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Are “sex boutiques” new sex-ed classrooms?


Since the ’60s, the sexual revolution in the United States has progressively shifted how individuals perceive their sex lives. Sex-positivity as a form of sexual liberation is becoming more commonly accepted in the mainstream.

Yet, even in the year of 2023, conversations about personal pleasure are shame-faced, or at least embarrassing, for most.

“It’s the same shame that pushes people to subconsciously hide their face and avoid eye contact when entering a sex store. There is a negative stigma surrounding sex stores and personal pleasure that is often left unspoken,” says Portland State’s University-run newspaper, PSU Vanguard.

The embarrassment of speaking desires out loud has landed the burden on the shoulders of today’s sex stores, many of which have adopted educational and inclusivity-focused store models, or “sex boutiques,” to de-stigmatize the learning process.

Whereas, a sex store’s primary purpose was to retail toys and gag gifts, now, those who call themselves “sex boutiques emphasize education, cleanliness and an inclusive environment”, according to PSU Vanguard.

While some understanding of the science behind pleasure—and how toys can assist in that process—is certainly beneficial, the training for modern sex boutique employees may have less to do with how well you know your erogenous zones than it does how comfortable you can make an anxiously sexual individual. Employees at educationally-based sex boutiques are often tasked with de-stigmatizing the entire adult store shopping experience for the newly-liberated.

According to Women’s Health, “sex shop employees are sharp, open-minded, and ready to help you upgrade your sex life.”

“We offer some items that are seen as being more kink related, like handcuffs and nipple clamps,” says an employee of a sex boutique in Portland called Lovers. “As long as it’s consensual, I don’t think kinks are wrong at all and I think shaming them takes us away from trying to create an inclusive environment.”

Sex boutiques make it their aim to validate all consensual forms of sexual desire and pleasure, and, in addition to selling adult retail, “working to create a more positive atmosphere surrounding the idea of sexual pleasure, kink culture and sex shops as a whole,” according to PSU Vanguard. 

Read the original story here.

Featured image from Wikimedia Creative Commons.