2015: Blog Highlights, Favorite Toys, & Future Plans

2015 was a truly amazing year for EROcentric.

I finally decided to take the blog to a more professional level by purchasing my own domain & getting business cards printed. I joined my local Sex Geekdom group. I embarked on my first #SexBloggerVaca, taking a self-organized tour of sex-positive attractions in New York City.  I bonded with members of the #BlogSquad at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit, where I was no longer “the weird sex girl.” I was just Mandi — in all my quiet, socially awkward glory.

I also connected with a ton of really awesome companies. I started reviewing for a few of my lovely affiliates: SheVibe, Tantus, & Peepshow Toys. I wrote additional reviews for Good Clean Love, Traz Rhino, & L’amourose. (On top of continuing reviews for Good Vibrations.)  And I became a new affiliate of both SexyTimeToys & Lovehoney (reviews in the works).

kinkly2015badge

I was selected as Kinkly‘s Sex Blogger of the Month in January. I was named one of their Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes for the second year running. (This time at #26!) And I contributed to their new book, Sex Hacks: Over 100 Tricks, Shortcuts, and Secrets to Set Your Sex Life on Fire, scheduled to be released on January 19th. I was also chosen as one of Beck’s Top 25 Bloggers of 2015. My post, I am a Sex Blogger & I Reject Pseudonymity, was even selected as one of the Top 3 Posts for Elust #70.

I published a total of 61 posts. My most popular of which were…

  • 2015 most popularMy review for the Traz Rhino Sleek & Genesis penis extenders/masturbation sleeves. Although they weren’t right for my partner & I, I’m incredibly happy to see my review helping so many of my readers.
  • Sensation Play: Blindfolds, Hot Wax, and Feathers, Oh My!  where I describe what “sensation play” is — including temperature play & sensory deprivation — and provide a few ideas for how to incorporate it into your sexual activities.
  • And for the second year running, my review of the We-Vibe Thrill. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if this toy is discontinued or not. And it doesn’t matter that it did not work for my anatomy. People are curious about this little smiling dual vibrator. Perhaps We-Vibe should try again??

Although I only started filling my dedicated sex toy storage last year, a few of the drawers are already nearing maximum capacity. And although I have not personally enjoyed several toys, I haven’t run into very many that I would describe as completely abysmal either. Because of this (and in order to remain positive), I’ll simply stick to naming a few of my favorites from 2015. Keep in mind that these are new to me; they are not necessarily new releases.

2015 favorites

  • We-Vibe Tango: Even despite its poor battery life & propensity to die prematurely, this remains my #1 (non-wand) clitoral vibrator. It’s the perfect size for remaining unobtrusive during partnered sex and the deep, rumbly vibrations are a godsend for a power queen like myself.
  • Jopen Key Comet II: This was the first toy to really make my G-spot sing. The swooping curve & bulbous head (along with the added vibrations) provide intense stimulation that, when rolled side-to-side over my G-spot, overwhelms my body with pleasure. This toy helps bring me to incredibly strong blended orgasms, and I see it remaining a favorite of mine for years to come.
  • Good Clean Love – Almost Naked: Not a toy, but an important sexual tool nonetheless. I described this lubricant as “gloriously squishy” and was super impressed with its magical, gravity-defying staying power. It has quickly surpassed all other water-based lubricants in my arsenal and I doubt that I will ever be without a tube.

What’s in store for 2016?

2016 upcoming reviewsFirst of all, I’m going to work really hard to catch up on my pending reviews, including: the Luxe Mio by Blush Novelties, the Perfect Plug Kit by Tantus, Lovehoney’s Main Squeeze Heavy Double Kegel Balls, and the Rosa Rouge & Prism VII by L’amourose. There’s also a few other self-purchased toys that I have neglected to review in the last year, but still really want to rave about.

I’m going to try again to record my orgasms & sexual activity, which will hopefully lead to a very nerdy infographic post in another year’s time. I would also like to get back to writing more non-review posts, which I took a bit of a break from during 2015. I’m still considering doing videos as well…if I ever find my bravery.

Most of all, I want to continue to put myself out there and get more involved in the sex-positive community — both locally & globally. I’m starting my own sex & gender book/film club with a few like-minded friends. I would like to find an organization where I could volunteer while I am figuring out how to achieve my more professional goals. I plan on attending some local kink meet-ups & workshops. I really want to try a pole dancing class. And of course, I’m looking forward to attending Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2016 (and perhaps even Kinky Kollege).

Here’s to another year of shamelessly writing about sex! 

I am a Sex Blogger & I Reject Pseudonymity

The last time that I was visiting my parents’ home, my mom and I got onto the topic of sex toys. For some of you with sex-positive parents, that might seem normal. For others, it might be horrifically uncomfortable to imagine. For me, it’s both. There was not an open dialogue about sex while I was growing up, and, not surprisingly, my mom disagrees with many of my current beliefs about sexuality. But our relationship is one of friendship. We talk about nearly everything, and considering that EROcentric has become a rather large part of my life, what I do here is not off limits.

During this particular conversation, she turned to me with a look of utter confusion. “I just don’t understand. I mean…is this just your thing?!” She meant the question in a rather amusing ‘Do you have a fetish for sex toys?’ sort of way, and I tried to explain to her that it’s about so much more than just a sexual response. It’s about discovering my body, taking control of my sexual pleasure, even enhancing the sexual connection that I share with my partner. But I get the distinct impression that she still struggles with the same question in a much larger sense.

Why do I do this? Why do I think that talking about sex is so important that I have decided to openly write about such things on a public blog? 

I do it because sexuality is my passion. Because I believe that we should not be afraid to talk about sex or be ashamed of our own desires. 

As someone who harbored a lot of sexual shame growing up (largely due to a lack of accurate sex education), I want to help educate others & normalize sexuality— of all safe & consensual varieties, including the right to not engage in any/all sexual activity. In my perfect world, sexual stigma would cease to exist. Blogging is one way that I strive to turn that dream into a reality.

It has been my personal conviction that as I am advocating for shame-free sexuality, I must not remain anonymous. No, I don’t share my full legal name on my blog or blast my personal Facebook account with my latest blog posts. I recognize & respect the fact that not everyone in my life would be comfortable with or open to the topics that I discuss here. But if someone I know (who is not already in the know) comes across this website, they will see my first name & my photograph, and they will recognize me instantly. And that is okay.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing support system, a progressive employer, and career goals in the very field of which I write about: sexuality. It’s important to me that, because I am in the perfect position to do so, I take this opportunity to publicly demonstrate a commitment to sex positivity as best as I can.

I won’t lie. There are still days when I question my decision. I get anxious at the thought of everyone I know finding out about this “double life” of mine. I worry that what I write will someday hinder my professional aspirations — even in a relevant field. I fear that online harassment may someday cross the line into reality, posing very serious threats to myself and those I love.

But then I recall the times when friends have come to me, asking questions and revealing intimate secrets because of something that I have written. I feel that by sharing my sexual knowledge (including my experiences & insecurities) in a way that shows that I am not ashamed…it helps facilitate the open dialogue that I aspire to create in the world.

Of course, none of this is to depreciate the work of my fellow sex bloggers who do choose to remain anonymous or use a pen name. I believe that all of us are changing the world in fantastic ways, and I understand that this is by no means the right choice for everyone; it may not even be a viable option.

The debate surrounding online privacy, professionalism, & sexuality is complex and I don’t claim to have the answers. Who knows, perhaps some day I will regret my decision. But for now, I am proud to proclaim…

 I am a sex blogger. And girls do too masturbate.

Reflections & Goals of a Novice Sex Blogger

2014 was my first complete year as a sex blogger, and I must say that it has been a very exciting & positive experience. I’ve learned a lot — about sex, writing, the internet, and best of all, myself. I’ve discovered a lot of amazingly talented & brilliant bloggers who inspire me on a daily basis. And I’ve made some satisfying progress towards several of my goals (including a few that seemed really far-fetched).

If you’re new to EROcentric, here’s a bit of a recap…

I published a total of 49 blog posts this year, which was very close to my original goal of one-a-week. My most popular were…

  • We-Vibe Thrill charge6 BDSM Principles That Vanilla Couples Should Followwhere I exalt the basic tenets of healthy BDSM involvement as aspects that would benefit any intimate relationship.
  • My review for the (discontinued) We-Vibe Thrill, which was my first dual stimulation toy. Unfortunately, it continues to spend most of its life in the back of my toy drawer.
  • I also received an overwhelming amount of support on Confession: My Sex Life Isn’t Perfect. It was a difficult post for me to write, but I’m really glad that it has touched other people on such a personal level.

I got really serious about body-safe sex toys this year. I tossed out my old, questionable items and started building a collection that I could trust. In just one year, I’ve added approximately 20 new toys — outgrowing our nightstands & necessitating the addition of dedicated storage-space in our bedroom. And while I didn’t feel like I had completed enough reviews to make a Best & Worst of 2014 post, I did have a couple of favorites.

DSC03104-2

  • The Hitachi Original Magic Wand continues to be my go-to vibrator for effortless multiple orgasms. It’s perfect for when I need quick stress relief, or when I’m simply struggling to reach my peak. Plus, it makes for great back massages.
  • I have also fallen madly in love with Tantus. Their G-Spot “Vibrator” was the first toy that stimulated my G-spot without being uncomfortable to insert or thrust. And their Ripple (small) plug proved to me that anal play can be very pleasurable.
  • Last but not least, the Shunga Massage Candle has become a bedroom essential for my partner & I. It’s such a simple item, but it’s one of my absolute favorites for sensation play.

topbloggers_2014_large_tIf you’ve been following me elsewhere on the internet, you might have noticed that I finally started an Instagram account. (Full of sex toys, cats, books, & the occasional photo of yours truly.) You may also recall that back in October, I asked my readers to consider voting for Kinkly‘s second annual list of Sex Blogger Superheroes. I was very honored (and surprised) to come in at #33 on their Top 100 list this year. This was by far my biggest accomplishment, and one that nearly had me in tears of joy!

When I wasn’t working on the blog (or at my job), I tried to go on as many adventures with my partner as possible. Our biggest trip this year was to Austin, TX where I became extremely jealous of their liberal atmosphere. We visited a couple of awesome sex stores (my favorite of which was Forbidden Fruit) and witnessed an amazing performance of Bedpost Confessions, where Holly Lorka told a crowded room about discovering her pornstar vagina. It was an experience that had me laughing until I was crying, and it inspired me to be more open about my own sexual experiences.

In my academic hiatus, I’ve also discovered the amazing world of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and have become a total sex nerd. So far, I’ve completed Saylor’s Gender and Sexuality course, as well as two classes through Coursera (Contraception: Choices, Culture, & Consequences and Abortion: Quality Care & Public Health Implications). I’ve enjoyed reading articles and taking notes way too much.

What’s in store for 2015?

upcomingReviews are one of the easiest, most stress-free posts for me to write… and with a recent family illness, I desperately need that lack of pressure. So first and foremost, I plan to start the year by focusing on reviewing more items. (This is not to say that I will stop writing educational and advice-oriented guides — only that those posts may be delayed while I cope with other stressors.) I’ve got a few amazing toys that I really need to gush over (pun intended), and many others that need more experimentation.

As the year progresses, I look forward to working with more awesome companies, testing more products, and (as inspired by Sexologist Vixenne’s 365 Days of Orgasm) keeping track of my orgasms along the way.

One of my biggest goals for the new year is to put myself out there & become more active in the sex blogging community. In the last couple of days, I’ve taken small steps by creating accounts on both Tumblr and Pinterest. I was also lucky enough to be chosen as Kinkly’s Sex Blogger of the Month for January. In the coming months, I plan to participate in more blog memes and round-ups (specifically Toy With Me Tuesday & Elust). Who knows, I may even start utilizing my Youtube channel.

Professionally, I want to make 2015 the year of serious grad school preparation. I’m going to start working through my GRE practice tests and contacting individuals for advice. Ideally, I’d like to make a couple of campus visits this year as well. If I can schedule those visits around a sexuality conference or two, that would be especially awesome. (I’m leaning towards CatalystCon or Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit at the moment.)

I want to thank all of my readers, and my fellow bloggers, for all the support you have given me. Here’s to more amazing adventures and learning experiences as we enter the new year. xox

What I’ve Learned in 1 Year of Blogging

November 10th marked my one-year blogiversary here at EROcentric. When I started this blog, it was for several reasons. First and foremost, my life passion is in educating others about sex in a shame-free and sex positive fashion. By pushing myself to explain topics in accurate and accessible ways, I also knew that I would further my own education. I looked forward to improving my writing skills by working on (near) weekly posts, and I was excited to connect with others in the sex blogging and sex education community.

Living in an area that fears comprehensive sex education & lacks sex toy retailers who value body-safety, my opportunities to meet with like-minded individuals and further my professional career are very limited. The blog was my opportunity to do what I love and to be the person I truly am. But to be honest…I had no idea just how much EROcentric would change my life for the better.

I am even MORE comfortable talking about all things sex.

I’m a big proponent of making sex normal, of doing away with these silly societal taboos over something that (almost) all of us do for some reason or another at some point in our lives. Before starting this blog, I thought that I was comfortable discussing sex. But perspectives that differed from my own were still hard to wrap my head around. Working on these posts, pushing myself to fully comprehend & then explain intimate topics…it’s brought my comfort to a whole new level. (In fact, I sometimes forget that not everyone is as nonchalant about such discussions now!) I am grateful that this experience continues to broaden my mind, giving me a better idea of what it truly means to be “sex positive.”

I have an amazing group of friends & family that accept me and support my endeavors.

I have recently “come out” as a sex blogger to a select group of friends…and the response has been overwhelmingly positive! Many have expressed delight in how informative and yet conversational I am here. A few have even entrusted me with their intimate concerns or questions. Mostly, there has been appreciation that I have found happiness and meaning in my life.

I also recognize that many potential partners would be uncomfortable with my area of interest, and I am immensely lucky to have found a man that is so supportive. He is always lurking behind the scenes here at EROcentric. He listens to me babble and helps me brainstorm, he proofreads my posts, and he’s almost always up for trying new things — for science! Most importantly, he celebrates every new milestone by my side (albeit with less jumping and squealing).

However, the most surprising response has been from my family. When I first started this blog, I called my mom to give her a friendly warning. “Just wanted to tell you that I’m starting a blog about gender and sexuality. So if someone comes up to you and asks, ‘Did you know that Mandi is writing about dildos on the internet?!’ you can smile and nod instead of stare at them in shock.” Her response was a somewhat uncomfortable but genuine laugh, and it helped me to finally stop hiding my true self around my family.

I am sexy! 

I’ve struggled with body image issues my entire life. To be perfectly honest, I’m a pro at holding myself to ridiculous (and surprisingly tenacious) standards. Never in a million years would I have guessed that my interest in sex and gender would help to change that.

Since diving into this field of study, I have been introduced to so many amazing books, blog posts, documentaries, and adult videos that I have finally come to the conclusion that sexy is a state-of-mind. “Sexy” is in confidence and sexual knowledge. It’s in recognizing that everyone’s bodies are unique…and that yours deserves love. I know that putting an end to the hateful little voice in my head is going to be difficult, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m making real progress. This year, I’ve discovered ways to truly love my vulva and found the bravery to open up about my insecurities for my affiliate, Good Vibrations, and their #SexyAtEverySize project. I look forward to a time when maybe I won’t turn down sex because I feel “fat.”

I can make much more educated sex toy purchases. 

While this may seem trivial at first, its importance lies in the broader fact that I am discovering what feels pleasurable to me. I have learned so much in just the last year! I have become an expert in locating my G-spot and can testify that blended orgasms are amazing. I know that my butt prefers beads to plugs, that my clitoris and vagina are too far apart for most dual stimulation toys, and that my pubic bone is very skilled at trapping toys behind it in a rather painful fashion. I understand that regretful sex toy purchases are hard to avoid (and I’m sure that I’ll still make a few), but it’s nice to look at some toys and instantly know that they’re not worth my time.

I’m a firm believer in the usefulness of sex toys on the path of sexual discovery. I vividly remember my adolescence, when any pleasure I felt from masturbation was quickly replaced with guilt and shame. I’ve come a long way since then. Experimenting with various toys (and finding the words to summarize my experiences) has really helped give me a sense of pride in knowing my body.

I am the owner of my sexuality.

Similar to the comfort and newfound knowledge that I experience with solo pleasure, I am also much more at ease with my partner. I can more easily discuss my sexual needs and, therefore, I feel much more in control of my sexuality now. I understand that there is nothing shameful in my sexual fantasies, and also that I am not “broken” for experiencing a low libido.

I’m realizing that “sex” can have several different meanings and happen for many different reasons…and that every experience may not always be in the top 10. (Although I still struggle with putting too much importance on orgasm.) This entire journey has forced me to closely examine the ways that I approach sexuality. It has made me more open and uninhibited, and my relationship has definitely benefitted from that transformation.

Looking forward…

I’m very excited to see what improvements and epiphanies the next year of blogging will hold. I anticipate that writing will come even more easily to me, and that I will further explore the topic of sexuality in a variety of new ways. In my personal life, I hope to continue to grow into a better, more confident & sex positive, person. And for my lovely readers… I sincerely hope that something I have to say will benefit you and your future sexual experiences.