Why are condoms OK but pleasure products are not?
Ok. So, before you read on, this is an opinion piece, designed to start a conversation and some thoughts around the topic. It is super controversial, and I am acutely aware as I write it that many people will have different opinions. Great. Let me know what they are. I just want to understand more and put my thoughts out there so we can start talking more.
As I walked through the supermarket the other day, right in the aisle that had Panadol, toothpaste, even baby accessories at the end of the aisle, I realised something I hadn’t taken note of before. There in the middle of the aisle were condoms and lubricant. Now its not that I hadn’t seen this before; it’s in the context of what I am about to share with you that surprised me.
I had just that week been told that I was not “rated as highly” as some other women-led startups for a local market. I was also told that even though a major website was stocking my brand, that you could not generically look for the brand on their site. You had to follow a specific set of links to find it so that you couldn’t “accidently” see a pleasure product. I was also told that another major store would not stock the brand because it was about sex. So then, while I am digesting all of these barriers , that there in front of my eyes and my kids and almost every human being, were condoms and lube. And in the petrol station, same thing, even in the newsagent, pornographic magazines (although more hidden today). So here is my controversial question, is our issue as a society that we don’t want sex in our face, or is it pleasure, and more importantly women’s pleasure that is the issue?
Now please don’t get me wrong. Condoms are super important, and I would never advocate for them to be removed. We need them for preventing the spread of STIs, STDs and contraception. It is crucial for sexual health. My question is why are pleasure products held to a different standard? Is it the idea that we need something other than another person’s anatomy? Is it that we don’t want to discuss that 70% of women require external stimulation to orgasm? Or are orgasms just unimportant? Why does one set of assistants (lubricant and pornographic magazines) make it into mainstream, but pleasure products cannot?
Shouldn’t we all be advocating and teaching our children about pleasure. And encouraging them to explore their bodies? And highlighting that maybe penetrative sex may not on its own be what we need to achieve an orgasm. And that there are so many more ways to enjoy sex both alone and with a partner. Shouldn’t we set them up for success in educating them about their bodies?
I have always said that one of my main drivers in creating this brand was that I wanted my girls to grow up in a world where women’s pleasure is as socially acceptable as a man buying condoms. Woollies is selling condoms, so I ask you to consider; Why is there a difference? And what can we do differently in this world to change it.
I know for me; I am going to continue advocating for this change. I will continue to approach as many outlets as I can to start the conversation around supporting women’s pleasure and reducing the stigma associated with toys. It begins with the letters like what I wrote back when the council wouldn’t have my brand at the markets, to continuing to work with companies about increasing access to products. With every small step we help reduce the stigma and that means hopefully that dream will one day come true.