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.


  • 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

IU Sexploration – Fall 2013 (Part Two)

Incase you missed it, I discuss anthropologist Helen Fisher, erotic photographer Barbara Nitke, & “hooking up” in Part One.

11/4 – Dr. Kand McQueen: Breaking the Gender Dichotomy: Why Two Are Definitely Not Enough

McQueen is a public speaker spreading knowledge & societal acceptance of individuals who do not neatly fit into the categories of “male” or “female” in sex and/or gender. At this event, McQueen presented a brief overview of different transgender identities that people often confuse: cross dressers (dress as opposite sex), drag queens/kings (perform/entertain as opposite sex), gender queer (identify as neither, both, or moving between sex/gender), and transsexual (identify as the opposite sex).

Transsexual rights, or the lack thereof, were also addressed. McQueen shared stories that broke my heart; terrible injustices done to human beings simply because their gender wasn’t male OR female. For example, Robert Eads, whose experience was documented in the film Southern Comfort, was a female-to-male transsexual individual diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Because of societal concerns, over two dozen doctors denied him treatment, allowing the cancer to spread and cause his death. Unfortunately, his story is but one of many.

Despite the fact that intersex condition rates may be as high as 1 in every 100, the rights of intersex individuals are rarely talked about. McQueen addressed them directly. For those unfamiliar with the term, “intersex” is used when chromosomal or anatomical variation occurs, complicating the biological distinction between male or female. Historically, doctors have often been the ones to decide which sex the child should be raised as…and their decisions have not always been healthy for the children in question. For years, biological boys born with what is called a “micropenis” (exactly what it sounds like) would have their penis and testicles amputated and be raised as girls. Doctors would then advise parents to keep this a secret, even from their child. Talk about being confused about what’s happening with your body. Plus, early surgery like this can drastically reduce genital sensitivity, robbing individuals of sexual pleasure — for life!

Overall, McQueen’s keynote address (including personal narrative) promoted education, acceptance, and social justice in a very candid and accessible manner. For a thought provoking experience on gender identity, I would highly suggest attending or scheduling a talk by Dr. Kand McQueen.

11/20 – How to Survive a Plague (Screening and Q&A with director David France)

If you keep up to date on film news, you may have heard about this Oscar-nominated documentary on the AIDS epidemic. How to Survive a Plague follows two New York-based organizations, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and TAG (Treatment Action Group), and their fight to find an effective treatment for HIV/AIDS.  First-time director David France had just moved into NY when the epidemic began. Although he never contracted HIV himself, he dedicated this film to the lover that he lost to the disease. Combining his own footage with clips from media coverage and other members in ACT UP & TAG, France created a raw portrayal of minority struggle and community activism.

As part of a generation that was born in the middle of the AIDS crisis, I wholeheartedly believe that every 20-something should see this movie. It’s a part of history that should not be forgotten, but yet the story has ceased to be told. Growing up, I never heard about how the government largely ignored AIDS until it was out of control and had already killed thousands. I never knew how many people in positions of power openly spoke out against AIDS victims like they didn’t even deserve to live. And I never saw the diversity of people affected or involved, because in the rural Midwest “AIDS is a gay man’s disease.” (This still seems widely believed, despite the fact that globally, more than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS are women.)

AIDS awareness and prevention continue to be overlooked in sex education and the media. That condoms don’t protect against HIV or that AIDS can be transmitted through saliva — or even by shaking hands — are just some of the still prevalent paranoid myths. On the other hand, some complacent individuals view AIDS as a battle that has already been won. (The NY Times recently reported on the increased rates of unprotected sex among gay men and how this nonchalance may factor in.) The sad truth is this: there is no vaccine and millions die every year because they cannot access or afford treatment. Despite the need to focus on prevention instead of damage control, I almost never hear about the amazing new discoveries that have been made or are still developing, like the pre- and post- exposure prophylaxis or the contraceptive vaginal ring with HIV and herpes protection that is scheduled for clinical testing in 2014.

If you have Netflix, How to Survive a Plague is available for streaming at the time of this post. Watch it. Learn about the amazing activists who made a difference. If you feel inspired, check to see if an ACT UP chapter or another organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS is near you.

IU Sexploration – Fall 2013 (Part One)

Each year, the Kinsey Institute partners with various student organizations and health services to provide students (and the greater community) with a series of events that celebrate knowledge of sexuality & gender. Different from years past, Indiana University’s 6th annual Sexploration was spread out over two months, making it much easier to attend.  (I still couldn’t go to everything, but I was so close.) While I’m awaiting next year, here’s a recap of my Sexploration 2013 experience.

10/1- Dr. Helen Fisher: Lust, Romance, Attachment: The Drive to Love & Who We Choose

Fisher is an anthropologist who studies love and attraction. She has written several books, including Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. She also works closely with to develop questionnaires that utilize science for finding romantic compatibility.

Fisher has derived 4 styles of human thought/behavior from compounds present in all of us: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, & estrogen/oxytocin. Forming these groups from common traits, she has observed attraction trends. (Ex: The estrogen/oxytocin group, “negotiators,” are described as intuitive and empathetic. They are generally attracted to “directors” from the testosterone group, who are ambitious and competitive.)

She also distinguishes between 3 separate drives: lust/libido, romantic attraction, and attachment. This reminded me a lot of Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, but Fisher did not use these drives to gauge the strength of a relationship. Instead, she states that while they can occur within a single pairing, a relationship may also be formed on only one or two drives. Individuals may have separate partners to meet separate needs. And a relationship can evolve in any order. (What starts as “friends with benefits” may lead to an exclusive relationship and vice versa.)

Although her recent work on personality traits kept my attention, I am much more intrigued by her older research on love from an evolutionary perspective — which unfortunately wasn’t the focus of this lecture. However, if you want to find out what style you might be, offers a free questionnaire. And if you would like to learn more about Fisher’s work in general, she has done some excellent TED talks.

10/10- Barbara Nitke: American Ecstasy: A Photographic Look Behind the Scenes of the Golden Age of Porn

Nitke began her artistic career on porn sets in the early 1980s, taking promotional photos. In between scenes, she began to focus on the reality of adult film instead of what the promo materials idealized, taking photos of stars in un-airconditioned rooms (which interfered with sound quality) or moments of boredom. She later worked for mail-order fetish companies, where many previously mainstream porn stars transferred during the AIDS epidemic. This work led to her involvement with the Eulenspiegel Society where she met real-life couples to photograph more intimately.

As a fan of Nitke’s work, I was very excited for this event. She talked about her career while showing beautiful photographs from her new book American Ecstasy, her first book Kiss of Fire: A Romantic View of Sadomasochism, and other unpublished collections. When she showed her work on body suspensions, there was an audible gasp from the audience and I could feel the discomfort around me. Without missing a beat, Nitke provided a very positive and candid explanation of endorphins and the experience of pleasurable pain within a trusting environment/relationship.

Perhaps what I most appreciate about Nitke and her work is how open she is to different behaviors and ideas. She is a respectful observer, motivated by genuine curiosity, who explores sexuality through her camera. If you are interested in Nitke’s erotic photography, she offers substantial previews on her website.

10/14- Sex Ed: A Real Conversation About Sexual Hookups in College

Dr. Justin R. Garcia and Dr. Kristen Jozkowski led a very rewarding discussion on hookups. With the help of the application PollEv, the audience could even anonymously interact. Despite the fact that 65-85% of college students are “hooking up,” it quickly became clear that the term is very ambiguous. Some define it with intercourse, while others argue that kissing or touching warrants the same title. The only consistent factor is the context; lack of romantic commitment. (Although some do wonder if hookups are becoming the new first date.)

For sex positive individuals, the problem is not casual sex. The problem is a lack of communication about both pleasure and consent. In a hookup, individuals (especially women) are more uncomfortable communicating what they desire and what they find pleasurable. A gender gap also divides what people are comfortable doing in a hookup, with women being somewhat less comfortable with all activities compared to males. (Men, however, are reported as disproportionately uncomfortable giving oral sex.) When comfort levels are down, so are reports of sexual satisfaction.

More important is the issue of consent. Men and women interpret expressions of consent differently. While women use and expect verbal consent, men often use and rely on non-verbal cues such as body language. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where one person, expecting to be explicitly asked for their consent before having intercourse, continues along what the other person interprets as the “all clear.” Add in alcohol and this miscommunication gets much more pronounced, possibly attributing to the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses.

So how do we fix this? A simple answer is for women to speak up, and for men to verbally ask for consent. But this isn’t so easy for a lot of people. In our society, women are still not supposed to enjoy sex or demand their own pleasure. A persistent fear of “ruining the mood” by asking questions also exists. We need to assure ourselves and others that sex should be a pleasurable experience for all involved, and that everyone has equal rights within a sexual encounter. 

If you’re interested in more of the current research about hooking up, Jozkowski wrote a wonderful supplementary article about consent at Kinsey Confidential, The NY Times recently reported on the lack of female pleasure in particular, and ScienceDaily shared some of the reasons behind hookup behavior.

I review the documentary ‘How to Survive a Plague’ & Dr. Kand McQueen’s discussion on gender in Part Two.

From Purity to Pleasure: My Struggle to Embrace Sexuality

Looking back, I can practically pinpoint the moment when what I was taught about sex would either a) need a major overhaul or b) become disastrous. I was home from college, naked and fooling around with my high school sweetheart, begging him to have sex with me. I was literally begging despite the fact that we didn’t have any protection and we had both promised years before to wait until we got married. Once the fog of lust had cleared from my mind, and I got over the pain & embarrassment of having my advances (thankfully) denied, what remained was fear. At that moment, I was terribly afraid of my own sexual desire and I was too ashamed to share that fear with anyone.

I grew up in a rural area, attended a public school that was governed by conservative politics, and went to church every Sunday with my mom. I never remember having a sex talk with either her or my dad. And what I recall of my “sexual education” mostly consists of scare tactics about STIs in 7th grade Home Economics. Somehow, without ever having a real discussion about sex, the expectation was still clear: I should not have sex until I get married. Looking back, there was always something that bothered me about the black & white thinking that I was raised with.

If I’m supposed to be ashamed and afraid of sex now, how do I magically overcome those emotions on my wedding night? Will I be able to find a guy who also wants to wait? Should I expect him to? Are we still abstinent if we have oral sex? What about if we touch each other’s genitals? Where is the line that transforms me from virgin to whore? 

Even though I was curious about these things, it was simply easier at the time to ignore the grey areas that nobody else mentioned. I bought and wore a purity ring for the next 7 years of my life, but I never had a serious discussion with my boyfriends (or myself) about what was sexually acceptable and what was not—besides the fact that intercourse was obviously off the table. When we’d become more sexually intimate than we had before, my reaction (after the initial pleasure) was often one of guilt, shame, and tears. I would insist that we needed to “back off,” but it never failed that I’d find myself right back in that pit of self-shaming again and again.

As I entered my 20s I defined my brand of abstinence as simply not engaging in vaginal or anal intercourse, but my devotion to the entire idea was waning. If I only had sex with the man that I knew I was going to marry, would it really matter if we waited until our wedding night? That would hardly make me a “whore” when compared to many other individuals. …But did the fact that I had intense sexual desire mean that I was no longer a “good girl” either? This unclear (and unhealthy) view of sexuality led to the previously mentioned irresponsible and immature begging, as well as several arguments that helped put an end to my relationship.

When I think back on that moment, I cringe at the thought of how badly my ignorance could have affected my life. But I also know that the problem wasn’t that I wanted sex—that was natural. The problem was that I wasn’t educated. I wasn’t educated on how to keep my body safe, how to create a self-image that was independent of my sexual activity, or how to confidently (and respectfully) communicate my desires to my partner.

So how did I go from that confused & naive virgin to the woman I am now, passionate about helping others break down the walls of their sexual repression?! I removed my purity ring as a symbol of removing all past influences and I finally took control of my own sexuality. I started educating myself by reading everything I could get my hands on: sexual anatomy/response, reproduction, contraception, various sexual desires & activities, etc. I was exposed to different views on sex, most importantly those of the sex positive movement. I also entered into a loving relationship that continues to provide me with a safe space for (s)exploration. Slowly and with much continuing effort, I have been able to redefine my beliefs so that my pleasure is no longer something to be feared or ashamed of, but something to own and enjoy.