If an Instagram-chic, internet-only adult store is your jam, go for it. But feminist and LGBTQ-friendly brick-and-mortar stores offer inclusive education and community support you can’t always find elsewhere.
For the past five years, I’ve rubbed sex toys against my body (or a partner’s body) to review them for various websites. During that time, I’ve observed shifts in how sex is marketed—some of them, positive; others, not my cup of tea.
Tango, an online sex brand, recently claimed in an email that it’s “a new kind of sex company that is changing the way you shop for, ask for, and experience pleasure,” catering to “everybody and every body” and elaborating that “ everybody means all genders, all orientations, all genitalia.” Their product: The Tango butt plug, a basic black butt plug identical to Doc Johnson’s The Mood Naughty.
A Tango representative said Doc Johnson was their “production and industrial design partner” working with Tango “to innovate products within their existing molds.” It’s not uncommon for brands to provide their products to other companies to be rebranded and resold for higher prices. But Doc Johnson’s product already came in gender-neutral packaging. The only thing Tango was doing that was “new” was appealing to Instagram-friendly aesthetics in clean, minimal photos of hands holding a sex toy I already own. (It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for so long, I forgot I even had it.)
Many online sex shops have information about sexual health and pleasure available, usually on a blog or in the occasional wordy Instagram post, but feminist sex shops have done the hard work of creating safe enviroments where people can come in, ask questions, and feel more engaged with others. (If anyone wants a fun history lesson, check out Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed The Business Of Pleasure by Lynn Comella.)