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    A GUIDE TO SMALL-TOWN, FEMINIST-FRIENDLY SEX SHOPS

    THESE DAYS, THERE are vibrating cock rings for sale at your local drugstore and vibes abound on Amazon, but if you prefer a more intimate and guided experience, small boutique shops should be your first stop. Unfortunately, not everyone can just pop into 
Babeland or Good Vibrations on their lunch break. What should you do if you want to support independent, female-owned, brick-and-mortar shops, but you live in a small town? Well, you’d be surprised what you can find—and we’re here to help. Here are seven feminist-forward, sex-positive shops in places you might not expect. 

    The O!zone: Boise, Idaho
    1615 S Broadway Ave, Boise, ID 83706
    In addition to offering a wide variety of high-quality condoms at her store, founder Caryn Thompson works with cancer treatment clinics in Boise to provide special products, resources, and information for women being treated for cancer, especially those who are no longer producing estrogen or vaginal lubricant after breast cancer treatment. “We’re a conservative state,” Thompson explains. “There are a lot of people who never bought anything for their own intimacy until they were in pain. Pain finally got their attention.”

    Thornes of Concord: Concord, New Hampshire
    140 N Main St, Concord, NH 03301
    Thornes is too small to host workshops, but the staff works hard to educate customers as they browse. “When we hire here, we are looking for people who are nonjudgmental and open-minded,” store manager Cristie Williams says. Thornes also carries many organic, phthalate-free, and medical-grade products.

    Blue Boutique: Ogden, Utah
    3365 Washington Blvd, Ogden, UT 84401
    Founded by a husband-and-wife team, Blue Boutique has four locations and offers body piercing at the Ogden store. They have a robust Instagram presence that will give you a sense of what the store is like IRL, including the luxury toys they currently have in stock.

    Intimates Boutique: 
Naples, Florida
    2083 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples, FL 34109
    Intimates Boutique, founded by Lorene Sizemore in 1983, is a family affair; she left the store to her son and daughter-in-law Tim and Ally Sizemore, who now share ownership with employee Sonia Williams. Over time, Intimates ditched magazines and DVDs in favor of a more welcoming experience that focuses on female pleasure and health.

    Groove: Gilbert, Arizona
    1044 North Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234
    Phoenix-area residents have their pick of not one but two local Groove shops at their fingertips. The husband-and-wife-owned stores sell a wide range of books on everything from rope play to female ejaculation, an eye-opening variety of toys that go beyond basic vibrators (e-stim, anyone?), fetish gear, and more.

    Suit Your Fancy: 
Kalispell, Montana
    280 Second Ave, Kalispell, MT 59901
    Amy Jaeger, who opened Suit Your Fancy in 1997, says Montana “is conservative, so we have been very careful in the way we present ourselves. We focus on women and couples.” Staff members teach customers about new products when they come in, and they carry unique jewelry made by Jaeger’s silversmith husband.

    Sultry Adult Boutique: 
Huntsville, Alabama
    11531 Memorial Pkwy SW, Huntsville, AL 35803
    Tiara Trudeau-Gullotta opened Sultry Adult Boutique to bring sexual health education and products to Huntsville. The shop’s standout offering is Sultry Sunday, a private, guided experience that can be tailored to a customer’s needs. Shoppers can get one-on-one advice about which supplies to buy and how to use them, lingerie fittings, consultations on BDSM, post-menopausal intimacy guidance, and other tutorials with wellness coaches.

    Story by Cecilia Nowell
    Illustrated by Sofie Birkin

     

    This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • vulvafruit 634f6

    The word clitoris derives from the Greek word kleitoris which means “little hill”. For two millennia, we have thought that our most sensitive organ, which has no other purpose than to make us feel good, bears resemblance to a little hill. This, my friends, is depressing. Our clitoris is so much more than a little hill. Let me tell you how to find your clitoris, your whole clitoris.

    Cygnet is two and a half. I don’t remember when he first found his penis, but it feels like a long time ago. I doubt he was even a year old. Cygnet and his willy are now very good friends. “Mummy, my willy is standing up” Cygnet will say. “What are you doing to your willy?” I ask. “I’m poking it” comes the response.

    Brilliant!

    Boys are lucky. Their sexual organ is a dangly toy to be discovered and played with from a very young age. Our girls are not so lucky. Us women have to explore, research, read and venture. The focus of sex education at school is on how to avoid having a baby, the male orgasm is key. It’s all about ejaculation.

    The clitoris is a mystery. The clitoris is a new land, uncharted territory. However well acquainted you are with your clitoris, I guarantee there are facts here that you never knew. Here’s how to find your clitoris.

    The clitoris is not required for reproduction. Yes, I know, you knew that! In fact it’s sole purpose is to make a woman feel good. The clitoris contains approximately 8000 sensory nerve fibres – that’s twice as many as a penis. Cool huh? So, why is it that the penis gets all the attention? The clitoris should be the star of the show, but instead she is hiding in the shadows.

    Textbooks, professional medical guides, the internet, magazines, sex education in schools (that’s if the clitoris is even mentioned) wrongly assert that the clitoris is the size of “a fingertip”, “a pea”. The plethora of misinformation is mind blowing. Science has been woefully inadequate when it comes to mapping the clitoris.

    In 1998, yes 1998!, just nineteen years ago, the urologist Dr Helen O’Connell used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to discover the clitoris. She discovered that the majority of the clitoris is actually within the pelvis. It is far more internal than external and consists of two shafts or legs up to ten centimetres long and two glans. The clitoris looks more like a “wishbone” than a “pea’. I borrowed Cygnet’s felt-tip pens and I drew you a diagram:

    clit e0c7a

    The most brilliant thing about the clitoris is that the super-sensitive magic button on the outside triggers the entire clitoris which stretches up and inside. The glans of the clitoris wrap around the vagina. When aroused they swell and grip the vaginal wall.

    In 2009, yes 2009!, eight years ago, the world’s first 3D sonography of a stimulated clitoris showed how the erectile tissue of the clitoris engorges the vagina. The so called vaginal orgasm is in fact an internal clitoral orgasm. I drew you another picture:

    clit2 9d1b0

    Now I don’t know about you, but I am disappointed that I have never heard of Dr. Helen O’Connell before. Through Dr. O’Connell’s work, science is gaining a new perspective and a more accurate understanding of the anatomy of the clitoris, but more importantly, through Dr O’Connell’s work, us women are getting the chance to have a better sex life.

    How on earth are we supposed to gain real pleasure from something that we don’t even know that we have, or that we don’t know to her full extent? How on earth are our sexual partners supposed to know?

    Dr Helen O’Connell should be an international heroine. Her head should be on bank notes. Instead, she has this little visited website, which, and I don’t mean to insult her (she is after all my new-found heroine) looks somewhat amateur. If ever there were a reminder of the phallocentric world that we live in, it is the fact that the discovery of the entire clitoris has passed unnoticed.

    Go forth ladies, go and find your clitoris, your whole clitoris.

     

    This piece originally appeared on The Single Swan and is reprinted here with permission.

     

    Top photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

     

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