Vibrator Nation

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  • By Jacq Jones
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Vibrator Nation

Curious about the history of feminist sex toy stores or how they're different from other sex toy stores? This book's for you!

This weekend, I got to read Lynn Comella’s book, “Vibrator Nation”. I’ve been waiting to read this book for years. It was worth the wait.


“Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure” takes you on a deep dive into the cultural times that created the space for the first feminist sex toy stores and leads you through twists, turns and cultural shifts all the way through til today. On that journey, Lynn explores how these stores have reframed how many of us think about sex, sexuality and pleasure. She talks about how those ideas grew from White, middle and upper class women’s perspectives and how that’s problematic. She explores the ways in which these stores broke new ground in retailing by using what is now called experiential retailing and how those concepts are currently considered “new”. Feminist sex toy stores have been doing it since the 70s. She details how Good Vibrations acted as the Johnny Appleseed of sex positive sex toy stores and contributed to the spread of independent stores across the country She does it all with years of research, interviews with store owners and workers (full disclosure - one of them is me), historical archives and a thorough understanding of feminist history and theory.


I first met Lynn when she was doing field research at Babeland on the lower east side of Manhattan in 2001. I was a sex educator at Babeland during that time. We rarely worked the floor together, but we knew each other and I was fascinated by her work. Although we may not have know it at the time neither of us would be leaving feminist sex toy stores behind. Lynn eventually became a professor at UNLV. I contined as a sex educator and, eventually, a store owner. I’ve been on a panel with Lynn at the AVN (Adult Video Network), and we’ve seen each other at countless other conferences across the years. Lynn is funny, wicked smart and has a fascinating perspective on this industry.


On Thursday of this week, Lynn will be in the store, talking about her book and the history of feminist sex toy stores. It’s going to be really interesting. I can’t wait. In the meantime, I just may read Vibrator Nation again.

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