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How Sex Toys and Sex Education Changed My Life

Published: JUNE 8, 2016
When it comes to sex ed, it's better late than never.

I got my start in sex education completely unexpectedly. It started with a response to a resume I posted on Craigslist, inquiring as to whether I’d be interested in interviewing for a job at an adult store.


Initially, I laughed. But I really needed a job and hadn’t come across anything else that was promising. So I stepped into an adult store for the first time to be interviewed for a job.

Soon after getting a basic product education - "Spermicide is bad, but we still carry a few condoms with it. Jelly rubber is porous, but we still have it because people will buy it" - I was set free to roam the store and learn from coworkers. (Read Why I Love Working in the Sex Toy Industry another first-hand account of working in the field).

Pretty soon, I learned everything my coworkers had to offer. During my downtime, I began checking out the few resources available at the store, like Jack Morin’s "Anal Pleasure and Health" and Tristan Taormino’s "The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation." These books helped me learn more about the pleasure zones present in the body, zones that I had been completely oblivious of, and I began passing this information along to my first students - my customers.

At the recommendation of a coworker, I started reading the snarky sex toy reviews on Epiphora’s blog, and soon my mind was filled with even more new information, especially terms like phthalates, parabens, medical grade, and toxic sex toys. I ravenously snapped up any information I could get, reading Dangerous Lilly’s blog and Violet Blue’s post about toxic toys, for example. (For more on toxic toys, check out Sex Toy Safety: A Guide to Materials.)

It got to a point where I had so much information in my head that talking to customers wasn’t enough. So I started my blog.

Read: Surprising Lessons Women Learned About Sex Later In Life

These experiences changed my life, and not only by completely changing the course of my career. My sex education trajectory has brought me so many good things, like a deeper understanding of my gender and my body; the tools to deal with and heal from an assault; the words with which to communicate in my relationships and my sex life; and the courage to explore the pleasurable options my body affords me, when before I was scared of something mysterious and unfamiliar. This process of educating myself about sex has also helped me be body positive after years of negativity and self loathing. (For more on the importance of loving your body and yourself, read 10 Things You Don't Know About Self Love.)

I can't help but think that it may have been possible to have avoided all that negativity if I had just had a proper sex education in the first place - if I had received a sex education that was inclusive of pleasure, gender and consent, rather than the shaming, fear-based and reproduction-focused sex education I obtained through my public schooling. Even further down the line, if my mother had received a comprehensive sex education, she would have been able to talk to me about sex and sexuality in a positive way, rather than dealing with it by avoiding it altogether.

My story is a testament to the need for inclusive sex education. But if you, like me, failed to get that, don't worry: It's never too late.

Caitlin Murphy
Freelance designer and illustrator by day, adult store worker at night, sex educator 24/7. Blogger at sex-ational.com.