July 1, 2009

Book Review: Good Vibrations Guide to Sex

Posted in 1, sex, Sex Toys tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 am by Femme Mystique

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What is it?
The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex is a 300+ page mega resource of sexual knowledge from the Good Vibrations company.

Who is its target audience?
All people who are even remotely interested in sex.  It deals with sexual issues of males, females, young people, seniors, people with disabilities, sexual assault survivors, and everyone in between. The book is written in a way that is humorous and accessible while still providing a ton of information. Did you know that vibrators were invented in 1869 to treat “hysteria” in women, which was thought to be the womb’s reaction to sexual deprivation. Doctors would use the vibrators to produce “hysterical paroxysm”, known today as an orgasm.

How is it laid out?
The book is separated into 20 chapters, each with several subsections.  The chapters are:

1.  About Good Vibrations
2.  Sexual Self-Image
3.  Sexual Anatomy
4.  Sex Over a Lifetime
5.  Communication
6.  Masturbation
7.  Lubrication
8.  Creative Touching
9.  Oral Sex
10.  Vibrators
11.  Penetration
12.  Dildos
13.  Anal Toys
14.  Fantasies
15.  Books, Magazines, and Videos
16.  World Wide Web
17.  S/M and Power Play
18.  Where Sex Toys Come From
19.  Safer Sex
20.  Censorship

These chapters are sprinkled with illustrations, the most helpful being a comparison of aroused and unaroused vulvae, circumcised and uncircumcised penises, and how to put on a condom.

Is it queer-inclusive?
Good Vibrations has been diligent about including queer sex issues in this volume.  The illustration of fellatio, for example, shows two men instead of a heterosexual couple.  Similarly another image shows two women using a double dildo, which appears to be the Nexus. The book also lists many good resources for queer people and touches on using toys for gender expression.

What is the quality of the information?
There is a lot of great information contained within this book, with the only real glaring error I could find being the suggestion of wearing two condoms at once, which is a very unsafe idea. Besides this statement, the rest of the safer sex chapter is exceptionally well written.

What about toys?
This book is several years old but gives a nod to some classic favorites such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, Rabbit Pearl, Wahl, Eroscillator, Nexus, Fleshlight, and the Tristan anal plug. It refers to cyberskin as one of the “latest” innovations in sex toys. It has helpful information about the maintenance of sex toy materials and unique ways to use these and other similar toys.

Is it worth it?
Absolutely. I don’t think this book was intended to be read cover-to-cover, but it is a well organized go-to manual for many sexual questions or new ways to spice up your sex life.


product picture
Book by Anne Semans / Cathy Winks
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Cleis Press Inc.

June 5, 2009

Shaming of the STI

Posted in 1, sex, Sex Education tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:52 pm by Femme Mystique

Recently I conducted a poll about sexual attitudes within the confines of a sex-positive community I participate in.  The question I posed was this:

Would you have sex with a new partner that confided in you they had an STI (other than HIV)?

I must admit, I was a little surprised and disappointed by the results of the poll.  Of the 42 respondents, an overwhelming 36% percent answered simply that no, if they found out a partner had an STI, they would not have sex with them, protected or otherwise.  Another 55% said that it would depend on which STI their partner had.  With the exclusion of the most harmful STI, HIV, I was unsure which STI’s people were most worried about.

There was some nervousness about cancer causing strains of HPV, but even more so there was quite a bit of worry about herpes.  The herpes virus carries a very low level risk of complications except for genital sores, which are a nuisance but seem to cause many more emotional issues that physical.

The emotional issues can be traced back to the perceived social and moral implications of herpes.  Culturally we are raised to value purity and virginity, so we often see STI’s as a sign of promiscuity and carelessness.  The herpes virus is the same virus that causes cold sores, yet confessing a cold sore often doesn’t cause potential partners to even bat an eye.  I believe that the key here is in the word “genital”, in genital herpes and is the synechologically the same reason for using words like “slut” and “whore” to insult.

Interestingly, the word “pudenda” (you thought it was just a slang term, didn’t you?), which is a somewhat antiquated word referring to a woman’s genitals and presently is the clinical name for a nerve running to the clitoris, derives from a Latin word meaning “to be ashamed” (Source).  It is not hard to see then how our negative attitudes about sex, genitals, and consequently STI’s have persisted.

Unfortunately it seems like healthier attitudes about STI’s are still pretty far off, but I have some hope that things will get better.