Posts Tagged ‘sexologist’

I have offered to do sex toy reviews. This seemed like a fun idea and a good way to get some practical knowledge of the tools that are out there. I selected from the things on offer, then started to worry. How might this affect my online safety? I’ve never had a problem with online trolls or negative feedback despite the work I do, and gave credit to how I curate my online presence. I tend to take a cerebral angle rather than discussing my own experiences.

what have I done

What have I done?

In discussing this with friends I introduced the topic by saying I’d been asked to write sex toy reviews. This distortion removed responsibility from me; I had been asked, not had offered. Did this make it more respectable, somehow? Note the first sentence of this post, as I am now taking responsibility for my interest. People responded by speaking of the value of authenticity, of being away from the ivory tower of academe and seeming more connected and believable. In synchronous ways my social media reading and podcast listening included discussions about personal revelations, the vulnerability that people felt and the ultimately positive outcomes. It helped me to hear Alex Iantaffi who I admire greatly, discuss this on a Meg-John and Justin podcast about gender (specifically on Meg John Barker and Alex’s book How to Understand Your Gender) and decide that limited and thoughtful, purposeful disclosures were helpful and professionally suitable.

What am I planning to do? Write some reviews of what could be considered tools of the trade. It acknowledges I’m an embodied sexual being as well as a cerebral one. I’m writing short, considered reviews from an older woman’s perspective. It is a small thing to add to what I do, and not a new career. It supports the advocacy of awareness about older people still being sexual.

The request from Nikki Darling was that I put the reviews on my blog. Here they are!

Tantus Duchess dual-density vibrating dildo

I was excited to get my first package of tester toys from Nikki Darling, and dived in to see what was inside. Being a toy tester from an older woman’s perspective seemed to be a good way to promote a positive approach to sexuality across the life span, while potentially having fun.

My first impression on opening the Tantus Duchess package was that it was somewhat difficult to wrestle it out of its rigid plastic packaging. Once it was out, it was the size that dominated. It seemed HUGE. I felt daunted. From this older woman’s perspective, and generalising a bit, bigger is not better. Post menopause the vaginal rugae (the crossways folds in the vaginal walls) thin out, and elasticity is reduced. While I have given birth, and the Tantus Duchess is smaller than a baby, it looked impossible for my anatomy. Still, a responsible tester does not give up without trying. I tried, a few times. Even with lots of lube and being aroused, penetration of any kind was not going to be successful. The bullet vibe option that came with this dildo was one of the things that attracted me to try it, so I hoped it would give some vibe benefits. Getting the supplied bullet vibe into the housing was a challenge, and I probably should have used some lube to make the task easier. Getting it out again was fiddly too. The effort was not really worth it for me, as the power of the vibe was too mild for what I enjoy, although I’m sure some people would find the gentle buzz an addition to their pleasure. At this point I read some other Tantus Duchess reviews. Other reviewers loved it, while acknowledging the size challenge. It seems the issue with my experience is the limitations of my anatomy, not the toy.

Tantus products have a great reputation and I trust their commitment to body-safe products. This one is made from dual density silicone, which means the outside is soft, and there is stiffness inside to keep it rigid. The dual-density aspect wasn’t obvious when handling it, although that is an advantage, as it made it possible to appreciate the soft outer layer and have the dildo maintain some rigidity without being aware of an inflexible aspect. There was no discernible smell, and the ice colour which is a blue that fades to white at the head, is easy to look at and inoffensive. Official details re size are: 4.5 cm diameter, 17.78 cm insertable length, 254 gm weight. It has a flared base that makes it safe for anal play, and can be used as a suction cup onto a firm surface to add to user options. It can go into a harness (not supplied) and is waterproof.


In summary, the Tantus Duchess is a quality product made from body safe materials with thoughtful design that means it has versatile uses. However, from the perspective of an older woman, I did not find it to be a toy that met my needs or limitations. My rating of 2/5 stars is based on its usefulness for me, not its overall design or safety qualities. Thank you, Nikki Darling, for the opportunity to review this toy.

YES Organic water based lubricant

Lube is your friend. Lube makes sexual activity better by reducing friction and potential damage to the skin, and can be the difference between an enjoyable, successful sexual experience and painful misery. Not all lubes are equal, and given that they are being liberally applied to mucus membranes with the potential to be absorbed, then they not only have to do the job they are intended for, they have to be body safe too. Nikki Darling has a range of lubes that are reputable products; what is YES Organic WB like to use? The YES Organic WB notes say that it is “Hypoallergenic, vegan, alcohol free, paraben free, glycerin free, palm oil free, non-staining formula. Certified organic. Vegetarian Society approved. Soil Association approved” which indicates an ethical approach to its products. People who do not use alcohol for cultural reasons will be pleased to see it is alcohol free, and vegans appreciate having labelling that reassures them they are not using animal-derived products. It is not only the effect on the body that ingredients matter for; cultural considerations can be important too. Parabens and glycerine can lead to unpleasant side-effects so it is good that they are not included. Phenoxyethanol, which IS included, is a preservative used as an alternative to parabens. Some cosmetic safety sites question the safety of phenoxyethanol and others treat it as safe. Citric acid is used to balance the ph. I tried to find out its osmolality and while YES defines what osmolality is, I couldn’t see the osmolality of YES Organic. EDIT: I found the information about YES osmolality and other aspects, comparing it to different lubes–you can read it here. The YES website goes to a lot of trouble to emphasise that its products are as safe as they can make it. YES Organic WB is described as not being suitable lube to use if you are trying to conceive a baby, which is good to see acknowledged. (They make YES Baby that is recommended if fertility is important.) From my post-menopausal, older woman’s perspective fertility is not an aspect I’m interested in!

The first time I used the YES Organic WB it was in conjunction with the Tantus Duchess, which I also reviewed. The Duchess was too big for me, and may have led to some grazing, and the lube stung a bit. I wondered if the citric acid was to blame there, but don’t know. Subsequent testing sessions were better experiences and I’m pleased to report there was no repeat of the sting. The YES Organic WB does not smell, the consistency is good, and it provided unobtrusive, effective lubrication that lasted well. Clean up was easy, and it did not stain the sheet.

There is absolutely no shame in using a lubricant for sexual activity. Some people feel differently, though. After my testing I read the reviews on the YES website, and gleaned from them that some women feel the need to conceal from their partner the need for a lube. The odourless, natural feel and absence of residue makes the YES Organic WB ideal for these women, as their partners were unaware. It can be bought in an applicator form that deposits it inside the vagina (not part of my review kit) which the YES reviewers appreciated, especially the ones who were being discreet about their use of lube. Many of the online YES reviews were from older people, or women post breast cancer chemo, or who had experienced early menopause. It was interesting to see this demographic featuring so strongly, as to me the marketing did not seem specifically targeted to an ageing population. The reviews were enthusiastic and glowing; although I wonder if a negative review would be made visible. The plant-based organic and body-safe nature of YES Organic WB was a key part of its popularity, as well as its effectiveness as a lubricant.WBNB100C_TUBE_1024x1024

In summary, the YES Organics WB lubricant is a body-safe product that provides effective lubrication, is odourless and does not mark the sheets. Some stinging is possible if there is broken skin. The product has excellent ethical principles behind it. My rating of 4/5 stars is based on its usefulness for me, not its overall design or safety qualities. Thank you, Nikki Darling, for the opportunity to review this toy.


Read Full Post »

I am an entrepreneur and my work is as a sexologist. It is good to be able to say that with confidence now, although it has taken a while to get there. My employment life transition is just one of many global transitions at the moment and the zeitgeist is not a happy one overall. I am endeavouring to make a positive contribution to the world through sex-positive and pleasure-focused education, as well as through being kind in my daily interactions. What is good for me about the change is that I can teach with integrity and good pedagogy in my own business and not have to comply with a university system that is being run as a business and not as an educational institution.

Letting go of the place that was a key part of my identity for 14 years was hard. There is a grief that comes with change, even if the change is wanted, and that is how it was with me letting go of the university. It took a conscious effort to focus on good things and not on the negative aspects. I was known and valued at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University, and being there was part of my identity. I did some excellent teaching. Students remember my lectures years later, and as recently as last weekend a woman told me her language use re body parts with her daughter (using accurate terminology for genitals) was influenced by the content of my sex education lecture and the theatrical drama with which it was delivered. There is a greater freedom to teach using transformative learning while being self employed. I had huge fun with lecture writing; these slides are from 2011’s lecture.

Lots of things helped me be grounded and move on.  Claire, my admin assistant, has been a champion of my work and linked me to some useful ideas and resources, as well as giving practical assistance. An aspect of the job she loved was helping to care for Flynn and Fergus, the rescue dogs I fostered for nine weeks. Her support is making a big difference.

Joining the Synergize Hub gave me a new community, one which includes and values me, and where I can access business support. It is a co-working space in central Bendigo. The people are diverse, with shared values and a range of business types. I love going there, and am now treasurer! That is an opportunity outside my comfort zone where I will learn new skills. Every time I go there I receive a nugget of wisdom, and lately I realise I am contributing as well. It is an awesome place to be nurtured and supported as I develop my business, and to offer support in return.

The business is growing slowly. I’m getting more confident to put myself out there, do promotion, and make things happen rather than wait for them to come to me. The pace is ok for me, and I’ll step it up as I become more settled. I have beautbusiness cardsiful business cards designed by Dale Harris of Studio Ink, and have re-vamped the website I established during my NEIS course in 2014. I painted the artwork in the background.

Putting myself out there includes submitting an installation to the Queer Country art exhibition, associated with the Bendigo Queer Film Festival. It is a positive statement on ageing and sexuality, with a bedside table holding a reading light, glasses and case, copy of Joan Price’s Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, lube, and a flogger.

Note that on the windowsill behind me is a business card holder with business cards. There is a hustle here, and a hustle there, everywhere a hustle hustle. The holder (which Claire refers to as ‘couches’ as they look a bit like a psychiatrist’s couch) was 3-d printed by the fabulously supportive Jim.

I’m feeling really grounded in my business now. I have something valuable to give, and people from all walks of life are supporting and encouraging it. The counselling practice is taking off. My ideas are flowing and I’m writing and delivering good workshops, with plans for lots more. Check out my website for details. Invite me to speak!

It is a good place to be.

Read Full Post »