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Panel on Pleasure for Pride Month

Panelists l-r, Stafford, Lehmiller, Cole, Toglia, Lola

Last night I attended a panel discussion on masturbation put together by the Japanese sex toy company Tenga that was designed to coincide with the various Pride celebrations throughout the city this month. As someone who has been a sex-positive feminist and journalist for too many years to count, I was pretty sure I had seen and heard it all before. But after an hour of discussion from the five perfectly-selected panelists—Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate Zach Stafford, Social Sexologist at the Kinsey Institute Justin J. Lehmiller, CEO of Future of Sex Podcast Byrony Cole, Lifestyle Editor of Bustle Michelle Toglia, and Sex Educator at SHAG, Dirty Lola—and moderated by Sexologist Shan Boodram. I can honestly say I learned a few things, and had a great time

An array of Tenga products

The panel presentation was held at The Box on the Lower East Side, a two-storied bar/nightclub with a stage. While I expected the conversation to be soft sexual empowerment —“masturbation is good for you and your partner, because you’ll know what you like”(which was certainly a good deal of what the panelists expressed), it became fairly obvious that this was going to be a bit more demanding when Dirty Lola answered the first question about how we can bring pride to pleasure with the directive, “Don’t be an ally. Be an accomplice.” Michelle Toglia followed that up with the statement that Pride month shouldn't only be June, but all year round.

And we were off.

I was aware of Tenga as a sex toy company that made toys mostly for men, but was unaware of the all the products they now offered, for men and women and partnered sex, as well as extensive sexuality research. I learned that when Tenga surveyed 10,000 people, the LGBT+ population has more orgasms than the het population (94% to 82%). I also learned that LGBTQ+ partners are much more likely to talk to their partners about their masturbation habits (77% to 54%). Some panelists suggested that this is part of the getting-to-know you phase of LGBTQ+ dating (do you like what I like?). Another interesting fact was that gay marriages have a lower divorce rate than straight marriages (although, these are pretty new stats), which The Advocate’s Stafford suggested might be because gay marriages are more democratized.

Tenga mini chocolate cakes were served

Other fascinating tidbits from the evening included the newfound knowledge that the month that people feel the horniest is June; that Channing Tatum is the most popular celebrity that everyone masturbates to; and that the color red in the rainbow flag symbolizes life.

According to the press invitation, this was the first US “Tenga Talk,” which the company expects will be a series of exclusive and thought-provoking events about sexuality. Everyone who attended went home with a goody bag, so look for the next one of these events!

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