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The sensuous side of Valentine’s

If sex is all about love, why do we dodge
the subject at this time every year?

Sex educator Koko Neon says sex-shop sales increase at this time of year, but not as much as you might expect.  (Kieran Fong)

By Kieran Fong

AH, VALENTINE’S DAY. Apparently, there’s no worse day of the year to be single. You’re bombarded with radio ads telling you to buy those perfect diamond-stud earrings from Tiffany and Co. On television, you see a man giving a Hallmark movie kiss to his girlfriend after giving her a $5,000 engagement ring from Michael Hill. The roses, the chocolates, the fancy dinners … 

But what is Valentine’s Day really about?

“It’s just a holiday for stores to get more money out of people,” MacEwan University student Eva Driessen says. “I’ve been getting ads on my Instagram for luxury hotels or lingerie.

“Even if they do celebrate it, it might just be with some flowers or just like watching a movie together or just, you know, spending time together, but nothing crazy.”

We also tend to skirt around the topic of sex during Valentine’s Day. A 2017 survey by SKYN condoms reported 68 per cent of millennials say Valentine’s Day is when they have the most sex. 

I visited the Travelling Tickle Trunk on Whyte Avenue to find out more.

Unlike most sex shops, with blacked-out windows and porn plastered on the walls, the Travelling Tickle Trunk has lime-green walls with white shelves that hold everything from dildos to books like the Kama Sutra, to LGBTQ+ merchandise. It’s a library, Pride store and sex shop all in one. 

‘There’s no shame
in this store’

“There’s no shame in this store,” sales representative and sex educator Koko Neon says. “We’re not, like, trying to be naughty or guilty or any of that stuff.”

While most Valentine’s Day advertising tends to be heteronormative, the Travelling Tickle Trunk aims for gender inclusivity in its marketing.

Sex-toy sales increase a bit near Valentine’s Day, but not a lot, Neon says.

“There’s lots of little stuff. Smaller things, ’cause people want to travel with them. There’s also a trend for more expensive presents during this time.”

Sex toys have many more uses than just pleasure, they say (Neon uses plural pronouns). Toys like vibrators can also be used for muscle tightness and body massages. Some can even be used as rehabilitative aid after pelvic cancer treatments.

Neon recommends couples shop together on Valentine’s Day. 

Customers will often ask Neon about sex toy recommendations for their partners. When asked if their partner prefers clitoral or internal vibration, most men don’t know how to reply, Neon says.

“I’m like, You should know; you’re having sex with them. I think if people are shopping for a partner, it’s great to go together.”

There’s a lot of pressure for Valentine’s Day to be the “perfect day” for couples, they add.

“We’re all just humans. Like nobody’s perfect. We’re all just trying our best.”

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