Why Cotton On’s new ‘Self Love’ range is a step towards destigmatising female pleasure

Words by Tiffany Forbes

It’s time for a new set of rules.

It’s 2010. You’re sitting in a dimly lit classroom at your old high school. Your fifth period P.E teacher walks in, and surprise, today you won’t be subjected to torture – or as some like to call it, physical exercise. Instead, it’s much worse. You’re discussing masturbation. 

While the males in the room would erupt in side-smirks and knowing looks, I recall entire tables of girls politely feigning ignorance and diverting their attention to the boys. As if self-pleasure was an exclusive practice that could only be enjoyed by those who possessed a Y chromosome. 

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Now, there’s no denying how far we’ve come as a society to champion sex-positivity, with influencers like Abbie Chatfield partnering with Vush and an abundance of female podcasters detailing their solo play on air. But in a world built on patriarchal foundations, where women have long been subjected to hypersexualisation under the confines of the male gaze, it’s no wonder we’ve been brought up to feel this way. 

As a young girl, I directly correlated female pleasure with guilt and shame. Whether that was a product of my Catholic upbringing or the societal expectations thrust onto females from an early age, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s serious stigma around female pleasure. And it needs to go. 

That’s why the reveal of Cotton On’s new Self Love range last week was a welcome surprise. Released prior to Valentine’s Day, the collection features an expansive number of vibrators, massage oils and lubricants. Gone are the days where you had to awkwardly scan the aisles of Sexyland or Honey Birdette to simply flick the bean. 

To me, the Cotton On Group’s new initiative signifies more than just being able to satisfy my sexual needs at the click of a ‘checkout now’ button on a shopping cart. It marks a stride towards recognising and normalising that women can (and should) engage in masturbation without feeling as if it’s some sort of societal taboo. 

For a company with such pull in the Australian retail market, introducing vibrators will hopefully ignite much-needed conversations about female solo play. And like anything, the more accessible they become, the more open and desensitised we as a society will be to these products and their purposes. 

But this new initiative is not all praise yet. I was disheartened to see that some of the vibrators were labelled ‘the frenchman’ and ‘the fireman’. For starters, this doesn’t recognise LGBTQ+ folk, and it reinforces the overarching idea that women need a man to get them off, which is the very message we’re trying to dismantle. 

But when it comes down to it, baby steps still move forward. So in the name of being one step closer to sexual liberation, I say it’s time for a date with your vibrator, ladies.

You can check out Cotton On’s Self Love collection here


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