by Iman Mohamed, with art by @chayask
So I’m a Sexpert – a sales assistant who provides expert advice on sex, toys and bondage. I am also Muslim, and it took me a while to recognise that the two are not mutually exclusive. Working for a company who aims to empower women through sex makes me feel like I can make a difference beyond adding to a person’s wardrobe. Being a Sexpert allows me to encourage women to embrace their sexuality: to feel sexy rather than be sexy. By that I mean, sexy in any skin rather than a supposed archetypal look.
I did wonder whether such a role was haram (forbidden), but given most of our customers are from Muslim countries, and Islamic scholarship forbids celibacy encouraging married couples to enjoy sex., my line of work is not as problematic as it seems. In fact, my best friend (who’s also Muslim) assured me it’s a good deed because, if anything, I’m saving marriages. And, I really don’t think I could manage retail if it wasn’t for the dildos and bra fit chat.
I thought it would be awkward to start because I would be discussing topics forbidden while I was growing up: I still close my eyes during kissing scenes with my family, the term sex isn’t used in our house (for a time, it was called ‘fornication’), and The Talk was only about periods – after I had started mine. But, I’ve impressed myself with my ability to maintain a straight face discussing 7 inch dildos and appropriate butt plugs. Although, it did take me several arguments about using lube, and that a vagina that a baby can exit out of can definitely take 5 inches when slowly done to stay professional: especially when customers want to use a bullet vibrator for anal play (which inevitably leads to a night in A&E).
I also think I suit this role because I am naturally comfortable discussing intimate topics: I enjoy making people feel at ease and getting to know people, so I hope my manager still believes I am suited to such a role. I like when a woman walks out knowing she is a 36H and her boobs are getting better coverage; I like when a woman feels more confident about anal upon being introduced to silicone-based lube and various vibrators and I love when women are excited about the lingerie they got because they wanted to treat themselves, and they feel content with their beautiful bodies in our suspender sets!
It is a very different world to be in and I never thought clit stim or cock ring would be terms I’d ever be desensitised from, but I have also grown in confidence. Although I possessed enough to convince a company, that someone who used to think double bagging condoms provided extra protection is suitable to give advice about sex to the British public.
On a more serious note, I am proud of what I do because I believe in having Muslim representation in these spaces. It makes it more comfortable for Muslim customers to have candid conversations about sex, and makes it as though enjoyable sex is seen as normal in the Muslim community – as it should be.