Musings on Sexuality and Coco de Mer's 10th Anniversary
I opened Coco de Mer almost 10 years ago, and even though you can say our relationship to sex is an ever evolving expression, opening the shop has definitely had a huge effect on my relationship to sex. In many ways I am more conservative than ever before. I have even nicknamed myself the Mary Whitehouse of sex.
It was in my late 20s that I walked into a sex shop for the first time, I will never forget it as it was a terrifying experience. It was a female run sex shop in Vancouver and walking through that door was like breaking my hymen all over again. In reality I had stepped into a whole new phase of my life...
As I stared at the products I felt an overwhelming embarrassment to the point that I wanted to curl up and die. The concept of asking for help or information was too much - I held a sure belief that I was of the age where I should know everything about sex. At that time (not so much now) there was a social implication that if you owned a sex toy you were either perverted, detached from your emotions, sad, lonely, or old and desperate, so there was a part of me that was ashamed.
I am not sure what the light bulb moment was, other than the revelation that it was my fear that was the block to my discovery of sex. Really I was the person that was limiting my own curiosity. It was that one simple brave step into that shop that had a huge effect on my life; I was injected with passion. The questions left with me were: Why are we so judgemental when it comes to sex? Why is this subject so wrapped with fear? Why is there really nowhere we can go to talk intelligently about sex, and really explore ourselves or learn the truth about sex?
After about a year of working on my shop floor you become aware of how little we all know about how to have great sex. It is rarely discussed or shared beyond your current partner and, if you're lucky, your friends. People also lie about sex continually and spread myths because they want to give a positive impression of themselves. There is a lot of misinformation for example about the importance of penis size, about what a healthy libido is, about the naturally sexually talented, and about how much sex people are having. We all think other people know so much more about sex than we do. Many of us are like fish out of water. Today the majority of what we do at Coco de Mer is coaching and counselling people into a state of confidence, encouraging them to communicate and be kinder to themselves. Engaging with people's sex lives and helping them explore a world of pleasure really assists their sense of well being and happiness.
It was then that I realised how little I knew - even after being exposed to so many products, and listening to my - so I created the Salons, a platform to learn about the loving arts, a place where it was safe to enquire without engaging in sex. I found teachers and experts from all quarters from the world of medicine, the world of spirituality, and the world of fetish. I asked questions and learnt about different techniques and sexual philosophies. I became a student in my own bespoke university of sex. Then I realised that if I wanted this so would many other people.
I value sex more than I did when I opened Coco de Mer. I understand how intrinsic it is to my emotional self. It is one of the areas that I honestly treat as a sacred space, a place where I love and receive love. I prioritise the time I give myself to express myself sexually. On top of that I am much more precious about it - all my sense of flippancy has vanished. I suppose a way to describe it is that I am aware how much pleasure it brings me, and I understand it as being instrumental to my happiness and health. I have come to the understanding that pleasure is more important than the function of sex. The act of sex doesn't happen to you, and it isn't something you do to someone. It is an expression that comes from within you. Really in order to have great sex you have to engage with yourself.
I feel more than ever that we are in a time where we treat sex as a cheap throwaway item, where everything is sexualised. We need to adopt a sexual philosophy of awareness that true pleasure embraces the whole body, the whole person, and the whole spirit.