Article: Bridges or Walls? (Godemiche and Industry Controversy)

It upsets me that I’m here again, finally breaking my silence on the most recent Godemiche debacle so soon after the last controversy.

But what saddens me this time is that it’s not just a case of a company fuck up (followed rightly by an apology and steps to do right). No, this time I’ve found myself upset by the entire situation: What has happened and how it’s been received.

Overall, it’s just a clusterfuck of ‘Wait…what just happened?’ and I’m left trying to puzzle out the pieces.

Me: What the fuck is going on?
The Internet: Dick controversy.

So, consider this piece my attempt at laying out all the jigsaw parts and trying to arrange them in a way that fits, not necessarily as a complete and correct whole but as something that I feel comfortable with: how I personally stand in this all.

And, yes, I do still plan on working with Godemiche and recommending their dildos, just to be straight with everyone upfront.

Adam’s Adam

What exactly started this new Godemiche controversy. Well, as best I can figure it was an interview with Vice in which Adam implied that his flagship toy, the Adam, had been modelled after his own penis.

Well, that’s not wholly correct.

Here’s what Adam said, word-for-word:

The Adam, our first dildo, was made by me: Adam.

It was modelled around, sculpted on, my own penis. It’s the easiest thing to do: I’ve got a penis, I looked at it (I looked at it quite a lot). It’s the one penis I have a good knowledge of and I’m able to create. So that’s where we started.

There was part of me that wanted to leave my stamp on the industry – as little or as large as it may be.

If that product brings pleasure to people then wonderful.

For me it was always kind of obvious that the Adam had connotations towards Adam. From the moment I browsed the Godemiche page and saw the owner’s name it was apparent.

And it wouldn’t be an industry first either. Tantus, for example, have named and modelled dildos after people (or in dedication to them). Other companies even monopolize on modelling their artificial genitalia (be it penis or vulva) on popular adult performers – to great success, I might add.

But not everyone felt this way.

Some people looked at this interview and they saw arrogance, a lack of disclosure, even violation. And, let me say straight away: For anyone who did not make this connection, watched this review, and suddenly felt violated I am so sorry that you went through that experience. I can only imagine how distressing that must have been and you have my extreme sympathy and compassion. Your emotions are valid and your distress real. It’s something you now must process. That royally sucks and you have all my love.

If I could wish one thing from this situation, it’s that there was complete explicit clarity in the naming behind the Adam because it’s is true that not everyone would make that leap (especially if they didn’t know Adam’s name to start with).

Hindsight is, truly, a bitch.

But, the resulting ire that came Godemiche’s way was strong. It was, by all estimations, a Twitter storm, and when I mention Godemiche’s great toys to fellow bloggers I see grimaces instead of grins, and I just can’t get behind that. I really can’t. No matter the consensus.

The Aggressive Response (And The Defensive Reaction)

If I approached a smoker and said to them: “What the shit are you doing? Don’t you know smoking kills? You’re fucking yourself (and me) up pretty badly here” how do you think they’re going to respond?

Probably not by snubbing out that cigarette.

In fact, they’re more likely to be offended, feel attacked, and go one the defensive.

It’s human nature, after all, that when you feel attacked your mind starts prepping everything it can to protect you. Chemicals begin to flow elevating your emotional and physical state, your mind goes in to tunnel vision mode and, typically, you focus in strongly on the situation at hand and how you can react. At that point, it usually becomes either to dismiss (flight) or to stand your ground firmly (fight) and all chances of any meaningful engagement are gone.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this recent article in which aggressive vegans were the reason that 26% of British meat eaters wouldn’t even consider veganism.  Granted, that’s pretty small but the fact that it’s even a reason warranting one third of dismissal is enough to prompt consideration.

Confrontational activism has a place in the world, but is it the best thing to default to on a one-to-one basis?

Would I not be better when approaching a smoker trying, instead, to see their point of view? This is certainly the position of Dr Paul Furey – who proposes to make meaningful changes in people’s way of thinking we need to approach them with empathy and try to relate before presenting a counter point or trying to explain why their position is problematic.

If, I shout at a smoker – even if they’ve been smoking around me before and I’m just sick and tired of it – I’m not likely to get the outcome I want. Conversely, I might even make them feel vilified as a person, frustrated, or otherwise disillusioned with the whole affair.

Perhaps they’ll switch to a ECigarette instead in the best-case scenario. Or cut down. But if I still cry ‘Not enough’ then they’re definitely going to be frustrated and burnt out.

And that’s exactly the equivalency that I saw in Godemiche’s response to being called a violator for using his penis as a reference (a very common trend among artists, I might add: Would I be equally vilified for using my body as a reference in pornographic imagery, calling the character Emmeline, and then releasing it out in to the world?).

Again, real talk time: I did not like the Adam that I saw in that video. But I rarely like seeing people I care about in a position of frustration, anger, and wounded bitterness because they feel like they’re being unfairly attacked.

Adam’s response was premature. It came from an emotional place. His tone was the result of those emotions. His impatience with Monika most likely the same.

But did he really say anything that damning? Or did he simply rectify that he is an artist and used his penis as an artist’s reference point?

The video itself was ill-timed, but I don’t think what was said was (for the most point) something to condemn.

Instead I just shook my head in sadness as I watched what I believe to be the result of our community – one that promotes positivity, safety, and the encouragement of companies trying to make a real change – bring someone to the point of complete and utter emotional frustration.

It was not comfortable viewing.

Moving Forward

And what did I see in the original Vice video?

Well, dick reference points aside I saw a person who:

-Promoted partner-led adult companies.

-Highlighted being open and honest sexually.

-Proudly declared their position in the adult industry and encouraged people to talk more about sex.

-Held a strong focus on customer pleasure.

-Encouraged fetishes and a lack of sexual judgement.

-Practices and promotes age-appropriate sex education for children.

All on a popular forum that will engage a shit ton of people.

Why are we upset about that?

Isn’t this the exact sort of company that we want to encourage?

Objectively I think yes, and to close off and condemn a company that has an overly positive impact because of a few negative moments (primarily caused by the small company size and the intimacy of the owners to the brand experience) is just insane to me.

Adam and Monika are people. Just two people with limited earnings doing something absolutely amazing, putting themselves out there, and engaging on social media and in public outlets in ways that most adult companies couldn’t even fathom – let alone ones that are, in principle, advocating for the same thing as bloggers and sex toy activists.

They’re also not perfect. Adam is very jack-the-lad, Jamie Oliver, action-before-thought, and full of energy, and that grates on people. He also, like all of us, comes with his own background of preconceived beliefs which, at times, will be problematic and may need to be engaged with.

But condemned? No.

Do I condone some of the fuck ups Godemiche have made? Absolutely not.

But do I want to build a wall and make Godemiche feel like they’re constantly hitting up against it whenever they engage with bloggers? Never. Especially considering how much of their ethos I share.

I respect the decisions that other bloggers come to but this is mine. Sometimes we need walls in the industry (see my Screaming O post from just a few days ago) but sometimes we need bridges instead.

Here I choose to take the bridge.