Monday, October 15, 2012

Google Policies Surprisingly Anti-Sex

Hello everyone, I'm Desmond. I work here with Agreeable Agony as the web designer and editor for the blog. I tend to keep to the shadows, but occasionally feel the urge to speak my mind on sex-positive issues, and wouldn't you know it, there seems to be this mighty-fine blog right here.

I'm sure there are funny stories behind every website. Ours involves a race against the clock, starting the night before a big convention, with the intent of having a working site up before vendors opened the next day. I'd like to think I leveled up that day in html and css. I had a working site up and running, able to accept sales, before 5pm. It wasn't pretty, but it was up, and we've been expanding, and improving on it since.

We're about to go through another serious renovation, one that we'd liked to have put off somewhat longer. In the long hours of the night, I jumped headfirst into Google Checkout, which seemed the best way to get rolling. Google provides the services that make Agreeable Agony possible, notably our email and this very blog. I thought that sticking with the company we'd worked so well with seemed like a good chance. I double checked their content policies, (more on that later) and decided that for the time being, we were within them.

We received an email in the past week, from the Google Wallet team, telling us that due to violations of their Content Policies, they would be shutting off our checkout system if we didn't stop selling the offending items in question. I specify, because they claimed in their email that if we removed the buttons from the specific items that were against policy, they would allow us to continue doing business.

What their email didn't contain was a list of which items they deemed unacceptable.

The non-automated portion of the email we received read the following:

Unacceptable product category: Adult Goods & Services
Please note that sale of Fetish sites or sites that promote ‘play wear’, ‘latex wear’, Sexual aids and device and All sex toys are not allowed through Google Wallet.
Below that, there were some helpful links to their content policies page, which I'll get to in a moment. They describe the sale of Fetish sites, as in web sites or physical locations, perhaps? We certainly don't sell websites. The reference play wear and latex wear, of which we have neither.

They come closest when they reference sexual aids and device[sic], but while much of what we sell is meant to be used in bondage scenes, none of it is inherently sexual. That is to say, the satisfaction in BDSM and similar alternative activities can be based in romantic or non-sexual fantasy as easily as it can be sexualized.

I don't see anything we sell as being a sex toy, and I should know, I used to sell sex toys. We sell devices for use in a highly sense-oriented role play, and what incredible sexual experiences our customers get into with them are purely the creativity of our customers. We encourage creativity.

We encourage creativity, and we try to provide helpful safety information to let that creativity happen (as it inevitably will anyway) safely, and with the best tools available.

So for posting information about safe sex with our products, we have been labelled dealers in "Adult Goods & Services" This is a sort of funny thing to label us, if only for Google's helpful Content Policies (I didn't forget.) They can be read here, but the important definition is as follows:

Adult Goods and Services:
Pornography and other sexually suggestive materials (including literature, imagery and other media); escort or prostitution services
From the very page they linked me to, it would appear that Google only explicitly bans the sale of pornographic media and prostitution services. So now we're pornographers, or maybe pimps, I'm not really sure, it's apparently been a busy day holding all these jobs.

In any case, we at AgAg are rather put out by Google's sudden disinterest in taking a small amount of our money in exchange for letting us sell things on the internet. Not that we wanted to stay with Google forever. I said earlier that I believed we were in bounds for the time being. In the future I'd hoped to switch to a more open source cart manager, effectively to get away from aggressive ToS.

Seems that Google decided to let the shoe drop first, and gave us a 5-day ultimatum. I'll be working hard to try to get something up and running that will work, but we may be unable to accept some sales for a period of time. I'm sorry to anyone inconvenienced by this.

In the meantime, I'm disappointed in Google for their attack on our small community. We've emailed them to appeal their decision, in the hopes to buy us a little time to make the transition. At this point, they have lost our business, small though it is. Even if they sorted everything out right for us, this has shaken our company's trust in the policies of Google.

It is to mend that lack of trust that we believe that Google should amend their policies to explicitly allow sex-positive shops to vend with their system. Until this happens, I urge all online shops to migrate away from Google Checkout, or at least have a backup ready, in case they decide to pull the plug on your site.

Update: We have officially had our ability to make sales cut off. We ask that any customers who know what they're interested in to send us an email, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can keep doing business while we get this sorted out. Sorry to everyone for the inconvenience, I'm working on shoehorning a new cart in without breaking everything in the process.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Hi! I'm the newest contributor here at Agreeable Agony. I've been writing a series of short erotic pieces recently, and I was asked to share them on this blog. I'll be probably be putting up other pieces in weeks to come, but I thought I would start with one that is particularly relevant to the Agreeable Agony wares.

Author's Note: Please see the bottom of the page if you would like to know what triggers this piece might contain before reading it. If you notice something else in the piece that seems like a common trigger that I have not marked, please leave a comment to let me know. I would like the sharing of my work to be as safe as I can make it for my readers.

There’s something fragile and lovely about the anticipation of the moment. She lies stretched across the bed, limbs spread. The air is cool, but not uncomfortable, and she feels it brush over her skin, eddies of his movement around the room. The cuffs are wrapped around her wrists and ankles, a comforting solid presence, and an anchor. They don’t mainly serve to keep her in place physically - though she can’t move in them, she’d be doing her best to stay still in any circumstance - but they keep her there mentally.

She steadies her breathing, trying to stay as still and relaxed as possible.  The candles glow and sparkle in the even, low light of the room, drawing her attention. They sit neatly arranged, a palette. She lies prone, a canvas. She tries to guess what he will start with, whether he has planned it in advance or will be making decisions as the piece progresses. She tries not to think at all. Does a canvas wonder what stroke of the brush will come next?

She spends a moment feeling silly for coming over poetical about the situation, and that starts to break up the mental quietude she’s been settling into. She tenses and shifts, feeling the cuffs pull at her limbs. Lying spread eagle leaves her open in a way that bleeds into her mental state, and she tries to relax back into it.

He must have seen her fidgeting, because he’s leaning over her, checking her wrists and ankles, running his hands down her arms. “Everything okay, pet?” He asks, and she smiles replying “Yes, sir.”

“Good. You look beautiful like this, and we haven’t even started yet.” If she had been vertical, she would have cast her eyes downward at that, struggling to accept the compliment. Now, she turns her head slightly to the side, but he catches her jaw and turns her head back to look at him. “I’m serious. You are beautiful.” He raises his eyebrows, waiting for her to contradict him. He knows she doesn’t agree with him, doesn’t really see what he sees or believe in her own power or strength. But she tamps the instinct to argue down, and simply says “Thank you, sir.” He smacks her cheek lightly. “Good girl.”

He runs his hand down from where he’d left it on her cheek, over her neck, and down over her breast and stomach. The touch is smooth and proprietary, stopping briefly to pluck at a nipple or circle her belly button. He slides his hand down to cup her sex. She’s shaven smooth for tonight, and it’s the first time that she’s done so for him. His touch feels different on the sensitive skin. He pulls his hand back and slaps her bare pussy, suddenly, and she jerks her hips up towards him with her limited motion.

He steps away from her for a moment, and returns holding a blindfold, and a small ball. The ball, he slips into her hand, folding his fingers around hers and squeezing once. It squeaks loudly. He nods. “You may make noise, but you may not speak. If you need to stop, or pause, or if there’s any problem with the cuffs, squeeze that.”

He slips the blindfold on her. “After all, only people speak. And right now, you’re not a person. Not my bright, individual, quick, lovely bitch.” He brushes a kiss across her lips, her cheek, her throat, before continuing at a whisper, directly in her ear. “You’re just a thing, an object. A canvas, blank and spread out for my pleasure. For me to touch -” he slides his hand up her inner thigh, “- or hurt -” he digs his nails in sharply and she whimpers slightly, “- however I want. But most importantly, you’re here for me to paint. Because that’s what a canvas is for. That’s its purpose. Don’t you want to fulfil your purpose?”

His touch leaves her for a moment, and she knows he’s picking up one of the candles. She loves him so fiercely in this moment, for the fact that he had the same thoughts that she did, or had seen her having them. That he had brought them out of her mind and into the world, where she couldn’t deny the beauty of the notion, couldn’t pass it off as a silly or stupid fancy of her own brain.

The first drop of wax splashes onto her stomach. She almost flinches, but she holds herself in check, not wanting to make the wax move unintentionally. The heat of the melted parafin sinks into her belly. She lets her earlier quietude uncoil again, spurred by his words and the warm, burning sensation of the wax.

He draws a strip up her sternum in between her breasts. This one is slightly cooler, he must be holding the candle further away. She lets that thought flutter away as soon as it crosses her mind. She’s not a person. Canvasses don’t think. She lets the sensations wash over her as he works, pooling warmth in the hollow of her hip, lines of fire up her ribs, a sudden blaze across a sensitive nipple or her bare sex. She can hear herself moaning, but it seems like it is coming from very far away.

As she breathes, as slowly and evenly as possible, and listens to him work, talking to quietly himself or to nobody (really to her, says the part of her that knows that she is a person, but she lets that part sink back down and away), choosing colors and placements, her mind drifts back to his earlier words. And in the quiet of non-existence, of a canvas becoming whatever masterpiece a painter’s imagination and steady hand can invent, she lets herself believe it. Beautiful.

Trigger warnings: Contains D/s, wax play, restraints, honorifics, face slapping, the terms 'pet', 'girl', and 'bitch' as endearments, blindfolds, objectification