The King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania has a Spencer's Gifts... that sells vibrators, penis-shaped pasta, and t-shirts with images of "a woman on all fours wearing a leash around her neck" that say, “How to Train your Bitch." Classy! So you wouldn't expect the management at KOP Mall to have a problem leasing a space to a store that sells vibrators to women and t-shirts that say, "“Love your Body: Start a Revolution," right? Wrong.
What is the refusal to rent me a space really about?
Let’s review: Spencer’s is owned by man. Feminique Boutique is owned by a woman.
Spencer’s sells t-shirts that degrade women, such as one that depicts a woman on all fours wearing a leash around her neck that says, “How to Train your Bitch." Feminique Boutique sells t-shirts that empower women, such as one that says “Love your Body: Start a Revolution."
Spencer’s sells vibrators in the view of minors that contain phthalates, a chemical known to be harmful to the female reproductive system. Feminique Boutique sells vibrators in an 18+ backroom that are phthalate-free.
Spencer’s has an expressed business mission of humor and gag gift giving. Feminique Boutique has a business mission of advocating that “women are sexual subjects, not objects."
To me, it’s about the mainstreaming of sex-negativity. Sex toys can be sold as long as they are “novelties” with the purpose of embarrassing someone who opens it at their 40th birthday party. But when women buy one to actually be used and enjoyed, as they would from Feminique Boutique, it makes people uncomfortable. Sex can be talked about, as long as it’s a joke or putting someone down, which is why “training your bitch” t-shirts and penis shaped pasta is acceptable at the mall for the entertainment of 12 year olds, but a woman who loves her body and proudly wears the Feminique Boutique shirt that declares that, well, that’s obscene. My indignation is not at Spencer’s. It’s a free country and I support their right to run their business as they see fit. But for the King of Prussia Mall to allow the sale of vibrators and other sex related products in a way that exacerbates social norms of female subservience while denying the opportunity for a competing business that sells similar products in a pro-female environment is discriminatory, sexist, and illegal.