29 Pages

Sexual spaces

Going sex shopping

This chapter deals with sex shops as spaces where consumer sexualities are represented, experienced, and performed. The shop space reproduces a division between 'safe' lingerie and riskier 'sex items', a division which customers are highly attuned to. Moments of sex shopping can and should be framed within a relational network of other consumptional spaces and experiences. Sites of sexual consumption are understood as 'spaces of encounter' that are simultaneously 'representational' and 'experiential'. Ann Summers represents a key entry into sexual consumption through high-street acceptability and accessibility. Moreover, values of sexual knowledge are intimately intertwined with those of taste, class, and distinction, and sex boutiques are frequently set against Ann Summers as a mark of class distinction. Finally, the notion of feminine sex shopping 'for women', whether in Ann Summers or a boutique store, is predicated on its crucial distinction from the 'men in raincoats' associated with 'seedy', even dangerous, licensed sex shopping.