Browsing posts from the category Musings


Sep
20

The amazing, snappy, one-handed condom

It’s so simple, so ingenious, it’s surprising nobody has thought of it before: a condom that can be safely and easily opened with one hand. Designer Benjamin Pawle came up with the idea as part of his two-part “Preserving Human Dignity” project, which seeks to empower those with hemiplegia — a disorder that causes paralysis on one side of the body — in performing common tasks at different stages of life.

Transformation Game, the first part of Pawle’s project, is a fun and interactive set of wool squares that can be buttoned together to complete a unique outfit. It is meant to teach children with hemiplegia how to work with buttons. The second part of the project addresses sexual maturity, presenting a solution to the difficulty of opening a condom with one hand.

The outer wrapper of the One-Handed Condom is made of foil, with a perforated seam and small ridge along the front. The wrapper is lined on the inside with a thin plastic membrane which protects the condom from damage. Opening the condom is about as easy as snapping your fingers — and just as quick. After watching this, I guarantee you will wish you had a One-Handed Condom to impress your next sexual partner with:

Pawle reports that those testing his condom found it not just easy to open, but enjoyable. And that was his aim:

The wrapper has been designed to exploit the moment of opening, trying to make it as smooth in real life as the rose tinted vision in your head. The design of the new wrapper focuses on the gesture of opening and how this can add charm to the action . . . something that is positive and captivating in a way; a mood enhancing tool and next generation contraceptive experience.

Of course, a condom wrapper like this could be beneficial to tons and tons of people, not just those with hemiplegia. Let’s hope Pawle can take this design even further, because if it ever made it to full production, it could positively impact many lives.

The One-Handed Condom is currently on display with the rest of the Preserving Human Dignity project at the Victoria & Albert Museum as part of the London Design Festival.

  Musings      , ,  
Aug
5

Kickstart Tobi Hill-Meyer’s next project

Tobi Hill-Meyer, winner of the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards and director of Doing It Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project, now has an even bigger project in her sights: an epic two-volume follow-up movie called Doing it Again: In Depth.

Doing it Again: In Depth will be partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign that ends on Wednesday morning. The campaign has already hit its initial goal, as well as two extra goals that will pay for original music and subtitles, but Hill-Meyer is hoping to raise more in order to make the result even better.

Doing it Again: In Depth will be an erotic documentary from Handbasket Productions that includes interviews with trans women and their partners, plus explicit sex scenes. The importance of a movie like this is clear. As Hill-Meyer explains,

Stereotypes and prejudices around trans women’s sexuality influence public policy, access to healthcare, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, “trans-panic” defenses in murder trials, and so much more . . . The goal of this project is to create depictions of real humanity and allow trans women to take control over how their sexuality is portrayed.

Tempting rewards for Kickstarter backers include signed DVDs, handwritten thank you notes, behind the scenes access, exclusive footage, and even a tea date with Tobi herself! Plus, if you pledge $25 or more, you can get a free ticket to Seattle burlesque show Debauchery!

The Kickstarter campagin ends this Wednesday, August 8th at 9 a.m. EDT, so don’t delay if you want to contribute!

Handbasket Productions is also looking for folks to participate in the film, especially straight trans women, trans women with male partners, trans women of color, people of color of any gender and trans status, and people over 40. If possible, it’s best to apply as a pair. Handbasket Productions is based in Seattle, so Portlanders probably have a greater chance of being cast. Apply today if you are interested! We can’t wait to see the final product.

Jul
27

Finding empowerment at Madison Moone’s burlesque class

When Madison Moone approached us in 2010 about teaching burlesque classes at the shop, we loved her immediately. Madison is a very busy lady; when she’s not strutting her stuff on stage, she runs a private music lesson studio and volunteer teaches for the nonprofit organization Street Yoga. She is also the co-producer of Orchestre L’Pow! burlesque shows: Dames and Games and Big Time! Burlesque.

Thankfully, she found time to develop several different classes that she teaches for us on a regular basis. We think her classes are fantastic, but there’s nothing quite like the experience of someone who took a class themselves. So we were excited when we saw that Anne Glisan, a suburban mom, took one of Madison’s classes and wrote about how much she enjoyed it.

Glisan signed up for the class in hopes of exploring a previously dormant fascination with burlesque — and learning how to put “a little extra sass” in her relationship. She was not disappointed!

. . . Ms. Moon handed me a riding crop as a prop as the music started and I could feel the internal shift as I found my character. I swept around the room, stopping to show off a leg, a little bump and a playful swat of the crop. I felt powerful and sexy and amazing — not at all like I just rolled in from the ‘burbs. I even forgot I was wearing rolled up yoga pants. Man, I thought, all those carpool moms should try this out at least once. I was going home a changed woman.

My favorite part of the class was how a rather motley assortment of women, all strangers, came together and supported each other in getting their groove on. I didn’t feel awkward or self-conscious . . . I left feeling empowered and with a big smile on my face. There’s nothing wrong with a little character development and I can now be found practicing the basic components while cleaning, washing dishes, carrying items up and down the stairs; you can find me floating my arms or strutting across a room, briefly stopping to take a pose. It makes me feel more graceful and I carry myself differently. Sexy and classy.

Be sure to read the rest of the piece, as it’s a great run-down of how Madison’s classes go and what they can bring out in folks. In fact, a sense of empowerment is exactly what Madison hopes to bestow on participants in her classes. We asked her about her philosophy and why she loves performing and teaching burlesque. She explained:

For many years I worked as a pin up model and during that time I grew tired of being molded and shaped in someone else’s image. I came to burlesque in search of a way to have ownership over my body, my sexuality and my creative voice. Every step and every move I make on stage is intentional, it’s because I wanted the audience to see it and not because it is what I thought they wanted to see. This perspective is at the heart of every single class I teach. Being sexy and feeling sexy happens at the core of our being, it’s not something to be grasped at from outside of ourselves.

Madison’s confidence and conviction shine through in everything that she does. Here she is performing “Utter Delight” at the Big Time Burlesque: Exotic Summer Adventure show in June, making even cows and buckets sexy!

If you’re interested in learning burlesque from Madison, you’re in luck! Her next class for us, Exploring Burlesque: Striptease Salon, is happening in September.

In the mean time, you can also pick up The Burlesque Handbook and peruse our selection of pasties for ideas and inspiration.

Jul
20

Kink, pop culture, and feminism collide

The popularity of the BDSM-laden Fifty Shades of Grey series has created a lot of buzz lately about the “mainstreaming” of BDSM and kink. Perhaps as as response to all this new and interesting dialogue, Bitch created the “Thinking Kink” series on their blog. Launched in June, the “Thinking Kink” series highlights the ways in which BDSM is portrayed in pop culture — and what these depictions mean for feminism.

The series begins with an introductory post, which explains:

I want to look at whether BDSM’s infiltration of the mainstream media is a feminist triumph, a positive move for the kink community, or just a wallet-fattener for studio execs. I want to examine how BDSM runs the risk of being hijacked to forward anti-feminist agendas, and consider if its appearance in the media serves to bolster or dismantle rape culture, or simply give us all some entertaining PVC-clad escapism . . . I’d especially like to know if it’s possible for there to be an empowered representation of women who choose to be submissive, rather than the standard tropes of women in BDSM either being victims or dominatrixes.

The subsequent post dismantles common myths about BDSM. Then the series delves into more specific territory, with a post about the portrayal of BDSM in Sex in the City and a critique of the 30 Seconds to Mars video “Hurricane.” There are less pop culture-y posts, too, like this pair on the meaning of female submission: “Does Female Submission Mean Oppression?” and the counter-argument, “No, Female Submission Doesn’t Mean Oppression.” Male submission and masculinity are addressed and analyzed, as are female dominants and switches. The series has also discussed the meaning of the word “vanilla” and the importance of safewords.

Then, of course, there is a review of Secretary, the boundary-breaking 2002 movie depicting the blossoming of a D/s relationship (pictured).

Throughout the posts, there are abundant quotes from many great authors and bloggers, like Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (authors of the The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book), Jay Wiseman (author of SM 101), Midori (author of Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink), Cliff PervocracyClarisse Thorn, and Mollena Williams.

Follow the series (which is still ongoing) using Bitch‘s Sex and Sexuality category.

  Musings      , ,  
Jun
19

iPhone apps to improve your life!

It seems like there’s an app for everything these days, but sometimes that can be a good thing when the app serves a useful purpose! That’s why these two really cool — and functional — iPhone apps caught our eye.

We wrote about how doing kegels can help improve your sex life, but sometimes it can be hard to remember to do them. So we appreciate Kegel Camp (amazing name!), an app that helps you get into the daily groove of exercising your PC muscles. It’s $1.99 and will lead you with voice cues through a whopping 20 levels, beginning with slower and fewer repetitions and building to more challenging exercises. Our favorite feature is that you can set a daily alert so you’ll never forget to get in your kegels!

Another really great app we found is called TranSquat. TranSquat is $2.99 and uses your phone’s current GPS location to help you find gender neutral bathrooms in your vicinity. We couldn’t help but notice that the screenshot of the app in action shows locations in Portland (and places we heart, like the Q Center and In Other Words!). TranSquat is powered by data from safe2pee, a nationwide gender neutral bathroom directory, but app users can add new locations, along with directions, comments, and even photos. That’s pretty amazing.

Do you know of other apps that make your life — sex and otherwise — easier? What’s your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

  Musings      ,  
Jun
11

Jimmyjane and sophisticated sex toy design

Jimmyjane is one of the most recognizable names in luxury sex toys, and that certainly didn’t happen by accident. In a great article from The Atlantic, the author peels back the curtain on the Jimmyjane enterprise, using it as a springboard to muse about the influence that thoughtful sex toy technology and design can have on the way people view the role of sex toys in their lives.

The founder of Jimmyjane, Ethan Imboden, holds an electrical engineering degree and a master’s in industrial design. For a while, he designed consumer products such as cell phones and electric toothbrushes. But when a potential client asked him about designing a sex toy, Imboden took a fateful trip to the Adult Novelty Manufacturers Expo. It was ten years ago, and most sex toys were not exactly glamorous. He found himself bombarded with

. . . a gaudy display of “severed anatomy, goofy animals, and penis-pump flashing-lights kind of stuff,” Imboden recalled.

. . . Imboden was inspired. “As soon as I saw past the fact that in front of me happened to be two penises fused together at the base, I realized that I was looking at the only category of consumer product that had yet to be touched by design,” Imboden said. “It’s as if the only food that had been available was in the candy aisle, like Dum Dums and Twizzlers, where it’s really just about a marketing concept and a quick rush and very little emphasis on nourishment and real enjoyment. The category had been isolated by the taboo that surrounded it. I figured, I can transcend that.”

So Imboden worked his way into the scene, sparking conversations about sex toys at dinner parties, pitching his idea to investors, asking his mother’s opinion on his sex toy descriptions (“Ethan, you handled the anus beautifully,” she replied), sneaking a 24-carat gold-plated vibrator into the hands of Snoop Dogg, and convincing Sharper Image to put the Form 6 on its shelves.

Jimmyjane is an innovator. They were the first to use white packaging, despite resistance from retailers who thought customers would be put off by it. They were the first to invent candles with a melting point that matched body temperature. And they are changing the way people see sex toys, along with other luxury brands like LELO and Je Joue.

The article also includes an interlude on the history of the vibrator, and some interesting quotes from people in the biz about sex toys becoming more mainstream. It’s a fantastic read, so go check it out!

Jun
8

Art depicts the true shape of the clitoris

The clitoris looks a bit like a penguin. But most people don’t know that.

Outside of the body, the clitoris is just a small nub with a hood. Internally, it turns out, it has two wishbone-like arms and a pair of extended bulbs. Until recently, those bulbs were thought to belong to the vagina. The clitoris also has ten times more erectile tissue than we thought.

Seattle artist Lynn Schirmer wants to get the word out about all this. She’s the creator of The After Dinner Party, an art exhibition which includes contributions from over 20 artists from around the world. Art pieces include a huge inflatable clitoris, a neon sign in the shape of a clitoris, and an entrancing M.C. Escher-like sculpture of a penis perpetually entering a vagina.

Schirmer’s exhibition is, of course, not the first to examine female genitalia. In fact, its name is derived from Judy Chicago’s 1970s installation The Dinner Party, a triangular table with place settings for 39 historical women, many featuring sculptures reminiscent of vulvas. And Tee Corinne’s Cunt Coloring Book from 1975 was filled with detailed ink drawings of real vulvas.

But the clitoris in particular has quite a confusing medical history (more in-depth info about this can be found in Rebecca Chalker’s The Clitoral Truth, and there’s a concise version on Schirmer’s website). For most of human history, doctors and anatomists battled over its true shape. Somehow, those who believed in the internal arms and bulbs were silenced or ignored. In the 1990s, Australian urologist Helen O’Connell jump-started a re-examination of the clitoral structure, and finally, in 2003, the clitoris was fully mapped via MRI — revealing its extensive internal structure.

But many people — and textbooks — are still unaware of the actual shape of the clitoris, which is the driving force behind Schirmer’s exhibit and website.

[Schirmer’s] goal is simple: to expose what’s been hidden. I e-mailed a link to The After Dinner Party to Betty Tompkins, an artist who has been making huge, explicit paintings of sex acts and genitalia since 1969 — who’s been looking the clitoris in the face for 43 years — and she replied, “I would not have been able to identify the illustration as the clitoris.”

If you’d like to spread the word about the clitoris, the After Dinner Party website suggests flyers, T-shirts, flash mobs, and our favorite — chalk sidewalk drawings.

  Musings      , ,  
May
30

Traveling with sex toys — your stories!

We received some wonderful — and hilarious — stories about your travels with sex toys on our recent guide to traveling with sex toys! It was really hard to choose just one favorite, but we decided the winner of the Appetite travel bag was Megan, with her amusing story about a large dildo that, after raising eyebrows at the security scanner at the airport, garnered the nickname “Hillshire”:

After I placed my bag on the conveyor I watched the agent look at the X-Ray of my bag, then turn her head in that “Dog knows there’s a treat in your hand” sort of way. I swear I could see her floppy ear twitch with curiosity. I noticed my increasing discomfort and an anxious laugh escapes my lips. I see her call over another TSA agent and point at the screen, discuss, and look again. While I know this only took 30 seconds, it felt like AN HOUR of fidgeting for me. Yep, next thing you know I’m called to the side by a male agent asking to look through my bag. As we walk to a table and he is asking permission to go through my belongings, I say to him in a firm but quiet voice, “I have some very personal items in my bag and would appreciate discretion.” I gave him the eye and nodded towards a family with four middle age children near by. My comment made his slight grin increase, but he caught my drift and moved us to a curtained area, then proceded to very quickly pull out a VERY LARGE black dildo, at which point he said to me, “We thought it was either that or a big ol’ sausage! We just had to check.” We both had an awkward chuckle and I went on down the terminal. That dildo earned the name Hillshire from that day on.

Another funny story came from Natassia, whose vibrator was re-purposed by her grandmother while she was out on the town:

The first and last time I ever took a vibrator with me on a trip was to Japan. I had no trouble getting it into the country, but after about 3 days or staying with my grandmother at her brother and sister-in-law’s house, my vibrator was anything but discreet. I had gone for a walk around their town outside of Tokyo, and returned to see my grandmother sitting on their floor pillows with my vibrator on her neck. She said she found it when she was putting my clean laundry back into my suitcase and it was just perfect for between her upper back and neck. I was speechless. Luckily it was clean and no one in the house knew what it was.

We loved Rose’s candor with the TSA agents when going through the security line with a bunch of sex toys packed in a carry-on. Half the battle is educating the people who search the bags, and she looks forward to it:

 . . . Walking up to the security check point I was just hoping for them to open my carry on. I placed it on the conveyer and just waited. And yes, they picked up my bag and wanted me to open it.

While opening it I said it was probably the sex toys and the security lady searched through the bag and when she was satisfied she asked me if it was alright if she put it through the X-Ray machine again so she could educate the guy behind the machine on how sex toys look! At this point I was giggling and said that it was okay and I was just staring at the guy behind the machine as he was educated. He obviously was a little embarrassed, especially when he looked at me and saw me giggle.

So yeah, traveling with toys is fun for me, and I make it a sport to make sure they open my carry on!

Cindy commented with a reassuring story about years of traveling with BDSM toys. Turns out, she has had no incidents whatsoever!

I travel a lot to attend kinky conferences and BDSM events. Initially, I was pretty nervous about traveling with a bag full of rope, bandage shears (bondage is my main kink) and a few choice dildos/vibrators I can’t go anywhere without. After doing a fair bit of research I decided to just take the experience head on. I packed a carry-on bag with my rope, making sure to lay the dildos right on top. I figured, why not? I have nothing to be ashamed of and if it really became an issue I’d be willing to check my bag and be done with it. I elected to purchase a pair of shears at the venue since they’re cheap and easy to come by and definitely fall into the ‘sharp and dangerous’ category. Walking up to that first security line, I was totally convinced that some TSA agent would be reaching into my bag, pulling out the big glitter cock and asking what it was. I’d have no choice but to be honest, responding, “Why that’s my strap-on dick, of course!” right there in front of everyone. Surprisingly, no one raised an eyebrow as the bag full of rope and cocks went through the x-ray, either coming or going and they still haven’t, all these years later.

Thank you for all your stories, and may your future travels be stress-free!

  Giveaways, Musings       
May
25

Trans rights victories in Ontario and Argentina

Rest of the world, take note. Both Ontario and Argentina have recently taken some big leaps forward for trans rights, allowing for gender self-determination on birth certificates without proof of medical, judicial, or psychiatric procedures first.

Ontario’s change came in the form of an April decision that struck down a previous rule in the Vital Statistics Act, which required a person to undergo what it called “transsexual surgery” before being able to legally change the gender listed on their birth certificate. Deeming the stipulation discriminatory, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the provincial government to remove it.

The overarching nature of birth certificates could mean that this change will extend to passports as well. It could also influence legislation in other provinces and territories.

Argentina has gone even further, introducing a new bill that grants citizens the freedom to change their legal gender without jumping through any hoops first. The bill won congressional approval this month with a resounding 55-0 Senate vote. Some are calling it a game changer, noting that it is far beyond what most countries have on the books. Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University bioethicist who has studied the legal and medical barriers for trans folks in the U.S., said:

This law is saying that we’re not going to require you to live as a man or a woman, or to change your anatomy in some way. They’re saying that what you say you are is what you are. And that’s extraordinary. Rather than our more sedimented ideas about what it is to be male or female, this sort of throws all of that up in the air in a really exciting way.

Two years ago, Argentina was the first Latin American nation to legalize gay marriage.

In the U.S. and Europe, changing one’s gender marker on a birth certificate usually requires proof of gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, and/or psychological evaluation — exhausting requirements that can often be emotionally, physically, and financially stressful.

May
17

Portland Queer Girl City Guide

Have you seen Autostraddle’s Queer Girl City Guide to Portland? This in-depth guide lists all kinds of queer-friendly restaurants, bars, coffee shops, strip clubs, hair salons, and tattoo shops in PDX, as well as events — such as queer dance nights, Portland Pride, and a plethora of other rad LGBTQ functions.

There’s a lot of love for our home, North Portland, in this guide! Under “Neighborhoods of Interest,” NoPo is listed as a “Gayborhood” (amazing!). Many businesses in our area are listed, including Bishop’s (which just moved in down the street from us), Mississippi Studios / Bar Bar, The Florida Room, Sloan’s TavernCup and Saucer, and Icon Tattoo. We were excited to see She Bop listed under “Etc.” as Portland’s local, female-owned sex toy shop. Here’s what they have to say about us:

[She Bop offers] a positive environment, helpful staff and a range of high quality sex toys. The shop also offers classes and workshops such as The Joys of Toys! & Exploring Burlesque: Striptease Salon.

The guide also gives a run-down of queer-friendly Portland colleges, sports teams, performing arts groups, outdoor adventure spots, and several non-profits we support, such as Bitch Media, In Other Words, and the Q Center.

Near the end of the guide, there’s an analysis of the diversity, safety, cost of living, and overall queer-friendliness of Portland, concluding that Portland is “very queer-friendly” and “very body positive, sex positive and accepting of gender variant identities.”

Within the city limits, queers are seen everywhere and go relatively unnoticed by the general population. Walking around town, you’ll see many different business with the HRC equality sticker hanging on a window, or a rainbow flag. Portland makes us queers feel very welcomed.

The overall atmosphere of the city is SUPER friendly. When walking around on a sunny day, expect smiles and nods from strangers and friendly waves. People in Portland are very chill, accepting, and friendly overall.

Autostraddle has published many other Queer Girl City Guides, including one for Seattle and one for Spokane. Really cool resources — check them out!

Welcome to She Bop’s blog!


She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.
New arrivals
Staff picks
Toys for two

We tweet!

Follow She Bop on Twitter