Sex Roles

, Volume 77, Issue 7–8, pp 550–561 | Cite as

Exploring College Men’s and Women’s Attitudes about Women’s Sexuality and Pleasure via their Perceptions of Female Novelty Party Attendees

Original Article


Women’s sexual desire, agency, and activity have long been stigmatized. In contemporary times, however, adult novelty parties, or gatherings where women can learn about and purchase sex toys or other sensual aids in a group setting, are widespread. The current pervasiveness of novelty parties may be indicative of greater acceptance of women’s sexuality in contemporary Western society. The goal of the present study is to determine whether young people are more accepting of women’s sexuality and desire via their evaluations of women who attend novelty parties relative to more traditional kitchen product parties. In two experiments, U.S. college students read either a novelty party catalog or a kitchen party catalog, and they evaluated hypothetical female attendees of their respective party catalog type across ten total domains. In Experiment 1 (n = 205), novelty party attendees were rated as more vivacious, less traditional, and more insecure than were kitchen party attendees. In Experiment 2 (n = 211), women were harsher than men on novelty party attendees compared to kitchen party attendees in most domains, and men rated novelty party attendees as more masculine than kitchen party attendees, whereas women rated novelty party attendees as less masculine and feminine than kitchen party attendees. Applied and social implications of the present results are discussed, highlighting ways to improve perceptions of women’s sexual desires and pleasure.


Sex toy party women’s sexuality Sexual desire Gender differences Novelty party Dildo Masturbation Gender norms Women’s sexual agency 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

My coauthors and I hereby declare that the research represented in this paper was approved by the psychology department IRB and conducted according to APA ethical standards, and that the manuscript itself and data contained therein are original and have not been submitted for consideration elsewhere.

Supplementary material

11199_2017_737_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


  1. Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. (2012). Accounting for women’s orgasm and sexual enjoyment in college hookups and relationships. American Sociological Review, 77, 435–462. doi: 10.1177/0003122412445802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asencio, M. (2009). Migrant Puerto Rican lesbians negotiating gender, sexuality, and ethnonationality. National Women’s Studies Association Journal, 21, 1–23.Google Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F., & Twenge, J. M. (2002). Cultural suppression of female sexuality. Review of General Psychology, 6, 166–203. doi: 10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2004). Sexual economics: Sex as female resource for social exchange in heterosexual interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 339–363. doi: 10.1207/s15327957pspr0804_2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, L. C. (2013). Hard to get: Twenty-something women and the paradox of sexual freedom. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bem, S. L. (1981). Bem Sex Role Inventory: Professional manual. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  7. Boomsma, A. (1982). The robustness of LISREL against small sample sizes in factor analysis models. In K. G. Jöreskog & H. Wold (Eds.), Systems under indirect observation: Causality, structure, prediction (part 1) (pp. 149–173). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  8. Bury, L., Bruch, S. A., Barbery, X. M., & Pimentel, F. G. (2012). Hidden realities: What women do when they want to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in Bolivia. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 118, 4–9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2012.05.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carver, P. R., Yunger, J. L., & Perry, D. G. (2003). Gender identity and adjustment in middle childhood. Sex Roles, 49, 95–109. doi: 10.1023/A:1024423012063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Comella, L. (2008). It’s sexy. It’s big business. And it’s not just for men. Contexts, 7, 61–63. doi: 10.1525/ctx.2008.7.3.61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Conley, T. D., Moors, A. C., Matsick, J. L., Ziegler, A., & Valentine, B. A. (2011). Women, men, and the bedroom: Methodological and conceptual insights that narrow, reframe, and eliminate gender differences in sexuality. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 296–300. doi: 10.1177/0963721411418467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Conley, T. D., Ziegler, A., & Moors, A. C. (2013). Backlash from the bedroom stigma mediates gender differences in acceptance of casual sex offers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37, 392–407. doi: 10.1177/0361684312467169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coulmont, B., & Hubbard, P. (2010). Consuming sex: Socio-legal shifts in the space and place of sex shops. Journal of Law and Society, 37, 189–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coward, R. (1985). Female desires: How they are sought, bought and packaged. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  15. Curtis, D. (2004). Commodities and sexual subjectivities: A look at capitalism and its desires. Cultural Anthropology, 19, 95–121. doi: 10.1525/ctx.2008.7.3.61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (2012). Social role theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories in social psychology (2nd ed., pp. 458–476). Thousand Oaks: Sage. doi: 10.4135/9781446249222.n49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Egan, S. K., & Perry, D. G. (2001). Gender identity: A multidimensional analysis with implications for psychosocial adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 17, 451–463. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.37.4.451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fahs, B., & Swank, E. (2013). Adventures with the “plastic man”: Sex toys, compulsory heterosexuality, and the politics of women’s sexual pleasure. Sexuality and Culture, 17, 666–685. doi: 10.1007/s12119-013-9167-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fetterolf, J. C., & Sanchez, D. T. (2015). The costs and benefits of perceived sexual agency for men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 961–970. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0408-x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Giddens, A. (2013). The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love and eroticism in modern societies. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Glover, R. (2010). Can’t buy a thrill: Substantive due process, equal protection, and criminalizing sex toys. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 100, 555–598.Google Scholar
  22. Gorsuch, R. L. (1974). Factor analysis. Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
  23. Hamilton, L., & Armstrong, E. A. (2009). Gendered sexuality in young adulthood double binds and flawed options. Gender and Society, 23, 589–616. doi: 10.1177/0891243209345829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harrison, L. A., & Secarea, A. M. (2010). College students’ attitudes toward the sexualization of professional women athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 33, 403–426.Google Scholar
  25. Jackson, S. (2005). ‘Dear Girlfriend...’: Constructions of sexual health problems and sexual identities in letters to a teenage magazine. Sexualities, 8, 282–305. doi: 10.1177/1363460705049577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaestle, C. E., & Allen, K. R. (2011). The role of masturbation in healthy sexual development: Perceptions of young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 983–994. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9722-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lando-King, E., McRee, A. L., Gower, A. L., Shlafer, R. J., McMorris, B. J., Pettingell, S., & Sieving, R. E. (2015). Relationships between social-emotional intelligence and sexual risk behaviors in adolescent girls. The Journal of Sex Research, 52, 835–840. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2014.976782.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindemann, D. J. (2006). Pathology full circle: A history of anti-vibrator legislation in the United States. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 15, 326–346.Google Scholar
  29. Malina, D., & Schmidt, R. A. (1997). It’s business doing pleasure with you: Sh! A women’s sex shop case. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 15, 352–360. doi: 10.1108/02634509710367926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marks, M. J., & Fraley, R. C. (2005). The sexual double standard: Fact or fiction? Sex Roles, 52, 175–186. doi: 10.1007/s11199-005-1293-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marks, M. J., & Fraley, R. C. (2007). The impact of social interaction on the sexual double standard. Social Influence, 2, 29–54. doi: 10.1080/15534510601154413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCaughey, M., & French, C. (2001). Women’s sex-toy parties: Technology, orgasm, and commodification. Sexuality and Culture, 5, 77–96. doi: 10.1007/s12119-001-1031-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Milton, G. (2016). U.S. Patent No. 9,237,983. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.Google Scholar
  34. Montemurro, B. (2003). Not a laughing matter: Sexual harassment as “material” on workplace-based situation comedies. Sex Roles, 48, 433–445. doi: 10.1023/A:1023578528629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Montemurro, B. (2014). Deserving desire: Women’s stories of sexual evolution. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Montemurro, B., & Gillen, M. M. (2013). How clothes make the woman immoral: Impressions given off by sexualized clothing. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 31, 167–181. doi: 10.1177/0887302X13493128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morris, J. F., Balsam, K. F., & Rothblum, E. D. (2002). Lesbian and bisexual mothers and nonmothers: Demographics and the coming-out process. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 144–156. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.16.2.144.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Mosher, D. L., & Tompkins, S. E. (1988). Scripting the macho man: Hyper masculine socialization and enculturation. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 60–84. doi: 10.1080/00224498809551445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Muehlenhard, C. L., & Scardino, T. J. (1985). What will he think? Men’s impressions of women who initiate dates and achieve academically. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 560–569. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.32.4.560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences insexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 21–38. doi: 10.1037/a0017504.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Prinstein, M. J., Meade, C. S., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Adolescent oral sex, peer popularity, and perceptions of best friends’ sexual behavior. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 28, 243–249. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsg012.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rohlinger, D. A. (2002). Eroticizing men: Cultural influences on advertising and male objectification. Sex Roles, 46, 61–74. doi: 10.1023/A:1016575909173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rudman, L. A., Fetterolf, J. C., & Sanchez, D. T. (2013). What motivates the sexual double standard? More support for male versus female control theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 250–263. doi: 10.1177/0146167212472375.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sakaluk, J. K., Todd, L. M., Milhausen, R., Lachowsky, N. J., & Undergraduate Research Group in Sexuality (URGiS). (2014). Dominant heterosexual sexual scripts in emerging adulthood: Conceptualization and measurement. The Journal of Sex Research, 51, 516–531. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.745473.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Sanchez, D. T., & Crocker, J. (2005). How investment in gender ideals affects well-being: The role of external contingencies of self-worth. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 63–77. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00169.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schwartz, P., & Rutter, V. (1998). The gender of sexuality. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  47. Sheeran, P., Spears, R., Abraham, S. S., & Abrams, D. (1996). Religiosity, gender, and the double standard. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 130, 23–33. doi: 10.1080/00223980.1996.9914985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Takiff, H. A., Sanchez, D. T., & Stewart, T. L. (2001). What’s in a name? The status implications of students’ terms of address for male and female professors. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 134–144. doi: 10.1111/1471-6402.00015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Townsend, J. M., & Wasserman, T. H. (2011). Sexual hookups among college students: Sex differences in emotional reactions. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1173–1181. doi: 10.1007/s10508-011-9841-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Travis, C. B., & White, J. W. (2000). Sexuality, society, and feminism. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi: 10.1037/10345-000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Twenge, J. M., Sherman, R. A., & Wells, B. E. (2015). Changes in American adults’ sexual behavior and attitudes, 1972–2012. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 2273–2285. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0540-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Vaes, J., Paladino, P., & Puvia, E. (2011). Are sexualized women complete human beings? Why men and women dehumanize sexually objectified women. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 774–785. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Waskul, D. D., Vannini, P., & Wiesen, D. (2007). Women and their clitoris: Personal discovery, signification, and use. Symbolic Interaction, 30, 151–174. doi: 10.1525/si.2007.30.2.151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wiederman, M. W. (2005). The gendered nature of sexual scripts. The Family Journal, 13, 496–502. doi: 10.1177/1066480705278729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zaikman, Y., & Marks, M. J. (2014). Ambivalent sexism and the sexual double standard. Sex Roles, 71, 333–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, MSC-3452New Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyEl Camino CollegeTorranceUSA

Personalised recommendations