How long have you been working in the sex toy business?
About six years altogether, but my shop TOIs has been running for three years.
What initially inspired you to set up a feminist sex toy store?
My female friends and their partners had a lot of misconceptions about sex toys and their knowledge of sex was pretty basic. I wanted to start a business to give others a happier sex life by making sex more fun.
How do you feel sex toys can improve a relationship?
A sex toy is just a toy – it can help save time and energy when people are enjoying foreplay and can help women in particular reach orgasm more effectively. A lack of understanding of the female anatomy sometimes causes men to reject sex toys, but in fact they can offer men a helping hand.
What are the most common problems affecting both Chinese and foreign couples?
Confusing or misunderstanding the importance of the clitoris and thinking women can come through penetration alone – in fact, 70 percent of women need additional stimulation. Unless this is a part of sex, it’s very difficult for women to reach climax. The issue of ‘clitoral awareness’ is a common problem everywhere! But misconceptions about the clitoris and foreplay are a lot more prevalent in China. The majority of Chinese people don’t know much about sexual technique, and there’s a lack of a sense of humour or playfulness.
If someone wants to introduce a sex toy into the bedroom, but doesn’t know how their partner will react, what’s the best strategy?
You could first chat about sex toys and their uses in an abstract way, pique their curiosity, then give it a try. Or start out with a small and cute-looking toy to help them adjust and reduce the chance of them rejecting the idea. As I said before, a toy is just a toy, and sex isn’t a rigid form of communication. Adding a little fun turns sex into lovemaking.
What are some of your favourites?
I really like well-designed love eggs. They’re small and cute and can really do wonders for women.
How do you think Chinese women can be more assertive?
From a scientific perspective, when it comes to feminine sexuality, women need to get to know their own bodies, because they’re really complicated and vary a lot person to person. Once you know your own body, then you can take control of the strength and frequency of your orgasms and help your sexual partners more.
Do you think Chinese men are open to women telling them what they want sexually? Do you think ‘shaming’ is a problem in Chinese society?
This isn’t a Chinese problem at all, and depends entirely on educational environment and personal circumstances. More and more men are willing to take women’s sexual needs into consideration. While there is still a sense of sexual ‘shame’ floating around in the pre-80s generation, which can influence sexual relations within marriage, I think the younger generation is already doing a lot better.
What can lesbians teach straight Chinese women (and men) about sexual satisfaction? Or is it wrong to assume they know better?
The relationship between understanding one’s own body in a sexual context and sexual orientation isn’t particularly close. There are lots of ignorant lala out there, just as there are straight men who really know their way around the female anatomy!
Safe sex is a big part of your marketing. Do you feel that most Chinese people understand the importance of safe sex and the seriousness of STDs?
I’d say the majority of Chinese people know what safe sex is, and how to have safe sex, but when sex actually happens not everyone will protect themselves. People can be strongly fatalistic, think ‘oh, it can’t happen to me just this once.’ We need to take more action to make people change their behaviour by making safe sex the norm.
How can safer sex practices be made more ‘fun’?
There are lots of ways. A good one is to apply a condom with your mouth. Or fix some ‘rules of the game’ in advance, making safety an element of play. Find your own boundaries when it comes to safe sex, and it’ll naturally be more fun.
You hold classes that teach women and couples to understand the female form and enjoy sex. What kind of techniques do you teach? What’s the reaction?
Apart from teaching about the anatomical differences between male and female erogenous zones, we also teach people masturbation and oral sex techniques. In China we have an ancient saying – ‘art is never a burden’. Everyone has a great time studying together.
TOIs Intimacy Boutique Tianjuyuan Complex, Building 5, Suite 2809, Beiyuan Dajie, Chaoyang district (130 7133 2805). Open by appointment only. 朝阳区北苑路天居园五号楼2809室. To browse products online, visit www.thetois.taobao.com and see www.thetois.com for general information.