, we only have so many holes and so many hours in the day. Be patient, it’ll get done, and when it does it’ll probably be far better than you’d expect.
9.) Not giving reviewers the credit they deserve. Without them who would vouch for your product or help *sell* it?
There are some companies that are amazing when it comes to helping reviewers get off the ground, gain experience and treat them with the respect and understanding they deserve. On the flip side there are those that don’t seem to give two shits about the very person who is helping to expose the brand to an online market they would otherwise be unable to reach. Whether companies like it or not the sex toy reviewing army is the bridge to your target market, play nice with them and they’ll promote you in ways you probably didn’t know existed. Be shitty and you’ll forever regret it. Trust me on this one.
10.) Ripping off other companies ideas & trying to make a profit. Let the independent creators be for crying out loud!
I’ve seen it time and time again; little guy comes on the scene with a line of products that are truly inspiring (Njoy, Jollies, O’My to name a few), they start to sell and little guy begins to get some acknowledgment, big guy comes along and sees little guys product, thinks to himself “I can make that, and with my huge manufacturing plant I can do it at a fraction of the cost”, big guy steals little guys design (because he either didn’t know to patent it or couldn’t afford to), big guy markets it as his own, little guy tries to fight it but can’t afford to go up against big guy since finances are limited, big guy offers the products at a lower prices to a wider range of retailers and takes a large portion of the little guys market, little guy can’t afford to keep creating and shuts down shop. It’s sad. It’s unfair. It’s bullshit. It needs to stop.
This doesn’t just go for sex toys, this goes for the way the whole friggin world works. If you see something you like, buy it from the original person that made it. That’s the only way to stop this shit from happening. Even better, boycott the big guys that steal from the little guy and make sure everyone knows why you’re boycotting. Awareness, like knowledge, is power. Use it.
11.) Thinking ALL sex toy companies are the same. They’re not! Usually separated by motive.
#passion vs #greed –
While the vast majority of manufacturers/retailers within the adult market are only in it to make a buck off your lack of product knowledge, there are quite a few that pride themselves on not only being eco-friendly but also wanting to offer the very best of the very best to their customers. Yes, they want to make money – if they didn’t how could they operate – but they’re not willing to place personal pocket change over user safety.
*The below lists might help when it comes to finding a company to support and buy from (I’ve provided two links 1.) The Manufacturers website 2.) Either the Manufacturers website via my affiliate link, or a site that carries the items via my affiliate link – if you buy through the affiliated links I get the credit – thanks for helpin a sista out!)
Manufacturers I’m fans of : Tantus (affiliated link), Vixen Creations (affiliated link), Happy Valley (affiliated link), Njoy (affiliated link), LEAF (affiliated link), OhMiBod, Fleshlight, Fun Factory (affiliated link), Crystal ID, Jimmy Jane, Je Joue (affiliated link), Sliquid (affiliated link), System Jo (affiliated link), We-Vibe (affiliate link), Intimate Organics (affiliated link), Trust Intimacy Oil (there’s many more, I just didn’t want to overwhelm you too soon).
Retailers I’m fans of : SheVibe, Babeland, PinkCherry
12.) Thinking Sexual Education = Educators saying “go out & get laid everyday!!”. It’s about making informed decisions and helping people become empowered.
I’d go into further detail with this one but its pretty self explanatory. All we’re trying to do is help others make responsible decisions and participate in activities knowing the full scope of possible consequences.
13.) Thinking that sexuality, sex, etc is shameful, disgusting, embarrassing & crude. Sex happens. We all do it.
Again I’m not going into detail. You get it. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t.
14.) Trying to persuade reviewers that your new thing is THE new thing & we MUST have it to review!
Sorry to all the inventors, creators and dreamers who were offended by this one. I really didn’t mean for it to sound so shitty, but the truth is, while we appreciate your enthusiasm and passion we don’t need you to ‘sell’ us on the idea. We get it. And like the drunk person at the bar who keeps trying to convince us to go home with them because they’ll be “the best we ever had” (or some similar load of horse crap), your passion can be misconstrued and put us off of an otherwise amazing concept or idea. Basically put, it’s not about the product, it’s about the approach. If you’re real with us we’ll more than likely happily take the product for review, be persuasive/persistent and we’ll likely be annoyed and remain unimpressed.
15.) Not offering reviewers a way to make a living doing something they love.
#hardwork should be #rewarded
This goes hand in hand with #3, #4 and #9. We work our asses off (sometimes literally) to offer something you can’t; an honest review of the product that covers everything a person would want to know before they buy. And although most of us work from home, it doesn’t mean we’re not slaving away over word choices, grammar or linking strategies to help build up your company. If you get paid to do what you do, so should we. Period.
*I’m re-posting from #3 just to make sure I get my point across: Whether it’s paying for the actual content, offering up an affiliate program (where they can make a commission), or creating some form of a reward system so they can save money on other products. The actual way of making it worth our while doesn’t really matter to me, it’s getting people rewarded for their work that does.
16.) Asking for previews of reviews so that you can make changes if you don’t like the way it’s written. Previews are fine if it’s so that you can quote, link to or help promote, but to *change* content – you should have just done it yourself.
I don’t know about anyone else but I do not grant editorial control over my work to anyone for any reason, and when I’m courted by a company I make to let them know I’ll be writing an honest review of my experience. If they don’t like it they can go elsewhere. That’s not what I’m about.
17.) Not supporting your favourite reviewers. If you like what they do, buy through their links. It helps. Trust me!
This one is for the folks that read the reviews and watch the videos; if you like the work a reviewers done and are going to buy the products mentioned make sure to do so through their links. Not only does it show the company that they’ve drawn traffic to the website (which makes the company want to continue working with them), it also provides a small portion of pocket change to keep doing something they love.
*for those that think reviewers are raking in the dough… nothing could be further from the truth. The amount most reviewers make is minimal. Maybe it’ll pay for groceries for the week. Maybe it’ll cover the internet and phone bills. Maybe it’ll help cover some of the rent. Just know that what many reviewers make is just enough to help and doesn’t support them 100%.
18.) Thinking that all reviewers are sex crazed whores that just want to f*ck all day. Some are/do, most don’t/aren’t.
Sorry, I have to correct myself on this one. We’re all sluts. The whole lot of us. There’s no one that could ever satisfy our greedy lust for smooth and supple silicone and the way it fills us. No man could ever please us. No woman could be enough. It’s why we bang various colored dildos and vibes every chance we get. A raging hard-on just ain’t good enough for our spoiled holes anymore. So sorry to have to let you know this way, I just think it’s time I came clean for everyone’s sake <- sarcasm. *head desk* *head desk* *head desk*
*you have no idea how badly I want to fly into a rant about how liberating it is to take ownership of ones own sexuality and how wonderful it feels to know yourself more intimately than anyone else ever could… but I’ll save that for another post.
19.) Thinking that all reviewers are doing it for a “money grab” – most of us only review quality goods that are well made, created by companies we trust & help us educate in some way or another. We do it because we love it.#loveyourjoborquit
While I can’t speak for anyone else I can personally say that the main goal (for reviewing) has always been to expose my audience to a wide range of products that are easy to use, quality, crafted out of body safe materials and worthy of owning. If a product is poorly made, crafted out of materials that are sub-par, or breaks down after a few uses – 9 times out of 10 I won’t bother to review it. It’s just not worth my time (which could be spent exploring and experiencing products I do love), and definitely not worth yours (or your money). Having said that, the reviews will be honest and offer info on the things I didn’t like about the product, I’m just not going to accept a product I know I’ll hate just so I can write a horrible review… if I had expectations that I’d like it and ended up not, you can bet your sweet ass I’ll let you know.
20.) Using horribly sexist/crude/violent/misogynistic descriptions for products. It doesn’t help anyone.
I covered this in my Open Letter To Manufactures, Retailers and Consumers, I’m not going to go off again here. I just may brain hemorrhage from rage if I do.
21.) Thinking a reviewer has nothing to offer because they are ‘new’. We’ve all been there. Cut some slack & give some support. They deserve a chance.
At some point in time we’ve all been the new kid on the block. We’ve questioned what we had to offer and felt insecure jumping on board with all the amazing reviewers already on the scene. We’ve contacted companies and asked for products only to be met with rejection. We’ve taken what we could get, either because we didn’t know better or because we felt desperate. We’ve watched as others grew up through the ranks and felt stifled as we sat at the bottom waiting for our chance. My point, give the new reviewers a shot and help guide them when possible. This is a community, not a competition.
22.) Thinking that when your partner uses a product during sex it means you’re not good enough. #itsnotyouitsme
Rather than being a selfish, shitty and egotistical person who thinks that they are the end all be all in bed, realize that a product may be able to do something you can’t and that maybe you’re partner needs that kind of stimulation in order to achieve an orgasm. It doesn’t mean your not good at what you do. It doesn’t mean they don’t’ like you. And it certainly doesn’t mean your not “good enough”. It just means that they need a little help getting from A to O and whatever they’ve got on hand will likely offer what they need.
*for the record, over 70% of persons with vulvas require clitoral stimulation to achieve an orgasm – considering that traditional penetration does nothing for the clitoris, it’s pretty understandable that a person would want to add something external to the experience.
23.) Creating ‘competition’ between reviewers. Most of us are in it for the same reason – to do something we love, have fun doing it, make an impact in some way or another & explore our sexuality. We should be helping each other grow, not limiting
I understand that many reviewers see their ‘jobs’ as a competition for a persons dollar, but for me it’s bigger than that. My job has been, and always will be, to educate about sex, inform readers/viewers about the options available, encourage exploration of ones sexual self and support those within the community that I think have something positive to offer. Does this mean that my viewers/readers may very well buy something from their link instead of mine? Certainly…and I’m okay with it. Sure, I’d prefer to be the one profiting, but I get it.
At the end of the day all that matters is that my readers/viewers have been exposed to another person who treats sex like it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and in the meantime also possibly found a product that will liberate them in some way. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than getting a cheque in the mail for a commission. This is about freeing people from the guilt ridden chains that bind and creating a society of people who are sexually aware and confident.
So that’s pretty much it. I’m done bitching for the night.