Shifting Attitudes: Talking About Prostate Play
If you’ve been following trends in the sex toy world, you’ve probably noticed that there are more products for prostate play than there used to be. Aneros paved the way with one of the first products specifically for that purpose, but you can trace this shift back to the 1998 how-to movie “Bend Over Boyfriend.” Momentum has been slow to build, but in the last few years, more and more prostate toys have been hitting the shelves. That means that increasing numbers of men are giving it a try, especially straight men. If you want to be able to sell your products to them, you need to know what hurdles they face.
As one of the authors of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure,” I’ve spoken with hundreds of men and their partners about what keeps them from exploring prostate play. We found that most of the reasons fall into three categories. Will it hurt? Will it get messy? Does it mean I’m gay?
The first two are about the physical experience and they can come up for anyone around anal sex. So it’s important for your staff to know how to talk with customers about making anal sex pleasurable and how to reassure people that with a little know-how, they can make anal play lots of fun.
That third one is a bit trickier, for a few reasons. A lot of people still think of receiving penetration as “the woman’s role” or assume that only gay men enjoy it. When customers come to your store or website to ask about products for prostate pleasure, they might be struggling with these concerns. And even if they aren’t, how sure are you that your staff is giving them the best information and suggestions? What would you say if you found out that your employees were letting their ideas about men and anal sex get in the way of making a sale?
Not only that, but all three of these common concerns can play off of each other. Worries about hygiene or pain are often magnified by negative attitudes about men who enjoy receiving anal penetration (whatever their sexual orientation). And while questions about cleanliness can certainly arise when talking about women and anal sex, they’re usually a lot less charged. Anal sex for women is much more common in porn and the media, and attitudes about penetration are different when it comes to women. So while some people do have negative feelings about women and anal play, it’s important for your staff to be extra aware when talking about men.
What’s the return on your investment in all of this? When your customers feel comfortable asking questions about one product or area of your store, they’re more likely to be comfortable asking about others. And each time they do, your staff has an opportunity to make a sale, suggest cross-sells and up-sells, and promote your brand. It also increases brand loyalty, and the odds of that customer coming back, and even bringing someone new, go up.
Over the last decade, the sex retail world has become much more aware the value of making stores and websites comfortable for women, and we’ve seen the benefit of that for manufacturers and retailers across the industry. Attitudes towards sex are constantly shifting and we’re already seeing more men and their partners who are curious about prostate massage and pegging. Given how many questions I get about it, it’s clear that the interest is there. Here are some tips to take advantage of it.
Take a look at your anal section. Do the images on your shelves feature women? What message do you think that gives men and their partners when they want to shop?
Does your staff assume that a guy who’s shopping in that section is either gay or picking a toy for a female partner? That’s a great opportunity for you to have a conversation about the difference between sexual orientation and sexual pleasure.
Does your product selection include slimmer toys that are more suitable for beginners? And do you carry products that are designed for prostate play? If not, have you considered adding them?
What training do you give your staff about anal sex and prostate massage? And how do you follow up to make sure that accurate information is getting to your customers? Remember — just because someone is comfortable talking about the G-spot doesn’t mean they know how to talk about this. “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure” will answer all of their questions, too!
When your customers have questions or are looking for prostate toys, don’t get left behind. All it takes is a little planning to make sure that your staff knows how to respond and that your store is a comfortable place to visit.
Charlie Glickman, PhD, is a sexuality speaker, trainer, writer, blogger and coach. He’s an AASECT-certified sex educator and has been working in this field for more than 20 years. Charlie is the co-author of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners.” Find out more about him at CharlieGlickman.com.