First Advisor

Kai Hang Cheang

Date of Award

Spring 6-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sexuality, Gender, and Queer Studies and University Honors


Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies




sex toys, observational research, feminist sex stores, sex-positivity, profit, sexual liberation




Since the development of sex stores, the product appeal has been directed toward cisgender men and excluded minority groups including women and queer people, creating an experience exclusive to the male gaze. With this, products sold at early sex stores often did not appeal to these minority populations and it was often uncomfortable for women to shop in traditional stores. However, in the 1970s, feminists began to create sex stores directed toward women and they in turn became hubs for information. Through my research process, which included ethnographic work both in Portland and online, I have considered the past challenges faced by minority groups due to the creation of sex stores that did not uphold feminist values. I used the method of observational research to analyze different styles of sex stores: traditional stores versus feminist and education stores. With these observations, I will showcase the current discussion of sex and pleasure within Portland by analyzing two styles of stores that thrive within this area, revealing their marketing strategies, and examining the limitations due to social interpretations despite the reputation of sexual liberation within Portland. The goal of my data collection, analysis, and my project is to indicate how the development of feminist and education based stores has benefited a broader audience and has done more than just sell sex oriented products; they have emphasized sexual health and pleasure for groups who have historically been deprived of finding pleasure through sex and sex toys.

Persistent Identifier