On Sunday evening I tweeted a frustration and now that it’s been exorcised from my mind, I’m thinking about it more and I’m even more frustrated. I hold my tongue on the vast majority of things that piss me off in this community because it matters a whole heck of a lot to me and sadly, sometimes it feels like we live or die at the mercy of the hive-mind of Twitter. I prefer harmony. I prefer to take things on the chin. I prefer to process my thoughts privately and not be inflammatory. But I’m currently inflamed and fuck it, let’s talk about it.

Here’s what I said:

“I really wish that sex toy companies could be honest about why they don’t select certain blogs to rep their wares. There are now two companies I’ve been in conversation with who have declined my interest in reviewing or writing about their products FOR FREE who claim to not have stock or the ability to send things to bloggers yet my peers receive and review their stuff regularly. It’s fine if my blog isn’t the platform for your products but you could just say that instead of making up transparent excuses and lies. Because now, not only have you put a bad taste in my mouth, you’ve left me to come to my own conclusions about why my blog/brand isn’t good enough for you, which guarantees I will never endorse you to my readers and if I’m given any reason to actively boycott you, I will.”

A response was tweeted by a fellow blogger asking who the companies were, saying that they would avoid doing business with them based on my experience. I appreciate the solidarity, I do, but I had to reply with the truth: naming and shaming would be a potential death sentence for my blog because of how well-liked these companies are by other bloggers (especially the ones that receive, review and endorse their products). Besides, I’m not here to drag people publicly for their errors in judgement or manners, or to undermine someone’s business or livelihood, and let’s be real: I’d be a pariah. I’d look like I was just butt hurt for not getting free stuff, which frankly couldn’t be further from the truth. I have drawers of sex toys that will keep me entertained and titillated for aeons. And let’s not forget that blogger reviews are NOT free. Even if a company is only “paying” with product and not money, the blogger still puts time, effort, energy and resources into testing it, reviewing it and promoting it. So if I contact you to collaborate it’s because I like what you’re doing or what you stand for and I think we are a good fit. It means I want to work with your brand, not just take a free ride on your toys. It also means that I’m prepared to do that behind the scenes work because I believe in your brand and I see a mutual opportunity. If you disagree with us being a fit, it’s fine to say so. Or, and brace yourself for this radical idea: Just say “no thank you”.

In one of the above instances I was told that it simply wasn’t possible to send bloggers products for review, but I was offered 10% off and “free shipping” that was for the continental US only, therefore irrelevant. Bummer, but you can’t win ’em all. But let me tell you, when just days later multiple sex blogger colleagues tweeted about their new collaborations with that same company, I was tempted to take that 10% discount, buy my own product from them, give it a scathing review without opening the package and then demand a refund. But … that would be shitty of me, right? Right. And I don’t want to be shitty. I also don’t deserve to be lied to.

There are myriad reasons that some sex toy companies may not be interested in working with a specific blogger. Likewise, there are myriad reasons for us to not associate our blogs with some sex toy companies. Both points of view are valid and neither requires explanation. There’s nothing wrong with simply passing on an opportunity and everything wrong with lying to people about why you’re declining. Instead of fabricating bogus responses, a simple “Thanks for your interest but we’re not currently open to collaborating.”  will do. There is no need to fudge it. True, a polite declination may cause that blogger to ask why that’s the case, but then have the balls to just say why you don’t see that collaboration working. In both cases, the experiences I’m referring to were with small independent companies, not large corporate entities. In both cases, the conversation included discussion about blog stats and traffic – I was assured that my blog was big enough and established enough. So what gives? I get it, conflict, or perceived conflict, is stressful, saying “no thanks” can be hard but this is a small community. If you’re going to clearly, blatantly lie to one blogger and then make it rain dildos for another, and you don’t think that’s going to be noticed, you’re either very bold, or you’re very foolish.

In the absence of the truth or confirmation, the mind reels, the imagination runs wild. I’ll never know the real reason that these companies didn’t want to work with me, and I don’t particularly care, because at this point they’ve shown their true colours, and like them, I have standards. Maybe they’re fatphobic, maybe my blog is too kinky, maybe they just don’t like the cut of my jib – believe me, I’ll survive – but let’s remember that this community is full of hard working, passionate creatives and makers (which includes many toy companies!) so doesn’t that behoove us to try to be as good to each other as we can? We’re already on the fringes for being sex positive, the least we can do is be honest with each other. Speaking of honesty: I will honestly never buy, use, review, endorse or acknowledge these brands and if ever asked about them directly, I will recount my experiences to anyone who asks. Will that directly affect them? Most likely not. Is that the point? Nope. Instead, I’ll focus on the awesome companies I’ve connected with (just look in the footer below to see who I mean!) But to the companies, large and small,  shooting themselves in the foot by alienating bloggers and reviewers with this sort of asshole-ery: Good luck.



Do you work with an awesome toy company that deserves some love? Name them in the comments below! 

Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.