Having founded Chicago’s first feminist sex shop in 2001, Early to Bed, Searah Deysach has made it her mission to defy the convention around sex and dismantle the anxiety, misinformation, and shame around sexual health, pleasure, and interest. Knowing that many people were uncomfortable in “traditional” adult stores, her vision from day one has been to create a safe, welcoming place where women (and people of all genders and sexual orientations) could shop for quality sex toys with freedom and empowerment.
SEARAH: We’re in a bubble. I think that sexual shame, fear of sex, lack of knowledge about sex and sexuality is everywhere. There’s still a lack of education about sex and sexuality. There’s more information available on the internet, which is great, but there’s also still bad information or twisted information.
We get people in the store now who are like: I know I want this brand and I’ve read all about it, I’ve read my reviews, and this is what’s going to affect me—which would not have happened 15 years ago, 20 years ago. But we still get people who are like: I’m scared to be here. I don’t know what I want. I’ve never masturbated before. I’ve never had an orgasm. My partner’s mad at me for, you know, not having an orgasm. There’s still this stuff that we’re not shaking off in our culture.
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Searah Deysach is a sex educator and the owner of Early to Bed, Chicago’s feminist sex shop. She also runs the trans-focused ftmessentials.com and is a frequent speaker at colleges and social service organizations in and around Chicago.