[Photo shows a fat, white woman with short, dark hair in a teal tank top and dark jeans sitting on a park bench holding a
medium-sized blonde corgi-terrier mix. They are both Smiling.]
medium-sized blonde corgi-terrier mix. They are both Smiling.]
ALL Bodies Deserve Pleasure.
When I tell people what I do for a living, I often get asked: “Why?” Actually, first they usually ask me to repeat myself because the phrase “body-inclusive sex store” doesn't really make sense to people. This idea is so foreign to our culture that people need a longer explanation to wrap their heads around diverse bodies having needs different than the mainstream. That fact is also part of the answer to the first question - “Why?”
I have a number of strikes against me in the game of oppression roulette. I'm fat, queer, disabled, and female. My white, cisgendered, middle-class, education-accessible background has given me a number of advantages, but when it comes to expressing my sexuality and being a completely fulfilled sexual being, the expectations and stereotypes of being a minority have thrown up all kinds of obstacles. To get where I am now, I've worked so fucking hard to get over them.
In fourth grade, when I was nine, we did square dancing. We were arranged in a square with four heteronormative (ugh!) couples each making up one side of the square. The moves were called out over the speakers along with the music and involved lots of partner switching. My partner was cool, but the other three boys in the group refused to touch my hands. At nine years old, I was well on my way to forming the deeply-seated belief that no one would want to touch me.
The teasing and bullying that happened in grade school continued, albeit with varying degrees of intensity. The first week of college when I found a rape whistle included in my welcome pack, I thought: “I’m never gonna need this.” This thought was right at the front of my mind, even though I had previously had a significant other. On one level, I knew that I was at least ‘touchable’, but I still didn't understand that I had value. I chalked that relationship up to a combination of pity and a fluke.
Over the next few years, I was able to work on making things better. I realized - on some level, theoretically - that I was worthy of other people’s attention, attraction, and even love. This logical thought made sense to a point, as I was dating and I’d also gained a bit of self-love in that I stopped dieting and started to try to love and appreciate my body as it is at any given moment; no alterations necessary.
This was in part what lead to my graduate studies in human sexuality – I wanted to learn amazing things about the variation of people's experiences. After grad school, I got married and felt like I was a good person because I'd managed to form that kind of a relationship. Then, that relationship imploded. During that really difficult time I was able to figure out and really integrate the idea that I am completely acceptable just the way I am. The cognitive dissonance around dating as a fat and disabled person was finally starting to settle. I realized that my worthiness of respect and love is not contingent on whether or not somebody chooses to respect or love me. It's an inherent right of existing as a human being.
I began to accept and appreciate some of my unique qualities related to my size and physical ability. I was actually applying the respect I gave to other people’s individual abilities and quirks to myself. For example, pretty much all sex guides suggest some kind of multitasking. I can't count the amount of times I've seen the instruction - particularly around oral sex - to do one thing with your mouth, a different thing with one hand, and another different thing with your other hand. It's kind of ridiculous, and simply doesn't work for my body. Even if those highly coordinated maneuvers are possible for a lot of people – hell, even if they are possible for all people except me – it doesn't mean that my abilities and experiences are any less valid or fulfilling. I can't do that thing; my body won't allow it. And that's okay.
[The image above shows the Validity logo which consists of the word 'Validity' written in purple letters across a gray-outlined Victorian-style fainting couch. Between the couch legs is the phrase 'All Bodies Deserve Pleasure' with an underline of the word 'All' to add emphasis.]
It is this kind of thing that helped me form my vision for Validity. All Bodies Deserve Pleasure and people with bodies that aren’t considered ‘normal’ are often left out of conversations about sex. This could be because the topic in a mainstream conversation isn’t relevant to their body or they don’t think anyone will be able to relate to their experience. There is also fear of not getting the support they need or being teased and shamed. People with ‘othered’ bodies need information to have safer and better quality sex.
I have big dreams for Validity. I have the expertise and eagerness that is needed to guide people to sex gear that will work for them; I don’t judge people for what they enjoy. Besides matching people up with the right sex gear and relevant info, I’m working on setting up a community message board for discussing aspects of non-mainstream sex and intimacy as well as a body-inclusive vendor list. My goal is to create a resource for our communities that just doesn’t exist. Yet.
Now back to that original question I get asked so often. In my job, I get to talk to people about all different aspects of sex: ideals, positions, morality, consent, oppressions, logistics, communication, etc. I can handle questions about pegging or golden showers or zoophilia. None of that gets under my skin like that first question.
Why did I start a body-inclusive sex store?
Because we deserve better than what's out there already.
Validity exists to provide quality sex gear and advice by creating a space for people to ask questions about their own unique body needs without fear of shame. I hope you’ll connect with your own self-love and check it out.
Want to support Validity?
1. Sign up for your 10% off code here. That helps us stay in touch and lets us know that folks want our work. This is critical for us at this stage of our work!
2. Invest in your pleasure. Investing in sex gear now not only improves your sexual pleasure immediately (and who doesn’t want more pleasure?), it will also nurture the very important message that All Bodies Deserve Pleasure - including yours.
3. And please share the crap out of this blog post and sign-up for and share my Facebook group so that this message goes viral.
Rachel Dwight, M.Ed. and sexologist lives in the Bay area with her dog Gabby, named after the actress Gabourey Sidibe.
She was a huge supporter of BLC 14 and we appreciate her commitment to helping all bodies have great sex- both with partners and especially solo. I'm happy to host her valuable message here. She sent me a kick ass vibrator with clit hugging extensions (a new thing for me) and I promised to let you know if I liked it. I liked it. A lot. I would highly recommend having your partner help you try it out first, but this is certainly not needed for the full effect;) Thanks Rachel for a tool that made my vagina (and I mean vagina) super happy!
Yes you heard me. I've got a happy vagina.