Money, ethics, and real sex-positivity

As many of you know, I have written a number of articles for SexIs magazine, and worked as an independent contractor for them for a number of months, helping to try to create a more sex- & kink-positive forum. I never spoke publicly about being let go from my “regular work” for them, and the reasons I was given, and I won’t do it now. I continued to write for them because I believed that my editor was a smart guy who really did want to see SexIs become a forum for smart writing from all over the sexual spectrum. However, now that he is no longer employed by SexIs, I see no reason to continue to work with them.

There are more than just a handful of people that have been involved with Eden Fantasys that have been denied final payments, called “rude”, ineffective, and otherwise had their professionalism criticized by representatives of the company. There are others that became tired of trying to talk honestly about non-traditional heterosexual relationships. Still more are disgusted by a company that preaches healthy & safe sex while still selling proven unsafe sex toys & items (phthalates, anyone?). Some of these people are friends of mine (Shanna Katz, M.Ed., for one), some are brilliant colleagues in the sex positive & sex education sectors, and still others are out there doing their work behind the scenes of blogs, magazines, podcasts, and other on- and off-line sources.

After working with companies that truly do have the health, safety, and sex-positivity of their customers in mind (Smitten Kitten, Good Vibrations, Puckerup.com, and Love U Parties, to name a few), I’ve decided that it is not in the best interests of the sex-positive movement for me to support any businesses of any kind that do not offer that same support to their customers & community.Even though they do some good things (sponsoring various events & raising funds for the AIDS Service Center of NYC), I no longer feel that their public philanthropy makes up for their private negativity.

Effective today, I am removing all links to Eden Fantasys from my site. I ask that you each consider who you’re supporting, and whether they have not just the products but the business practices and ethics that you want your money to go towards perpetuating. If you are an affiliate, there are many other companies out there that offer affiliate programs that pay just as well – Fascinations and Good Vibrations, to name two – and I know they’d be thrilled to have you join their programs. If you are a sex toy reviewer and don’t know how to find review spots outside of a single company, send samples of your reviews to companies that you’d like to be affiliated with, and ask them if you can participate in their review process. If you are a community member, there are numerous other sex-positive online communities that you can enjoy being a member of.

And most importantly – if you are a customer, please look towards some of the hundreds of other online or locally based shops that offer the quality of sex toys that you deserve, with the respect you’re entitled to receive. My hope in doing this is to create lasting change; if we, as individuals & as a community, can step forward & stop supporting companies that don’t have our best interests at heart, then we open the door for companies that will give back to our community and support our rights to have a healthy, happy, fulfilling sex life – throughout our lives.

25 comments ↓

#1 Champagne and Benzedrine on 05.14.10 at 12:42 pm

“Still more are disgusted by a company that preaches healthy & safe sex while still selling proven unsafe sex toys & items (phthalates, anyone?).”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but from their websites, it looks like both Fascinations and Good Vibes (which are both great stores) also stock products containing phthalates – like the Rabbit Pearl Vibrator.

As I said, I could be wrong (they don’t have a material safety guide like Eden) but if I’m not, I’m kind of surprised you’d call Eden out on stocking these products, then link to two other online stores who similarly stock products containing phthalates.

#2 Elodie on 05.14.10 at 1:11 pm

Champagne and Benzedrine’s comment raises a good point. I haven’t seen any other online stores but Eden Fantasies that disclose exactly what a product is made of. EF stocks items with phthalates in them, but it tells me what phthalates are, and what toys have in them. It gives me the information and lets me decide for myself — I think this is how it should be. In an industry where products made of only part silicone can call themselves “silicone”, this is monumentally important, and I don’t understand why every site doesn’t do it.

EF tells me, and shows me, a toy’s measurements. It tells me a toy’s texture. It tells me the ingredients of lubricants and other similar products, which is necessary to me because of my allergies. EF shows me the size of things. It gives me in-depth reviews from a lot of people all in one spot. I’m still pissed off at EF for what looks to me like a serious lack of professionalism, but as a store, the plain fact is, I haven’t found anything as good. Show me a store that gives me all the information about a product that EF does, and I’ll be happy to shop there instead.

#3 aagblog on 05.14.10 at 1:21 pm

You are both correct. EF has the best website featuring sextoys today; their measurements are very complete, as is their description of materials.

But surely you both must realize that doing one thing well does mean that a company does *all* things well.

Please enter into your equation all the other information you’ve been given before making decisions.

#4 admin on 05.14.10 at 1:26 pm

The phthalates issue is one of the key points that some people are concerned about; others are not as worried. I never intended this post to tell other people what they should or should not choose, ethically, to support; I brought up some of the concerns that have been raised about EF’s behaviours, both past & present.

Elodie, many of the other stores out there do offer some of those options. And C&B, trust me, I know about the material guide – I was one of the people that contributed to creating it.

Again, the purpose of this post is simply to suggest that each person look at what is important to them, and what they want their money and energy to support. It’s only by taking a good, hard look at what companies benefit from our purchases, and what they do with that money, that we can really say that we’re doing what’s best for not only ourselves but for the ethics & causes that we believe in.

#5 Elodie on 05.14.10 at 1:36 pm

What stores offer that information? I’ve looked at dozens and not found any. I’m serious about going elsewhere if they provide that info, because I am uncomfortable with a lot about EF. Babeland comes closest, that I’ve found, but even they don’t have the “real size” feature.

Actually, as someone who’s rather new to sex toys, I don’t get why every site doesn’t provide all the info EF does. Surely it’s not some kind of proprietary thing, since it’s just information about products they’re selling.

#6 Champagne and Benzedrine on 05.14.10 at 1:39 pm

Admin, it seems kind of disingenuous to make a big deal about one SPECIFIC issue – like the phthalates thing – and then reference other stores which sell exactly the same kind of products, and arguably deal with the materials issue in a considerably less transparent way.

AAG – you’re exactly right, and to turn that on its head, just because a company has done a couple of things badly, it doesn’t mean it does all things badly – or, at least, not as well or better as other companies. You of all people will be aware of how much EF has developed and evolved over the last few years and for all your problems with management and how they treated you in the past, you can’t argue that the whole company’s made dramatic improvements, or complain about the ethics or intentions of Gary, Victoria or Carrie Ann; who rock.

#7 admin on 05.14.10 at 1:56 pm

Hey Elodie, a quick web search offers the following options that give a large amount of information about sizes / materials / etc:

http://www.holisticwisdom.com/
http://www.smittenkittenonline.com
http://tantusinc.com/

I also like to work directly with companies such as http://www.hardwooddildos.com that I trust will give me exactly what I ask for!

Also, Love U Parties, which I sell for, offers great health info (including warnings on items containing L-arginine, which can trigger herpes outbreaks).

While none of these may be arranged with all the information you are used to, it’s there. I also like to do a google search for a toy that I’m intrigued by so that I can read reviews from across the blogosphere.

#8 Elodie on 05.14.10 at 2:15 pm

Thank you for the links. I will look into them.

#9 aagblog on 05.14.10 at 4:12 pm

Dear Champagne and Benzedrine,

They may be the most wonderful people in the world but I cannot support a company which accepted my work (worth the previously agreed upon price of $1200.00) and then did not pay me for it.

Your argument is specious. It is the same argument people make when they say “S/He’s such a great person! Why should her/his entire life be ruined over one little mistake?”

aag

#10 Dharma on 05.14.10 at 5:03 pm

I admire your balance of saying how you feel without getting deeply personal regarding your interactions with EF.

Personally I prefer blowfish.com but the other ones mentioned also have very good sites.

#11 Shanna on 05.14.10 at 8:16 pm

Thank you for posting this.

To answer some people (having worked for EF) about why other companies don’t all have to scale pictures, materials guides and more is because most companies don’t outsource their tech work to other countries, and work within agreed upon budgets ann pay people a fair price for their work. AAG is not the only one who had issues getting paid, and much of EFs platform was created by workers in Moldova, at least while I was there. As I work at a new company and try to improve their site, I see what a slow and costly process it is, and am in awe still at EF’s ability to have such an amazing site (and I agree with AAG – their functionality has no comparizon).

To me, I shop at stores that support the sex positive community with transparency and have no reputation for back stabbing, witholding payment, etc. They include:
Fascinations
Smitten Kitten
Babeland
GoodVibes
Trinity Romance

I won’t shop at Walmart for how they treat their workers, and I won’t support EF for the same reasons.

#12 If I only had a brain… | Sexy by Sarah on 05.15.10 at 10:29 am

[...] recently, several sex bloggers, sex toy reviewers and I voiced our disagreement with something. Some people [...]

#13 Champagne and Benzedrine on 05.15.10 at 1:44 pm

Hi AAG – thanks for explain your thought process a little further. It clarifies things a little more for me, as I personally think all of this reaction being merely over Epiphora was ridiculous. I can certainly understand you having a major and entirely justifiable grudge to bear regarding $1,200 and of course bad feeling is culminative.

I based my opinion off my experiences with EF since 2007, which have been good – and I think Carrie, Gary and Victoria are amazing people and really give their all to make EF everything it can be, even if they’re sometimes hampered in that pursuit by certain people.

So just like you’re coming at it colored by your experiences, my opinion is colored my mine.

Shanna – From what I can observe from a consumer’s point of view, since you came on board with Fascinations their website, info and layout has improved immeasurably and continues to do so. I think an awful lot of the reason why EF’s website continues to be head and shoulders above the competition can similarly be laid at your feet, with the work you did when you were with them. You should be justifiably be very proud of that and any online store that has you on the team has a major advantage.

To me, EF isn’t simply a company, or a boss who makes decisions people don’t like – it’s a team of people, including people I really like and admire – Gary, Victoria and Carrie Ann – and it’s a also community of people who are my friends – the other bloggers and reveiwers.

I have certainly been very lucky to have only had good experiences with EF and I can understand you having a different opinion if you haven’t; but from my perspective the good points – the charity work, the great guys, the community and the amazing website – outweigh the bad points that have affected me (which are minor – the personal info and the fact that people I admire, like AAG and Shanna, got burned by them.)

I’m certainly not going to leap on the band wagon to condemn them because I think it would be hypocritical and disingenuous of me to do so. They have made an effort to treat me professionally and well. I’m sorry not everybody feels they had that experience, but I did and I think the people who made sure that happened – Gary, Victoria, Lauren and Carrie Ann – deserve to have their professionalism and hard work recognized.

#14 Bad Move, Eden Fantasys on 05.15.10 at 3:24 pm

[...] Money, ethics, and real sex-positivity [...]

#15 Britni TheVadgeWig on 05.15.10 at 5:00 pm

C&B, Do you ever bother to get the entire story before running your mouth? Me, Epiphora, and several other people have been mentioning the MULTIPLE things that EF has done as a company that were unprofessional and unacceptable, AND posting links to the information. Did you ever bother to follow any of those links to see exactly what it was that we were talking about? Or did you just jump to conclusions, and post without knowing the whole story? Which you admitted to doing on your own blog.

If you’re going to open your mouth about stuff, follow the links, read the story, and get all the details before jumping into the discussion.

#16 Champagne and Benzedrine on 05.15.10 at 9:41 pm

Hi Britni – I know you don’t like to read the long, boring comments section before you leap in with your predetermined opinions, but here are the points I was *trying* to make:

1: AAG, Shanna and others have completely valid points about how they were treated in the past by EF and I can’t argue with them not wanting to work with the company based on that; or recommending others not to.
2: I haven’t have any bad experiences working with EF and while I’ve heard the negative things about how the company works, people like Gary, Victoria and Carrie Ann have been incredibly professional, hardworking and dedicated in their communications with me.
3: Therefore, I admit this is entirely subjective, I have an inclination to continue doing business with Gary, Victoria and Carrie Ann – as THEY represent EF to me, not stories from people who worked there three, four or more years ago. EF from 2006 is NOT EF from 2010 (although arguably many of the problems stem from a part of it that remains.)
4: This is no different to how you reached your conclusion. You’re BFF with Epiphora, so sided with her. I don’t particularly like Epiphora and having actually met Carrie Ann, Gary and Victoria face to face (which I don’t believe you have actually done with Epiphora) understandably like and trust their justification more than hers. I was not surprised to hear that Epiphora had got banned and her feigned ‘oh, this was so unexpected’ wasn’t even worthy of Days of Our Lives.

It is largely subjective and I’ve certainly taken on board what AAG and Shanna have said in this post – but they have actually worked for EF and – not meaning to insult you in any way – that makes their opinions dramatically more valid than yours.

It’s all culminative. For some people, this might be the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’ For me, it’s an experience to remember and if there’s ever any future drama with EF, it’s something to look back on and reflect about.

#17 Elodie on 05.16.10 at 2:36 am

I am not okay with dealing with a company that treats other people like crap. I don’t care if they treat me like the empress of the universe. It’s not all about me, I am not going to shut my eyes and blithely go along with it so long as I get my goodies.

I didn’t know Epiphora, or anyone else, when this started. I was inclined to give EF the benefit of the doubt, because I thought they were awesome. But then I learned about their past misdeeds. And then their employees posted on their website in a breathtakingly unprofessional manner. Each time they post, it gets worse. Each time they let one of their defenders mock people (by making jokes about sex, no less) with serious concerns on their website, it gets worse.

I cannot comprehend standing by and watching other people being treated like garbage just because I’m not in the direct line of fire. I could do it if I had to; if it was paying my rent and putting food on my table, I’d keep my head down and stay quiet while I looked for another job. But for sex toys? My integrity is worth more than a vibrator.

#18 Weekend Reading « Screaming Violet on 05.16.10 at 4:44 am

[...] Sarah Sloane – on Money, Ethics & real sex-positivety [...]

#19 Champagne and Benzedrine on 05.16.10 at 3:15 pm

Elodie – I haven’t seen any examples of the EF staff writing stuff like that on their blogs, but I don’t read people’s blogs as much as I’d like so could have missed it – could you send me a link to anything you found objectionable?

#20 Elodie on 05.16.10 at 6:59 pm

Champagne and Benzedrine — since I can only remember seeing one post on the EF forums which any of their employees have made about the topic, or on a thread about the topic, which I did not find objectionable, that would be far too much work.

#21 Link Roundup: Eden Fantasys? More like Epic Fail « Heartbreak Nymphomania on 05.20.10 at 4:05 pm

[...] ~ Sarah Sloane, who used to be the editor of EF's SexIs magazine: Money, ethics and real sex-positivit… [...]

#22 danceswithprozac on 05.20.10 at 4:14 pm

I’m not affected by what Eden is doing at all, so I am leaving this comment as an unbiased observer of the entire situation.

Even if you are correct that this is what they are doing and fucking all of you over, you should know that this blog post comes across as being written by an angry former employee who is hell bent on getting back at someone.

It doesn’t make me lean toward believing what you are claiming.

Oh and FYI — EVERYTHING contains Phthalates – go look through your house… it aint just sex toys smarty pants. And Smitten Kitten? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah I’m not going to believe their hype anymore. They’re just trying to drive business to them and position themselves as elitists. Poo on that!

#23 Sarah Sloane on 05.20.10 at 4:43 pm

I doubt strongly that you are as unbiased as you say you are, given that this is the whois information on your IP Address:

Nextweb, Inc CIDR-3 (NET-174-34-64-0-1)
174.34.64.0 – 174.34.127.255
PipeDream Products, Inc. NEXTWEB-174-34-89-248-29 (NET-174-34-89-248-1)
174.34.89.248 – 174.34.89.255

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2010-05-19 20:00
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN’s WHOIS database.
#
# ARIN WHOIS data and services are subject to the Terms of Use
# available at https://www.arin.net/whois_tou.html

#24 Elodie on 05.20.10 at 5:25 pm

I’m not affected by what Eden is doing at all, so I am leaving this comment as an unbiased observer of the entire situation.

Even without the info Sarah found, I would not believe you. I did not just stumble onto the internet last week.

And anyone making fun of someone for having safety concerns about something that is meant to be inserted into her body needs a serious wake-up call.

#25 danceswithprozac on 05.21.10 at 1:22 pm

I apologize for the sarcastic comment left yesterday. :(

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