Oooer, missus! Did you know that good olde, cuddly olde, respectable olde, ever-so-slightly boring olde Boots has been, is and possibly for the next week and a half will be….wait for it…selling smut? Well, sex aids, actually or, as they put it rather more coyly, products designed to enhance “sexual wellbeing”.
No? I certainly wasn’t – although i have been vaguely aware, for a while now, that they have actually upped their game in the erotic sphere to stocking evil and lascivious flavoured condoms and lubricants. But i hadn’t noticed that they had broadened out into what some blokes might consider the, er, optional end of sexual activity. Not just support for the sexual act itself: but foreplay, too!
What is the world coming to?
Of course, its not a story. Not really news. Or it wasn’t until this weekend when the Daily Mail found out what was going on, and jumped in with a story about Sex Toys being on sale at Boots “prominently displayed to children”.
Just think of the children!
Oh, dear. We all know what’s coming next, and it isn’t pretty: “Boots”, they thunder, “has been criticised by parents for selling sex toys in its shops, within full view of children”.
No matter that up to now just four customers had seen fit to complain. After all, it is understood that a handful of complaints about the Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs prank call prior to the Mail going to town on it – and that ended with some 30,000 complaints, mostly from individuals who hadn’t heard the broadcast in the first place.
And the offended aren’t that hard to find.
According to the Mail, in one Boots outlet, “three types of sex aid were on display last week and placed on a shelf low enough for children to see”. Not only: but they were displayed unboxed - a crime so appalling that not even Ann Summers would commit it.
A 43-year-old granny – Julie Burgess – claimed to be “appalled” and “shocked”.
26-year-old Scott Millins described the enterprise as “quite disgusting”.
Saving adult blushes
Oh dear, oh dear. So what is the problem? This isn’t “sexualisation ” of children – which is about the alleged creep of adult themes into childish products. No. This is about adult devices being offered politely and without hype to adults in a store that, apart from the toy section, is likely to be fundamentally boring to most kids.
The devices are not – despite the Mail’s claims – displayed especially prominently. They are supported by the sort of euphemistic description of their function that would probably pass muster with the average maiden aunt. And given the exotic streamlined nature of the beast(s) – long since moved on from the phallic symbolism of the “non-doctor” vibro-massager – the most likely reason for the average ten-year-old to express an interest in them is not their affinity to the erotic, but the fact that they could well be scale models of the newest Klingon “Bird of Prey”.
So what’s the problem? Well, as always, it probably has more to do with sparing adult blushes than genuine child protection. Our disgusted granny explained how she “certainly wouldn’t want to be having to explain [to her grand daughter] what a sex toy is”.
I wonder if her g-d is equally curious about incontinence pads, or tampons…and whether she is equally embarrassed to explain what those are for.
Likewise Scotty, whose sad commentarary on the enterprise was: “Children shouldn’t know about that sort of thing until they’re grown up and in a relationship with someone”.
So there you have it. Children might ask awkward questions. And their parents and carers, rather than provide sensible, age-appropriate explanations, like “those are toys that grown-ups use to give each other pleasure when they love and trust one another” would much prefer to tell them nothing.
I’d give boots not much more than ten days before this silly piece of sensationalism forces them to rethink their policy.
ETA: Oh dear….the story has now cycled round to be the mail’s online lead. Suspect the number of complaints to boots will be way past 4 this time tomorrow.
Should we say 4,000?