Last week, I went to a sex shop.
This was not my first visit to such a shop, but it was my first truly enjoyable visit.
I’ve bought sex toys before. Usually from the internet. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want, and I would much prefer to shop from the privacy of my own home and without creepy sex shop owners knowing what sets me off.
This time, though, I was on the search for…something to wear. I wanted to buy a corset. This would require trying on and measuring and figuring out just which one I wanted. I could’ve done the whole thing online by buying a couple and then returning all but one–but that seemed to difficult. So, the husband and I set out on a sexy adventure.
We’d been to this particular shop before, and the last time, I really didn’t like it. The guy who owns the place was way too in your face. Even when we told him that we were “just browsing” and didn’t need any help, he stayed about 5 feet behind us and offered up his opinion on each product that we expressed even the slightest interest in. This time, though, we appreciated his wealth of knowledge about all things sex related.
He gave me something to try on. But then…he walked into the dressing room with my husband and I!! I was shocked by this. He explained this particular item and how to best put it on and what to look for when trying it on, and then he said, “I’m gay. Do you want me to be in here to help you try it on, or would you rather me wait outside?” I knew I wanted him to wait outside–just because I’m buying stuff in a sex shop (with my HUSBAND) doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of modesty–but sometimes I have trouble expressing my opinions if I think the other person will disagree with me. So, I was really proud of myself for saying, “I think I’d prefer you to wait outside”.
Here would be an appropriate place to talk about gay sexuality in relation to straight people. One of my best female friends is a lesbian. I have slept in the same bed with her, even after she came out to me. She thought that maybe I would be uncomfortable. Similarly, this man thought that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable with him in the dressing room with me, because he was gay. I see where they’re coming from, I really do, but, the thing is, I’m straight. I wonder sometimes if I’m too heteronormative, if I don’t want gay men to see me with my shirt off because I think that really this man might find me attractive, even if he says he’s gay. And conversely, there’s no way that my lesbian friend will view me as a potential sexual partner, because, hey, I’m a straight woman. But I digress.
The thing about corsets is that they have a very intricate way of lacing up in the back, so they usually require someone else to do the lacing. (There are videos and websites on the internet about ways to lace up your corset on your own, but I’m definitely not there yet. I can barely zip up the dresses with the zippers in the back on my own.) I assumed that would be my husbands job. But, alas, he had to learn how to do the lacing. Since I couldn’t show him, the shopkeeper came in to help him out. It was a learning experience for both of us.
Even after the corset was on, the shopkeeper stayed in the dressing room to help asses fit and sizing. He was completely, 100% professional. Still, it was weird that I was wearing something intended only for my husband in front of a complete, male, stranger. The shop owner was really, really helpful. He gave sizing and fit tips that I would never have received on the internet. He told us a lot about the background of the product, and storage tips, and even some usage tips. I keep feeling like, it was weird that he was there. I wonder if this comes from my orthodox perspective, that there were so many things “un-tznius” about that experience that it must have been wrong. And then I wonder if that’s a good thing. I’m glad I got this man’s help. I’m glad I bought the product.
I’m really pleased with my purchase. I love the way that I look in a corset. It shapes my body in a way that I’ve never seen my body look before. Suddenly, I have all these wonderful curved. Suddenly, I feel sexy and beautiful. I’m glad that I bought it, and I’m glad that the shop keeper was able to help us. But there’s this thought in the back of my head that it just wasn’t appropriate. I don’t know what to do with the thought. I mean, in the future, if I want to buy another one, I can purchase it online, now that I know what to look for and what size I am. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without the help of the shopkeeper.
I guess a lot of orthodox women have this issue, and I guess that they find ways around it. Even if they’re not buying corsets, they’re buying underwear and bras and have to be sized. And I guess they only use female shopkeepers. But what if the shopkeeper is a lesbian (not an uncommon situation for women who work in lingerie stores)? Is that a violation of tznius? What if it’s a male shopkeeper, but he’s gay? Does that make a difference? And if not, does that mean that in the eyes of tznius, there’s no such thing as homosexuality? Because thats a thought that I’m not comfortable with.