Fat people have sex. Sorry, I know some people would like to think that we do not, but a lot of us even have folks lining up competing to bone. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to the world’s first fat-focused or “body inclusive” sex shop, Validity. There’s just one thing stopping me from going there now: it has yet to be built.
Sexologist Rachel Dwight is opening up the world’s first brick-and-mortar, body-inclusive sex shop. Dwight plans on achieving this by crowdfunding. Now, before you roll your eyes at another crowd-funded enterprise, read this:
She’s asking 50,000 people to donate a mere $5 to get this business off of the ground!
Before you say, “Holy shit, that’s a lot of people!” think about how many fat people are in the world. Now, think about how many people like to have sex. They don’t even have to like having sex with other people, going solo is just fine. There’s got to be a large number of fat people who want to get it on this very second, including myself. I just spent $5 on a mediocre cup of coffee and a muffin. I’d rather have spent that $5 toward a place that is going to provide me with toys that fit my body and harnesses that are made for me. Imagine walking into a store surrounded by people with similar body types who are not judging yours or grimacing at the thought of you naked. Holy shit, this must be how thin, conventionally attractive people feel all of the time!
I had the opportunity to ask Rachel a few questions about her amazing project. Here’s what she had to say.
WYV: How did you get the idea to open a fat-positive/body-inclusive sex shop?
Rachel Dwight: The seed was planted years ago when I was studying abroad in the UK. There was a local sex shop that was run by a lesbian couple and was all about quality products and education. It was amazing, and I would have loved to work there. As I went on with my education and got more and more connected with social justice things as well as becoming a sexologist, the two things ended up merging, and Validity was born.
WYV: What makes the brick-and-mortar aspect so important?
RD: I’ve tried doing the work that I want to do in spaces that already exist, and I’ve come up against all sorts of barriers — places that don’t have good seating, or have stairs, or any one of a hundred things that prevent it from being accessible to the people I support. I also see this as a way to show how powerful having a universally accessible retail space can be. I understand a lot of people who don’t have physical limitations might not know the gravity of a space like that, but when you spend so much of your life surviving and navigating barriers, to have a space where those barriers don’t exist is quite a big deal.
WYV: How long have you been a sexologist? What fueled your passion for going into the field and then industry?
RD: I decided to do something in the realm of sexology in 2006. I focused my undergrad in it, then went to grad school to get my masters in human sexuality education, which I completed in 2011. Being in college and seeing how interconnected sex is with everything else made me realize that this touches everything, and I wanted to see how that worked & how I could help people by knowing about it.
WYV: What other things do you envision offering at the shop? Classes? Porn?
RD: The store can be converted into a space for workshops and small performances. As much as the retail business and access to sex is important, I also feel it’s important to make this space a community resource. If I’m going to spend the energy figuring out how to be universally accessible, I want that space to be fully utilized. In relation to the porn question, I haven’t really considered that yet. It depends on who I come in contact with and if it’s the right thing to do. I’m open to it, but I have no specific plans.
WYV: Where is the proposed location of the shop?
RD: It will definitely be in the East Bay area. I do not know where, as that will depend on what is available when I have the funds to secure the space. I love Oakland and would love for it to be in Oakland, assuming it’s not too close to other sex shops. The other location I’m looking at is near campus in Berkeley. There is a Good Vibrations in Berkeley but it is a distance away from campus. I can’t think of any better client base than newly minted adults that can learn at a young age that everyone’s sex lives deserve dignity and respect.
WYV: Why crowdsource from a large group?