Smile Makers Vibrators Launch in Priceline…whaaat??!

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Today I want to talk about something awkward but necessary: sexual wellbeing. Sexual wellbeing is an extremely important but taboo and under-discussed aspect of physical and psychological health. If you know me in real life, you may want to stop reading around here and detour to the safer waters of sunscreen quantities or exfoliating or hair protectants instead. Or not, since we’re talking about breaking taboos in the name of health here! (It’s OK, I promise there are no photos of me using the things, and no in-depth descriptions of my relationship with my junk.)

Priceline Pharmacy, the more health-focused arm of Australia’s popular female-oriented health and beauty chain, has just started stocking the Swedish brand Smile Makers. Smile Makers makes personal massagers and lubricants that have been in Asian and European pharmacies since 2013. It was created to counteract a big problem worldwide, which you can see through these stats from a survey performed on Australian women*:

  • 75% of feel that sexual satisfaction is important to their overall wellbeing
  • 4 in 10 are not sexually satisfied
  • 47 percent have used a vibrator before
  • More than half (55%) of those who have not used a vibrator before are interested in trying one
  • 23 percent did not feel comfortable in a sex/adult shop whether in person or online

*Ramblin’ Brands claim based on research conducted by Nielsen (25th August – 2nd September 2016, 1,002 sample size, out of 5,329,000 Australian women aged 18-50 population estimation)

Sexual health research backs up a lot of these claims, as well as the fact that vibrator use is associated with positive sexual function and is rarely related to side effects. Lower sexual satisfaction is correlated with poorer physical health (heart disease, diabetes) and mental health (depression, anxiety). In other words, there are a lot of women out there who could benefit from owning a vibrator, but aren’t comfortable purchasing them, due to where they’re stocked. Less than a quarter of the surveyed women, but still – that’s a decent chunk.

Smile Makers aims to solve this problem for those women by introducing accessible products outside of the “adult” world – in Australia’s case, in the female-friendly environment of Priceline Pharmacy, alongside other health essentials like vitamins and Panadol and makeup (a frequent mental health necessity!).

Smile Makers vibrators launch in Priceline...what??!

 

The Smile Makers range in Priceline includes five personal massagers (The Millionaire, The Tennis Coach, The Fireman, The Surfer and The Frenchman) and two premium lubricants (Little Light Liquid and Generous Gel). The waterproof vibrators use easy-to-clean phthalate-free silicone, run for about 4 hours on a AAA battery and are pretty darn quiet. There’s a single button that cycles through 4 speeds and a pulsation mode. The prices are also pretty reasonable ($24.99 for the Surfer, $49.99 for the rest).

The big question: should vibrators be sold in a pharmacy, where people of all ages can potentially see them? I have to admit, when I first saw Smile Makers between cellulite cream and flea tablets in a department store in Switzerland, I found it confronting and did a double take. And I made sure there was no one else in the aisle before I took a closer look (and a surreptitious photo). The sleek design is as inoffensive as you can get (elegant, abstract designs have been partially credited for the widespread acceptance of vibrators in pop culture). While I know greater access and normalisation of sexual wellbeing a fantastic idea and I’m pretty darn socially progressive, on a gut level I’m still a bit uncomfortable.

Smile Makers personal massagers launch in Priceline

Which is why I think it’s a very brave move from Priceline – if it makes some young(ish) feminists a tad uncomfortable, how will the rest of the population respond? There have been backlashes in the past when mainstream retailers have tried to stock these sorts of products: Woolworths stopped stocking the Durex Bullet Vibrator after a fortnight in 2013 due to pressure from “family groups”, and though there are lots of loopholes, the sale of vibrators is still outright banned in Alabama on the bizarre logic that it would “promote prostitution and incest”. However, countries you’d think would be more conservative, like Malaysia and Singapore, have embraced the brand with very little controversy.

Priceline are taking precautions to stock them on higher shelves away from children’s curious hands, and to see the listings on the Priceline website you have to go through an age check, but that might still not be enough to appease some people. (In contrast, there’s no such precaution for condoms on the site, which are used almost exclusively with a partner in acts which have an age of consent, and the packets have much more titillating imagery. The same family groups have left condoms alone as well. Certain sections of society seem to have massive hangups with females enjoying themselves.)

I think it’s fantastic that there’s a friendly place for women to purchase quality vibrators if they aren’t comfortable buying them online or in an adult store. I personally feel that it’s way less awkward purchasing online through a site like Femplay or AdultShop or LoveHoney, where I can refer to advice and reviews and have everything arrive in a discreet parcel. However, I did have friends in high school and uni whose parents opened their mail for them, so I can see the need for an unintimidating brick-and-mortar environment. There are also lots of people who aren’t comfortable shopping online or want to see products firsthand. And while there are “classy”, female-friendly adult stores like Max Black, they’re pretty rare in a sea of stores with nipple-tasseled window mannequins and sticky walls (not judging those stores, but it can be pretty intimidating for a newbie). So I’ll just have to get over my discomfort and let progress take its course.

The downside is that the Smile Makers range is very limited, with only 3 external-only and 2 internal/external vibrators, so it isn’t going to meet a lot of people’s needs. While the vibrators are nice starter products, I’d personally prefer something rechargeable for less wastage. Design-wise, as sleek as the single button is, I’d prefer a more efficient way of navigating things (yes, I use Android and PC and love having too many buttons to know what to do with). I’m hoping that Smile Makers serves as a welcoming gateway for many women, and its presence in Priceline starts some long-overdue conversations about female sexual wellbeing.

What are your thoughts on Smile Makers being stocked in Priceline? Is it a good idea, or is it too much?

These products were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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18 thoughts on “Smile Makers Vibrators Launch in Priceline…whaaat??!”

  1. As you say, a step in the right direction and I agree with framing this as an issue of emotional and physical well-being and treating vibrators like all other medical equipment (and toys!)–without stigma. Hopefully more companies will follow suit, and will expand to provide greater options for all. Your point about access through brick-and-mortar joints is also a good one.

    This is good, happy news. 🙂

    Reply
    • Totrally agreed – I think framing it as a health issue avoids a lot of tricky political ground! Which is great for accessibility.

      Reply
  2. Hi, Michelle thank you for the mention. Everyone at Femplay believe in delivering quality service and products to all of our wonderful customers. With thousands of ‘in stock’ products to select from and with customer reviews to assist in selecting the right item. Femplay values all customer’s privacy with discreet shipping and we are available to assist with any inquiry.

    Reply
  3. seems like a great idea! totally spot on about the typical “sex store” haha. I wish we could have something like that here in Canada, as you’re totally right about female sexual well-being being completely neglected and even frowned upon.

    Reply
    • I hope Smile Makers or a similar brand launches there soon! You do have Amazon though, which has lots of options, and lots of online stores!

      Reply
  4. This is such a huge step for a store like this to make, and you’re right, they sell condoms with graphic images right there in the open next to the kids toothbrushes…so why is that ok and this isn’t?
    These are so abstract that unless you *knew* what you were looking at you wouldn’t know that these are vibrators.
    Well done to Priceline.

    Reply
  5. Those are definitely interesting looking vibrators LOL. I personally couldn’t care, doesn’t bother me. They sell lube and condoms, what’s the difference? 🙂 Though do you think it would bother feminists, really? That seems a little ironic ?? You just can’t please a feminist ? (joking, I don’t want to offend).

    Reply
  6. It is really cool to see you step out of your comfort zone and write something like this!

    Acknowledging people most people have sexual desires and making it easier for the entire population to access tools to explore that sexuality is really great.

    That said there is certainly room for improvement in the execution. The names and branding are incredibly hetero and Cis normative. Having them be branded neutrally which would have avoided that. I will say props for them not being the typical neon pink and purple though!

    On a different note, the term “Prostitution” is considered derogatory by those in the industry and is not used (except by states like Alabama).. The correct term is Sex Work and Sex Worker.

    Reply
    • Thank you! I agree with the hetero/cis-normative nature of the names, and I would’ve thought that more neutral branding would be even more inoffensive – like “Fire”, “Cigar”, “Feather”…

      My understanding was that the term “prostitution” was still used in most academic and legal settings, since “sex work” is broader and not always synonymous?

      Reply
  7. I’m all for sexual wellness and females should be more in touch with their sexual health but I do draw the line at adult toys being sold in pharmacies. I do acknowledge your point on the double standards when it comes to condoms, I just can’t get my head around kids potentially seeing a vibrator on the shelf.

    Reply

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