Today I visited a sex store. The purpose was to purchase some edible lubricant (I leave it to the reader to imagine what possible uses this could have!). As I made my way to the store, which is located in one of the older (read rundown) shopping centres along Orchard Road, I thought to myself, "why are sex stores always located in the seediest of malls, and almost always tucked away in a dark corner as if to hide their existence, much like a twenties speakeasy but without the cool factor?" The stores themselves are consistent with their facades - small, dark, and cramped, with all manner of dildos, vibrators, condoms, blindfolds, handcuffs, lingerie, kinky costumes, sex-themed games, oils, scents, and of course the lube I was in search of, stacked high and haphazardly around the store. The location and suffocating interior of these stores seem to be designed to make shoppers want to spend as little time on their purchase as possible.
I found my lube and bought a weekender kit comprised of oils, pleasure balm, and honey dust (what?). I watched as the store clerk placed my purchases into an unbranded, borderline ugly, opaque plastic bag with blue flowers - it would be impossible to know what I had purchased or from where, probably to save me and others like me the “embarrassment” of carrying around such sex-related products. I’m no stranger to purchasing these products, whether for self-use or as presents for the occasional bachelorette party, and yet every time I make a purchase I feel dirty and guilty as if I was doing something wrong. I’m always amazed that sex toys and the like are still such a taboo even now in our increasingly liberal environment.
As I left the store my eyes wandered over to the recently opened Victoria’s Secret store across the street in Mandarin Gallery and I took in its risqué window displays and items from the Very Sexy collection on show right at the main entrance, and then looked at the steady flow of women (and men!) moving in and out of the store, anticipation in the faces of the former and the delight in the latter as they clutched the pretty and classy pink and black bags that held their new acquisitions and the envy of passersby as they glanced at the happy buyers. I remembered the first time I walked into this store - there was a massive queue of women and their partners waiting to plunder the store’s veritable treasure trove of sexy bras, lacy undies, barely-any-material thongs and lingerie that left almost nothing to the imagination. Why is it that Victoria’s Secret and other lingerie stores are accepted so widely and openly when there is no secret (pun intended) why women purchase lingerie?
Sex toys and lingerie are a very similar concept and as such should have an equal non-taboo status. Both are meant to enhance any sexual experience - to heighten the senses and increase the pleasures of sex. The use of a vibrator during couple sex, for example, can greatly increase the probability of both partners achieving orgasm at the same time which in turn makes for a fulfilling sexual experience for both.
Sometimes women buy lingerie just for themselves - to feel pretty or sexy on days when you just don’t feel sexy or when there is no one to be sexy with. Nothing wrong with that, and I’m sure Victoria’s Secret sales to single women the world over would support this view. In the same thread there is absolutely nothing wrong with vibrators and other self-pleasuring toys - they are simply meant to help women achieve orgasm in the absence of a partner. It’s a natural phenomenon for men to masturbate but all they need is their right (or left) hand, maybe a magazine or a video. The female anatomy is not as straightforward (another pun) and tools are required to make the experience convenient and more pleasurable.
Of course there is the view that the reason sex toys are taboo is because sex is in many cultures a clandestine and sometimes forbidden act - one reserved for couples in committed relationships and/or purely for reproductive purposes. If that is really the case, then stores like Victoria’s Secret, La Perla, Agent Provocateur, etc. shouldn’t be doing so well around the world.
But it’s a tall ask to change the way sex itself is viewed and it will take more than a blog post to do that. So I will concentrate instead on the message that sex toys and sex-enhancing products are not taboo - they are but means to make sex (with self or partner) even more pleasurable and fun, and there is no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed about wanting to achieve that.
Let’s face it - we all want great sex. Not good sex - I’m talking about mind-blowing can’t-feel-my-legs sex. And if there are products designed to help us achieve that, why should these be hidden, looked upon with disdain, and purveyors and consumers of such products labeled immodest and even ostracised? Instead, sex toys should be welcomed, sold in stores in prime locations with bright and spacious interiors that will make you want to stay on for much more than 5 minutes, and come in pretty packaging that would elicit the same envy as a bag from Victoria’s Secret.
If I haven’t managed to convince you that sex toys are not taboo - try purchasing one (start with something small like a massage candle or a feather or a non-penis shaped vibrator), and you'll see what I mean!