Why I Don’t Review Sex Toys (Yet)

Image is of a white hand (Morgan's) holding a box with a picture of the blue Fun Factory Stronic self-thrusting dildo on it.

Content note: this post refers briefly to my experience of being sexually groomed and the subsequent dissociation and trauma I experience. If that’s a bit heavy for you, join me next week for some thoughts on eye contact during sex, and take care of yourself in the meantime ♥


You might have noticed that I tackle a fairly broad range of sex- and kink-related topics on this li’l blog of mine, including detailed discussions of the things I’m into and the reasons I’m into them. You might also have noticed that I am a big user of sex toys, since they feature in a lot of my Smut Saturdays pieces and in some of my other essays too. Surely, then, the next logical step would be to write in-depth pieces on my enjoyment (or dislike) of specific sex toys, right?

Well, much like any other question that starts with, “Why do you…” or, “Why don’t you…”, the answer to this one is twofold: it’s the trauma, and the good ol’ autism.

Let’s get the trauma bit out of the way first. I don’t wank much. My first experiences of enjoyable masturbation were in a grooming context, wherein I was being instructed by someone a lot older than me on technique and fantasies. Six years on, I still find my own arousal unsettling when it isn’t “justified” by a partner’s presence and arousal of matching intensity, and trying to get off without anybody’s permission feels dangerous and unfamiliar. Even with awesome porn, if I’m touching myself while I’m alone, I feel unbearably self-conscious and will often dissociate. As you can imagine, this does not make for very good dildo data.

I could, of course, circumvent this by only testing toys in the presence of a partner – which would also yield more data in terms of how a toy can be used by two or more people. However, I’m depressed and anxious, and both of my partners are busy people, so I don’t want to put pressure on the sexual encounters we do manage to have by making them into research projects; nor do I want to put pressure on my partners themselves by bestowing upon them a responsibility to get sexy with me for the sake of my blog when we’d rather be watching Masterchef or snuggling in silence after a busy, hard day.

The only viable solution to this problem, in my eyes, is continued therapy, gentle experimentation, and lots and lots of time to keep recovering. If I ever do manage to produce a review of a toy, y’all should know it’ll be the product of a huge amount of psychological labour, support on my partners’ parts and way more time testing than the average reviewer probably spends.

With that out of the way, here’s my next point: the autism. Being autistic doesn’t automatically preclude a person from reviewing sex toys by any means, and it might even be an advantage to some, since autism can involve, among other things, heightened sensory experiences and a meticulousness that your neurotypical friends will envy during Deadline Week at uni. Unfortunately, my autism also involves a lack of cognitive empathy.

“But Morgan!” you cry, probably gripping your laptop or tablet screen in dismay. “You’re super empathetic! What are you talking about?!”

You’d be right, my dear fictional and overreacting reader. I have buckets of affective empathy, which is the one that makes you cry at videos of raccoons dissolving their own candy floss or bitterly despise your friends’ trash exes – in slightly more technical terms, affective empathy is the type of empathy that causes you to experience the same emotions that people around you are experiencing, and it’s the type I have way too much of.

Cognitive empathy, though, is the kind of empathy that helps you to understand how other people are feeling in the first instance – and I fucking suck at it. Once someone has very clearly signalled their emotions to me, I’m balls-deep in those emotions with them, but they have to be very, very clear signals. As a default, I assume that everybody is fundamentally like me, so I’m surprised to learn that people are straight, or that they like pasta, because I’m a pasta-hating double queer. In terms of sex toy stuff, I’m surprised to learn that some people like very direct clitoral stimulation or that they might dislike intense A-spot stim – and I tend to forget that information even once I’ve learned it. I worry that my lack of cognitive empathy would make my reviews effectively useless to anyone whose preferences didn’t align exactly with my own.

I also worry that my heightened sensory experiences would skew my reviews in a distinctly unhelpful way. Not only do I enjoy things more intensely than some neurotypical folk might, I also find some things unbearable that barely register for allistic folk. I am intensely bothered by certain textures, so I might slate a toy or a lube for a texture that 99% of the population would enjoy (or be neutral on). I’m also sensitive to noise, so my perception of the noise levels produced by a particular vibe might be wildly inaccurate and totally useless to somebody living in a block of flats with very thin walls.

I know that a lot of these problems could be mitigated by understanding and making clear to my readership that my reactions to stimuli aren’t representative and that I’m just describing my own experiences, but I’d hate to lead someone astray with my autistic fussiness and turn them away from a toy that they otherwise might have loved. I suppose, in a sense, this isn’t so much a problem with my autism as it is a problem with my own confidence in my writing; hopefully, over time, I’ll develop enough nuance to accurately and honestly review toys in a way that’s helpful for autistic and allistic folks alike.

Oh, and one final point: I’m broke as shit. Sex toys can be expensive, especially if you limit yourself to only reviewing body-safe ones, and I’m living off my student loan and the Amazon gift cards my uni sometimes gives me for participating in surveys. If any manufacturers or brands want to help mitigate that factor, since it’s the easiest one to contend with, you can reach me at kinkyautistic@gmail.com – which is also one of the many places you can reach me if you’re a reader and you want to share your thoughts on the art of reviewing toys.

All Tied Up: How Does Ropespace Feel For Me?

Last Sunday, I was on the way home from a seven-hour shibari workshop with my Daddy (as in my nurturing, dominant romantic and sexual partner). I sat in the passenger seat of my Daddy’s car, my black ‘Masochist’ T-shirt covered in rope fibres, and attempted to compose a message to my mum (as in my actual biological parent) about how my day had been. I have a spectacularly open and chill relationship with my mum, so I finally gave up on forcing my brain to communicate with my thumbs and just told her I was in subspace and my brain was “pleasantly mushy”. The next day, when I was somewhat more coherent, she asked me what I actually meant by subspace.

The answer, of course, is that it depends.

This conversation with my mum, in combination with Kate Sloan’s latest piece on little space, prompted me to contemplate the differences between the different kink headspaces I experience, and how I might describe them. This post will hopefully be the first in a series of many exploring the different subcategories of subspace.

To begin with, I want to talk about “ropespace”. It’s a subspace like many others, but it specifically occurs when I’m being tied up in some capacity, and usually involves literal ropes, as opposed to other restraints (like handcuffs). The rope itself plays a part: I’ve grown to associate the appearance of rope, its texture and its warm earthy scent with being bound in some capacity, so just seeing, handling or sniffing the stuff can gently nudge me towards ropespace if I’m not there already.

The other sensory aspect of rope bondage that really contributes to the headspace it puts me in is the sensation of being wrapped up tight, squeezed or otherwise securely held by ropes, both whilst I’m being tied and for any period of time that I stay tied up. I often say that it “gives me good autism”, which is a very particular kind of sensory stimulation or comfort that satisfies me very, very deeply. (Other things that give me “good autism” include glitter, citrus-y scents, arranging things by colour or size, and those cookie decorating videos that are everywhere at the moment.) I am almost instantly blissed out by the feeling of being hugged by ropes, whether that hug is around my waist, chest, wrists or even feet, and the experience of being tied into those hugs by someone I’m into is so joyful it makes me giddy.

A big part of the reason that I’m so sensation-oriented when I’m in ropespace, and thus so focused on the scent and pressure of the rope, is that I feel a lot more mindful and embodied than I do usually. I have a bunch of trauma stuff I’m still in the midst of addressing, meaning that I dissociate on a pretty regular basis, and in my day-to-day life, I can still more or less function even when my brain has completely checked out. But, because of the risks involved in rope (like circulation loss, nerve damage and joint problems), dissociating just isn’t an option. My primary job as a rope bottom is to be attentive to my body’s responses so that I can communicate with my top and be tied safely (which also means that any hint of dissociation warrants a safeword and possibly the end of a scene). Rope scenes are some of the few times that I intentionally and continuously tune in to every single part of my body and the ways that they’re all feeling. This can be exhausting, of course, but it can also be calming and enjoyable and deeply, deeply healing.

Another major psychological component of ropespace is the sense of malleability it gives me – or, more specifically, the sense of malleability that being manhandled by my Daddy gives me. Combined with the security of being tied in the first place, the experience of being grabbed, moved around, turned and twisted as my top needs can sometimes put me into little space; other times, it simply puts me into a deeper subspace wherein I feel lovingly objectified – a useful and prized canvas upon which my top can create art with rope. The couple of times I’ve been suspended have amplified this enormously: being carefully dangled from the ceiling makes me feel small and willingly helpless, especially when coupled with the intense fear of falling and the pride my Daddy expressed when I overcame it.

There’s also an exhibitionist edge to some of the rope stuff I do, since my Daddy and I are currently obsessed with attending workshops to learn and practice new skills. This necessarily means getting tied in front of people, which adds again to the sense of loving objectification – my Daddy loves to tie me tightly, roughly or otherwise meanly, to get me to squeak and whimper, so all eyes are on me and I feel distinctly ‘shown off’. Not all of the rope that I do is in public, but I still feel like I’m ‘showing off’ when it’s just me and a top – like I’m showcasing how still I can be, or how obedient, or how resilient.

Ropespace is still somewhat new to me, but it feels different from masochist-space, service subspace, pup space and little space already. All of the aforementioned fall under the general umbrella of ‘subspace’, of course, but I hope I’ve managed to articulate exactly how ropespace feels for me, at this point in my kinky development, and I’m planning to explore other kink mindsets soon – so watch this space!

20 Things I Learned Whilst 20

I turned 21 on the 24th of July, right at the dawn of Leo season, and I managed to only Tweet obnoxiously about it once. In fact, this has been a pretty quiet birthday by all accounts, but it felt like it would be remiss of me not to mark it with a blog post.

However, it’s brain-meltingly hot, and I have a busy weekend ahead, so I decided I’d treat my readership to the ultimate cop-out: a listicle.

I have to admit that some of these things are things I learned before I was 20, but they’ve definitely been reaffirmed or brought back to the forefront of my mind over the past year. Some are kink-related and some are not, but hopefully at least one of these twenty things will be enlightening, or at least uplifting.

  1. I’m probably sort of a furry. I don’t feel a strong affinity for the furry community as such, but I have to concede that the headspace I enter into when engaging in puppy play (right down to having a specific breed in mind…) isn’t dissimilar to having a fursona, especially when I play with accessories like my collar, leashes and ‘puppy treats’ (usually Maltesers). Plus, I’d definitely fuck Nick Wilde from Zootopia.
  2. PRN anxiety medications don’t work for me, because as soon as I’m even a little anxious, I become too paranoid to take any medicines at all.
  3. Anti-psychotic medications do work for me, and so far I’ve been one of those miraculously lucky bastards who doesn’t lose any of their sex drive when starting a new psychotropic medication.
  4. I actually do like masturbating, it just spooks me when I’m alone for trauma reasons.
  5. I am definitely more of an A-spot person than a G-spot person.
  6. Letting your sadistic Daddy wax your vulva for you is not as good an idea as it might sound. Especially if he’s never waxed anybody else’s body before and you’ve never had your own body waxed in any capacity before. Really, it’s a fucking terrible idea. Put the Veet strips down.
  7. Crying during kink scenes is the purest, most amazing form of catharsis I can access in a healthy and sustainable way.
  8. Being face-slapped a lot makes me cry.
  9. I like Starbucks frappuccinos as long as they’re super sugary and don’t have whipped cream on top. I have reached Peak White Person.
  10. If you want something (especially if that something is a writing gig or similar), you should go for it. The worst that can happen is a ‘no’, which you can accept graciously and move on.
  11. …but seriously, I am capable of awesome things if I just scrape together the bollocks to spring for them. Like appearing on Disability After Dark. Or being featured on Girl On The Net. Or putting my amazing, well-lit nudes on Twitter.
  12. I’m much better at receiving beatings and bottoming in S&M scenes more broadly if I’m tied up and receiving encouragement.
  13. It’s not normal to bleed after vaginal sex stuff! Who knew?! (This discovery did lead to me getting to view live footage of my own cervix, though, which was cool as shit.)
  14. Therapy is actually useful if you don’t lie the whole time! If you can find a therapist who will accept your kinkiness and/or queerness and/or polyamory and/or proud neurodivergent identity (etc…) then therapy sessions can feel productive and worthwhile, rather than another chore-ish appointment you have to make time for.
  15. I have a lot more work to do in therapy and outside of it. I’ve realised I’m absolutely brimming with internalised fatphobia, internalised ableism, suppressed anger, suppressed feelings of loss… but I’m starting to unpack it all, and it’s worth the hard work.
  16. I’m even more of a huge nerd than I thought – I’ve spent the whole summer so far itching to go back to uni. I thrive on structure and intellectual stimulation, and I miss university so much whenever I’m away from it longer than a week. Master’s degree it is, then.
  17. I actually love giving analingus. If I could abandon this blog post right now and put my tongue in a butthole I would.
  18. Cis dudes actually can eat me out in a way I enjoy if they just listen and proceed carefully. Not all of them are teethy, sucky trainwrecks.
  19. If you have a penis in your mouth and you press a vibrator to your jaw or throat, the penis-owner can feel the vibrations, and they’re usually pretty happy about that.
  20. There is always new stuff to learn about sex, kink, myself and the world. And I’m excited about that.