Can’t get enough of those feminist sex shops…

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So I have a confession to make. I have a litte bit of an obsession. With feminist sex shops. I want to work at them, and every time I go to a new city I drag whoever I am with to find the local one. Ever since I discovered Babeland (formerly Toys in Babeland) when I was in college, I have been a huge advocate of these places. They should be paying me for all the promotion I do (but they’re not).
Today I am in Minneapolis/St.Paul and have had the awesome opportunity to visit another feminist sex shop, Smitten Kitten. And boy am I smitten.
For those you who have never visited a feminist sex shop, think fun brightly-lit store, minus sketchy people and plus super knowledgeable (and usually feminist-minded) employees. Think sex-positive. Think products made with women in mind, for a whole spectrum of sexualities and identities. Think packaging without playmate-like models on every toy, and toys that are safe to use and good for our bodies. These places make talking about vibrator choices as unembarassing as picking out a toothbrush.
And speaking of toothbrushes, my personal favorite Smitten Kitten product is the Tingle Tip. (Hint: It’s an attachment to your electric toothbrush that could give dental hygiene a whole new meaning).
Other awesome feminist sex shops:
Babeland (NYC, Seattle and Los Angeles)
Smitten Kitten (Minneapolis, MN)
Good Vibrations (San Fransisco, Berkeley and Boston)
Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!
PS Most of these stores offer online shopping, and deliver their items in amazingly discreet packaging. And they have really fun classes!

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68 Comments

  1. Mina
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    “Can anyone reccomend a site for someone who wants to be REALLY discret? I still live with my parents, and need a way to get toys without them knowing.”
    A Woman’s Touch uses discreet packaging too. I still waited until I moved out of my parents’ place to order because my mom sometimes opens all the mail first and checks who each item is addressed to afterwards, and goes through everyone’s closets (where she hangs stuff has more to do with free space and less to do with whose closet is whose). So, I dunno how to help you with hiding stuff from your parents before you or they move out. :/

  2. Posted February 27, 2008 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Grand Openings has been taken over by Goodvibes. Personally, I think that the quality went down a little immediately after that happened and a bunch more since.
    I’d honestly rather do a day trip to Northampton, or some other place in Mass with a good sex shop, as the only alternatives to Goodvibes in Boston are (shudder) Amazing and Condom World.

  3. tinfoil hattie
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    “sex positive” — a stupid, insulting phrase. (You know, as opposed to those bitter, dried-up old 2nd wave feminists, who are sex negative.)

  4. Sirriamnis
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m in Seattle and I adore Babeland. I’ve had some of the most awesome conversations there with the staff and with other customers. In fact, I had to laugh the one day that I was in there buying a dildo (silicon of course) and at the next register was an older guy buying a Chasey Lain “pocket pussy.” And the two of us just started chatting away about different materials, and dildos and buttplugs and condoms. It was great.
    “Sex Positive” isn’t a stupid and insulting phrase. It denotes people who aren’t ashamed of their, or anyone else’s, sexuality. There are plenty of non-sex-positive folks all across the political spectrums from left to right. Being a Feminist who has caught endless shit for having done porn, liking sex toys and being a “sub” in a BDSM relationship, I find the term useful to denote someone who isn’t going to give me a ration of shit for my lifestyle choices, or tell me I’m a bad feminist because there are naked pictures of me out there or I like to be whipped.

  5. demolitionwoman
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Lauren D. – if you have another address that the item can be delivered to, that’s probably your best bet. A friend’s house? A p.o. box?
    Roethke – you are completely correct that not all feminist sex shops are created equal. Babeland, for example, is wonderful in many ways but still has a long way to go in terms of respecting its workers. It’s become more and more corporate and mainstream and whaddayaknow, the staff turnover is higher than ever. They’re actively recruiting people from a retail background, versus a sex educator background. The owners are anti-union. And similar things have happened with Good Vibes. I’m not saying these places don’t treat their workers better than most places, just that they don’t get a free pass on worker’s rights and social responsibility just because they say they’re feminist, y’know?
    Sugar in Baltimore is pretty new – I went in right after it opened and they were fabulous (started by a former Babeland employee, FYI). Smitten Kitten is still the best place to put your pussy where your politics are, IMO. Also, I have homestate pride, being from the Minnesota diaspora, as lbacher said.

  6. roethke
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    “Sex Positive” isn’t a stupid and insulting phrase. It denotes people who aren’t ashamed of their, or anyone else’s, sexuality. There are plenty of non-sex-positive folks all across the political spectrums from left to right. Being a Feminist who has caught endless shit for having done porn, liking sex toys and being a “sub” in a BDSM relationship, I find the term useful to denote someone who isn’t going to give me a ration of shit for my lifestyle choices, or tell me I’m a bad feminist because there are naked pictures of me out there or I like to be whipped.

    Amen!

  7. under_zenith
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I understand how the term “sex-positive” can be considered insulting when used to distinguish between feminists who are “sex-positive” and those who supposedly aren’t. But in this case, I think it’s more a distinction between liberals who think sex is something to be celebrated, and conservatives who think it’s something dirty and shameful. A sex-negative sex store isn’t one frequented by second wave feminists, it’s one frequented by conservatives who have sexual desires but are ashamed of them, and so prefer their sex toys hidden under dim lights and behind thick black curtains so nobody will see what they’re buying and think they’re depraved.

  8. chuckles
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Lauren, The Smitten Kitten ships in plain brown boxes and the return address (as well as the name on your credit card statement) is TSK, Inc. Totally discrete.
    Also, I wish the manufactuer who said they had a problem with a particular retailer would name names…it’s easier to vote your money by purchasing from good retailers if you know the facts behind claims and details.

  9. Jen
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to both Tulip locations as well as Early to bed in Chicago, and I would have to recommend the former.
    Maybe it’s just personal preference, but tulip had many more items that weren’t trying to replicate actual penises. I was also disappointed with Early to bed as they didn’t seem to have any feminist porn. That was a while ago so maybe I’ll have to go back and check it out again.

  10. String_Bean_Jen
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I am also a fellow Chicagoan who recommends Early2Bed (laurakeet, you must get in there; though I realize it’s in an out-of-the way location with not much else on its street/in its neighborhood!). But I wanted to especially point out that they’ve just started a book club on sex and sexuality related books that will meet once a month. See here at the bottom of the page!

  11. String_Bean_Jen
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Jen: that’s bizarre. Considering the owner (Searah) of Early to Bed has either directed or produced at least one porn film, I’m fairly positive that the store stocks almost wholely feminist porn! Though I don’t remember looking at their porn stock, only their erotica section, last time I was in. I’d search their web site for links, but I’m at work! :-)

  12. Amie
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Yay Smitten Kitten! One of the owners gave a sex toys workshop in one of my undergrad Women’s Studies classes too. They are amazing, as is the store.

  13. kirjava
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    As an undergrad at ucsd, I too can highly recommend The Rubber Rose –
    http://www.therubberrose.com/home.html. The owners are fantastic, friendly and community-focused; they’ve given a bunch of woman- as well as queer-focused sex ed and sex positivity workshops at our campus’ lgbt resource center. And of course, the store is awesome too; safe, quality products, community-based art shows, workshops, classes and the all-male nude yoga class that meets there and makes me jealous :-D

  14. holly the contrarian
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    In Kansas City, MO, we have WINK. It is totally feminist with amazing classes and even online ordering! Oh, and yes, all of the ladies that work there, know their products!
    LOVE IT!

  15. rhian
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Miko in Providence is AMAZING and the staff is wonderful. So sad I don’t live there any more.

  16. Laurel
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I Heart Good For Her! :)

  17. Adult Toys
    Posted March 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    You may like to try Adult Sex Toys based in the UK. They’re more about the girls then seedy men!

  18. Lisa
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    As a new Milwaukee native, I have to give a shout out to the Tool Shed (http://www.toolshedtoys.com/). Laura is wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful. I plan on dropping by regularly!
    I’m in Los Angeles, specifically Santa Monica, for the summer sans partner and am in dire need of a good feminist sex shop. Any recommendations? Help a girl out!

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