by James Lefebure
Recently This Morning ran a segment regarding sex toys. The reason for this was to highlight that the Good Housekeeping Institute has recently done a review of 27 vibrators and letting their readers know how they’ve scored. This is a bit of a shock for a lot of people as Good Housekeeping is more known for trying out kitchen appliances. This begs the question – has the taboo of sex toys finally disappeared?
I think the short answer is not yet – but we’re definitely getting closer.
If you watched the section, while it was light-hearted, Phil and Holly could barely contain their giggles, which I feel undermined the point they were trying to make. By giggling and not treating it with a slightly more serious tone, they added to the stigma. Sex is something to laugh at. Sex toys are funny. You can view the video here.
I’ve worked in the adult industry for 9 years now, I’ve sold thousands of vibrators over the years and while the general subject can be worth a giggle for the majority of people, handing over your cash for something that is nonreturnable can be a difficult decision. I think that Good Housekeeping doing a review of 27 of the more common place vibrators is a great way of showing how they are keeping up with the times and that they aren’t embarrassed about the subject matter. The reviews are straight to the point and give the reader all the information they would want if they were considering buying this product. I really liked the no-nonsense approach they seem to have taken. The fact that they are choosing to do this is also a brilliant idea, a lot of people who would use this website might never even think of going to an adult store, they might never even think about getting a sex toy, but now that they can see the reviews, they can read a short blurb about them and then if it sticks they might even buy it; this is not the audience that the likes of Ann Summers or even ourselves would normally reach. We’re adult shops – a lot of people instantly think of seedy and scary places. (We’re really not, I promise!) however – it’s on the good housekeeping website!
I read a secondary article where they discussed that people now thought you were odd if you DIDN’T own a sex toy. I didn’t really agree with what the article was saying, I’ve served people who are in their late 60’s and only just getting their first sex toy. This doesn’t make them odd to me – they are just another customer. As with anything else – if you don’t want to do it – then you shouldn’t do it! This applies to sex toys just as much as real life situations. Sure over the last 10 years we’ve had massive leaps in the visibility of sex toys – Sex and The City brought us The Rabbit. Eastenders Pat and Roy brought the idea of Viagra into the home. Fifty Shades of Grey brought us bondage. Lars and the Real Girl brought us sex dolls. None of these were viewed as odd, similarly no-one was viewed as odd if they suddenly expressed an interest in the aforementioned toys. Why is this? Because they were culturally relevant; now this doesn’t mean you should all run out and buy a vibrator, but if you are interested – the stigma seems to be lifting.
I find this in my own life as well – away from work all my friends know what I do, they all know where I work but very few ever want to talk about sex toys. Sure we’ll talk about sex, we’ll talk about a lot of the stuff that groups of friends will talk about, but when I first started working in Nice ‘n’ Naughty, the majority of them would just giggle when we spoke about my job. Not a single person asked me for advice or to come in the shop. Then 50 Shades happened. I suddenly became the great sage of my friends and they ALL wanted to talk about it. Why? Because everyone else was.
As I’m sure you can imagine, ITV had a lot of complaints about the segment. I had a look over the Facebook comments on their official page and there were of people saying “disgusting” or “not appropriate”. Obviously I would disagree about this – they were talking about a world I’ve lived in for 9 years, but if you take a step back – it’s the prime audience. It’s hitting the people who are stay at home parents. People who might not normally think about sex toys – suddenly they’re able to think about it and when they next meet their friends can actually talk about it. They have a REASON to bring it into the discussion. Why? Because for a few days after it aired – everyone was talking about it. I could barely log onto twitter or Facebook without seeing someone mentioning it, sharing the video or generally having a giggle about it. But at least people were talking.
If my years working in the stores have taught me anything, it’s this: People want to talk about sex. Not all talk about sex has to sexual. Not all talk about sex is dirty. Sometimes it’s just to get an opinion, sometimes to it get something off your chest but whatever the reason – talking about sex and what you want is never a bad thing and I applaud both ITV and Good Housekeeping for opening the doors to a healthy adult discussion on these matters!