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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

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 http://dx.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.


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