Monthly Archives: December 2013

Body Impolitic’s 2013 Guide to Sane Holidays

Laurie and Debbie say:

This annual list is (mostly) for folks who celebrate the upcoming holidays, and are fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with; if you don’t fit that group, skip to the bottom. If you do fit, then even if your family are your favorite people and you look forward all year to the holidays, you still may find useful hints here.

This year, the marvelous women of Feministing compiled their own list. It has a lot in common with ours, but it’s much more resource-focused. If you want resources for any of our suggestions, follow the link. (We’ve embedded a few to save you the trouble.)

1 – You have a right to enjoy things in your own way.To the extent possible, do as much or as little holiday stuff as you want; it’s supposed to be a celebration, not an obligation.

2 – Spend time with people who know you’re awesome. If you must spend time with people who are toxic, remind yourself three times (out loud) in your last alone moments before seeing them that they are toxic. Then do something really nice for yourself the minute you are out of their presence. (If they are not just toxic but abusive, here’s some excellent advice. We were pleased to see that this is also Feministing’s go-to resource.)

3 – Eat what you enjoy and don’t eat what you don’t enjoy. Desserts are not sinful, they’re just desserts, and relatives who push you to eat don’t get to tell you what to do. If you have a history of eating disorders, or currently struggle with them, this may help.

4 – Wear what you think you look terrific in; accept compliments and ignore digs about your clothes.

5 – Plan your responses to inevitable comments beforehand. Try not to spend energy on the digs, because they probably aren’t going to stop. For example, if you know that your sister is going to tell you, “for your own good,” how your hairstyle is unbecoming to you, be prepared to say, “I appreciate your concern. Excuse me, I really want to catch up with Uncle Harry.”

6 – If you think kids are fun, they can be a great escape from the adult follies. If kids drive you crazy, keep your distance when you can, and try to keep your patience otherwise: they didn’t overstimulate themselves with sugar and toys.

7 – If you have enough to give to someone who has less, do it. If you know someone who is having a crappy holiday, even if you are too, take a moment to do something for them that they will enjoy. In both cases, your generosity will help them and will probably also make you feel better.

8 – If you hate the holidays, or they make you sad, you’re not alone. Participate as little as possible. They’ll be over soon. Spectra has some specific advice for queer people of color, who are often going to be particularly burdened by holiday stuff. If you’re wishing you had someone (someone particular or folks in general) to spend the holidays with, treat yourself with special care. If you’re a volunteering type, that can work, but so can staying at home and taking a hot bath.

9 – Be effusive about every gift you get; then be discreetly rude about the awful ones later to your friends. If they’re really awful, throw them off a bridge in the middle of the night.

If these aren’t your holidays, have a great Chinese meal and enjoy the movie!

We’ll be back in the beginning of the New Year.

Put Toxic Chemicals Where? Beware of Toxic Sex Toys

Laurie and Debbie say:

Caitlin Murphy at Bitch Media warns about toxic chemicals in our sex toys:

She Bop employee Wyatt Riot "flame tests" a silicone dildo—luckily, the dildo passed the test.

If there’s any product customers want to make sure is nontoxic, it’s toys that they’ll be sticking into their most intimate places. But in a society where politicians are uncomfortable hearing the the word vagina, it’s unsurprising that there is little regulation of the adult toy industry and little research into the effects of sex toys and accessories can have on the body. Meanwhile, millions of Americans use sex toys and their acceptance is on the rise, with a 2009 study showing that 52.5 percent of American women have used a vibrator.

Manufacturers aren’t required to care about the toxicity of their toys. Although many sex toys are designed to be used internally, they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like medical-grade products. Instead, sex toys are considered “for novelty use only,” and manufacturers can fill dildos, vibrators, and cock rings with materials that are known to be harmful and that are regulated in other industries.

Sometimes people using adult toys have reactions to these things—like chemical burns, itching, upper respiratory irritation—while others are exposing themselves to dangerous chemicals without immediate negative reactions. While many doctors often do not realize that the people complaining of irritation might be having these problems due to caustic sex toys, retailers and educators have been hearing about it for years. …

Since the industry is unregulated, the burden of making sure sex toys are safe falls on retailers and consumers themselves. Some manufacturers and retailers have made it part of their mission to make sure the adult products they sell are safe. Blogger The Redhead Bedhead compiled a list of 17 “superhero shops” that guarantee they sell high quality, body-safe products.

Murphy also discusses some regulation of sex toys in Denmark. but she doesn’t go into the REACH regulations, which govern chemical use in products sold in Europe–including sex toys. One organization which pushed for REACH with sex toys as a specific reason was Greenpeace Netherlands. REACH was enacted shortly after Greenpeace’s campaign.

Here’s how we see it:

1) Be careful what you put in your body, regardless of orifice. Don’t give up your sex toys, just choose wisely.

2) Don’t trust industry “self-regulation,” but it’s probably better for sex toys (unless they are made by giant global mega-corporations). You can often trust independent stores who do their homework and share it with you.

3) Europe is light-years ahead of the United States in protecting its people from toxics of all kinds. While we would love to see the issues in Murphy’s article addressed in our country, we know that (even aside from fear of sex and fear of sex toys), adding regulations that protect people’s health is swimming against the current tide.