TW gender dysphoria, molestation/sexual abuse mention
It’s been a while since I did an update on my pelvic floor therapy journey. The truth is that, while it’s been immensely helpful, it’s also been quite dysphoria-inducing.
I canceled a few appointments here and there. It felt like going in would do more harm than good. On top of that, I haven’t ‘come out’ as genderfluid to any of my providers. Hell, most of them assume I’m straight because I’m married to a dude. It’s hard to find providers that fit right for me and I fear losing them to bigotry by coming out.
Plus, honestly, having someone play with my vagina is… a little PTSD-inducing, too. I was molested as a child and, no matter what I did, I couldn’t erase concerned thoughts from my mind. On top of that, we don’t talk enough about our sexual parts which makes communication around this awkward.
There are a lot of factors that make this less accessible to many of us.
That said, I kept up with my home exercises and added in newer ones along the way. Things that allow me to work outside of appointments really let my ability to learn and expand on that knowledge shine.
On Monday, I got the great news that we’re done with pelvic floor therapy. It was certainly a relief to hear.
The intense spasms that led me to therapy have drastically decreased in frequency and intensity. Instead of waking up several times a week in the middle of the night at 8/10 pain, I’ve only had a handful of occasions over the last few weeks. The most recent middle-of-the-night spasm was last week. Instead of being 8/10, I was sitting at 5/10. It took less time for the pain to ease, too. The pain I’ve had testing toys and being sexy has gone down as well.
Learning more about my pelvic floor and how to strengthen it has been immensely helpful. I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite tips next week. For now, though, it’s time to celebrate!
Haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? It’s okay! Vibrant’s got you covered!
You can save 20% off of their holiday collection using code HOLIDAY17. The sale runs until 11:59 PM MT on Monday, December 18th.
Sins Invalid is one of my favorite sites. They focus on intersections and social justice, especially around sexuality and disability. We have to view people as whole beings, not diagnoses codes.
They’re also just so damn cool:
We define disability broadly to include people with physical impairments, people who belong to a sensory minority, people with emotional disabilities, people with cognitive challenges, and those with chronic/severe illness. We understand the experience of disability to occur within any and all walks of life, with deeply felt connections to all communities impacted by the medicalization of their bodies, including trans, gender variant and intersex people, and others whose bodies do not conform to our culture(s)’ notions of “normal” or “functional.”
They hosted a Facebook Live a few weeks ago that was super amazing and hella popular. It had such a wide reach that they’re holding another!
That’s right! Later tonight, from 6:30-7:30 pm Pacific, you can pop over and check out their live stream! You can ask questions via FB or this Google Form beforehand. If you’re catching this later, you’ll be able to watch via the videos tab on their page.
Did I mention it’s live captioned?
I seriously love them.
Go like them on Facebook and be sure to tune in later tonight!
Featured image from Sins Invalid email.
Disclaimer: I was given the Umie for free in exchange for my honest review.
There’s a lot to say, so let’s just dig in.
The Umie is 9.5 inches long and made of silicone.
It charges via USB and the cord is included in the package. You can take the Umie underwater with you for up to 30 minutes.
There is a partner app that makes the Umie incredibly accessible. I’ll touch more on that below, but it’s the thing that makes this toy worthwhile.
Without the app, I’m not sure how much I’d be able to figure out the toy. The buttons are small to not get in the way, but also don’t lend themselves to great accessibility. It’s not always easy to tell which button you’re touching in the moment – or to press it.
A sun symbol controls the heat while a symbol similar to a wifi one cycles through the patterns. The arrow at the bottom of the toy turns it on, which seems to be different for many toys. I doubt neither myself nor my husband would be able to remember any of this.
I honestly just mashed the buttons until they turned on each time I used the Umie.
For me, the app really saved the day. It allows you to control and access a number of features that would be tricky to move through with the Umie alone. You can turn the toy off, control intensity, move through preset patterns, and more.
There was no accessible way to enjoy this toy without the app.
I really appreciated the warming feature in the toy, especially now that we’ve gotten freezing temperatures here in the Midwest. It takes a few minutes to warm up, but that feature needs to be included in so many more toys.
A lot of learning about and playing with this toy was through trial and error more than having a roadmap. There was more explanation in the app itself, but that’s also not accessible for many people.
The presets were great for changing up the sensations Umie doles out. I appreciated the draw-your-own-pattern/custom mode as well, though I wish there was more information on this. The sound mode seemed like a fun idea, but didn’t seem to correlate that great with sounds in our bedroom, whether I was alone or not.
I made the mistake of giving the hubs control of my phone while playing with the Umie. It was a fun mistake, but also led to me getting vibrations from Andrew Gurza’s Disability After Dark podcast, the Beauty & The Beast Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack, and videos of the guinea pigs.
The problem is that, while you can access media to sync with the vibrations you feel, there’s no separation. Podcast episodes were alongside voice memos and songs with no way to access playlists through the app. The videos were even worse, though that’s probably because all my videos are of our guinea pigs or my niblings.
It was, uh, weird.
Plus, there seemed to be little correlation between the intensity of the vibrations and the media being played. A rap song with heavy bass gave the same constant vibration as Andrew’s beautiful voice. Vibrations went 0-100 very quickly. While this was a nice potential feature, it feels like these things weren’t fleshed out fully before release.
There was a lot of fun in letting T control the app and not knowing what was going to happen. That was really the end of that excitement, though. Maybe if I were better at being serious and communicating what I like or if we got a little more serious in the bedroom, this would’ve worked better. The design needs some tweaking, though.
I can see this being fun for play when I travel or if we were long-distance. It would really have to be combined with a call or Skype, though. We didn’t try to access the actual long-distance features.
A word about gender, sexuality, and appropriation
I’ll admit that I’m a little… I fell odd about the gendered nature of this toy. The marketing is geared towards women, either single or in a relationship. Even the colors – pink or white – tend to be more femme-geared ones for toys. They even label the toy the “PREMIER PLEASURE TOY FOR BOTH WOMEN AND COUPLES.”
In the app’s social component that allows you to interact with other users if you so choose, you can only select between male and female. It felt odd to be misgendered by a sex toy – and their company.
There seems to be some cisheteronormativity going on, too. In everything I could find, the only couples interviewed or featured were cis-appearing male/female couples. They were also white… which brings up another issue. I know that it’s not always easy to display diversity, but you can’t rely on white abled-appearing cishet couples to sell a sex toy. You just can’t.
There are a lot of comments on Umie/Tantriss’ social media around unlocking enlightenment using this toy. Even the preset vibrations are names related to Asian religions – Nirvana, Chakra, etc. Without being able to find much about Umie/Tantriss’ background, this feels very appropriative to me. It’s essentially a sex toy version of commercialized yoga or Buddhism… especially since there’s no education around Tantra on their site or in their app. The site mentions breathwork, for example, but nothing more about it.
Look, my undergraduate degree was in religious studies and I focused heavily on Asian religions, so this really irks me. There’s so much appropriation of these cultural ideals and beliefs in our society. When someone adept at internet searching can’t find much about the background of your company in relation to these ideals, it’s definitely not a great look.
As problematic as this is, I enjoyed the vibrator. I liked being able to switch things up on my phone, that I can do it one-handed. There’s an app for this toy that makes it more accessible when my hands are having a rough arthritis day. It’s lightweight and easy to move around.
All the problematic stuff, though, brings me down. I’m post-orgasm and should be super happy. Instead, I’m relaxed but super irked. This isn’t something I feel comfortable endorsing because it goes against so many things I fight for – gender neutrality, cultural respect, diversity, social justice, etc. There’s not enough transparency about the company to even know if this is appropriative or not, but it feels that way. It shouldn’t be hard to find the background of your company, either, and that’s off-putting.
I don’t know that I’ve ever had a sex toy cause me to feel so much shame. If you made it to the end here, I wish I had something awesome to give you.
You can always save 10% off more ethical gear over at Vibrant when you use the code ‘CHRONICSEX’ (not applicable for use with other coupon codes). Likewise, you can save 10% at Peepshow Toys using ‘CHRONIC.’ At the very least, maybe check out Pink Label. They have amazing porn full of diversity, representation, and beautiful consent!
If interested, you can snag the Umie directly from Umie/Tantriss.
Technology brings us the most amazing things sometimes. The Queen Bee is one of them. I just finished testing it and I’m honestly a bit speechless, so let’s just dive right in.
Queen Bee is two-sided in the best way.
One side is massage-oriented, delivering nice vibrations without being too overwhelming. You’ll also find the controls and charging spot on the handle on this side.
The other side has what really makes Queen Bee different – their multi-award winning PulsePlate Technology™ that delivers more powerful oscillations.
There are six vibration patterns to choose from. With two sides and several intensity settings, this gives you a fun list of combinations to play with. The Queen Bee is also completely waterproof!
Queen Bee charges using a magnetic USB cord, maximizing your pleasure if you care about the earth. You can run it for up to an hour on one charge, too, which is nice. It takes about four hours to fully charge.
It’s 9.5 inches long and is made of TPE/TPR. Hot Octopuss suggests using a water-based lubricant if you pick this up. Make sure to clean after each use!
From an accessibility standpoint, Queen Bee is pretty great. It’s ergonomic in design and pretty light. It’s easy to access the control and change anything. I really enjoyed it from that aspect as there aren’t many toys out there that are relatively easy for me to use without interrupting the fun. That said, the controls aren’t necessarily intuitive. I’ve found myself switching vibration patterns instead of increasing the intensity. I usually struggle with this, though, and didn’t find it to be much of a deterrent.
It’s a little loud. Hot Octopuss rates this at under 55 decibels, which is about what a fridge or air conditioner sounds like in your home. It’s not the toy for you if you’re looking for something incredibly quiet and discrete.
In order to really get the full effect from the pulse plate, I had to actively separate my labia and set the toy against it. When trying to snag clitoral stimulation from other toys, I have been able to get away with not doing that. The other side, though, was able to bring fun sensations regardless of where I set it.
An orgasm was fairly easy either way, though slightly less so if I was squirming and needed to recenter the pulse plate side. All in all, I wasn’t turned off by that. It’s kind of fun to tease yourself sometimes. Plus, with how easy it was to move and control Queen Bee, having to put in a little more effort there wasn’t an issue.
If you’re looking for something discrete, quiet, or insertable, Queen Bee isn’t something you’ll be happy with in the end. Don’t get me wrong – I like it – but not everyone does.
As a vulva owner, I enjoyed the Queen Bee. It’s certainly worth taking a look at getting your hands on one. It’s versatile, different, and sleek. I can also see how it would be a great toy regardless of gender, too, because it’s very similar to wand massagers but lighter and easier to control.