vibrator nation review

Vibrator Nation by Lynn Comella is a fascinating look at the history of feminist, sex-positive sex shops and how they have changed how people, particularly women and female-identifying individuals, consider their own bodies and orgasms to this day.

In the 1970s a group of pioneering feminist entrepreneurs launched a movement that ultimately changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed. Boldly reimagining who sex shops were for and the kinds of spaces they could be, these entrepreneurs opened sex-toy stores like Eve’s Garden, Good Vibrations, and Babeland not just as commercial enterprises, but to provide educational and community resources as well. In Vibrator Nation Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how these stores raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, and changed women’s lives. Comella describes a world where sex-positive retailers double as social activists, where products are framed as tools of liberation, and where consumers are willing to pay for the promise of better living—one conversation, vibrator, and orgasm at a time.

When I first read the title of this book, I knew that I had to read it. This might sound a bit strange, but I find sex fascinating, particularly in the ways that attitudes have changed towards female-identifying people claiming and enjoying their orgasms. I definitely wanted to learn more about sex positivity and how feminist sex shops came about, particularly in a time when that phrase was a complete oxymoron.

Vibrator Nation mainly focuses on specific feminist sex shops in the US such as Babeland, Good Vibrations, and Self Serve. Throughout the book, we follow their conception in the 70s right up to the present day, discussing each store’s particular successes and challenges. I loved that it focused on real stores and real people. It is so obvious that Lynn Comella really knows her stuff – she talks about working at some of these stores, as well as doing research into sex education. Her knowledge absolutely shone through, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better person to write the full story of these shops.

I’m not going to go into everything that the book discusses, but here are a few topics that are integral to the feminist sex shop story:

  1. How to run a feminist shop in a distinctly non-feminist capitalist environment
  2. How to balance sex education and running a profitable store
  3. How to ensure that it doesn’t become a space for just straight, white women, but also caters to queer people of colour
  4. The many opinions about pornography, and how to acquire/create feminist porn

In all, I found Vibrator Nation to be a fascinating look at the history of feminist sex shops and how sex education – from STIs to BDSM – can benefit society as a whole.

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2 thoughts on “vibrator nation review

  1. Sarah says:

    Somehow I didn’t even know that feminist sex shops were a thing! It’s always interesting thinking about creating forward-thinking places under the grip of capitalism, so it’s cool that a book like this exists.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    This is a book I’ve had on my radar, but I don’t know if I’ll be picking it up. While I’m really fascinated by the content, I struggle with reading non-fiction. Do you feel like Comella writes well? I am really interested in this topic (We have a feminist sex-shop in Madison, WI!), but I don’t want to get frustrated and put off. It’s happened far too many times for me to trust books blankly.

    Like

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