My Friday night party this weekend had me a little worried. I live in a predominantly Hispanic community. This can pose a few issues when talking about sex and sexuality because of cultural taboos and socioeconomic factors. The hostess had, in fact, texted me before the party asking if I accepted EBT (US social welfare; card readers need to be specially coded to run them). That’s usually a sign that spending expectations will be low, which always has me worried about affording groceries for the week, but it also often correlates with patriarchal attitudes. Further, the location of the party was in an older, more established neighborhood, and creeping the hostess’ Facebook I saw she’s native to the city. That means she’s grown up in a state with potentially medically inaccurate sex ed.
Statistically, therefore, the women at this party will have not had sufficient sex education. In a town where I’ve had to explain how to apply lube, where I’ve been shouted at that what I do is against God, and where guests sometimes won’t even show because they aren’t “allowed” by their male partners, I have my work cut out for me.
I was relieved to learn this wouldn’t be Sex Ed 101. They’d mostly attended parties before and were relatively open with this topic with one another, and a lesbian couple would be attending. I decided I could spend some time talking about sex toy materials.
There are tons of resources online regarding toxic and porous sex toys, but not everyone eschews television in favor of reading sex blogs like I do. Part of the reason I do what I do is to disseminate this information to the non-academics, to the women still stuck in the patriarchal matrix, to those who may never discover this information on their own. I spent special care talking about the difference between silicone, glass, metals (stainless steel vs. aluminum), TPR, and TPE. I explained what pthalates and mineral oils are and why it might be pricier to get a quality toy, but well worth it. I made sure to consider budget in my recommendations, and readily admitted that manufacturers can lie, but my company has to take their word for it. They learned that they could spend a lot on a clear TPR plastic porous sex toy they’d have to replace in a year to prevent yeast build-up, or spend less on a 100% medical grade silicone model that would last until the motor died; or for a little bit more, have a rechargeable one with a warranty. They started asking about toys they had and whether they should replace them.
“Mine smells like rubber,” said one counterpart of the gay couple.
“Like a car tire, or a shower curtain?” I asked.
“Yeah! A shower curtain!”
Sales were just above average, I booked 2 more parties, we had a blast, but most importantly, they learned something. It was heartening to overhear things like, “That one’s the clear plastic. Don’t get that. Get the silicone one,” and “I like the metal one! We like to play with ice.” These are the moments that, no matter how the party does, I feel I’ve accomplished something.
My work here is done.