Babeland Founder Claire Cavanah on Choosing a Toy for You and Your Sweetheart

Sex in Babeland Shoot May 2009 for Melcher Media
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Babeland has been the leading purveyor of pleasure for twenty years. Sick of shady stores, low-quality toys and leering male staff people, Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning opened their first store in Seattle in 1993, wanting to give women access to information and products in a friendly environment. What followed was nothing short of a sexual revolution, with four brick and mortar stores, workshops and a booming online business. Babeland has helped women become more comfortable with their sexuality and their toys. We got Claire Cavanah to tell us how women can take it one step further and get their partners in on the game.

MommyNoire: Why should couples think about bringing toys into the bedroom?

Claire Cavanah: Sex is adult play-time. It’s the experience of being silly and sultry, laughing, shouting, and letting yourself go. Toys serve the same purpose they did when we were kids on the playground—creativity, imagination, and fantasy. Sex is a lifelong adventure and couples can use toys to keep things hot and interesting.

Why are couples hesitant to use toys? Where does the taboo come from?

Adult toys have become much more mainstream, even showing up during primetime TV commercials on cable, but they used to only be sold in shops with somewhat creepy atmospheres that gave people a feeling of shame about wanting one. We are a conflicted society when it comes to sex! Many parents can’t talk to their kids about sex, much less feel comfortable expressing their own desires or giving themselves permission to pursue pleasure and make their fantasies come true. The good news is that it’s never too late to claim the pleasure you deserve.

What do you think is the biggest misconception couples have about adult toys?

One of the biggest misconceptions about using  toys together is that a toy somehow replaces or substitutes for your partner. Whether it’s a vibrator or a masturbation sleeve for men, there’s no reason to feel threatened when your partner wants to incorporate an accessory. The majority of Babeland customers are shopping for sex toys to use with the person they’re in a relationship with. Adult toys are an enhancement, they can do things that bodies can’t, like vibrate, and it’s fun to play with those sensations together.

How can someone introduce his or her partner to sex toys?

Shopping for a toy together is a really sexy date. Either go into a store that has a comfortable, friendly atmosphere or browse online at sites like babeland.com that have a lot of helpful information. If you want to surprise your partner with a toy gift, try hiding it under their pillow for a surprise. If you just really want to try something and don’t know how to bring it up, a Yes/No/Maybe list is a good place to start. It’s a comprehensive list of sexual activities and you and your partner each fill it out separately then compare your lists. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover new things you both want to try.

How does choosing a solo toy differ from choosing a couple’s toy?

When choosing any toy, having an idea of what you want to use it for and what kind of stimulation you like will lead you to the right one. Of course, if you’re choosing something you want to use with someone, considering the other person’s comfort and desires is crucial, which you don’t have to do for something you’re using alone.

Do you believe there's a toy for every couple?

Having talked to a lot of people about sex over the past twenty years, I actually do believe there is a toy for every couple. Sex shouldn’t ever be boring. It’s sex! That might be a hard thing to overcome for couples in long-term, monogamous relationships, though. Whether you have kids or not, grown-up life has lots of responsibilities and stresses, and sex with the same person year after year needs some spice. Adventuring into the world of sex toys is one way to add it.

If a couple breaks up, can one person then introduce their new partner to the same toys he or she used with the last partner?

In terms of hygiene, yes, you can safely clean any material in a toy that Babeland sells. (Some materials you can’t clean, like jelly rubber, but you shouldn’t be putting that in or on your body anyway.) So that answers the question from one angle, but the other issue to consider is the feelings of your new lover. If it’s something intimate like a vibrator, women don’t want to go where someone else has gone. A blindfold is less intimate and probably isn’t going to be perceived as “used”. Choosing new toys with your new lover is the best route to go.

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