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What is No Nut November? Why abstaining from masturbation isnt healthy.

2023-03-19 06:15:34

What is No Nut November? Why abstaining from masturbation isnt healthy.

"I got a massive W [win] recently because I managed to refuse sex during a wet dream," 26-year-old Aaron tells Mashable. "So I’m the No Nut November king, heavy are the balls that wear the crown." 

What is No Nut November? Why abstaining from masturbation isnt healthy.(图1)

Akin to monthly events centred on health-based challenges like Sober October or Movember, No Nut November is where people resist partnered sex and masturbation, with the aim of not ejaculating for 30 days. The challenge has developed into something of an online community, with hundreds of Discord servers and online forums acting as digital pseudo support groups for those taking part, and the No Nut November Reddit community(Opens in a new tab) totalling 137,000 members, called "nut comrades."

While some are there to share memes and have a laugh, others are there to take the challenge very seriously, believing it will better them in some way. And some members have darker intentions. 

Aaron, who works in digital advertising, says he partakes in No Nut November annually, and has done since 2017. He’s an avid Reddit user, which is where he came across the movement, and was led to believe it would come with an array of health benefits. "Better mental health," "improved will power," and "being better in bed" are just a few reasons he cites for signing up to the challenge. 

"Frequent ejaculation is good for prostate health and masturbation is a healthy behaviour."

The No Nut November community centres ideas like these. It has even been suggested by people in support of the challenge that abstinence can increase testosterone. But experts and actual research (Opens in a new tab)have presented data that suggests the complete opposite of this. 

Sexologist and author of Sexology: The Basics(Opens in a new tab) Silva Neves tells Mashable that there are "literally no benefits to giving up masturbation for a month, or even a week. None. Frequent ejaculation is good for prostate health and masturbation is a healthy behaviour."

SEE ALSO: What is the virility myth? Read an extract from Sophia Smith Galer's book 'Losing It'

In fact, masturbation is often used by many for stress relief and tension, and for better sleep. Neves explains stopping masturbation can increase people's stress and people can have less good quality sleep, which can impact on their work, their relationships, and their overall well-being.

Sex educator and author of All the F*cking Mistakes(Opens in a new tab) Gigi Engle adds that giving up masturbation will also likely make you sexually frustrated. "It will make you more irritable if you’re not getting that release. If you stop masturbating, it can also make you more anxious. You don’t need to masturbate for a month if you don’t want to, but there’s no real pros to giving it up," she explains. 

"Turning down sex and giving up wanking is a big thing for a man," Aaron adds. "There’s just something about resisting it for an entire month and having your boys big you up that feels like a good accomplishment. I need to know I’m able to do it, so I know I’m not addicted."

There’s an ongoing narrative in the No Nut November movement that these side effects of a lack of masturbation are a "symptom" that men are "hooked" on sexual pleasure. This feeds into the myth of sex addiction, which is not actually recognised by science.

"It does not make you a failure to masturbate. The idea that it does comes from purity culture where masturbation is considered about as 'dirty' and 'sinful.'"

Neves adds that many members of the community will use this misconception as a reason why men should try harder to stop. "But those symptoms are an indication that they become dysregulated because they have lost one central and healthy and harmless way to manage their stress."

The movement is also underpinned by ideas of "winning" and "losing". A quick scroll through the No Nut Subreddit reveals disturbing posts of misogyny and intense, public group shaming towards those who share their "failures". One Reddit user shared that he got an erection over Amy Schumer which received thousands of downvotes (the dislikes of Reddit) and shame-fuelled comments like "man down" and sexist replies like "come on, if you’re going to break NNN, do it for someone hotter than that."

Engle explains that this language focused on showing your power and "winning" is rooted in misogynistic purity culture. "It does not make you a failure to masturbate. The idea that it does comes from purity culture where masturbation is considered about as 'dirty' and 'sinful' and that taking part in it makes you weak or perverted. None of this has any scientific basis or evidence."

SEE ALSO: How to perform cunnilingus like a pro

Neves says that associating masturbation with failure can have a severe impact on the person’s mental health. "It can be detrimental to people's psychological well-being," he explains. "Having the goal of restraining masturbation for one month as a 'win' can increase shame, stress, anxiety, a sense of failure, impacting on self-esteem and they often feel 'not man enough' or even 'broken' if they don't succeed. Those who do succeed put themselves on a pedestal looking down on those who don't."

Basically, the whole movement is pretty shame-drenched, and at times, just plain cruel. A better challenge, Neves suggests, would be trying not to judge other people’s sex lives for one month.

Unfortunately, sexual health misinformation and toxic masculinity displays are not the only problems with the movement. What began as an online challenge for a bit of fun or an opportunity to shitpost online at best, has been co-opted by the far-right. Racism, misogyny and anti-semitism runs rife on the No Nut November subreddit and other #NNN discussions on social media platforms like Twitter. 

A deeper message propelling No Nut November is an anti-porn and anti-sex worker agenda. Most [cisgender] men use visual aids for sexual stimulation. So, for many, abstaining from masturbation means refraining from pornography use. And rather than take this into their own hands, many in the community have harassed sex workers online, projecting blame.  

SEE ALSO: The best sex toys for men

"Some of those No Nut November forums have been found to be misogynistic, homophobic and antisemitic," Neves adds. "They incite violence towards pornographers and women who are sexual. There is a nasty underbelly to these movements."

Back in 2018, for example, porn company xHamster tweeted against No Nut November(Opens in a new tab), albeit playfully, implying that the movement shared misinformation and that porn wasn’t the bad guy. The fallout from this pretty innocent tweet, were violent anti-sex worker replies like “capital punishment for pornographers now” and anti-semitic images suggesting that Jewish people control pornography. Similar messages of sexism and anti semitism remain four years later, both on the #NoNutNovember hashtag on twitter, and in Reddit spaces. 

29-year-old copywriter Sanjai tells Mashable he took part in No Nut November four years ago after hearing some of his favourite podcasts talk about how freeing it was for them. "They talked about it like it was a fitness challenge which is something I’ve always loved doing and liked the feeling of accomplishing. I didn’t really wank that much anyway, not compared to my mates anyway, so I thought 'why not?'"

Sanjai did come across anonymous forums for the challenge like the Subreddit along with a couple of Ddiscord servers. "I wasn’t there long. It was fucking disturbing to be honest. These men are really weird," he shares. 

SEE ALSO: Men need to talk about sex differently. Here's how.

"[I saw] sexism, racism, conspiracies. You name it. I just wanted to see how long I could go without wanking, man," he laughs. 

Aaron says he’s aware of this part of the No Nut November community, but doesn’t get involved. "I don’t know anyone personally, that's part of all of that stuff. It’s nothing to do with abstinence anyway so I don’t know why it’s there but I guess racists will use whatever [they can]."

Neves says a lot of people have received misinformation about masturbation, often accompanied by misinformation about watching porn, and they feel shame about their masturbation behaviours. This is likely what initially attracts so many men to take part in the movement, along with the element of community and support that’s visible from the outside. But when they get there, they’re introduced to alt-right propaganda, misinformation, and violence instead. 

Being exposed to shameful language around sex is also no small enemy. Engle points out that engaging in sex negativity can make people feel like they can’t talk about sex (which creates problems around consent and managing sexual boundaries), make them avoidant in sexual exchanges because they’re worried about their performance (a common cause of erectile dysfunction(Opens in a new tab)) and encourage misogynistic ideas. 

If you’ve participated in No Nut November this month or you’ve caught wind of it and were thinking about it for next year, consider that you’re likely to interact with intense shame, sex negativity, discriminatory behaviour and inaccurate sexual health information. You certainly won’t learn anything about who you are as a man, person, or lover of any kind. Close your Reddit tab and have a wank instead.

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    The Biden team has been heavily praised online for so quickly responding to the news and finding ways to take part in viral moments. Mashable spoke with Zach McNamara, merchandise director for the Biden campaign, about the team's successful merch strategy and how they've managed to brainstorm, design, and sell these products in such a timely manner.

    McNamara gave us a little behind-the-scenes peek into how the merch gets made, explaining, "When something like the tax story comes up, or we have unifying moments during debates, like we saw last night […] there is a Slack channel where we come together and start to throw out ideas. And you know, like nine out of 10 them will not work. But a lot of times one of them will."

    Once the now infamous debate fly started trending on social media and the campaign tweeted an old photo of Biden(Opens in a new tab) holding a swatter, everything fell into place merch-wise. The team found fly swatters that were union-made in the U.S. (like all items in the store), they came up with the pun that played off of Biden's "Truth Over Lies" quote (which is featured on other campaign merch(Opens in a new tab)), and they created the product mockup.

    Within an hour of the fly landing on Pence's head, Biden's team had the fly swatters for sale on the site. Within 24 hours, the campaign had completely sold out of them. In the end, supporters snagged nearly 35,000 swatters, and though the product had some lighthearted inspiration behind it, Biden's team hopes people focus on the deeper message it carries.

    Bye, fly swatter. Credit:

    "Yes, the fly swatter thing is cute and of the moment, but what's printed on it — the allusion to truth over lies — I think is a key reason why it resonated and why we sold so many, because we consistently see that those products that feature those short, simple phrases are among our bestsellers always," McNamara said.

    The "Will you shut up, man?" shirts, which featured Biden's quote atop an image of Trump's face, were also massively popular and sold out the day after the first presidential debate. But the clever merch isn't just there to make people laugh. It also helps drive current and potential supporters to explore the site, inspires them to learn more about Biden and Harris as candidates, and, of course, raises money for the campaign.

    The witty items that piggyback on viral moments clearly get a lot of attention online and are a big hit with supporters, but interestingly they're not the campaign's biggest sellers — not by a long shot.

    "Biden-Harris yard signs are the most popular item on the store virtually every hour of every day, every week. And we've sold just an ungodly amount of those. Ever since we put them up the day Senator Harris's selection was announced," McNamara said.

    "Lighthearted and fun is not something that we get a lot in Donald Trump's America."

    The online store also features other items including apparel printed with Harris and Biden's go-to fashion accessories(Opens in a new tab) (Chuck Taylors and aviator sunglasses), virtual Animal Crossing merch, bottles of hand sanitizer(Opens in a new tab) with Biden's COVID-19 plan printed on the label, and several campaign collabs with professional designers(Opens in a new tab).

    Though the team will be winding down rolling out new production as November draws near, supporters can expect a few more surprises to hit the shop before election day.

    Ultimately, the goal is to strike the perfect balance between stressing the political gravity of this election and providing some much-needed comedic relief.

    "It's a very, very serious campaign. Everybody knows that. There's possibly never been a more serious time for our country, certainly in all of our lives. But that doesn't mean that we can't have some lighthearted moments," McNamara said. "Joe and Kamala themselves, they are fundamentally lighthearted people. We don't only love them for their policies and their experience and what they've done for this country. They're good people. And lighthearted and fun is not something that we get a lot in Donald Trump's America."

  • Pete Buttigieg once again uses a Fox News interview to calmly dismantle the Trump campaigns logic

    Pete Buttigieg once again uses a Fox News interview to calmly dismantle the Trump campaigns logic

    Pete Buttigieg is certainly making the most of his time on Fox News this week.


    On Wednesday he was interviewed by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, and managed to completely turn around their question on policy differences between Senator Harris and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden using a simple comparison to the Trump campaign.

    Then, on Thursday, he popped up on the network once again — this time chatting to Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends about Trump's refusal to appear in a virtual debate.

    "Well it's too bad, I don't know why the president's afraid to participate in a debate. All of us have had to get used to virtual formats," says Buttigieg, before attacking the president's decision directly in relation to safety.

    "It's not something I think most of us enjoy, but it's a safety measure. And I think part of why the U.S. is falling behind, is badly behind the rest of the developed world on dealing with the pandemic is because every time there's been a choice between doing something that's more safe, or less safe, this president seems to push forward less safe.

    SEE ALSO: Trevor Noah unpacks Trump's controversial return to the White House

    "Of course, the only reason that we're here in the first place is that the president of the United States is still contagious, as far as we know, with a deadly disease," Buttigieg concluded. "I don't know why you'd want to be in a room with other people if you were contagious with a deadly disease."

    You can watch the full interview, which also includes some fairly scathing comments from Buttigieg about Trump's denial that he called fallen troops "suckers" and "losers,"(Opens in a new tab) below.

  • Spotify is coming for your perfectly curated playlists with Niche Mixes

    Spotify is coming for your perfectly curated playlists with Niche Mixes

    Finally, there is a custom "Meme Mix" on Spotify.


    Today (March 28), the streaming giant launched "Niche Mixes," its latest attempt to recommend more music to users. Every day Spotify will now serve you five to 10 playlists organized by wacky themes like "Angry Whistling" and "Egg Punk." What does "Egg Punk" mean? I have no idea.

    To access these Niche Mixes, click on "Search," tap "Made for you," and scroll down to "Your Niche Mixes." My Niche Mixes include "Aggressive Heavy," which features a combination of artists I've never listened to (Slayer, Slipknot, and Poppy), and "Dark Moody," which appears to be more in line with my typical listening habits.

    SEE ALSO: Spotify's big update isn't just annoying, it misses the point

    Niche Mixes come after Spotify unveiled a new video-forward home screen that features snippets of songs, audiobooks, and podcasts and an AI DJ that also distributes algorithmically generated recommendations to users. It's part of Spotify's effort to double-down on being the go-to destination to discover new content.

    You can also search for custom Niche Mixes based on the "activity, vibe, or aesthetic that describes the moment you're in" by adding mix to a search term. Some Niche Mixes that came up from various searches include "Goblincore Mix," "Murder Ballad," and "Extreme Pirate."

    However, the new mixes detract from some of the fun of the platform. I would hate to see users relying on Spotify's Niche Mixes instead of creating their own hyper-specific playlists. Previously, you might search a particular mood and be greeted by dozens user-generated playlists. User-generated playlists are at the center of modern music consumption and sharing. As a fellow user, they remind me that every silly little feeling I have someone else has had, too — and they've already chosen the perfect Taylor Swift song for it.

    Personally, I would rather my abstract Spotify searches yield a playlist created by a 16-year-old girl than an algorithm.

  • Trump flagged by Twitter after tweeting false claim that hes not contagious and is now immune to COV

    Trump flagged by Twitter after tweeting false claim that hes not contagious and is now immune to COVID-19

    Twitter has once again flagged one of President Trump's tweets for violating their rules on spreading misinformation about COVID-19. This time it was because of his false and dangerous claim that he is now immune to the coronavirus and can no longer spread it.


    In the tweet, he wrote, "A total and complete sign off from White House Doctors yesterday. That means I can’t get it (immune), and can’t give it. Very nice to know!!!" The letter from the doctors he is referring to was issued on Saturday night and does not explicitly say that the president tested negative(Opens in a new tab) for the virus.

    A short time later, Twitter slapped a warning label on the tweet, which reads:

    "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

    This is far from the first time the social media platform has flagged the president's tweets for violating their rules. These warning labels, which also make it impossible for the tweet to be retweeted, are a fairly toothless rebuke. They've also deleted videos and other people's tweets(Opens in a new tab) that the president has shared. Still, the platform has long resisted calls to ban the president entirely from tweeting.

    While Twitter has stepped up their corrective actions against the president's habit of making false claims in recent months, they seem to be doling it out on an uneven basis. For instance, Twitter did not flag several videos Trump posted last week that claimed they now have "a cure" for COVID-19. (There is no known cure, and the drugs Trump was given by doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center are still highly experimental and not available to the general public.)

    Facebook, which is also a massive stew of misinformation, has had a similarly haphazard approach to cracking down on the president's blatant lies. They've previously removed posts from his account, but as of publication the president's post claiming he's now immune to COVID-19(Opens in a new tab) is still up and getting lots of engagement.

    Despite Trump's claims, the public still knows strikingly little information about his illness. We have yet to be told anything official about when he is believed to have been infected and how severe his illness really was, both of which could impact the length of isolation(Opens in a new tab) that's recommended.

    Trump's condition does appear to be improving, and on Saturday afternoon he spoke publicly for the first time since being released from the hospital, at a rally at the White House. But that does not necessarily mean it's safe or advisable for him to end his period of isolation. He is scheduled to begin traveling to campaign events(Opens in a new tab) again on Monday.

    What's most galling about his Sunday tweet is his claim of immunity to the virus now that he's been infected. For one thing, scientists do not yet have a complete understanding of how exactly immunity to this virus works or how long it lasts. Reinfections appear to be uncommon at this point, but experts, including Trump's own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend(Opens in a new tab) that those who have had COVID-19 behave as though they are not immune and continue to take precautions such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

    Since Trump did almost none of that before his infection — even hosting a now-infamous superspreader event(Opens in a new tab) at the White House on Sept. 26 — it's hard to imagine him starting now.

Random articles


  • The 15 best tweets of the week, including soup, Bruce Springsteen, and tax fraud

    The 15 best tweets of the week, including soup, Bruce Springsteen, and tax fraud

    Tweets! Usually bad, hateful, dumb, whatever.


    But guess what? Good tweets exist. Who knew, right? But it's true. Sometimes there are good posts online. They might even make you chuckle. Actually having a good time on Twitter? Such things are possible.

    SEE ALSO: Gorgeous, gorgeous girls take over TikTok

    So, like we do every week here at Mashable, we collected some of our favorite posts that'll hopefully make you laugh this weekend. Here they are, the 15 best tweets of the week. Enjoy!

    1.Yes, this is good stuff

    2. The thing is that he is(Opens in a new tab), he is one of the boys

    3. "I can't make the soup, I'm just a baby."

    4. Technically Elmo is a glove

    5. I hate how correct this is

    6. Lol got him

    7. Hmm, actually pretty sure this is me, me, meeee

    8. These circumstances? I do not love them

    9. Obligatory dril tweet

    10. Yeah, yeah, yeah

    11. Specific goals. Respect.

    12. Ahh, well if it isn't my old nemesis: my brain

    13. "you are a threat to new york city"

    14. No good choices these days

    15. And finally, a very good, very real advertisement

  • Why is everyone on TikTok obsessed with slideshows?

    Why is everyone on TikTok obsessed with slideshows?

    Until recently, every day-in-the-life video on TikTok followed the same format: a series of clips taken throughout someone's day with a voiceover providing context. Now, a new format is gaining momentum.

    Daily vlogs are some of the most prolific edits on TikTok. The "day in the life" tag has over 10.5 billion views, and under it you can find a day-in-the-life video from just about any kind of person, from college students to corporate lawyers.

    In September 2022, TikTok launched their slideshow feature, photo mode, which allows creators to post up to 35 photos in a carousel similar to Instagram. It was a marked shift in the video-first platform's future strategy for audience retention and time spent on the app — and part of a larger trend of social media companies trying to be the only social destination on the internet. TikTok automatically cycles through these slideshows at an extremely slow pace, but you can also take matters into your own hands and swipe through them yourself.

    When photo mode first dropped, TikTok became inundated with carousels of memes, photos, and quotes recycled from other platforms, but now slideshows are being used in a more inventive way: for day-in-the-life content.

    SEE ALSO: TikTok's photo mode is killing my FYP


    A creator can now take you through an outing or an entire day, moment by moment, by creating a slideshow of irreverent photos with silly captions all punctuated with quirky emojis. And I mean moment by moment; they are taking full advantage of the 35-photo maximum. It's similar to the "my 2022 eras" trend where TikTokkers utilized photo mode to document all their 2022 eras, but on a much smaller scale, which makes the photos messier and more interesting to a nosey viewer.

    The trend is more in line with chaotic photo dumps and the unfiltered nature of BeReal than the highly aestheticized day-in-the-life vlogs that dominate the platform. This points to an overall shift in how young people are ditching curated perfection for more naturalism.

    As a vocal hater of photo mode, I was surprised by how charming I find this new style of day-in-the-life videos. In one, user @aniyahmaorinia(Opens in a new tab) takes us to a ballet class, and in another, @justjazzyidk(Opens in a new tab) wakes up, goes to the gym, and gets Starbucks. It's totally mundane, and yet the trend assumes a level of familiarity with the viewer and feels like more like you're being Snapchatted by the creator or watching their close friends Story on Instagram. For example, in a video posted by @_partrickkelly(Opens in a new tab), he gets ready for work and does his morning commute before captioning one photo with, "Wait ummm I had no clue I had a 9am call."

    So much more fun than a traditional vlog. Credit: TikTok / @_patrickkelly, @justjazzyidk

    While there is still a level of hyper-awareness on the creator's part, it appears to be less effort for them and more a more authentic presentation of their digital self, which makes it more enjoyable for me to watch.

    So, yeah, photo dumps are the new daily vlogs. You heard it here first.

  • A conspiracy theory about a party supply store went viral on TikTok. Then the police showed up.

    A conspiracy theory about a party supply store went viral on TikTok. Then the police showed up.

    When you hear the words "viral TikTok video," you probably think about funny challenges and pop song lip syncs. But there's another type of content going viral on TikTok: Conspiracy theories.


    In fact, TikToks espousing all kinds of wildly false claims have found an incredibly large audience, and while there's something fascinating about viral conspiracy theories, they can have devastating real world consequences — as one online party supply company recently learned the hard way.

    Ionized, a small business that sells novelty items like glow sticks and party hats on Amazon, has endured weeks of endless harassment, a ruined Amazon sales channel, and even visits from law enforcement. All because of a viral TikTok video spreading a QAnon-inspired conspiracy theory alleging that the company is secretly running a child trafficking ring.

    A viral TIkTok video by @dontghostme started a QAnon-esque conspiracy theory that spread across the internet. Credit: mashable screenshot

    "It's just a continuous saga of barrages of emails and messages and police encounters," explained Ali Momin, a partner at Ionized LLC, in a phone conversation with Mashable.

    Ionized is based in Houston, Texas, and manages around a dozen novelty item brands and online stores. One of their main items, for example, is the Lumistick glow stick. They sell it through their Evolution Planet Deals, which is their Amazon storefront, and their e-commerce shop,

    The whole situation is eerily reminiscent of the misinformation that spread rampantly last summer which falsely accused online retailer Wayfair of running a sex-trafficking ring. TikTok played a big role in spreading that conspiracy as well, and at the time a TikTok spokesperson told Rolling Stone(Opens in a new tab), “We do not allow misinformation, including conspiracy theories, that could cause harm to people on TikTok or the wider public.” They said they'd remove "any harmful material" related to the Wayfair conspiracy theory and pledged to "continue to further strengthen our protective measures in this area.”

    Now a very similar conspiracy theory is making the rounds again albeit on a slightly smaller scale at the moment. The big difference here, however, is that Evolution Planet Deals and are nowhere near as big as Wayfair is and the blowback has hit them much harder.

    In recent weeks, Ionized has been bombarded with emails, live chats through their website, and countless accusations posted on their Amazon product listings alleging that the glow sticks and party hats are really children being sold for sex.

    A look at some of the "top" reviews on the Amazon listing for Lumistick fedora party hats. Credit: Mashable screenshot

    "They found all of my partners' information, what other businesses they have, their addresses, the address to our warehouse," Momin said to me. "One guy posted about the railroad tracks behind the warehouse and said 'that's how they're bringing in these kids, through the railroad tracks.'"

    The source for all this? A few conspiracy theorists and a TikTok influencer.

    The beginning of a TikTok conspiracy

    In early April, a conspiracy theory started spreading among small TikTok accounts about party products being sold on Amazon under the Lumistick brand name. According to these videos, the brand listed a party hat for thousands of dollars. Glow sticks and LED lights, they said, had similarly sky-high prices.

    The conspiracy theorists posed this question to their audience: Who would buy a party hat or glow stick or bubble gun for thousands of dollars?

    No one, obviously. Which is why, according to the conspiracy theorists, this meant these listings, all posted by the same company, had to be a front for selling children.

    So, why was a single party hat being sold for so much? Well, it wasn't.

    These TikTok video creators missed a crucial detail on these Amazon listings. These were prices for bulk orders — and the pricing would change for each listing based on the quantity a user selected.

    For example, the near $16,000 price for a light-up fedora party hat(Opens in a new tab) was actually for an order of nearly 3,000 hats. That's approximately $5.50 per hat. Nothing unusual about that.

    It's possible that this conspiracy theory would have fizzled out without making it too far. In fact, one conspiracy theorist said in a subsequent video that their original claim about the party hats had been removed from TikTok.

    But then TikTok user @dontghostme made a video(Opens in a new tab) openly entertaining the conspiracy theory about Lumistick and shared it with his nearly 1 million subscribers.

    It's unclear if @dontghostme actually believed the conspiracy theory or simply thought it would be something that could get a lot of views. In fact, his video did go viral and now has more than 6.1 million views and over a million likes. Mashable attempted to contact @dontghostme multiple times but did not hear back.

    The conspiracy spreads

    Once the video went viral on TikTok, it began moving onto other platform as well.

    People started to tweet about the Lumistick party hat conspiracy theory, and dozens of Facebook posts that were accompanied by screenshots of the Amazon listing took hold.

    Take a look below. Each square is a preview for a public post on Facebook that comes up when you search "Lumistick Amazon."

    The conspiracy spread quickly to Facebook. Credit: mashable screenshot

    Then the flood of messages and accusatory reviews of the Amazon products began.

    "Are you really selling hats or people?" reads a question(Opens in a new tab) posted by an Amazon user on the page for the Lumistick party fedora hats.

    Some of the comments left as reviews on the listings get even more explicit. "Illegal!" reads one of the reviews. "Take this down now!!!! No hats are worth 15 thousand unless your trafficking!!!! 🤬 SUSPECT!"

    More than 1,100 people marked this review as "helpful."

    "WTF - save the children" reads another.

    "Save our children" is a common refrain you see in the comments for these items. It's a slogan made popular by believers of QAnon, the right-wing conspiracy that claims former President Donald Trump is secretly waging a war against a global Satanic child-trafficking ring run by baby-eating Hollywood elites and liberal politicians.

    All of the comments and reviews quoted above were left on just one of the company's products. But dozens of the Amazon product listings from Momin's company now have a slew of one star reviews after conspiracy believers left negative comments.

    Reviews left by conspiracy theorists on the Amazon product listing for Lumistick bubble guns. Credit: Screenshot: mashable

    Again, this is all because a few people saw what they believed to be overpriced items on Amazon, without realizing they were bulk orders or investigating further, and then decided it must be a front for child trafficking.

    Neither Amazon nor TikTok have responded to requests for comment.

    From TikTok to the real world

    The @dontghostme video didn't go viral based solely on the account's followers. It was aided by TikTok's recommendation algorithm, which shows users videos it thinks they would like that they might not have seen otherwise.

    "I thought, it's TikTok, let's just kind of let this all blow over," said Momin, recounting his reaction when the messages first started coming in. "Then that one user got millions of views. It's obvious he was depicting the product incorrectly and just putting conspiracies out there."

    In fact, Momin found out about the source of the comments his business was receiving after a few friends told him their TikTok For You page recommended the video to them.

    "That's a pretty, pretty good algorithm to be able to spread that type of news to a couple of friends," he told me. "I mean, these were close friends of mine, three or four people who reached out to me and said 'Hey, what's going on here?'"

    After three weeks, which Momin described as "very stressful," it was clear the situation wasn't going to blow over.

    A review left on the Amazon listing for Lumistick LED party sunglasses. Credit: mashable screenshot

    "We had seven police officers come [to our warehouse] in a span of three days, back to back to back," Momin tells me. "I told the officers, 'Look, you can come in any time and just walk around in the warehouse and do what you've got to do, but just don't bother us anymore.' It was getting to a point where it was ridiculous. And then we had the commissioner come and he apologized. They said they received calls."

    YouTuber Mutahar Anas was one of the few critics of the conspiracy theory in its early days. In an email, Anas tells me that a viewer sent him a tip about the conspiracy so he decided to investigate. He found @dontghostme's video trending on his TikTok For You Page.

    Anas decided to make a video(Opens in a new tab) debunking the conspiracy theory on his popular YouTube channel, SomeOrdinaryGamers, which has more than 2.6 million subscribers.

    Anas told me that he didn't hear from any proponents of the conspiracy after publishing his video.

    "I believe that has to do with my viewer base generally not being of the type that falls for this," he told me. "I also don’t entertain messages from people who believe in insane QAnon-esque theories to begin with."

    The video, titled "TikTok Trended a Dangerous Conspiracy Theory," amassed more than one million views.

    It was a hit by any metric, unless you compare it to the more than 6 million views amassed by @dontghostme's conspiratorial TikTok video that Anas was debunking.

    The aftermath of being the subject of a TikTok conspiracy theory

    Even though the TikTok conspiracy spreaders have largely moved on, the conspiracy is still impacting Momin and his company. While the hysteria has died down from its heights, Momin tells me that they're still receiving emails and pings via their website's live chat from conspiracy theorists.

    It's been almost two months since the bulk of the Amazon reviews were left. Amazon affixes a "verified" label to reviews by users who have actually purchased the item, and, unsurprisingly, not a single reviewer alleging Momin's company is involved in child trafficking actually purchased a Lumistick product to test their theory.

    Momin tells me the negative Amazon reviews were a critical blow to his small business, saying most of their listings were "ruined." It also affected the overall rating for his store's entire Amazon presence, which also sells things not branded Lumistick.

    He told me that his company reached out to Amazon in an attempt to see what could be done about the clearly bad faith reviewers. Amazon never responded to them.

    Just as this story was set to publish, Momin reached back out to Mashable, weeks after we last spoke, to tell me that Amazon had just completely suspended the Evolution Planet Deals account.

    "This Amazon store is about 17 years old now," he told me in an email. "We suspect it might be all that attention on those products that came from those TikToks."

    Momin shared a screenshot of the Amazon message, which says the company has "determined it necessary to close your account." Amazon did not provide a reason why it closed the account.

    "Our peak season is coming up for July 4th...this is devastating," said Momin. 

    At the time this article was published, Amazon users can still find several Lumistick products for sale on the site, but they all appear to be fulfilled by an Amazon warehouse, not by Momin's company. If you search Google, you can still find all the original Evolution Planet Deals Amazon listings for Lumistick products, and if you click through on them all of the negative reviews from the conspiracy theorists are still live on the listings.

    As for @dontghostme, he still regularly uploads content to TikTok like he has since 2019. However, the party hat video remains his most popular by millions of views. A day after his original viral hit, he uploaded a followup to TikTok(Opens in a new tab) in which he attempted to recreate the magic of his first conspiracy video. "Im going to buy the $15,000 hat!" read the onscreen text.

    A followup video from TikTok user @dontghostme. Credit: Screenshot: mAshable

    In the video, he proceeds to tell his viewers that he'll be able to buy the hats and get to the bottom of this if they go to the link in his profile and check out the listed ads. The page he's promoting is filled with links to affiliate offers from a company that pays influencers to promote mobile apps.

    It's unclear if @dontghostme was sincere in his fundraising effort or if it was just an opportunity to monetize his sudden viral fame. Since the video claiming he was going to use the funds to buy the hat, which amassed more than 880,000 views, @dontghostme has yet to mention the conspiracy theory again in his videos.

    "I just didn't know people like this existed out there...people that believe in conspiracies like this," Momin told me as we ended our conversation about how this has affected him and his company for the past few months. "It opened my eyes, man."

  • The year of the beep: How car horns became the rallying cry of 2020

    The year of the beep: How car horns became the rallying cry of 2020

    Before 2020 I hated the sound of car horns.


    Honking is often associated with road rage or used to warn people of impending danger, and because I'm easily startled, even rare friendly beeps from familiar faces trying to say hello make me jump. But this year, instead of causing anxiety, the sound of blaring car horns, trucks loudly honking, and cyclical beeps emanating from packed parking lots filled me with pure, unbridled joy.

    I never imagined that the harsh, alarming sound of car horns would sound like music to my ears, but the unexpected pivot was a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. When people learned that social distancing was a crucial safety precaution they started getting creative and seeking out safer ways to host and attend large public gatherings. Many of these makeshift solutions involved cars, since the enclosed personal spaces offer an added layer of protection from the virus.

    Rather than meeting face-to-face and risking added COVID-19 exposure, people organized gatherings that let them safely stay in their vehicles. When pandemic milestones such as birthdays, graduations, and weddings come around, for instance, folks often line up for celebratory car parades(Opens in a new tab) to send well wishes from afar.

    When issues arise and people don't feel comfortable attending in-person protests, some slap signs on their vehicle's doors and take part in car protests to ensure their voices can be safely heard. And when running political campaigns, candidates who take the virus seriously opt to host outdoor drive-in rallies instead of packing indoor event spaces, which is against Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance(Opens in a new tab).

    At the pandemic events listed above people used car horns not to express anger on the road, but to say "I love you," hype people up, offer support, show approval, and fight for their beliefs.

    Horns as a sound of hope in politics

    In the months leading up to Election Day, the sound of car horns was a rallying cry for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' campaign.

    Despite the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed more than 306,000 Americans(Opens in a new tab) — Donald Trump continued to host super spreader events and large in-person campaign rallies. He's also defended delivering addresses in crowded indoor venues(Opens in a new tab) where supporters stood in close proximity to one another and didn't always wear masks.

    Biden and Harris on the other hand, vowed to prioritize the safety of their supporters by upholding and enforcing proper social distancing measures throughout their campaign, which meant that drive-in car rallies became go-to events.

    I'll admit that the rallies felt a bit odd initially, but they fit these dystopian times perfectly and in time the sound of cars honking in response to standout quotes or well-articulated responses to drive-in Town Hall questions became heartwarming.

    After watching a rally or two I found myself looking forward to and getting energized by the booming chorus of vehicular horns. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't break down into hopeful, exhausted sobs when Barack Obama's "Honk if you're fired up, honk if you're ready to go" request was met with a noisy drive-in rally response.

    After the election, the honking continued to ring out in the streets as supporters celebrated Biden and Harris' victory loudly and proudly. The sound of beeping filled the country after the race was called on on Nov. 7, and drivers laid on their horns to show love to people dancing and cheering.

    Why honking hit different in 2020

    In 2020, beeping a horn at a socially distanced gatherings wasn't just a form of expression. Every honk was symbolic of the difficult year we've had, and it served as an audible, emotional reminder that people were in their cars because they cared for and wanted to protect others.

    If given the choice between regular, in-person parties, graduations, and holiday celebrations or socially distanced car parades and parking lot gatherings I'm sure people would choose in-person gatherings without a second thought. But the fact that so many sacrificed normal social gatherings for less exciting car-centric ones and tried to make the best of the horrible circumstances by beeping their horns to uplift and reassure others was a beautiful, selfless effort.

    Once the pandemic ends and we hopefully return to some semblance of pre-2020 social normalcy I doubt that car horns will be able to maintain the feeling of positivity that they brought people this year.

    The popularity of drive-in rallies and car parades will likely fade, and there's a very good chance I'll grow to loathe beeping again. But I'll never forget how the sound gave me hope in a time that felt hopeless and acted as a beacon of light in one of the darkest years.

  • When its wise to wear a double mask

    When its wise to wear a double mask

    UPDATE: Feb. 11, 2021, 12:37 p.m. EST: The CDC has provided updated masking(Opens in a new tab) guidance. For double masking, the agency recommends using a cloth mask over a surgical mask/medical procedure mask, as is detailed in the story below. However, the CDC does not recommend using a kn95 mask(Opens in a new tab) with a cloth mask (kn95s are popularly used as part of a double mask) as this story previously advised. In an emailed statement, the CDC said a kn95 (along with N95 respirator masks used by healthcare workers) is intended to perform on its own and "provides a very high level of personal protection and a tight fit."


    This story has been updated to reflect this latest masking guidance.

    People are now spreading recently mutated(Opens in a new tab), more contagious coronavirus strains around the U.S., and the most infectious strains will rapidly become dominant. With this reality, it's high time to improve our masks, say many infectious disease experts.

    An achievable way to maximize protection for both yourself and others is to wear a double mask. But there are a few important things to know about how, and how not to, double mask. These recommendations are detailed below.

    "Like many things in life, the devil is in the details," said Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

    Enhancing our masks, and ensuring we have good masks, is all the more crucial because much of the population likely won't be vaccinated for at least many months(Opens in a new tab), if not later in 2021.

    "We need to double down on public health measures more than ever," emphasized Dr. Russo, who treats patients at the Buffalo VA Medical Center.

    When to double mask

    If you're going to be indoors around other people (from outside your home), it's a good idea to maximize your masking protection, explained Dr. Monica Gandhi, an associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF San Francisco General Hospital. When outdoors, a quality single mask, like a well-woven cloth mask, is often sufficient (but the masking choice, and perception of risk in each unique environment, is up to you.)

    But when indoors, you're usually sacrificing a major public health intervention to avoid becoming infected: ventilation. Inside, the particles people breathe out can linger in the air for hours(Opens in a new tab). Additionally, indoor places might be crowded, which limits your ability to keep away from potentially infected people.

    With this devious virus, it's likely we at times come near an infected person, because many people don't realize they're infected: Some 40 to 45 percent of infected people never experience symptoms, according to the CDC(Opens in a new tab). What's more, over half of infections are spread by people who either have no symptoms or don't have them yet (presymptomatic). You might be unwittingly infected, too.

    "That's why everyone needs to wear a mask," said David Leighton, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Notre Dame who has researched the effectiveness of masks.

    What's a good double mask?

    There are two simple ways to make a more protective mask, explained Dr. Gandhi, who recently published an analysis(Opens in a new tab) of masks in the scientific journal Cell. (These two masking strategies are illustrated in the graphic below as "Maximal protection masks.") The goal is to effectively filter air, so viral particles don't enter or leave your mask.

    Option 1: A widely available surgical mask that's covered with a cloth mask of tightly-woven material. Both surgical and kn95 masks are made with a synthetic plastic-derived material (polypropylene) that effectively filters tiny particles(Opens in a new tab) from the air.

    Option 2: A similar option, though not technically a double mask, is a three-layer mask.

    This is a tightly woven cloth mask with a quality filter(Opens in a new tab) (this filter could even be a surgical mask without the earloops, said Dr. Gandhi) used between the mask's two cloth layers. Many quality cloth masks are now designed to hold a filter.

    You might be wondering about N95 respirator masks(Opens in a new tab) the type you see nurses and doctors wearing. Why not just use one of those?

    Much of the public doesn't have access to N95 masks, which are approved for healthcare workers in the U.S. What's more, N95 masks are often professionally-fitted to the faces of professionals, a protective standard not feasible for the public. That's why Dr. Gandhi recommends the simple-to-make double mask, or the enhanced cloth mask, described above. It's achievable.

    It's all about fit

    Double-masking is largely about fit. Wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask helps to conform the underlying, filtering mask to your face, closing any gaps.

    A surgical mask alone, for example, often has big gaps at the edges, allowing for particles to easily enter and leave. "It leaks like a sieve, it leaks like crazy," said Jim Smith, a chemist and expert in aerosols (small particles) at the University of California, Irvine. "Surgical masks need a way to seal better around your face. That's the whole point of double masking, in my view."

    Double masking, of course, is not a rule. It's possible for some people to have a great fit with a single quality mask, noted Smith. But that's not easy for everyone to achieve. We all have different faces. And we might be unsure about the fit or quality of our masks. A double mask can solve these common problems, he said.

    "When in doubt, double masking is not unreasonable," said the University of Buffalo's Dr. Russo.

    A big no-no of double masking

    While double masking can be of great benefit, just thoughtlessly layering on a bunch of masks and/or filters could do more harm than good. If you use too many layers, you're creating a barrier so little air can pass through. Instead, the air you breathe in and out will be forced to leak through the edges of the mask, meaning this air isn't filtered. Viral particles can escape.

    "The air is going to bypass the mask and you’re not going to have any filtration at all," explained Notre Dame's Leighton.

    The big picture

    Masks are one of three main public health interventions, not involving vaccines or medicines, to avoid a coronavirus infection, emphasized Dr. Gandhi. The others are ventilated places and distancing from people outside your home. Striving for all three is ideal, but understandably not always possible.

    Yet the power of masks cannot be understated. In Kansas, counties that implemented a mask mandate in July 2020 saw a six percent decrease in COVID-19 cases. In sharp contrast, counties with no mandate saw a 100 percent increase in cases, according to the CDC(Opens in a new tab).

    See Also: How you'll know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe

    Universal masking outside our homes largely deprives the virus of new hosts. "If we could get everyone in the world to wear masks for four weeks, the virus would have nowhere to go," said Dr. Russo.

    In the coming years, in a world where infectious disease is a historical constant and another eventual pandemic or epidemic is inevitable, masks, and perhaps enhanced masking, could become a prudent norm in the U.S. during bad outbreaks.

    "I think the mask is here to stay," said Smith.

  • Penis-shortening bumpers make a comeback after being lost to history

    Penis-shortening bumpers make a comeback after being lost to history

    Sealed Lips is Mashable’s series on pelvic pain, an experience rarely discussed but shockingly common.


    Soon after she started having sex, Emily Sauer(Opens in a new tab) realized that deep penetration sent her into bouts of pain. She tried to find advice online, but all she found were blogs gushing over big dicks, and retailers hawking supplements and tools meant to help people with penises get bigger, go deeper, last longer. She tried to talk to doctors, but they all dismissed her pain, telling her she just needed to drink some wine and relax — which didn't work in the slightest. After years of searching, the closest she'd come to finding a fix for her frustrating issue was the following hack: Cut the end off of a tube sock. Roll it into a ring of fabric. Slide it down to the base of your partner's penis, or the toy they're using on you. This will limit their maximum depth of penetration. It was a terrible idea — uncomfortable and unsanitary.

    For lack of options, in 2017 Sauer decided to invent her own solution. The result was the OhNut(Opens in a new tab), a series of skin-soft rings that act as a comfortable and body-safe bumper at the base of a penis or a toy. Three prominent sex toy retailers, as well as a number of sexologists, told Mashable that it was the first device device made specifically to limit the depth of penetration that they'd ever seen. And it's been a hit with sexperts and everyday consumers alike, because pain triggered by deep penetration is actually a common(Opens in a new tab) problem, especially when(Opens in a new tab) above-average-length penises are involved. It's just an incredibly under-addressed issue. 

    But the OhNut wasn't the first such device ever. Nearly 800 years ago, the Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Mohammed Rumi wrote a poem about a (likely fictional) maid who used a specially-carved gourd during sex to keep her partner from pushing too deep into her. (By the by, her partner was a donkey.) And just over 400 years ago, Giulelmus Fabricius Hildanus(Opens in a new tab), a pioneer of early modern surgery, developed a wearable bumper to limit pain caused during sex "by a too large penis." He put a description of the made-to-measure item in one of his widely-circulated medical texts. Erwin Kompanje, a Dutch medical historian, wrote extensively(Opens in a new tab) about Hildanus' now long-forgotten device in the mid-aughts, strenuously arguing(Opens in a new tab) that it "deserves a resurrection in today's medical practice."

    If we already had rudimentary tools built to tackle deep penetration pain centuries ago, why was Sauer so hard-up for help that she had to reinvent the wheel just five years ago? The answer to that riddle speaks to the importance of diversity and inclusion to the field of sexual health. 

    A brief history of deep penetration pain (and its erasure)

    We don't know much about how the vast majority of human cultures historically thought about or addressed issues like pain during sex because there are few recorded details on the subject in the texts, tales, or items they left behind. But most of the cultures that did leave us ample records about their sexual attitudes clearly didn't much care about the experience of receptive partners during sex. In ancient Greece, for example, "we find some discussions of foreplay and playful seduction," says Alastair Blanshard(Opens in a new tab), author of the definitive Sex: Vice and Love from Antiquity to Modernity. "But the focus of the act of penetration is almost exclusively on the penetrator. This is best summed up by a vase painting showing a man barking 'keep still' to a woman he is penetrating from behind, seemingly indifferent to any discomfort she may be feeling." 

    The terms we use when talking about sex reflect the widespread and longstanding nature of this penile focus, argues Amy Boyajian of Wild Flower, a sexual health boutique focused on inclusion and education. Specifically, they convey the long-entrenched idea that "the penis-owner is the one doing and leading the action of sex," they explain. "If sex came from a receiver-centered view, we might say envelopment or enwrapping" instead of penetration when talking about intercourse.  

    Yet in the medieval era, the Catholic Church devoted ample attention to reports of pain caused by a "disparity between the size of male and female genitals," as the historian Ruth Evans(Opens in a new tab) noted in a recent academic article — because church leaders believed this size-based pain caused infertility and miscarriages. (It doesn't.) In the name of procreation and the sanctity of the family unit, they recorded ideas on how to address this issue in texts used to train midwives and physicians. It was this thought stream that motivated Hildanus’ work on his penis-shortening contraption. (We don't know if similar beliefs led to the development of Rumi's gourd. In fact, we don't even know if his device actually existed, or if it was just a fanciful literary device.)

    No remaining records contain any clues about how widely known or used Hildanus’ device was, if others like it existed, or when it/they fell off of the medical radar. But we do know that leading church figures went back and forth throughout the medieval era on how much stock to put into the pain-fertility-miscarriage theory. Innocent III, a famous late-12th century pope, thought size-related pain was a clear and serious enough issue that he declared it fair grounds for the dissolution of any marriage, Evans writes. But the influential early-13th century theologian William of Rennes argued that pain during sex was no cause for concern — and that women ought to just bear it. 

    A penis-shortening device modeled after Giulelmus Fabricius Hildanus' description. Credit: Courtesy of Erwin Kompanje

    William's views eventually won out, likely because they aligned with the urges and inclinations of all-male decision-making bodies. European medical practice also became increasingly male-dominated and -focused as it slowly professionalized. By the dawn of the modern era, few if any medical experts cared about women's personal experiences of sex. They just wanted to make sure they could satisfy male sexual urges, and reliable pump out children. This consensus left little conceptual space for devices meant to address pain caused by deep penetration. 

    Sauer and others draw a direct line from this legacy of overt sexual bias in the medical domain to modern practitioners' widespread cluelessness about and dismissiveness of receptive partners' reports of pain during deep penetration. This history also goes a long way towards explaining why even seemingly(Opens in a new tab) progressive guides(Opens in a new tab) to navigating this sort of pain focus on what a receptive partner can do to accommodate a big penis, rather than on what a penis-haver can do to work with receptive anatomy. Notably, most prescribe relaxation techniques, stretching regimens, plenty of build-up and lubrication, and positions that task receptive partners with controlling the depth, angle, and speed of penetration. 

    Bigger isn't always better 

    Western culture also wasn't as fixated on big dicks in Hildanus’ day as it is now. In fact, from antiquity straight through to the renaissance(Opens in a new tab) most artists and philosophers extolled the virtues of a dainty dick, painting colossal cocks as grotesque and laughable signs of stupid animalism. No one's entirely sure when, why, or how the shift towards our modern big dick fixation started. (Elements of Western culture likely always had some ever-shifting degree of appreciation for a little extra girth and length as a sign of healthy male virility, even as they heaped scorn on the heartiest of hard-ons.) But over the last few decades especially, many folks internalized the idea that a bigger penis is always better(Opens in a new tab). Cis-hetero men especially are so hung up on size that even many of average(Opens in a new tab) and above-average(Opens in a new tab) dimensions now think they need to bulk up, somehow. 

    Until recently, men dominated the adult products industry, explains Hallie Lieberman(Opens in a new tab), the author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy, both as designers and consumers. So, their tastes and hang-ups have long set the tone for the sexual health and wellness market. Hence the endless stream of dubious, even dangerous(Opens in a new tab), size-enhancing products and services. These male decision-makers saw no need for something that'd make them look or feel smaller. So, they never thought to revive or re-invent something like Hildanus’ device. It wouldn't have vital, marketable big dick energy. 

    Lieberman reviewed her archive of over 60 years' worth of sex toy catalogues for this article. To her surprise, she could not find a single device designed to address deep penetration pain before Sauer's OhNut hit the market. (Heather Jeffcoat(Opens in a new tab), a pelvic health expert, recalls seeing one depth-limiting device in a catalogue about 20 years ago, but she wrote it off as too rigid and cumbersome for either penetrative sexual partner to enjoy. She can't remember exactly where she saw this device, what it was called, or which toy maker or medical firm made it, though. And she adds that after that device, she too saw nothing suited to this need until the OhNut came out.) 

    Systematic neglect in the medical world and the adult industry forced many receptive partners to grit their teeth and push through painful sex for decades. But not all. The sexologist Carol Queen(Opens in a new tab) says that Good Vibrations, the sex store chain she's worked with since 1990, has always had at least a few customers looking for depth-limiting devices. Through experimentation, toy experts and consumers alike figured out that they could stack up thick cock rings, or trim the ends off a masturbation sleeve, to create a DIY bumper for the base of a penis or toy. 

    These hacks are cheap and easy, Queen notes. However, Wild Flower's Boyajian points out that stacking cock rings is not always safe(Opens in a new tab). These rings increase rigidity by restricting blood flow into and out of the penis. That's inherently risky for some folks with circulatory issues or pre-existing penile injuries. And everyone courts injuries and mishaps if they wear cock rings too long, or use one that's too tight, whether alone or in a stack. Trimmed-down sleeves are certainly safer overall. However, since they weren't designed as bumpers, they can be a bit unwieldy in that role. 

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

    These DIY solutions spread through the queer community, ever experimental and broadly liberated from heterosexual cultural scripts as it is, over the course of a few decades, Boyajian notes. But "it wasn’t until six or seven years ago that I first saw the same methods(Opens in a new tab) discussed by cisgender women(Opens in a new tab) who were finding penetration uncomfortable or painful." They believe this reflects a sea change in sexual discourse over the last decade, flowing out of novel online spaces that finally gave women room to publicly critique and organize against the widespread disregard for their experiences. 

    This broad, public reevaluation of norms and expectations around sex and pleasure, alongside the mainstreaming of the sexual health and wellness industry, then created cultural and economic space for a new wave of products designed by and/or for receptive partners. Which explains how and why a few other explicitly depth-limiting devices, like the established toy brand Perfect Fit's The Bumper Thrust Buffer(Opens in a new tab), launched around the same time as the OhNut. 

    "Some say they've changed their sex lives, making pleasure through penetration possible."
    - Amy Boyajian, Wild Flower

    "These toys are on the rise," says Boyajian. "Users give overwhelmingly positive feedback on them. Some say they've changed their sex lives, making pleasure through penetration possible." 

    Still, Queen acknowledges, many people don’t seem to know about them yet — including sexual health professionals. After Mashable asked urologist Dr. Jesse Mills, director of the Men's Clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles, for his thoughts on the OhNut and its ilk, he conferred with several colleagues and determined that none of them had ever even heard of a depth-limiting device before. 

    This may change as early adopters start singing their praises(Opens in a new tab) in mainstream venues, and as their price points go down. (Most currently cost over $65, which is over three times as expensive as an open-ended masturbation sleeve, Boyajian notes.)

    But if the history of Hildanus' depth-limiting device and its disappearance into the historical ethet tells us anything, it's that we shouldn't take this trajectory as a given. Medical experts still largely discount receptive partners' accounts of sexual pain. Mainstream culture still glories in the quest for big dicks, to the exclusion of every other objective. And there is always a risk that the tides that've buoyed diverse voices, allowing the re-invention of penis bumpers, will recede — and take these devices back into obscurity again with them. That'd leave the countless Sauers of the world up shit creek once more. 

  • 5 gorgeous YouTube cooking channels that will soothe your soul

    5 gorgeous YouTube cooking channels that will soothe your soul

    YouTube has a reputation for being filled with shouting streamers, terrible takes, and thinly-veiled bigotry, but it can also be a force for good. A less widespread but infinitely more nourishing category of YouTube content are the cooking channels, which feature people preparing gorgeous, presumably delicious meals.


    Yet among these there is an even more calming and aesthetically pleasing subgenre. I am referring, of course, to the tranquil, quiet cooking channels featuring humble meals made from scratch.

    SEE ALSO: In praise of YouTubers who don't say a word

    The closest thing we have to a Ghibli film in real life, these beautifully shot videos capture the rhythmic calm of homestyle cooking accompanied by gentle instrumental music, diegetic sound, and minimal speaking. The serene, comforting clips focus not only on food but its story, using gorgeous cinematography to showcase frequently rural environments alongside simple food preparation.

    Such channels aren't about teaching you how to cook, instead inviting you into the kitchen to simply observe and enjoy the process. It's a warm, heavy blanket and steaming mug of hot chocolate to shield you from the icy tundra of the internet.

    Here are five soothing YouTubers that will calm your anxiety and remind you that there is good in the world.

    Liziqi(Opens in a new tab)

    Liziqi AKA Li Ziqi is the quintessential calming rural Chinese cooking YouTuber, having accumulated over 15 million subscribers in less than four years. Every shot in Liziqi's videos could easily fit into a big budget fantasy film, the captivating cinematography recording her amazing skill in taking meals literally from farm to table.

    Located in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, Liziqi's quietly stunning videos follow her through the process of cooking generous dishes and making beautiful clothes all the way from scratch. She even creates her own raw materials, meticulously planting potatoes and raising silkworms for her projects as well.

    Dianxi Xiaoge(Opens in a new tab)

    From the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, Dianxi Xiaoge's content is similar to Liziqi's but with a slightly less ethereal tone. Instead, her gorgeous videos feel more cosy and rough, like a warm friend inviting you into her home to share a home-cooked meal. Actually named Dong Meihua(Opens in a new tab), her nickname translates to "Dianxi little brother," Dianxi being the name of the region.

    Dianxi Xiaoge is basically a kindhearted Disney heroine made real — you get the impression that she lives in happy harmony with her family, her local community, and nature all at once. She is also frequently assisted by her big fluffy dog Dawang, who is as much a star as she is and a very good boy besides.

    XiaoXi's Culinary Idyll(Opens in a new tab)

    XiaoXi's Culinary Idyll is basically what is says on the label — soothing, idyllic food-focused videos shot in Taiwan. Yet meditative cooking isn't the only calming content this channel has to offer. Like Liziqi and Dianxi Xiaoge, much of XiaoXi's focus is on traditional food preparation. However, he also makes items such as copper teapots, gardening hoes, and fishing nets using low-tech methods.

    Most of XiaoXi's woodworking and handicraft projects still fit the culinary theme, many of them being related to food in some way. In his most popular video, he even makes a set of bamboo steamers before proceeding to cook an entire yum cha meal in them. Get a man who can do both.

    Alvin Zhou(Opens in a new tab)

    While Buzzfeed's Tasty YouTube channel(Opens in a new tab) is full of bright, bold cooking videos, Tasty producer Alvin Zhou's personal channel strikes a markedly different tone. Utilising more modern technology than previous creators in this list, Zhou's slow, calming cooking clips focus on quietly highlighting food and preparation methods.

    Zhao's thoughtfully framed videos are shot in his New York kitchen, so you won't see him plucking tomatoes or catching crabs. Instead, he provides gentle commentary in the form of subtitles, silently musing about the cooking process and speaking to his food. Zhao's catalogue of clips is small, but most of his video descriptions include a list of ingredients to help anyone who might wish to follow along.

    Summer Kitchen(Opens in a new tab)

    Summer Kitchen's Chen Ershi describes herself simply as "a girl who likes cooking," though she also appears to be very good at it. Shot in Taiwan, this soothing YouTube channel invites viewers along with Chen as she goes out, gathers ingredients, then returns to her cozy suburban home to quietly turn them into inviting meals. Each of her videos exude undeniable warmth and charm, and offer a comforting, homey atmosphere.

    While Chen does pluck her own strawberries and harvest her own honey, Summer Kitchen's videos focus more on what she does with ingredients than where they come from. She also doesn't eschew modern conveniences, using tools and appliances many viewers will likely have at home. Of all the peaceful culinary dreams in this list, Summer Kitchen's seems like the most achievable.

    To be fair, these cooking and rural life YouTubers probably don't live objectively better lives than us. Everything looks better through the magic of editing and cinematography — people aren't going to show us the mosquitoes buzzing around, their burnt or undercooked attempts at a dish, or the monotonous hours spent completing just one simple task by hand.

    But we don't watch romance movies for a strictly realistic portrayal of love, and we don't watch cooking YouTube for a strictly realistic portrayal of food. It's just soothing to indulge our fantasies every once in a while.

  • Buy two and get one free on select Halloween costumes, toys, and treats for dogs and cats at Petco

    Buy two and get one free on select Halloween costumes, toys, and treats for dogs and cats at Petco

    The following content is brought to you by Mashable partners. If you buy a product featured here, we may earn an affiliate commission or other compensation.


    Just because your dog claims he thinks ghosts are totally made up doesn't mean he wouldn't want to dress up like one for Halloween. Get your canine pal ready for the spookiest holiday with the perfect costume.

    Petco (Opens in a new tab)has you covered: buy two and get one free on select Halloween costumes, toys, and treats for dogs and cats. (This offer ends 10/3—for ongoing deals and updates, check out Petco Bootique(Opens in a new tab) for other costumes, as well as the Petco Halloween Treats and Toys(Opens in a new tab) and Petco Halloween Shop(Opens in a new tab).

    Bootique Dog Park Shark Costume(Opens in a new tab)

    Bootique Dog Park Shark Costume Credit: BOOTIQUE

    Prepare to hum the theme from Jaws every time you take your pal for a spin this fall. With this shark costume(Opens in a new tab), even the smallest of pups can be the scariest creature in the dog park.

    DC Comics Justice League Superman Dog T-Shirt With Removable Cape(Opens in a new tab)

    DC Comics Justice League Superman Dog T-Shirt With Removable Cape Credit: DC Comics

    Got a super dog? Just kidding, we know — all dogs are super dogs! But not all dogs have a cape to prove it. Make sure your super dog has the Superman costume(Opens in a new tab) to match.

    Bootique Tasty Taco Dog Costume(Opens in a new tab)

    Bootique Tasty Taco Dog Costume Credit: Bootique

    Some people might say it's rude to dress up your pup as a delicious food item she would love to eat. We're not some people. Dogs look great in a taco suit(Opens in a new tab).

    Bootique Marvel Groot Dog Costume(Opens in a new tab)

    Bootique Marvel Groot Dog Costume Credit: BOOTIQUE

    I'm Groot! (Translation: Your dog can become your favorite plant-based superhero with this cute Groot costume(Opens in a new tab).)

    Bootique Teddy Bear Dog Costume(Opens in a new tab)

    Bootique Teddy Bear Dog Costume Credit: BOOTIQUE

    Who's cuter: a teddy bear or your dog? Don't answer. In fact, prove you don't have to settle—have the best of both worlds with this teddy bear costume(Opens in a new tab).

  • WWE fan tackles pro wrestler on live TV after apparent catfishing

    WWE fan tackles pro wrestler on live TV after apparent catfishing

    Not everything in pro wrestling is predetermined or scripted.


    Case in point: A pro wrestling fan attacked a WWE Superstar on live television on Monday after it looks like he fell for an internet scam.

    But it wasn't the wrestler who scammed the fan. It was evidently an imposter, pretending to be the WWE Superstar. The fan was a victim of what appears to have been a catfishing.

    If you were watching WWE Monday Night Raw last night, you may have caught an odd moment involving pro wrestling superstar Seth Rollins after his match.

    As Rollins was making his way up the entrance ramp in order to get to the backstage area, another individual suddenly barreled into the athlete, spearing him down to the floor.

    This happened on live TV(Opens in a new tab). And while the television cameras quickly cut away once they realized it wasn't part of the show, the scuffle still happened in full view of the packed crowd at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.

    Footage captured(Opens in a new tab) by smartphones all over the arena quickly made its way online showing just how long the fan held Rollins on the floor, pulling at his hair, as referees and security guards attempted to pull the man off of the pro wrestler. A few fan videos from later show the man being escorted out of the arena.

    According to ESPN(Opens in a new tab), 24-year-old Elisah Spencer was arrested Monday night and charged with "attempted assault and attempted violation of arts and cultural affairs (disrupting a live sporting event)."

    An Instagram account allegedly belonging to the fan quickly started spreading on social media. Based on years of images and videos, and a history of Rollins-related posts, the account does indeed appear to belong to the suspect.

    When Mashable reached out to Spencer, he initially responded, saying he would provide a statement, but did not respond to future messages.

    In a video posted to the Instagram account from inside the Barclay's Center before WWE Raw went live, Spencer can be seen discussing his plans for the night with a group of people sitting in his section that he seems to know.

    "I know how I'm going to do this now," Spencer, who doesn't appear on camera, can be heard saying. "When he comes out, 'choo', knock him out."

    Spencer, who is holding the camera, also shows his COVID-19 vaccination card on camera a few times with his name displayed.

    In an Instagram Story posted today, Spencer claims he "used to be cool" with Seth Rollins "until a business deal went the wrong way."

    Spencer followed up by posting a slew of screenshots via Instagram Stories that he claims shows his interaction with WWE's Seth Rollins via chats on online platforms such as WhatsApp and Google Hangouts.

    Spencer posted a 2019 conversation between himself and the fake Seth Rollins. Credit: Whatsapp screenshot posted to Instagram

    In these messages, Spencer appears to believe he is actually engaging with the real Seth Rollins. It's clear that he's not. 

    Spencer does not appear to realize he is being catfished.

    Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone else online. A bad actor will often target an individual and make them believe that they are talking with someoone whose identity they've stolen.

    For example, while the WhatsApp account displays the username Seth Rollins, that's not even the performer's real name. In fact, Spencer himself appears to know in his Instagram videos that Rollins' real name is Colby Lopez. 

    Spencer posted a screenshot of his contact with "Seth Rollins." Credit: Instagram screenshot

    In messages that Spencer says are from 2019, the Seth Rollins account asks Spencer if he can borrow money as he's trying to get in touch with his wife, fellow WWE Superstar Becky Lynch. 

    The catfishing scam from the fake Seth Rollins on WhatsApp. Credit: Whatsapp screenshot posted to Instagram

    It's unclear what reason the Rollins account gives for why he's asking a stranger online to send him money. It's also unclear if Spencer sent him the money and, if so, how much. However, the messages follow patterns often found in online money order and bank check scams. 

    The fraudster begin his scam in these screenshots posted by Spencer. Credit: Whatsapp screenshot posted to Instagram

    In a separate conversation, the Rollins account tells Spencer that he will send him a check. These scams usually work as follows: Spencer would be told to cash the check and send a certain amount to another individual. As for the extra leftover sum? Spencer could keep it, a reward for helping out Rollins. The scam, however, is that the check is fake and Spencer would be on the hook for whatever money he sent to the individual whom the scammer asked him to send it to. And a version of this seems to be what actually happened. 

    Spencer appears to catch on to the scam, albeit too late, but still appears to believe he's talking to the real Seth Rollins. Credit: Whatsapp screenshot posted to Instagram

    It appears Spencer did follow through with cashing or depositing the check sent to him by the Rollins account. In subsequent messages, Spencer tells the Rollins account that he's going to the police because the checks turned out to be fake. He even claims his significant other was arrested due to the fraud.

    A screenshot posted by Spencer details how he allegedly found out the checks were fake. Credit: Whatsapp screenshot posted to Instagram

    In Spencer's Instagram videos of the event, he and his companions all appear to believe that Spencer has legitimate dealings with the real Seth Rollins. They even speculate as to what Rollins' reaction will be when they see Spencer, as if the pro wrestler knew him and what he looked like.

    While Spencer was arrested, booked, and will be facing charges for tackling the real Seth Rollins at a live event, it's seems clear that he is a victim in this situation as well.

    The past few years have been particularly revealing as to what people believe just because they saw it online. From huge global issues involving QAnon conspiracy theories and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines to smaller events like a pro wrestling fan thinking his favorite superstar scammed him on WhatsApp, it's clear there's a major disconnect when it comes to media literacy and the internet. 

    But for now, it seems people will continue being fooled and scammed by bad actors online.

    In fact, this isn't even the first time someone was apparently catfished by a scammer pretending to be Seth Rollins.

    In a 2019 radio interview, the WWE wrestler spoke about how he's aware of the many imposters who try to scam people by pretending to be him. In one specific incident, a woman showed up twice to the real Seth Rollins' home, claiming they were in a relationship based on conversations she had with a fake.

    "Anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation," was one of the WWE's favorite slogan during the 90s wrestling boom. 

    Turns out, anything can still happen in the WWE.

  • Get a jump-start on holiday shopping with these top-rated toys from Walmart

    Get a jump-start on holiday shopping with these top-rated toys from Walmart

    The following content is brought to you by Mashable partners. If you buy a product or service featured here, we may earn an affiliate commission or other compensation.


    Kids have opinions — especially when it comes to toys. Whether you’re shopping for your own kids, your nieces and nephews, or a toy drive, the challenge is finding a gift they’ll love and keeping it a surprise until they tear open the wrapping paper (no slow unboxing here).

    Why try and guess what kids have on their wish lists when Walmart already knows? Walmart launched their holiday 2021 toy catalog(Opens in a new tab) and it’s loaded with the top-rated playthings kids want. What’s even better? Their selections are chosen by kids and broken into different age groups.

    Here are the toys that will earn you high-fives, huge smiles, and big hugs. Shop the catalog until Dec. 31 and get it right.

    Interactive fun and learning for ages 2-4

    Credit: VTech

    Toddlers and preschoolers want hands-on toys they can roll around and snuggle after a long day. The plushy furReal Sweet Jammiecorn Unicorn(Opens in a new tab) ($24.96) makes sounds when you touch her ears and lights up when you press her horn. She glows a happy yellow during the day and a soothing blue at bedtime. For improving motor skills, the VTech Hover Pup(Opens in a new tab) ($24.97) has cool moves — and built-in sensors — to dance around or just chill out when tykes need a rest. The stackable Fisher-Price 4-In-1 Ultimate Learning Bot(Opens in a new tab) ($41.74) has three bots with googly eyes, motorized wheels, and sounds for learning about letters, numbers, and shapes.

    Tools for making things for ages 5-7

    Credit: VTech

    Once kids have hit their stride with coloring and counting, they want to get creative and do projects (DIYers start young). For sand art with a touch of magic, the Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory Set(Opens in a new tab) ($16.97) has 10-plus tools for shaping and slicing kinetic sand — a squishy, moldable sand in four colors (the “magic” is a silicone coating). Or, inspire a budding photographer with a rechargeable VTech KidiZoom PrintCam Digital Camera and Printer(Opens in a new tab) ($69). Kids can take pics and selfies and use templates for comic strips, greeting cards, games, and other designs. They can print up to 80 black-and-white images with the included paper roll — and for added fun the refill pack (sold separately) has sticker paper.

    Cool wheels for ages 8-12

    Credit: Jetson

    Whether it’s a Kryptonics Complete Cruiser Skateboard(Opens in a new tab) ($24.97) with sweet graphics, a HALO Rise Above Supreme Big Wheel Scooter(Opens in a new tab) ($39.93) with different colorways for the wheels, or a tricked-out Jetson Hali X Luminous Extreme-Terrain Hoverboard(Opens in a new tab) ($178), grade schoolers and tweens want to cruise around in style. The latter even has a light-up deck and Bluetooth speakers. But this doesn’t mean they’re too old for the Batman All-Terrain Batmobile Remote Control Vehicle(Opens in a new tab) ($49.97). No one is too old for this action-packed vehicle. Kids can use the rechargeable, 2.4 GHz dual joystick remote control to drive through water, snow, mud, and grass. And, yes, you can fit a Batman action figure (sold separately) in the driver’s seat.

    (Opens in a new tab)
    Credit: Kryptonics
    Shop top-rated toys for kids of all ages (opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab)
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