A large red dildo, a powder blue vibrator and an assortment of cock rings sat on a table Monday evening in the Nebraska Union. After a “Sex in the Dark” discussion, the University of Nebraska-LincolnLGBTQA Resource Center hosted a “Sex Toys 101” workshop as part of “Be the Change Week.” The workshop was hosted by LeeAnnPancharoen, a health educator from Planned Parenthood, and LeeHeerten, a sexual health educator with the University Health Center.
The workshop opened with an icebreaker to help open discussion of sex toys. People drew cards with either a sex toy or a definition. Henry Cabrera, a junior political science major, drew the definition of a sleeve, which is a jelly-like tube used to facilitate male masturbation.
“I don’t really know what this is,” Cabrera said.
After the icebreaker, the pair began their lecture. They offered explanations of each kind of sex toy and offered suggestions on usage and what to avoid. The lecture was split by each kind of body part meant for stimulation.
“Anal toys include beads, butt plugs or anything meant to stimulate the anus,” Heerten said.
Materials that are non-porus and have a flared base are preferred. Materials that are made of jelly plastic have seams or cords can be dangerous to the anal area. The cheaper plastics may contain phthalates, which are chemicals that may be absorbed into the body and may harm the body. Condom usage is suggested with anal toys to protect the sensitive region.
Toys without a base can become inserted wholly into the anus and become trapped, Heerten said.
“As with anal sex, lubricant is a necessity,” Pancharoen said. The pair stressed patience with anal toys. Non-porous materials can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.
“Don’t go out there and find the biggest dildo you can and shove it up your ass,” Heerten said.
“What doesn’t go in your butt, also doesn’t go in your vagina,” Pancharoen said. Toys in this category are generally meant for insertion. They are often designed for a specific kind of stimulation. Some dildos are made from molds of actual penises, while others are shaped to stimulate the g-spot or the clitoris. Heerten explained some newer vibrators that can be used with an iPod to vibrate along with music. Like anal toys, condoms should be used as well.
When discussing strap-ons, the pair said that the stigma around who should use specific toys has shifted.
“There is a bend-over boyfriend movement with strap-ons,” Pancharoen said.
The wide variety of dildos includes how they are powered. Pancharoen described a hand crank dildo that was designed to be eco-friendly.
“I like to think of it as the survivalist’s dildo,” Pancharoen said.
“Nipples are an often overlooked erogenous zone,” Heerten said. Nipple toys include clamps, springs or magnets that are meant to pinch and stimulate the nipple. Nipple toys should be tested out on less-sensitive skin before using them on nipples. Prolonged use should also be avoided.
Cock rings, sleeves and pumps are meant to stimulate the penis. Cock rings are pieces of material put around the base of the penis and/or the testicles and are meant to give stronger erections. As with other toys, prolonged usage should be avoided. Sleeves are tubes meant to mimic the sensation of a mouth, vagina or anus. Sleeves should be cleaned after each use.
Penis pumps, like cock rings, shouldn’t be used for extended periods of time. Pumps create a vacuum of space around the penis, which causes more girth in erections, Heerten said.
“They can be dangerous,” Pancharoen said. “It is like when you blow up a balloon.”
After the lecture, audience members participated in a drawing for gift bags. Cabrera was the first name drawn.
“My natural instinct is to go for the bigger bag,” said Cabrera jokingly. Cabrera won a dildo and some lubricant.
Ashley Martin, a Lincoln resident, also won an anal toy.
“I am interested in sex-positive activism,” Martin said.
Martin is working to fight negative stigma applied to all aspects of sexuality and said she believes events like these open up discussion of sex from points of view that are usually unheard.
“Anything can be a sex toy,” Pancharoen said. “Everything is up to your imagination.”