Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Students vibrate with excitement at GW’s first sex toy museum

Jenna Baer | Staff Photographer
Sex toys displayed on a table in the University Student Center

As students filed into the University Student Center for the inaugural Sexsonian Exhibit on Thursday, they were met with the metallic thrum of an abandoned bullet vibrator bouncing against a folding table as the percussion of Azealia Banks’ “212” permeated the room. 

Upon entry into this sex toy museum, a woman in a sparkly vulva costume greeted students and invited them to embark on a sexual journey, which they could document on a “Sexonian Passport” adorned with a cartoon of the Washington Monument covered with a condom. The room featured 11 pleasure-focused stations, with rows of contraceptive products, dildos, vibrators and anal sex toys lining each table. 

“I wish I could take all of these vibrators home,” one attendee said.

Student educators taught attendees how to use the wide array of sex toys safely — some tables rolled condoms onto dildos, others taught how to clean the silicone vulva model. After completing an educational introduction, students received a stamp on their passport.  

Between lessons, students perused the toys and took shots of edible water- and silicone-based lubes. One student deadlifted a stainless steel dual-ended dildo — the contraption felt like it weighed 10 pounds and costs about $80. Some students were starstruck by the viral rose-shaped vibrator, which gained popularity on TikTok last year, or confused by the functionality of a pink glass dildo. “Isn’t that gonna break?” one person asked. No, it was made of “unbreakable glass,” the educator replied. 

The interactive sex toy exhibit was part of the first Healthy Sexuality Conference, a series of talks surrounding sexual liberation sponsored by the Office of Advocacy & Support on April 17. Project Manager Emily Htway said the Sexsonian drew almost 400 attendees over four hours. 

Htway, GW’s first sexual health specialist, said the exhibit aimed to educate students on tools for discovering their sexual pleasures and to combat the stigma surrounding it. Since students come to GW from across the world, bringing varying knowledge of sexual health, Htway said, the conference provided them a chance to catch up on what many of them may not have been taught in high school sex ed.

“With pleasure-based sex ed, the way that we did it in our approach, and our goal, was to make an inclusive experience where no matter who you were, you could walk in and know that you were seen,” Htway said. “We were going to show you that sex should be pleasurable for you.”

Students were given free rein to touch, twist and turn dozens of items from sex shops, including Lion’s Den and Spectrum Boutique and Alexandria-based Lotus Blooms. Htway said sex shops donated toys that had only been used in company displays, so the University plans to keep them for future Sexsonians, which they hope to make an annual event. Organizers gave a ballpark that, in all, they had about $10,000 worth of sex toys, and they’ll store them in the student center. 

The event was the brainchild of senior Nicole Dimock, a well-being student coordinator from the Health Promotion & Education team of the Office of Student Affairs. Dimock said she pitched the Sexsonian to officials because she saw an absence of pleasure-focused programming on campus, but she never thought it would get approved.

“This event was a super big step for GW and promoting sexual health and sexual health education,” Dimock said. “We as a team have noticed people aren’t really talking about sex around campus and we really wanted to spark a conversation and teach them new avenues of how to enjoy sex.”

Stephanie Spector, the president of GW Reproductive Autonomy and Gender Equity, said she signed on to be a peer educator at the vibrator station because she was excited to break the stigma surrounding female pleasure. Spector said before she was given the green light to man the pleasure junction she went through training sessions to learn how the products worked and how to clean them for personal use.

“I’m excited to kind of just talk to folks who are taking that step and helping folks figure out what’s right for them, especially because I think it’s something that’s just not really talked about enough,” Spector said.

Catalina DeSouza, a second-year Master of Public Health candidate who heard about the event from students in her program, said she appreciated the interactive aspect of the conference. As a visual learner, DeSouza said it was helpful to talk through how to use the safe sex products with the peer educators rather than relying on a YouTube video or manual instructions.

“It’s not in a lecture-based format either so people can go to different tables and ask their own questions and feel stuff and visually see what’s going on,” DeSouza said.

Annabel Hazrati, a senior studying economics and political science, discovered the Sexsonian after seeing a promotional video of students putting sex toys in the hippo statue’s mouth and atop a George Washington statue’s head. Hazrati said the promotional videos were so entertaining she decided to attend the conference and was impressed by the inclusivity of all of the contraception materials and sex toys.

“It was cool that they included everyone, like they had contraception for trans men and intersex people and I’ve never seen that,” Hazrati said. 

She said her favorite aspect of the exhibit was still the most eye-catching part — the sex toys.

“I think the coolest thing was the sex toys,” she said.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jenna Baer, Contributing Culture Editor
Jenna, a senior majoring in creative writing, is the 2023-24 contributing culture editor. She previously worked as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is a Houston, Texas girl through and through.
Donate to The GW Hatchet