Men may be more accepting of women’s use of sex toys than are other women, according to a study published in the scientific journal Sex Roles.
The research found that female college students had a more negative view of women who attended adult novelty parties, where people can learn about and purchase sex toys.
“I was speaking with my coauthor on the paper, Kassia Wosick, about how attitudes towards women’s sexuality had changed over the past couple decades, and the topic of the sex toy party came up,” said study author Michael J. Marks of New Mexico State University.
“I thought about how you didn’t really see much of them until the late 1990s, and now they are a billion-dollar industry. I wondered if this explosion in prevalence of sex toy parties was a sign of increased acceptance of women’s sexuality, or this was more a result of companies taking advantage of a commodity.”
In the study, which included 438 undergraduate students, the participants either read a sales catalog that featured products for a kitchen party or one that featured products for a sex toy party. They then completed a survey that asked them about their views on the type of woman who would attend such a party.
The researchers found that women who attended sex toy parties were rated as being more vivacious, less traditional, and more insecure compared to kitchen party attendees.
Women were more likely than men to view sex toy party-goers as being less likeable, less intelligent, less feminine, less masculine, and less influential.
“I think the most interesting take home message is that women were their own harshest critics, and what can we do, as a society, to change this?” Marks told PsyPost. “Although sex toy parties are billed as ‘by women, for women,’ female participants, overall, rated sex toy party attendees more harshly than men. This is not an intuitive finding, as people generally think that men would be more opposed to the messages conveyed by the sex toy party (e.g., ‘Women don’t need men to experience sexual pleasure.’)”
However, the study does have some caveats.
“The biggest caveat is that participants were rating hypothetical people (e.g., ‘How would you rate a woman who attended this type of party?’)” Marks explained. “We need more ecologically valid studies on this topic, featuring women who actually attend these parties — perhaps questions about how women evaluate their fellow party attendees after an actual party, or surveys about why women attended a party.”
The findings suggest there is still a stigma attached to the use of sex toys by women.
“I think these results demonstrate despite how far Western society has come in their acceptance of women’s sexuality, we still have quite a ways to go before things like sexual double standards disappear,” Marks said. “I hope this research inspires other researchers to conduct similar experiments, so we can further our knowledge about such topics.”