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Making Pleasure a Priority - Sex Toys in Your Convenience Stores--An Editorial

By HERWriter
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While growing up, how were you taught to view sexual activity? In the hopes of preventing children from engaging in “risky” behaviors, many of us were taught that sex is dirty, inappropriate, and/or taboo. I feel that this negative attitude only encourages uninformed risk-taking, causes young people to feel ashamed of their natural desires and leads to generally repressed, unhealthy relationships both with ourselves and others. However, there are clear signs that in recent years, this mind set has begun to change.

The concept of having a “sex positive” attitude was first coined in the 1960s, and is defined as a view of “human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation” (Gabosch). It is a counter-belief to the more traditional “sex-negative” attitude I described above that “sex is seen as a destructive force except when it is redeemed by the saving grace of procreation, and sexual pleasure is seen as sinful” (Rubin). Sex-positive thinking advocates the holistic sexual education that is so desperately needed by teenagers at this time and represents a much more free, equal and empowering outlook on sex and relationships.

Now, I know you probably think I am getting a little too “hippy-dippy”, but I promise you, if the idea of a more sex-positive culture is on my mind, it is because the movement has made a resurgence in mainstream society. Still skeptical? Read on.

CVS is your run-of-the mill corner drugstore. It carries necessary every-day products like Band-Aids, Gas-X, magazines, peanut butter and toilet paper. And in the “family planning” section, alongside the condoms, it also sells several types of vibrators – simply to serve your sexual desires. If that isn’t an indication that we as a collective society are becoming more open to the natural tendencies of sexuality and the health benefits of pleasure, I don’t know what is. CVS is making sex toys easily accessible to populations who might otherwise never consider enhancing their bedroom experiences. They are more affordable than in most sex stores, have simple directions and diagrams, and can be added to your weekly grocery shopping list – no stigma attached!

Investigate the sex-positive mainstream consumer convenience store near you, and report back on what you find (and how it feels!)! Let’s pave the way to a healthier attitude towards sex and sexuality, one toy at a time.


1. Gabosch, Allena (2008-02-26). "A Sex Positive Renaissance". Retrieved 2011-02-15. http://www.sexpositiveculture.org/blog/zblogentry.2008-02-26.0976756799.
2. Rubin, Gayle (1984). Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality. In Carole S. Vance (Ed.), Pleasure and Danger: exploring female sexuality, pp. 267–319. Boston (Routledge & Kegan Paul). ISBN 0-7100-9974-6
3. http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/catalog/shop_sub_category.jsp?itemId=cat20001&filterBy=&navCount=2&navAction=push

Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment5 Comments

Great article!

As a woman and as the owner of www.boutiquedamour.com I agree it's long past time to have sex toys, sexuality, and pleasure come 'out of the closet'!! Sex is healthy, natural, and enjoyable and the 'taboo' associated with it where women are concerned is the unnatural part.

The selling of vibrators in your local CVS or WalMart brings with it some concerns though. The adult toy industry has been working hard to erase the stereotyping associated with it. More and more 'boutique' type stores are opening both on and off line in an effort to give women the comfort, freedom and enjoyable shopping experience that buying a new toy should give. Many women find purchasing a new sex toy to be an erotic experience itself, and I can easily see this 'bonus' to buying a toy being a non-existent feature if purchasing at your local department store.

20 years ago when I was buying my first toy I would definitely have appreciated the ability to walk into my local pharmacy as opposed to walking into the adult stores of the 80's where it was full of men, items for men, neon, and garishly dressed shopkeepers who eyed everyone coming in the door as potential deviants and had no clue about the items they were selling. But today? I would much rather walk into one of the boutique type stores staffed with women who know their products and want to make every aspect of your shopping experience fun and pleasurable, or online in the comfort of my home where I can browse each item and research it if I choose to before buying. You won't get this from your local CVS. In fact, while sales of vibrators will probably rise with this new addition due to more impulse buys, I'm not so sure it will bring toys or sex 'out of the closet'. Women who purchase at a department store will likely hide their item in their baskets, under the toilet paper, and hope that the person behind the counter ringing in their purchase isn't a 16 year old boy. There won't be anything enjoyable or erotic about that buying experience.

Sex toys from your local convenience store is definitely a 'sex positive' step for women, but I think we're a long way from giving women what they want in their shopping experience. Easy access is not always the best way to move forward.

June 21, 2011 - 6:04am
HERWriter (reply to Roslyn Barbulescu)

Thank you so much for your comment, Roslyn!

You make an excellent point about the manner in which CVS sells these vibrators - definitely nothing erotic about it! And I certainly agree that I wouldn't trade the experience of purchasing my first vibrator in the comfort of a woman-run sex education boutique for anything! Still - there is something to be said for the larger target market that CVS vibrators will enjoy. Women who might never before have considered purchasing a sex toy will now see them on the shelf - a part of normal cosmetic necessities! Even if this doesn't inspire them to make a "personal massage" purchase right away, it may at least inspire them to consider their options more seriously and prompt further self-investigation. This seems like the major benefit of the easy access factor to me.

While I am absolutely a supporter of local businesses and avoid large, corporate-run establishments whenever possible, the fact is - sometimes cheap and mass-produced is the only way to reach an entire community. I think of it in similar terms to food. While I would love to buy all my produce straight from a local farmer that I know well, this is not at reality for me and is certainly not a reality for my low-income peers. CVS vibrators are the equivalent of 7-11 canned foods and cookies. But at least they are available to those who need them!

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! I really appreciate your perspective.


June 21, 2011 - 6:58am

I will definitely check out the nearest CVS and see what they carry. The hard part will be paying for it at the register. I think I'd rather continue to get mine by mail in very discreet packaging. :)

Great Article!

June 20, 2011 - 6:29pm
HERWriter (reply to Vonnie Kennedy)

Thanks for your comment! Perhaps you can test your own sex-positive attitude by making it "normal" to purchase your vibrators along with your sunblock... I hope you enjoy the easy access toys!


June 20, 2011 - 6:42pm
EmpowHER Guest

Sex Toys in convenience stores? Definitely a nice commentary on our ever evolving society, but I think I'd rather be able to get my chocolate bar at our local sex-positive store www.trinityromance.com

June 20, 2011 - 3:00pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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