Sexual Health Sexual Health Society
Publishing on sexual health from the widest perspective
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Inside the ordering room: characteristics of women’s in-home sex toy parties, facilitators and sexual communication

Debra Herbenick A B , Michael Reece A and Ariane Hollub A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Department of Applied Health Science, HPER 116, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email: debby@indiana.edu

Sexual Health 6(4) 318-327 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH08086
Submitted: 26 November 2008  Accepted: 6 April 2009   Published: 13 November 2009

Abstract

Background: Previous research suggests that adult bookstores are a unique way through which individuals may learn about sexuality or practice sexual communication. Recently, the woman-oriented in-home sex toy party industry has rapidly expanded in several countries. The purpose of this study was to document the characteristics of the parties, the women who run the parties (‘facilitators’) and facilitator-consumer communication about sexual health topics. Methods: Female facilitators for a large in-home sex toy party company in the USA were invited to participate in an anonymous, cross-sectional online survey. Results: A total of 1197 completed surveys were received. Most respondents were white (85.2%), heterosexual (91.6%), had at least some college education (76.3%) and were married (59.4%). Most parties were held in another woman’s home (88.3%), lasted 1–2 h (72.2%) and had 10 or fewer women in attendance (65.1%). At their most recent party facilitated, most respondents were asked questions about increasing desire/arousal (75.3%), orgasm (57.8%), desire discrepancy (56.4%), erection and ejaculation (73.8%), and vaginal dryness and lubrication (64.5%). Respondents who encountered sexual health questions or disclosures by consumers (those that were more ‘askable’) scored significantly higher on the Sexual Opinion Survey, indicating greater erotophilia. Conclusions: Results suggest that female in-home sex toy party facilitators have the potential to provide a diverse group of women with opportunities to access sexuality information, products and communication and that facilitators’ ‘askability’ is related to erotophilia. Implications for sexual health professionals are discussed.

Additional keywords: sex education, sexual function, sexual health, vibrators.


Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to The Patty Brisben Foundation for an unrestricted grant in support of this research.


References


[1] Bancroft J,  Loftus J,  Long JS. Distress about sex: A national survey of women in heterosexual relationships. Arch Sex Behav 2003; 32 193–208.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[2] Heiman JR. Sexual dysfunction: Overview of prevalence, etiological factors, and treatments. J Sex Res 2002; 39 73–8.
PubMed |

[3] Laumann EO,  Paik A,  Rosen RC. Sexual dysfunction in the United States. JAMA 1999; 281 537–44.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[4] Ohl LE. Essentials of female sexual dysfunction from a sex therapy perspective. Urol Nurs 2007; 27 57–63.
PubMed |

[5] Lutfey KE , Link CL , Rosen RC , Wiegel M , McKinlay JB . Prevalence and correlates of sexual activity and function in women: Results from the Boston Area Community health (BACH) survey. Arch Sex Behav. in press. doi: 10.1007/s10508-007-9290-0

[6] Moreira ED,  Brock G,  Glasser DB,  Nicolosi A,  Laumann EO,  Paik A, et al. Help-seeking behaviour for sexual problems: The global study of sexual attitudes and behaviors. J Clin Pract 2005; 59 6–16.
CrossRef |

[7] Nusbaum MRH,  Gamble G,  Skinner B,  Heiman J. The high prevalence of sexual concerns among women seeking routine gynecological care. J Fam Pract 2000; 49 229–32.
CAS | PubMed |

[8] Adolfsson B,  Elofsson S,  Rossner S,  Unden A. Are sexual dissatisfaction and sexual abuse associated with obesity? A population-based study. Obes Res 2004; 12 1702–9.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[9] Enzlin P,  Mathieu C,  Van den Bruel A,  Bosteels J,  Vanderschueren D,  Demyttenaere K. Sexual dysfunction in women with Type I Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2002; 25 672–7.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[10] Kaya B,  Unal S,  Ozenli Y,  Gursoy N,  Tekiner S,  Kafkasli A. Anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction in women with chronic pelvic pain. Sex Relationship Ther 2006; 21 187–96.
CrossRef |

[11] Kingsberg SA. The impact of aging on sexual function in women and their partners. Arch Sex Behav 2002; 31 431–7.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[12] Sadoughi W,  Leshner M,  Fine HL. Sexual adjustment in a chronically ill and physically disabled population: A pilot study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1971; 52 311–7.
CAS | PubMed |

[13] Webster DC. Sex, lies, and stereotypes: Women and interstitial cystitis. J Sex Res 1996; 33 197–203.


[14] Wylie K,  Hallam-Jones R,  Harrington C. Psychological difficulties within a group of patients with vulvodynia. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 2004; 25 257–65.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[15] Hinchliff S,  Gott M,  Galena E. ‘I daresay I might find it embarrassing’: General practitioners’ perspectives on discussing sexual health issues with lesbian and gay patients. Health Soc Care Community 2005; 13 345–53.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[16] Marwick C. Survey says patients expect little physician help on sex. JAMA 1999; 281 2173–4.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[17] Meerabeau L. The management of embarrassment and sexuality in health care. J Adv Nurs 1999; 29 1507–13.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[18] Bradner CH,  Ku L,  Lindberg D. Older, but not wiser: How men get information about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases after high school. Fam Plann Perspect 2000; 32 33–8.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[19] Brodie M,  Kjellson N,  Hoff T,  Parker M. Perceptions of Latinos, African Americans, and Whites on media as a health information source. Howard J Commun 1999; 10 147–67.
CrossRef |

[20] Nicolosi A,  Buvat J,  Glasser DB,  Hartmann U,  Laumann EO,  Gingell C. Sexual behaviour, sexual dysfunctions and related help seeking patterns in middle-aged and elderly Europeans: The global study of sexual attitudes and behaviors. World J Urol 2006; 24 423–8.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[21] Boies SC. University students’ uses of and reactions to online sexual information and entertainment: Links to online and offline sexual behaviour. Can J Hum Sex 2002; 11 77–89.


[22] Goldner M. Using the internet and email for health purposes: The impact of health status. Soc Sci Q 2006; 87 690–710.
CrossRef |

[23] Gray NJ,  Klein JD,  Noyce PR,  Sesselberg TS,  Cantrill JA. Health information-seeking behavior in adolescence: The place of the internet. Soc Sci Med 2005; 60 1467–78.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[24] Berland GK,  Elliott MN,  Morales LS,  Algazy JI,  Kravitz RL,  Broder MS, et al. Health information on the internet: Accessibility, quality, and readability in English and Spanish. JAMA 2001; 285 2612–21.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[25] Eysenbach G,  Powell J,  Kuss OL,  Sa E. Empirical studies assessing the quality of health information for customers on the world wide web. JAMA 2002; 287 2691–700.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[26] Molitor F. Accuracy in science news reporting by newspapers: The case of aspirin for the prevention of heart attacks. Health Commun 1993; 5 209–24.
CrossRef |

[27] Moreira ED,  Kim S,  Glasser D,  Gingell C. Sexual activity, prevalence of sexual problems, and associated help-seeking patterns in men and women aged 40–80 years in Korea: Data from the global study of sexual attitudes and behaviors (GSSAB). J Sex Med 2006; 3 201–11.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[28] Nicolosi A,  Glasser DB,  Kim SC,  Marumo K,  Laumann EO. Sexual behaviour and dysfunction and help-seeking patterns in adults aged 40–80 years in the urban population of Asian countries. Br J Urol Int 2005; 95 609–14.


[29] Kalichman SC,  Kelly JA,  Hunter TL,  Murphy DA,  Tyler R. Culturally tailored HIV-AIDS risk-reduction messages targeted to African-American urban women: Impact on risk sensitization and risk reduction. J Consult Clin Psychol 1993; 61 291–5.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[30] Kegeles SM,  Hays RB,  Coates TJ. The Mpowerment Project: A community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay men. Am J Public Health 1996; 86 1129–36.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[31] Graziottin A,  Basson R. Sexual dysfunction in women with premature menopause. Menopause 2004; 11 766–77.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[32] Jones KD,  Lehr ST. Vulvodynia: Diagnostic techniques and treatment modalities. Nurse Pract 1994; 19 34–46.
CAS | PubMed |

[33] Hughes H. Haiti: Beauty parlours and health promoters. AIDS Action 1990; 10 4.


[34] Green SK,  Sollie DL. Long-term effects of a church-based sex education program on adolescent communication. Fam Relat 1989; 38 152–6.
CrossRef |

[35] Powell LH,  Jorgensen SR. Evaluation of a church-based sexuality education program for adolescents. Fam Relat 1985; 34 475–82.
CrossRef |

[36] Townsend JW,  Diaz de May E,  Sepulveda Y,  Santos de Garza LY,  Rosenhouse S. Sex education and family planning services for young adults: Alternative urban strategies in Mexico. Stud Fam Plann 1987; 18 103–8.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[37] Goer H. Humanizing birth: A global grassroots movement. Birth 2004; 31 308–14.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[38] Reece M,  Herbenick D,  Shacham E,  Sherwood-Puzzello C. The U.S. adult retail industry: A viable partner for HIV and STD prevention? Health Educ Monogr 2005; 22 29–35.


[39] Reece M,  Herbenick D,  Sherwood-Puzzello C. Sexual health promotion and adult retail stores. J Sex Res 2004; 41 173–80.
PubMed |

[40] Loe M. Feminism for sale: case study of a pro-sex feminist business. Gend Soc 1999; 13 705–32.
CrossRef |

[41] Herbenick D,  Reece M. Sex education in adult retail stores: Positioning customers’ questions as teachable moments. Am J Sex Ed 2006; 2 57–75.
CrossRef |

[42] Berkowitz D. Consuming eroticism: Gender performances and presentations in pornographic establishments. J Contemp Ethnogr 2006; 35 583–606.
CrossRef |

[43] Karp DA. Hiding in pornographic bookstores: A reconsideration of the nature of urban anonymity. J Contemp Ethnogr 1973; 1 427–51.
CrossRef |

[44] Stein M . The ethnography of an adult bookstore: Private scenes and public places. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press; 1990.

[45] Tewksbury R. Peep shows and “perverts”: Men and masculinity in an adult bookstore. J Men’s Stud 1993; 2 53–67.
CrossRef |

[46] Storr M . Latex and lingerie: Shopping for pleasure at Ann Summers parties. Oxford: Berg; 2003.

[47] Berman Center/Drugstore.com survey. The health benefits of sexual aids and devices: A comprehensive study of their relationship to satisfaction and the quality of life. Available online at: http://www.bermancenter.com/home/relations/columns/sexToysHelp [verified April 2009].

[48] Billups KL. The role of mechanical devices in treating female sexual dysfunction and enhancing the female sexual response. J Urol 2002; 20 137–41.


[49] Davis CM,  Bland J,  Lin HJ,  Bonillas C. Characteristics of vibrator use among women. J Sex Res 1996; 33 313–20.


[50] Herbenick D,  Reece M,  Hollub A,  Satinsky S,  Dodge B. Young female breast cancer survivors: Their sexual function and interest in sexual enhancement products and services. Cancer Nurs 2008; 31 417–25.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[51] McCaughey M,  French C. Women’s sex-toy parties: Technology, orgasm, and commodification. Sex Cult 2001; 5 77–96.
CrossRef |

[52] Attwood F. Fashion and passion: Marketing sex to women. Sexualities 2005; 8 392–406.
CrossRef |

[53] Smith C. Designed for pleasure: Style, indulgence and accessorized sex. Eur J Cult Stud 2007; 10 167–84.
CrossRef |

[54] Herbenick D,  Reece M. In-home sex toy party facilitators as sex educators: what questions are they asked and what makes them more ‘askable’? Am J Sex Educ ;


[55] Davis J , Smith TW . General social survey cumulative file. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research; 1998.

[56] Fisher WA . The Sexual Opinion Survey. In: CM Davis, WL Yarber, R Bauserman, G Scheer, SL Davis, editors. Handbook of sexuality-related measures. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications; 1998. pp. 218–23.

[57] Fisher WA,  Byrne D,  White LA,  Kelley K. Erotophobia-erotophilia as a dimension of personality. J Sex Res 1988; 25 123–51.


[58] Tone A . Devices & desires: A history of contraceptives in America. New York: Hill and Wang; 2001.

[59] Zwelling E. Childbirth education in the 1990s and beyond. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 1996; 25 425–32.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[60] Brown A . 5th circuit overturns Texas sex toys ban. Associated Press. 2008. Available online at: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202904864073 [verified June 2008].

[61] Laumann EO , Gagnon JH , Michael RT , Michaels S . The social organization of sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1994.

[62] Tiefer L. A new view of women’s sexual problems: Why new? Why now? J Sex Res 2001; 38 89–96.


[63] Lewis S,  Bor R. Nurses’ knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality and the relationship of these with nursing practice. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 1994; 20 251–9.
CAS |

[64] Rosen R,  Kountz D,  Post-Zwicker T,  Leiblum S,  Wiegel M. Sexual communication skills in residency training: the Robert Wood Johnson Model. J Sex Med 2006; 3 37–46.
CrossRef | PubMed |

[65] Sansone RA,  Wiederman M. Sexuality training for psychiatry residents: A national survey of training directors. J Sex Marital Ther 2000; 26 249–56.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

[66] Kennedy LA,  Milton B,  Bundred P. Lay food and health worker involvement in community nutrition and dietetics in England: Roles, responsibilities and relationship with professionals. J Hum Nutr Diet 2008; 21 210–24.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (5)

View Altmetrics