Are You Struggling With Sex And Shame? Let’s Chat

Working in an adult store, I am grateful to have met people from all walks of life. From 18 year olds to 80 year olds, I have engaged in conversations with people who have a range of beliefs and values in regards to sexuality and sexual expression. Some people are really open to discussing all things sex related with me, others cannot even make eye contact with me the entire time they are in the store. I see many people who feel embarrassed simply by being in the store and despite my own comfortability with sex, I empathise with them because it hasn’t always been this way for me.

My Insights Of Sex And Shame Working In An Adult Store

Shame around sex is widespread in our society, with many misperceptions of what kind of people would visit an adult store. The most loathed question I get asked when people know I work in an adult store is “Do you get lots of weirdoes coming in?” It is funny that this is often asked by people who are coming into the store themselves! Often, I feel like asking “Does the fact that you’re in here make you a weirdo?” but I refrain as I do not wish to offend others. I see this question as a perfect opportunity to educate people and destigmatise the sex industry. A study completed by asexual expert Anthony F Bogaert in 2004 estimated that approximately 1% of the world’s population is asexual (i.e. has no desire for sex). This means that 99% of human beings in the world are in one way or another, sexual beings. I understand that many people have ideas about what kind of people would buy sex toys but the truth of the matter is, the desire for sex is not reserved for a small group of “weirdoes”- almost everyone likes sex and exploring its possibilities using sex toys is enjoyable for countless people!

How Crucial The Need To Normalise Sex Is

Working in this environment is not just about selling sex toys like many people would think. My role involves getting people to feel comfortable discussing a very intimate area of their lives so that I can help them in the most effective way possible. This can be challenging at times, especially when people are so engrained with the belief that sex is dirty or wrong. Having people open up to me about sex requires me to feel extremely comfortable with my own sexuality otherwise it is an awkward conversation for all involved. I feel that this is where some parents go wrong when talking to their kids about sex. They wonder why their children or teenagers cringe when they bring up the topic when they themselves are cringing inside when talking about it to them. Talking about sex to anyone in a personal or professional context requires a great level of comfort in your own sexuality.

Couple kissing in bed
Image: Couple Kissing

As well as customers coming in buying sex toys and sexual health products to assist them to have a pleasurable experience, I have many people coming into the Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres who have been referred by doctors and specialists. Penis pumps and cock rings are often recommended to men post-prostate surgery, menopausal women who have issues lubricating naturally frequently require personal lubricant when having sex and women with weak pelvic floor muscles benefit from using Kegel exercisers which we sell in store (In my opinion, every single woman should be using them-just saying!!). This group of people can be the most terrified, with many of them never imagining the possibility of entering an adult store until their doctor recommended them to. I really love that I have an opportunity to demystify adult stores for them and often see them coming back curious to expand this new-found world.

Gender of staff is something I have found interesting to notice customer’s reactions to. I get many women coming into an Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centre telling me how relieved they are that there is a woman behind the counter. On the flip side, I have had some men express their discomfort talking to me about sex because of fear of saying something inappropriate because I am a woman. We are often taught to only discuss sex amongst people of the same gender which I believe is limiting the potential of amazing conversations with others. My male friends offer me a unique perspective of sex that comes from the fact that they are men and for that I am so grateful to be able to talk to them about it. All the men and women who work in the Oh Zone Adult Lifetsyle Centres are super friendly, non-judgemental and more than willing to assist anyone of any gender, age or sexual orientation in finding products that suit their unique needs. It can be a really confidence boosting experience talking frankly about sex with someone of the opposite gender when we have been discouraged from doing so in the past hence why I encourage you to push your comfort zone and try it one day.

Sex toy shopping and shame
Image: Shame And Sex

At times, I feel sad and disheartened that in this day and age sex is still a somewhat shameful aspect of the human experience. However, with so many beautiful, healing, pleasurable and exciting possibilities existing in our sex lives, I relish the fact that I get to work in an area that encourages freedom, acceptance and openness with our sexuality. For me, nothing compares to the feeling of seeing people light up when given the opportunity to be transparent about such an intimate part of their lives.

Author: Stephanie Curtis- BA Nursing

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Meet the newest member to our team of experts. Stephanie Curtis is a sexologist with a huge capacity to care. Involved in spirituality and tantra her articles are professional, articulate and interesting. Enjoy Steph’s writings at the adultsmart sexual wellness and health blog.

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