South Africa can be considered as somewhat of a conservative country, and in general, sexuality can be a taboo subject. Especially when it comes to sex toys.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that Dischem and Clicks stores are selling sex toys, and have been for a couple of years now.
Clicks spokesperson Susann Caminada, says the store has stocked various sexual wellness items for a number of years now, and Dischem says it has had its stock for more than a year now.
I spotted a mini vibrator and a vibrating ring at Clicks, which is encouraging for a few reasons.
I think it is important to have sexual health products – beyond just condoms and lubricants – that are easily accessible and hope it will help address the stigma around the uncensored expression of sexuality – especially for women. Why should we have to sneak around and order products online or feel shamed about popping into an adult shop?
Having the products available in a store where we shop toothpastes, sanitary pads and fragrances, normalises sexuality.
Besides, sexual health is part of overall health.
The World Health Organisation puts forward the following definition: “Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
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This is along the lines of the conversations women are having online:
“Part of what sex positive movement looks like for millennial is to also understand how to deal with hararassers and bullies online. More open communication will help” says @drtlaleng @ICFP2018 #PleasurePanel #PleasureMatters @LoveMattersHQ pic.twitter.com/Kk5djAKp5f— Vithika Yadav (@YadavVithika) November 14, 2018
Dischem’s national clinic manager, Lizeth Kruger, says the request for sexual health products is very common at the store, and that 40% of their queries are related to sexual health.
“We have a lot of requests that are part of sexual wellbeing so we have to supply the clients as a safe option,” she says.
Lizeth adds that Dischem sees sexual health as part of the overall wellbeing of a person.
“If you have a query or question or concern about sexual health we believe that it’s better to talk to a professional person regarding that, and that we can assist with the right product rather than going to another store [where] there’s not really a professional person that can help you from a clinical perspective.”
While Dischem acknowledges the importance of sexual health, Lizeth says they won’t be expanding their existing range unless there is a need.
“We won’t be an adult shop,” she says between laughs. “[But] if it’s part of clinical or medical wellbeing and is tested and there’s research behind it that i'ts really part of wellbeing then we would probably stock it, but we won’t extend it to such that it will be toys.”
At Dischem, an Intimate Touch Mini Vibrator is available for R 134.95.
An Astroglide Heritage Vibrating Pleasure Ring retails for R 59.95.
In South Africa, sexual health products and education have been rooted in HIV prevention, which is very important, especially with respect to our history with the virus – but as it is noted in WHO definition, sexual health is also about pleasure.
Often, societal norms dictate that sexual pleasure be reserved for men, and that has an impact on sexual health.
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Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, a sex and reproductive specialist, articulates this point perfectly in this Quartz article. “Everyone is focused on preventing diseases, without affirming that pleasure is what actually drives people to sex,” she says.
Clicks offers a Mini Vibrating Bullet for R159.
Clicks also offers a Vibrating Ring for R99.99.
Having these kinds of sexual health products in family-friendly shops is an affirming step and we look forward to the day where we can all openly talk about the subject without any shame.
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