On Monday, April 29, Lawrence students filled the lecture hall in Youngchild 121 to participate in a workshop called “Sex Toys 101.” Presented by Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever (GLOW) and the Downer Feminist Council (DFC), the event brought in sex educator Laura Stuart to share the facts and fictions of sex toys.
Having previously taught at MIT and currently teaching at Northwestern University, Stuart is no stranger to discussing what can be an uncomfortable topic for students. As people filed into the event, they had the chance to build a goodie-bag at the “Safe Sex Buffet” and enter the raffle to win some toys from Stuart’s shop in Milwaukee, The Tool Shed.
Stuart opened the event by talking about what she calls “the Holistic Model of Sexuality,” and how that pertains to healthy sexual practices. Next, she asked the audience about what they thought the biggest myths about sex toys were. Amidst nervous giggles, some brave members of the audience ventured guesses, and Stuart’s frank and humorous responses set a relaxed tone for the rest of the evening.
A presentation on safe sex toys was followed by a “show and tell,” as around 20 vibrators and other sex toys were passed around the room. Students in the room gaped and laughed as they pressed “on” buttons and passed the toys to one another. “I honestly had no idea that there was such a variety of devices!” exclaimed freshman Danielle Calhoun.
Junior Alysa Levi-D’Anacona said, “Laura answered all the questions I would ask were I to go to a sex shop.”
According to Stuart, a question that she is constantly asked at colleges and universities is how her sex education lectures pertain to wellness. She believes in the importance of teaching people that sex is a positive and natural act and especially in making sure that people go about it in a safe and healthy way. Many individuals have a black-and-white idea of what sex is and Stuart wants to ensure that they know that it is far more diverse that many expect.
“I thought I wasn’t going to learn anything, that it would just be something funny to go to with my friends, but I never knew what materials to look out for and try to avoid in sex toys,” said sophomore Tina Vorreyer.
Other students commented on how great it was that Lawrence is the kind of environment where such an event is possible. “I think it definitely speaks volumes about Lawrence that we are able to put this on as a public event and have it proceed in such a respectful and mature manner” said Calhoun.
A number of students expressed interest in attending similar events. Vorreyer said, “I have no idea what else they’ll come up [with], but I would definitely go to another talk like this again!”