These sex-positive shops offer a refuge for marginalized people
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Jan 8, 2020
When I was growing up in the early aughts, my hometown’s sex shop had a reputation as a seedy establishment from which customers emerged, purchases in an opaque black plastic bag, casting furtive glances. Now, a new generation of these stores has emerged, and they’ve evolved into more than nondescript buildings where you can buy toys in secret. These sex-positive shops not only sell products that enhance people's sexual experiences, but empower their communities and provide spaces where LGBTQ individuals, people of color, and those who live at the intersections of these identities feel safe.
Here, they can forget the political climate, at least for a moment, and “not only buy product but have an entire encounter around sexuality.” Engaging with the products might prompt them to talk about their sexual pleasure, for instance, which could segue into a fantasy they hadn’t felt comfortable voicing before.
These LGBTQ-, POC-inclusive businesses are home-grown, grassroots operations, launched in response to unmet needs unique to their communities.
To be fair, progressive, feminist-owned sex shops like Good Vibrations and Eve’s Garden have existed since the 1970s, Comella tells Mic. They, too, saw vibrators as tools of liberation that could help women learn what they liked, allowing them to enjoy greater sexual fulfillment. But their offerings, and therefore their clientele, mirrored the primarily white, cis, hetero, middle-aged women who founded them.
Also in Notes
One woman just came in, and she was like, ‘I thought this COVID stuff was going to be over by now—I just need to take care of my own self.’
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