No Toying Around: Exploring Self-Love with Girly Juice

Girly Juice is a Canadian sex toy reviewer and sex blogger in her early twenties. She’s been sex blogging since March of 2012, when she was doing some research for a job interview at a sex shop and stumbled upon the sex toy reviewing community online. She took an opportunity to combine her sex toy knowledge with her journalistic experience, and started her blog Girly Juice.

How did your interest in sex-positivity and radical self-love begin?
I’ve been interested in sex for literally as long as I can remember, but I first discovered the sex-positive ideology when I started listening to the Sex is Fun podcast. I was about 13 when I started listening, and technically you weren’t supposed to listen if you were under 18, but I just loved it. The hosts had great, complex, high-level conversations about different aspects of sexuality and were always so non-judgmental and accepting. It instilled sex-positive values in me that are still with me now.

My interest in self-love began when I discovered Gala Darling’s blog. I was 15 and was going through a surly, self-hating teenager phase, which her blog just totally pulled me out of. Her writing taught me to notice things to be grateful for, to accept my imperfections, and to take on a loving and positive attitude toward others as well. I really have no idea who I’d be today if not for Gala.

What does sex-positivity mean to you?
To me, being sex-positive means that you accept all sexual behaviors and desires, as long as they’re safe, sane and consensual.
It means that you don’t shame others for their kinks, even (and especially) the ones you don’t share.

It means that you stay open-minded to different venues of sexual exploration, even (and especially) the ones that seem challenging and intimidating to you. It means that you value consent and safety above all else, but under the umbrella of those two things, anything is fair game.

Is there any aspect of the sex-positivity movement that you think deserves to be challenged?
I think there’s a big difference between what sex-positivity actually IS and how some people act while claiming to be sex-positive.

For example, some people have a problem with the sex-positivity movement because they say it encourages them to participate in sexual activities they don’t feel comfortable with or just don’t want to do. It’s true that some individual people do shitty things like pressure folks into doing stuff, and that’s not okay, but that is not what the movement/ideology itself is about, at all.

I also think some people use sex-positivity as an excuse to be creepy – for example, the weirdos who send me gross tweets and then act like I’m unreasonable for being offended, because, as a sex-positive woman, I should be open to anything. But, again, that’s a distortion of the movement itself. Sex-positivity emphasizes enthusiastic consent above everything else.

Do you feel that being spiritually open is necessary for someone to fully explore their sexuality? How has exploring your sexuality influenced your spiritual/philosophical views, and how have those views influenced your sexuality?
It’s a sign of intelligence to be uncertain of what’s out there, since no one knows for sure and no one will ever know for sure. But I certainly don’t expect everyone to share my spiritual views.

I talk about things like visualization and positive thinking because they’ve worked in my life, and because – regardless of whether you buy into the spiritual aspect of it – these behaviors FEEL GOOD. And feeling good is many people’s goal, whether they’re religious, agnostic, or atheist.

Obviously a lot of sex-positivity is about feeling good, too – you’re encouraged to do what feels good for you (within reason) and explore new and different ways to feel good. So, in that way, yes, my sexuality and my spirituality are linked. I believe feeling good attracts more reasons to feel good, and having orgasms is a great way to get into that zone!

What are your thoughts on the perception that masturbation is considered a taboo for girls?
It’s extremely damaging, not only for girls but for everyone who ends up having sex with those girls. If you don’t learn to masturbate, or if you do but you develop a lot of shame about it, your sex life is likely to be kind of stunted when you grow up. You won’t know what works for you, you won’t be fully comfortable with your body and its responses, and either you’ll rely too much on other people to get you off or you’ll feel uncomfortable being sexy in front of another person. It’s a total mess.

Masturbation should be taught in schools, alongside birth control information. That’s controversial but I don’t think it should be. Masturbation is a crucial tool that’s helpful throughout your lifetime!

What are important pieces of advice you could give young girls when it comes to their sexuality?
1. Masturbate. Learn what you like and what works for you. This is helpful for your own pleasure and also for teaching future partners how to make you happy in bed.

2. Learn about the clit, teach your partner(s) about the clit, and don’t be upset or confused if you need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm – most of us do. A lot of sexual narratives will try to tell you differently, but you are not actually a weirdo if you can’t have vaginal orgasms. (And if you can – yay, bonus!)

3. If you like watching porn, reading erotica, etc., try seeking out work that’s made by women. I’m not anti-porn or anti-men or anti-male-pornographers at all, but there’s just SO MUCH by-men-for-men porn out there and consuming too much of it can give a person somewhat unbalanced ideas about sex. Consume diverse sexual media!

What do you think of the perception of bisexuality within the sex-positive community?
Bisexuality is so common within that community that it’s almost like it’s assumed. Which is nice, in a way, because in all the other areas of my life, everyone assumes that I’m straight (or, very occasionally, that I’m gay).

Maybe there is a certain pressure sometimes for everyone to be bi. You hear a lot of bisexual/pansexual/omnisexual people saying stuff like, “Sexuality is fluid! Everyone’s a little bit bi!” but I don’t think that’s true. There are probably a lot of straight-identified people who would identify as bi/pan/omni if they fully saw it as an option for themselves, but there are also people who are genuinely 100% straight or 100% gay.

Bisexuality is something that has been fetishized in the sex industry and in society in general. What can be done to help dismantle this mindset?
It’s helpful for bi women to speak out about this. (I say women because it’s mostly women whose bisexuality is fetishized. Male bisexuals have a whole other host of issues to contend with.) The more women who proudly and loudly identify as bi, speak out against stereotypes, and live in public as bi people, the more that bisexuality will be humanized, and that will help with the problem of fetishization over time.

It can be helpful to bring up these discussions in the context of biphobic media. Like, if I hear someone saying they love Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl,” I will be that killjoy bisexual feminist who tells them that the song perpetuates harmful stereotypes. And while I love Orange is the New Black as much as the next queer lady, I’m also outspoken about the problem of bisexual erasure on that show. (Piper is a “former lesbian”? Seriously?!)

How has Girly Juice changed your perceptions of your sexuality and experiences with in the sex-positive community?
Sex blogging has definitely helped me bridge the gap between the “good girl” and “bad girl” sides of my personality. I think, as women, we’re encouraged to view ourselves and other women as existing within a “Virgin vs. Whore” dichotomy, and blogging about sex has helped me realize that that binary is total bullshit. I can be a good student, dutiful daughter, sweet girlfriend, nerdy, silly, even kind of childlike, while also being powerfully sexual and even kind of “deviant” or “perverted.” I used to cringe at the thought of my family knowing anything about my sex life, but now they all know I review sex toys and they even make jokes about it and forward me sex articles they think I’ll enjoy.

Part of me was hesitant to participate in the sex-positive community online because I thought there would be a lot of creeps, trolls, objectification, humiliation, etc. I’ve learned that the community is actually wonderful. For every creep I encounter, there are dozens and dozens of total sweethearts who are totally on the same page as me with regards to consent, safety, and respect. I’ve never received an unsolicited dick pic through my blog, for example, but I’ve received several in my personal life. (Gross.)

You wrote hilarious and honest pieces including curing constipation with a butt plug or being high and masturbating, how were you able to show this more vulnerable side of yourself? Did you have reservations about doing it? How did you overcome them?
Thank you, I’m glad you like those posts! I’m proud of them, even though they were scary to write.

It helps a lot that I use a pseudonym. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to write those things under my real name, if just because family and potential future employers would be able to find what I’d written and that’s sort of terrifying.

But the amazing thing is that no one ever seems to care as much as my anxiety-brain tells me they will. I went to a Planned Parenthood sex & tech conference last year where I was doing a lot of networking, and it happened to be right after I’d published that butt plug/constipation post, so that was right at the top of my site. Several people logged onto my site right away when they met me, and saw that immediately, and just made jokes to me about it or said it was interesting. No one made me feel bad or weird about it, online or in person.

I believe very strongly that your fears and discomforts are wake-up calls to what you need to work on. So, if there’s a subject I want to write about, but it makes me a little anxious, I know I have to pursue that. That’s how you become a better, bigger, stronger, braver, wilder person.

How were you able to find this balance between wanting to give useful information to the reader but also showing your personality to add entertainment? Was this a learning experience or was it something you felt you were good at naturally? How has this balance evolved over the 2+ years that you’ve been writing the blog?
When I first started out, I read a lot of sex toy reviews by a lot of different reviewers. It helped me learn what I do and don’t like in reviews. Some reviewers are very entertaining but don’t give basic info about the toy; some reviewers focus way too much on measurements and specs and don’t talk about the actual sensations. I come from a journalism background so it’s important to me that I give facts and context, but as a reader, I know that I hate reviews that are dry and impersonal. So I try to avoid that.

I used to write reviews in a very structured way – always including info about materials, how the toy charges, and how to clean it, for example – but now, I figure the internet is big enough that a truly curious person can find that information another way (or they can leave me a comment to ask about it). People read my reviews because they want to know what I think, not what the toy company’s press release or instruction manual says.

How have your visits to feminist porn conventions shaped and also challenged your views on the porn industry and sex work?
We are encouraged, particularly as women, to view sex workers as “the other” – the “whore” in that Virgin vs. Whore dichotomy we’re all shoehorned into. And that can be very damaging because it leads to a lot of shaming and girl-hate, plus it makes us feel bad about ourselves when we act in ways we view as porn-y or promiscuous.

For that reason, seeing and meeting these porn stars and porn directors in person is incredibly powerful. You get to see that they are real people – not just real but smart, strong, funny, interesting, and well-rounded. And that can be transformative, not only because it changes your conception of porn but also because it changes your ideas about what you yourself are “allowed” to be and do. You can be sexy! You can be slutty! You can like giving BJs or being submissive or whatever! And you can do it all while still being a brilliant, strong, genuinely feminist person.

Plus the events themselves are just incredibly informative, powerful, and fun. I laughed and cried so much at last year’s con. I felt right at home, even among strangers.

What are some of the funniest responses you’ve gotten from people when you tell them about your blog?
In a way, it was funny that my parents had no reaction whatsoever. I was really nervous to tell them – I had been making up excuses about why I was suddenly receiving all these packages in the mail, saying they were makeup or clothes instead of sex toys – but both my parents were just not surprised at all when I finally told them. I’ve always been a sex geek so I guess this just seemed like a natural progression!

When I tell people I review sex toys, usually they either say “How can I get a job like that?!” (which is silly because this isn’t the kind of job you just “get”; you have to hustle and build an audience and make it happen yourself) or “So do you just masturbate all day?” (which, NO – 98% of the time I spend on blog work is spent on writing, networking, marketing, social media, coding, correspondence, editorial planning, etc).

What are some of the strangest toys you’ve reviewed?
The Eroscillator looks like a steampunk electric toothbrush. Lots of people are horrified by how ugly it is. But it is the BEST sex toy I have ever used!

One of the weirdest toys in my collection is the vagina lasso, which is an elongated loop of yellow tubing. (It doesn’t look anything like a banana aside from being yellow.) It’s meant to be a Kegel exerciser + G-spot stimulator, but it doesn’t really do either of those things very well. It makes a good lasso for if you ever get something stuck in your vagina, however…

I was also recently sent a vibrator called the Womanizer (ugh) which is SO UGLY (leopard print and rhinestones) and has a suction mechanism. I have very mixed feelings about it.

The vagina lasso

Do you ever receive unsolicited reviews from your readers? Any particularly funny or interesting stories to tell?
It’s amazing how often I get comments or emails from men saying some variation of, “You wouldn’t need all those toys if you had me!” which is just hilarious to me because they have completely misunderstood the purpose and value of sex toys. Penises are great! Sex toys are great! They do not occupy the same space in my life, and I don’t pit them against each other. Plus I’m preeeetty sure most of these guys’ penises don’t vibrate, rotate, oscillate, etc.


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