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Finally, Facebook stops advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups... for now

2023-05-22 12:48:25 author:sh419

Finally, Facebook stops advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups... for now

Finally, Facebook stops advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups... for now(图1)

Facebook has long allowed advertisers to target users based on race—and exclude users based on race, too.

On Wednesday, Facebook said they're temporarily stopping that ability to exclude after repeated investigations uncovered how easy it is to discriminate.

The update comes after a ProPublica(opens in a new tab) investigation published last week(opens in a new tab) revealed advertisers can still target housing ads to white people only. That's damning not only because it violates the federal Fair Housing Act but also because ProPublica(opens in a new tab) already made Facebook(opens in a new tab) aware of the issue back in October 2016. Facebook later promised to step up its enforcement(opens in a new tab).

SEE ALSO: Facebook's suicide prevention AI just got an important upgrade

The solution: algorithms.

The problem: algorithms didn't work perfectly.

Facebook said(opens in a new tab) in February it would "build tools to detect and automatically disable the use of ethnic affinity marketing for certain types of ads."

It's important to note that Facebook's ad system doesn't explicitly allow for brands to target or to exclude people based on their race. Facebook doesn't require users to report their race. Instead, Facebook has a system called "ethnic affinity marketing" that creates subgroups of users for what race or cultural group Facebook thinks they are based on their behavior on and off the platform.

Clearly, the tools Facebook introduced earlier this year to prevent discrimination via these ads are not perfect. ProPublica's investigation from last week showed that they could buy a rental housing ad that excluded users based on race or ethnicity in a matter of minutes.

To give Facebook credit, the tools — or as Facebook likes to call them, "safeguards" — did protect against some abuse.

"Our safeguards, including additional human reviewers and machine learning systems have successfully flagged millions of ads and their effectiveness has improved over time," Ami Vora, vice president of product management at Facebook, said in a statement last week.

"Tens of thousands of advertisers have confirmed compliance with our tighter restrictions, including that they follow all applicable laws," she continued.

But ProPublica was able to demonstrate a flaw in the system, what Vora described as a "technical failure."

Finally, Facebook stops advertisers from excluding racial and ethnic groups... for now(图2)

"Our systems continue to improve but we can do better," Vora wrote.

Before Facebook can determine how to do better, it has pulled the plug on the ability to exclude races in ad campaigns. That functionality will be removed for all advertisers as of Friday.

It's also conducted an audit of the exclusion tool that extends beyond racial and ethnic affinity groups. For example, Facebook will be analyzing how the tool can discriminate against the LGBTQ community and religious groups.

“Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter(opens in a new tab) to the Congressional Black Caucus dated Wednesday.

Lawmakers of the Caucus had reached out to Facebook last year about the issue and continued in conversations about the issue. One lawmaker said he is pleased by Facebook's decision to temporarily stop the exclusion functionality.

"Facebook's decision to disable its multicultural affinity advertising function is an appropriate action until the serious concerns associated with that feature are remedied. Thankfully, we've been able to establish a constructive pipeline of communication that's resulted in a positive step forward," Rep. Robin Kelly, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and ranking member of the IT subcommittee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Of course, she's keeping Facebook on watch.

"I will continue watching this issue very closely to ensure these issues do not raise again," Rep. Kelly said.

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    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

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    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

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    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

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    Via Giphy(opens in a new tab)

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  • How the queer community can embrace the asexual spectrum


    How the queer community can embrace the asexual spectrum

    Mashable is celebrating Pride Month by exploring the modern LGBTQ world, from the people who make up the community to the spaces where they congregate, both online and off.

    Pride is a time for embracing one’s identity, for shouting it loudly from the rooftops because we should, all of us, be proud of who we are.

    But for a small part of the LGBTQIA+ community — the A specifically — it continues to present a quandary. The asexual community, named for its lack of interest in sex, struggles to navigate a movement defined by sexual attraction.

    “On the one hand we have this sex-positive culture which is wonderful and liberating, but there is a story that’s missing, and what’s missing is not everyone is sexual,” said Phillip L. Hammack, professor of psychology and director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    “Variations in the levels of sexual attraction or the conditions under which people experience sexual desire is a normal form of human diversity, and it’s not one that’s been represented historically,” he said.

    SEE ALSO: 'Ace' is the first book of its kind. Here’s why anyone, asexual or not, should read it.

    Roughly 1 percent of the population identifies as asexual, but there’s a spectrum to lack of sexual interest just as there is for sexual interest. Some people identify as demisexual (interested in sex but only when there's a strong emotional connection) or as graysexual (moving fluidly between asexual and sexual depending on the circumstances). Sexual and romantic identities are also distinct; a person may identify as asexual, but not aromantic (uninterested in emotional relationships), and therefore pursue romantic relationships with little or no physical component.

    It’s useful to think of human sexuality as a bell curve, with the middle covering average human sex drive and the ends accounting for both high and low sexual tendencies, said Oberlin College assistant professor K.J. Cerankowski, editor of Asexuality, Feminist, and Queer Perspective and author of the paper “Spectacular Asexuals: Media Visibility and Cultural Fetish."

    Credit: Mashable / Bob Al-Greene

    “Some people want to have sex completely divested from any emotional attachment,” Cerankowski said, citing one-night stands and hookup culture. “And then you have people maybe on the other end of that spectrum who only have sex within committed relationships or committed monogamous relationships, and then you have anything in between.”

    Because of the neutral nature of asexuality, though, it can be challenging for some to place it within the same movement of sex positivity that includes classifications like homosexual or bisexual -- identities literally named for sexual attraction.

    “Historically, we thought about sexual diversity in terms of the gender to which you’re attracted to,” said Hammack. “It really kind of framed how both the culture and the science evolved, and the problem with that is that it didn’t capture the full range of people’s experience of intimacy.”

    One demi, Dustin Fowler, told Mashable that people have assumed that being on the asexual spectrum means he never wants physical contact, even with friends, or that he doesn’t want a relationship. “We're people just like members of any other community with individual wants and needs,” he said.

    SEE ALSO: Astrology tech can provide a safe space for the LGBTQ community, but there are limitations

    Regardless of where they stand on the asexual spectrum, individuals who see themselves in this community aren’t represented in a media and culture that’s striving to embrace and destigmatize sex. Sex positivity is a long overdue movement meant to celebrate sex: Everyone should be able to have it, whenever and with whomever they want. But for some people that means maybe never with maybe no one.

    “There's a lot of normalization in current popular media that celebrates sex and promiscuity while shaming people who aren't having sex or are virgins,” said Fowler.

    A side effect of showing and talking about sex whenever we can is that we alienate those who view sex differently.

    "To me, sex positivity means celebrating with someone when they want to have sex and celebrating when they know themselves well enough that they’re comfortable not.”

    “As a society, we hear sex positivity and immediately think sex is wonderful and everyone should be having it,” Jenae Williams, who identifies as demisexual, told Mashable. Williams described notions that anyone who doesn’t want to have sex is prude or detrimental to sex positivity. “You become anti-sex positive when that’s not the case. To me, sex positivity means celebrating with someone when they want to have sex and celebrating when they know themselves well enough that they’re comfortable not.”

    “To truly have a sex positive moment is to be able to address that whole range of human sexuality and sexual desire and experience,” Cerankowski added. “When you have a sex positivity that says yes, sex is great, no slut-shaming, but also if you don’t want to have sex that’s OK, too. We should be able to say that, and we should also talk about consent, and we should talk about how some people don’t want sex and some people do want sex.”

    For Cerankowski, this kind of sex positivity is more inclusive of asexuality. "There are a lot of asexual people who would identify as sex positive with that way of thinking of sex positivity.”

    People who are asexual encounter derision early on. In a 2015 Modern Love column for the New York Times(opens in a new tab), Kim Kaletsky described the confusion of high school sex education, which assumes its entire audience is clamoring to have sex and should therefore be responsible.

    “Along the way, we heard plenty of assurances that it’s perfectly OK to not have sex,” Kaletsky wrote. “But nowhere in that lesson did I hear the words, ‘It’s OK to not want sex.’”

    Media and culture tell us that sex is “normal.” It’s normal for hormonal teenagers to feel the impulse, for adults to act on it, and for all of us to pursue and explore. But in destigmatizing sex and reinforcing that it’s OK, the message can often be interpreted as sex being the only answer to a question some people aren’t even asking.

    The recent history of the asexual spectrum

    Asexuality as a sexual orientation didn’t really enter mainstream discourse until the early 2000s, in conjunction with two main things, said Hammack. First came the establishment of AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) by David Jay in 2001. Inextricably linked to its rise was the internet. Asexual people around the country found each other via forums, message boards, and online connections that turned into real-life ones. But despite this rise, the asexual community was -- and still is -- often regarded with confusion.

    In the 2012 documentary A(Sexual)(opens in a new tab), Jay and a group from AVEN march for the first time in San Francisco Pride in 2009, where the camera catches visible skepticism from onlookers. One person says “that’s scary,” and another asks the AVEN group to stand 20 feet away from them.

    This bolsters Hammack’s assertion that it’s difficult for asexual people to find space in the queer community, which tends to be sex positive and sometimes hypersexual (again, that's OK).

    “There’s been a rejection of asexual people on the grounds of like ‘Hey, you’re talking about something different. Don’t try to latch onto us,’” he said. Yet as a sexual minority by definition, asexual people fit into the larger queer community.

    Jay’s flyers at San Francisco Pride that year offered information about asexuality – not propaganda for conversion. They were meant to promote acceptance. Just as heterosexual people can be allies for Pride and the queer community, people on the asexual spectrum can, and regularly do, support others’ enthusiasm for sex. That should go both ways.

    Asexuality in media

    Todd finds himself in an uncomfortable sexual situation in Season 4 of 'Bojack Horseman.' Credit: netflix

    Every single person interviewed for this piece cited Bojack Horseman as a positive representation of asexuality. For years, the show built up to this realization for Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul), whose lack of sexual interest stood in stark juxtaposition to Bojack’s existentially charged libido. In Season 4, he describes himself as asexual.

    As a surreal adult cartoon, Bojack has a niche audience. But Todd’s asexuality was a critical step in diverse sexual representation, one which Vox’s Sara Ghaleb(opens in a new tab) (who identifies as asexual and aromantic), described as “huge.”

    “[When] you never see anyone like yourself reflected in media, it can feel like you don’t exist,” Ghaleb wrote in 2018. Not only did Todd find peace in his own identity, but he found a community, and Bojack readily accepted him for who he is.

    When trying to think of other popular and sensitive examples of on-screen asexuality, however, everyone I spoke to came up short. AVEN has a master list(opens in a new tab) tracking asexuality in fiction, which you could read through in under five minutes (it's also dominated by literary examples).

    Early mentions of asexuality on television often occurred in talk shows. In the early 2000s, Jay appeared on major network talk shows, doing interviews that entailed smiling through serious aspersions about whether asexuality was real or valid. A House episode from 2012 depicted an asexual couple, but in the end revealed that one of them had a brain tumor dulling their sex drive and the other was in fact pretending to be asexual to stay in the relationship. Problematic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a demisexual character on TV or in movies,” Williams said. “Every single character I’ve seen is either gay, straight, or bi, and ready to hop into bed at a moment’s notice. Which can explain why it took me so long to learn about demisexuality.”

    To that end, Williams said she often tells people she’s bisexual (she actually identifies as biromantic), because “it’s a lot easier for them to understand.” Adam Winney, who wrote an informational song(opens in a new tab) about asexuality in 2016, agreed, explaining that he’s far more vocal about being interested in other men than saying he’s demisexual.

    “Growing up, I truly believed the importance of the stakes involved in each American Pie movie I absorbed,” said Winney. “With a majority of the population being sexual, it makes sense to market towards them. However, there’s a responsibility we have on what stories we tell to each age group. I’m not saying we need a show about an asexual pilot with a gambling addiction called Ace of Hearts [Writer’s Note: Or maybe we do???], we just need more stories that aren’t telling kids they need to hook up now or be forever lame!”

    How to move forward

    Hammack explained that simply having words like asexual, graysexual, and demisexual is crucial for people to navigate the complex climate of modern relationships. We didn’t need the language when dating was courting and marriage was the only form of commitment. We didn’t need it when sex was taboo in media and culture and mostly discussed behind closed doors. But we do need it today.

    Hammack’s research shows(opens in a new tab) that Generation Z doesn't think of gender and sex like their predecessors, and that young people are the most receptive to new ideas about sexuality. That's a good thing for the entire LGBTQIA+ movement, because as young people grow up and influence society and culture, both will be implicitly more accepting of different identities – including shades of asexuality.

    Twenty years ago, it was about visibility; now it’s about understanding.

    As with all minority stories, the road to acceptable representation for the asexual spectrum is a journey. Education and conversation go a long way in decreasing stigma. Twenty years ago, it was about visibility; now it’s about understanding.

    “Just letting people know that it's an option is huge,” Fowler said. “Before I knew demisexuality was a thing, I felt like I was broken for a really long time. If media can make one person know that their way has a name and people in that community, I think that is life-changing.”

  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for coronavirus

    As if the coronavirus pandemic didn't have everyone already on edge, there's now word that national treasures Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have the virus.


    On Wednesday night, Hanks posted a statement to Twitter that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease known officially as COVID-19. The two are currently in Australia doing pre-production(Opens in a new tab) for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley film.

    He wrote in his usual down-to-earth tone, "Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive."

    Hanks is, of course, just one of many people having to confront this diagnosis. So far the World Health Organization reports(Opens in a new tab) there are more than 118,000 cases worldwide, and more than 4,200 people have died from it.

    It is so far affecting people in 114 countries — and was today officially declared a pandemic(Opens in a new tab) by the WHO. While the majority of people with the virus(Opens in a new tab) only experience mild symptoms, for 15% of people the symptoms are severe.

    It seems fortunate for Hanks and Wilson that they were a country where tests for the virus were readily available(Opens in a new tab). The situation in the U.S. is quite different, where delays in making tests available(Opens in a new tab) have been the source of much controversy.

    As for how Hanks and Wilson are faring, it seems so far that both of them are doing well under the circumstances. He wrote, "The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?"

    Leave it to Tom Hanks to be a calm figure in an otherwise scary time.

    This is a developing story...

  • 12 best tweets of the week, including a panda, David Crosby, and an egg

    12 best tweets of the week, including a panda, David Crosby, and an egg

    It's Friday. Seriously. Finally. I double-checked because, well, you know, who could be totally sure these days?


    And here at Mashable we're going to keep doing what we've been doing on Fridays for quite some time now: collecting the best tweets of the week. Why? Because it's the end of the week, we've all got to keep isolating, and it's nice to mark the beginning of the weekend somehow. And it also might be nice to have a few laughs.

    OK, here we go, these are the 12 best tweets of the week.

    1. OK, don't panic, let's just wait for The Office, hot wings, or random mid-2000s athletes to come up naturally

    2. I mean, the description says it all

    3. Ah!

    4. It's sweeping the nation

    5. Nailed it, David Crosby

    6. The plague rages on

    7. Just gorgeous video editing

    8. I feel this

    9. Obligatory dril tweet

    10. Bet it tastes like egg

    11. Aw man, come on, everyone, get your kids to do the arm pump thing

    12. And finally, this:

  • TikToks air fryer tortilla pizza hack is perfect drunk food

    TikToks air fryer tortilla pizza hack is perfect drunk food

    My college days are long past. And they were never really that crazy to begin with. But recall being young: You've stayed up late, probably had like three too many, you're hungry but capable of making only the most basic foods.


    If you're in that (altered) state of mind, then this viral TikTok recipe(Opens in a new tab) for a tortilla pizza is pure gold. It is perfect trash, drunk food, and I mean that as a compliment. The video, posted to TikTok by @adriannamagnone(Opens in a new tab), racked up more than 10 million views.

    SEE ALSO: The best air fryers for making crispy food faster than the oven

    It's seemingly aimed at low-carb dieters — swapping tortillas for crust — but really it's best to think of this as a cheap, gooey, fatty, simple meal. It is not healthy or really even that tasty. But it's somehow still good. One of those things you kind of hate yourself for loving.

    Anyway, here's what you need to know to make the recipe.


    • 2 flour tortillas

    • Shredded mozzarella cheese, roughly 1 cup

    • 1 clove of garlic, minced

    • Olive oil, roughly a tablespoon

    • Jarred marinara or pizza sauce, roughly 1/4 cup

    • Italian seasoning


    1. Lay one tortilla into your air fryer basket.

    2. Brush the tortilla with oil and garlic.

    3. Drop about half the cheese on top of the tortilla then top with the other tortilla.

    4. Brush the top tortilla with pizza sauce.

    5. Top the sauced tortilla with the other half of the cheese.

    6. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the tortilla pizza.

    7. Air fry at 400 degrees for about six minutes. Enjoy!

    Here's how the process looked for @adriannamagnone(Opens in a new tab).

    Not bad looking, right? Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @adriannamagnone

    The details

    This is simple stuff. Much like other TikTok air fryer recipes, it's a quick, hacky recipe. The only real change I'd suggest is that you add your minced garlic directly into the oil, that way you brush the tortilla with garlic and oil all at once. To be honest, neither the oil or the garlic was really even all that necessary, so if you want to skip that step entirely, it's totally cool. You'll just miss out on the slight garlic bread vibe.

    Otherwise this recipe is impossible to mess up. Make a quesadilla in your air fryer. Top it with sauce. Then drop on more cheese, some herbs, and air fry.

    The end product is pretty similar to a fast-food, thin-crust pizza. Think Domino's at 1 a.m. The tortillas are cracker-thin and crisp, the cheese is overflowing, the sauce, because it's store-bought, is almost assuredly too sweet. You get the vibe of eating pizza while also knowing you are actually eating an abomination. I imagine it'd be perfect for me at 21 after guzzling about a half-dozen Natty Bo's(Opens in a new tab). It'd probably also be great for kids, because drunk people and children have a similar palate.

    But, even while dead sober in the middle of the day, I was pretty surprised how much I liked this recipe. Sure, it's basic. But what is there to dislike about melty cheese and crispy tortillas? I even liked that the six minutes of cook time burned the top layer of cheese a bit. It really reminded me of nostalgic, not great pizza you'd get at a kids' birthday party. Here's what my final product looked like. It was pretty identical to the source material.

    What's not to like? Credit: Mashable

    I'm not saying this recipe will soon make its way into my dinner rotation like other AirFryDay recipes — my chicken sandwich and wings recipes come to mind — but it really isn't bad. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll feel less...old...and hit the bars. I'll get home at 1 a.m. and all I'll have is some tortillas, sauce, and cheese. And I'll know exactly what to make.

  • Where to buy sex toys online (including Target and Sephora)

    Where to buy sex toys online (including Target and Sephora)

    Whether you're looking for your very first vibrator or have lost count of how many sex toys you have in your collection, the internet can be a pretty great place to find your next toy.


    Of course, the insane amount of options that make finding that just-right sex toy possible can also make the process more overwhelming than you'd wish, especially for a product that's supposed to deliver big on pleasure.

    SEE ALSO: Best sex toys for women: Take pleasure into your own hands

    So where does one begin? The first step is to make sure you're going to retailers that make quality products. Sex toys get a lot less fun when they're not made out of materials that are okay to go on or in your genitals. To best guarantee this, we highly recommend shopping directly from trusted names in the sex toy business or from the manufacturers themselves, both of which you'll find on this list.

    And while a dose of healthy skepticism at any suspiciously low prices is always good (again we cannot express enough how important quality is for your safety), that doesn't mean that you'll have to break the bank to boost the thrills in your bedroom.

    So go forth, and take your first digital steps into your next sex toy journey with these 17 online shops. If you need any more guidance making your selections, we have a handy guide, along with a few recommendations below for each shop.

    1. Lovehoney(Opens in a new tab)

    If it’s sex toys you’re looking for, the XBIZ Award winner for “International Pleasure Products Company of the Year” is a good place to start. Lovehoney can sell you toys, sure, but you can also find a podcast on their site that answers customer questions and delivers expert advice, sex tips, and even little-known facts about sex! Lovehoney is clearly committed to sexual health and wellness, making their online shopping experience easy and comfortable.

    Some current best sellers include the Magic Wand Plus Extra-Powerful Plug-In Vibrator(Opens in a new tab), a Womanizer x We-Vibe limited edition set, and the Njoy Pure Wand(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Njoy
    Credit: Magic Wand

    2. Babeland(Opens in a new tab)

    Don't be fooled by the name, this one's not just for the babes out there. Before you've really narrowed down your search, Babeland is a great first stop for seeing a finely curated inventory of sex toys, from top brands like Womanizer(Opens in a new tab), Satisfyer(Opens in a new tab), and Njoy(Opens in a new tab). So whether you're looking for that all-time classic Hitachi wand(Opens in a new tab), a new Tenga Spinner masturbation sleeve(Opens in a new tab) (aka one of our favorite budget toys for penises), or just starting to browse, this site has got you covered, without giving you so many options that your search becomes overwhelming.

    In addition to providing an impressive stock of vibrators, suction toys, dildos, couples toys, BDSM supplies, and most other popular sex toys that are out on the market, Babeland also hosts free online education events(Opens in a new tab) so you have the supplies and the know-how to really explore your sexuality.

    We give Tenga a ten(ga) for providing unique sensations. Credit: Tenga

    3. PinkCherry(Opens in a new tab)

    Like Lovehoney, PinkCherry promotes a sex-positive atmosphere with blog posts(Opens in a new tab) about sexual wellness and satisfaction, like “Vibrators For Men: Pleasure on the Rise(Opens in a new tab)” and “How to Clean a Dildo for Safe Personal Pleasure(Opens in a new tab).” Oh, and they also sell sex toys. Go figure!

    PinkCherry offers a wide assortment of adult pleasure items and sexual wellness tools for various tastes and comfort levels. You’ll find all the usual stuff like vibrators(Opens in a new tab) and lubricants(Opens in a new tab), along with bondage tools and attire(Opens in a new tab) and autostrokers(Opens in a new tab). You can also find current deals(Opens in a new tab) on site products like the Satisfyer Pro 2(Opens in a new tab) and the Bodywand Midnight Massager(Opens in a new tab).

    4. Adam & Eve(Opens in a new tab)

    Some of you may be Adam & Eve regulars and some of you only know them because you stayed up too late watching TV and saw an ad. Either way, chances are high you can find the sex toy you’re looking for from the adult toy store that turned 50 this year. They do say sex only gets better with age.

    Some best sellers include Eve’s Rechargeable Thrusting Rabbit(Opens in a new tab) and the Big O Multi-Stage Vibrating Penis Ring(Opens in a new tab).

    The site also includes sections for gay (AdamMale(Opens in a new tab)) and lesbian (Eve’s Toys(Opens in a new tab)) shoppers.

    Eve's thrusting rabbit allows you to sit back and relax. Credit: Adam and Eve

    5. Eve’s Toys(Opens in a new tab)

    The Adam & Eve sub-site with toys and other pleasure products designed for lesbians offers vibrators(Opens in a new tab), kink toys(Opens in a new tab), strap-ons(Opens in a new tab) and many more. The Double Delight Strap-On(Opens in a new tab) is a current best seller and allows the wearer to “feel it thrust into you while you do some thrusting of your own!”

    Double down on delight with this strap-on. Credit: Pipedream

    6. AdamMale(Opens in a new tab)

    The other sub-site of Adam & Eve, with toys and other adult products geared toward gay men, has dildos(Opens in a new tab), masturbators(Opens in a new tab), cock rings, anal douches... the whole nine inche – yards. Yards.

    Right, back to cocks and stuff. More specifically, Adam’s True Feel Cock(Opens in a new tab), a best seller listed at $44.95 that's currently on sale for $22.48. The Satisfyer Men Beads(Opens in a new tab) are also flying off the virtual shelves and into bedrooms.

    7. Unbound(Opens in a new tab)

    Looking for an aesthetically pleasing sex toy brand that's affordable and actually delivers? Yes, it's real, and it's Unbound. This women-run brands boasts a solid selection from toys, from a compact vibe(Opens in a new tab) we're personally big fans of, as well as other finds like their best-selling suction toy(Opens in a new tab), flexible vibrator(Opens in a new tab), and beginner-friendly butt plug(Opens in a new tab).

    Credit: Unbound
    Credit: Unbound

    8. Lelo(Opens in a new tab)

    Say you're feeling pretty happy with your base collection of sex toys and are now on the hunt for something a little more luxury — look no further than Lelo. The brand sells sex toys with an extra something, like a rabbit vibrator(Opens in a new tab) that replicates the "come hither" motion inside of you (and actually works) and a clit suction stimulator(Opens in a new tab) that proves to be a bit of a tease, in the best way possible. As it is a higher-end brand, be prepared to shell out a bit more — many of their best sellers(Opens in a new tab) are $150 and up.

    9. Dame(Opens in a new tab)

    For a manufacturer that sits between Unbound and Lelo in terms of price range but brings some innovative and impressive products to the table, you'll definitely want to check out Dame. From a hands-free vibrator(Opens in a new tab) to an intercourse game-changer(Opens in a new tab), Dame has made plenty of products(Opens in a new tab) worth raving about, and oh, have we(Opens in a new tab) raved(Opens in a new tab). Dame's sex toys feel good, look good, and if for whatever reason you don't find them to be absolutely satisfying, you can return them within 60 days for store credit, which is (unfortunately) not too common for most sex toy retailers.

    Credit: Dame
    Credit: Dame

    10. Maude(Opens in a new tab)

    If you're not really a fan of the traditional gendered marketing around sex toys, meet Maude. The brand — whose name reflects its mission to redefine modern intimacy — doesn't categorize its sex toys as being for "men" and "women". In fact, it doesn't call its vibrators and butt plugs sex toys at all, opting instead to call them devices. While their approach feels like a breath of fresh air, even better are their prices — their standard Vibe(Opens in a new tab) is one of our favorite budget picks, and the Drop makes for a great (and gorgeous) addition to any vibrator collection.

    The Maude Drop is actually a work of art. Credit: Maude

    11. Sephora(Opens in a new tab)

    If you're intrigued by Dame and Maude's products but wouldn't mind earning some Beauty Insider points with your purchase, Sephora's intimate care(Opens in a new tab) section has got you covered. The beauty retailer started selling sex toys in February 2022, offering a new place to pick up some of the best vibes from both brands, from Dame's Pom(Opens in a new tab) to the Maude Vibe(Opens in a new tab). Although you won't find the products in stores (at least, not yet), it's still plenty convenient to pick up setting powder and a sex toy in the same online shopping trip.

    12. Sunset Novelties(Opens in a new tab)

    Sunset Novelties stores may only be located in the Southeastern U.S., but that doesn’t mean they can’t ship to you. So if you’re in the market for a new vibrator(Opens in a new tab), butt plug(Opens in a new tab), sex enhancer(Opens in a new tab), or even a stripper pole(Opens in a new tab)(!!!), you don’t have to be a Southerner to get your hands on one. Maybe even pair that new pole with an exotic dancer ensemble(Opens in a new tab) in whatever style you’re looking for.

    New year, new fitness resolutions, amiright? Credit: sunset novelties

    13. Wet For Her(Opens in a new tab)

    Wet For Her is an adult toy store that was founded in Paris, France, in 2009, designed for lesbians and the queer community. “Owner and CEO Alice Derock was disappointed to discover that the sex toy industry was limited when it came to non-phallic sex toys for the lesbian and queer community... It was this that inspired Alice to create products specifically for lesbians and queer women,” their site reads. Eight different styles of dildos, harnesses, finger extenders(Opens in a new tab), the best-selling scissoring vibrator(Opens in a new tab), and of course, much more. Not to be forgotten is a line of “gender-affirming trans-masculine products(Opens in a new tab),”(Opens in a new tab) like binders, packers, and a Trans Masc Pump(Opens in a new tab).

    "RockHer" with that mini scissoring vibrator. Credit: wet for her

    14. The Kink Store(Opens in a new tab)

    It’s exactly what it sounds like. The Kink Store is a destination for sex toys, attire, and equipment for those looking to explore their sexual kinks. You'll find toys for chastity(Opens in a new tab), BDSM(Opens in a new tab), electro-sex(Opens in a new tab), impact play(Opens in a new tab), and a number of other kinks. The electro-sex-handy TAZapper(Opens in a new tab), which delivers “a non-penetrating static spark of electricity,” is a staff favorite and best seller. It also kind of looks like a sexual lightsaber, which we think is pretty neat.

    According to its description, the TAZapper is "perfect for intimidation!" Credit: TAZapper

    15. BoyZshop(Opens in a new tab)

    This one’s for da boyz. BoyZshop’s collection of gay sex toys and products spans multiple tastes and experience levels. You'll find penetrative toys and non-penetrative toys. Kink gear(Opens in a new tab). Sex machines(Opens in a new tab). Lube. Prep products(Opens in a new tab) like enemas. Whether you’re just looking for a standard dildo or if you’re exploring urethral play(Opens in a new tab), BoyZshop offers options for both ... and a heck of a lot in between.

    16. Target(Opens in a new tab)

    Yes, Target sells everything, including sex toys. So next time you’re out to grab some game day snacks and paper plates, go ahead and pick up a plusOne Rechargeable Dual Vibrating Massager(Opens in a new tab) or the Lelo Sona 2 Cruise(Opens in a new tab) while you’re at it. This is what a “Target run” looks like in 2021, and we’re not upset about it.

    Get all of your essentials at Target — including luxury sex toys like the Lelo Sona Cruise 2. Credit: Lelo

    17. Amazon(Opens in a new tab)

    You buy everything else from Amazon, so why not sex toys? You can find just about any toy you’re looking for, from a variety of pleasure product brands from Lynx to Shibari. Plus, that Prime shipping means you won't have to wait long to try out your new finds. The main drawback from purchasing from third-party stores like Amazon is that you do run a higher risk of buying toys that aren't authentic or made from the right materials, so before clicking add to cart, make sure you're doing your research before hitting "Add to Cart."

    Best sellers(Opens in a new tab) range from vibrators to lube to lingerie. More specifically, you'll find favorites like the Fleshlight Quickshot Vantage(Opens in a new tab) and plusOne bullet vibrator(Opens in a new tab).

    Related Video: The best sex toys to buy during quarantine

  • How to change up your masturbation routine for hotter, better self-love

    How to change up your masturbation routine for hotter, better self-love

    May is National Masturbation Month, and we're celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.


    Masturbation can be like your oldest, most reliable best friend: always there when you need it most, a guaranteed good time, and (if we're being real), a little easy to take for granted.

    Lifelong masturbators learn pretty early on exactly what it takes to get themselves off. And, after figuring out what gets the job done effectively and efficiently, it's only natural to think there's not much else to be gained from trying to fix something that ain't broke.

    But much like your partnered sex life, getting stuck in a routine while flying solo can turn the magical experience of giving yourself over to pleasure into little more than a chore. It's just another item on the to-do checklist: send work email, make dinner, do the dishes, fold laundry, jerk off until I cum and fall asleep.

    You deserve to be as attentive of a lover to yourself as you are with a partner.

    But you deserve to be as attentive of a lover to yourself as you are with a partner. I mean, doesn't it suck when the person providing you pleasure is obviously running on auto-pilot and just going through the motions?

    Even the experts say that masturbating makes you better at sex(Opens in a new tab), because it's basically like training for the real thing. You're developing the methods, conditioning your brain, and forming the habits needed to bring yourself to climax. That's on top of all the other health benefits(Opens in a new tab) that make masturbating good for you.

    Being an active participant in your solo-love sessions is exactly what the doctor ordered. So we compiled some tips, tricks, and hacks for breaking out of your masturbation rut and diving into deeper avenues of pleasure.

    (Note: While our advice mostly focuses on people with vaginas — since that's what this writer knows — a lot of it can also apply to people with penises. This guide is geared toward more experienced masturbators, but beginners are welcome, too! Just make sure you're familiar with the basics(Opens in a new tab) before trying anything too far outside your comfort zone.)

    Change positions, locations, and time of day

    I get it: Who wants to get out of bed for anything, even for sex? But there's a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time. Even small changes can have huge impacts.

    If you're super-attached to the bedroom (or if it's your only option), switching up the position you touch yourself in can totally transform your masturbation experience.

    SEE ALSO: Your guide to audio erotica apps and websites

    So experiment with doing your thing while on all fours, on your stomach, knees, or even standing up. For some inspiration, check out MysteryVibe's Playbook(Opens in a new tab), which includes tons of different ways to experiment with their toys, though many still apply to manual methods too. Hell, forget the hand altogether. Go for a classic throwback: Try dry-humping your pillow like in the good old days of your earliest masturbation experiences.

    There's a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time.

    Think about location, location, location. An easy way to step outside your usual routine is moving your session to a comfy chair in your room. Venture further — like to the bathroom, where you can explore the wonders of either a waterproof sex toy or the water pressure from a handheld shower head during your morning routine. If you're bold and in the right situation (meaning you won't cause any innocent neighbors or roommates distress), bang yourself in the backyard for an exhibitionist rush.

    Changes in where you masturbate can also facilitate another exciting variant: time of day. Don't let masturbation always be the last thing you do in the day before going to bed. You won't have the energy to want to explore new things.

    That's one case where this new era of working from home can be beneficial: Consider replacing your usual afternoon yoga lunch break with, well, something you'll want to do on your personal rather than work laptop.

    Get off to different porn (or your own imagination)

    This one's a bit obvious but can drastically shake up the way you experience and think about self-love. Lots of people don't know that there's been a recent wave of fantastic developments in erotica!

    To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying mainstream porn (though you should take into account some ethical concerns while engaging with it). But it might be worth it to invest in paid porn, whether it's live webcams, more personal platforms like OnlyFans, or trying out specific fetish porn — or even exploring the burgeoning world of ASMR porn(Opens in a new tab).

    We also really recommend the kind of porn that offers higher production value, better storytelling, and much more expansive visions of eroticism. There's a growing, exciting new world of alternative, women-led visual porn out there (we've written about these options many times before), but a recent one we've been jazzed about is FrolicMe. Or use more education-oriented platforms that up your masturbation game, like OMG Yes(Opens in a new tab) or in a new tab).

    We recommend experimenting with erotica that engages your mind more than the passive experience of a visual medium, too.

    Audio erotica (read our guide here) is hot as hell, totally ethical, instructive, and lets you imagine exactly what you like. That's ideal for folks who don't see their orientations or preferences represented in mainstream porn, as well as those who may need more control over what they see because of triggers from past trauma. Or you can even join the extremely perverse (like yours truly) and appropriate your favorite silky-voiced podcast to help you do your business.

    Audio and written erotica are both great ways to transition into getting off on your own imagination and sexual fantasies. There's nothing like orgasming to the hottest thing your mind can imagine. But it's a muscle you have to develop. For starters, think back to your favorite sex scene in a book, movie, TV show, fanfiction — whatever. Then replace whatever character you identify with the most with yourself and enjoy. :)

    It's like writing fanfiction, but in your head, while masturbating. Credit: VICKY LETA / mashable

    Take "self-love" literally

    This will sound pretty corny, but try to reframe your masturbation session as going on a date with yourself. I know, I know — but humor us.

    Start by setting the right romantic mood. Throw on some lingerie that makes you feel sexy, use your favorite candle or essential oil diffuser, put on some sexy yet low key tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine or engage in your preferred weed consumption method, and finally rub massage oil over every inch of your skin, working out the kinks and relaxing your muscles. Now, touch yourself down there in all your favorite ways.

    Does a solo date sound too silly now?

    You are your own best sex partner. Credit: BOB AL-GREENE / MASHABLE

    But seriously, use masturbation as an occasion to shower your body in love. There's research showing a positive link between positive body image and sexual satisfaction(Opens in a new tab). Achieving that is a lot easier said than done. But certain masturbation exercises can really help you embody the fact that you are worthy of and deserve deeper pleasure (we'll get into that more in the mindful masturbation section below).

    For now, while rubbing massage oil on yourself, marvel at the parts of your body you love most. They don't even have to be an erogenous zone, just something you genuinely adore — like the nape of your neck, insides of your wrists, curve of your hip, the butt dimples on the small of your back.

    Give yourself the luxury of going slow

    Let's be real: quick orgasms kinda suck a lot of the time. Despite sex toy marketing and rappers glorifying this idea of "making her cum fast," pleasure is neither a race nor a competition. Actually, if you cum too quickly, there's usually not enough build-up and it's an indication that you're masturbating on auto-pilot.

    Working hard to reach orgasm —and by that we mean either purposefully delaying your orgasm by "edging" or experimenting with other new, untried, potentially even unsuccessful methods — is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Pleasure is neither a race nor a competition

    While trying out a lot of these new tips, don't think of climax as the ultimate goal of your masturbation session. It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself and distracts from the fun process of exploration. Success during a self-love session is simply learning more about what you like and don't like. And, counterintuitively, you'll actually be more likely to reach orgasm if you're not actively thinking or trying to get there.

    Anyway, the longer it takes to reach orgasm, the more powerful they usually are. That's why edging can be a great solo experiment.

    Edging is low effort with high reward. Start by getting off with your tried and true jerking off methods, but just as you feel yourself on the edge of climax, pull back and stop. It'll take some practice and patience, but trust us, it's worth it. Just do it over and over again, as many times as you can take before finally giving in.

    Experiment with new, unexplored sensations

    Edging isn't the only easy way to turn familiar techniques into new sensations.

    If you like to get your rocks off manually, test patterns and speeds that vary from your usual methods. Again, OMG Yes(Opens in a new tab) and O.School(Opens in a new tab) are fantastic resources for this. If you've got some sex toys in your arsenal, use them in unexpected ways (though, of course, respect any warnings from the manual about internal versus external use). For example, use your vibrator for more indirect stimulation, like to tease your nipples, or over your panties, or anywhere other than your clitoris — like the area around your vaginal opening. If your sex toy has different edges or attachments, test those out. If you've got the right kind of toy, you might experiment with temperature play by warming it in hot water or putting it in the fridge for a little while.

    Immerse yourself in any type(Opens in a new tab) of sensory play(Opens in a new tab), really. Use an ice cube or low-temperature, body-safe massage oil(Opens in a new tab) and wax candles(Opens in a new tab). Bring different textures into the mix, luxuriating in how silk feels on your skin, running a downy feather all over, or venturing into some light pain territory with a pinwheel(Opens in a new tab). If those are too out there, experiment with lubes focused on different sensory experiences, especially cannabis-infused lube. (Be sure to look up some guides(Opens in a new tab) on which type to use and how to use them properly.)

    You won't always end up liking a lot of what you try. But these exercises will help spark your curiosity and ground you in your body (so remember these tips for our section on mindful masturbation below).

    Last, go for a variety of different types of orgasms. Clitoral orgasms are great, don't get me wrong — there's a reason they're the most popular and effective method for people with vaginas. But use your masturbation sessions to explore your potential for other types, like multiple, vaginal, g-spot, or even the holy grail blended orgasm. Do not put pressure on yourself to cum, though, because not everyone's body responds to these types of stimulations.

    Practice mindful masturbation before and during your self-love sesh

    This one's kind of a trick, because most of everything we've gone over so far can fit under the umbrella of mindful sex, an increasingly popular approach to helping you stay present in your body during experiences of pleasure.

    Mindful sex includes many different practices, methods, and exercises (some of which we've already covered). To oversimplify a bit, it basically applies sexuality to the core principles and exercises of mindfulness (like meditation). And it's also an especially powerful solo practice.

    Let's start with something pretty familiar, like sexy tantric yoga before masturbating.

    Yoga can help you get in touch with your body, disperse breath throughout it, and release tension from your muscles (especially the usually tense ones around your pelvis). By opening your body up and relaxing, there's a high chance you'll have better orgasms(Opens in a new tab).

    Tantric breathing or orgasmic mediation(Opens in a new tab) is another great way to do this that doesn't require getting off your ass. We enjoy the guides to tantric breathing and meditation on Dipsea(Opens in a new tab) or Youtube instructors like this one(Opens in a new tab) as a jumping-off point.

    By opening your body up and relaxing, there's a high chance you'll have better orgasms.

    For mindful sex geared toward positive body image, incorporate a meditative mindset into the solo date-night massage oil ritual we went over earlier.

    While touching and looking at your naked body, approach every part of it with a detached, non-judgmental curiosity, like you're seeing it for the first time. In your head, describe the parts of your body using neutral language. Focus on the exact shade of your skin, the angle of your elbows, the size of your toes. This will be tough at first, since your mind is likely conditioned to zero in on insecurities with charged, harsh language (like ugly, saggy, flabby, etc). That's OK, too. Accept those thoughts, letting them go before continuing to observe the color of the veins on your wrist, roundness of your knees, number of freckles on your arm.

    Next, do all that in front of a mirror for as short or as long a time as you feel comfortable. The more regularly you do it, the better you'll get at both accepting any negative thoughts and going back to nonjudgmental curiosity.

    You reaching nirvana through jerking off. Credit: bob al greene / mashable

    If you really want to ramp up this exercise, bring a handheld mirror into the bed and look at your genitals while you touch them. Knowing your own anatomy is key to knowing your pleasure. So just play around with identifying the different parts of your vagina (use charts like these(Opens in a new tab) to help guide you), noticing which areas feel good, bad, or just meh when you touch them.

    Again, it's only natural for these exercises to feel difficult or jarring at first. We suggest doing these more advanced practices after you've already done other, more basic mindful sex stuff, like deep breathing or yoga or whatever else helps you get into that present-moment mindset.

    Keep a journal of all the new things you're trying

    While you're in the process of immersing yourself in these new sensations, exercises, and experiments, keep a little masturbation captain's log to debrief and analyze your experiences. It doesn't need to be much. Just the act of giving yourself the space and time to really analyze your pleasure can do wonders to up your masturbation game in the long run.

    If you're unsure what to write down, start by tracking and rating every self-love session or orgasm (if you have one). Why was it better or worse, do you think? What really turned you on? What didn't work? Are you excited to try something else, based on what you learned? Did anything make it more difficult to enjoy yourself?

    It can be fun to think of yourself almost like a scientist, framing each masturbation experiment as a question, then testing that hypothesis, then writing about the results after.

    Soon enough, you'll have a full-on doctorate in self-love.

  • At-home early medical abortions will continue to be allowed in the UK

    At-home early medical abortions will continue to be allowed in the UK

    The UK government has said(Opens in a new tab) that at-home early medical abortions can continue to take place in the country, a decision that abortion campaigners have been pushing for particularly during the pandemic.


    At-home early medical abortions, or telemedicine abortions, were granted temporary approval in March 2020.(Opens in a new tab) This method means medication can be taken at home to induce a medical termination of pregnancy up to 10 weeks (nine weeks and six days) gestation.

    The government, in conjunction with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), agreed that early medical abortions at home(Opens in a new tab) (rather than surgical), following a phone/online consultation with a clinician(Opens in a new tab) and without needing to first visit a clinic or hospital, was allowed "to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and ensure continued access to abortion services."

    This was especially vital in 2020, when the National Health Service (NHS) was under considerable strain at the outbreak of the pandemic. Abortion services felt this strain, too: clinics run by BPAS were shut down, resulting in pregnant women and people often having to travel long distances to access adequate care. Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, previously told Mashable that people were "not getting the care they need."

    In order for safe treatments to take place as the pandemic wore on, pregnant people were granted access to abortions wholly within the own homes. As the pandemic progressed, it was unclear whether this approval would continue(Opens in a new tab). The government had said the measure was(Opens in a new tab) "time limited for two years, or until the pandemic is over — whichever is earliest."

    SEE ALSO: Decriminalising abortion is a long road. Campaigners Vicky Spratt and Diane Munday would know.

    Telemedicine is considered by doctors, including the RCOG(Opens in a new tab), to be safe, effective, and a viable pathway to abortion access(Opens in a new tab). Prior to the pandemic, the treatment of early medication abortion would entail the first of two pills having to be consumed at a clinic.

    While the Department of Health and Social Care has not fully detailed the plans for this decision, the early announcement has been celebrated by abortion campaigners. Mashable has reached out to the department for further details.

    However, abortion rights in the UK still have a long ways to go. Abortion is still considered a criminal offence in both England and Wales, due to the 1967 Abortion Act(Opens in a new tab). While the act legalised abortion, it failed to remove the Offences against the Person Act of 1861(Opens in a new tab), which technically makes "procuring a miscarriage" a crime. Therefore, the Abortion Act isn't considered a true one.

    Experts and campaigners have been fighting for the full decriminalisation of abortion for years — it's a long road.