Nov
30

“What are phthalates?”

At She Bop, every sex toy we carry is completely body-safe and phthalate-free. But what on earth are phthalates, and why do we want our sex toys to be free of them?

Besides having a perplexing name (pronounced “thal-ates”), phthalates are a family of chemicals used to soften hard plastics. In the realm of sex toys, they are often the reason that cheap sex toys are squishy, smelly, and… potentially toxic.

Although we may not know it, phthalates are not foreign to us. They are present in a variety of everyday stuff: paints, deodorants, shower curtains, nail polish, vinyl floors, and even food (most likely because they can leach out of food processing machinery and food packaging). However, troubling research on phthalates has cast doubt on whether phthalates are as innocuous as they once seemed.

It is well-known that phthalates have a tendency to “off-gas” — escape from the plastic in the form of a gas. They also seep out in an oily film, which can be absorbed through skin, mouths, and mucous membranes.

In particular, researchers are worried about what phthalates could do to children. Canada, Europe, and the U.S. have all enacted bans on children’s toys that contain certain levels of phthalates (for example, Congress banned the sale of children’s toys and baby products that contain more than 0.1% of certain phthalates). The tendency of phthalates to off-gas is particularly scary, since children put toys in their mouths.

Unfortunately, there is a complete lack of government regulation within the sex toy industry (ever notice that ominous phrase, “for novelty use only,” on sex toy packaging?), so companies are free to use whichever materials they please. For some companies, this means using phthalates to cut production costs. Greenpeace Netherlands conducted a study in 2006 in which they tested eight sex toys and found that seven of them contained phthalates, in concentrations ranging from 24 to 51 percent of the toys’ composition. Compared to the 0.1% ban enacted by Congress, this is more than a little disturbing.

In a similar study conducted in 2000, a German chemist named Hans Ulrich Krieg identified ten dangerous chemicals gassing out of European sex toys, including phthalates. He found some toys that had phthalate concentrations as high as 243,000 parts per million. Krieg said, “I have been doing this analysis of consumer goods for more than 10 years, and I’ve never seen such high results.”

Can phthalates in sex toys cause health issues?

The jury is still out on whether phthalates in sex toys pose a risk to our health, but studies have shown that very large doses of phthalates may cause liver damage, kidney damage, hormonal disruption, reproductive organ damage, and liver cancer. More than one study has linked high levels of phthalate exposure in the womb and through breast milk to male reproductive issues. Minute levels of some phthalates have been linked to sperm damage in men; this has caused speculation about whether phthalates are to blame for a huge drop in male fertility over the past few decades.

Other studies are less frightening: one report from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency indicates that there are no major health risks if a person uses sex toys containing phthalates for an hour or less per day. Pregnant or nursing individuals, however, are advised against “heavy usage.”

Anecdotal evidence tells us more than most studies do. If you’ve ever experienced a burning, itching, or an uncomfortable sensation after using a sex toy, it may very well be due to the phthalate content.

And there are other reasons to avoid phthalates in sex toys. These toys are always porous, which means they tend to trap bacteria on the surface of the toy. They can never be fully sterilized, and over time, they will break down.

We simply don’t know what the long-term effects of continued exposure to sex toys containing phthalates may be. Considering that sex toys come into direct contact with mucous membranes, through which substances can be absorbed, there is reason to be concerned — especially when it comes to butt plugs and other toys that are meant to be worn for extended periods of time.

How do I know if a sex toy contains phthalates?

The biggest telltale sign of phthalates is smell: if a sex toy smells strongly like a new shower curtain, it probably contains phthalates. Sometimes the smell is so intense that it can linger on your fingers after you’ve held the toy. Often, the smell cannot be washed out, or it takes a vat of bleach to do so.

Worse signs can crop up later on. Sometimes a greasy sweat will appear on the surface of the toy. Over time, the toy may decompose into a sort of goo, and can melt into other toys that it touches.

Of course, if you are shopping for a sex toy, none of these signs can be observed unless you are able to handle the toy before buying it. While you can definitely handle the toys if you come visit She Bop, we have already done the research for you: absolutely none of the toys we carry contain phthalates. Anything you purchase either in person at She Bop or from our online store will be body-safe and phthalate-free.

What can I do if I think one of my sex toys contains phthalates?

You should cover the toy in a condom each time you use it. Always clean the toy with antibacterial soap. After use, store the toy out of sunlight and away from other sex toys and plastics. If the surface of your toy becomes dull, the material may be breaking down, and you should probably throw the toy out.

If you’re on the hunt to replace an old toy, look for toys made of 100% silicone — pure silicone toys are soft, non-porous, and completely body-safe. Replacing a rabbit? Try the Rabbit Habit, which is made of phthalate-free elastomer, or the Ina, which is covered in silky pure silicone. If you’re pinching pennies, opt for a hard plastic vibrator made of ABS plastic (not PVC). And remember, every toy in our catalog is phthalate-free, so shop with confidence.

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Nov
24

Exploring Burlesque 201: The Construction of the Tease – Wed, Dec 8th – 7:15p – $15

Back by popular demand, Portland burlesque artist and producer Lori Madison brings you the second installment of the Exploring Burlesque series.  In this class, Miss Madison will share the trade secrets of her glamorous alter ego Madison Moone.

Students will be guided through a brief burlesque movement study including bumps, grinds, struts and prop dancing before exploring the construction of a tease. The group will examine how to properly stage concepts for the intimate setting of the burlesque stage, as well as popular peeling techniques including the stocking tease, bottom peels and the graceful removal of undergarments. Students will also discover helpful tips and tricks when dealing with troublesome closures such as zippers, buttons and bra hooks.

Dress in comfortable clothes such a yoga or dance wear. Please bring your favorite heels, your prettiest bra and a zip up or button down blouse for layering. Music and demo props will be provide by Miss Moone. All levels of fitness welcome, no dance experience or nudity required. Grab your best girlfriends and join Miss Moone for and evening of fun, laughs and celebration of the female spirit.

No cameras/photographs permitted.  Please arrive at 7:15p – class begins promptly at 7:30p.  There will be time at the end of class for shopping too!

Limited space available – Call She Bop to reserve your spot – 503.473.8018

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Nov
11

HUMP! 2010 Contest Winners

These are two very different stories about how porn played a positive role in two different relationships. The first story, while hilarious, also shows how porn can allow people to push past their inhibitions and be more adventurous. Incorporating porn into couples play or solo play can increase intensity and pleasure. The second story emphasizes that porn is not just for guys, women love porn too, especially now that there is more porn produced by and for women, and not just the soft stuff.

At She Bop we love to help people experience more excitement and pleasure in their lives. Thanks everyone for your entries and taking part in our contest and congrats to the winners (who requested to stay anonymous) who will be attending HUMP! this weekend. Have fun!

Continue reading »

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Nov
8

She Bop’s 1 Year Anniversary Party!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since we opened our doors, and an amazing year at that! We are so grateful for all the support we have received from all of our wonderful customers, neighbors and friends.

Come join us on Black Friday, November 26th, from 8pm – 10pm at She Bop (909 N. Beech St, Portland, OR 97227) for some yummy treats, fun prizes and of course some bubbly!

Thanks everybody for a great year — and many more to come!!!

  Events     
Nov
6

Win Tickets to HUMP! 2010

She Bop is a proud sponsor of HUMP! 2010, the Pacific Northwest’s biggest, best, and most beloved amateur-and-locally-produced porn festival. HUMP! will be in Portland November 12-13 at Cinema 21.

To celebrate our first year sponsoring HUMP!, we are giving away 2 pairs of tickets to a few lucky winners. In 350 words or less, tell us about a positive, funny or enlightening experience you had with porn. The winning entry will be posted on our blog and the lucky winners will get 2 free tickets to HUMP! Please send submissions to admin@sheboptheshop.com by November 9th.

Don’t miss this fun, sexy and hilarious event, hosted by the much beloved Dan Savage. It’s pornerific!

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Oct
27

The Law of Multiples: Creating Healthy Open Relationships

Thursday, November 18th – 7:30 p – $15

One + One = Done. This is the openly accepted American ideal for a committed partnership. Nonetheless, many people find deep satisfaction in various styles of loving that include three or more partners. In this session we’ll discuss the differences between emotional and physical non-monogamy and cheating, the natural progression as we confront our own expectations and ideals, and look at the pitfalls and benefits when you consider creating intentional relationships with multiple partners.

M. Makael Newby, BA, BFA, is a CTA-certified Relationship Coach, Speaker and Sexuality Consultant, and the author of My Erotic Adventure, a Choose-Your-Own styled erotica with 48 unique endings. She supports open-minded and/or kinky and sex-positive people in achieving juicy, successful, fulfilling relationships, and being effective in every area of their lives. Testimonials, videos, blog and newsletter available at mmakaelnewby.com. Phone & Skype based services at 540-623-9524 and makael@mmakaelnewby.com.

Please call She Bop to reserve your spot – 503.473.8018 (online class registration will be available soon!)

  Events     
Oct
10

10% Tuesdays in October for Bradley Angle

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and She Bop will be donating 10% of all in-store sales on Tuesdays this month to Bradley Angle.

In 1975, Bradley Angle became the first domestic violence shelter on the West Coast (and only the 4th in the United States). Over the years, their services have expanded to include a 24- hour crisis line, transitional housing, support groups, community-based advocacy, and three programs unique to Oregon: culturally specific programming for African and African-American survivors, an economic empowerment program called Making Cent$, and support for LGBTQ survivors. Bradley Angle’s mission is to offer survivors of domestic and sexual violence options for safety, empowerment, healing and hope, while collaborating with local communities to create social change.

Sep
22

Basic Bondage for Sex – Sunday, October 10th – 7:30p – $20

Do you have the desire to tie someone up and have your way with them?  Come to this workshop and learn the basics of rope bondage for sex and pleasure.  This hands-on class will give you techniques and positions to bring to the bedroom, kitchen, living room or dungeon!  This workshop will also address issues around consent and safety.  Wear comfortable clothes and come ready to get down to it.  Bring a soft mat or blanket to practice on.  If you have rope bring it, but some will also be available for participants.  Come with or without a partner.  All genders and sexual orientations are welcome.

Venae is thrilled to turn you on and tune you in to new and exciting ways to pleasure yourself and others.  A Northwest native, Venae travels the country teaching and learning about sex, kink, and energetic health and well being.

Please call She Bop to reserve your spot – 503.473.8018

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Sep
4

Holistic Pelvic Care – Wednesday, September 29th – 7:30 p – $12

Holistic Pelvic Care (HPC) is a technique that helps restore emotional, physical and energetic balance that is rooted in the pelvis. Through a detailed interview to discuss current issues and medical history, light acupuncture, detailed physical pelvic work, and guided visualizations, HPC can lead a woman to a deeper understanding of herself, and her power to heal and nurture her own well-being. This confidential and supportive class will serve as an introduction for women interested in learning about HPC and how it may be helpful for themselves or someone they care about.

Beth Yohalem-Ilsley is a licensed acupuncturist with a Master’s degree in Science and Acupuncture and a post-graduate certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She was an intern at Shanghai University Hospital in China, specializing in gynecology and traumatology. Beth has over 15 years of experience in treating musculoskeletal conditions and extensive training in Muscle Energy Technique, Holistic Pelvic Care, Shonishin (pediatric acupuncture) for infants and children, and craniosacral therapy for adults and infants. Beth combined her eastern and western herbal training to become founder of Yohalem-Ilsley Medicinal Teas. She is co-owner of Mississippi Health Center in north Portland.

Limited space available – Call She Bop to reserve your spot – 503.473.8018

  Events     
Sep
2

Exploring Burlesque 201: The Construction of the Tease – Thursday, September 16th – 7:30 p – $15

Back by popular demand, Portland burlesque artist and producer Lori Madison brings you the second installment of the Exploring Burlesque series. For one night only Miss Madison will share the trade secrets of her glamorous alter ego Madison Moone (don’t miss Madison Moone’s performance at Dante’s on October 2nd – details below).

Students will be guided through a brief burlesque movement study including bumps, grinds, struts and prop dancing before exploring the construction of a tease. The group will examine how to properly stage concepts for the intimate setting of the burlesque stage, as well as popular peeling techniques including the stocking tease, bottom peels and the graceful removal of undergarments. Students will also discover helpful tips and tricks when dealing with troublesome closures such as zippers, buttons and bra hooks.

Dress in comfortable clothes such a yoga or dance wear. Please bring your favorite heels, your prettiest bra and a zip up or button down blouse for layering. Music and demo props will be provide by Miss Moone. All levels of fitness welcome, no dance experience or nudity required. Grab your best girlfriends and join Miss Moone for and evening of fun, laughs and celebration of the female spirit. See you in class!

Limited space available – Call She Bop to reserve your spot – 503.473.8018

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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.

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