Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Kosher Sex Toys website's surprising campaign
“I thought there would be a need for it, and apparently I was right,” he told Haaretz.
The website — which is doubtlessly the only sex products site in the world to quote Talmud — quickly became a hit, with about 1,500 unique visitors and many sales on an average day, Gavriel said in an interview.
He started the “objectification is not kosher” campaign because he found portrayals of Orthodox Jews in the media misconstruing his community’s views on modesty and sex.
“Any time I see a negative article about the Orthodox community, the issue of tznius [modesty] is brought up and how restrictive it is for women. Even if the article is about some financial crisis, tznius is brought up,” said Gavriel.
A radical campaign
The campaign is radical for the sex industry, says veteran reporter Steve Javors, managing editor of trade magazine Adult Video News and the AVN Media Network, who is Jewish.
“I’ve never seen language like this” on a sex products website, he said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”
“If the party involved feels objectified, it’s their responsibility to leave. People forget that there’s personal responsibility in everything. I don’t think very many, if any, advertisers or hard-core pornographers have any intent to objectify anybody,” he said in an interview with Haaretz.
“People are operating a business," said Deen, who once made a porn video titled “Nice Jewish Girls.” "It’s not to create a negative stigma around body image. If the model feels objectified then they have the right to leave.”
Back in Lakewood, Gavriel has held on to his day job (which he declined to specify), keeping his online store’s inventory in a locked room at home and filling orders at night, shipping them in plain brown boxes.
Gavriel says that 60 to 70 percent of his shoppers are Jewish, based on their names and locations. “If we’re sending it to somebody in Montana I’m figuring it’s not somebody frum because how many Orthodox Jews are in Montana?”
"A human being is not a prop"
Gavriel doesn’t get any sex industry trade magazines or go to trade shows to see what’s new on the market.
Gavriel obviously isn’t from the anti-Internet segment of the religious community, though he did say he has received a few orders from people who live in communities like Meah Shearim, where going online is taboo.
His biggest challenge thus far has been figuring out how to sell naughty lingerie without showing it on a female form. Trying to photograph sexy clothes off of a woman’s body or mannequin leaves it looking “like a pile of string,” he said.
Books are among the site’s popular sellers. One of them is “The Newlywed’s Guide to Physical Intimacy,” written specifically for the Orthodox community by Rabbi David Ribner and Jennie Rosenfeld. Ribner, a sex therapist who is on the faculty of Bar Ilan University in Israel, also serves as a resource for the website's visitors, who can email him with questions.