Think back to the first time/only time/imaginary time that you bought a vibrator. Maybe you saved up and went in secret, telling your folks you were going “out for a walk” (just like when you’d come home and tell them you’re going to “take a nap” while you tried out your new vibe). Maybe you went with your friends, or your mom/that one cool aunt, and it was kinda awkward, especially when you decided on a not-so-conventional vibrator (like the Sqweel Oral Sex Simulator) that may have come as a shock to your company who considers penetration equivalent to sex.* Sound familiar? From “The Talk” to buying a first vibrator, talking about sex has gained a reputation for being awkward.
I’ve been blessed. My experience buying my first vibrator (admittedly, after a year at Smith; I missed out on sooo many vibrator conversations at dinner) involved chatter when I wanted it, space when I wanted it, helpful advice, and a great time once I got home. As a girl who entered adolescence at the age of 9, who was taught sex through general sex ed (and who learned much more by doing), I have immense appreciation for people who treat sex and sexuality as a casual, comfortable topic. I found this in Feelmore510, a sexuality shop located in my Oakland hometown owned and managed by queer & trans* POC porn director, activist, educator, and supreme hugger Nenna Joiner. I’ve dropped by Feelmore510 a number of times – for Nenna’s weekly porn showings, for free wine and an open shop during First Friday, and for a hey and a hug after my summer internship. I couldn’t help but come back. There, I was introduced to other shoppers and held a (not awkward) conversation about a Papí Coxxx porn film. I was advised and educated about an array of sex toys. I was delighted by the vintage porn, magazine, and record collections. What Nenna has created is a safe and comfortable educational & exploratory space for sex and sexuality. So when the first 30 copies of our zine were printed, I knew where one could find its home – in Feelmore510.
Smithies & beyond: if you happen to be in the Bay Area this J-term, be sure to drop by Feelmore510 to check out our zine – but primarily to bear witness to a sex shop successful not only in terms of its business, but also in its commitment to community education and well-being.
* “We learn about sex as only being penis-vagina intercourse. But sex is so much more!” – Jiz Lee.