Hey gang! I am about to do something which is probably ill-advised, as a result of my emotional attachment. Much like most of the sex stories I tell on this blog, it begins with me liking someone and descends into me making a giant hash out of everything because sometimes I am led by my heart and not my head. I want to talk to you about a UK dildo-making company called Godemiche.
Who are Godemiche?
They are two people – Adam and Monika. They came to Eroticon a few years ago way back when I was still finding my feet in blogging. They rocked up wearing white lab coats covered in colourful dollops of silicone, and they laid out a rainbow of dildos on a table, in colours and patterns and designs that made my heart hurt a bit with love.
Adam bounced over to me, like an excitable puppy, and gave me a big hug. Monika gave me a big grin and we talked a bit about the kind of dildos they make. At the time they had two in the range (I think) – the ‘Adam’ which was modelled on (you guessed it) Adam’s dick, and the Ambit which is a slimmer, more curved dildo perfect for G-spot play. They’re very into their colour and glitter, and they enjoy a challenge if you ever want a custom one made. In fact, at that Eroticon I asked them if they’d be able to embed a GOTN badge into the base of a dildo, that I could give away in a competition. They were up for the challenge, and when I met them a few months later at the ETO show, Adam was hopping from foot to foot with excitement to show me the cool thing he’d made for me.
What is wrong with Godemiche?
Between then and now, Godemiche have fucked up. Scratch that – Adam has fucked up. What has he done?
- He said that pubic hair was ‘disgusting’ in a video on snapchat. Not fucking cool. Not sex-positive or body-positive, just a trash opinion that belongs in the nearest bin.
- At one point (and my knowledge on this is a little hazy because I missed it, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) he let a friend use his phone, and his friend started using the company Snapchat to solicit pictures from people. Beyond ‘not cool’, this is a royal fuckup of epic proportions, and would usually be enough to make me immediately cut all ties with a company.
On top of these things, he also:
- Modelled the ‘Adam’ dildo is on his dick.
So, for the record, the first two points on this list made me really angry. Other people are rightfully really fucking angry with Adam, and Godemiche as a company. It would be dishonest and shitty of me to either refuse to acknowledge that, or to say that they shouldn’t be.
What’s more, the people who are angry with Adam and Godemiche are people that I have a hell of a lot of respect for. I’ve spoken to lots of sex bloggers in the past about companies who do bad things, and how best to deal with it. As a general rule, our colleagues over in the US are much more proactive at calling companies out publicly than we are in the UK: saying ‘NOPE this is not OK and you do not get to do this.’ Their work is valuable, and more than that it is often immeasurably valuable: there is no way of knowing how many other companies either made similar mistakes that slipped under the radar but who won’t be making those mistakes again, or who were on the cusp of doing something damaging and decided against it because they saw the latest public call-out.
So: calling companies out has value, is important, and I am not here to say that it shouldn’t be done or that it is invalid, bad or wrong. It is valuable. It is useful. It educates companies, and individuals, and effectively raises standards. It says ‘this is OK, but that is not, you must try harder.’ And good companies – the ones that I would like to see surviving in the sex industry – take note, pay attention, and adjust their behaviour accordingly.
So why am I defending Godemiche if they’re such twats?
Good question, I am glad I imagined someone asking it. Here’s the thing: Godemiche is two people. It is Adam and Monika. Adam is – not to put too fine a point on it – sometimes a twat. I wouldn’t actually categorise all of the things above as ‘mistakes’ – I think letting your mate get hold of your phone is a mistake, saying pubic hair is gross is just ‘having a trash opinion.’ You don’t accidentally hold an opinion like that.
So: the first is a mistake, which can be rectified by putting better security on your phone, keeping work + personal stuff separate, etc. And not lending your work phone to mates if your mates are bellends. The second is more than a mistake, and requires some deeper thought: an apology, a commitment to do better, and listening to people like me who are more than happy to explain to Adam at great length how his opinion has been shaped by a shitbag society, and why maybe he is wrong. On top of this, Adam went out of his way to commission writers to talk about what he’d said. He paid people to dissect his own trash opinions, on his own website. Here’s one of those posts. And here’s another.
And finally, to the ‘Adam dildo is modelled on Adam’s dick’ thing – some people are really horrified by this. Personally, I thought it was common knowledge: it’s on their website that the ‘Adam’ is modelled on real genitals, and it’s quite a core part of a lot of the marketing that Godemiche do. It’s not, like, a clone of his dick: if it actually were then he has the most unusually smooth, veinless, straight cock I have ever seen. [Edited this b/c Adam has clarified, because it is even more tenuous than I initially realised] When the site says ‘modelled on real genitals’ it means that he looked at his own in order to get a model that looked more realistic. I assumed lots of other companies used this technique, and the only unique thing about Godemiche is that their owner does a lot of the social media, so you can effectively see the dude whose dick was the original model, and who it is named after. They have always talked very publicly about the fact that this one was based on Adam himself, and I didn’t realise that it was information that would come as a surprise.
However, seeing as it did come as a surprise, then there is more that they can do to communicate that better on the product page, which I am 100% confident they will do once I’ve emailed them to say ‘here’s what you need to change.’ I’ll also be telling them to stop using the word ‘flesh’ when they mean ‘pink’, as someone pointed out on Twitter – to me this is another thing that should be obvious, and it fucks me off. Other UK companies do this too – if you’re reading this take note, and change your fucking product pages. You can do better than this.
You might not think that any of the above is good enough, and fair enough. But I did offer to expand on my Godemiche thoughts if anyone wanted me to, so for the record here goes.
Godemiche supporting writers
For a really long time, I didn’t have adverts on this website. I didn’t really get involved with the sex toy industry. I would look up at people like Cara Sutra and Epiphora and wish with all my heart I could be even one per cent as savvy and involved as they were with companies. Then gradually I started to meet a few companies and branch out into asking them to support my blog, and then I took over running Eroticon (with Molly and Michael, my glamorous and excellent colleagues). And when I started having to talk to companies, I was slapped pretty hard in the face by how little many of them cared about bloggers/the wider writing community.
- There was the company that told me ‘we don’t like bloggers, they’re not useful to us.’
- The company that sent me angry messages because I didn’t reply to their email, even though I had replied to their email twice and heard no response.
- The company that, after wasting at least a day of my time as I went back and forth pitching them, sending them stats, having phone calls as they reeled me in further, eventually told me – and I shit you not – they don’t support bloggers financially.
- Every single company (and there are many) that have spoken to me about paid work/advertising and then eventually flipped and said they don’t have budget/will have to pay me less.
On top of these, there are companies that have done specifically awful things, which press my personal ‘oh fuck NO’ buttons:
- The companies that kiss my arse when they think they’re talking to GOTN, but treat me like so much shit when they just see the name ‘Sarah’ – I reply to Eroticon emails as ‘Sarah’, and it is gobsmacking how differently I get treated by people when they just think I’m admin for a blogger event as opposed to being an ‘influencer’ or whatever shit they think I am here. It feels like it ticks the same boxes as people who are rude to waiting staff or taxi drivers but suck up to those they’re trying to network with. It grosses me out.
- The company rep that at least two other bloggers have warned me to stay away from, because this person has been known to sexually harass people. I’m not naming them here for libel reasons, please do not ask me who they are or try to guess/name them for the same reason. I am ridiculously grateful to the people who warned me, so thank you.
- Every. Company. Ever. Who. Has. Tried. To. Solicit. Unpaid. Work.
There are some good companies in the industry – of course. Doxy, for example. When I first started running ads on my site, I emailed a few companies I liked and said ‘hey, do you want some free ads while I start building up clients? You’re my favourites, and I’d love to give you some free space.’ Doxy took the free ads for, like, a week and then emailed me to say ‘I feel guilty not paying you. You are valuable, please let me pay you.’ And then paid me.
Contrast that with another of the companies I offered this to, whose response was ‘We’ll see how conversions are running then we might pay you.’ Not even ‘thanks for the free promo’, just ‘this will be a useful way to see if you are worthy of any of our £.’ I’m not naming the company here because I do actually like them, and I don’t think they meant to be so abrupt/rude. They are effectively just saying up-front what I know they’ll be doing in secret anyway – it’s sensible to measure before you commit cash. They didn’t do anything wrong, business-wise, and if they’re reading this I still love them and they should email me about that cool idea they had (seriously, please do). I only mention them because their response was in very stark contrast to people like Doxy who support me (and other bloggers) because they recognise we provide more value than just simple conversions. It’s one of many reasons why Doxy is so successful – they don’t just have ‘affiliates’, they have ‘champions.’
I digress, but ‘champions’ is worth sticking with. I ‘champion’ very few companies, and it’s partly because my experience with most of them has been that they care about bloggers/writers only in so far as those bloggers can directly make them money through affiliation or sales. Very few companies go ‘hey, we recognise that what you are doing is valuable even beyond direct sales – you educate, you break down sex stigma, you create things that bring people joy – and we want to support that.’
Godemiche is one of those companies.
Godemiche supporting Eroticon
Last year, when Molly, Michael and I took over Eroticon, we put together our pitching info and went to a bunch of companies with our caps in hand. We said ‘this is an amazing event. We will build this community and we would love for you to come on board.’
Most companies said no. Some ummed and erred then never got back to us. Some said the things in the bullet points above. Godemiche said ‘hell yes’ even though they had no money. They had just ditched their jobs to become dildo makers full-time, and they were so broke that we had to work out a payment plan for them so they could spread the cost. And last year Eroticon covered our costs almost exactly, so it’s no lie to say that without them the event wouldn’t have happened.
But it’s not about the money – personally I make £0 from Godemiche. They haven’t paid me for content, or for writing about their products, and the money they paid to Eroticon just went into funding the event. I don’t make any money from Eroticon, I do it at the moment because it was such a valuable event for me when I started blogging and I want to make sure it continues. But I only added that for completeness, so you know there’s no financial motivation for me here. This year Eroticon could live without Godemiche’s sponsorship. Just as Adam’s twatty comments about pubic hair came out, he and Molly had been talking about sponsorship, but we could realistically live without them this year. We could wash our hands of them, and sigh with relief that no matter what they do in the future we don’t have to be involved.
For the record, we haven’t actually come to a decision on that yet as far as I know – all three of us have been on holiday/having a bit of a rest and we won’t be doing more Eroticon planning properly till next week. Personally I don’t want to drop them. This isn’t a financial decision, or a ‘politeness’ decision where I just can’t bear the idea of telling a company ‘no’ because I’m anxious. It’s because Adam, while he may well be a fuck-up with trash opinions, is a well-meaning guy who has given a lot because he understands the value bloggers bring – that includes the value we bring in educating people about things like body positivity, and so I want to extend him more leeway than I would with any of the companies I mentioned in the bullet points above. He and Monika have never hesitated to put their hands in their pockets to support us. More importantly than this (I think), they are genuinely willing to learn. As – I hope – is shown in the blog posts they commissioned in the wake of the ‘pubic hair is gross’ comments. They’re doing one of the things that I think is genuinely rare – especially in the UK companies I’ve spoken to – they’re listening to us, and changing their behaviour. All the while paying us to do the work that they recognise is valuable.
I don’t expect anyone else to hold the same opinion as me here. What’s more, I’m very aware that if I write this badly, the implication is that anyone who is pissed off with Adam is either ‘wrong’ or being unfair to him: I don’t think that is true. At all. There are legitimate reasons to be angry with Adam. Your opinion on this is valid, and I am not telling you to change it.
Equally I don’t think I can change the way I feel. I have tried, because I have a huge amount of respect for the people who have criticised Godemiche. I can be angry with Adam about the pubic hair comments (and I am), but unless I see any evidence of either a) deliberate malice or b) an unwillingness to take things on board and make improvements, I can’t change the way I feel. Perhaps I am a hypocrite, because if almost any other company in the world had made the statements he’d made, I’d probably just have scrolled past criticism in my timeline, made a mental note never to ask them for sponsorship, then got on with my life.
I hope that I’ve always been ethical in my interactions in this industry: I’ve certainly always tried to be. I’ve turned down money from unethical companies, I’ve called out one or two when I’m not in a super-anxious patch (though this is rare, and I should be better at it, so I apologise for not doing enough – it is always on my radar as an area of personal failure, and I honestly am working at trying to be stronger/less driven by panic and stress), and I hope I’ve always supported other bloggers and writers as much as I can. I don’t expect that you should agree with me because of this, I only mention it because I want to make it clear that this is not an opinion I hold lightly. For me it isn’t a question of whether or not I should drop Godemiche, it’s how I break the news to people who are legitimately angry that, despite their concerns, I can’t turn my back on this company right now. And in the name of full and total honesty, it’s also because I currently have a blog post in draft about how my actual boyfriend ‘strongly prefers’ a shaved cunt, and the ways in which he is not woke but is kind and learning. I see a lot of him in Adam. That will probably affect my judgment here too, so again, bias and emotions are at play, and the only way I feel I can talk about this properly is if I’m up front about the whole lot.
I may well be wrong. I am certainly not going to make a blog series defending Godemiche on every mistake they may ever make – this one is stressful enough, and in doing it I realise I am spending (and possibly losing) respect I may have built up in the industry. But this is my opinion right now: Adam is a well-meaning, excitable puppy… who sometimes pisses on the carpet. I’m willing to spend a bit of my time – though not unlimited time – scrubbing away at that piss-stain, because I like the puppy and think that when he grows into an adult dog, he will be a good and valuable part of the family. I believe that he can be, I hope that he continues to try, and I will be emailing this blog post to him the second it goes live with a list of things I think he needs to do to make it so that I don’t have sleepless nights over this or come to regret my decision to write this post.
As I say, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but I did offer to give a fuller explanation if people wanted one, so here it is.