What Does Sex Positivity Have To Do With Shopping?
The first time I bought a sex toy was in my college dorm room by the glow of my computer monitor, and somehow, even that intimidated me.
The site I shopped at was splashed with images of naked women whose bodies looked nothing like my own posed in ways that screamed "I'm amazing in bed!!"
I was a virgin with body-confidence issues who had never had an orgasm.
I went looking for a vibrator to help with the overwhelming feeling that sex was something that belonged to other people, sexier people, and this site just ended up reinforcing that feeling.
I grabbed the cheapest toy (all the while worrying that this site was going to sell my credit card number - it was a dodgy place!) I could find and got the heck out of there…
Guest post by Redhead Bedhead
This scenario would be played out repeatedly over the next decade. Whether on websites on in dingy shops, the notions that shopping for anything sex-related involved exposing myself to things I wasn’t comfortable with and couldn’t relate to, and thus should be done as quickly and discreetly as possible informed all of my sex shopping.
So, what happened? I bought several products that didn’t work for me and in the absence of any guidance assumed that the problem was me and I was “broken”. The shopping, never very much fun to begin with, became fraught as I blindly searched for solutions to my “problem”. Finally, I realized that the problem didn’t lie with me, but rather with the places I was choosing to shop.
Simply selling sex-related items does not make a business sex-positive. Many websites and shops that purport to cater to the sexual needs of consumers seem to actually have very little regard for those needs. How so? By stocking low-quality items, not educating consumers at all, and creating an environment that is not welcoming and inclusive these business send the message that the only part of you the care about is your wallet.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Retail can be - and in many cases (like the site you are on right now!) is - sex-positive. Business can make the choice to carry high-quality, body safe products, to provide accurate information and to create a welcoming, inclusive environment. When adult businesses do this, shopping for sex toys is about more than covertly acquiring vibrators and lube (like I used to) - it's a path to exploring, expanding, and embracing sexuality.
Sex positivity takes shopping and makes it a chance for folks to feel comfortable and safe enough to ask questions. Which can, in turn, empower people to explore their sexuality and that can change lives - That's the power of sex-positive retail!
This past spring I embarked on the first leg of The Superhero Sex Shop Tour, a tour of North America’s best brick and mortar sex shops. The mission of the tour started out as one of consumer education - let people know these shops exist so that they can find places they are comfortable exploring their sexuality. The tour has since grown to include retailer education as well. Lots of shops want to do it right - they want to be superheroes! They just don't know how. I think we're changing that.
As consumers the best thing that we can do is stay informed, patronize sex positive businesses and don’t settle for less. Right now, by shopping at Lovehoney.com you’re already helping make the world a bit more sex positive! Want to do more? Consider telling the tale of your introduction to adult retail as part of my “My First Time” project. The project is part of the fundraising campaign for the Superhero Sex Shop Tour which hits the road again this September.
About Redhead Bedhead
Redhead Bedhead is on a mission to prove that through constant learning, perpetual experimentation, fearless collaboration, non-stop dialogue and frequent wise-assery we can save the world from mediocre sex - and have a damn good time doing it.
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