Oh Joy Sex Toy!

Warning: the website I am talking about is entirely NSFW, so if you’re worried about that sort of thing, don’t open the links on a work computer. You’ve been warned, it’s not my fault if you get caught.

This is absolutely a love letter to the site of the above name, the work of Erika Moen and Matt Nolan.
I mean, how can you not love a sex positive web comic with a name like that? 

And really, I love this site so much.

You will find it here: Oh Joy Sex Toy!

So what is it? Oh Joy Sex Toy is a webcomic that reviews sex toys, gives information about various issues related to sexual health, explains fetishes, and has the odd smutty strip just to shake things up.

It’s also very sex positive: the language used is very inclusive, and the strips include the Masturbateers: they are folx of all genders, shapes, sexualities, races and abilities, and it is through them that we are told the information relevant to that strip’s topic.

Also they are super damn cute.

It’s a great resource, because nothing about it is patronising, and I’ve learned loads from it. It’s very clear Erika and Matt do their research, and where they don’t have the experience, they get guest experts and artists to talk about the topic, which means all the info is genuine. It’s nice to read other voices too, there’s a great blend of folx with work on the site.

Can you tell I love it? 

There are also books! Volume 3 just finished its kickstarter (I have my copy, and it’s gorgeous) and all 3 will be available to buy as a set from next week. There are a few exclusives just for the books, but it’s really nice to have a collection you can just take down from the shelf.

Though my mum did open my post, and we got to have a fun conversation. I think she thinks I’m a pervert, and that is entirely fine by me.

But yes, if you have even a passing interest in sex, I recommend having a wee look at the site. It’s all sorted into categories, so you can find strips specific to your tastes, or you can just scroll through and get a selection.

Some of my favourites are: 

Pelvic Exam
Pierre Packer

Election Blues

You’re not getting a clever post from me this week. It’s Brexit all over again, but on a world wide scale, and right now we need to step back, regroup, take care of each other, and then start fighting back against the fascism that is taking over the world.

Because that is exactly what it is. Between the rise of Farage, Marine le Pen, the right wing movement in the Netherlands, Putin having some difficulty remembering where his borders actually are, and now Trump storming to power on a wave of white supremacy, we are facing fascism on a scale we haven’t seen in 100 years.

And yes, though I am not going to say the word, I am referring to that party.

This is how it starts: it’s all pomp and show, but then people start to believe. More scarily, people start to believe it’s not something to worry about, so they don’t bother doing anything to stop it. And suddenly the laughable bigots have power, and the place goes to hell.

And really, it’s not Trump we have to be afraid of: we should be afraid of the people who’s beliefs he’s a mouthpiece for. The KKK that were marching the morning after the election, the right wing so in love with their guns that they tried to take them into the elementary school that was being used as a polling station.

The people who were out in the streets, with weapons, crying for the removal, and in some cases deaths, of anyone who wasn’t cishet and white.

Those are the truly dangerous people, and now their party has majority control in America. 

We are about to have a day THIS FUCKING WEEK where we remember those who gave their lives last time, to honour those, like my gran, who are still living, and yet we let this happen.

We have a chance to learn and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Let’s show we have progressed as much as we claim we have, and use our voices to make a difference.

Asexuality Awareness Week

So this isn’t my one to comment on, as I am not asexual, though I will hopefully have something by someone who is to share soon.

Instead, I am going to use this opportunity to link to resources that will give you much more accurate information than I can:

AVEN: the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network is one of the largest and best known resources available for Asexual and questioning individuals, or anyone who wants to know more. Highly recommended.

Demisexuality.org: a really good resource for further along the asexuality spectrum. Because yes, there are more spectrums.

Taking the Cake: for people who like more visual primers.

AAW.com: the website named for the week, they have a lot of different resources available, hard copy as well as digital.

Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list of resources, but they are all ones I’ve found useful.

Enjoy learning!

Mental Health Stigmas

[TW slurs, self-harm, suicide]

(Taking a break from the gender posts as for a lot of what’s to come I can’t speak to the experience. I am working on resolving this however.)

We’ve all seen the horrible words thrown at people with mental health issues, we’ve used a lot of them ourselves: “mad”, “crazy”, “psycho”, “loony”.

In many ways, our views on mental health haven’t moved much beyond the era where people could pay to see the “nutters” in Bedlam. Because a lot of the time they’re invisible illnesses, they’re seen as attention-seeking, excuse-making, easy to break out from.

“Ach, cheer up, it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be.”

“You just need to get up and do something, exercise is good for shaking the blues.”

“Have you just tried pushing through it?”

Why is it, when we would never tell someone to get up and run a marathon if they had broken their leg, that we expect someone with a mental health issue to be able to push on as though nothing has happened?

Why is it that mental health issues are these not talked about taboos, to such an extent that in Britain the suicide rate remains at 10.8 deaths per 100,000, and the rate for young males is still 3 times higher than that of young woman (discounting for those misgendered after death)?

I have a theory:

We are terrified of mental health issues because they can affect ANYONE at ANY TIME

Unlike physical injuries, that can be avoided by training right, avoiding certain activities, or healed up in relatively quick order with medication or operations, mental health issues are often a long-term issue, requiring hours upon hours of treatment.

They’re seen as a weakness. They can appear out of nowhere. And they can literally affect anyone at any time. They don’t discriminate.

And yet. And yet.

A large part of it is again to do with sexism and misogyny. Mental health issues are seen as things that happens to women because they are weak and overemotional, and it’s not manly to talk about being depressed or anxious.

That’s bullshit.

There are plenty of campaigns now about seeing past the facade, about making a space to talk, especially when it comes to young men. One of the ones I saw which I actually liked was one of the Mandictionary ads, which usually annoy the shit out of me (I admit it is a personal bias against unnecessary portmanteaus).

The word in question was ‘Manish’, which their definition meant ‘banishing sensitive behaviour from typically manly places, like the pub’.

Now, that’s bullshit. We all know that. What I like about this though is it leave the unspoken idea that places that aren’t typically “manly”, like your house, or in the car or whatever, are good places to talk about these things. MEN CAN BE SENSITIVE.

It’s bullshit that we have to have campaigns like this, but our generation have centuries of sexist and misogynistic leanings to fight off, so it’s a start.

Of course, there are many charities available to speak to about these things if you’re having a bad day, Samaritans being the most well known. But this also puts a lot of pressure on the individual battling the mental health issue to be strong enough to reach out for help by themselves.

If we can remove the stigmas against mental health, and make it just part of our practice to ask friends “How are you today?”, and have them feel they are able to tell us the truth without being judged, we are going to go a long way to help each other.

Mental health issues are not something anyone asks for, and they are horrendous to deal with, but we need to stop judging people who carry on with them regardless.

And yes, this is a bit of a rant because mental ill health is something that affects me personally, but I also think that we just need to be better people, so take from this what you will.

I point you to this strip by Robot Hugs for a handy way to remember what I’ve said above.

Cultural Appropriation

[TW: racism, slurs]

This is what cultural appropriation looks like:

Cultural appropriation is when people, usually white people, take something that is native to another culture and decide it’s totally fine for them to have it too. This often follows from said white people deciding said thing is not ok for the native culture to have, like the dreadlocks scenario above.

You see it all over the place: t-shirt stating that “[unicorn/monster/totally arbitrary thing] is my spirit animal”, dreamcatcher tattoos, white folks with locks, white boys thinking they can out-rap the black artists.

Sports teams using racist images as their logos, like the Washington Red Skins.

And it is really not ok.

Cultural appropriation takes something that is sacred and treasured by a people and turns into marketable tat, or “edgy” fashion choices for white people. It dehumanises and delegitimises the (often) indigenous culture, erasing people and history all for the sake of a new t-shirt.

For example, spirit animals are an important part of many (though not all) Native American peoples spiritual belief systems, such as the Manataka and the Anishinaabe. It is not ok for us to walk in rough shod, and take an important part of their culture to make a cute slogan. Besides, we have thousands of other terms we can use instead – the ever popular one is Patronus, but I’ve already explained my problems with JKR. (You can read them here.)

It’s ever pertinent in our society too: how many times have we seen news stories about Black girls being told they can’t wear their natural hair in school, instead having to pay a fortune to have it chemically straightened into “acceptable” styles? Or that Black folx with locks look “unprofessional”, and are often turned away from jobs?

The one I’ve had most personal experience with is the fetishisation of Japanese culture: I studied Japanese as my undergrad, because I love languages and history, but the amount of people who assumed it was because I loved anime was disturbing. Worse was seeing classmates who gave themselves “Japanese names” and then refused to answer to their Western ones, or claimed they only found Japanese women attractive (they tended to be straight men). It weirded me out in a way I didn’t quite understand at the time, but can look back on it now as complete appropriation to fit the fetish they had.

And it’s gross.

White people have a lot to answer for, we ruin a lot of things, but cultural appropriation goes beyond merely upsetting people: it’s a disregard for the humanity, history and reality of cultures around the world, and it’s time we stepped up and did better.


Non-Binary Genders

Hint: there are many. Check this wiki for a long but likely not complete list.

Also, the lovely Rose Marie, who you will find @bodyimageguru on Twitter, has this super rad list: http://www.bodyimageguru.com/genderspectrum.html

I’m not going to talk about all the individual terms here, but the more general umbrella terms, which will hopefully make things a little clearer.

Non-Binary genders means exactly what it says: they are genders that don’t fit in the dreaded gender binary. There are many ways to identify as non-binary, and with all these things, it is important to note that some people who fall under these umbrella categories would rather use a specific term, so be respectful.

Let’s go!

  • Transgender. This one pulls a double shift: it can be used for people who are binary gender, but their gender doesn’t match the one assigned at birth, but it can also just be used for people who’s gender simply goes outside society’s “norms”. It is important to note also that someone may identify as non-binary transgender, which simply means that they are not the gender assigned at birth, but they’re not the binary opposite of that gender either.
  • Non-Binary. an umbrella term for people who don’t identify as just male or female. Important to note, non-binary can be used as an identity in itself.
  • Intergender. Intergender people have a non-binary gender and were born with intersex bodies. This has been historically conflated with androgyne/androgynous, which is a neutral blend between male and female.
  • Genderqueer. This is a non-normative gender identity or expression. I talked about it last time.
  • Agender. This is people who have no inner feeling of gender, so they are without. It is as simple as that.
  • Neutrois. As the name suggests, a neutral blend of gender identities. This can be different from androgyne as androgyne tends to refer to a blend of the binary genders.
  • Genderfluid. This is for people who feel they have different gender identities at different times. In the same way as non-binary and transgender can double up with other identities, so can genderfluid.

That all looks rather scary, but it’s actually pretty simple when you break it down to umbrella categories like this. And whilst no one is expecting you to learn the minutiae of all the individual labels, you should at least know the different branches of gender expression, and above all be respectful.

Your non-binary friend doesn’t want to hear a long story about how you find it difficult to remember they are genderqueer trans guy when all they really want is for you to use the pronouns they asked and respect them as a person.

Good luck!

Calling Out vs Calling In

Calling Out is pretty obvious, right? Calling out is when you make a point of pointing out someone’s shit, so that they see that they have done something awful, and other people can see that they’ve done something awful and help lend some perspective to the matter.

The biggest problem with calling out? It often becomes a dog-pile.

It can be useful though: As seen today, when OUT magazine decided to give eternal Shitclown in Chief a cover and article to spout his misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and outright disgusting attitude everywhere.

When we said “put queers in media”, this is not what we meant.

Calling out in this case has a positive effect though: it shows people that OUT are worth boycotting, that Shitclown (I refuse to use his real name) is vile, and it makes it clear to those watching that we will not stand being represented by this sort of shite.

It doesn’t always work though.

This is where Calling In comes in handy. Here’s a quick rundown of what Calling In is.

In essence, it’s a more private, compassionate way of bringing up and discussing someone’s oppressive behaviour. Like is noted at the bottom of the Black Girl Dangerous article I linked, calling in is for use with people we want to see at the other side.

Calling in can take many forms: when the conversation is happening online, it can be through private messages, away from the timelines where other people will see it. In person, it can be taking the person to another room for a private conversation, phoning them after the event, even sending them an email.

Calling in is not wimping out of calling out oppression.

If you’re going to call in on someone, you need to be prepared, however. Whilst calling out can put the oppression in general out there for a variety of people to help explain the issue, calling in, being a more private affair, means that you are likely going to be the only point of contact the person has on the issue, and so you’re going to need to be patient.

It doesn’t have to be at the time; text a friend and say you need to have a chat with them later that night, email someone saying you might not get back to them immediately, but you will see their email. It will take time and effort, but it is always worth it.

Do remember however, you do not need to be anyone’s teaching moment. If the person you’re talking to has questions outside the issue you called them in on, you don’t have to answer them. Point them to resources, or tell them what terms to search, but do not overstretch yourself if they don’t deserve it.

So when should you call out vs. call in?

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should use one or the other, but in general:

  1. If it is someone who puts themselves out there, such as a celebrity, business or publication, chances are they will be called out. Chances are you won’t be the only one who has noticed their oppression. However, if you think a quick behind the scenes message stating how they can be better is more appropriate, go for it.
  2. If it is someone from a marginalised group, who may be in trouble if you call them out and put their name all over social media, don’t do that. Like I said before, these things can often turn into dog-piles, and many marginalised folx have been harmed as a result, so in this case definitely a more private calling in would be suitable.
  3. If it is someone you know closely, calling in is definitely the better option. Chances are this is a person you like, you would like to remain friends with, and slating them in front of other people you know isn’t going to do either of you any favours.


Again, none of this is hard and fast, so use your best judgement. We all make mistakes, and whilst best practice is to own them, lean and grow, but sometimes it takes others pointing out our mistakes for us to realise.

Here’s another useful article about calling in: Everyday Feminism “Guide to Calling In”



This is my favourite type of queer to be.

Genderqueer Adj.

denoting or relating to a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

I like to use it to fuck with people, because just when they’re getting their heads around me presenting in a way that might be classed as the guy I say I am, I go back and do something coded female, like wearing make up or a dress and just screw with them. It’s so much fun.

Genderqueer, despite being a relatively new term has already been added to the dictionary, and is an important term in LGBTQIA+ communities. It is an umbrella term that can cover a large variety of gender identities, can be presented in a multitude of different ways, and is just a fun word to say.

It is important to note, as with other labels on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, not everyone who isn’t cisgender will use genderqueer as a descriptor, and not everyone likes it.

So why is it useful?

  1. It’s a quick way of denoting non-binary gender. One of the biggest complaints I hear is that “there are so many new genders, it’s so confusing”. And it’s really fucking tiring having to hear that over and over, and then describe a gender identity repeatedly. As how people understand “queer” to mean “not heterosexual” (to simplify things), hopefully “genderqueer” can come to mean “not cisgender” in the same way, and make it a lot less tiring and stressful for people to describe their gender identities.
  2. It saves time. Pretty straight forward this one.
  3. It stops folx having to go into detail they don’t want to. As I said in this post, sometimes it’s not entirely safe for someone to be out, or they don’t feel comfortable going into details about something that is very personal. Genderqueer, like queer, could become a shorthand for “not cis, but don’t want to talk about it”.

As with all gender identities, how and if a person is genderqueer is entirely personal and will differ from person to person: again, just because one person uses it doesn’t mean you can use it for everyone, and you should respect individual wishes.

Here are some other accounts of being genderqueer:

Jacob Tobia’s account.

Several accounts from staff at GenderQueerID

Explaining genderqueer to Cis folx at Neutrois Nonsense


The problem with JK Rowling

There is one word that sums up the issue with JK Rowling:


I literally just wrote about how her white feminism is a problem yesterday, and then we get this nonsense. Let’s strap in, and take apart the problem with JK Rowling.

So why are people so annoyed at her? Apart from her misrepresentations in the book as she wrote them (see her portrayal of Asian characters), but she continues this in her wider universe – just look at her appropriation of Native cultures without due diligence or even consulting the folx who’s culture she is destroying. There’s also her queer baiting, just the term for which should show how much of a problem it is.

Today’s furore is over her retroactive declaration that Lupin’s being a werewolf is a metaphor for HIV. Which is fucked up in itself, but the fact that, in particular in the queer community, folx who are HIV+ are often stigmatised as promiscuous monsters, and her portrayal of werewolves in the novels doesn’t help.

JK is good at the retroactive diversity declarations too; remember when she suddenly announced Dumbledore was gay?

So what, you might ask, surely we should be applauding diversity in our books? But that’s the real crux of the issue: she isn’t being diverse. Issues of diversity don’t affect rich, cishet white women like JK Rowling, and she’s not going to go out of her way to upset that status quo.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this was a misguided attempt to be an ally, but it’s not: she’s doubling down and refusing to learn, which is so selfish in someone who has the attention of millions that it leaves me rather lost for words.

Time for a list of issues within these greater issues:

  1. Retroactive diversity isn’t true diversity. When you have a world as vast as the one JK has created for Harry and his pals, you shouldn’t need to go back and declare things are diverse. You have the space and tools you need right in front of you to create true diversity.
  2. This becomes the benchmark for diversity. JK has the attentions of millions of people around the world, many of whom defend her vehemently, and what she is saying to them through her actions is that this is an acceptable practice in diversity, and a benchmark to aim for.
  3. She still hasn’t consulted the people actually affected by the issues she’s writing about. The ham-fisted way she goes about writing about these issues, again mostly retroactively, shows she’s not done her research, or even spoken to people affected by the issues. Again this is a terrifying thought when she has the attention of millions: they are going to think this is good practice.
  4. She has the ability to show that diverse SFF sells, and amplify marginalised voices. If she spoke to people affected, and told their stories, she would do wonders for diverse SFF. Better yet, if she used her clout to boost signal on people writing about these issues in authentic voices, she would do wonders for the society as a whole.
  5. It’s sheer laziness. That’s the biggest insult of the lot: she’s doing so much damage out of sheer laziness, but she will still be awarded for being a brilliant ally.

I write this as someone who preordered the Harry Potter books, who devoured them as a teenager, but even then I was pairing Harry and Ron together before I knew what shipping was, because I was desperate for characters like me. I was disappointed that the Patil twins were only ever used as dates for Harry and Ron, that Cho was only ever there to be a point of contention between Harry and Cedric. That Dean Thomas was just a brief fling for Ginny, Angelina Johnson only there as future wife material for George.

That Luna, in her neurodiverse way, was only there to be a convenient plot device, because her unusual way of seeing the world got JK out of holes she had written herself into. Like Luna being able to see the thestrals gave them a suddenly convenient and speedy method of getting to the Ministry.

The whole thing feels like a massive wasted opportunity: there were so many chances to make queer, neurodiverse, non-white characters into fantastic, interesting role models for so many kids. Just seeing someone who was like me in popular media like that would have made me feel so much more comfortable in my skin, because it would have made me feel more validated in my existence.

The retroactive declarations of this diversity strikes me of JK suddenly jumping on the bandwagon of being a good ally, and wanting people to know what a good person she is. The fact that she is unwilling to listen when the people she is writing about call her out on her inaccuracies, and instead double down on her insistence that she is right, makes her dangerous.

This tweet sums it all up beautifully:

White Feminism

Leading on from the post about problematic feminists, it is important to talk about white feminism, what it is, and why it’s not really the best option.

White feminism is so called because it tends to be practiced by middle class, white women. It’s simple as that.

The reason it becomes a problem is that these women, whilst marginalised in some ways, tend not to look outside themselves and their sphere of society, and so practice feminism in a way that only helps middle class white women.

Truth time: middle class white women aren’t actually that oppressed.

Feminism as a practice needs to be intersectional, in that it needs to include discussions of race, gender, disability, ethnicity and class. All of these things are interlinked, but white feminism disregards this.

A great recent example that most people have seen: JK Rowling and her portrayal of Asian women in the books themselves, or her appropriation of Native culture without due diligence or even consulting the folx who’s culture she’s abusing. Yet because one of her main characters (arguably the most valuable of the main trio) is female, and she is notably charitable, she gets a pass on this bullshit.

Another prominent example in Britain is the Women’s Equality Party. Now, this was started with good intentions, but Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer aren’t short of cash, they’re not facing daily violence over the colour of their skin, they’re not being sent to the margins of society because they are involved in the sex industry. Their big arguments at the moment are for closing the wage gap, and “battling the fashion industry on their ridiculous standards for women”. Both of which are admirable, but issues that primarily affect white women who get into jobs where the wage gap becomes noticeable, or have the money to be buying the high fashion items in the first place.

As I said before, equality won’t help matters; we need to aim for equity.

It is important to note that white feminists quite likely don’t go into it with intentions of further marginalising anyone, but that is often what their practices do. And saying that they’re white, that’s all they know, isn’t an excuse either: look at Laura Bates’ ‘Girl Up!’ (which I write a loveletter to here) and how in the introduction she uses inclusive language to make her feminist theory more intersectional. It can be as simple as that.

One of the best practices we can have in feminism is calling in: this being when we see someone make a statement or perform an action they claim is feminist, but it serves to marginalise further, and we talk to them about it. Calling out is when you public decry them, best practice is with examples, whilst calling in tends to be more private, and gives the individual the chance to make the correction themselves.

No one is perfect: I know I’ve done things that would come under white feminism in my time, but I have been called out and called in, and I have sucked it up and learned. We need to stop celebrating mediocrity, and push for better. We also need to stop giving people a pass because they’re famous. They’re the ones arguably in the position to make the most difference, as they have millions of eyes on them, so they absolutely should be called out when their feminism isn’t as intersectional as it could be.