Posted by: Hannah | 07/18/2011

i wanna sex you up

After six years of blogging (wow, six years! I’m old school, yo) I am finally breaking through and blogging about sex toys.

Don’t worry! Only once! Unless, like Thordora, a company offers to send me free product in exchange for reviews, in which case I’ll be all over that, because who doesn’t love free sex toys? WHO?

Here in Halifax we have two newspapers – a long-established daily which is a bit staid and has a tendency to run peculiar human-interest stories on the front page, and a free daily that publishes in most major North American cities. According to its website, it targets YAMs. No, not delicious orange tubers – Youthful Active Metropolitans. Please join me in gagging a little bit right now.

In Halifax we also have a store called Venus Envy. Their website says they’re an award-winning sex shop and bookstore with something for everyone. Anyone who’s turned off by traditional sex shops will find us a welcoming and informative place to get cool and sexy stuff. Since 1998, we’ve worked hard to make the world of erotic books and adult toys accessible and fun. We do this by treating sex with an attitude of fun and respect. We think our customers deserve quality products and good information, and that sex should be dirty in a good way, not a shameful one. So have fun!

It is a great store. I’ve been in there a few times and never felt even slightly uncomfortable. Teenagers love it because it’s a non-judgmental place to get their questions answered. They are very active in the community, awarding bursaries, funding events, and pushing hard for equal rights for all.

They are also a presenting sponsor of Pride Week, happening right now.

As a sponsor, they ran a full-page ad in the Halifax Metro. The ad featured a picture of the Rabbit Habit, a nifty-looking vibrator featured on both Sex and the City and The Oprah Winfrey Show. The vibrator was coloured with rainbow stripes and had a smiley face. The top part of the image was cut off (heh) so really what you saw was a rainbow-striped rubber rabbit with a cheery grin.

A mother of a fifteen year old girl complained, and the ad was pulled. The Metro ad rep actually told Venus Envy that they should consider replacing the image in the ad with “a different sex toy that would be more family friendly”.

*pause for disbelieving laughter and two minutes to try and visualize a family friendly sex toy*

So, the other paper found out about it, and did a story. And got this quote from Sean Williams, one of the parents who runs a website for local families. I’ve never visited it and don’t know what their philosophy is, but this quote cracked me up (and again, in a slightly disbelieving way): I could imagine other parents would have quite a concern, because they have a hard enough time talking about S-E-X without talking about the other things around it.

I’m thinking if you have to spell out the word “sex” while doing an interview with another adult, that perhaps that is indicative of the problem here.

The parent who complained has a fifteen year old daughter. Anyone else feel sorry for her? I know I do. At fifteen, I was sexually active. I had a wonderful boyfriend who I loved very much. I was able to have frank discussions with my mom about sex, and as such I still feel grateful that my introduction to having a sexual relationship was so positive. I was well-informed about the risks and rewards of sex. It was never the Big Scary Thing that it was for some of my friends. It was just a part of life.

If that mother honestly thinks that seeing a picture of a low-key, harmless, smiling sex toy is so inappropriate that she felt the need to complain vociferously enough to have the ad pulled… wow. Either her daughter is the most hopelessly sheltered 15 year old in the city, or she’s living like Bristol Palin and will soon have a teenaged pregnancy and messed-up ideas about sex to contend with.

I also really object to this notion that one person becomes the arbiter of taste for a city of 350,000 simply because she cares enough to complain about it. Does that mean that if 100 people call the same paper and defend the ad, that it will be reinstated? What is the bright line for caving in to public pressure? If the paper originally thought the ad complied with not only the paper’s standards, why does the complaint of one person cause them to reverse their policy?

This morning, the front page story in the Halifax Metro is a play-by-play of Pride Week’s Dykes vs. Divas softball game. Apparently, this is OK – because squeamish parents can avoid discussing why we have Pride Week in the first place and instead focus on the crazy wigs and costumes of the totally non-threatening folks playing. Lesbians? Drag queens? Oh, we don’t talk about that.

We don’t talk about S-E-X, either.




  1. My guess is that the newspaper was concerned about the ad in the first place and figured that one person complaining actually does represent all 350,000 of you. I just had The S-E-X talk with my four-year-old. He asked, I answered, and while factual it didn’t actually involve bunny vibrators – I’ll wait till he’s five for that. 😉

  2. I love this post.

    You are so right.

    That is all.

  3. We have a Venus Envy here in Ottawa. I love it! In fact, it’s where I bought my eldest daughter her first vibrator. (It was a Christmas present, but no, I didn’t put it under the tree for her to open in front of the whole family.)

    I want my children to have satisfying sexual relationships that are fun for both parties. I figure if you don’t know what works for you, how can you tell your partner?

    Parents who want to pretend sex doesn’t exist, and that their children are never going to indulge are only working to ensure that their children never talk to them, and seek other sources of information. They are, in short, putting their children at greater risk of the things they fear.

    About that quote, though: I read it as a tongue-in-cheek reference to squeamish parents, the type who actually would say “S-E-X”. I didn’t think that was an expression of the fellow’s actual feelings. We’d have to check out his site to know for sure.

  4. i am late to this and all i have to say is, i miss Venus Envy. 🙂

  5. My mother is deeply uncomfortable with my heterosexuality. When I was in my twenties, and with my first boyfriend, she still referred to him as “Carol’s good friend” in company.

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