For Cy Smash, "A" Marks the Spot

Category: POV Podcast

Author: Aria Vega

Cy Smash is a sex blogger and self-proclaimed “dildologist” based in Detroit. Her award-winning blog, Super Smash Cache, boasts over three hundred product reviews, and recounts her journey into pleasure advocacy and mastering the cervical orgasm.

Click to listen to this episode via Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, or Amazon Music.

Podcast Transcript:

Aria Vega [00:00:00] [Voiceover] This podcast contains explicit content. Listener's discretion is advised. POV by Lustery explores culture, politics and creativity in the sex industry, one point of view at a time. I'm your host, Aria Vega.

Aria Vega [00:00:17] Cy Smash is a sex toy reviewer, and the blogger behind Super Smash Cache dot com. Cy's blog is essential for sex toy enthusiasts of all stripes, from the casually curious to the true connoisseurs. After a decade of collecting, Cy has amassed an arsenal of sex toys, over 300 of which have been reviewed on the blog. In 2013, Cy began writing about sex on Tumblr, including reviews for toys that she bought on her own. After a few years, she started self hosting on WordPress and collaborating with toy shops, turning the blog into a business. She's come a long way from the days of reading anime fan fiction as a pre-teen.

Cy Smash [00:00:59] [Interview] I don't know how old these other people were when they were writing these stories, but a lot of it was erotica written by other adolescents as well, so it may not have been the most verbally elegant. But it did awaken something inside me where it's like, OK, this is something that I think about a lot, and this is something that other people think about a lot, too. So very early on, I have a sense that there was nothing wrong with me for having these feelings. Also, me being the very curious mind I am, I'm the kind of person who read the dictionary cover to cover for fun in third grade, and would read through the encyclopedia... Like you can imagine where this is going. That was around the time that I discovered Wikipedia, when I was 10, 11, 12. Of course I was going to learn about sexuality from an academic perspective. And I mean, thank God for the internet, just all these resources wouldn't have been available to me if I'd been born just fifteen years earlier. I also did read Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazine sometimes, because I was very curious, like what are the eighty-five sex tips that will blow his mind? What does that even mean? And don't get me wrong, when I was 10, 11, 12, I was exploring these things for myself, but I was still slut shaming and still judging other people for things that they were doing. The older I get, and the more self-aware I become, the more I realize that that kind of came from a place of jealousy, because I was projecting my own need for attention onto other people. It was almost like I thought, Oh, they're catering to these desires for male attention. That was my conceptualization of it at the time.

Aria Vega [00:02:47] [Voiceover] Eventually, Cy's voracious appetite for info on sex brought her to some more balanced views. Her consciousness evolved and her focus shifted to exploring her own capacity for pleasure.

Cy Smash [00:02:59] [Interview] I think around the time I was 16, I had walked to the nearby pharmacy to get a visa gift card so that I could buy things online for myself. So that was how I got my first glass dildo. The thing was, since it came here from China, it had to be held at the post office, and I was supposed to pick it up. So I had my mom drive me there and her being very curious, she asked, "What's in the package?" And I was like, "Oh yeah, it's vitamins and skincare, that's why the packaging— that's why the things in the package are very round." So that was the explanation I gave my mom. I did not tell her anything about it beyond that.

Aria Vega [00:03:42] And what was your first impression of it?

Cy Smash [00:03:44] It's beautiful! Glass toys, oh my God, they almost look like they could be pieces of art. I think that's kind of colored my perception of glass toys, because some people would be like, A glass dildo, doesn't that hurt? Isn't that like super, super hard? I think for me, the reason I chose a glass toy versus like any other material, even when I was younger, was because I'd heard horror stories about cheap toy materials hurting you. This article said, "one way to tell if your toy is toxic is to lick it and see if your mouth goes numb." And I'm just like, Oh, I'd rather not do that! So I'm just going to stick to a material that I know is not porous. So that's why I chose glass dildos as my first. I think another reason I gravitated towards glass was because it's very slippery, so you don't need much lube, if any, at all. And just the thought of like a really draggy rubber like thing going inside me like that was what scared me.

Aria Vega [00:04:43] Yeah, it should! A lot of people don't realize that, silicone or even jelly [toys], they're all designed to be used with lube. Even the softest silicone has a little bit of a drag to it.

Cy Smash [00:04:55] Yes! I remember, one of my friends tried a Fun Factory toy, and for those who don't know... yeah, I see your eyes widening!

Aria Vega [00:05:09] *Laughter* Oh my god! No, because I know exactly where you're going with this. That silicone is no joke!

Cy Smash [00:05:17] Yeah, it's super, super draggy! And they were saying, "Yeah, so I have to use lube with that one." And in my mind, I'm just like, So you mean you haven't been using lube with any of the other ones? What?

Aria Vega [00:05:30] That's because people, unless they're, like you, doing all your own research or like me, or like us, doing this work professionally, no one is telling this to anybody. If you don't talk to someone who does this work professionally in some capacity, no one else is going to tell you.

Cy Smash [00:05:48] Yeah, we think it's common sense to use lube, whereas other people, there's just like so much stigma around it.

Aria Vega [00:05:53] Lube stigma is huge. People will unprompted, tweet "Oh, you need lube during sex? Couldn't be me! Not with this WAP! Like, umm...

Cy Smash [00:06:06] First of all, there's nothing wrong with needing lube.

Aria Vega [00:06:08] Thank you! Cardi B and Megan did not set out to shame people who want to use lube, OK? Let's start there.

Cy Smash [00:06:16] The message was just "we are aroused on our own" and that's OK, too.

Aria Vega [00:06:21] Or maybe you're aroused and also using lube, guess what? You've still got a wet ass pussy! Yeah, some people, you know, take the wrong message from that. There's just this notion of, you should be a geyser of fluid. Honestly, it's almost like about the outward... Creating the impression outwardly that you are aroused, as if your partner's (particularly if that partner is a man) your partner's satisfaction in bringing you pleasure matters more than whether or not you are actually experiencing that pleasure.

Cy Smash [00:06:54] Well, that's another thing that a lot of sex educators think is common sense, but the layperson needs to be reminded of, is arousal nonconcordance, where being wet isn't the same thing as being psychologically aroused, and vice versa. There's not as much of an overlap as people seem to think there is.

Aria Vega [00:07:12] Yes, that is so important, thank you for saying it. And then also, when you think about how many different factors in your body and health go into it... Like if you're dehydrated, you're not going to be as wet as you could be.

Cy Smash [00:07:27] If you're on an antidepressants, if you're getting older, and there's nothing wrong with that! If you're stressed... All that plays a factor, all that plays a role in it.

Aria Vega [00:07:37] Absolutely, thank you. And that is why, yeah, I'm such a lube evangelist. When I when I was working at the toy store, no matter why you came in there, I'm going to make sure I mention lube before you leave, because I'm under the assumption that the average customer has been on the receiving end of a lot of anti-lube propaganda, and I took it as my personal responsibility to try to ameliorate that as part of my pleasure advocacy. When it comes to your own pleasure advocacy, that's something I really love, is that you take up the banner of not just advocating for pleasure, but fighting the misconceptions and stigmas that contribute to a lack of pleasure. So for example, you write on your blog that you are an advocate for a world where women have 10 orgasms for every one of their men's. And I'd love to know, where did that figure come from and what inspired you to rally for that cause?

Cy Smash [00:08:36] It came from my own experiences, where I'd heard about the orgasm gap, and intellectually, I know that it's a thing and it's a very real experience that other people are having, especially hetero couples. But I've never had that issue with any of my long term partners. For example, one of my recent boyfriends was on an antidepressant, so he just went into the experiences with the mindset of, I'm still going to enjoy it, even if I don't come. So he really owns that. The whole session was going to be about pleasing me. So that was like full carte blanche to be a pillow princess. And I remember asking like, OK, if you had to guess how many of how many orgasms do I have for every one that you have? And he said, I think the ratio would be something like 10 to 1. And so that was like a figure that stuck in my head ever since then. I don't know if it's factually accurate, but it sounds about right, and I want this to be possible for other people. I'm not saying that having a lot of orgasms is a hurdle that they have to clear, or that it should be another expectation for them to live up to. But I just want them to appreciate that this is something that they could work towards, or to dissolve their preconceived ideas of what pleasure it can look like. Because so often in our culture, we think that sex is defined by, you know, this phase of "foreplay." I hate that term.

Aria Vega [00:10:10] Me too.

Cy Smash [00:10:14] ..."Foreplay" building up to the main event, which is penis and vag, which is unlikely to get a lot of people with vaginas off. And then supposedly sex is finished when the person with the penis orgasms, and I just think that's such a limiting way to look at sex. If we were to take penis in vag intercourse off the pedestal, yes, more people with vaginas would be having more orgasms.

Aria Vega [00:10:48] [Voiceover] You've likely heard before about the so-called orgasm gap, in which straight cis men orgasm with a familiar partner at 95 percent of the time, compared to 65 percent of the time for straight cis women. Now, we know it's not about genital configuration, because lesbian women orgasm with their partners at a similar rate as the straight guys. It's just that the go-to script for heterosexual sex — the one that puts penetration on a pedestal, and counts everything else as extras — that doesn't value the sex acts that actually make women come. Although Cy's partners are mainly men, she refuses to let those sexual encounters become statistics.

Cy Smash [00:11:29] [Interview] You know those universal words, "I'm going to come soon"? So I was riding this one guy, and he said those words. So I slowed down, and then I was like, "How close are you?" He was like, "Very." AS I just like stopped what I was doing, I just sat on his dick, and I was looking into his eyes and I took a deep breath and I clenched, and then I was like, "Oh.." I didn't say this out loud, but in my mind I was like, Oh okay, this is happening, this is happening. And we both came at the same time, when I wasn't trying to get either one of us off while I was sitting on his dick and clenching.

Aria Vega [00:12:09] Wow, that is so hot.

Cy Smash [00:12:12] Yeah, I'm glad I had that experience! But I remember kind of debriefing about it afterwards over text, and I was like, Yeah, I pretty often think about the time where I wasn't trying to make either one of us come, but we both came at the same time. And he was like, Well, at least you came, *blowing nose emoji.* And I was like, Well, yeah, I came like five other times that session. And he was like, Wow, you came six time? I must be awesome. I think it was then that it really occurred to me that like, people don't think of a woman having five, six, ten orgasms in one session as being a normal thing. And I'm just like okay, that further is why my work is important, because I want for more people to be able to have this. And of course, that starts for some people with having just one orgasm. Or just like doing the grounding and bodily awareness to recognize the fluctuations in their arousal levels as it ramps up. On the one hand, I want people to think bigger than they thought was possible. But also, I want to meet people where they're at, and there's this kind of balance between acceptance and growth. I hope that is something that I can do for people in the future, if I'm not already doing that now.

Aria Vega [00:13:27] I mean, I would certainly say that you're doing that now, even if just on the basis of helping people understand their capacity for pleasure by helping them understand parts of their body that no one else is going to tell them about. Like in particular, you're the first sex blogger I ever came across who was loud and proud about the A-spot and about cervical orgasms. I had never even heard of the A-spot. Can you tell us a little bit about this pleasure center? What have you discovered about the A-spot and the cervix in general in terms of sexual function?

Cy Smash [00:14:04] Actually, this kind of sort of goes back to me talking about my first dildo. Okay so, I remember being a lot younger and like fingering myself, and I felt this structure. So it's this tube-like entity inside my vagina. And I was like, What is that? Because before, I was kind of taught that the cervix is kind of like the "end" of the vagina. And that was when I first realized like, Oh, it's its own structure, it's not the mark of the end of something else. Does that make sense?

Aria Vega [00:14:35] Mm-hmm.

Cy Smash [00:14:36] Fast forward to I was 16, I was using this glass dildo, I was pushing it all the way and going in really, really deep with it. And I just kind of I felt something that I hadn't ever felt before, and it was almost like, like, whoa! I felt like I had blacked out for a split second. Everything was amazing. I'm just like, Okay whatever that is, I want to do that again. I mean believe me, I tried, but I don't think I experienced another cervical orgasm until I was around 20. So that's another thing I want to bookmark for other people, is that if you try something and it doesn't work for you consistently right away, that doesn't mean you have to give up on it entirely. As long as you're enjoying the process, that's fine. Yeah, I love cervical orgasms and I have them really often nowadays, but it wasn't always a consistent thing for me. So as far as stimulating the cervix and the A-spot goes, these are things that demand deep penetration. So ideally, a dildo over six inches long would be the best for reaching these spots. So the cervix, personally I prefer to stimulate it from slightly tilting the toy back, going behind the cervix and then tilting it forward so that you're massaging the cervix proper. You're going behind it, you're going into the posterior fornix, which the fornix is basically just like the pockets around the cervix. For me personally, the pocket behind my cervix happens to be the one that inserted objects most easily slide into. Which brings me to the A-spot, which is the anterior fornix, which is you're slipping into the pocket in front of the cervix. And for me personally, the most sensitive part of my Aswat is slightly below my cervix. You know, the exact spot varies from person to person. There's not exactly a biological organ or landmark. As far as I know, that marks the A-spot. It's more just like this general area where you can access a lot of nerve bundles. Similarly, for the G-spot.

Aria Vega [00:16:38] We're talking about internal stimulation of the vagina as opposed to external stimulation of the vulva and the clit, which as a lot of sex educators like to make known clitoral stimulation is how the vast majority of people with vulvas orgasm. I feel like this better understanding of the interior versus the exterior anatomy, and pleasure centers, et cetera, it's almost created a weird binary around vaginal orgasms versus clitoral orgasms, or internal versus external. And I wanted to ask you, is there anything particularly helpful or harmful about this framework? What do you make of this whole conversation?

Cy Smash [00:17:21] Well, personally, I would like for more people to know about the full extent of the internal clitoris and the external clitoris. Because we say "the clitoris," some people think of that small thing on the outside when it's really this entire structure on the inside (for most of us on the inside, I should say). So I like reframing that to people as, think of the clitoris as kind of like a penis, except most of it is on the inside. So when people can understand that OK, like most people the have penises need to stroke the tip of it to reach orgasm. They can understand that most people with vulvas need to stroke the external clitoris to reach orgasm. Then there's also, of course, there are some people with penises who prefer to stroke the shaft and they stay away from the head. And of course, there are some people with vulvas who prefer penetration without direct external clitoral stimulation, but it's still all part of the same structure. This is a term that I both love and hate to use: think of it as like "flesh Legos..." *Laughs*

Aria Vega [00:18:27] I was trying to guess what you were going to say, and it was not that! Okay!

Cy Smash [00:18:34] Same tissues, different shape. Don't think of penetration in a vagina as being exactly the same as anal penetration on a person with a penis. That's not the point. Think of vaginal stimulation as being homologous to stroking the shaft of a penis.

Aria Vega [00:18:53] [Voiceover] Cy's knowledge of sexual organ function extends far beyond the fun ones. When Cy was about 25, she was diagnosed with PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a severe form of PMS that causes extreme mood swings. Cy began taking antidepressants to combat the disorder, and things have improved a lot since then, but there was so much shame connected with that diagnosis for her.

Cy Smash [00:19:18] [Interview] I started having some extent of like existential depression when I was 9. I got my first period when I was 11, and then I think I was 20 or 21 when I started tracking my cycle, and I realized that there was a connection. It was almost like I didn't want to admit that PMS was a thing, because we have seen all these commercials about like tampons and how "My periods doesn't stop me from lifting weights" or doing all these other things I would do any other time of the month. And it's like, okay there is a side of I don't want my cycle to stop me, but then there's also the side of, I want to cut myself some slack if my body is going through this very rigorous process. Because if I'm losing a lot of blood, and I'm iron deficient, like, that's a sign to increase the self care, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that side of it. So, yeah, I didn't want to admit that PMDD or PMS was a thing that I was struggling with. It was almost like I thought I could override my emotions and I was above it. The other thing was, I didn't think to connect my cycle to my depression at first, because when people joke about PMS, they think of it as being during the period that someone's really, really moody and eats a lot of chocolate, everything. Whereas for me, it was maybe like 10 to 14 days before that, my symptoms would peak. So there was such a delay that it didn't seem very synchronous. So it was only after I started tracking my cycle that I kind of saw the different phases of, there is the period itself and then there was PMS, and then there was almost pre-PMS, like I would ovulate and then my mood would come down, and then I would get really depressed and anxious. Then I would have this angry phase, which as far as I was concerned, was another variant of anxiety. That's another thing that I've discovered is that ruminant anger is a form of anxiety. It's just that it's not necessarily given the same amount of sympathy when a woman experiences anger. Then I would get my period and my symptoms would end.

Aria Vega [00:21:26] You know, it's really interesting how many different places that stigma features in your recounting of your experience. You were talking about how you were afraid to admit and accept that that was what was going on because of the stigma around women being angry and moody and so forth around their period. I'm thinking about just the stigma around tracking cycles at all. Like how many times have you seen some men on Twitter talking about how, you know, "she's a ho because she tracks her cycle." I can't even say that with a straight face, because there's about four thousand different reasons why someone might track their cycle, and yet men are convinced like, "Oh, it just means she's trying to fuck" or just like, have raw sex as often as she wants without getting pregnant.

Cy Smash [00:22:14] Like, how narcissistic do you have to be to think that everything a woman does revolves around a man, like what?

Aria Vega [00:22:20] Literally. There's just so much different stigmas related to this disorder.

Cy Smash [00:22:28] And then like even after I accepted that I had PMDD, it took me years to finally get to the point where I was okay with taking medication for it, because then there was that layer of like, Okay let's make some lifestyle changes, I just need to take care of my body better. I just need to talk to myself better and do some affirmations or whatever. At some point I was like, Okay, if those things alone could have worked for me, they would have by now. I hate to admit it, but there was a point where I felt like I had hit rock bottom, and some memories of times that I had hurt people or times that people had screwed me over, just like constantly playing on loop in my head during that bad phase of the month. And I was like, look like whatever side effects I might deal with from the antidepressants, there's no way that that's worse than what I'm dealing with right now, and right now, things aren't working, and if things continue not working, I might actually die by the time I'm 45, considering that PMDD has such a high suicide attempt rate.

Aria Vega [00:23:36] [Voiceover] The numbers on this are just heartbreaking. A staggering 30 percent of those with PMDD did attempt suicide in their lifetimes. One American study from 2017 suggests menstruators with PMDD are 70 percent more likely to experience suicidal ideation than those without a premenstrual condition. And yet, research is still limited, mostly due to enduring stigmas about women's bodies.

Cy Smash [00:24:04] [Interview] There's a stigma around getting diagnosed with PMDD in the first place, so it's pretty underdiagnosed, and then there's the matter of Okay, what percentage of AFAB people will get a diagnosis at some point? And then do people think that that's a worthy group of having more research done about? So let's say that somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of people have— I don't know the exact figures, it's not anywhere near like a big, big chunk— but I definitely think that there should be research done about that. It's just we know so little about the condition. There was this controversy about an antidepressant, Sarafem, from around 2004 for PMDD. Around that time, people were disputing whether PMDD was even a real condition. So there is a side of accepting that it's a real thing, accepting that it's a thing that you might have doing something about it. Just there's so many barriers to getting research done about this.

Aria Vega [00:25:04] That's Cy Smash: sex blogger and toy reviewer. You can find her incredible blog at Super Smash Cache dot com, and she's on Twitter and Instagram @supersmashscache. Do you have fond memories of your first sex toy? How did you acquire it? Mine was a little pink plastic slimline vibrator that I bought on Amazon when I was 18 because it looked simple yet sophisticated. Tell me about yours, by sending an email or a voice memo to askaria@lustery.com, or you can find me on Twitter @vegadreamcast. You can always remain anonymous. If you're into the show, please leave us a five star rating and a review. POV is brought to you by Lustery, and this episode was hosted by me, Aria Vega. It was edited and produced by Kathryn Fischer and Adrienne Teicher, and our showrunner is Paulita Pappel. Lustery is the home of real-life partners, filming their sex lives behind closed doors. If you're 18 or older, you can find us at lustery.com, and we're on Twitter and Instagram @lusterypov. Until next time, lovers.