Hacker culture celebrates technological empowerment: encouraging people to move beyond passive consumerism towards building and modifying technology to better meet their own needs. Hacking sex means expanding our definition of “sex”; recognizing that no two of us have the exact same biology, (a)sexuality, or desires; and building and modifying toys and equipment to enhance our own pleasure.
On July 23, 2016, I presented a talk entitled “Hacking Sex: Toys, Tools, and Tips for Empowerment and Pleasure” at HOPE XI. Here you’ll find the video, my slides, and lots of additional resources.
Unfortunately, the recording failed to capture my demo of The Hammer! Starting around 15:13, imagine that you’re seeing something like this:
- Talk Slides
- References and Resources
- Additional Information about my work and experiences as a sex-positive entrepreneur
- Questions & Answers
References and Resources
If you missed my HOPE X talk, “The Sex Geek as Culture Hacker,” you can watch it and find many additional resources here.
What Is “Sex”and Technological Empowerment
- The alternative definition of sex I present is from Dr. Marty Klein: Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want From Sex
- Erika Moen offers another great perspective in her comic “What is Sex?” from Oh Joy, Sex Toy.
Crowdfunded Sex Toys
Unfortunately, I had to cut most of my material on crowdfunded sex toys from this talk for lack of time. Here is the complete set of slides and links:
- The kGoal (for people with vaginas) and kGoal Boost (for people with penises) are by MinnaLife (@Minna_Life). You can also check out the kGoal Kickstarter page and the kGoal Boost Kickstarter page.
- The Eva is by Dame Products (@DameProducts); it was funded via IndieGoGo.
- The Autoblow 2 was funded via IndieGoGo; the Autoblow 2+ is now available.
- HUM (@humvibrator) was funded on IndieGoGo and is now available for purchase here.
- The Crescendo by MysteryVibe (@MysteryVibe) was funded via Born.com.
- The Lioness Vibrator by Lioness (@LionessHealth) was funded, and is available for pre-order, on IndieGoGo.
The Sex Toy Patent Troll
- The sex toy patent troll section is adapted from Vera Ranieri’s fantastic piece, “Stupid Patent of the Month: Trolls Go After Sex Toy Manufacturers”, regarding US Patent 6,368,268.
- This patent was filed on August 17, 1998, and granted on April 9, 2002; according to this patent term calculator, the patent will expire on August 17, 2018. Mark your calendar!
- If you want to design your toy (or mold) programmatically, I recommend OpenSCAD (free and open-source, available for Linux/Unix, Windows, & Mac). Thanks to Mr. O, you can find more information and sample code for designing sex toys in OpenSCAD on this blog at “Better Sex Through Trigonometry.”
- SculptGL by Stéphane Ginier is an open-source, web-based application that lets you do organic modeling from the browser.
- If you want to 3D print your mold and then cast from that, I recommend the video “Silicone Sex Toys with 3D Printing – Part 1” by SexShop3D.
- If you want to try 3D printing directly in silicone, you’ll need a paste extruder. Watch “Silicone Sex Toys with 3D Printing – Part 2″ by SexShop3D for more info.
- Ever wanted to learn about casting from someone dressed as a Prinny? Jimmie P. Rodgers and I (in cosplay) gave a one-hour intro to casting and moldmaking with a focus on working with silicone in January 2015. The slides and video are available on this blog at “Fun with Silicone.”
- I use platinum-cure silicones from Smooth-On, which I buy from Reynolds Advanced Materials. I’ve written more about my materials in “Working with Silicone for DIY Sex Toys.” Yes, you can ask either of these companies specifically about making sex toys!
Wrap-Up & Additional Information About My Work
- During this talk, I demonstrated the newest version of The Hammer (Burning Man 2013 Edition), which was also featured in Dig Boston. I gave a tech talk at Arse Elektronika 2012 about the original Hammer.
- I run a Boston-area meetup group for sex/kink-positive makers and crafters called teasecraft. (It was inspired by dorkbot, but for sexy/kinky stuff.) We have an email list, or you can find us on FetLife (free membership required).
- Since speaking at HOPE X, I’ve been working mainly on launching a new nonprofit, the Effing Foundation for Sex-Positivity. Our mission is to reduce sexual shame by fostering artists and educators who do sex-positive projects. We’re still a little ways away from accepting donations or giving grants, but the best way to keep up with us is to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter at http://effing.org/.
- Want to use my conference boundary-setting flowchart in your own presentation? Go right ahead! It’s available as a Google presentation, a full-size GIF, a full-size PNG, and as an SVG file through a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Questions & Answers
- How do you measure someone’s arousal level if you’d like a toy controlled by biofeedback? Use air pressure to measure their anal sphincter contractions! I first saw this technique used in the PSIgasm (which I do not believe is under development anymore).I also mention a friend of mine from teasecraft-boston who’s created nogasm , “software and hardware for Arduino-based orgasm prediction/detection” which he uses for orgasm denial. He also measures arousal level using air pressure via a butt plug.
- Is there anything medically involved in my transition to being non-binary? I should have mentioned that taking care of my mental health throughout this process has definitely been important (shout-out to my awesome therapist!). I point the question-asker to this awesome piece by Sam Dylan Finch (@samdylanfinch), “These 7 Assumptions About Non-Binary Folks May Be Hindering Your Trans Allyship.” My transition wasn’t particularly visible — I didn’t start dressing differently, taking hormones, or having surgery — but every non-binary person’s experience is different.Here’s the GIF I was talking about:
Here are some more resources around gender and being non-binary that you might find helpful — these five pieces are what I sent my parents when I came out as non-binary to them:
GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender Issues
What’s the Difference Between Sex and Gender? by Marina Watanabe
What is Gender? by West Anderson
What You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns by Sam Dylan Finch
…and this fabulous comic, The Great Divide, by Justin Hubbell
- Has The Hammer been to any play parties? I’ve taken it out to show off — and queer folks love it! — but no, it hasn’t really seen much action.
- This questioner asked me to talk about Franklin Veaux (@franklinveaux) and the new toy he is co-developing with Eve Rickert (@everickert). Franklin has posted a description of the toy on his blog; their new company is Tacit Pleasures (and you can sign up for their newsletter for updates). The person wearing the device in the photo, who was demoing for Arse Elektronika, is the talented Andre Shakti (@andreshakti).
- Have I done research on “medical-grade” silicone vs. other silicone? Nope. Dildology.org was going to try and be the Consumer Reports of sex toys; that project is on hold right now as far as I know.
- Besides off-center weights, what other mechanisms can you use to create vibration in toys? This isn’t my area of expertise, but another audience member helpfully pointed out piezo buzzers. If you Google “piezo buzzer Arduino” you’ll find several tutorials.
- What are my favorite kinky/DIY sex toy projects? I was super excited about the HackOff by the now-defunct Orgasmatronics, Inc., as a way for people to learn to use the Arduino microcontroller by programming vibrators.The Eva Project (featured on this blog) is a DIY project to try and let someone with a vagina feel what it’s like to have a penis; it’s a less-sophisticated precursor to Franklin and Eve’s new toy above.
- Should the FDA regulate sex toys? Eeeep. This is not my area of expertise. It’s complicated.
- Comment: 3D depth cameras are becoming a thing! The RealSense by Intel is slated for release; the commenter says Xtion and Kinect cameras can be had on ebay relatively cheaply. There are some free trial and/or open-source software packages like Skanect for 3D scanning.