Savage Love | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Savage Love 

What is the best way to sanitize a latex dildo? At least I think it's a latex dildo. I actually don't know. I had a yeast infection a few months ago, and before I knew what was up, I used my toy. Now I'm afraid to touch it until I know it won't reinfect me!

Inserting This Chances Harm

"It sounds like ITCH isn't 100 percent sure what their dildo is made of," said Hannah Jorden, senior staff sex educator at Smitten Kitten (, a progressive sex-toy and gear shop based in Minneapolis. Don't feel bad: Most people don't know what their sex toys are made of.

"Sex toys aren't regulated like food," Jorden said: "There's no list of ingredients on the back. It could be latex, some other porous rubbery substance, or even a nasty, rash-inducing, endocrine-disrupting, cancer-causing mixture of PVC and phthalates."

Phthalates, a chemical compound found in everything from cosmetics and shower curtains to sex toys and food packaging, are pretty fucking scary. Phthalates block male hormones, harm fetal genital development, interfere with adult brain function, and may put people at greater risk of breast cancer and testicular cancer. But you don't have to settle for shitty, potentially toxic sex toys.

"The trick," said Jorden, "is to buy only nonporous, nontoxic toys from trustworthy manufacturers and retailers."

So maybe your best course of action would be to toss that old dildo and buy a new one.

"The best option is medical-grade, platinum-cured silicone," said Jorden. "Silicone dildos come in lots of different textures and firmnesses, and you can quickly sterilize them by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes or running them through a hot dishwasher cycle. As long as they're sterilized between uses, silicone dildos can be safely shared with different partners, and they can be used in different orifices without risk of bacterial contamination."

Those platinum-cured silicone toys are going to be pricier, of course, but aren't our orifices worth it? And our breasts and balls? And our children and their genitals? But if you can't afford silicone, or if you have a sentimental attachment to older sex toys, you can put condoms over them and continue to use them.

"It's not a foolproof approach," Jorden warned, "and it supports companies that make low-quality toys. A silicone toy will last a lifetime, and when you buy one, you're investing in a company that cares about quality and your sexual and reproductive health. Progressive sex shops, like those that are members of the Progressive Pleasure Club (, can help ITCH figure out which toys are safe."

Jorden recommended a few trustworthy brands: Toys from Fun Factory, Tantus and Vixen Creations are safe, nontoxic and phthalate-free. And here's a nonporous, nontoxic, non-silicone option for you: the stainless-steel toys made by NJoy ( They're pricey, but they are as indestructible as they are beautiful.

I'm a straight guy 18 months into a relationship with a bisexual woman. We get along wonderfully. (Have you ever tried to see who can out-rim whom? Fun stuff.) The snag is that she has a certain dedication to Catholicism and wants us to marry. I'm agnostic on God, but I don't care at all for his earthly representatives; the idea of a priest giving me permission to kiss her is repellent. A secular courthouse wedding isn't much more appealing: It seems utterly unnecessary. I suggested flipping a coin as a sort of compromise. She wasn't interested. Breaking up seems like a dumb thing to do, but that's the outcome we're inexorably moving toward.

Running Into No Go

If you were my boyfriend and you told me — right after I had defeated you in a rimming contest — that you would marry me if you lost a coin toss, but not because marriage mattered to me, I would never rim your ass again. Because if my feelings, however contaminated they were by Catholicism, mattered less to you than a coin toss, your ass would have to learn to eat itself.

Maybe it will help if you look at it this way: You've already lost the coin toss. The woman you want to spend the rest of your life rimming wants to marry the man she spends her life rimming. Since you would be willing to marry her if you lost a coin toss, then clearly marriage isn't something you couldn't bring yourself to do. That means you're the one who should compromise.

I'm perceived as pretty levelheaded, so employees feel comfortable confiding in me. A 21-year-old employee came to me and blurted out, "I had sex with a woman. Then two months later, I met her husband at a bar. I did NOT know that she was married! She didn't tell me! As it turns out, her husband is a good guy. Now I feel bad and I don't know what I should do." I asked him how many times he "dated" this woman. He said maybe five and that the sex happened only once. What should I tell him?

Employee Relations Resource

You should tell him that some married people cheat on their spouses, and that some cheaters fuck people who wouldn't fuck 'em if they knew they were married. It's unfortunate — and unnecessary, as there's no shortage of people who will happily fuck married people.

Then you should tell him that some married couples have open relationships, some have "don't ask/don't tell" understandings about outside sex, some married men are into cuckolding, and some people "cheat" because their partners have sexually neglected or rejected them.

Your employee has no way of knowing whether this woman's husband was wronged. But if your employee was party to an infidelity, he didn't knowingly do anything wrong, so the wrong isn't his. Nor is it his to right.

He should avoid further contact with this woman — unless he gets an explanation that eases his conscience — and he should avoid becoming buds with the husband, however good a guy he might be.


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