Friday, August 26, 2011

Still-Not-Available-In-Texas Review:
Trojan Triphoria

I don't do reviews much anymore because the biz of sex toy reviews has grown by leaps and bounds since my days back at; you can read dozens of user-generated reviews of almost any toy on Babeland's website and find out if the size, shape, and noise of a given product meets your specifications. Also, there comes a point when a girl just doesn't really need any more sex toys.

But the best review I saw of the Trojan Triphoria (which I mocked when it first came out last year) included lots of interesting history of the Big Two (SSL, former maker of Durex, and Church & Dwight, parent of Trojan) and their forays into the sex toy market. But the writer was a man who, if he used it with/on a female partner, didn't say anything about the clitoral stimulation the toy is designed to Blow One's Hair Back with.

So, I wrote to Babeland and asked if they'd send me one. And they did! I came back from my long summer vacation (during which I totally went to Babeland in NYC, obvs) to a surprise package.

Trojan does one thing impeccably well--they find out what their customer wants and they deliver it, inside and out. Triphoria's package is gorgeous. So shiny! So purple! No porno chicks! They even include the single AA battery you need so the first-time vibrator-using gal doesn't have to go through the embarrassing experience of buying a suspicious package of AA batteries and...nothing else.

The Triphoria has a couple of things going for it. First, it's waterproof. Second, the materials--medical grade plastic and silicone tips--are first rate. The tips are designed for external, clitoral stimulation and the toy, while it could be inserted, doesn't scream "pretend I'm a dick," which is a good soft landing for new vibrator users who are often intimidated by something too phallic.

But the toy isn't perfect. For a vibe with just one battery the Triphoria is surprisingly buzzy but not as much as, say, the Silver Bullet which has two. Second, the bulb that you're supposed to hold onto is good for the two slanted silicone tips, which are better when applied to the clit/vulva at an angle, but the pocket rocket-type tip (on the vibe in the picture above) needs to go head-on and it's kind of difficult to hold it that way.

At $47, the Triphoria is an indulgent My First Vibrator. But probably a great choice for, say, your mom or aunt or someone who might be grossed out by something too penis-like or unfeminine. The Triphoria, which comes in a pretty black and purple satin bag, has "You deserve this" written all over it. Just make sure to buy her an extra pack of batteries.

The bad news: if you order from Trojan's website,
TROJAN® VIBRATIONS products are available in the United States except for AL,GA, KS, LA, MS, TX and VA.
Bummer. But Babeland will send it anywhere.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Defense of Hot Teen Sex:
Paige Harden's Groundbreaking Study

When I was a graduate student I suggested to my advisor, who was preparing a talk to the Society of Adolescent Medicine about the risks of early sexual initiation, that we do a study investigating whether the type of relationship the teen was in, as well as the school environment, mitigated the negative effects of early initiation. He demurred.

Fast forward 6 years to Austin and voila, somebody tested my theory and I was totally right! Paige Harden, a psychology professor at UT, tested this hypothesis with twin teens enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. She found that teens who were in relationships, as opposed to those who were hooking up, did not experience the negative outcomes or engage in "delinquent" behavior often associated with early initiation, particularly by abstinence people who are trying to scare the bejeesus out of teenagers.

This research is comforting because for those of us who are actually sex educators, not just commentators, bloggers, and Fox News talking heads who seem to think all problems would go away if Teh Ladeez would just stop having Teh Sex already, this confirms what we know: most problems associated with teen sex are actually problems of poverty and sex is pulled into the orbit because it provides a convenient way to blame women for being poor.

Those of us who do this for a living, like my friend Logan Levkoff, know from working with teenagers that it is entirely possible--and often, quite likely--for teens to have relationships that grow, become sexual, and end in a way that is perfectly healthy. Judy Blume's book Forever isn't an enduring classic for nothing.

Yes, teen pregnancy is a problem. Sexually transmitted infections are a problem. But the majority of teenagers who have sex--which is the majority of teenagers--successfully avoid both pregnancy and STIs, and yet the drumbeat about teen sex is negative, negative, negative [see: Dr. Drew, who never saw a sexually active teenager he couldn't pathologize]. There have been no episodes of "Teen Mom" or "16 and Pregnant" featuring teens who actually just had sex, used birth control, and everything is fine, really.

I'm guessing that's why my advisor didn't want to test the hypothesis, because demonstrating that good, healthy teen sex is totally possible (Hi, T and D!) could potentially decrease what little funding is available to provide sex education programs to teenagers in need. But we need to acknowledge that sex itself is not a cause or indicator of "at risk"-ness or a predictor of further bad behavior. Teens who are at risk are at risk, full stop. They may have sex for reasons directly related to their "at risk"-ness, like crippling poverty; trying to force abstinence on them does nothing to mitigate the circumstances in which they live, despite the supposed intentions of abstinence-only programs. But it does conveniently allow policymakers to blame them for suffering "consequences" related to sex and further cut programs designed to allow poor people--particularly women--to escape poverty. But hey! That's the idea. Just ask the Texas Legislature.