The public holds many stigmas about BDSM and sex toys in light of cultural phenomenons like the book Fifty Shades of Grey, but some people are making an effort to normalize those practices.

On Wednesday, Phoenix Crane and Katrina Rittenhouse, members of the health education organization Power Gamma, will host “50 Shades of Martzolff.” A few of the Resident Advisors from the complex had contacted Crane about a BDSM talk for the people housed in their dorm. The event will provide much-needed information about what BDSM is and isn’t, a breakdown of what is considered kink and interactive sex toy demonstrations.

Crane, a senior studying psychology, splits all sexual activity into two categories: “vanilla” and “kink.” Vanilla sex is very narrow, only including the cycle of missionary, cowgirl and doggy style positions; while what’s kink is everything not usually talked about in sexual education classes, spanning from different positions to sex toys to less traditional turn-ons.

If You Go 

What: 50 Shades of Martzolff

When: 8 p.m., Wednesday

Where: Martzolff seminar room

Admission: Free

The acronym BDSM stands for Bondage Discipline Dominance Submission Sadism Masochism. There is more than one way to practice BDSM with a partner. According to Crane, the three types of BDSM are “casual,” “lifestyle,” and “professional.” However, within those spheres are varying degrees of intensity from lighter activities, such as spanking, to harder practices like flogging. The differing levels are reflected in the toys available to BDSM practitioners.

There are objects mostly thought of when people hear “sex toy.” Toys are starting to be brought up more in television shows such as Broad City. Viewers see that Abbi, one of the main characters, owns a vibrator in the first episode and in a later episode her crush owns a strap-on. However, Crane said a sex toy can be “any non-human object used to produce some sort of pleasure, whether it be physical or psychological.”

Ashely Miller, a senior studying communication and public health, said “people with vulvas” most commonly use vibrators. They come in different sizes and have different capabilities but are most frequently used for clitoral stimulation. Miller, a member of Power Gamma, said “people with penises” enjoy “pocket pussies” the most, since they are made to imitate a vagina.

A common stigma about sex toys comes from wondering why someone would even need to use one. Crane said people often view sex toy owners as being unable of pleasuring themselves or others. She adds that males often fear they will be demasculinized when people they know find out they own sex toys because masculinity stems from a male’s sexual ability.

Miller said some people don’t understand why men own sex toys because it’s easier for them to masturbate on their own. Adding a new element such as a different lube or pocket pussy can make them look forward to masturbating.

One myth females face about using a sex toy is that they will “stretch their vagina,” Miller said.

Weiheng Yu, a senior studying biology pre-med, says sex toys are “a good thing.” He adds that they are helpful when someone’s partner lives far away or if someone does not have a partner.

Sometimes the need to hide the fact of owning a sex toy gets in the way of people learning other necessary information and the basics of using them. Especially for BDSM sex toys, not using them the right way can cause injuries, Crane said.

Miller said not knowing the material the sex toy is made from can also lead to an allergic reaction. Some users are unaware of how to clean their toys properly, Crane said. Using the wrong wash and reusing the item can lead to a bacterial infection.

Society holds the belief that “if you aren’t conforming to the social norms of vanilla sex ... then there is something wrong with you,” Crane said. However, sex toys are said to benefit the user mentally since they enhance the sexual experience.

They can “relieve stress and pressure,” Yu said.

“With experimenting ... comes the flourishment of your personal growth,” Miller said. “Incorporating a sex toy is a fun way to get couples involved with each other and have more of a bond.”

Crane said to be “confident in your body and in your sexuality and (be) able to say, ‘This would make me feel good. This is what will make me happy.’ ”

@marvelllousmeg

mm512815@ohio.edu

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