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A guide to getting off to your own sexual fantasies and imagination

2023-04-02 10:27:29

A guide to getting off to your own sexual fantasies and imagination

They say the mind is the biggest, most powerful sex organ in the body. But, uh, don't try visualizing that mental image too vividly or literally, unless you're into that sorta thing?

A guide to getting off to your own sexual fantasies and imagination(图1)

Instead, imagine your favorite fictional crush pressing you up against a wall, or think back to the hottest sex you ever had in your life. Now stop imagining, because this magical place where all your desires are possible and acceptable exists. And literally anyone can tap into it.

While sexual fantasies are by definition not "real," their effects on your sex life (especially when explored during masturbation) are — shall we say — palpably physical.

"Engaging your imagination rather than relying on visual porn for example helps to build, enhance and strengthen your erotic mind," said Dr. Britney Blair, co-founder and Chief Science Officer of the sexual wellness Lover(Opens in a new tab) app. "You can bring that imagination to life when you want to prime the pump on your desire or push yourself over the edge to climax while solo or with a partner."

"It's incredibly liberating, recognizing our own power to design the scenes and situations that turn us on."

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with porn or other forms of erotica. But there's something especially powerful in orgasming to smut that couldn't be more personally tailored to what you like.

"In our minds we're not confined to our studio apartments or our current sexual partners. There are no rules or judgments. Not even the laws of physics apply," said Gina Gutierrez, co-founder of the popular audio erotica app Dipsea(Opens in a new tab). "It’s incredibly liberating, recognizing our own power to design the scenes and situations that turn us on and to scrap the ones that don’t work for us."

Don't take our word for it, though. There's science to show exactly how real the effects of a healthy erotic imagination are.

In a landmark 2016 study(Opens in a new tab), Dr. Nan Wise — neuroscientist, sex therapist, and author of Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life(Opens in a new tab) — mapped the brain's response when subjects merely imagined pleasurable stimulation on their genitals. Just by thinking about it, the pleasure centers in their brains "lit up like a Christmas tree," Wise said.

"The mind is really the recipient of all the body's sensations. So there's this empirical evidence of a huge connection between the mind and pleasure," she said.

While everyone can benefit from using their imagination as a sexual aid, it's an especially potent practice for women and others who society has conditioned to feel ashamed about their sexuality.

"We have to do more work to lay down the connections, the neural pathways, between the genitals and the brain's sensory reward regions," said Wise. "Using your imagination to masturbate not only gives us the information about what stimulation we need, but also actually strengthens the connections between our genitals and the brain."

SEE ALSO: Why some people masturbate about people they hate

Beyond that, getting off to our own sexual fantasies tackles another negative effect that patriarchy can have on women's sexuality.

"We're socialized to think of ourselves as the objects of other people's desires, like we need to borrow someone else's idea of pleasure" said Wise. That's why learning how to be the subject of our own desires, to embody the pleasure we conjure up in our own mind, can be so empowering.

Everyone with a brain, genitals, and desire is already equipped to masturbate to their own sexual fantasies. And while the practice does come more naturally to some, it only takes little guidance and patience to unlock the endless possibilities tucked inside your erotic mind.

Set the right environment

Set that phone to night mode, but make it sexy. Credit: bob al-greene / mashable

A major key in setting your mind up for erotic success is to ensure your environment allows your brain to feel fully relaxed, safe, and free from distraction.

Pick a time and place where you'll have full privacy without needing to worry about any interruption, whether from roommates or notifications. For most people, that place will naturally be the bedroom. But put some effort into also making it a true fortress of sensual solitude, like by locking the door, setting your phone to airplane mode, putting on an eye mask, or maybe even using some essential oils and putting on your favorite sexy playlist.

Blair even recommends purposefully scheduling these more exploratory kind of session and making them habitual. So maybe it can be something you add to your nightly ritual before bed: Brush your teeth, do the skincare routine, put on some pajamas, then let your mind wander as you touch yourself.

Create a safe space in your mind

Of course, priming yourself with the right mindset is vital to unlocking your brain's full fantasy potential.

One of the biggest hurdles to exploring our erotic imaginations is actually the engrained social shame many of us have picked up (even subconsciously) through sexism, homophobia, social stigmas, religion, etc.

"It’s important to know if that is coming up for you, you’re not alone. But there is no such thing as a wrong or right fantasy." said Blair.

SEE ALSO: Am I the only one who's horny for podcasts?

Treat your imagination as a judgement-free zone. To be fair, clearing or redirecting your mind away from feelings of shame is easier said than done. But certain exercises can help (which we'll get into more in the mind-body connection section below).

Blair suggests that, while exploring sexual fantasies in your mind, try to distinguish between when you're having a reaction versus a judgment to a certain scenario. Judgments often come from values imposed on you by something or someone else, while visceral reactions can be an indication that your mind wants to explore it further — especially if it's something your never thought you'd be into.

It's easy to get scared off by an intense response to a fantasy, and write that off as being too weird or outside the norm for your taste. But if you give yourself a second to assess where that response is coming from, you might actually find that the intensity comes from a part of you that you've never tried tapping into before.

"Everything is okay in the world of fantasy. No fantasy is a crime."

Or maybe not, and that's fine too. The point is, if you feel safe doing it, just try leaning into parts of your erotic mind that feel challenging and see where it goes.

"Everything is okay in the world of fantasy. No fantasy is a crime," said Blair. "Whatever turns you on in your mind is totally healthy. Your fantasy doesn’t say anything about you except that you are lucky to have a rich imagination that you can use to have an exciting and enduring erotic life."

That's another major benefit of sexual fantasies versus traditional porn, too. You don't have to worry about any ethical concerns, because your imagination can't hurt you or anyone else. You're in total control.

"You imagination is a completely safe space," said Dipsea's Gutierrez. "We can play out fantasies that are risky or illicit that we would never actually want to happen in real life. In our minds we’re free to experiment without consequences."

Familiarize yourself with (but don't feel limited by) common sexual fantasies

While the whole point is to tap into the unique potential of your own mind, a good jumping off point is to explore whether the most common sexual fantasies(Opens in a new tab) spark your interest. Researchers have labeled them into different categories, though there's a world of possibilities within those labels as well.

Dr. Blair described these categories as multi-partner sex like group sex or threesomes; power, control, or rough sex; novelty, adventure, and variety; taboo and forbidden sex; partner sharing and non-monogamous relationships; passion and romance; and erotic flexibility like homoeroticism or gender-bending.

Jess O'Reilly is a sex educator, author of The New Sex Bible(Opens in a new tab), and Astroglide's resident sexologist. She explained that through each of these fantasy categories you can help identify the specific core erotic feelings that get you into a heightened state of arousal.

"Oftentimes, they relate to fantasy, escapism or subverting otherwise 'negative' emotions. You might find that sex is really hot when you feel powerful, submissive, challenged, mindful, or playful," she said. "You may also find yourself aroused by feelings that you don’t naturally associate with pleasure, like jealousy, inadequacy, fear, and even humiliation can be exciting."

What our brains often gravitate to most is pure novelty. What gets you off in a fantasy can actually be the total opposite of your real-life sexual orientation or even completely removed from you, as an abstract scenario happening to someone else entirely.

Let your spank bank be a place where your freak flag flies. Credit: vicky leta / mashable

So don't be weirded out if you learn that you're as horny for that fish-god monster from The Shape of Water as the Academy Awards were in 2018. Or maybe you're one of the many women who enjoys a rape fantasy — which, as Dr. Wise points out, in a fantasy context is the opposite of a real-life rape since, "you're choosing to have the fantasy and who's overpowering you. You're in complete control."

One other general rule of thumb Wise found is that while men tend toward more visually-oriented fantasies centered around preferred body parts, women tend to focus on overall scenarios. However, it's impossible to distill the endless possibilities of human sexuality into neat categories. Which is why you also shouldn't get discouraged or ashamed if none of these common fantasies do it for you.

"Our capacity for imagination is limitless," said Wise. Don't feel pressure to confine yours to a specific label.

Related Video: I built my own vibrator at CES

Start building your erotic imagination through fiction, porn, memories... anything!

The truth is that, while other obstacles might make it hard initially to give yourself permission to explore sexual fantasies, using your imagination is a very natural and innate part of being human. Who doesn't fantasizing about getting up from their desk in the middle of a hard work day and quitting, or spend time daydreaming about how they'd furnish their dream apartment?

"We make Pinterest boards and save Instagram photos, collect and catalog all these things that we like. I recommend starting to do that for your sex life," said Gutierrez. "Become more mindful observing what attracts you to someone. The moments where you feel sexiest. What you want to say out loud during sex but hesitate to. Then the next time you want to use your fantasy for pleasure, you know exactly where to draw from."

Everything in your life can become part of your horny mood board.

Everything in your life can become part of your horny mood board.

We all have that one fictional character or public figure — whether from books, tv, movies, video games, or even politics and the internet — that just does it for us. Begin there, expanding into a specific sexy scene that got you going or whatever comes to mind when you think of that person. Heck, maybe you're like me and realize that a silky, authoritative voice is actually your kink, leading a bunch of non-erotic popular podcasts to become your go-to spank bank material.

Audio erotica can be a great place to start if you don't want to take the training wheels off yet to explore sexual fantasies of your own making. Unlike visual porn, audio erotica still exercises the muscles of your erotic imagination, asking you to fill in the details and paint the full picture. While we always recommend Dipsea, there's also plenty of free ways to try audio erotica like r/gonewildaudio(Opens in a new tab) and Girl on the Net(Opens in a new tab).

Once you're ready to bring yourself more to the forefront of the fantasy, begin with a memory of the hottest, most visceral sex you've ever had. Really ground yourself back in that moment by recalling your senses: What position were you in? What did the person's lust feel like? Were you sweating? How exactly did they touch you?

Touch yourself while pulling from all the erotic mental material you've curated, and don't be afraid to really get your whole body involved in mimicking the sensations you're creating through your mind. Maybe that means masturbating while you're on all fours, or matching the tempo of the fantasy, or even dry-humping a pillow. Don't put any pressure on yourself to orgasm throughout any of this, though, and instead just zero in on embodying the experience of your imagination.

"It's about giving yourself full permission to explore all our internal pleasure places, and how we experience them in both our minds and bodies at the same time," said Wise.

It's like writing fanfiction, but in real-time Credit: vicky leta / mashable

Try these exercises to strengthen your mind-body connection

Through her research and other studies in the field, Wise has ultimately found that, "This distinction we make between the mind and body is really a very arbitrary one."

One of the best ways to embrace this in a way that engages your erotic fantasy life in is through something called mindful sex.

This increasingly popular branch of sex therapy describes a bunch of different practices and exercises that add a layer of sexuality to mindfulness, to help you stay present in your body while experiencing pleasure, train your mind to focus on whatever arouses you, and engage in a non-judgmental curious sexual mindset. Try out basic exercises like pleasure mapping (which Dipsea has a guide for), mindful masturbation (which you can read about here), and sensate focus (which you can read about here).

Wise also suggests a very simple exercise for getting your imagination more connected with your genitals on a neurological level: Just start by tapping or pleasurably touching your genitals, then stop, then think back on the sensations you felt while touching them. Try to recall and summon them back in your body: What did it feel like in your body when the stimulation was building, then dissipating?

At first, it might not feel like much at all and the pleasure may be pretty mild compared to what you're used to while using more immediate erotic visual aids like porn.

“But you’ll slowly start to develop a better connection to that pleasure sensation channel in your brain,” she said.

Use your imagination during partnered sex

While sexual fantasies are a great way to enhance self-love, learning how to engage with them during partnered sex can also do wonders to get people over the edge and into orgasm.

At this point though, you might be wondering: Is it even OK to fantasize about other situations — or maybe even other people — while having sex with a partner?

“It doesn't matter where you get your appetite, as long as you'd come home to eat.”

“Yes, it’s an unequivocal yes! Because thinking about stuff is not the same as doing it,” said Wise. As the famous saying goes, “It doesn't matter where you get your appetite, as long as you'd come home to eat.”

It’s totally normal for your mind to desire novelty, especially if you're not in a new relationship anymore. In fact, Wise found that one of the best ways to ensure a couples’ longevity is precisely this kind of openness and understanding that people need to fuel their erotic imagination with new stuff.

“If we can get over these kind of hang ups, get past this fear of our partners having a fantasy about somebody else while they’re with us, and instead use it as an opportunity talk about: What would you like? What haven't we tried? What are you afraid to tell me? Because that's hot. That's really hot,” said Wise.

Or maybe instead of thinking about someone else, you'd simply rather use your imagination during partnered sex to transport you both to a setting or scenario that heightens your arousal even more.

In the end, what you do with your erotic imagination is up to you. You can share it if you'd like — or keep it all to yourself. That’s what’s so great about sexual fantasies you cut from your own cloth: They’re all yours, and no one else's.

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    She posted the prototype on Reddit(opens in a new tab) and immediately received an outpour of positive comments.

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    "I really liked about how much traction it got and the fact that I could spread awareness that adapting anything is possible if you think hard enough, and that even the most uncreative person (myself!) can think of something that somebody else could find really helpful," she told Mashable.

    Credit: imgur

    "I’m not a terribly creative person (which is why i’m shocked this became so big), so when I saw the Rubik’s Cube, I was thrilled when I knew immediately what to do with it," she said. "I had my best friend in mind (she’s not blind, she just loves playing with these things), so I thought I would make it tactile and blindfold her to have her try it out!"

    The Rubik's Cube took her ten minutes to make and cost less than $15. She took an original cube and changed it with items she found in Michael's. The only challenge was finding different textures, but overall she designed each side to make it easy for everyone to understand.

    It took her 10 minutes to make and cost less than $15.

    "I wanted to share something that was cheap and easy to make so people who work with the blind/ have blind friends or family could replicate it if they wanted," she said.

    The 29-year-old student chose the program to work with individuals who are blind or deaf and help them "navigate through the world and live as independently as possible." Sharpless mentioned on Reddit(opens in a new tab), she wants to "work with the Helen Kellers of the world."

    "I have spent my entire educational and professional career immersed in the DeafBlind community," she told Mashable. "I would love for the opportunity to give back to a community that has given me so much."


    Since there was no description for the product, a Redditor was nice enough to describe each side:

    Comment(opens in a new tab) from discussion I adapted a Rubix Cube for the blind!(opens in a new tab).

    Now, a Rubik's Cube for the blind has been done before (of course Redditors had to let her know), but she decided on creating a new look on the traditional toy.

    As a result of her Reddit post, people began sharing personal stories and praising her for providing a product with blind people in mind.

    Comment(opens in a new tab) from discussion I adapted a Rubix Cube for the blind!(opens in a new tab).

    "What's awesome about [the two Rubik's Cubes for the blind] is that they all serve the same purpose - to accommodate the needs of people who are blind - but they all take different approaches, which is great because no person - blind or sighted - is the same and has the same needs," she said.

    She has no plans of making more of the project or selling them, but she did learn a lot about herself and the impact one object can make for people with disabilities.

  • All I want for Christmas is this gay as hell nativity scene

    All I want for Christmas is this gay as hell nativity scene


    Oh, gay nativity scene! Oh, gay nativity scene! How lovely are thy plastic people.

    Gay nativity scenes aren't exactly new, but they are rarely spotted in the suburban wild. So over the weekend, comedian Cameron Esposito posted this photo(opens in a new tab) of her neighbor's "Joseph and Joseph" nativity scene, bringing peace and joy to the place that needs it the most -- Twitter.

    SEE ALSO: Twitter's search tool is blocking photo searches of #bisexual, but not #lesbian or #gay

    I'm sure Joseph and Joseph made such wonderful parents.

    Before you get all "two men can't have a baby" on me, remember, Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. Each scenario is a biological impossibility unless your name is Arnold Schwarzenegger and you're in the movie Junior.

    Twitter responded with enthusiasm and a few queer scenarios of their own.


    Congratulations to the happy plastic family.

Random articles


  • Actor tweets story of how his whole life changed after he sent Steven Spielberg a letter


    Actor tweets story of how his whole life changed after he sent Steven Spielberg a letter

    If you've ever considered writing a letter to one of your heroes, do it.

    On the one hand, it might not come to anything. But on the other it could change the entire course of your life.

    SEE ALSO: Ethan Hawke's story about his co-star dying on stage is surprisingly uplifting

    On Monday, actor and writer Andrew Briedis shared the story of how a letter to Steven Spielberg started him on the path to his future career -- and how it was all tied to Jurassic Park.

    See, those raptors aren't all bad.

  • Deadmau5 gets banned from Twitch for using homophobic slur

    Deadmau5 gets banned from Twitch for using homophobic slur


    We have to stop saying these words.

    The DJ/streamer Deadmau5 was banned from Twitch for using a homophobic slur on Tuesday. In response to being banned for violating Twitch's rules against hate speech, the 38-year-old deleted his Twitch account, esports insider Rod Breslau reported(Opens in a new tab).

    SEE ALSO: 'Metro Exodus' muddies up its formula with an empty open world

    Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Thomas Zimmerman, was playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds when his outburst happened, calling the player who killed him the F-word, among other things, resulting in his account being flagged for hate speech. Although the stream is now deleted, given the context of the situation it sounds like Twitch made the right decision to ban Deadmau5.

    In a now-deleted Reddit post, Deadmau5 railed against Twitch for censoring him and criticized people who reported on his ban.

    Deadmu5 also appears to defend his use of the word as a "heat of the moment" kind of thing.


    "While it was intended to insult a fuckin asshat who was being a fuckin asshat... it wasnt 'directed at an entire group of people who have a sexual orientation that differs from my own,'" he wrote. "Fuck off with that shit."

    In other Reddit posts(Opens in a new tab) that are still up, Deadmau5 continued to complain about people who were offended by his use of the slur as well as news outlets for reporting on it.

    it's unacceptable to use these words

    Deadmau5 refers to "Twitch's double standard" in his deleted comment, which, while he doesn't specify exactly what that means, likely refers to Twitch's rules against showing skin on streams. Some more misogynistic corners of the Twitch community tend to think that Twitch doesn't punish enough women for violating this vague rule. This comparison is strange because that has nothing to do with his use of a hateful slur.

    Deadmau5 can defend himself all he wants, but the fact remains that he said a word that incites feelings of hatred against a certain group of people. People like Deadmau5 try to explain that they don't mean to use slurs in hateful ways, but that is just stripping the word of its history and meaning in a desperate attempt to save face.

    That slur is hate speech, no matter how you use it. It is associated with a group of people and to use it in a heated moment as a means to insult someone shows exactly what you think of that word and the people to which it refers.

    You can't separate the two things. Just like when PewDiePie said the N-word on a stream in a heated moment last year, it's unacceptable to use these words in any context.


    It doesn't matter if you're caught up in the moment, you're really angry, or you're just trying to make a shitty joke. Take these words out of your vocabulary.

    And please, don't defend saying these words. Learn from your mistakes. Educate yourself. Take a moment to listen to the people who are hurt by what you say. Be better.

  • April the giraffe, known for her viral livestreamed pregnancy, dies at 20

    April the giraffe, known for her viral livestreamed pregnancy, dies at 20

    April the giraffe, known for her viral (and seemingly eternal) pregnancy, has died at 20 years old. She passed away at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, where she gained an international following during her livestreamed pregnancy in 2017.


    The giraffe was euthanized on Friday due to worsening arthritis at the recommendation of her veterinary team, the zoo said in a Facebook post(Opens in a new tab).

    Her care team noticed changes in April's mobility last summer, and diagnosed her with osteoarthritis, which "can be expected in a giraffe of her age," per a statement from her veterinary team. The park managed April's condition with pain medication, anti-inflammatories, hoof trimming, newly installed padded floor, and dietary changes, but severity of her arthritis outpaced the team's "ability to control April's comfort." Euthanasia was the most humane action, the team said.

    April's 2017 pregnancy livestream was watched by millions around the world, which proved to be a massive moneymaker. When she finally gave birth to Tajiri in April 2017, her stream had 232 million live views. People(Opens in a new tab) reports that adds up to a staggering 7.6 billion minutes of live watching.

    "Since then, April has been one of the world's most famous animals, and in turn, has made a profound impact on giraffe conservation, education, and appreciation," the zoo said in its Facebook post announcing April's passing. "While her hoofprints in her yard will erode in time, the imprint she has made on the hearts of people around the world will never fade."

    April's body was sent to Cornell University Veterinary School for a necropsy. Then, she'll be cremated and her ashes will be returned to Animal Adventure Park.

    Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park, described April as "a precious member of our family."

    "The loss of an animal as loved as her will be felt in our community, around the country, and across the world," Patch said in the Facebook post. "We appreciate respect and empathy from April's fans and the park's supporters during this difficult time, as they grieve along with us. She will be deeply missed and fondly remembered. April, in her own special way, changed the world."

  • Stephen King really, really, really wants you to know hes not Steve King

    Stephen King really, really, really wants you to know hes not Steve King


    There's nothing worse than being mistaken for someone you really, really don't like.

    Stephen King knows this better than most.

    The famed horror author shares a name with Rep. Steve King, the Republican Congressman from Iowa. That's the same guy who recently made headlines(Opens in a new tab) when he questioned whether the human race would still exist if rape and incest had never happened. Yep, really.

    On Wednesday night, Stephen King posted a pretty simple statement on Twitter: "Let's get 1 thing straight, I'm not THAT Steve King."

    King's son, the author Joe Hill, shared a similar, pretty relatable sentiment.


    This isn't the first time Steve King (the politician) has caused controversy.

    SEE ALSO: Stephen King mocks Donald Trump's worldview with a rather blunt theory

    He's previously been accused of racism(Opens in a new tab), anti-semitism(Opens in a new tab), and he was described in 2018 by the (Opens in a new tab)Washington Post(Opens in a new tab) as "the U.S. Congressman most openly affiliated with White Nationalism".

    This isn't the first time Stephen King's tried to distance himself from the guy, either.

    Maybe 2020 will be the year...


  • Bumble launches new features to help you date during quarantine

    Bumble launches new features to help you date during quarantine

    On the heels of many dating apps adding new features to make dating a bit easier amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bumble has released a bundle of their own.


    One is their "Virtual Dating" badge, which, like Hinge's new Date From Home feature, intends to smooth the awkward transition between chatting on the app and going to a voice/video call. If you're interested in virtual dates, simply add the badge to your profile; the app has promised to make a donation to the WHO-COVID Solidarity Response Fund(Opens in a new tab) (on top of the $100,000 it's already donated) for every person who adds the badge up to $10,000.

    "We're in a time where it’s paramount that people physically distance themselves IRL but that doesn’t mean we need to be socially disconnected altogether," Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble founder and CEO, told Mashable. "In fact, in a time like this it’s more important than ever to stay connected and engaged with others — and let’s face it, connection is a a fundamental part of being human so we will find a way to stay in touch!"

    SEE ALSO: The best dating apps for finding love while social distancing

    From March 13 to March 27, Bumble saw a 93 percent increase in the app's voice call/video chat usage, a representative previously told Mashable. Bumble is the only app that allows the user to utilize these features without sharing a phone number or email, according to Wolfe Herd. Given the increased interest, the app has added the ability to record voice notes and send them to matches — as well as using them to reply to specific messages in chats.

    Lastly, Bumble now allows users to expand their distance filters to speak to anyone in their country, not just up to 100 miles away, which was the previous limit. Those who enjoy Tinder's newly-free Passport feature(Opens in a new tab) will probably like seeing who's on Bumble hundreds of miles away as well. "Overall, some great features for kicking off some fun virtual dating while we’re all staying at home and being healthy," said Wolfe Herd.

    With so many apps tweaking their UX to make virtual dating smoother, singles have an opportunity to actually meet and form connections with others, whether they're blocks away or across the country.

    UPDATE: April 15, 2020, 12:43 p.m. EDT The post was revised to include corrected information about the app’s previous distance settings.

  • The best fitness tech of 2022


    The best fitness tech of 2022

    In 2022, fitness tech made bold strides.

    According to Strava's 2022 Year in Sport data report(Opens in a new tab), the share of athletes uploading activities outside their home country was up 101 percent over last year, finally sneaking up to pre-pandemic levels. We did more alpine skiing, snowboarding, and rock climbing than the year before, and racing returned, too: The share of runners on Strava who ran a marathon nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022. 

    Plenty of modern fitness is enjoyed the analog way, but in 2022 fitness tech took our workouts to the next level. Here are some of our favorites from this year.

    Strava updates(Opens in a new tab)

    Strava added video features, 3D maps on mobile, and nearly a dozen new sport types in 2022. It continues to be one of the best fitness tracking apps on the market.

    Apple Watch Series 8

    The standard Apple Watch Series 8 looks good, has a variety of wrist straps and cases, and extensive fitness features, including sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring. It's an excellent fitness tracker.

    NordicTrack S22i

    If you don't want to grab a Peloton — the at-home bike that took over during COVID-19 lockdowns — the NordicTrack S22i is the way to go. 

    Theragun Pro

    For when you're done working out but your body needs some help, Theragun is one of the best massage guns out there.

    Tempo Move

    The Tempo Move is a compact workout system with dumbbells, smart weight plates, weight collars, and a weight storage cabinet that connects to your iPhone and TV. It's an excellent pick for folks working out at home. 


    For the people who really do not want to go to the gym, Tonal is basically an at-home personal trainer. It gives you recommendations for how much weight to lift, helps you fix your form, and tracks all your progress.

    Dribbleup Smart Boxing Gloves

    If you're looking to fight like Rocky but you don't actually want to go to Mighty Mick's Gym, take a gander at Dribbleup's Smart Boxing Gloves. They probably won't turn you into a heavyweight champion, but they'll definitely give you a killer cardio workout.

  • $40,000 worth of rare, venomous insects were stolen in a tragic bug-lary


    $40,000 worth of rare, venomous insects were stolen in a tragic bug-lary

    There are thousands and thousands of stolen bugs -- including one of the world's most venomous spiders and several cockroach colonies -- still missing from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, in case you needed a reason to scream this weekend.

    The thieves got away with $40,000 worth of insects and lizards on Wednesday. The insectarium estimates that the thieves stole about 7,000 animals in total, a whopping 80 to 90 percent of the insectarium's exhibits.

    SEE ALSO: Nicole Kidman casually catches a giant spider like it's no big deal

    Police and insectarium staff think the heist might have been an inside job. Security footage showed people walking around the museum holding plastic boxes full of some missing insects, including giant African mantises, bumblebee millipedes, warty glowspot roaches, tarantulars, dwarf and tiger hissers, and leopard geckos. When the crime was reported, the New York Times says(opens in a new tab), insectarium employees found two staff uniforms "stuck to the wall with knives."

    Whoever got away with the creepy crawlies knew what they were doing. The thief also stole the logs on record that documented each bug, which makes it even more difficult to figure out what was stolen.

    To make it even worse, the Philly Voice reports that the thieves ran off with multiple cockroach colonies, which means that there are thousands of missing roaches somewhere in area.

    On the plus side, the insectarium's Mexican Fire Leg Tarantula was found by police and returned!

    View this post on Instagram
    (opens in a new tab)

    Because some of the insects were confiscated at a port of entry, "taking those critters is literally tampering with evidence," according to the insectarium's chief executive John Cambridge.

    Three current or former staff members are suspects in the case, but the Philadelphia police haven't made any arrests yet.

    Although the thieves face hefty prison sentences, Cambridge hopes they get off easy.

    "They are young, and I really hope that this isn't something that follows them for the rest of their life," Cambridge told the New York Times. "Everybody does dumb stuff when they're young."

  • Woody Allens actors are turning against him, and its about time

    Woody Allens actors are turning against him, and its about time


    The chorus of voices against Woody Allen is growing louder by the day.

    Over the past few months, several actors who've starred in Allen's films have come forward to express their regrets – and, in some cases, announce that they're donating their salaries to charity. That list includes multiple stars of Allen's next movie, A Rainy Day in New York.

    SEE ALSO: Dylan Farrow slams stars supporting Time's Up, but working with Woody Allen

    Even in the throes of Hollywood's reckoning, Woody Allen has not faced the same swift and total condemnation that men like Harvey Weinstein have.

    His latest film, Wonder Wheel, hit theaters in December, and he's already wrapped his next movie, A Rainy Day in New York, for release in 2018. On the Wonder Wheel press tour, star Kate Winslet praised the director's "extraordinary" female roles, garnering side-eyes(opens in a new tab) from some of her colleagues.

    Contrast that to the consequences faced by Harvey Weinstein, who was fired from The Weinstein Company and booted from the Academy and other organizations; Kevin Spacey, who was dropped from House of Cards and replaced in All the Money in the World; or Louis C.K., whose I Love You, Daddy was shelved and whose projects were scrapped.

    Meanwhile, Dylan Farrow, Allen's alleged victim, has been determined not to let him off the hook. She's called out the hypocrisy of stars like Justin Timberlake (Wonder Wheel) and Blake Lively (Café Society) who profess to stand with Time's Up, yet seem to see no problem collaborating with an abuser like Allen.

    "The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades," Farrow wrote in December. "It works for Woody Allen still."

    But that may be changing, finally, in no small part thanks to Farrow's tireless efforts. Below is a list of all the actors who've previously worked with Allen, but have since denounced him or donated their salaries from his movies.

    1. Griffin Newman

    In a Twitter thread(opens in a new tab) dated October 14, Griffin Newman voiced his deep regret at working with Allen, writing, "I learned conclusively that I cannot put my career over my morals again." Newman has what he describes as a "one-scene role" in Allen's next release, A Rainy Day in New York.

    2. Ellen Page

    In a November 10 Facebook post(opens in a new tab) about Brett Ratner and other sexual predators in Hollywood, Ellen Page wrote that starring in Allen's To Rome With Love was "the biggest regret of my career."

    3. David Krumholtz

    On January 5, David Krumholtz tweeted(opens in a new tab) that working on Allen's Wonder Wheel "one of my most heartbreaking mistakes." He later clarified to Indiewire(opens in a new tab) that he had also donated his salary from the project to Time's Up.

    4. Greta Gerwig

    Greta Gerwig, who starred in To Rome With Love, addressed her work with Allen during a January 9 interview with The New York Times(opens in a new tab):

    If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film. I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again. Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.

    5. Mira Sorvino

    Mira Sorvino published an open letter(opens in a new tab) to Dylan Farrow on January 10, in which she apologized for starring in Allen's Mighty Aphrodite:

    I confess that at the time I worked for Woody Allen I was a naive young actress. I swallowed the media’s portrayal of your abuse allegations against your father as an outgrowth of a twisted custody battle between Mia Farrow and him, and did not look further into the situation, for which I am terribly sorry. For this I also owe an apology to Mia.

    6. Rebecca Hall

    The day after the Weinstein accusation broke in full force I was shooting a day of work on Woody Allen’s latest movie in New York. I couldn’t have imagined somewhere stranger to be that day. When asked to do so, some seven months ago, I quickly said yes. He gave me one of my first significant roles in film for which I have always been grateful, it was one day in my hometown - easy. I have, however subsequently realized there is nothing easy about any of this. In the weeks following I have thought very deeply about this decision, and remain conflicted and saddened. After reading and re-reading Dylan Farrow’s statements of a few days ago and going back and reading the older ones - I see, not only how complicated this matter is, but that my actions have made another woman feel silenced and dismissed. That is not something that sits easily with me in the current or indeed any moment, and I am profoundly sorry. I regret this decision and wouldn’t make the same one today. It’s a small gesture and not one intended as close to compensation but I’ve donated my wage to @timesup. I’ve also signed up, will continue to donate, and look forward to working with and being part of this positive movement towards change not just in Hollywood but hopefully everywhere. #timesup(opens in a new tab)

    A post shared by Rebecca Hall(opens in a new tab) (@rebeccahall) on

    Rebecca Hall, who reunited with Allen on A Rainy Day in New York after working with him in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, issued a statement via Instagram(opens in a new tab) on January 12. In it, she apologized and announced that she had donated her wages to Time's Up.

    7. Timothée Chalamet


    A post shared by Timothée Chalamet (@tchalamet)(opens in a new tab) on

    Another A Rainy Day in New York star, Timothée Chalamet, wrote on Instagram on January 15 that while "contractual obligations" prevented him from speaking freely about his decision to work with Allen, he planned to donate his entire salary to charity. "I don't want to profit from my work on this film," he wrote.

    8. Rachel Brosnahan

    Rachel Brosnahan told The Hollywood Reporter(opens in a new tab)'s Awards Chatter podcast on January 17 that she has "struggled" with her decision to appear in Allen's Amazon series Crisis in Six Scenes:

    Honestly, it's the decision that I have made in my life that is the most inconsistent with everything I stand for and believe in, both publicly and privately. And while I can't take it back, it's important to me, moving forward, to make decisions that better reflect the things that I value and my worldview."

    9. Colin Firth

    Colin Firth made his stance clear in the fewest words yet, telling The Guardian simply: "I wouldn't work with him again."

    10. Marion Cotillard

    Marion Cotillard, who starred in Midnight in Paris, told The Hollywood Reporter(opens in a new tab) that she probably wouldn't work with Allen again – albeit for a slightly different reason than some of the other actors named above:

    I'm very ignorant of what he did or he didn't do, I just see people suffering and it's terrible. I have to say today, yeah, if he were to ask me again - I don't think it would ever happen because the experience we had together was very odd. I admire some of his work but we had no connection on set.

    But I have to say if he asked me to today I would question more, I would dig more. I don't know, I'm very ignorant about this story and I just see that it hurts to see people suffering.

    11. Chloë Sevigny

    “I have my own turmoil that I’m grappling with over that decision,” Chloë Sevigny told Variety(opens in a new tab) of working on Allen’s Melinda and Melinda. “Would I work with him again? Probably not.”

    12. Hayley Atwell

    Hayley Atwell called working with Allen on Cassandra’s Dream a “bizarre” experience, adding(opens in a new tab):

    I didn’t know back then what I know now. Would I work with him now? No. And I stand in solidarity with his daughter and offer an apology to her if my contribution to his work has caused her suffering or made her feel dismissed in any way. It’s exciting that I can say this now and I’m not going to be blacklisted.

    13. Peter Sarsgaard

    Blue Jasmine star Peter Sarsgaard said "no" when asked if he'd star in another Allen movie. However, he added, "I would continue to watch Woody Allen movies."

    14. Michael Caine

    Michael Caine, who won an Oscar in 1987 for his work in Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, made his stance clear in an interview with The Guardian(opens in a new tab):

    I am so stunned. I’m a patron of the NSPCC [National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children] and have very strong views about paedophilia. I can’t come to terms with it, because I loved Woody and had a wonderful time with him. I even introduced him to Mia [Farrow]. I don’t regret working with him, which I did in complete innocence; but I wouldn’t work with him again, no.

    No comment (yet)

    Major stars who have yet to comment on their work with Woody Allen include Justin Timberlake, Emma Stone, Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, Larry David, Selena Gomez, Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Jude Law, Meryl Streep, Steve Carell, Kristen Stewart, Colin Farrell, Blake Lively, Cate Blanchett, Rachel McAdams, and Hugh Jackman.

    Mashable will continue to update this list as more actors presumably come forward about this.

  • 10,000 flames lit at the Tower of London mark 100 years since WWI

    10,000 flames lit at the Tower of London mark 100 years since WWI


    This year marks 100 years since the end of World War I.

    700,000 British soldiers lost their lives(opens in a new tab) in the war, which was fought from 1914 to 1918. The fallen soldiers are being commemorated at The Tower of London in the British capital with a pretty spectacular light show.

    SEE ALSO: War and Peace: 10 Photos Commemorating 100 Years Since WWI

    10,000 individual flames are being lit every night around the 950-year-old castle in central London. The flames will be lit from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night until Armistice day on November 11th -- the day marking the truce signed in 1918.

    The installation, located in the old moat of the fortress, is entitled "Beyond the Deepening Shadow."

    Credit: In Pictures via Getty Images


    The installation was designed by artist Tom Piper, who previously worked on the 2014 installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" -- a project which involved 800,000 ceramic flowers being spread throughout the moat surrounding The Tower of London.

    As commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War, an installation at the Tower of London, called Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers fills the moat with thousands of individual flames: a public act of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the Great War, on 4th November 2018 in London, United Kingdom. The tribute will run for eight nights, leading up to and including Armistice Day. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images) Credit: In Pictures via Getty Images

    The title of this year's installation derives from a war sonnet by poet Mary Borden, which reads:

    "They do not know that in this shadowed place/ It is your light they see upon my face."

    As commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War, an installation at the Tower of London, called Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers fills the moat with thousands of individual flames: a public act of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the Great War, on 4th November 2018 in London, United Kingdom. The tribute will run for eight nights, leading up to and including Armistice Day. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images) Credit: In Pictures via Getty Images


    The torches will be lit for the last time on November 11th.

  • The rose is sweeping TikTok, but the viral sex toy is kind of sketchy

    The rose is sweeping TikTok, but the viral sex toy is kind of sketchy

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


    A suction toy is sweeping TikTok thanks to a series of user reviews praising it as the holy grail of sex toys, but its questionable manufacturing may make it unsafe to use on delicate body parts.

    Known as the "rose toy," this rechargeable floret has TikTok users obsessed. Viral reviews on the video app can do more for product sales than any traditional advertisement. From butt-lifting leggings to "magic" cleaning products, TikTok has an unparalleled ability to market products solely based on user reviews. Sex toys are no exception.

    One reviewer claimed that they broke up with their partner(Opens in a new tab) after purchasing the toy. Another joked that she would consult her rose toy before considering another relationship(Opens in a new tab). In a glowing review that now has 1.3 million views(Opens in a new tab), TikTok user _queenk_95 said the toy's suction was so powerful, it brought her to an orgasm before she could find a video to masturbate to.

    "This lil heifer right here didn't even give me a chance to find a video," she gushed. "Before she hit the Spongebob tongue twirl on me! It took me 30 seconds."

    TikTok is obsessed with this clit sucker, but is it safe? Credit: tiktok / og_priscilaz
    TikTok is obsessed with this toy, but is it safe? Credit: tiktok / _queenk_95

    Not everyone is as dazzled by the rose toy, however. Some users complain that it took too long for delivery, that it's too loud or stopped charging, or that it isn't as precise or as powerful as reviewers claimed it was. TikTok user Jayy.llinn, who made a viral video expressing her disappointment(Opens in a new tab), said the toy "just wasn't all that." Still, it has developed such a cult following that others insisted she was either using it wrong or that she was too desensitized for it to work.

    The difficulty of knowing what's actually in your rose toy

    The toy is wildly popular — the tag #rosetoy and #rosetoyreview have 45.9 million views and 13.1 million views respectively — but it isn't manufactured by a single brand or wellness company.

    Instead, people are purchasing the toy from dropshippers, who buy products wholesale directly from the supplier and then sell them at a profit from online storefronts, like Shopify and Amazon, without actually handling the merchandise themselves. Dropshipping is often thought of as a get-rich-quick scheme; once the customer purchases the item from the seller, it is shipped by a third party directly from the supplier to the buyer. The dropshippers, as Vice explains, are just "middlemen making the profit(Opens in a new tab)" — they don't deal with the overhead costs of a traditional online storefront. A brick-and-mortar store, on the other hand, can only sell what it stocks.

    Dropshipping can be incredibly lucrative and usually poses little risk to the consumer aside from long wait times, since suppliers are often based in China, and perhaps wasting money on a cheaply made product. A dropshipper can buy coveted leggings with pockets at a wholesale cost of $10 per piece, for example, and then sell it on Amazon or Shopify for $50.

    Prices for the rose toy vary. One Amazon seller lists the toy for $18.49 with a nearly month-long delivery window(Opens in a new tab). Another lists it for $49.99 with Prime delivery(Opens in a new tab). Boutique sellers advertising their online stores on TikTok also list the toy for a range of prices: BareVixen(Opens in a new tab) sells it for $35.99, The Kinky Florist(Opens in a new tab) sells it for a flat $50, and The LV Rose(Opens in a new tab) sells it for $56.

    These toys are often dropshipped. Credit: amazon

    The wholesale platforms AliExpress and Alibaba, meanwhile, sell the toy from roughly $8 to $24 per piece, depending on how many you buy. Alibaba lists the toy for roughly $12 per piece, with a minimum of five per order.

    It's important to steer clear of unsafe sex toy materials

    Dropshipping itself is not harmful. But buying dropshipped sex toys can be problematic when consumers have no idea what these toys are made of.

    The rose toy is the latest dropshipping fad. Credit: aliexpress

    Some listings state the toys are "medical grade silicone." In the United States, products can only qualify as "medical grade"(Opens in a new tab) if they've been tested by the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Medical grade silicone" products include menstrual cups and breast implants. But that qualifier is arbitrary when it comes to sex toys, since the FDA doesn't oversee them.

    The sex toy industry as a whole is largely unregulated in the United States, which is alarming considering the potential side effects from exposing your most sensitive parts to toxic materials. At best, this means consumers may be getting ripped off. At worst, the toys they're putting on or in their body can leech chemicals. While plastic water bottles are now BPA-free(Opens in a new tab) and the beauty industry is pushing against parabens(Opens in a new tab), the sex toy market remains rife with questionable manufacturing practices.

    Some higher-end brands like Dame(Opens in a new tab) get around this by directly sourcing silicone from medical suppliers that have passed the FDA's testing, whereas international brands like Lelo(Opens in a new tab) and We-Vibe(Opens in a new tab) both boast compliance with the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).

    A safe toy has two qualities: it's non-porous, so it can be thoroughly cleaned and won't harbor bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and it's inert, which means it's chemically non-reactive and won't change over time. An unstable silicone toy, for example, can cause irritation and infection if it reacts to skin or mucosal tissues. As the sex and wellness brand Dame noted in a blog post about safe sex toys(Opens in a new tab), nothing is truly inert except certain gasses, but the "medical grade" establishes a standard of inertness that ensures it's safer to use.

    Toy users should also steer clear of "jelly" products, which use cheap rubber to achieve a soft, gummy texture, because they're usually porous and not chemically stable. PVC is also a questionable toy material since manufacturers have to add a plasticizer, a compound that makes an otherwise hard material more malleable.

    Until recently, most PVC toys were softened using phthalates, which are now known as endocrine disruptors. Studies have linked phthalates to irregular fetal development(Opens in a new tab), early-onset puberty(Opens in a new tab), lower sperm counts(Opens in a new tab), and impaired liver function(Opens in a new tab). Amanda Morgan, a professor at the University of Nevada's School of Public Health, wrote her master's thesis on toxic sex toys. She told Glamour(Opens in a new tab) that phthalates "can really mess you up because they pretend to be your hormones, so your body's hormonal cycle gets knocked out of what from exposure to these things."

    Unfortunately buying sex toys isn't as clear cut as avoiding one material and endorsing another.

    Unfortunately buying sex toys isn't as clear cut as avoiding one material and endorsing another. Even silicone toys can be unsafe. The material is expensive, so some manufacturers may mix it with additives. Pure silicone toys should feel silky to the touch — which is why it is such a popular alternative to body-safe ABS plastic(Opens in a new tab) — but like sex toy blog Dangerous Lily wrote in 2013, manufacturers won't disclose if their products are actually a silicone blend(Opens in a new tab).

    On one hand, openly discussing and endorsing the rose toy on such a massive platform is a real step forward in destigmatizing sex toys and pleasure for people with clitorises. On the other, it's perpetuating an unchecked and unsafe industry by directly supporting it.

    All is not lost, though. Buying toys from reputable brands takes out most of the guesswork in determining safety. Traditional manufacturers depend on selling safe and effective products that satisfy customers, but dropshippers do not. Dropshipping is a grind, but it doesn't depend on name recognition as much as traditional brands do. In 2015, Mashable wrote that dropshipping "pretty much runs itself."

    If you really want to try a good clit-sucker, there are plenty on the market from reputable brands. The Womanizer Liberty is known for its waterproof properties, which makes it a joy for the shower or bath. Dame's Aer makes finding the right "seal" less clumsy thanks to its shape. And the Satisfyer Pro 2 is a cult favorite for those trying to orgasm on a budget, selling for just $50.

    Buying sex toys from international dropshippers may seem appealing because of the low cost, but there are still a number of high-quality, affordable toys out there for climax hopefuls. It's not worth risking the negative side effects of toxic materials just for an orgasm when other toys will get you there just as effectively and more safely. Plus, you won't have to wait upwards of a month for delivery.

    Related Video: 5 ways to safely clean your sex toys