Sex toy party hopes to open discussion of female sexuality

Rachel Alexander

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Credit: Loos-Diallo

Credit: Loos-Diallo

What do diving dolphins, waterproof power bullets and icicles have in common? They are all vibrators that will be featured at the Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX)-sponsored sex toy party this Saturday.

“I’m really excited about it,” said junior Caitlin Moore,   co-president of VOX with junior Patricia Xi. “It’s probably one of our most well-attended events.”

The sex toy party has been a tradition on the Whitman campus for three years. The party features Erika McAlvey, who works for a company called Pure Romance. McAlvey brings in toys to demonstrate and also discusses techniques and uses.

Xi sees the party as an important opportunity to provide sex education.

“I think it’s important for females to be able to express their sexuality,” she said. “Society’s really repressive in general with the whole being-openly-sexual thing.”

The party was originally targeted at the women’s rugby team.

“I just got curious and decided to go,” Xi said.

After attending the party, she thought VOX should get involved in planning and hosting the event.

“It’s just to put VOX’s name out there and also have fun,” she said.

Although the party is meant to be an open forum, only women can attend. First-year Dena Wessel felt that the women-only label could potentially lead to an unwelcoming atmosphere.

“My concern is for people who don’t fit the gender norms,” she said. “If they identify as female but are biologically male, where does that place them at an event that’s supposed to be really open?”

Moore says the event is open only to women because McAlvey’s training is for women-only events, and it fosters a more comfortable atmosphere for the women who do attend.

“We’ve always had a women’s night. No one’s really questioned it,” she said.

VOX hopes to hold three sex toy parties during spring semester: one for women, one for men, and one co-ed: to incorporate more individuals.

“That’s something I felt was really important: that it shouldn’t be just a women’s workshop,” Moore said, adding that the VOX’s goal was to be “more welcoming, inviting and encompassing” while maintaining a comfortable space.

First-year Tyler King has no issues with the fact that the party is exclusively for women. He feels that it’s important for women to have a space to discuss sexuality.

“Even if it’s not about the sex toys themselves, it alleviates some of the awkwardness around female masturbation,” he said.

He said that he didn’t think many guys would be interested in attending a sex toy party, other than as a curiosity.

“Guys, regardless of their sexual orientation, pretty much know what they’re doing,” he said.

First-year Henry Gales agreed.

“What am I going to do with sex toys?” he said. “I already have my hand.”

Attendees are able to order toys from the Pure Romance catalog after the party, though Moore says there is no pressure to buy any products. The focus of the event is on educating and having a good time, a fact which is exemplified by the chocolate bananas and penis-shaped cookies that are served as refreshments.

“[McAlvey] is really good at educating people about anything and everything,” said Moore.

In spite of her concern, Wessel remains excited for the event.

“I knew I was going to a crazy liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, but I didn’t know there were going to be sex toys parties,” she said.

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