/ 5 May 2010

Let there be sex

When Abdelaziz Aouragh first thought up the idea of an online sex shop for Muslim couples, I bet he didn’t imagine for a moment the amount of interest his new venture would generate. But the site actually attracted so many visitors (70 000 hits within the first four days) that eventually it crashed, and Aouragh was forced to find a new web host to deal with the volume of traffic he was getting.

El Asira, as Aouragh’s sex-shop-that’s-not-really-a-sex-shop is called, is back up and running now, but I wouldn’t bother going there if you’re after anything racier than massage oils or herbal potions. Because everything Aouragh sells is strictly halaal, and as you can imagine that leaves a lot of things out. You won’t find any vibrators at El Asira for instance, or indeed anything that requires batteries; and you won’t find any porn or any depictions of bare naked flesh there either.

What the instant success of a site like El Asira has shown though is that there’s obviously a gap in the market for this kind of thing — marital aids for couples of faith. Indeed, this is something that Christians have been aware of for some time now; hence the proliferation of online Christian sex shops.

But Christian sex shops are an entirely different beast from the tame, sharia-compliant business that Aouragh has just set up. In fact let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for the absence of naked models on these sites, and if wasn’t for the constant reminders that the items on sale are for the enjoyment of married couples and married couples only, you’d be hard pushed to work out what exactly it is that makes these places Christian at all. I don’t remember reading anything in the Bible about anal beads or rubber ticklers for instance, but then theologians have always been adept at interpreting the text to fit their arguments, so if the vicar says they’re okay then who am I to question otherwise?

If you’re confused as to why Christians or other people of faith feel the need to have their own, separate sex shops, the people behind ChristianLoveToys.com offer this explanation on their site: “Traditionally, married couples may only purchase fun and spicy marital toys from stores that sell a plethora of pornographic and inappropriate products. The experience of shopping in these stores is awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassing, ‘dirty’, and spiritually overwhelming. It is extremely difficult to serve God, serve your spouse, and appropriately guard your mind and heart while browsing these stores.”

They go on to explain that their store provides “a safe place for couples to browse”, as well as offering assurances that “your order will be shipped in a confidential, indiscriminate, plain and simple box!” Meanwhile, the Kama Sutra, that Bible of sex fans everywhere, is strictly forbidden, as it allegedly originates “from ancient polytheistic pseudo-religious Hindi spiritual teaching”. But all is not lost, because God apparently “has some really exciting things to say about sex for married couples,” so you can find advice on how to get hold of a free Bible, as well as links to other Christian resources, instead.

Despite their predictable emphasis on sex being acceptable only within the confines of a purely heterosexual marriage, and their balking at putting so much as a belly button on display, Christian sex sites are nonetheless a world removed from the staid and repressed image of Christianity that some of us grew up with. In fact in researching for this piece I was amazed to learn that Christians not only believe that women are as entitled to orgasms as men, but they believe in the existence of the G-Spot, too. And if you don’t believe me, there’s an anatomically correct Christian diagram that pinpoints its exact location: hallelujah sisters, someone’s finally found the Holy Grail! – guardian.co.uk