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By Jessica Ford

When I was assigned to cover the Sex Toy Workshop presented by the Women’s Centre last Thursday evening, I knew there was a lot for me to learn.

Without explaining my sexual history at length, I have a boyfriend and he lives in New Brunswick. The last time I even got as much as a kiss on the cheek was in January.

So, to be up front, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta…do. But I’m no expert. So I embraced this learning experience with open…uh…arms.

The workshop was pretty similar to your parents’ Tupperware parties with about the same amount of rubber.

It was run by Etmet Musa from Come As You Are, Toronto’s feminist sex toy shop.

The store holds public workshops throughout the year, including anal massage and oral sex workshops and Tantric Sex seminars. They also offer female ejaculation demonstrations featuring York University professor Shannon Bell — and yes, that means she does masturbate live, using a Pink Pixie, in fact.

Heidi Cho, education and campaigns coordinator of the Women’s Centre and a first-year radio and television arts student, said that university is a time when people are questioning their sexuality.

The Women’s Centre aims to provide safe environments where women can get answers about their sexuality.

Cho also says the media make female sexuality seem taboo. “We want to eliminate the stigma around pleasure,” Cho said. “Masturbation shouldn’t be an embarrassing thing to talk about.”

In front of about 15 people in the Oakham Lounge, Musa went through a number of vibrators, dildos, harnesses, condoms and lubes, outlining the positives and negatives for each one. She definitely taught me about a toy or two.

So, for everyone who was too busy self-loving or spreading the love to come to the workshop, here are some pointers that I learned to keep in mind for next time:

· Always take out the batteries in your vibrator after your done, or they will kill the motor within a few days. Talk about performance failure.

· Toys with curved ends are best for G-Spot stimulation. That is not a myth.

· Japanese-brand vibrators are the best because the factories they are made in make only vibrators; next are German, then Chinese.

· Always put a condom on jelly vibrators or dildos. They absorb everything.

· Silicon dildos last forever — unless you bite them.

· Don’t insert anything that has a cord. The attachment might come loose and get lost.

· Vibrators aren’t waterproof, they are “splash” proof (female ejaculation does exist).

· Australian condom maker Glide makes vegan condoms with vegetable protein. Most other condoms are made with milk protein.

· Polyurethane condoms can cause asthma attacks.

· Designed as a back massager, the Hitachi Magic Wand is the most powerful vibrator at Come As You Are. They sell about 1,000 a year to a mostly 40 + female crowd. After holding it, I could feel the vibration in my hand for about two minutes later.

As Musa packed up the strap-ons and vibrating bullets at the end of the night, the guests enjoyed the refreshments and caught up with friends.

But I have to wonder how many people walked home a bit faster that night, made sure the door was locked tight and settled down for a little time to themselves.

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