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Genderfree Female – No, I’m not the girl in our relationship.

Gender People without gender are largely an overlooked group even within the transgender community. And anyone who is not cisgender tends to run into expectations to be so… and then on top of that, cisgender and transgender people tend to be expected to fall into stereotyped gender/sex roles.

So what to do when you’re a genderfree female, especially in a heterosexual relationship where you’re default not just by body but by partnership assumed to be “the girl”?

Not just the outside world can have a difficult time with this concept, even our own partners. Add on top of that that many of us do “do” feminine at times or all the time. Then add on top of that that many of us are perfectly comfortable being in a female body. Not on the binary, no gender at all, feminine at times, transgender and fine being female. It can make for confusion in those that live with and love us.

Partners often at first and even down the road can be unsure on how to address our bodies, sexually and non-sexually. If you’ve never been part of or heard a discussion on what people prefer their body parts like their genitals or breasts to be called or even if they want them acknowledged then you may not be familiar with this issue. But it’s there… When I’m speaking of my female partner’s body, what is the right word to use that will be fine by them but hopefully not confusing to others? During dirty talk is it okay to say things like “your pussy”?

Partners often don’t know how to address us as people… what pronouns, what references, to use in speaking with others. Is “she” okay? If not, what is? Do I refer to my genderfree lover as my girlfriend or wife, is that comfortable and/or appropriate? Again, if not, what is?

Partners often wonder why a female companion expresses not having a gender while dressed up to the stereotype of femininity: lacy undies, clinging dress, high heels, long and elegantly styled hair, the oh so carefully applied makeup. While presenting within more masculine expectations can also be confusing for them, the seemingly matched femininity and female body can raise a lot of questions.

That brings us then to the confusion that does also occur when a genderfree female partner presents as masculine part of or all of the time. “Are they actually female-to-male transexual?”. “Will they be mistaken for a lesbian?” (because, of course, there are stereotypes to sexualities, too).

Then throw in those who genderfuck on top of identifying with no gender and things get messier.

And how as a cisgender man do you approach sexually someone who isn’t a boy or girl or even any other gender identity? There are traits assigned to these regardless of whether they universally apply. Their are understood and culturally imbedded expectations in the mating ritual from first date to full on fucking. Do they want the door held for them, should I be the one pursuing… and heck, the occasional “am I gay or not?” because deep down they still expect a binary identification regardless of body sex.

Sex itself… Less of an issue if the male partner doesn’t have firm gender roles assigned to bedroom activities, but oh it can and does come up for some. We get back to the above of what phrases and labels are okay for body parts during dirty talk? And what about vulgar descriptions and nouns otherwise used at times during The Deed… would “dirty whore” or “cumdump bitch” be correct phrasing?

(Let’s put aside for the moment whether or not these types of phrases would be acceptable for cisgender females, either. They’re just used here as examples of some very pointed ones ones out there in some people’s sex lives.)

Will my partner want to fuck me with a strap-on, since they don’t identify as female?” – again, that binary sexual stereotyping.

Would it be offensive to buy my lover obviously gender-oriented gifts or sex toys or lingerie?”

And endless other wonderings and questions that can’t all be touched on here and are also beyond my ability to think up there are so many.

The simultaneously unfortunate and fortunate answer to dealing with all of this is that one needs to take the time to talk to one’s partner. Learn what an absence of gender means to them, personally, and how it relates to their connection with their body. Have those detailed and in-depth discussions about sexual expectations and comfort-zones. Find out what makes them happy and acknowledged in how others are led to view them in your relationship. While, of course, they should be finding out all the same about you.

I’ve spoken from a heterosexual angle with a cisgender male lover referenced in this all, but only because I wanted to address the issues related to that specific arrangement. There are countless others and this is just one, I addressed it as it is the most common one I personally run into with myself being a genderfree female.

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Interviews

Jacq Jones – Owner of “Sugar” Sex Toy Shop

When did you open Sugar and what inspired you to do so?

Sugar opened in April of 2007. Previous to opening Sugar I worked in reproductive health care and sexuality education in both clinical and administrative settings. I had the opportunity to work in a sex positive sex toy store and was thrilled to be able to do the same work, but to come from a wholely pleasure based perspective rather than a disease based model. After I moved away from the city with that store, I frequently considered opening a sex positive store in Baltimore. Several years later, we were able to raise the capitol and open the store. Running a for profit, mission driven business is challenging and deeply rewarding.

When did you start to identify as an educator? Was it before, the same time as opening the shop, or was it later?

I’ve been doing sex education since college. I was trained as a peer educator and distributed condoms from my dorm room. As a woman, I have been interested in reproductive rights, education and justice since high school. I firmly believe that our ability to make decisions about our reproductive lives is a critical piece of equality. Because being sexual or asexual in a manner of one’s choosing is a basic part of being human, expressing one’s sense of self and connecting with others.

What is one thing that people would never guess about owning and running a sex shop?

Running a sex toy store is running a retail business. That means you need to love retail. You need to use Quick Books. You need to deal with payroll. You need to mop the floors. Running a sex toy store is a job in which you hold the space and provide the means for your community to celebrate their individual sexualities. It is not, however, a terribly sexy job. It’s hard, detail oriented work. Just like any other small business. Except since it’ an adult business, you don’t qualify for assistance from the SBA. Most banks won’t loan to you and most credit card companies won’t process your credit cards.  There’s absolutely ways around these things, but it requires an extra level of creativity.

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

I love, love, love to teach about sex and menopause, hot safer sex, g-spots, cunnilingus, blow jobs and harness play.  I think my true specialty is being able to work with folks and provide information in a manner that is accessible to where they are.

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

We’re all in this together. There’s plenty of education opportunities to go around. Many of us are great at supporting each other – we need to keep it up!

I can imagine it’s tough to pick your favorites, but if you had to pick ONE sex toy to recommend to a couple, what would it be and why?

The Spare Parts Joque Harness, Jimmy Jane’s Form 2 and Sliquid’s Sassy lube

You book other educators to teach live classes at your brick & mortar store, how do you decide who to invite to teach?

I’m very picky. I usually only book an educator that I’ve seen teach or that someone I trust implicitly has seen teach and recommends. I need to feel confident that the educator has values that intersect with how we understand sex positive sex education and that they are able to present information in a manner that is fun and accessible. Next I look for someone who has the ability to teach on topics that the educators in our store might not have in their arsenal.

What advice would you give aspiring sex toy shop owners?

If you are interested in opening a sex toy store, first I’d suggest that you spend at least a year, preferably two working in retail. Make sure that you have professional experience in budgeting, staff management and purchasing. If possible, have six months of expenses in the bank before you open. Learn some counseling skills and take every workshop you can find (in person or online) on sex and sexuality. AASECT, Passionate U, Fet Fest and Dark Odyssey can be great resources. Lastly, open your store somewhere that doesn’t already have a sex positive store. There are plenty of cities that need a sex positive store – look around – and move if you need to!

Sugar
927 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211
phone 410.467.2632
fax 410.467.2631
Sugar is a lesbian owned, multi-gender operated, for profit, mission driven sex toy store.  By providing education and toys in a shame-free, sex-positive environment, we help people of all genders and sexual orientations experience their own unique sexuality with shameless joy and passion.
City Paper’s Best Adult Store, Best of Baltimore 2007-2011
City Paper’s Best Adult Store, Reader’s Poll 2007-2011
Baltimore Magazine Top 50 Hot Stores in Baltimore
Nominee O Award 2011

 

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New Members

Epiphora

For five years now, sex toys have been my life. I have ogled, squeezed, and twiddled with so many that my mind has turned into mush a sex toy encyclopedia. On my blog, Hey Epiphora, I peddle relentlessly honest sex toy reviews — with a smattering of sex industry critique thrown in for good measure.

My opinions are trusted; I’ve been interviewed for XBIZ Premiere magazine and even quoted in Tristan Taormino’s book, The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation. I don’t believe that wishy-washy sex toy reviews benefit anyone. Like everyone, I have certain preferences and pet peeves (my hatred for pink and love of VixSkin are no secret), but you will never read a review of mine and question how I truly felt about the toy. You’ll also never see the terms “marital aid” or “battery-operated boyfriend” in my reviews, because euphemisms give me hives.

My reviewing of sex toys began in 2007. I got my start writing reviews for an online sex toy shop. In 2008, I launched my blog — and have been rabidly collecting and reviewing sex toys ever since. I answer a lot of emails from folks needing sex toy advice, and I also pelt people with snark on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and in my monthly newsletter.

I’m a feminist, pansexual, in a relationship with a dude, and greatly prefer cats to children. My jack-off sessions are long and my cups of coffee are doused with creamer. My primary sources of visual entertainment are porn, bad reality TV, and documentaries about depraved serial killers.

hey.epiphora [at] gmail [dot] com

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Articles

How to Multiply Your Orgasms with Sex Toys

Any orgasm is a good orgasm, but, let’s face it, some are better than others. I’ve had mellow O’s, mind-blowing O’s (quite literally, but that’s another story involving phone sex, a dying vibrator and what I thought was an aneurysm), and O’s so strong that when I got up immediately after, I had to sit back down or risk falling over. I love them all and I’m sure you love yours too. But have you learned what it takes to get your orgasms to go from satisfying to off-the-chart? Whether you’re engaging in sizzling solo sex or getting it on with a sexy partner, sex toys can lead the way towards new levels of pleasure.

Sex doesn’t start in your groin, it starts in your head, therefore the logical organ to begin stimulating is your brain. Fantasize. What makes you hot every time? Is it something dark and forbidden or is it more sweet and sensual? Do you want to be overpowered, tied up and taken? Maybe what turns you on the most is the thought of being watched. Or maybe what gets every nerve in your body tingling is the idea of a slow and sensual erotic massage. It doesn’t matter what your fantasy is; it’s yours, so own it and use it to help get yourself in that juicy mind frame before the action starts.

Whether you have a very specific fantasy or not, one that really gets you in the mood for sexy times, reading erotica can take you farther into that mysterious place that makes you hot and bothered and it can help you realize that other things you’d never thought of can really push your buttons. By choosing either themed or more general erotica, anthologies are a great way to either target your specific fantasies or open you up to the incredibly wide scope of what turns people on.

Once the sexual energy is flowing, if you’re a fan of nipple stimulation, go ahead and try some nipple clips. If you’re starting out get adjustable ones that will take you from light to heavy pressure. You can even get vibrating nipple clamps for added sensation.

I love rabbit style vibes, vibes that provide simultaneous internal and clitoral stimulation, but for some, anatomy can make hitting on the perfect one for you challenging. The easy way around that, and one that provides greater versatility, is using a clit vibe in tandem with a dildo or a separate vibrator, one that hits your g-spot is even better. It may require two hands but it’s definitely worth the extra effort. Also, and this is true for me, after a while, you may not particularly need thrusting, but just love the feeling of fullness you get with a dildo or vibe in place. Giving your vaginal muscles something to grasp and squeeze against when orgasming tends to pump up the power.

So your head’s in the right place, you’re merrily buzzing along feeling those amazing sensations in and around you clitoris, you have a dildo inside that you can contract your muscles around bringing you closer and closer — what else could you do to make this even better? Well, here’s where I like to go for the trifecta and make use of a butt plug.

You can start your session out by inserting the plug of your choice, and with the amazing variety of butt plugs out there, you’re sure to find one that’s just right for you, or you can add one after you’ve warmed up a bit. The feeling of being filled, back and front, is truly one I adore. If you’ve ever had double penetration fantasies, this is a great, safe way to experience those sensations.

Using sex toys is one way to take your orgasms from great to un-freaking-believable. Take your time, give these techniques a go when you’re not rushed and can really relax into the sensations, try adding one toy at a time, and remember you can try these with a partner too. There’s no reason not to add a clit vibe or a butt plug when you’re having sex with your partner.

Whatever you decide to try, let’s all applaud orgasms. Orgasms relieve stress, help you sleep better and heal faster. They’re a form of natural pain management and can help you lose weight, both my burning calories and curbing craving, and they increase blood flow keeping you looking younger and glowingly healthy. Simply put: orgasms rock. Yay, orgasms!

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Articles

Brick & Mortar Sex Shops (America)

 

Independent Sex Toy shops have thankfully become much more prevalent across America. These stores make buying sex toys easy, shameless and educational which makes it possible for women and couples who might not have felt comfortable shopping in the back alley sex shops that used to be the only options

Good Vibrations was the first to create a “woman friendly” sex shop and kicked off a revolution that made shopping for sexual accoutrements mainstream. Good Vibes (as it’s affectionally known) has stores in San Francisco, Boston

Pleasure Chest has stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles

Sugar – in Baltimore

The Tool Shed is in Milwaukee, WI  and has the right “tools” for the job!