Hello my lovely readers!
I have returned from Eroticon!
Okay, technically I was back yesterday buuuut that journey started at 5am in the morning and didn’t end until 5pm in the afternoon due to snow and delays and cancelled transport and whatnot so I allowed myself a space to collapse yesterday…after a workout, of course!
So, Eroticon 2018.
Hats off to Girl on the Net, Molly’s Daily Kiss, and Dom Signs. They are truly amazing individuals and managed to pull off a sensational, amazing, and just all-around life-energizing experience for everyone who attended.
The events of Eroticon have inspired me and I will be doing a series of articles based on what resonated with me but, for now, I just want to give a sincere thank you to all three of them for everything they do…and also for letting me talk.
Yes, this crazy Peach got given a platform to spew fourth her ramblings publicly.
Oh the power. The POWER! Mwahahahahaha!
Anyway, it seems that people liked what I had to say, at least according to the tweets (some of which I shall share in a little while), public reception being of utmost importance to me.
In fact, when people came up to me and asked at Eroticon ‘So how did the talk go?’ my default answer would typically be ‘You’d have to ask the people who came’.
Admittedly, part of this is due to me being shit at blowing my own trumpet (I much prefer giving oral to receiving it) but another large part of this was that, in my opinion, a talk’s success isn’t so much about how the speaker thinks it went. No. A successful talk is much more about what the audience got out of it.
I could go up in front of a room of thousands, ramble for a full 40 minutes and walk away feeling like I did a fantastic job, but if no one liked it, learnt from it, or felt that they could take anything away from it then I’d be inclined to say that talk was, ultimately, a complete failure.
This is why for my talk I highly valued the contribution of each and every person in the room. Every comment, question, or challenge was, to me, a welcoming addition in the dynamic knowledge exchange that we were engaging in and I loved every moment.
Equally, though, this is also why my talk’s slides and notes were made to be intentionally brief and act more as a platform for organic discussion rather than a full script that anyone and everyone can engage with.
Frustratingly this means that the outsider seeing this content might not get the full picture of what happened in my session, nor really feel like there’s much to gain. Still, I know that people have been itching to see what this Peach brought to the party at Eroticon and I love the idea of disseminating knowledge as broadly as I can.
So, for those who are interested, here is a little run through of my notes and slides for my Eroticon talk. I hope they can bring some value to you:
-Thank you for coming and introduce the title of the topic at hand/give brief summary.
-Some guidelines: I want the talk to be interactive & a think tank of sorts. Feel free to chime in, just be respectful.
-In the name of a general overview I will not be giving any specific company names nor showing any offending items. People can feel free to name names if they wish.
A Little Bit About Me
Before we dive in, allow me to share a bit about myself.
-My name is Emmeline Peaches, I’m the founder of EPR: An adult product review site spanning 6 years so far.
-I have reviewed over 400 toys.
-I’ve been featured by Channel 4, Cosmo, Elle, Ravishly, the Gymwits, and more.
-I also have a Doctorate, so someone let me become an official smarty pants (God knows how that happened).
-I’m also a huge dork, an activist, a feminist, a vegan, and generally a woman who doesn’t shut up (I hear some people don’t like that, but whatever).
Why am I like this? I don’t know. I guess I’ve always been passionate and I’ve always loved learning and growing and when I find something I like and care about I want to pursue it to the fullest and to fill others with the same passion and thirst for knowledge.
This is something that led to me becoming a sex toy blogger and it’s also the same thing that got me looking at sex toys with a lot more scrutiny. And what I saw wasn’t always good.
Pretty much since the start of my career, as soon as I started looking at sex toys, I realized that things weren’t always ‘on the level’ and that there were a lot of problems going on.
What sort of problems?
Well, I sat down and thought about this for about 5-10 minutes and here were just a few that I could think of…
-List off problems as seen in slide-
Again, this was just me and this was just in 5-10 minutes or less. I’m sure there’s more, in fact I know there’s more.
So, while we have a room of kick ass sex writers, educators, and influencers together why don’t we see if there are any I’ve missed?
-Encourage audience to chime in-
This was what we could think of in just a little while…that’s a lot. And if I were a company I’d be looking at that list terrified. Especially if I were a small start up without the money, infrastructure for a big team or, heck, even a single independent contractor.
And the reason I’d be scared is because of the current state of sex toy activism.
Now, before I go any further I want to slam up a huge disclosure and signpost what I believe.
-I am not here to police anyone’s activism. That’s not what I’m about and I would never want to do that.
-So, to make it clear, here is how I personally approach activism and some rules I set myself:
-All forms of activism are valid and have a place. No one can offer the same as I can and sometimes others apply approaches that I am unable to or not inclined or in a position to inform. What they are offering is filling a significant gap in my scope and it’s when we facilitate this and come together that we create the changes we desire.
-How someone chooses to represent themselves is up to them and them alone. This doesn’t mean that what someone says is automatically right or gets a free pass, but we are all responsible for our own actions and behaviors and cannot take responsibility for, nor control, anyone else’s.
-Activists should either support, empower, or enable each other. Sometimes this is just a simple case of saying nothing to the person you disagree with and letting them blaze ahead on their own path. Sometimes it means intervening in a constructive manner with the intent of trying to help grow and empower each other further. Always the way we treat each other as activists and allies should be with respect.
These things I strongly and passionately believe.
That being said, the current state of sex toy activism has me in a yo-yo of emotions because, often, it seems to come down to just a few prevailing approaches:
-Education: Yes, love it. Making sure people can make an informed decision is the fundamentals of everything in life (from consent onward) and is something we should value highly and champion. Knowledge is power and power enables people to make their own decisions from there with confidence and full autonomy.
-Positive engagement: Also awesome. This allows people to feel like the movement they’re seeing is approachable, reasonable, and has their best interests at heart (because we really do!) whereas negative approaches may not.
Case-in-point: I know that I’m much more likely to win y’all over to more meatless meals if I were to cook you an awesome, delicious vegan dinner than if I were to show you a photo or video of a slaughterhouse.
-Constructive criticism: Vital. No one in the world gets anywhere unless they’re challenged and offered changes to question what they know, form an opinion, and grow from it. Sometimes people and companies get things wrong and it’s important that we help foster a productive (constructive) way forward in order to improve positive engagement and education.
-Company call outs: Hard, but sometimes necessary, especially if all of the above have been implemented but hasn’t worked. I’ve called out companies myself and I felt like it was the right thing to do, but this is a method I don’t default to. In my opinion it’s best left for the extreme situations where serious prejudice or potential bodily/customer harm is a tangible possibility.
As for the really extreme situations there’s…
-The Twitter ‘Shit Storm’: Again, sometimes necessary, sometimes the only option, and sometimes so powerful and potent that it has changed the industry for the better….It also scares the shit out of me.
How I feel.
-I’m a stupidly nice person, to the point where someone will bump in to me and I’ll typically end up apologizing for it by default. As such, I struggle to be a firm and bad ass salty warrior for the good of the community, it’s just not my method. Because of this I do highly value those who can take up that mantle, and I’ll often retweet, repost, or generally highlight those who are doing the Twitter Storm justice.
-But I also can’t help but feel like, as time goes on, the Twitter Shit storm is increasingly becoming the default form of activism without considering its full implications or branching out more extensively in to other options.
Is this a problem?
-I personally think so.
-The Twitter Shit storm is powerful but if we use it all the time then not only does it lose some of that power but it may also, without malicious intent, be inflicted upon people who may not deserve it or who may themselves be struggling through situations, mental health struggles, or other issues that aren’t taken fully in to account by the immediacy, emotional-angle, and aggressive nature that a Twitter Shitstorm can cause.
-For example I have had people come to me, messaging me, saying that they’ve been left in tears after being jumped on for posting a single tweet. I’ve had people tell me they’ve had death threats, that they’ve been called derogatory names, that they had to step back from social media because they feared they were a suicide risk due to the onslaught that came their way.
Being brought to the brink of suicide.
Because of a single tweet or ill-considered/uninformed comment.
That’s a problem in my eyes.
-I don’t personally think that any single activist truly messages someone with the intent of causing them harm, malice, or to make them feel distressed. But if multiple people are sending multiple aggressive, problematising, or derogatory messages your way then that effect as a collective can truly destroy people’s lives.
-And these are the lives of allies: People who work with us in the industry. People who are also trying to change it, and who can reach customers, and who tend to have other’s best interests at hearts. These are the people we should be trying to work with, and we’re destroying them .
In such cases I just can’t help but wonder: Is there a better way forward?
I don’t know everything and I’m not perfect, but these are just a few things that (even in the emotional state of pre-Twitter Shit Storm Mode) I think we should all try and ask ourselves:
-Go through and elaborate upon each slide-
Even given all of this, my overall advice is this:
You do you, boo.
At the end of the day you know what form of activism you are best equipped to employ and where you can make the most impact with how you practice your activism and trust me when I say that it is all necessary.
So don’t stop the Twitter Shit storms – they’re needed – but I think that moving forward it’s important and necessary for us to look at what is and isn’t worth us hauling out the big guns for and who exactly we’re directing our ire at.
Besides, there’s a whole flourishing world of activist methods out there – from movements such as veganism, feminist, intersectional social justice, LGBTQI activists, and so many more, and, as it stands, sex toy activism is only just dipping its toes in a few useful methods. We have so many different options in terms of how we can move forwards, and think of what we can do if we look at what works for others and apply their activist tool box to our own kinky sex draws.
Some of these are obvious, some of these are already in use (or in the formative stages) but if you, like me, want to keep on pursuing sex toy activism but feel like you want more methods than the current defaults (or the call out) then here are a few we can engage in:
-Go through slide and elaborate, emphasis on pragmatism and empathy-
Because, let’s face it: At the end of the day most of the time consumers are mainly looking to get a toy that’s:
That’s it. They won’t look beyond that and, even if they do, they may not care about the impact. How many people in this room smoke? How many drink? We know these things are bad for us. We’ve been told. We’ve been informed, but we do them anyway.
We’re not perfect. None of us. And even if we want to live to the highest degree of our morals there’s still going to be moments where we just can’t (or don’t) live up to the ultimate form of our standards, so it’s not fair to immediately hold all those around us to that perfect model and to penalize or publicly shame them when they don’t without first trying more positive, empathetic and pragmatic approaches.
Change is possible, but only if we amalgamate our forces, support each other as best we can, and present reasonable alternatives rather than try to put all our energy in the problems that already exists.
Activists the world over have proven that ‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new’ and we can only do that if we stop fighting each other and start working with companies and other activists to help build the future that we want to see together.
Thank you for listening.