For as long as we know women have lived in a world dominated by men and forced to live under strict rules. Oppression has reduced women and forced them into what women, gender, and sexuality scholars call a double bind. On one side, if a woman chooses to be open about her sexuality and adventurous she is considered a promiscuous woman. On the other hand, if a woman chooses to be closed off about sexuality and intercourse she is considered a prude. Neither alternative is favorable, trapping her in this endless dilemma, never being able to fully please anyone. However, women have fought back. Since the late 19th century, women have united and sought greater recognition in society. This behavioral pattern can also be observed in France. Le Marais is a prime example of how gayborhoods have been built around males and left out women. Most LGBTQ friendly areas around the neighborhood tend to focus more on gay couples and male pleasure and forget lesbian couples, feminists, and trans females. However, Dollhouse, a small sex shop located in this popular neighborhood is changing this stereotype and marketing itself to females.
Sex shops are a relatively new invention, considering that they became popular in the 1960’s after Beate Uhse opened the world’s first sex shop in Germany (“The Story”). After this, a rise in the number of sex shops followed, however, most of them were targeted towards males. Queer-friendly sex shops have recently become a novelty and these are part of an effort towards greater inclusion. Although sex shops were created in the 60’s they were frowned upon for the latter part of the 20th century. A woman walking into a sex shop was considered taboo and unladylike. Second wave feminism strived to raise consciousness about the double standards that plagued society and promote greater body awareness. Many years later, Dollhouse would prove to be the solution to this problem.
This store was founded in Le Marais in 2005 and it has attracted the public’s attention for being very gender inclusive, in contrast to other sex shops around the area that are mostly male-centered and queer-friendly for the most part. When Dollhouse opened its doors it tried to implement a new “no judgment” ideology where they would try to reach their clients with an open mind and help them choose the products they believe would work best. The store is trying to promote sensuality and prove that exploring your body should not be considered a taboo. The top floor of the store is specifically for lingerie, accessories, cosmetics, and books. When you walk down to the second floor it is a completely different atmosphere. The second floor is very discreet and it is where most of their sex toys are held. The staff is very friendly and open to answering all your questions. It is clear that their main concern is the customer and their satisfaction.
If you go on their website you will notice that they have the words, “without taboo, nor complex” all over the website. Their mission even says, “Our boutique is held by women is a place where we speak simply of eroticism and sexuality regardless of sexual orientation, fantasies, choices, preferences, desires.” The goal of this sex shop is for women to feel like they are in a place free of judgment and free from oppressive structures. Woman’s sexuality is the focal point of this store and they do a good job of providing the best experiences for both locals and tourists. The staff is trained to answer even the most difficult questions and they know various languages to help out their foreign customers. Instead of just hurrying in and choosing the first thing they see, women and queer couples are encouraged to ask questions and to be curious without fear of judgment. The shop has done a great job of promoting feminism, female liberation, and sparking conversation about female sexuality. Could this shop be the start of fourth wave feminism?