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How the Women of Good Vibrations and Babeland Have Helped to Liberate Female Orgasms

The history -- and current form -- of the sex toy industry tells us a lot about men, women, and a healthy sexuality.

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Cavanah notes that over the two decades since they opened their first store, sexuality has changed, especially for women. “Talking about women’s pleasure is normal, not radical or surprising,” she points out. “It’s in popular culture, mainstream tv and media outlets. There’s more good information out there in all places. I can’t believe how fast this has moved.”  Among Babeland’s bestselling produces is the We-Vibe, a couple’s vibrator.  In addition, “over the past year, we saw a huge increase in sales of restraints, floggers, riding crops and Ben Wa Ball-style products, like Luna Beads due to Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Cavanah and Venning bring a strong feminist commitment to their business.  “The creativity and revolutionary fire that led to us first opening Babeland still burns strong in the Seattle staff,” Venning says. “They are fierce advocates for sexual liberation and self expression.”

Melody and Bruce Murison are inventors of We-Vibe, a vibrator that can be used during sex but does not interfere with intercourse. Bruce, an engineer formerly with Nortel, the Canadian telco, had lost his job.   Over a period of about 5 years, the couple worked together to develop an innovative vibrator.  They tested 6 versions carefully assessing issues ranging from the devices shape, the texture of the silicon the motor’s power and speed at various settings.

One major issue they identify had to do with the device’s basic technology.  “We had to develop our own custom clitoral motor because no existing motor was small enough and powerful enough,” Bruce Murison notes.  Each device is hand cast in stainless mold, a slow and expensive process.  It uses medical grade silicone that’s about 4 times more expensive than conventional materials used in many vibrators.  They were also concerned about meeting environment concerns, including those relating to the battery, be free of heavy metals and be carbon neutral.  Once they had developed the prototype, it took two years to work out production in China.

The We-Vibe is targeted to the upscale, discriminating consumer.  According to the company, “the We-Vibe is an investment and we designed it to last for many years of enjoyment. Used every week for 1/2 an hour, a typical We-Vibe may last for about 4 years ….”

Stacy Rybchin started the website My Secret Luxury after a bad experience visiting a New York sex-toy shop.  As she admits, “what should have been a fun and enticing experience left my husband and I feeling embarrassed and dirty - and not in a good way.  I realized there had to be a better way to learn about adult products and inspire romance.”

She was further disappointed when she went online only to find site after site carrying product with little or no discrimination as to quality or value.  She decided to take a different approach, one that involves “curating” the best products for a discriminating customer.  “I want men and women to learn about pleasure, discover innovative products, and shop in a secure environment where they can feel comfortable,”  she adds.

Rybchin believes that American sexuality is changing as evident in the growing acceptance of gay marriage and the popularity of E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey.  While people are generally more open about sex, she recognizes that “some are still shy about it.” Her site offers products for both women and men and, as she admits, “more men are customers.” Her biggest selling products are more luxury vibrators and couples toys.  She’s targeted specialty consumers, including more discriminating customers and sex toy beginners, who are intimidated by thousands of products.

She believes that many heterosexual couples are aware that female pleasure is realized through clitoral masturbation and not penetration.  She is encouraged by what she thinks is a growing awareness among men that “women come first” and that vibrators, among other products, “create more intimacy and trust in the relationship.”

 
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