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August 19, 2011
This is your brain on a vibrator...

According to Time, men have located the clitoris—in the brain, that is. Though the sensory regions of the male brain were first mapped in the 1950s, a new study sought to determine the parts of the brain activated upon feeling sensation in women’s sex organs and erogenous zones.

While a group of 11 women stimulated their clitoris, vagina, and cervix, both manually and with sex toys, researchers used an fMRI machine to track the corresponding brain activity. (Note to self: find a similar study to participate in ASAP.) The brain scan revealed that stimulation of the vagina and cervix lit up the same area of the brain, while the clitoris corresponded to a different region. As the areas that were activated corresponded roughly to those indicated during genital stimulation in men, the findings were unsurprising. Interestingly enough, however, sensation from the nipples also appeared in the region of the brain that corresponds to genital stimulation. Time explains that there are two probable causes for this: one, that the oxytocin produced through feeling nipple sensation can indirectly cause genital stimulation through the uterine contractions it can produce and two, that sensory pathways from the nipples could possibly converge with those from the clitoris, vagina, and cervix in the brain, meaning that there’s direct wiring from the nipples to the brain. Either way, the message is fairly clear to us—touching the nipples is a must during sex. Don’t ignore these little pleasure centers.

Read more about the history of the mapping of the sensory brain, as well as an explanation for why foot stimulation feels highly erotic for some, here.

Introducing the Duet by CRAVE

August 18, 2011

This week, we had the unique opportunity to visit our friends at CRAVE, an awesome San Francisco-based design firm dedicated to beautiful, discreet and environmentally friendly adult products. In their studio workshop, we got to see and learn more about the Duet, their initial product release, and we can safely say there is nothing like it!

The Duet is elegant, silent, waterproof and USB rechargeable, and is designed for the sophisticated, digital chick who has seriously high standards for what she brings into bed with her. You can purchase your limited edition version through CKIE, where, in just a few days, CRAVE has already surpassed its funding goal!

We adore the CRAVE team, including industrial designer Ti Chang (a major Girl Crush of ours) and entrepreneur Michael Topolovac. We admire their thoughtful designs and appreciation for sensual experiences, underpinned by a commitment to local, sustainable production. Visit their website and watch their video to hear more of their passionate story:

P.S. We love TechCrunch (it’s one of our main sources for news at the Vixely SF office), except when it comes to women, sex or design. Just not your thing guys (unless it’s by Vixely’s Girl Crush, Alexia Tsotsis). In TechCrunch’s attempt to cover the story, author John Biggs somehow couldn’t grasp that the product design funding platform CKIE is, in fact, different from the Duet vibrator brand. Sorry John, you look sweet, but this isn’t your typical “gadget!”

Nora loving Ti's overview of the Duet

Jen, Michael, Ti and Nora

Girl Crush: Laetitia Stanfield of ROARKE

August 16, 2011

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As we proudly declared last week, we’re all about the girl crush here at Vixely. We have an especially soft spot in our hearts for inspirational women who’ve ventured out in business, paving the way for female entrepreneurs such as ourselves. In our weekly “Girl Crush” feature, we’re turning the spotlight on these women, and for our first go at this column, we immediately thought of Laetitia Stanfield of ROARKE, a New York–based jewelry and accessories company. Not only is Laetitia a friend of Vixely, but her style, success, and savvy are all definitely crush-worthy. After debuting its signature bib necklace in 2009, ROARKE has developed a cult following, not to mention accolades in heavy-hitting publications ranging from the New York Times to Vogue. Read on to learn more about cool-girl Laetitia’s experience in the industry, her picks for fall, and her ultimate dinner party attendees—a seriously motley crew.

Hometown: I was born in NYC and grew up in Washington, D.C., and Middleburg, Virginia. Having a French mother gave me the chance to spend lots of time in Paris, too.

Current location: I’ve been living in Manhattan for seven years. I’m ready for a change of scenery but I’m not quite sure yet where that will take me.

School: George Washington University, by way of Tulane for a year.

Age: 28

What made you decide to start your own company? I was motivated to create something on my own since I had been working in a corporate setting for about five years. I learned a ton about branding and the importance of finding your niche in the marketplace from working in the buying office at Bergdorf Goodman for four years.  A friend of mine designed the first ROARKE necklace, and with a little know-how I was able to brand it properly and start a company. It’s been an amazing experience and it really feels like the possibilities are endless.

What has been the most fulfilling aspect of being a female entrepreneur so far? Well, not answering to anyone is pretty nice. But more than anything, being challenged in my day-to-day endeavors means there is never a dull moment, which I love. I run a one-woman show so I constantly have to come up with innovative and smart ways to grow the business while still keeping up with my current clients. I love it. The most fulfilling thing is being passionate about something that simultaneously continues to challenge me.

How do you see your brand/company evolving in the future? I am a very true believer that brands need to grow organically.  You can’t saturate the market, but if/when you’re lucky enough to do so, you need to be sure that your brand is evolved enough to keep up with the growth. I’m getting in to handbags and a few other things that will be an offshoot of ROARKE called ‘Isla ROARKE.’ In a parallel plan, I would like to eventually be a consultant, helping young designers understand the importance of this organic growth, time management, and prioritizing.  So many creatives have no idea where to start and what steps to take, so I’d like to help them figure it out.

Inspirations? Everything really. Ever since I started ROARKE, I look at everything in a whole new light—the people I meet, the travels I go on. The fashion industry is such a dynamic environment, always changing and evolving. I learn a lot from watching my peers grow as well—they inspire me in a business sense.

What sort of women do you find yourself designing for? Seriously, every sort of fashionable woman. The other day, I had a woman buy a bracelet for her four-year-old and another buy a bib necklace for her mother-in-law. There is a plethora of choices in the line and I think that is what has allowed the brand to grow. We create around inspiration and not so much trend, so women have plenty of choices. That said, our pieces tend to appeal to the woman who likes to make a statement.

Favorite fashion moment involving your brand? Mary Louise Parker wore my bracelet on David Letterman which was pretty cool. But even more so would be when I walked in to a deli on a Sunday morning, opened the Style section of the New York Times and saw my bracelets on the first page. They didn’t even tell me they were featuring them. They were right next to a photo of Basquiat! I love him, so that made it even better.

Style icon? I’m inspired by a lot of people, but I don’t aspire to be any of them, style-wise. Catherine Baba for her eccentric style, Jane Birkin for her simplicity. I have a quirky personal style, though, that I like to think is my own. I like Parisian women’s style, but the way they wear their attitude is even more impressive than their clothes or accessories.

Last vacation you went on? I have a hard time defining holiday because I travel a ton and work from wherever I am.  I was in Paris, then Buenos Aires in June for my nephew’s christening, and recently Canada for a wedding. I’ve been spoiled by going to my friends’ houses almost every weekend by the beach. It’s been a good summer.

If you could invite anyone to a dinner party, who would be sitting at your table? It would be one huge ass dinner party! All my close friends would be there. My family, of course. Zach Galifianakis, Carine Roitfeld (I wonder if those two would get along!), Stevie Nicks, Obama. I mean, this list could go on forever! Serge Gainsbourg, Bill Clinton, Coco Chanel, JFK, Mick Jagger, Damien Hirst, Ayn Rand. This is getting a little ridiculous. Cool influential people from all walks of life would be there, let’s leave it at that.

What are you reading? Lives of the Artists by Calvin Tomkins. It’s a cool easy read about the lifestyles of contemporary artists.  I’m learning.  I just finished Just Kids by Patti Smith, I fucking love her. I’m about to re-read The Fountainhead. I named my company after Howard Roark, after all!

What are you looking forward to rocking this fall? ROARKE made these amazing fingerless gloves that are beaded with leopard print.  I’m looking forward to rocking those with my new bright red leather jacket that my sister bought me in Buenos Aires. I love fall weather—and I think it’s totally sexy.

Secret fantasy or fetishes? I’m going to keep that one between me and my mystery man.

Turn ons? Being a gentleman first and foremost. I’ve dated some really asinine men recently. I look back and have absolutely no idea what I was thinking. I like smarts and motivation. If you’re lazy, forget it. And a nice muscular physique never hurt anyone, either.

It’s a Numbers Game

August 16, 2011

Two guys at once? No judgments here. Photo by Justin Blyth

Guest written by the adorable and amusing Kate in New York

When I graduated college, I thought that surely my rather unpleasant relationship with math was pretty much over. Unfortunately, it seems like the three most essential aspects of my life, sex, drinking, and eating, have a lot in common with the trig and algebra classes that plagued my academic career—they’re all about numbers.

I should probably tell you that for me, math and self-control go hand-in-hand. Before each session with my middle school math tutor, she would bribe me to feign enthusiasm over the material by bringing me three Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins. Though generally unimpressed by my arithmetic skills, she would admire my self-control as I would always only eat two out of the three donut holes.

These days, it’s a bit harder to exercise such restraint, particularly when it comes to my aforementioned weaknesses. Let’s just say it’s hard not to want to ravage that handsome man eyefucking you at the bar, finish the second bottle of wine at dinner, or eat that last handful of French fries. We’ve all been there: We may not want to do these things, but for some reason (ahem, extreme lack of willpower), we do.

But in spite of my inability to abstain from activities that I know I might regret in the long run, I’ve learned to have a little self-control in terms of judging myself. I’ve figured out that it’s not the numbers that matter, but the pleasure and the experiences, both positive and negative, that can come out of these so-called slip-ups. Recently, I willingly didn’t hold back: For the first time in my adult life, I asked a man for his telephone number and surprise! It was neither terrifying nor embarrassing, and nary a thought crossed my mind about the concern of adding another notch to my bedpost.

We went on our first date last week, and I’m proud to report that it was a success, for the most part. Two whiskeys deep into the evening, the numbers game reared its ugly head. For some reason, he started to ask me some seriously personal questions, ones that I would think twice about asking at ANY point in our hypothetical relationship. As the night wore on, standard first date queries turned into the third degree, a line of questioning that culminated in his asking how many guys I had slept with. In my very loose dating rulebook, this is an over-the-top inappropriate topic for a first date. Where does this person get off thinking he’s privy to this information? I still have him saved in my phone as the name of the bar where I first met him two Fridays ago at 3 am.

I skillfully dodged the question, but it did prompt me to do a recount when I got home. Apparently, the waning of my self-control with age is inversely proportional to the number of men I’ve slept with. Yikes. But, this realization made me realize, in turn, that I need to be easy on myself, and become more accepting of my numbers and let go of all the preconceived notions that accompany them, no matter how high or low.

And so, in the spirit of self-forgiveness, here are some of the numbers we should all stop giving a shit about.

The Number Of…

People You’ve Slept With: Whether it is one, five, or 100, every experience happened for a reason. You might have learned that you never want to have sex with a certain guy ever again or that you are ready for round two, three, seven. Sex is all about trial and error, so don’t beat yourself up over a high or low number. You’re doing important market research.

Women He’s Slept With: As a general rule of thumb, just don’t ask. In this case, it’s really better not to know. Seriously.

Dates You Go On Before Sleeping With Him: This is a loathsome concept. Once and for all, everybody listen up—there is no right answer to this. You could sleep with him the first night or after the 46th date (although I wouldn’t recommend this) and you still might end up with a Volvo, three kids, and a Golden Retriever.

That said, there are some numbers you need to be wary of, i.e. The Number Of….

Sex Tapes You’ve Made: While we’re all about upping the kink factor, this number should always be zero. And, at the very least, if you choose to tape yourself, ERASE IMMEDIATELY AFTER VIEWING! The number of existing sex tapes you’ve made should always be zero. People, have we learned nothing from such all-stars like Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson? Kim Kardashian and Ray J? Paris Hilton, for crying out loud? And should you decide to ignore our advice and keep your sexin’ on tape (how dare you!), under no circumstances should your face be on said video.

People Who Are Satisfied With Their Sex Lives: Now this is a number to care about. According to the survey Vixely conducted earlier this year, 80% of women feel uncomfortable telling their partner how to satisfy them sexually. If you’re among that 80% who can’t reveal what they need—more sex, less sex, more sex toys, more hair pulling, less listening to your boyfriend cry during orgasm—get on it, girl. Go after what you’re missing, numbers and judgments (other people’s and your own) be damned.

Sex for Sale

August 15, 2011

Pretzel sold separately. Photo by Justin Blyth

Ever wonder why some women wait to have sex with a guy until they’ve gone out on at least three dates? It’s because to women, sex is a form of currency just like that credit card used to pay for those expensive dinners. At least this is how the theory goes according to psychologist Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, who presented his study, “Sexual Economics: A Research-Based Theory of Sexual Interactions, or Why the Man Buys Dinner,” to the American Psychological Association last week. His theory, a melding of economics and simple psychology, boils down to the idea that women trade sex in exchange for other goods and services. Utilizing the basic tenets of economics, he argues that men and women exist in a marketplace in which women are the suppliers of sex, and men, the grateful consumers. In situations where there are more males than females, the price of sex is higher as there is less supply; when there are more women than men, however, competition between the ladies increases and the price of sex drops so as to attract more male consumers—the same way, in essence, that OPEC controls the supply and price of oil. Maintaining the high cost of sex is more important when women have little else to trade in the way of resources aside from their prowess between the sheets. In modern, liberal societies though, where women have more options to generate their own financial security, the price of sex can decline because it is theoretically of lesser value to them. Baumeister doesn’t mention this, but a Keynesian approach would totally suggest government intervention to stabilize the price of knocking boots!

Baumeister’s assessment neglects to mention at least two other determining inputs for this economic model: biology and anthropology. Men and women are arguably driven just as much by biological and evolutionary forces in terms of their need to procreate; it can easily be argued that due to the law of endless sperm and, conversely, scarce eggs, sexual norms for genders have developed differently so that men can make the most of their unlimited resources and women can preserve their limited capacity and time frame to reproduce. From an anthropological perspective, the sexual needs of men and women could also be justified by the lexicon of culture, structure, and autonomy as they converge to define societal gender roles and the family unit, and suggest that individuals’ feelings of love or lust may have something to do with their sexual behavior, too.

Baumeister’s theory of sexual economics is exceedingly one-sided and narrow, and discounts women as inherently sexual beings. The idea that women are in complete control of the “supply” of sex is inane, unless you’re strictly analyzing a brothel. Even when the supply of sex is high, women are not alone in their competition for the adoration of the opposite sex—men also compete and clamor over women in whom they are interested. Suggesting that the greater equality of women diminishes the value of sex is also grossly misinterpreted and exaggerated by Baumeister. Women do want sex, and in societies where they feel sexually empowered (and have more than their looks and a dowry to give them a competitive advantage), they may be inclined to have more of it. An analysis of what men and women want out of sex in a vacuum that excludes biology, raw emotion, and cultural norms should not seek (or be considered able) to rationalize the impact of women’s political and economic freedoms. Perhaps the application of economics to the realities of the everyday world is best left to Bernanke, not Baumeister.


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