Ciao From Stephanie Curtis – Adultsmart Sexologist!

I have loved my time working at the Oh Zone stores and helping so many people with their intimate lives.  One of the things I most enjoyed was tapping the keyboards and  hoping to share some useful information with the adultsmart community in my articles and stories.  For now I am off to take on sexology as my full-time profession so the articles will no longer be as frequent and the time I enjoyed meeting everyone face to face in the stores has come to an end.  This here is my final article whilst working in an adult shop.

For all those that have visited me in store, ciao, it has been a pleasure.  For everyone on adultsmart I will still publish the odd article.  But for now, farewell my life, living and love provide you with the best they can!!!!

 

What working at an adult store has taught me:

 

I cannot believe it has been two whole years that I have worked in the Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres! If you had asked me 10 years ago, it certainly wasn’t a job I could have imagined I would be doing yet I am so grateful I took a chance and did something so different. As I prepare to move onto my own work as a Certified Sexologist & Intimacy Coach, I thought I would offer some of the things I will be taking away from this job which will benefit me in so many ways throughout my life

 

Communicating about sex

Talking about anything related to sexuality is such a difficult thing for so many people. We live in such a sex-centric world yet as a culture are challenged by frank, honest discussions around sexuality. Coming into this job, I knew I was a sex positive person yet didn’t realise the challenges I would face opening up to strangers very quickly about such an intimate area of their lives. Working at Oh Zone has given me incredible experience in being able to talk about sex, pleasure and genitals in a very matter of fact way.

 

Making people comfortable talking about sex

Similar to the above, working at Oh Zone has given me great experience in getting others to open up about sex. I have learnt to take note of body language and other cues to say or do the thing that will make the customer feel at ease opening up to me. I have found that finding comfort within myself puts people at ease as well as outwardly naming the elephant in the room (i.e. the discomfort around talking about sex) which breaks the ice for most people.

 

Communicating boundaries

As with anywhere in life, you will always encounter people that try to cross boundaries. There are some people that make assumptions about me based on the fact that I work in an adult store so I have had to get really clear with what is and isn’t ok. I have been explicitly asked what my personal sexual preferences are and have had countless people overshare about their own sex life which to many people doesn’t sound so bad but you wouldn’t ask the woman working at Harvey Norman what she’s into so why should it be any different for me? I get that few people have a space where they can open up to about sex & in the right context an adult store is just that but I cannot stress CONTEXT enough. I am grateful that 99% of people that have crossed some kind of boundary are apologetic when I communicate that it is not appropriate so it really has been a good lesson in communicating clearly and in a way that doesn’t shame the person because they usually just don’t know.  

 

Knowledge of Sex Toys

For those around me, I am now the official go to person for sex toy knowledge! Prior to working here, I was only aware of the very basic products such as vibrators and cock rings, thinking that sex toys were all about having an orgasm. I now know that there exist so many products out there that can be used by all kinds of people from all walks of life. From penis pumps for post-operative prostate surgery recovery to Kegel trainers to prevent vaginal prolapse, products in an adult store are about so much more than pleasure (There’s plenty of that too, don’t worry!!).

 

Awareness of the extent of sexual shame (and penis shame)

I have met countless people coming into the Oh Zone store and if there’s only thing that is extremely noticeable is how much shame we as a culture carry when it comes to sex. This plays out in so many ways, from young guys laughing and making crude jokes to mask their discomfort to people who won’t even make eye contact with me when entering the store. I also hear way too many jokes about penis size and male sex toys which is a whole other story of shaming!!  I have been in a great position to question some of these reactions at times and unburden people of the shame of sex and visiting an adult store. 

 

Happy Oh Zone Customers

For many people, working in an adult store carries with it a myriad of ideas of what it is all about as well as judgements of the sex industry. I have felt really lucky to have an insight into this work as it really is much deeper and fulfilling than an average retail job. The satisfaction you receive from seeing the effects of people opening up to you about such an intimate area of their lives compares with nothing else for me.

Ask A Sexologist – Dr. Stacy!

Ask Advice

As always we are honored that Dr. Stacy, Clinical Sexologist has kindly contributed her professional services for our adultsmart blog readers.  Below she has answered questions from Christian from Bankstown Sydney and Ruth from Richmond New South Wales.

Read more of Dr Stacy’s advice!

Ruth:

My relationship with my husband has gone cold.  There is little intimacy and our bedroom is all but dead.  Our kids are now older and our discussions regularly turn into arguments.  I have seen a counselor but when I suggested he see one or we see one together he says we don’t need too.  How do I get him to see that things are not that good and we need help?

 

I am sorry to hear things are not so good on the home front and it’s unfortunate that you don’t seem to have a partner that understands the urgency of the situation.  I try to tell people that if you have a partner asking for help or to get help, it is usually a dire situation that can go downhill fast if not taken care of. If your partner isn’t willing to do anything for the marriage and you have expressed concern and desire to seek help, there isn’t much you can do other than work on personal growth and start weighing your options of what you want for your future, to stay and do nothing or go.  I would ask him why he doesn’t feel that you need to see a counselor, what scares him about going, what does he think is going to happen if  you go as well as what could be the worst and best scenario if he did decide to go.  If he still says he doesn’t want to go then try to have a conversation with him and ask him if he is happy with the way the relationship is and if he says no, see what his suggestions are to work on things.  Maybe if he sees you are open to listening to him, he will make some suggestions that could be helpful.

What about getting away together for a weekend where it is just the two of you and you have an opportunity to connect and talk?  Are you having any intimacy?  Sex?  If not, ask him if he wants to improve that, see if he thinks that could be better.  If so, you need to try to work on things together to make it happen.  There are many people that don’t believe in therapy or counseling and for some people it doesn’t work because many times they have waited too long and there is no turning back. Sometimes it makes a huge impact and saves a marriage but also, people may be afraid that by going to therapy they may eventually have to make a decision on their future and it is scary so people would rather just ignore and not go.  Find out what his fears are and then find out what his future goals are and if he wants you to be a part of it, he needs to tend to your fears and goals to make the marriage work.

 

Working Relationships
Romantic Getaway

 

Christian:

I come from a large immediate and extended family but to my knowledge not one of them is LGBTQ nor do any of them hang out or have friends that are gay or queer.  I am 21 and know in myself that I am homosexual but have not come out.  It is like a big, dirty secret that hangs over my head as I feel that my family will not accept me if I do come out.  A couple of times I have gone out by myself to some gay bar I know about but as soon as anyone approached me I felt revulsion about the whole gay thing and rushed home. It is overwhelming and sometimes I feel incredibly sad and frustrated. What should I do?

 

It is a completely normal to feel confusion, frustration and potential revulsion because it is something that is still taboo in society and can make you question who you are and what you believe.  Since you aren’t accepting of yourself, you see the disgust that others may see in your own eyes but that isn’t reality.  Loving someone for who they are is a beautiful thing once accepting that within yourself. In order to be comfortable coming out to others you need to first be comfortable in yourself and the understanding that you are perfect the way you are and that there is nothing wrong with being gay.  You are attracted to whom you are attracted to and that is nothing that you can change.

 

What makes you think they wouldn’t be accepting of you?  Do they not believe in the LGBT population? Have they said things offensive? Are you close to at least one of your parents that you can have a talk with? What about another trusted adult or maybe a therapist near you that can help? I do Skype calls for people that aren’t local and I would be happy to help you get the confidence you need to be who you are, as that is one of my specialties so let me know if you want to make an appointment.  In the meantime, surround yourself with others that are gay, support groups, maybe a local place that has resources.  That way you aren’t in an environment where it may be more “sexual” such as a club so you can get to the point of acceptance and self love and then be able to move forward.  You need to have support and you shouldn’t have to lie to get it so maybe slowly breach the subject to your family by bringing up someone else in the media to gauge what they think about the LGBT population and go from there.  I am here of you wanted to make an appointment for extra support.  You shouldn’t have to go through this alone.

Gay Issues
Gay Loneliness

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