Expressions: An Adult Boutique isn’t even slated to open until next month and is already causing quite a stir. A moratorium against adult stores in Troy, NY expired earlier this year, and this Adult Boutique geared toward women appears to be the first business taking advantage of it. It’s likely that any adult boutique might cause something of a stir, but a sex shop of the standard flavor, Amazing.net, has been nestled under a bridge for years and no one really bats an eyelash. The proprietor of Expressions, Angela Weller, has described other adult boutiques geared toward men (read: every adult boutique that doesn’t advertise that it’s geared toward women) as kind of creepy.
A male neighbor has expressed his disapproval, saying that he thinks it’ll “attract an unwanted crowd.” Who would that unwanted crowd be? Well, based on Weller’s plan for the shop, that would be women who are in touch with and have agency over their sexuality. I wish I could say that this being an undesirable element is surprising, but that women aren’t supposed to be sexual except when submitting to male desires or performing for the male gaze is firmly rooted in the sexism of our culture. To really drive this point home, an individual commenting on a news article about Weller’s store took issue with her appearance, based on a small photo of her and a friend stocking the store, indicating that the women were too large to have enjoyable sexual experiences and that being an individual with less body mass and benefitting from the use of sex toys is mutually exclusive. This is painful, blatant sexist bullshit. Women of all types can find sexual pleasure by themselves, or with a partner with whom they have a mutual attraction. Women of all types may find they enjoy or do not enjoy using sex toys. Further, this piece of shit had the audacity to request Weller hire “pretty chics [sic]” to work in the store. Apparently, this person missed the “geared towards women” memo. We are constantly sold products and services by images of photoshopped women who fit the photoshopped standard of beauty, and it has a really detrimental effect on women’s confidence and body image as a whole. We do not need to be sold sex toys by women that other men will find desirable; we need to be sold sex toys by women who are knowledgeable about the product and are deft at making us feel comfortable to be shopping for such things.
Weller has not stated that the boutique will be carrying sex toys specifically, saying that there would be books, outfits, accessories, and items. One can only hope that the “items” refers to a large selection of high quality sex toys, a la the woman friendly, woman owned sex shop Babeland. A well lit, video booth-free sex-positive adult boutique that seeks to make women feel comfortable is going to attract the sort of people, the sort of women that make for a strong community, unless your idea of a strong community is one where women only exist for your service and pleasure.