It is never ever too late to learn more about sex! We as educators in the adult industry should advocate for this in our daily lives. Whether that is by speaking to customers in-store, sharing on social media or talking to our children, family and friends. The more we talk about sexual health and wellness, the less taboo it becomes. I choose to not hide where I work or what I do for a living, I take a more open approach and try to cultivate why our careers are valid and needed. I am incredibly open about being sex-positive in my personal life and on my social media accounts; the way I see it is if I educate one person or help one person find pleasure it is all worth it to me.
Most people are in fact having sex or want to, but yet some people have never considered a sex toy or solo sex. Consider why this is, and when you got your first sex toy. When was the first time you masturbated or even heard the word “orgasm?” Did your parents openly talk to you about pleasure, masturbation or your anatomy? In addition to the sex talk at home (or lack thereof), think back to health class in school. This is a big part as to why this industry is so important. I would argue that every community needs a local adult store — if I could have it my way, then that would be the case.
Sex education in schools needs to be revamped. In addition to doing away with abstinence-based sex-ed, which is severely outdated and potentially harmful, sex education should also include LGBTQ individuals and relationships.
Sex education should be pleasure-focused and we should teach proper anatomy and terms. I personally learned more from Ducky DooLittle’s anatomy pictures than I ever did in school. I would also go a step further and say that we should teach our children about gender identity and sexual orientation. Sex education often assumes students are all heterosexual and identify as a man or woman, which is simply not the case.
If none of this can be taught in school or by your parents or guardians, where are we to learn it from? This is another reason why adult stores are so important and why our careers matter!
So, what does it mean to be sex-positive? I think most would agree that that it entails accepting all consensual expressions of sexuality, nudity and kink as healthy. It encourages sexual pleasure, informed consent and advocates sex education. Sex is not shameful, taboo or unhealthy in any way. I believe at Excitement and in this industry, we have taken long strides to change with the times and be more inclusive.
This is where we as educators play a vital role in getting the proper information out in our communities. Being in the adult industry for almost 12 years, I have noticed more people coming into our stores for the first time, and reaching out to me online with questions. If you remember back to the ‘80s or ‘90s, you may recall adult stores being dirty or dark, and going into rental stores that hid adult movies and mags behind curtains. Most toys back then took batteries and were made of jelly-like material. We have come a long way and will continue to evolve as we move forward. The customers coming in for toys are asking questions and we can provide not only the answers they are looking for, but also a safe space to feel welcomed and accepted. They are not just purchasing any random toy and leaving. They are interested in the material, how it will function and feel for their bodies. We are the sex educators that they never had in school; we can change people’s lives. That — and understanding my own sexuality and journey — is why I do what I do.
An estimated 5.6 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer according to a recent poll by Gallup, and we need to be able to service all these consumers. So how is this affecting our industry and products? I, for one, am seeing a huge trend in shoppers seeking out more toys that are gender non-specific and that are versatile in their functions. To begin, you need to have products in your stores that represent this — meaning we should refrain from gendering toys. Also, we should not assume someone’s gender, their sexual orientation or their relationship status. We should use gender-neutral packaging, signs and wording to match so that we are being inclusive to everyone. Be sure to use proper terminology to not exclude anyone, because in reality, a specific product can be universal to more than one gender. For example, in the industry and in our stores, we have begun saying “vagina owner” or “penis owner” instead of female or male. One of my biggest pet peeves as a lesbian is that I do not want to purchase a product that has a picture of a male-and-female couple on the box, it just does not line up with who I am or what I am looking for. We need to be able to demonstrate to others that we are in fact inclusive. I love seeing companies in the industry using same-sex partners, all body types and all skin tones more than ever before.
Many manufacturers have done an amazing job at being inclusive and many more are redoing their packaging and taking this into consideration for new product and marketing releases. The CalExotics Boundless line is one example of gender-neutral packaging that works, and I am in love with it. Le-Wand, b-Vibe, Nu Sensuelle, NS Novelties and Sportsheets have all done an impressive job of being gender-neutral and inclusive with their packaging and marketing.
We are among the few industries that have been booming during the pandemic, leaving us at an advantage. We should take this time and invest in our future and keep focusing on evolving and striving to be more and more inclusive.