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“It’s about finding the right toy for you”

The #sexpositive series from Ooh by Je Joue

Ooh chats to Max Black superstar, Sonja about the need to open up a positive dialogue around sex.

800x532 sonja

  1. What does Sex Positive mean to you?

Sex Positive means giving yourself permission to explore, embrace, understand and really enjoy your sexuality without shame. It’s about celebrating your sexuality!

  1. Why do you think that Sex Positive is an important idea?

At Max we believe that developing a positive approach to your sex life helps to create a healthy balanced sexuality, and that this has really positive consequences for your identity, your relationships, and even the communities you live in. Sex can be a great healer, a great source of personal power and affirment, and sex positivity can be central to these ideas.

  1. What changes would you like to see in the dialogue around sex?

First of all, there should simply be more dialogue around sex. Because the dialogue around sex, particularly in Australia right now, is still something that is rarely framed in positive ways – it’s not often enough that we see sex talked about in relationship to pleasure, happiness or empowerment. We’d like to see the concept of pleasure introduced to the sex positive and sex education dialogues without shame, fear or taboo. So much of our sexual journey as individuals is informed by what we enjoy, what we want to enjoy or what we don’t enjoy, yet we rarely see pleasure and sex linked in mainstream dialogues without some element of judgement, shame or misrepresentation.

  1. From your experiences as Sex Educators, what are the most common questions you’ve been asked?

Besides trends in toys or products the more common questions we get in store would be:

  • “I’ve experienced problems with some supermarket lubes that I’ve bought, do you have a lubricant for someone with sensitivities that’s more natural?”
  • “I’ve never owned a vibrator, what would be a good ‘first toy’?”

One of the most interesting things for us is the questions we don’t get asked. We talk about phthalates with customers everyday (we were one of the first stores in Australia to ban phthalates). We find that people are often unaware that there are genuine health concerns surrounding this unnecessary chemical which can be found in many toys on the market – phthalates are banned are in pet and baby products but not in intimate adult products!

  1. What part can sex toys play within the sex positive movement?

The sex positivity movement is important because it challenges outdated conventions of how sex and sexuality is perceived. We’re proud to be a part of that movement and to take a role in facilitating that change by encouraging people to take their sexual experience into their own hands. Toys help us break down some of the culturally-appropriated shame that sex is so often attached to.

Toys literally put the focus on your pleasure. When you buy a toy you are focussing on your needs, your sexuality. Whether it’s playing by yourself, or playing with a partner, toys help us explore what we enjoy and how we want to connect. They help us to learn more about ourselves and that means we’re better at connecting with our lovers too. They give us a really good and safe place to start exploring our bodies and our fantasies, and help break down barriers.

And at the end of the day toys are a fun!

  1. Why do you think that some people still find toys embarrassing?

We’ve heard many reasons why people find toys embarrassing. Firstly, some partners link the idea of toys being a replacement for themselves, or feelings of inadequacy or poor sexual performance. But this is not the case at all – toys can enhance intimacy and add fun! Secondly, there still exists the stigma that if you go into an adult store or use adult toys that you are ‘dirty’ or promiscuous, rather than empowering or liberating. Finally, loving on yourself (or masturbation!) is also stigmatised and not talked about enough, yet it’s incredibly healthy and we actually encourage self-exploration. These are just some of the reasons we find some people find toys embarrassing.

  1. What’s the most important factor for choosing a sex toy / what advice would you give people when they’re shopping for a sex toy?

It’s about finding the right toy for you. Every person’s desires and bodies are so different, and the size, materials, and functionality vary hugely in the sex toy world. It’s a good idea to think about what you’re trying to achieve – are you wanting to explore yourself, heighten intimacy with a partner or just have fun – and sometimes knowing what you don’t want can be just as helpful in finding the right toy. Our top toy tips would be:

  1. Make sure it’s body-safe and phthalate-free.
  2. Explore the different vibration types – there are different vibration frequencies (from high and focused to a low and deep vibration) and this can change how you experience a toy – it’s a personal preference.
  3. If you can, visit a reputable store where you can touch, feel and see everything. That way you can get a real feel for textures, sizes and shapes. Just by holding a toy you’ll often know quite quickly if it’s for you.
  1. How can people overcome their embarrassment around sex and sex toys?

This is a huge question. There are so many reasons why there is embarrassment associated with sex and sex toys. There are some broad things we can do to challenge those negative associations though:

  • Talk about it. Opening a dialogue with your partner and talking to supportive friends and lovers can be really empowering and help break down the embarrassment factor.
  • Visit a really great local adult store. Try to find one that is sex positive with a good range of trusted products and staff. Somewhere you are comfortable to ask questions.
  • Start off with a toy that is simple or unintimidating; something that you like the look and feel of, that is easy to use. Often we build these things up in our minds and you’ll find that it’s not as scary or embarrassing as you first thought. Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest, so take small steps and have fun with it.
  1. How do you create a welcoming environment for your customers?

Our all-female team is the most knowledgeable in the industry and they’re also fun and easy to talk to. We cultivate a sex-positive and all-inclusive culture from what we stock, to the visual imagery on packaging, to who we hire, to how we interact with customers and community. There is a conscious effort in the way the store is designed and merchandised to create a space that is warm, comfortable and accessible. Among the toys and fetish products, the displays are interspersed with romance products, books, games, and lingerie which we find creates a softer and more welcoming environment, especially for those who may be intimidated by an adult store. Plus there’s Memphis, our resident dachshund who is here to greet you with a smile and wagging tail.

  1. What are your five tips for a great sex life?
  1. Communication – talk about it, you’ll be surprised what doors open simply by communicating.
  2. Exploration – be adventurous and try something new.
  3. Permission – give it to yourself!
  4. Intimacy – touch more (not just sexually), connect more and be present.
  5. Humour – be prepared to laugh.

For more #sexpositive words of wisdom, visit Oohjejoue on twitter