TEAM ZOELLA JUNE 8, 2021

13 Questions with Ruby Rare

We caught up with one of our favourite follows on Instagram, the always informing and inspiring Ruby Rare! Ruby is a sex educator who uses her platform to spread education and insight on tons of subjects including pleasure, monogamy, pronouns, the LQBTQIA+ community, consent, body acceptance, ethical porn and so much more.

First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?

I’m doing pretty good! I moved to the seaside at the start of this year and it’s done wonders for my mental health. It’s given me the headspace to focus on creative projects as well as sex education. Still feeling quite introverted after over a year of staying at home, but I’m focussing on going at my own pace when it comes to social interactions and dating IRL again.

Can you tell us about the work you do online?

I’m a sex educator, and I mostly talk about pleasure, queerness, and non-monogamy. It’s all about challenging preconceptions of what we’ve been taught sex ‘should’ look like, and helping people gain the confidence to have sex in the ways they truly want to. I also talk about body positivity – through showing the (mostly) joyful relationship I have with my wibbly wobbly body on instagram, as well as running Body Love Sketch Club with my pal Rosy Pendlebaby.

BLSC is a body-positive life drawing class where everyone
is invited to pose (nude or clothed) as well as draw, as a way of exploring our relationships with our bodies and celebrating nudity in a non-sexual setting. We’ve been running classes virtually since the start of the pandemic, and it’s been a great way to feel connected to myself and everyone who attends while we’ve not been able to see each other in person. It’s a really beautiful space if I say so myself!

How did you get started in sex positive/sex education work?

I started working for Brook, the UK’s leading sexual health charity for young people, 6 years ago. Before then I’d had an interest in sex positivity, but it wasn’t until I started going into classrooms and teaching young people relationship and sex education (RSE) that I realised just how important it is! A few years later, when I was still with Brook, I ran my first workshop for an adult audience (it was about how to consume porn in a
mindful and positive way). I found that adult audiences had just as many questions as the teenagers she worked with – wherever we’re at in life, there’s always more we can learn about sex.

Just like us you’re a huge advocate for self-pleasure, why do you think it’s so important for us to talk openly about it online?

By denying the existence of pleasure, or stigmatising it, we create layers of
shame which is so hard to unpack, and this has a massive impact on our self-esteem in so many parts of life, not just when we’re having sex. Pleasure is something we are all able to generate for ourselves, how, when, and if we feel like it, and I’m proud to be one of the voices advocating for a celebration of self-pleasure.

What opinions would you love to see change in the mainstream media over the next few years?

I could spend hours answering this… but in short, I want mainstream media to cultivate a more sex-positive attitude, whether that’s part of a conversation explicitly about pleasure, or about broader cultural topics. Oh and if they could celebrate trans lives instead of questioning and scrutinising trans folks, that would be great too!

We’re super excited to see your announcement for a podcast! What can
people expect to tune into?

Thank you! I’m so excited for people to listen. Each episode I’m exploring a topic that’s close to my heart – nudity, kink, non-monogamy, surviving sexual assault – and I talk to several different guests about it to present a multi-faceted experience for the listener. I’m all about showing how nuanced these massive topics can be, and celebrating how varied
our perspectives can be.

Can you tell us about your book ‘Sex Ed: A Guide for Adults’ and how it came to be?

I don’t think sex is talked about half as much as it should be. And the conversations we do have about sex aren’t focused enough on pleasure! I wanted to create a guide where readers felt welcomed into a sex-positive world, full of tips and practical information, as well as a space where they’d feel reassured that their sexual is valid and glorious just as it is. And I’m so grateful to Sofie Birkin for creating such gorgeous illustrations throughout
the book. This isn’t a book about quick fixes to ‘spice up your sex life’. It provides a way of looking at your sexual pleasure with more agency, acceptance, and joy, which I hope will make a long term difference to people’s lives.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m in podcast-mode most of the time, you’ll be able to hear what
I’m cooking up later in the year. And I’ve got lots of exciting content planned for pride month, which will be out soon.

Who are some of your current favourite follows?

So many to choose from! @iamrukiat, @squirtingisntpee,
@decolonisingcontraception, and @s3xtheorywithdemi are my current
favourite sex-positive accounts. And @pelillosalamar’s page always brings
me such joy, their brightly coloured images of bodies are gorgeous!

What does your perfect weekend look like?

I spend so much time on screens during the week, I do my best to take a pause from Instagram and emails over the weekend to reset. Now I’m a full-time seaside babe, my perfect weekend is leaving my phone at home, and heading to the beach for a day of swimming and frolicking with my loved ones. I’d want to be in a nude-friendly space, with an ice lolly in one hand and a vegan jelly in the other (I bloody love jelly). And once the sun sets, I’d throw on my silliest sparkly outfit and head to a queer club. Although I’m a granny at heart, so in this dream scenario I either have the stamina to dance all night, or I’d be back home and tucked up in bed by 1!

What do you always carry with you?

I always have my massive pair of orange-tinted sunglasses on me. Even if it’s a cloudy day, the lenses brighten up my surroundings and make me smile! And I have an emergency sachet of cystitis medication in my bag at all times, cos my urethra can go from tranquil to a burning hellscape in a matter of minutes… always be prepared!

What would your last ever meal be?

A ginormous, over-the-top jelly! Vegan of course, and hopefully large enough that I could dive into it.

What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?

Your relationship to sex has the potential to impact your whole life, and it’s worth putting the time in to learn and explore. Be brave, stay curious and communicate with yourself and those around you. Never forget that you are worthy of respect, love, pleasure and FUN!

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 28, 2021

We Tried: Smile Makers Collective Vibrators

If you came here for a good time and first hand (ahem) write-ups of what is essentially the opening chapter of a collection of masturbation memoirs, you’ve landed in the right spot.

Vibrators have enjoyed quite the glow up recently and for that we say AMEN.

Between the thumping bedside table rabbits and medieval looking bullets, it was was slim pickings back there for a while but now, our sex toys are finally as beautiful as they are effective. We can only hope their rumbling vibrations set off the machines at the airport because the world needs to see how pretty pleasure can be.

Step aside ears and ammunition, for the self-pleasure menu has evolved into an all you can eat buffet of slick and silent greatness with the likes of The Firefighter to The French Lover (it has a tongue) coming through with all the battery life, outrageous good looks and clitoral chivalry we need from our sex toys.

If this is the first you’re hearing of this iconic duo, you’re about to have the meet-cute of your life. They’re two proud members of the Smile Makers Collective and trust us when we say they are men of their word.

From oral sex simulators to vulva vibrators, there’s a toy for every kind of pleasure in the Smile Makers squad, so naturally we had to try them out because we take our jobs very seriously and what good is a section of the website dedicated to We Tried reviews if we’re not going to road test sex toys, for crying out loud.

If you came here for a good time and first hand (ahem) write-ups of what is essentially the opening chapter of a collection of masturbation memoirs, you’ve landed in the right spot. Carry on reading to find out what happened when six women were let loose with a bunch of vibrators…

The French Lover

If there’s one thing Smile Makers do very well, it’s tearing up trash taboos around self-pleasure, one vibrator at a time. All their products are pretty, playful, approachable (sorry, just over here making them sound like a soppy ol’ Labrador) and aesthetically superior, making masturbation something to celebrate and embrace on the daily.

Let’s just say he had me at bonjour.

After taking the quiz to figure out which toy was most compatible for me, I was coupled up with The French Lover and let’s just say he had me at bonjour. A sex toy with a tongue? I don’t care that the world has re-opened. Pub gardens can wait, I’m good here. Staying in, just me and my lady garden.

The French Lover has a sensual touch to mimic oral sex so if you’re not keen on vigorous, heavy-handed clit stimulation, you guys will hit it off right away. The vibrator is made of silicone with a soft top which, if you’re used to the targeted vibrations of a bullet for example, might take you by surprise but not necessarily in a bad way.

You can also use in tandem with an internal vibrator if, like me, you like the best of both worlds.

The best way I can describe the texture of the ‘tongue’ so to speak, is like one those battery-operated portable fans with the foam blades. The speed and pulsation modes enable you to tailor the pressure should you want a firmer smooch but clit-teasing is really The French Lover’s speciality. You can also use in tandem with an internal vibrator if, like me, you like the best of both worlds. Great for coupled sex and solo adventures alike, anyone would be blessed to have this in their life. It’s a right French fancy.

Top tip: go to town with the lube for a more realistic oral sex experience. Shop the French Lover here!

The Tennis Pro

Well if there’s ever a product I’ve looked forward to reviewing, this is it. I genuinely really enjoyed the whole process, from choosing the toy, to giving it a spin.

I did the quiz online to determine which one of the toys I wanted to try out. I tend to prefer penetrative sex and haven’t found my g-spot so the Tennis Pro was an obvious choice. It’s angled to target the g-spot and has different settings for how fast you want to vibrations.

The product comes with a great leaflet teaching you how to explore yourself and is really insightful. I was so excited to play a match with the Tennis Pro (hehe, see what I did) I was sure I was going to find my g-spot first time round. But after a few tries, no luck unfortunately.
Despite having not found my g-spot, it was still very enjoyable. And what a shame, I’ll have to keep trying.

I think the whole smile makers experience makes the idea of self pleasure less daunting and will definitely be purchasing from smile makers again.

I think the whole smile makers experience makes the idea of self pleasure less daunting and will definitely be purchasing from smile makers again. I always thought the idea of buying your friend a vibrator was weird but this is so pretty, I kind of understand it more now.

The packaging is discrete and I can say hands down this is the prettiest sex toy I’ve ever seen. Shop The Tennis Pro here.

The Firefighter

Hellooo Firefighter. I don’t know if this name is supposed to conjure up images of wet, wet, wet but my hopes were certainly high as this toy is unlike anything I’ve used before and its description definitely gets the pulse racing. Initially I have to say it took me a while to work out exactly the best position and pressure to apply as I’m normally a fan of clitoral stimulation exclusively and the focus this toy has on the labia too was a little different.

I really loved how many settings and rhythms there were whilst still being really quiet- maybe the quietest toy I own!

The toy has been designed to give some love to this area and create more intense, and potentially multiple orgasms. I enjoyed the vibration and pulsing here too but did still feel like the clitoris stimulation runs the show for me and this could have been more intense personally. Maybe it just takes some getting used to but I think I would have preferred the most intense vibration on the nose of the toy whereas it felt like it was mostly on the outer part which focuses on the labia.

Despite that, I really loved how many settings and rhythms there were and how each provided something a little different whilst still being really quiet- maybe the quietest toy I own! The material is SO silky smooth and really lovely to use against the skin too. I absolutely love the Smile Makers website and Instagram and how accessible their content is which makes the idea of trying something new feel exciting and not intimidating. The Firefighter lives on my bedside table and its pastel pink gorgeousness is something I’m more than happy to have out on display. We love to see it! Shop The Firefighter here.

The Billionaire

Where do I start, I was so excited to be reviewing a Smile Makers product, especially because I already owned the Firefighter which is a really, really good vibrator. What I particularly like about Smile Makers is they are super user friendly, fantastic for someones first sex toy as they aren’t intimidating at all. The packaging is super cute, the ethos behind the company is fabulous as well, I like that it’s all centred around the needs and desires of people with vulvas.

So I did the Smile Makers online quiz to determine what toy was best suited for me. I did want to try something out that offered clitoral and penetrative stimulation, so was pretty happy when I was recommended The Billionaire which does just that. The material is super smooth and feels really luxurious on the skin. This vibrator has some pretty intense vibration settings too, I was actually quite taken aback when I first turned it on ha!

I really wanted to find a toy which made me enjoy penetrative masturbation, but actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that the clitoris is where the sweet spot is for me and penetration can be left for sex.

After using the Firefighter for so long this was a nice change to experiment with something more clitoral focused and oh boy did it come through. I must admit I didn’t really use it for penetrative pleasure, I don’t particularly get that turned on by penetration when masturbating as I find penetration more pleasurable with another person. I really wanted to find a toy which made me enjoy penetrative masturbation, but actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that the clitoris is where the sweet spot is for me and penetration can be left for sex.

The power of this vibrator is INSANE. Like… I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking to buy a new vibrator. I have always struggled to hit climax with vibrators or any sex toys, it’s always felt good but I’ve never completely finished. Well… this, has changed the game. So 10/10 Smile Makers!

The French Lover

So, sex toy review didn’t think I’d ever be doing this for work but hey ho there we go! Even though this is anonymous I’m still feeling pretty vulnerable as I do genuinely want to share my experience with you and not just tell you about the speeds and features of my newly beloved French Lover.

When I first had a look at Smile Makers reinvented original collection I was definitely drawn to the Firefighter, I’m not sure why, I think the shape of it just looked like something that would fit nicely in the ol’ vulva and apply the majority of the pressure to the clitoris, however after taking their quick quiz to determine what would be right for me I ended up with The French Lover.

I believe this kind of hinged on how intense I liked my vibrations which I clicked ‘light’ but I wasn’t 100% sure on, as I didn’t know how severe I liked my vibes. The French Lover’s main aim is to mimic oral sex which is why it has a tongue-like shape to it. I can’t remember what I was expecting before trying out Frenchie, I don’t own a ton of sex toys but my most classically used is more like a hard shaft (lol) that I would mostly use on my clitoris, so I was excited to give something more gentle a try.

I always knew that there were lots of different pleasure points around the vulva but using this toy really helped me realise how great they can feel.

There are so many different places you can use the French Lover on to get a different sensation, I always knew that there were lots of different pleasure points around the vulva but using this toy really helped me realise how great they can feel. You get 4 different speeds with 2 pulsation modes so even though I was expecting the vibes to be light, the 4th speed is pretty intense! The tongue like top is not hard it’s kind of flappy which is great for fitting into different creases (lol again) however it can kind of unfurl itself and scrape but I think it’s just a case of getting used to it and how to move it around, having a lot of lubrication probably also helps to limit that.

What else can I say except I really enjoyed using this both on my own and with a partner and it definitely brought me some great orgasms. I actually think this is a really good starter toy if you’re looking to experiment or if you’re a seasoned pro looking for something quite light and casual. I haven’t managed to try this one in the bath but I think it would work really well in there too!

Shop The Post

*This post is not part of a paid promotion however it contains gifted products and ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 19, 2021

Let’s Talk About Clitoral Orgasms!

We don’t need to tell the vagina-owners in the room that the clitoris is our sexual pleasure capital. Literally, its sole purpose is to exist to feel good and we respect that kind of thirst. Despite what porn and the movies would have you believe, the majority of women and people with vulvas cannot reach […]

We don’t need to tell the vagina-owners in the room that the clitoris is our sexual pleasure capital. Literally, its sole purpose is to exist to feel good and we respect that kind of thirst.

Despite what porn and the movies would have you believe, the majority of women and people with vulvas cannot reach orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. Say it louder for the people at the back.

Sixty percent of vulva owners in the UK say that clitoral stimulation is key to climax with a partner, whilst 64% say it is key to climax during masturbation.

To sum up, then: our clitoris is a big, huge throbbing deal – touch it enough times and sure enough, a genie will appear and grant all your wildest wishes, so why is our most powerful pleasure spot so misunderstood?

Let’s circle back to sex education for a hot minute. Traditional sex ed does an excellent job of neglecting the importance of pleasure in sex, particularly where women and vulva-having people are concerned.

It’s no coincidence that we grow up confusing our vulva and vagina because the female anatomy is only ever defined against the a heteronormative, penetration-centric societal norm but we are so much more than a semen bag-drop or child-bearing receptacle, my friends.

In a study commissioned by Smile Makers at the end of 2020, surveying 1,000 of women over the age of 20, only 12% said they had received a sex education that had equipped them well to understand their pleasure and 78% did not have access to either pleasure-positive sex education or other sources of information on the topic of pleasure.

We’re calling out traditional sex ed – time to get with the programme (that’s pleasure-based sex ed btw) and give our clitorises the airtime they deserves.

Clitoracy – The Mission to Make the Clitoris Known:

To fully understand clitoral orgasms and their pleasure-giving superpowers, we need to get up close and personal with our anatomy. Contrary to popular belief, the clitoris is much bigger than the little nub we think it is, like an iceberg, there’s a lot more going on under the surface. It is a sprawling underground empire, equipped with 8,000 nerve endings. That’s nearly twice the amount found in the head of the penis but please, do carry on teaching us about wet dreams and boners.

These structures have erectile tissues and much like the penis, they swell as you become aroused.

You see, our clitoris has legs. We’ll give you a second to let that sink in. It has two legs/roots, two bulbs, glans, nerves, blood vessels, a shaft and the capacity to become erect, so not like a tiny button at all, more like a structure that wraps around the vagina like a wishbone. These structures have erectile tissues and much like the penis, they swell as you become aroused. The part we see and often assume is the clitoris in its entirety is the pea-sized glans clitoris and clitoral hood which varies in size from person-to-person.

As the clitoris swells in size upon arousal, it can press against the anterior wall of the vagina around an area known as the G-spot. As the current state of science explains it, it is an erogenous zone through which both the vagina and the clitoris come in contact. This is why internal stimulation can partly be clitoral stimulation as well.

Setting the record straight on clitoral orgasms vs vaginal orgasms:

Turns out, they’re all one and the same after all (a school bell sounds, your work here is done, you can all go home). Vaginal orgasms are often credited as the best type of orgasm – we can all blame Sigmund Freud for that one – but as the vast majority of us who can’t reach orgasm without clitoral stimulation would suggest, those elusive vaginal Os are pretty hard to come by. Literally. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a whopping 75% of us need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.

Recent studies have pooh-poohed the idea that two types of orgasm even exist and that however they happen, it’s always down to the clitoris. Just how much land can one clitoris own?

Even vaginal orgasms reached via penetration are technically clitoral orgasms

To break it down, then, even vaginal orgasms reached via penetration are technically clitoral orgasms and knowing what we know now about the size of the clitoris, it makes perfect sense. The pleasure is all coming from the same place, it’s just being stimulated in different ways.

That’s not to say vaginal orgasms are a complete fabrication, they’re just a fairly rare phenomenon and the credit almost certainly belongs to – you guessed it – ya golden girl, The Clit.

Technique:

When it comes to stimulation, everyone has their own modus operandi. Some people like the whole palm of the hand to be involved, for others, it’s a combination of less pressure and soft touches or intense vibrations directly on the clitoris. Each vulva-having person has their preferences and there’s no rule of thumb (or finger, or vibrator) where your pleasure is concerned, which is why communication and experimentation is basically what’s going to get you all the way to tingle town.

Don’t be afraid to explore what makes you feel good whether you’re going solo or enjoying coupled sex. Pleasure can be found in all kinds of mysterious places, from using the flow of water from the shower head to making your pillow work hard but play harder. Get curious! There’s no right or wrong way to get your clit-kicks.

Best positions for clit stim

Stroking, massaging, vibrating and licking can all vary in intensity depending on your position. Some people find having their legs totally relaxed and stretched out gets them there, while others prefer being on all fours or on their stomachs against a pillow they can rub against. There’s no magic formula for clit stim.

During penetrative sex, clitorises can often get ignored and we do not accept that kind of neglect around here. There are plenty of positions you and your partner can have a go at to make sure your clitoris is always front and centre.

The Snake – lie on your front and stimulate your clitoris with a toy or your hands whilst a partner or a dildo enters from behind, let them slither in. Sorry, we’ll see ourselves out.

Spooning – whether it’s you or your partner reaching round, there’s plenty of access to the clitoris in this intimate position, just make sure you go full open sesame style with that top leg so your clitoris isn’t smuggled away. It’s basically a glorified cuddle and we’re here for it.

Downward doggy – now there’s a yoga move we’re heavily invested in. Lower your chest to the bed, keeping your hips raised whilst your partner or dildo enters you from behind. Your partner can reach around and stimulate your clitoris or you can pleasure yourself with your hands or a vibrator of your choice.

The Bridge – admittedly, the one’s not for the faint-hearted because it’s basically a Les Mills body conditioning class but getting into the bridge position with your back resting on the bed and your feet flat leaves your clitoris wide open for action.

Reverse Cowgirl – using your hands to balance, lean back so your partner can reach round with their fingers and caress your breasts and clitoris. Yee-haw.

Clit-block the shame game

We are so sick of women and vulva-owners carrying shame – shame for masturbating, shame for menstruating, shame for not being able to reach orgasm, it’s a tale as old as time isn’t it?

There’s enough pressure to reach certain goals in life, let’s not make having orgasms one of them.

It may be cliché but exploring your body and enjoying sex is as much about the exploration of selfhood as it is the grand finale and sure, whilst orgasms are great, feeling yourself in both the literal way and the Nicki Minaj way is where the real magic happens. There’s enough pressure to reach certain goals in life, let’s not make having orgasms one of them.

And whilst we’re on the subject of orgasms, how IS the Duke of Hastings lately? We’re a nation in mourning after the tragic Bridgerton Season 2 news and we’re going to need him to drop some fresh material as a matter of urgency.

TEAM ZOELLA APRIL 9, 2021

So, What is Sex-Positive & Pleasure-Based Sex Education?

P-l-e-a-s-u-r-e. That eight-letter word is likely something we stumble upon ourselves because traditional sex ed failed to tell us that sex and intimacy is for us to enjoy too, it’s not just something that happens to us to please men.

Something’s up with sex ed for young people, have you noticed? It sucks. There’s a clash between what parents want, what governing bodies and policy makers want and want teens and adults want and more importantly, let’s be real here, what they need.

Just look at how many of us still don’t know the difference between our vulva and our vagina.

The conversations around good, healthy, consensual sex, aren’t happening soon enough, if at all, leaving young people (particularly women and girls) disconnected from their bodies and their own pleasure potential. Just look at how many of us still don’t know the difference between our vulva and our vagina. That’s one big crying shame.

P-l-e-a-s-u-r-e. That eight-letter word is likely something we stumble upon ourselves because traditional sex ed failed to tell us that sex and intimacy is for us to enjoy too, it’s not just something that happens to us to please men.

The fundamentals of sex-positive education

Sex-positive sex education stresses consent and pleasure rather than fear and shame. It advocates for knowledge, champions curiosity and confidence and cultivates the skills necessary for developing gender-equitable, mutually respectful relationships.

It facilitates communication and provides people with the lexicon to talk about sex without embarrassment or fear

A sex-positive approach is shame-free, inclusive and progressive. It facilitates communication and provides people with the lexicon to talk about sex without embarrassment or fear, to make informed choices about their sexuality and verbalise their boundaries. It’s equipping people with the skills and awareness to say yes, yes, yes as well as no and enjoy healthy, fulfilling relationships free of coercion, violence and taboo.

Standard sex education practices create a disproportionate focus on the negative health risks and consequences of sex, eradicating pleasure and sex-positive information from the conversation altogether, particularly in relation to physical and emotional wellbeing.
Sex-positive education fills in those blanks, so teens and grown-ups alike can manage their personal and social lives with confidence.

Body awareness

Pleasure anatomy isn’t part of our compulsory learning (yet) and as a result, a lot of us would have a hard time correctly identifying our vulva or drawing our clitoris to scale. It’s kind of like when you realise how long an owl’s legs are. Mind-blown.

According to a survey by a UK gynaecological cancer charity Eve Appeal, 6 out of 10 of women could correctly label the anatomy of the male body, but only a third of them could correctly map the female anatomy. There is a lack of education on the sexual anatomy, especially female sexual anatomy.

The reason the orgasm gap exists is largely thanks to a cultural ignorance of the clitoris.

We learn about our bodies through the lens of fear-based sex education, unwanted pregnancies, menstruation and STIs. Our clitoris is a bit like a vaginal Voldemort (or a vulva-mort if we’re being pedantic about anatomy, which we are), an unspeakable thing we wouldn’t even know how to talk about because it doesn’t do much other than ya know, gift us with the majority of our orgasms. It isn’t the proud owner of 8,000 nerve endings for nothing, guys! The reason the orgasm gap exists is largely thanks to a cultural ignorance of the clitoris. And that’s the tea. Pleasure-based sex education is here to give our clitoris the mic.

In a study commissioned by Smile Makers at the end of 2020, surveying 1,000 of women over the age of 20, only 12% said they had received a sex education that had equipped them well to understand their pleasure and 78% did not have access to either pleasure-positive sex education or other sources of information on the topic of pleasure.

That study also showed that women who have had access to pleasure-positive sex education lead indeed happier sex lives.

The impact of pleasure-positive sex education

A striking finding of the Smile Makers survey was that women who have had access to pleasure-positive sex education are 26% more likely than others to be satisfied with their sex lives. They are 16% more likely to say they know their body sexually well and 20% more likely to say that their partner knows their body well. They are also two times more likely to have turned COVD-19 lockdowns into positive experiences and to reflect on how they will adjust their sexual behaviours to a post-pandemic world.

Challenging gender norms

Sex positive and pleasure-based sex education acknowledges a greater diversity of sexualities, challenging societal norms and the heteronormative discourse and ensuring minority groups are seen understood and represented.

People want LGBTQ+ content and sexual health information that equips all sexual orientations with the education and medically accurate information they need.

Sex ed content is often incredibly binary, limited to menstruation for girls, erections and wet dreams for boys, which further perpetuates the disparity between girls and boys and the notion of reproduction vs sexual arousal.

Pleasure is not a dirty word

There is a concern that education programmes with explicit focus on sexuality and pleasure will encourage more sex but research shows pleasure-based sex ed, combined with honest comprehensive discussions and safer sex messaging, can not only help reduce unwanted pregnancies and STIs but also foster a safer, healthier and more inclusive society. Discussing pleasure alongside basic anatomy, unplanned pregnancies and STIs can enhance equality and empowerment for all.

The team at Smile Makers, working with sexual health experts, define pleasure-positive sex education as “an invitation to look at sexuality as a human experience that contributes positively to our overall wellbeing. It aims at providing a more authentic, inclusive and joyful understanding of sex and sexual pleasure, and in the process, at debunking shame.

Sex positive education can still be age-appropriate, and the learning can be tailored to suit the needs of all students.

Sex positive education can still be age-appropriate, and the learning can be tailored to suit the needs of all students. When children and teens are unwilling to discuss sex because of the inherent shame and systemic stigma, they’re more likely to remain silent when sexual assault or abuse occurs.

Education starts with normalising pleasure as a fundamental part of being human, firstly, outside of the context of sex – what feels good, what’s fulfilling? This then fosters a healthy and positive mindset around the pursuit of pleasure and facilitates the same awareness and mindfulness when applied to sexual relationships later in life, not just for male able bodies but for all bodies.

Change is happening

For the first time 20 years, the official government guidance on relationships and sex education and health education (RSE) has been updated and since September last year, it has been compulsory for all schools to teach this new curriculum.

In primary schools, RSE will focus on the fundamental building blocks and characteristics of positive relationships, with particular reference to family relationships (including single-parent families, adoptive parents, LGBTQ+ parents) and friendships. According to Gov.uk, they’ll learn about the concept of personal space, boundaries and understanding the differences between appropriate or inappropriate/unsafe physical, and other, contact.

There’s no mention of pleasure or masturbation, so there’s still a long way to go where sex-positive and pleasure-based education is concerned

RSE in secondary schools will cover contraception, internet safety, developing intimate relationships and resisting the pressure to have sex / not applying pressure to have sex, gender identity, FGM (female genital mutilation) what consent is and what it’s not, the definitions and recognitions of rape, HIV/AIDS, sexual assault and harassment and facts around pregnancy and miscarriage.

There’s no mention of pleasure or masturbation, so there’s still a long way to go where sex-positive and pleasure-based education is concerned but now RSE is going to be reviewed every three years, there’s hope for a more inclusive syllabus and a safer, more empowered generation, yet.

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 20, 2021

The Self-Pleasure Starter Pack: Intimate Toys for Newcomers

Whether you’re in the market for a solo toy to level up your masturbation or looking for something kinky you can try with your partner, we’re here to make this a purely - pleasurable - shopping experience.

Have you ever heard the terms rabbit and bullet bandied around and thought, now there’s a duo I wouldn’t want to find anywhere near my vagina? Then hello and welcome, this is blog post that is entirely weighted in favour of your orgasms.

f you’re a self-pleasure fledgling, picking an intimate product can be as stressful as trying to pack your bags at an Aldi checkout.

If you’re a self-pleasure fledgling, picking an intimate product can be as stressful as trying to pack your bags at an Aldi checkout. But fear not first-timers, whether you’re in the market for a solo toy to level up your masturbation or looking for something kinky you can try with your partner, we’re here to make this a purely – pleasurable – shopping experience.

Without further ado, let’s get into our round up of sex toys for beginners – you’ll be buzzing like a cranky fridge in no time.

Endless Love

With 14 different uses and 100 vibration combos, the Endless Love toy is the gift that keeps on giving. The curved design and flexible arm provide endless lovemaking possibilities (clue’s in the name) and hours of exciting play whether using alone or together, on top, against, in, under or in-between. Your soul will leave your body in the best possible way. Be sure to download the Satisfyer Connect app to control your device, and use the extensive range of intimate experiments.

Purchase it here and use code FEBLOVE40UK for 40% off!

The Surfer

Let’s start with the sultry staples. If you own a clitoris, you’re gonna need a toy that greets your hooded heroine with nothing less than a royal reception of pulsations and vibrations. Small, sleek and practically soundless, The Surfer is bound to make waves in your boudoir. It’s a great compact entry point vibrator that eases you into your self-pleasure journey and looks right at home on your bedside table too. Glide it all over your erogenous zones, make it a body party why don’t you.

Purchase it here!

Excite 10 Function Rabbit Love Ring

Although it’s designed for people with a penis, the humble cock ring is the ultimate couple’s toy, serving up pleasure for both parties. Worn on the shaft of the penis, it keeps your erection harder for longer by gently constricting the blood flow and offers clitoral stimulation during hetero intercourse. Featuring 3 speeds and 7 vibration patterns, you can customise your mutual pleasure with the simple touch of a button. Sharing is caring, people.

Purchase it here!

LELO Picobong Transformer

Is it a skipping rope? Is it a two-headed tadpole? You’ll be glad to hear it’s neither of those things. This intriguing bit of sex tech does it all. From clitoral stimulator to double ended dildo and prostrate massager – as intimate toys go, this one’s basically a contortionist ready to twist and bend to suit your needs. What a time to be alive.

Purchase it here and use code LOVE10 for 10% off!

The Penguin

Because why shouldn’t your pleasure products dress for the occasion? It’s been 12 long months since we dressed to the nines, so at least someone is making the effort round here and this tuxedo shall not be wasted on us. This Cute with a capital C Penguin stimulates the clitoris using Satisfyer’s revolutionary suction-like technology featuring 11 modes of intensity and a whisper-quiet mode for discreet downstairs action. Your housemates will be none the wiser.

Purchase it here and use code FEBLOVE40UK for 40% off!

8 Function Mini Magic Wand Vibrator

No one wants to be shelling out the big bucks for their first experimental wand, nope. At this point, you’re probably looking for the appetiser or a side plate, not the kind of main that leaves you stuffed and unable to walk. Ahem. This sleek and powerful gadget offers 8 speeds and patterns in a travel-friendly size so you can take it with you wherever you go (not that we’re going anywhere these days!)

Purchase it here!

The Fruity Delight

Who knew a radish could have us throbbing at the loin. There’s a first time for everything! All hail the glass dildo of dreams, the fairest of all the land – sleek, cute, aesthetically banging, it’s like Cinderella’s slipper on heat and we are now fully committed to getting our five a day, the fairytale way.

Purchase it here!

Booty Blue Butt Plug

If you like your buzz from behind but don’t know where to start, then a little petite anal plug is a great introduction to booty play for beginners.

Purchase it here!

The Ballerina

Ever feel like your whole vagina needs a hug from top to bottom? Enter ‘The Ballerina’. An expert in her field, she handles your intimate anatomy with all the grace and synchronised finesse of Tchaikovsky‘s Dance of the cygnets. The palm-sized toy cups the vulva in an intimate embrace and provides a unique velvety texture akin to a lover’s touch. Swan Lake has got nothing on this dancing queen.

Purchase it here!

Love Triangle

The Satisfyer Love Triangle combines proven Air-Pulse Technology with deep vibrations to bring you to your personal pleasure pinnacle with ease. The sleek triangle shape with a lid makes this one of our more subtle selections, but we can guarantee your experience will be anything but subtle!

Purchase it here and use code FEBLOVE40UK for 40% off!

This post is not part of a paid advertisement, however we have worked with Satisfyer in the past.

TEAM ZOELLA JANUARY 13, 2021

The Best Sex Toys to Spice Up Your Life in 2021

Whether you’re all about vibrating ears, budget-friendly bullets or pulsating tongue-mimicking machines, enjoy next level masturbation and peak partnered sex with our round-up of sex toys.

Hello lockdown 3.0. It’s set to be a rampant one.

Since we’ve recently renewed our membership to the stay at home club, albeit for a rolling, cancel at any time contract (we hope), we’re going to do a few things differently this time round, starting with self-care. And by self-care, we mean drastically increasing our chances of having an orgasm by touching ourselves regularly or having a beloved partner do it for us.

Whether you’re all about vibrating ears, budget-friendly bullets or pulsating tongue-mimicking machines, enjoy next level masturbation and peak partnered sex with our round-up of sex toys from entry point vibrators (oh look honey, she made a joke) to top tier playthings for loved-up couples looking to switch things up.

And look, if all else fails, we will always have Bridgerton and THAT is one failsafe journey to finding your pinnacle.

3 Speed Bullet Vibrator

Ann Summers | £5 | Shop it here

If this is your first foray into self-pleasure, then first of all welcome, congratulations and happy girthday. You’re about to reach a whole new level of introspection. The thumb-sized bullet is great for gentle and discreet solo play. Complete with three speed settings, a tapered tip for targeted clitoral stimulation and a beautiful, if a little cunning, exterior that could easily pass for a lipstick, it’s one smooth operator.

Rampant Rabbit G Spot Stroking Vibrator

Ann Summers | £42 | Shop it here

Whilst the Rampant Rabbit can look a bit like an angry hare poised for confrontation and ready to box your best bits, it’s a gentle giant really. The RR boasts an impressive 4.5″ stature, 7 vibration settings, a ribbed shaft and clitorally stimulating ears to make all your pleasure-seeking pursuits a solid 20/10 experience. Don’t know about you but we’re listening.

Dame Fin

*Free People | £78 | Shop it here

Not all sex toys are created equal and this is one woman of rank. The mistress of masturbation is like a majestic finger puppet, seamless for your pleasure. Whether you’re in it for a solo run through or up for bit of audience interaction (oh yes she is), it’s sure to give you the standing O-vation you so deserve.

Dream Wand Rechargeable Mini

*Love Honey | £29.99 | Shop it here

They say magic isn’t real, but we wager £5 it is and it exists and resides in this wish-granting baton. This wand is a small and mighty bedside companion with 4 levels of intensity – hooray for a tier system we are only too happy to climb. With 7 settings and a battery life that’ll have no problem working away at your congested backlog of uncatchable orgasms, it’s a great all-rounder.

Womanizer Duo Rabbit Vibrator

*Love Honey | £179.99 | Shop it here

Anything with sex toy of the year accolades has our full attention. This superior sex toy only activates once in contact with the skin meaning you’ll get all of the pleasure with none of the noise. We wouldn’t dare splash out on that ergonomic computer chair because Dear Spine that wants for nothing, we’re not made of money but an ergonomic vibrator? Sign us up and keep the change, ya filthy animal.

The Fireman

*Feel Unique Smile Makers | £39.95 | Shop it here

Cliteracy lesson number one: 4 in 5 clitoris-owners reach orgasm via clitoral stimulation, not penetrative sex, so let that be all the reassurance you need (and all the sex ed they need) that your clitoris should not in fact be treated like a Sleeping Beauty spindle or the perilous lips of a Venus fly trap but rather like a precious cashmere purse, born to be cupped perfectly in the hand and stroked. A lot. The Fireman, named after its flame-like form and ability to fire up your burning loins (probably), is one such sex toy that will make sure your clitoris gets its due attention. Featuring a rounded protruding nub of a nose for optimal clitoral stimulation, discreet shape, 4 speeds and 2 pulsation modes, your wild furnace is in good hands here.

F1s Developers Kit

Lelo | £135 | Shop it here

If stats and apps get them going, then consider this high-performance sex-tech a gift any penis-having partner will love. Combining powerfully intense dual motors, the patented Cruise Control setting and Lelo’s revolutionary SenSonic technology, it massages their member with deeply satisfying sonic waves. Oh, and it comes with a little window, so they can watch all the action as it happens. It’s basically this season’s incomparable diamond. And that’s not all. Using the free SDK, they can personalise their pleasure through the bougie customisable internal sensors. What could be a better present than pleasure at their fingertips and a little peephole to boot?

The Frenchman

*Smile Makers Collection | 39.95 | Shop it now

Powerful, quiet and remarkably good at oral, that’s The Frenchman in a nutshell. Perfect for solo sessions or couple fun, its ice cream scoop shape is designed to mimic the touch of a tongue, so add a few squirts of lube and indulge in the best French kiss of your life. Sacrebleu!

Eva II

*Cult Beauty – Dame Products | £135 | Shop it now

Best for: a hands-free wank. The revolutionary design of Eva II gets you there without the bastardly hand cramp. The wings tuck under the labia while the rest of the toy tends to your clitoris. We stan lazy orgasms.

Sona 2 Cruise

Lelo | £119 | Shop it now

Aka the clit sucker. It delivers full body shivers thanks to its toe-curling sonic wave technology, designed to mimic the feeling of oral sex. It’s a small but perfectly formed gem.

TENGA Egg Penis Masturbator

*Love Honey | £9.99 | Shop it now

Cheap and cheerful does the job. This textured masturbating egg designed with penis-owners in mind will ensure your sexual experience is always sunny side up. Pour in some lube and crack on.

Desire Knicker Vibrator

*Love Honey | £69.99 | Shop it now

Slip into the ribbon-tie briefs provided and hand over all control to your partner. The whisper-quiet machine is wirelessly controlled from up to 8 metres away. Zoom 3.0 just got interesting.

Womanizer Premium Smart Silence Clitoral Stimulator

*Love Honey | £169.99 | Shop it now

With its mind-blowing Pleasure Air Technology (aka unreal sucking action) and 12 intensity settings ranging from soft gentle purr to butt-clenching roar, the Premium Womanizer will make any notable orgasm you’ve ever experienced look like a pathetic outbreath in comparison, like the short-lived puff of air in an eye test. Tonight, we vibe like queens.

Classic Metallic Magic Wand

*Love Honey | £49.99 | Shop it now

You know it’s a serious piece of kit when it’s mains powered. Operated using a handy little scroll wheel of fortune, you can dial up your pleasure as much or as little as you want, from soft relaxing rumbles to intense all-encompassing vibrations. Orgasm roulette… what a time to be alive.

Obii

Biird | £82 | Shop it now

Meet Obii – clit-lead, aesthetically-pleasing pleasure at your service. Combining suction sensations with whisper-quiet powerful vibrations, Obii is ready to deliver your best-blended orgasm yet. Other honourable mentions include: could easily pass as a reading light, a stress ball or an essential oil diffuser when sat proudly on your bedside table. Let’s hear it for sex toys that blend in AND stand out.

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA NOVEMBER 26, 2020

The Poetry of Period Sex: Why Menstrual Sex Should Very Much Be On The Menu

Period chat has come on in recent years – pun intended – there’s no doubt about that, but when it comes to dismantling the period sex taboo, there’s still a lot of work to do.

Hollywood may not want to discuss it, but we do. WE DO.

The way the internet reacted to that transformative scene from I May Destroy You is all the evidence we need to suggest we have to do more to normalise period sex on tv and in real life. Hollywood may not want to discuss it, but we do. WE DO.

Biagio removing a bloody tampon like he was just casually fishing out a tea bag from a cuppa was iconic enough, and then he went on to prod an actual period blood clot in the middle of a sex scene with unabashed acceptance. It was the refreshing and nuanced portrayal of sex we didn’t know we needed to see.

If you are the proud owner of a uterus, the chances are you’ve felt like some kind of period pariah at some stage in your life, no thanks to the whole bleeding from your vag thing which apparently still seems to be a radical act, even in 2020.

Often, it’s the blood factor that can put couples off exploring and enjoying menstrual sex, but having a good bonk can be pretty messy anyway, so what’s a bit of cervical mucus when you’re covered in bodily fluids anyway?

When you’re sharing your body with someone, you’re sharing your whole body with them and menstruation is a very natural and normal part of that intimacy. And hey, if it makes your cycle more enjoyable, why not capitalise on that? This is what dark bedsheets and shower sex was made for, people.

Sure, if it’s not your jam and you can’t think of anything worse than doing the moves when it feels like someone left a Nutribullet unattended on beast mode in the deep depths of your womb, you are more than welcome to sit and cry this one out with a hot water bottle and some snacks. There’s no judgement or shame either way, just as long as you’re not letting Aunt Flo stand in the way of a good shag.

If being on your period fills you with shame and embarrassment, then it’s important to unpack why your period makes you feel that way.

If being on your period fills you with shame and embarrassment, then it’s important to unpack why your period makes you feel that way. Confront your period shame and examine the influence it has on your relationship with your body. Let go of uncomfortable feelings and just go with the f-l-o-w. We’re not suggesting you need to start leaving your menstrual cup on the window sill under a full moon but a bit of pragmatism wouldn’t do any harm.

Image Credit: Ruben Chamorro

The benefits of period sex may surprise you, from helping to ease period cramp to better orgasms, natural lubrication and increased pleasure. Experiencing sensual pleasure and orgasm releases the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins and these can act as natural painkillers. Orgasms and pain-relief? What a crowd-pleaser.

We should stress that all the usual caveats apply with period sex. You still need to use contraception in the same way you would if you were not on your period. Whilst it’s true that the odds of getting pregnant while menstruating are lower, it’s still possible and you can also still contract and pass on STIs.

Sexual intercourse whilst on your period should be as normal as painting your nails

Wherever you stand on period sex, the bottom line is having and enjoying sexual intercourse whilst on your period should be as normal as painting your nails. Love & blood should be allowed to mingle, they don’t have to be kept apart like two warring Shakespearean families.

It can be poetic and romantic if you stop listening to the narrative that tells you it’s dirty and gross, and instead listen to the narrative that says life is short, sex feels good and periods happen.

So, when the river runs red, bloody well make Cherryade!

TEAM ZOELLA SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

Let’s Talk About Female Pleasure: A Beginner’s Guide to Masturbation

Women like to masturbate. There, the secret’s out. Burn us at the stake. And you know what, some of us even watch porn. Audible gasp. For some reason, female self-pleasure doesn’t seem to get the same air time as male self-pleasure.

Women like to masturbate. There, the secret’s out. Burn us at the stake. And you know what, some of us even watch porn. Audible gasp. For some reason, female self-pleasure doesn’t seem to get the same air time as male self-pleasure.

Guys talk openly about tugging on their dicks on the daily and it’s a celebration of manhood, a cumming of age tale; but we talk about stroking our ‘flower’ and that’s taboo? Well, we don’t need to be Samantha Jones to call BS on that school of thought.

Female sexual wellbeing and gratification is a big beautiful deal and there is zero shame in wanting to experience that American Pie moment for yourself. If someone else can’t get you there, (hell even if they can get you there), touching yourself on the regular feels good and there’s no need to pussyfoot around that.

Flicking your bean, Jilling off, downstairs DJ-ing – whatever masturbation moniker you like to use is absolutely none of our business. As long as it gets you the euphoric orgasm you deserve once in a while!

So, whether you’re stuck in a rut and looking to try something different or wondering how to go solo with your sexual pleasure, here’s a beginner’s guide to masturbation. Because no one else can do you like you do you.
Get out of your head and into your body

Easier said than done because let’s face it, the mind wanders onto ALL sorts when you’re trying to get in the mood. How many corgies DOES the Queen have? Why does tumbleweed tumble? So. Many. Mental. Blocks. In those moments, breathe through it, close your eyes and try to reconnect with your body. Put your phone on silent to eliminate any distractions. Take a bath to unwind, pick somewhere comfortable and zero in on the sensations. Mindfulness is your bezzie pal.

Let go of any pressure

We’re just gonna put it out there: the first time you masturbate, you probably won’t come and that’s more than ok. It’ll take some time to perfect your masturbation tekkers but you can still have plenty of feel-good fun in the meantime. Masturbation doesn’t have to be another thing you need to fail or accomplish. Just enjoy the ride!

Take your sweet time

Contrary to what most tv shows will have you believe, a very small minority of women actually climax from foreplay-less, P in the V sex – that is penetrative sex. Bish, bash, bosh, cue the mutual orgasm. Oh, PER-LEASE.
We can’t go from zero to hero without an adequate warm-up, people. We need the intimate build-up if we’re to go full-on WAP mode. Nearly all our nerve endings are in the clitoris, suffice to say, that little hood is worthy of your full attention if you want to make it to that grand finale. Ain’t no hood like a clitoral hood.

Get in touch with your turn-ons

Whilst the vagina is pretty fundamental in all this, you don’t have to spend all your time there. Nipple stimulation and light strokes across your inner thighs, the nape of your neck or your belly can be just as arousing. Find out what makes you tick and do more of that. Knowledge is your superpower.

Make it a moment

Self-pleasure is the purest form of ‘you’ time, so don’t rush through it. It’s all in the build-up! Put as much care and thought into it as if you were getting ready for a date. Put on the slow jams, light the candles, pour yourself a glass of wine, moisturise your body, buy the silky overpriced pants. You’re worth it.

Try an A.M. session

Some people work out in the morning, some people eat porridge and some people touch themselves mmmk. We’re all wired differently and if a pre-work wank makes you tick, then you go get it girl. Nothing sets you up for the day like an A.M. session. Good MORNING, Britain.

Have fun!

Introducing a few playthings into the mix is a great way to shake up your masturbating technique. Personal massagers (aka sex toys), porn, certain positions, pillow humping, getting friendly with the showerhead – get to know the root to your orgasm like the back of your hand. The more familiar you get with the inner workings of your body, the better sex you will have. Period.

Make sure you’ve got time on your hands, literally

There’s no greater buzzkill than the food shop turning up before you’ve had a chance to hit the fanny jackpot. But hey, if a danger wank works for you, carry on. You do you!

Get it while it's hot!

Sign up to receive our email, delivering the latest stories straight to your inbox.